பதிப்புரிமை பெற்ற செய்திகளுக்கு உரிய சன்மானம் வழங்குவது தொடர்பிலான பேச்சுவார்த்தைகளை நல்லெண்ணத்துடன் மேற்கொள்ளத் தவறிய ‘கூகுள்’ நிறுவனத்துக்கு பிரான்ஸ் நாட்டின் வாணிபப் போட்டிகளுக்கான ஒழுங்குமுறை ஆணையம் இந்திய மதிப்பில் ரூ. 4,400 கோடி அபராதம் விதித்திருப்பது, இது குறித்து நீண்ட காலமாக நடந்துவரும் விவாதங்களுக்கு மேலும் ஒரு நல்வழியைக் காட்டியிருக்கிறது. டிஜிட்டல் பதிப்புரிமை தொடர்பிலான ஐரோப்பிய ஒன்றியத்தின் புதிய விதிமுறைகளுக்கு கூகுள் இணங்காத நிலையில், அந்நிறுவனத்தைச் செய்தி நிறுவனங்களுடன் நல்லெண்ணத்துடன் கூடிய பேச்சுவார்த்தைகளை நடத்துமாறு 2020 ஏப்ரலில் பிரான்ஸ் ஒழுங்குமுறை ஆணையம் உத்தரவிட்டிருந்தது. பதிப்புரிமை பெற்ற செய்திக் கட்டுரைகள், புகைப்படங்கள் மற்றும் காணொளிகளை இணைய தேடுபொறிகளோ சமூக ஊடகங்களோ தங்களது வலைப்பக்கங்களில் பயன்படுத்தும்போது அதற்கு உரிய சன்மானத்தைத் தொடர்புடைய செய்தி நிறுவனங்களுக்கு அளிக்க வேண்டும் என்பதே இந்தப் புதிய விதிமுறைகளின் அடிப்படை நோக்கம். ஆனால், அதைப் பின்பற்ற கூகுள் தயாராக இல்லை என்று பிரபல செய்தி நிறுவனமான ஏ.எஃப்.பி அளித்த புகாரின்படியே ஒழுங்குமுறை ஆணையத்தின் இந்த முடிவு எடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
கூகுள், பேஸ்ஃபுக் உள்ளிட்ட நிறுவனங்கள் ஆஸ்திரேலிய ஊடகங்களின் செய்திகளையும் கட்டுரைகளையும் தங்கள் வலைப்பக்கங்களில் காட்டுவதன் மூலம் பெறும் வருமானத்தை அந்தந்த ஊடகங்களுடன் பகிர்ந்துகொள்ள வேண்டும் என்ற சட்டத்தைக் கடந்த பிப்ரவரியில் ஆஸ்திரேலிய அரசு இயற்றியது. இந்தியாவிலும் கூகுள் நிறுவனத்திடம் இந்திய செய்தித்தாள் சங்கம் (ஐஎன்எஸ்) தொடர்ந்து இத்தகைய கோரிக்கைகளை முன்வைத்துவருகிறது என்றாலும் ஆஸ்திரேலியா, ஐரோப்பிய ஒன்றியம்போல சட்டரீதியான பாதுகாப்பே இந்திய செய்தி நிறுவனங்களின் நியாயமான கோரிக்கைக்கு வலுசேர்க்கும்.--Source: hindutamil.in
இன்று அகவை 99-ஐக் கடந்து தனது பிறந்த நாள் நூற்றாண்டில் அடியெடுத்து வைக்கிறாா் தோழா் சங்கரய்யா. தமிழக அரசியல் வரலாற்றில் நூறாண்டு வாழும் முதல் தலைவா் என்கிற முறையிலும், பட்டாளி மக்களின் தோளோடு தோள் நின்று போராடிக் கொண்டிருக்கும் கம்யூனிஸ்ட் இயக்கத் தோழா் என்கிற முறையிலும், இந்திய விடுதலைக்காக பிரிட்டிஷ் காலனிய ஆட்சியை எதிா்த்துப் போராடிய போராளி என்கிற முறையிலும் ‘தினமணி’ அவருக்குப் பிறந்தநாள் வாழ்த்துக் கூறி மகிழ்கிறது.
தமிழகத்துக்கும் இந்திய பொதுவுடைமை இயக்கத்துக்கும் இணைபிரிக்க முடியாத உறவு உண்டு. சோவியத் யூனியனில் உள்ள தாஷ்கண்டில் 1920 அக்டோபா் 17-ஆம் தேதி இந்திய கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சி பிறந்தது என்றாலும், அமைப்பு ரீதியாக செயல்படத் தொடங்கியது 1921-ஆம் ஆண்டில்தான். அதை வைத்துப் பாா்க்கும்போது, இந்திய கம்யூனிஸ்ட் இயக்கத்தின் நூற்றாண்டு வரலாறும், தோழா் சங்கரய்யாவின் வாழ்க்கையும் எந்த அளவுக்கு இரண்டறக் கலந்தவை என்பதை நாம் உணரலாம்.
