Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bridging the divide

The recent election campaigning by the TN political parties for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections underlines the fact that the common man there is not able to relate himself to the aspirations of the rest of India. The ongoing war in Sri Lanka between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army has polarised the scenario there and we have more cheer when a leader accuses the Sri Lankan govt for crimes against the tamils than when he accuses the central govt on failure to deliver on developmental issues.


Tamil Nadu seems to have this problem right since the 1960’s when there was the Tamil movement reminiscent of the current activities of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena(MNS). This tamil movement replaced the rule of the Congress party in the state with the DMK. Regional parties have continued to rule the roost ever since.


Primary and Secondary education curriculum have enforced Tamil as a compulsory language. There have been campaigns against using English as a medium of education. Such campaigns are usually spearheaded by politicians who send the children to Harvard or a Yale to pursue their studies. Such hypocrisy I fear will alienate the people of TN from the rest of India.


But thanks to India’s phenomenal growth since early 2001, we have a lot of employment generated in TN ; Madurai , Chennai and Coimbatore in particular. The Services sector has been a major contributor to this. Such employment opportunities have attracted youth from across the country. The movement of people I believe is India’s strength and helps in bridging the divide between people following different cultures and languages. I hope and believe that such a phenomenon will end TN’s isolation.


But when a Vaiko speaks for the secession of TN from the rest of the country and speaks of a separate Tamil nation, all such efforts of bridging the divide seems wasted. The sad fact is that parties like the CPI have also started speaking this language. All this for petty electoral gains.

I recently read about the Governor of Texas speaking in a similar language. He was speaking of secession from the USA if Washington’s tax policies would not be reformed. He was using a much milder tone although.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

2 Landmark Verdicts

The supreme court of India came up with 2 landmark judgments yesterday. One was related to the petition filed by Bollywood actor and Samajwadi party candidate Sanjay Dutt , that his conviction in the Mumbai blast case be suspended and he be allowed to contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The SC rejected the petition. With this landmark verdict, the SC has sent a clear signal to the parties that they should not field criminals in an election.

However, this judgement also raises a lot of doubts in our minds. Why was Navjot Singh Sidhu then allowed to contest in the Lok Sabha by-election considering his involvement in a hit and run case? Why do we have candidates in Bihar contesting elections from the Jail? Does the Supreme Court not ban such candidates? I know the answer only for the Sidhu case. He was a sitting MP, when he was convicted. He immediately resigned from the post. The Supreme Court considered this to be a great gesture and then went on to stay his conviction, when he appealed.

This also brings into picture, the role played by the CBI in this case. The CBI filed a petition in the SC seeking to ban Sanjay Dutt from contesting in the polls. Of late, many consider the CBI to be working in congress’ favour. So the supporters of Sanjay Dutt may say that it was a plot hatched by the congress and supported by the CBI. However, for a common man like me it is a symbol of hope. A hope that justice cannot be undermined to such a great extent in this country.
Sanjay Dutt might have played a charming role as Munnabhai and might have promoted Gandhigiri. Hell, he might have even reformed and inspired many with his roles. But does that change the fact that he was involved in a serious crime, a war against the country. The TADA court might have acquitted him but he is still booked under the Arms act. His confession to the crime has probably lessened his punishment. He has spent close to 18 months in Jail and has probably now spent a major part of his life in running to the court s. He looks like a reformed man now. But letting him contest the elections will set a bad precedence.

Another case is related to a petition filed by a student against his school. The student wished to follow his religious practice and wanted to sport a beard. When the school objected to this, the boy moved the Supreme Court. He argued that India being a secular country, an individual should be allowed to freely practice his religion. The Supreme Court dismissed his petition stating that the concept of secularism cannot be overstretched. It went on to say that the rules followed by an institution cannot be changed for the sake of one student and that he was always free to join another school which would not object to his sporting a beard.

I do not blame the school in this regard because any school would like to bring uniformity amongst its students. Not all the students of a school may be economically strong. That’s the whole purpose of a school uniform, to bring about uniformity and to avoid any feeling of jealousness. Similarly, in every other regard, a school might want to have uniformity and equality. Nothing wrong.
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