Violent agitation, particularly in Paris for so many weeks, brought bad name to one of the most peaceful and civilized country of the world. Here is some background of France and Paris. Since the end of second world war when all other countries of Europe suffered loss of millions of their armed personnel as well as civilians and in addition faced the partial destruction of their cities and industries and infrastructure, France and Paris remained unharmed without loss of lives of their most civilized citizens as well as their industries, buildings and infrastructure.
Despite Occupation of France by German Army in second world war up to 1945 when France had negotiated with Germany that French government would vacate Paris which should not be harmed, destroyed as it was the most beautiful city in the world. Arch-de-Triumph French capital around Eifel Towers was most attractive in 1947 when world Scouts Jamboree was held near Paris in August 1947 attended by thousand of scouts from all over the world including India, USA, UK, South Africa etc. Why such a prolonged agitation spreading over weeks causing closure of schools, universities, oil depots and many industries all over France, hitting the air ports, air flight from Paris and other towns? All this made Sarkozy government as one of the most unpopular and arrogant leaders of France since 1945. It is only on 23rd Oct. that Sarkozy has beaten a retreat by accepted the basic demands of French workers not to raise retirement age from 60 to 62 years of age. Though France like other Europe countries and USA, in particular was faced with recession and Sarkozy wanted to improve the economy and save hundreds of billions of Francs, but it was unwise to let the agitation go on for weeks without his coming forward to negotiate with the worker union leaders for such a longtime.
It was the worst riots in Europe even when violent agitators torched cars and indulged in fire bombing. Such a display of violence had never happened before in France. Raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and reforms in pension as ordered by Sarkozy without consulting the unions of workers and their representatives was high handed and one sided decision imposed by the French government. Though French workers have always got and enjoyed the best working conditions like health services, housing and only 35 working hours in a week.
The package of reforms not only is about raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 but also calls for qualifying for “full pension from 65 to 67 years.” French are particular about their privileges and cannot bear the loss of their privileges but even want more. So they violently opposed the pension and retirement age package for weeks.
French agitation and rioting has set a bad precedent for other European countries, their workers and unions that, if need be, and the government of the day is adamant and the PM like Sarkozy arrogant, they can also go on strike for 3 weeks or more till their demands are met and the government of the day retracts from its unseasonable and arrogant stand.
French Senate has, in disregard of violent agitation for a number of weeks, causing loss of hundreds of billions of dollars to French Economy, passed the bill raising the age of retirement to 62 with other benefits. Agitation has been resumed by workers as before and is violent as earlier. It is France’s misfortune to have a leader like Sorkozy who is considered to be the worst leader of France in 50 years.
In India and even in East and South East Asia, development and happenings in Chili are almost always ignored. But the safe rescue of 36 Chilean miners after 69 days got world wide publicity and media coverage, as never before. 69 miners were trapped on August 5 when a cave fell closing all possibility of their safe exit. Chilean government realizing the gravity of the problem got into action after due consideration of their safety and safe rescue. So on August 19, after some drilling, the drill reached the site where miners were trapped and after a few days their first video images were also got. Then food water and medicines were lowered by the supply staff. This news was heartening for the impatient and some crying relatives. Then as fast as possible, technically and physically, on Sept 17 drill reached close to the miners and steps were taken to widen the Hole. Rescue workers complete the drilling and prepare an escape shaft for the trapped miners. The escape shaft was about 820 meters long which naturally required many days and lot of care so that there was no damage near the escape passage for the trapped miners. It still took four days more when on 13th October the first miner was brought out quite safe and without any injury or harm. That is really a miracle which has happened for the first time.
Contrast it with India where often a child falls in an uncovered hole and many times his dead body is brought out inspite of military help and the relatives start crying. The blame game goes on for a week or so but again in a week or a month another such tragedy occurs. Imagine if in India or any Asian country or even a European country so many miners are trapped for 30 days, even, what to speak of 69 days! There seems to be no possibility of their rescue, as the conditions are particularly in a country like India, the greatest democracy in the world. Even in China many times Chinese miners get trapped and quite often the government of China is unable to rescue them.
We should learn from Chili. If the government considers that in India there should be no tragedies even of death in uncovered manholes and in coal mines and other mines which are many and spread over many states, a team of experts may be sent to Chili to get the full report and learn the technique and the equipment required to rescue trapped persons in mines or manholes. It seems necessary so that there are no minor or major tragedies in India.