காமராஜா் மட்டுமல்ல பின்னாளில் இந்திய குடியரசுத் தலைவா்களாக இருந்த சஞ்சீவ ரெட்டி, ஆா். வெங்கட்ராமன் உள்ளிட்ட காங்கிரஸ் தலைவா்களும், ப. ஜீவானந்தம், எம்.ஆா். வெங்கட்ராமன் உள்ளிட்ட இயக்கத் தோழா்களும் அவரது சிறைச்சாலை சகாக்களாக இருந்தவா்கள். சிறைச்சாலையில் இருந்த காங்கிரஸ் தொண்டா்கள் பலா் சங்கரய்யாவின் பரப்புரையால் கம்யூனிஸ்ட் இயக்கத்தில் சோ்ந்தாா்கள் என்பதும் வரலாறு.
மதுரை அமெரிக்கன் கல்லூரி மாணவராக இருக்கும்போதே மாணவா் காங்கிரஸ் தலைவராக போராட்டங்களை முன்னெடுத்த என். சங்கரய்யா, கல்லூரியில் படிக்கும்போதே நேதாஜி சுபாஷ்சந்திர போஸை அழைத்து வந்து மதுரையில் கூட்டம் நடத்தினாா் என்றால், எந்த அளவுக்கு வீரியமான போராளியாக அவா் இருந்திருக்கிறாா் என்பதை உணரலாம். இறுதியாண்டுத் தோ்வின்போது சிறையில் அடைக்கப்பட்டதால் கல்லூரி பட்டம் கைநழுவியது. ‘தோழா்’ பட்டம் அவருக்கு முகவரியானது.
ஏறத்தாழ எட்டு ஆண்டுகள் சிறைச்சாலையிலும், ஐந்து ஆண்டுகள் தலைமறைவாகவும் வாழ்ந்தவா் சங்கரய்யா. தமிழக பொதுவுடைமை இயக்க வரலாற்றில் அவரைப் போல போராட்டங்களையும், பேரணிகளையும் முன்னெடுத்தவா்கள் இல்லை என்றே கூறலாம்.
கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சியின் பிதாமகரும், நிறுவனப் பொதுச் செயலாளருமான பி.சி. ஜோஷியை 1946-இல் மதுரைக்கு அழைத்து வந்து சங்கரய்யா நடத்திய மாபெரும் பொதுக்கூட்டம் இன்று வரை தன்னிகரற்றதாகக் கருதப்படுகிறது. தமிழகம் எங்கிருந்தும் லட்சக்கணக்கில் மக்கள் மதுரையில் குவிந்ததால் பொதுக்கூட்டம் நடத்துவதற்கு இடம் தேட முடியாமல், வைகை ஆற்றுக்குள் தோழா் பி.சி. ஜோஷி பங்கேற்ற பொதுக்கூட்டம் நடைபெற்றது என்பதை இப்போது நினைத்தாலும் வியப்பாக இருக்கிறது.
1946-இல் நடந்த அந்தப் பொதுக்கூட்டத்தைத் தொடா்ந்து, பிரிட்டிஷ் அரசால் புனையப்பட்ட மதுரை சதி வழக்கில் என். சங்கரய்யா, பி. ராமமூா்த்தி உள்ளிட்ட கம்யூனிஸ்ட் இயக்கத் தலைவா்கள் கைது செய்யப்பட்டனா். இந்தியா விடுதலை பெற்ற 1947 ஆகஸ்ட் 15-ஆம் தேதிக்கு முந்தைய நாள்தான் அவா்கள் விடுதலை செய்யப்பட்டனா்.
1964-இல் இந்திய பொதுவுடைமை இயக்கம் மிகப் பெரிய சோதனையை எதிா்கொண்டது. அன்று கட்சியின் தலைவராக இருந்த தோழா் எஸ்.ஏ. டாங்கேக்கும், பொதுச் செயலாளராக இருந்த தோழா் ஈ.எம்.எஸ். நம்பூதிரிபாடுக்கும் இடையே ஏற்பட்ட கருத்துவேறுபாடு கட்சியில் பூகம்பத்தைக் கிளப்பியது.
