Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Confront the Bully

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Fed up with endless obstruction of Parliament by BJP, Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam urges UPA and other democratically-oriented parties to take a firm stand.

The amount of money spent on a single day of Parliament is so huge that it boggles the mind of an average Indian. The BJP has been holding Parliament to ransom for a better part of the session, flushing the country’s huge financial resources down the drain. That is not fair to millions of tax payers, not a patriotic act.

The party is bad as ruler (how can you be good by being openly hostile to minorities, Dalits, tribals?) and worse in Opposition. It is frustrated and vengeful while in Opposition, which makes it irresponsible. It is not for the first time that it is behaving the way it is: earlier, too, it has blocked parliament for weeks.

This bully boy tactics is a bad precedence for the Opposition of future. Tomorrow, if a BJP-led coalition (and that’s a big “if”) comes to power and the Opposition is peeved at its perennially bad ways, then it will find a continuous precedence (laid by BJP-led NDA) of throwing tantrums, as a way of making its presence felt. That would be a sad day.

This party is supposedly outraged over direct allotment of coal blocks instead of auction. To begin with, direct allotment is not illegal nor is there any rule or precedence to force government not to allot and go by the auction route only.

Although the CAG has raised the issue of coal only, the Supreme Court’s stance is more comprehensive as it calls for auction of all natural resources with possibly fewer exceptions like water, in future. Even the SC has not asked for the cancellation of earlier allotments.

The government has initiated cancellation proceedings in case of more than two dozen earlier allotments, including seven allotments made by NDA government, on the ground that they have been sitting over coal blocks for last several years without starting to mine them. However, the Prime Minister has made it clear that there is no question of cancelling the present allocations. Direct allotments began in 1993, continued under NDA rule, were never stopped.

BJP’s moral outrage over the allocations is not genuine. A party whose government has looted the nation’s resources earlier without any qualms would not suddenly become morally sensitive. While the whole nation was scandalised at Karnataka’s then chief minister Yedurappa’s robbery of Bellary coal mines in collaboration with the Reddy brothers, BJP behaved as if nothing was happening. Yedurappa was dropped only when he became a liability for the party, not because of moral outrage.

Public memory is short, but not quite as short as BJP would like to imagine. Nobody has forgotten how during the NDA rule at Centre petrol pumps were allotted arbitrarily to BJP, RSS and VHP persons against all norms. This act of rewarding itself at the cost of the country brought it the name Bhartiya Janata Petrol Pump Party. The party was not morally outraged, nor its government. How can morality be an issue with the party whose earlier president was caught on camera accepting bribe?

There are two major reasons for the party’s noisy disruption of Parliament. It is a diversionary tactic to distract the nation’s attention from the failure of its Gujarat Laboratory experiment. The second is its wish to obtain coal block allotments to its chosen businessmen. Interestingly, Narendra Modi opposes auction, which BJP as a party supports. The reason: Some of Modi’s supporters are beneficiaries of direct allotment.

The party will gain nothing from putting its cause ahead of the national cause. Further obstruction of Parliament will only reinforce its negative image in the public. Parliament must be allowed to function, and government must be able to work. It must be kept in mind that the government has not been chosen by the BJP, but by the People of India. The will of the People must never be thwarted.

Now, the food they cook is ‘untouchable’


A host of Dalit women, who cook food for children at noon meal centres attached to schools in various villages in Kadayampatti Union in Salem district, say they are facing a social boycott.

Caste Hindus in a few villages are preventing their children from having the noon meal cooked by Dalit women cooks, claiming that it is “a sin to eat food cooked by them.”

The government-appointed Dalit women cooks, under the MGR Nutritious Noon Meal Scheme on a temporary monthly pay of Rs. 1300-3000, are not allowed to do their job.

“I feel like dying,’ said S. Sundaravanitha, a Dalit woman cook, who had been facing boycott since her appointment on August 16, 2012.

She told The Hindu here on Friday that she said she had been undergoing trauma since the day she was appointed as a cook at the Panchayat Union Elementary School at Rasipurathan Kattuvalavu village in Kadayampatti Union.

“From day one, I have been hounded and harassed. The Vanniyars-only village feel ‘ashamed’ to permit their children to have the food cooked by a Dalit,” she said. The village panchayat president also expressed his inability to help her.

After discussing it with local officials, the Salem district administration transferred her to the centre at the Union Middle School at Mookanur, which happened to be her native village, on deputation. But her woes were far from over. Since her village people knew that she was a Dalit, they too raised the caste issue against her.
“Of the total 75 students who used to have noon meal, only 20 students, a majority of whom are Dalits, now have food at the centre. Others have been forced to abstain. A few youths barged into the centre recently and abused me in filthy language,” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks.

An official in Kadayampatti Union said that to prevent any untoward incident, she was shifted from Rasipurathan village. “It is a sensitive issue. This village of Vanniyars strongly opposed her.

As Mookanur has an equal share of all castes, we believed that her appointment would not create any unpleasant situation there,” he said, adding that they had been facing similar situations in two other centres in the Union.
The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi alleged that seven Dalit women cooks in Kadayampatti alone were facing social boycott.

Poomozhi of the Tamil Nadu People Rights Movement wanted action under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against those who promoted untouchability. The Democratic Youth Federation of India staged a demonstration on Saturday, demanding their arrest.

CJI names Justice Kabir as his successor

Hon'ble Justice Kapadia
Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia, who retires this month, has recommended the name of seniormost Supreme Court judge Justice Altamas Kabir as his successor, setting in motion the process of change of guard in the apex court.

Sources in the Law Ministry said Justice Kapadia, due to retire on September 28, recommended the name of Justice Kabir (64) recently.

As per the Memorandum of Procedure which governs the appointment of members of the higher judiciary, “appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office.”

It stipulates that the Law Minister would, at the appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next CJI.

Hon'ble Justice Altams Kabir
Under this process, after receipt of the recommendation of the CJI, the Law Minister puts it before the Prime Minister who advises the President in the matter of appointment.

Justice Kabir, who was elevated to the Supreme Court in September, 2005, would retire on July 18, 2013 after attaining the age of 65.

Keywords: Chief Justice of India S.H. KapadiaJustice Kabirsuccessor
Photos:Courtesy Google