Millions of Indians had not heard the name of a former USSR state, now independent country, after dismemberment of USSR. Kirgizstan is a mountainous country, on its north is Russia and on its South is Afghanistan. Indians came to know of Kirgizstan because there were Indian students when ethnic riots broke out and they were confined to their houses, witness to large scale burning of houses of ethnic minority, Uzbeks and their continuous massacre. Indian Ambassador in panic immediately got in touch and informed the Indian government in consultation with Kirgiz government so that Indians are evacuated as early as possible without being victims of riots. Luckily Government of India woke up in time and got the Indian students, without any of being physically harmed, rescued to the joy of students, their families and even whole of India. It was commendable effort by government of India to airlift them. But for their being Indian students trapped there India would have ignored the ethnic rioting there and Indians would not have bothered about ethnic riots.
The civil war in Kirgizstan in june 2010 resulted in large scale rioting and merciless killing in streets and in their houses which were set on fire and residents of ethnic minority Uzbeks were even burnt alive. It is reported that more than 400 Uzbeks were killed and 4,00,000 were forced to flee to save their lives. Russian government was called by Uzbeks and the government of Uzbekistan to intervene by sending its army to save the Uzbeks who, too, were citizens of erstwhile USSR. But Russia just looked across the border and did nothing to stop the rioting and killing. But after the restoration of peace in Kirgizstan, Russia attempted to set up a base in Oshi, close to Afghanistan with a view to halt drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Russia through Kirgizstan. Militarily also Russia is aware that USA has virtually lost war against Taliban in Afghanistan and American Army will have to quit by the end of 2010 or early 2011 as America has suffered heavy cost in men and money in this 10 year old futile war which has affected American economy and prestige all over the world. Though Russia did not intervene in civil war Russia is concerned with happenings there as both Kirgizstan and Uzbekistan, like Afghanistan are Muslim countries. Russia wants to keep as eye on developments there.
After the civil war which ended in July 2010 there had been overdue elections which were held on 10th of October. The very fact that election could be and were held and that too, successfully is significant. There are likely to be problems, on Kirgiz had two coups in the last five years. President Askar Akayer who was President for the last 15 years was forced to quit in 2005. His successor Bakiyer was ousted after June 2010 bloodshed. As in the first ever particularly elections no single political part Parliamentary was in a position to form stable government, it is a coalition government which includes nationalist party from Southern Kirgizstan which had been secure of ethnic violence. Even then it is hoped by all the Kirgizstan citizens, including the southern part divided from north with high mountains and that is close to Afghanistan that there would be in peace because the new interim President was proponent of parliamentary elections and is committed to peace and harmony in Kirgizstan for its economic development.
When the Ayodhya Verdict was announced by Allahabad High Court all political parties and all Hindus and Muslims heaved a sign of relief, expressing satisfaction over a long awaited verdict. The verdict was balanced and not one-sided. Even the governments of UP and Delhi, in particular and Central government, too, which were fearing unrest after H.C Verdict had deployed thousands of security Personnel to maintain peace. Before the announcement of historic verdict BJP and its allies feared that verdict might be completely in favour of Muslims allotting whole of Babri Mashid complex to them. On the other hand Muslims particularly Sunis too, feared that verdict may be fully in favour of Hindus. But High Court seemed to be just to both Hindus and Muslims.
Learned judges of Allahabad High Court in their just verdict had divided Babri Masjid complex of 60 acres of land in three parts, giving two parts of Ram temple and Sita Rasoi to Hindus and third part where part of Babri Masjid stood to Muslims. With the passage of time both Hindus and Muslims decided to go to Supreme Court in appeal for improving the HC award in their favour. It must be mentioned that two judges of High Court out of there viz, Honourable judges Aggarwal and Khan gave majority Judgment that created history because one of the two judges was a Hindu and other Muslim. While the third judge of HC, Mr Sharma went too far in favour of Hindus, so his views have been ignored by both Hindus and Muslims.
P.C. Chidambaram, Home Minister, belonging to Congress Party in UPA, has announced that the verdict of Allahabad High Court has not approved demolition of Babri Masjid. But the Congress is worried because after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, Congress lost to BJP, it fears that if it opposes, in any manner the verdict of Allahabad High Court, it may lose power to BJP in 2012 general elections. So congress is in dilemma. It cannot afford to favour Muslims and it cannot dare appose the verdict or demand is dilution in favour of Muslims. Both Hindus and Muslims are thinking of appealing to Supreme Court. Till then there would be calm and peace as there has been after HC verdict and even for ever. Both Hindus and Muslims and the whole of country should be grateful to two learned judges of Allahabad High Court who gave a verdict of peace and harmony between both Hindus and Muslims and in India. Hope peace and harmony is further highlighted by the following statement by learned secular minded Islamic Scholar Maulana Vahidudin Khan- “Either leave it to the government to implement the court verdict or agree to the relocation of Babri Mosque. There is in reality no third option”. This appears to be the best solution for Muslims to be allotted free of cost land equal to the existing Babri Masjid as well as with reasonable amount for construction. Hindus would be very happy to get the entire Babri Masjid complex for building Ram temple that could be one of the best temples in whole of India, though they, too, like Muslims are thinking of appealing to Supreme Court so that they are not left behind and to demonstrate to the entire Hindu Community that they want the entire Babri Masjid complex to build a befitting Ram Temple.
On 16th Oct both Muslim and Hindu organization decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. First came the decision of All India Muslim Personal Lal Board (AIMPB) to challenge the Allahabad High Court verdict after their special meeting. AQ illyssi its spokesman said after the meeting that “we are only claiming our property back. A mosque cannot be gifted, shifted and sold.” Nirmohi Akhara counsel retaliated in a few moments on the same day: Akhara wants the management rights of the temple and the entire Babri Masjid courtyard in its possession. Earlier Gagan Das head of the Akhara and Hashim Ansari, the original plaintiff had been negotiating a peaceful settlement. But when the Sunni Muslim dominated AIMPB took hardliner’s view, Akhara Mahant Bhaskaran, too, decided to appeal to the Supreme Court defending his decision strongly: Going to Supreme Court is our compulsion now as Sunni Board has already decided on it. Thus on both sides hardliners have had the way over moderates, atleast for the time being. Still it is heartening to note that both sides are willing to negotiate. Now both the parties and the nation has to wait patiently of the decision of Supreme Court which may take months as SC may call for the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) report which is already with HC.
It is a lesson for Geelani, his supporter colleagues and followers as well as even for Omar Abdulah that a massive conclave of Deoband clerics have snubbed the separatists in Kashmir. It is first time that on 10th October Darul Uloom Deoband spiritual leaders of Sunni Muslims of India have openly come in favour Kashmirs accession to India saying openly in a congregation that Kashmir is integral part of India, have openly condemned the Kashmiri separatists, who led the recent agitation for so called Azadi for 5 months that resulted in loss of about hundred lives of mostly innocent youth of Kashmir and even women for no fault of theirs. They were instigated and led by separatist time and again, even during curfew, to pelt stones on Security personnel. Latest and the worst was attack on school buses carrying school children to their schools or returning from schools after 5 months idleness at home. Thirteen children were hurt but parents insisted that buses should continue to run. Unfortunately Omar Abdullah the PM of Kashmir too lost temper recently and blamed Central Government as well as accession of Kashmir to India not realizing that it was his own failure during last six months in particular to build confidence in favour of Kashmir as part of India.
Views and comments of important Muslim leaders of India, for the first time since partition of India on religious ground and creation of Pakistan which after 63 years is in turmoil because of Taliban on one hand, their frequent suicide bombing right upto Islamabad and Lahore and Karachi. On the other hand frequent bombing by USA, on Pakistan in absolute violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a threat to Pakistan’s government. Pakistan’s failure as a Muslim state has opened the eyes of Indian Muslim leaders who have come openly in support of India’s unity and Kashmir’s unity with India which is a secular state, caring for all religions equally.
Senior religious leader, Darul Theolegiun, Abul Rahim Bastawi description of India has far reaching significance, which has not been said so far by any Muslim leader of India. Bastawi, Darul theolegiun said “India is bouquet of all types of flowers. We cannot allow any of the flowers to be taken away.” The resolution passed by Darul conclave made it further clear though not in poetic words of Bastawi but equally significant. The resolution passed in the enclave on Sunday said: “the long pending demands of Kashmiri people must be addressed within the framework of the Constitution of India.”
Both Geelani and Omar Abdullah must go through the views expressed by Bastawi a noted theologian as well as the resolution passed by the most important conclave of Muslims and instantly change their views for the sake of Kashmir and Kashmiri people who have suffered a lot because of separatists like Geelani’s instigation and incapacity of Omar Abdulha, in handling the situation being head of Jammu and Kashmir. All Kashmiri leaders and people should not forget the criminal folly of Pakistan in 1947-48 of sending non – Kashmiri militants from NWFP trained and financed by Pakistan to enter Kashmir, kill and loot Kashmiris indiscriminately at a time when there was standstill agreement. Pakistan had sent its army in support of Jehadis to capture Kashmir’s capital Srinagar. It prompted Hari Singh to sign instrument of accession of J&K to India and on the plea of Sheikh Abdulah and Sardar Patel to send Indian Army to stop the aggression and save the lives and honour of many and save Kashmir. Rest is history well known, defeat of Pakistan’s Army and Jehadis and Cease Fire.
First of all, it does not seem proper to call schedule castes as Dalits, particularly to title the book – ‘Dalits in India’. No doubt that in accordance with Hindu caste system there are about 30 percent Shudras or Dalits but Gandhiji called them Harijans i.e children of god and even the British under 1935 Act referred to them as Scheduled Castes ie, castes in a schedule. Since then they have not been called officially and academically Shudras or Dalits. Subtitle – Search for a common Destiny is really commendable.
No doubt the author of the Book Shri Sukhdeo Thorat has done lot of research on the subject collecting information on the conditions of SC’s since independence. There are dozens of tables about their progress and improvement in their conditions. It shows clearly that none of the governments at centre during last 63 years has done enough to improve their lot significantly as was required in the 1950 constitution of Free India which granted reservations for 15 years in the hope that by 1965 their will be no need for reservations for them as they would be equal to higher castes, having overall better living conditions by way of providing proper facilities for their education, employment, wages, housing. Various government did not bother to examine the important provision in the constitution and implement these as pointed out below. Part III of the constitution of 1950, specified Fundamental Rights of all citizens, after abolishing untouchability once for all as per Article 17 of the constitution and its violation punishable in accordance with law. Part III of the constitution further spelled out right to equality, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex or place of birth and ordained that there will be equality of opportunity in matter of public employment for all citizens to any office under the state. In addition it provided freedom of speech, expression, peaceful assembly and movement of citizens of India in any territory and to settle any where in India in any state and to settle anywhere in India.
Article 46 of part IV of the Directive Principles of State specifies that the state shall promote educational and economic interests of the weaker section of the society, particularly of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and protect then form exploitation. Article 330 of the constitution provides for reservation of seats for SC’s and ST’s in the House of People (Lok Sabha). Similar provision was made in Article 332 for reservation of SC’s and ST’s in the legislatures of the states, in proportion, as far as possible, to the population of SC’s and ST’s in the state.
Finally in the interest of scheduled castes and Tribes. Article 338 of the constitution provides for setting up National commission for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, specially to investigate and monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided for them in the constitution, to evaluate working of safeguards provided in the Constitution.
Besides the provision in the Constitution outlined above for SC’s and ST’s there have been civil rights Act of 1955, The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) ordinance of 1975. Under these rules the state government may appoint an officer not below the rank of Sub-Divisional Magistrate for the purpose of making an inquiry and submit the report of inquiry to the central government for placing before parliament.
In 1989, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act was passed providing for courts for such offences relating to atrocities. Offences of atrocities under 1989 Act include causing injury or even insult to any SC or ST by forcibly removing his clothes or to parade him naked. It is also an offence to dump excreta waste matter, carcass or any other obnoxious substance in his premises or neighborhood. There are many other offences causing insult or injury deliberately and details of punishment for such offences, and enhanced punishment for subsequent conviction. Special Courts can impose punishment which will be not less than one year.
So many provisions have been made and so many Acts have been passed even after the coming in force of 1950 Constitution yet it is well known that in many states untouchability still exists and scheduled castes are not even allowed to enter certain temples and thorough fares. They are not allowed to own or build houses in areas where higher caste people live and practice business. There is hardly any punishment or enforcement of these penal provisions in these areas. Even the employment of manual scavengers and construction of day latrines have been prohibited by 1993 Act but these continue to exist all over India, particularly in rural areas and J.J colonies in the cities and poor day labourers settlements in urban areas.
To sum it up, historically SC’s have not been allowed to own agricultural land. Inspite of many provisions in the constitution and other Acts, there is high incidence of landlessness among SC’s. The best course, as suggested by Sukhdeo Thorat is for the government to create a ‘pool of state level acquired land under ceiling laws and from other public land such as waste land which is free from legal problems’. Land so acquired may be given to landless SC’s. Government may also adopt measures to enforce strictly provisions about quota for jobs both in public and private sectors, education for SC’s in rural areas in particular, and to end atrocities so that they become educated, employed and are fearless and have ‘common destiny’ with other citizens in next 20 years, so that there are no Dalits or SC’s at all, for all times to come.
There was hundred percent honesty in Judiciary of India during Nehru era for more than two decades. It is well known as to why judiciary was made an instrument of government, particularly by Indira Gandhi who set aside the constitution and imposed Emergency in whole of India for the first time, and it is hoped for the last time ever. During Emergency virtually all the state governments were dissolved and all prominent political leaders of opposition including Jai Prakash Narain who never hankered for political office or ministership and who was a freedom fighter along with Gandhi and Patel.
In contrast to give a few examples of how even after Emergency politics got corrupted and some judges and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) a tool of the government. Lalu Parsad Yadav who was Chief Minister of Bihar had to resign from Chief Ministership because of Fodder Scam of thousands of crores of rupees. Despite proven charges in courts, he has not been convicted but, for political reasons, was included in Central Cabinet for a number of years. It is well known that Paswan accepted bribe of Rs 60 lakh from the then Congress PM P.V Narsimha Rao. It was proved as he had deposited huge amount in the bank and so was convicted. He too, thereafter became a minister in the Central Cabinet.
Another case is of UP Chief Minister Mayawati who is often required to save the central government of Manmohan Singh and UPA chief Sonia Gandhi. It is only on Sept 27, 2010 that Supreme Court has rapped CBI and Mayawati for getting her petition of 2008 against her prosecution for disproportionate assets case adjourned several times. The Court lashed at both Mayawati and CBI “if both of you are together then we shall not hear this case at all” Supreme Court bench added “Sometimes the petitioner (Mayawati) wants time to fill an application, sometimes you (CBI) take time file your reply to it”.
Though India under British rule had a written constitution 1935 Act, upto 1947, when India became free. But Independent India had its own constitution after prolonged deliberation in Constituent Assembly in 1951. In India constitution is supreme like USA which has the oldest written constitution in the world. Though after World War II European countries, even like defeated Germany have a written constitution which they also consider supreme. Pran Chopra rightly points out that Indias constitution is “preserver of federal system of India. No document institution or authority is Supreme to it. Our constitution has given authority to Supreme Court to interpret the constitution. Though India’s Parliament, as representative of all the people of India is supreme but it is to act within the limits of the written constitution. Parliament can make amendments but within the limit set by written constitution and are not ultra vires to the constitution.
It is in this context that I K Gujral who became later the Prime Minister of India was shocked to observe the saddening conduct of some honourable chief justices during the Emergency: “I recall the visit of two honourable chief justices to Moscow during my tenure there (as India’s ambassador to USSR) and how they defended the misdoings under emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi) of the era”.
Former chief justice of India A M Ahmadi has posed the fundamental question can the Parliament pass any constitution amendment without proper and extensive discussion in the Parliament? He cites the example of for former speaker P A Sangma and some of his successors when “guillotine is applied and a lot of legislation is passed without any discussion. The power to enact a law does not merely mean that you place a law on the table of Parliament and take it as passed”. It is a significant contribution of Chief justice Ahmadi for future Parliaments before they pass any law or constitutional amendment.
Sovereignty is with “we the people” as first line of preamble of the constitution makes it clear and not with any of the three organs mentioned above former PM of India and former Chief Justice of India as well as there are many other personalities who have expressed their similar view’s in ‘Supreme Court verses Constitution of India’, to name the few, Pran Chopra who provided a detailed article for discussion as well as for contribution of articles by eminent persons like former PM and Chief Justice of India and others. Govt of India and the Parliament have now realized that there should be transparency in Judiaciary, no corruption because of Judges having close relations with lawyers. Accordingly a comprehensive bill is being introduced in Parliament shortly for this purpose.
To sum up, Indian constitution is mainly meant, because it is a written constitution, to guard the fundamental rights of Indian citizens, right to life, freedom of speech, sanctity of democracy and for perpetuation of federal system, to keep India united, so that all federal states have freedom of having their own language and culture. Thus it is foremost duty to every member of Parliament, every member of judiciary and CBI which has come to be known as instrument of government and all the members of executive to honour and preserve the written constitution, despite the amendments which are essential because of development of society, not being static. Constitution and its spirit is thus sacrosanct.