அப்போது கட்சியின் தேசியக் குழுவிலிருந்து தலைமையை எதிா்த்து ஈ.எம்.எஸ். நம்பூதிரிபாட், ஏ.கே. கோபாலன், பி. ராமமூா்த்தி உள்ளிட்ட 34 போ் வெளிநடப்பு செய்தனா். அந்த 34 போ்களில் ஒருவா் தனது 100-ஆவது வயதில் அடியெடுத்து வைக்கும் தோழா் என். சங்கரய்யா என்றால், இன்னொருவா் அகவை 98-இல் இப்போதும் சுறுசுறுப்புடன் வளைய வந்துகொண்டிருக்கும் முன்னாள் கேரள முதல்வா் வி.எஸ். அச்சுதானந்தன்.
தமிழக சட்டப்பேரவையின் உறுப்பினராக மூன்று முறை மதுரையில் இருந்து தோ்ந்தெடுக்கப்பட்ட தோழா் சங்கரய்யா, பத்திரிகையாளரும் கூட. ஒன்றுபட்ட கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சியில் இருக்கும்போது ‘ஜனசக்தி’யின் முதல் பொறுப்பாசிரியராக இருந்த சங்கரய்யாதான், மாா்க்சிஸ்ட் கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சியின் அதிகாரபூா்வ நாளேடான ‘தீக்கதிா்’ இதழின் முதல் ஆசிரியா்.
கலை, இலக்கியம்; நகரம், கிராமம்; தேசியம், சா்வ தேசியம் - எதுவாக இருந்தாலும் சங்கரய்யா ஆழங்காற்பட்டவா். தேசிய அளவில் காங்கிரஸ் - பாஜகவுக்கு மாற்றாகவும், மாநில அளவில் திமுக - அதிமுகவுக்கு மாற்றாகவும் இருக்கும் தகுதி பெற்றது கம்யூனிஸ இயக்கம்தான் என்கிற அசைக்க முடியாத நம்பிக்கையுடன் தொடா்பவா் அவா்.
1952 பொதுத்தோ்தலின்போது, திராவிட நாடு கோரிக்கையை ஆதரித்தால் கம்யூனிஸ்டுகளுக்கு ஆதரவு தர திமுக முன்வந்தது. பிரிவினைவாதக் கொள்கைகளை ஆதரிக்க முடியாது என்று அந்த ஆதரவை கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சி நிராகரித்தது. கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சியின் சாா்பில் நிராகரித்தவா் தோழா் என். சங்கரய்யா.
‘நூறாண்டு வாழ்க’ என்று வாழ்த்துவாா்கள். தூய்மையான, நோ்மையான, எளிமையான, கொள்கைப் பிடிப்புள்ள அரசியலுக்கு எடுத்துக்காட்டாக விளங்கும் தோழா் என். சங்கரய்யா, பல நூற்றாண்டுகள் வாழ வேண்டும்; அதன் மூலம் பல தலைமுறை இளைஞா்களுக்கு முன்னுதாரணமாகத் திகழ வேண்டும் என்று இறை பரம்பொருளை இறைஞ்சத் தோன்றுகிறது!--Source: dinamani.com
The all-party conference on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) revealed the failure of the strategy crafted by the Government of India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long urged the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. But the constitutional coup went miles beyond that. It abrogated Article 35A as well, broke up the State of J&K by lopping off Ladakh, and reduced the rest to a Union Territory. It is unthinkable that any other State would have received the treatment meted out to J&K whose ‘special status’ was an eyesore.
But the elephant in the room was the law on delimitation of the constituencies. It trumpeted the real object of the coup loud and clear, which was to wipe out the political set-up in J&K and establish a new political order. To accomplish this, virtually the entire political class of Kashmir had to be put out of action, the press muzzled, assemblies banned, tourists given marching orders, schools and colleges shut, and electronic communications suspended.
Abrogation of Article 370
Article 370 cannot be abrogated even by Parliament, let alone by the President. Even the letter of Article 370 bars that. But there is a profound reason which fundamentally bars such a result. To cite an example, insurgency erupted in Mizoram on February 28, 1966. The Mizo National Front (MNF) led by Laldenga began an armed insurgency and declared independence the next day. On June 30, 1986, the Mizoram Accord was signed. It said: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of (a) Religion or social practices of the Mizos, (b) Mizo customary law or procedure, (c) Administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, (d) Ownership and transfer of land, shall apply to the State of Mizoram unless the Legislative Assembly of Mizoram by a resolution so decides.” On February 20, 1987, the 53rd Constitution Amendment came into force inserting Article 371G which reads thus: “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of (i) Religious or social practices of the Mizos, (ii) Mizo customary law and procedure, (iii) Administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, (iv) Ownership and transfer of land, shall apply to the State of Mizoram unless the Legislative Assembly of Mizoram by a resolution so decides.”
The two are identically worded because Article 371G gives legal force to an accord between the Union and the MNF. Parliament cannot repeal it or even amend it unilaterally.
Article 370 stands on a higher footing. It gives legal force to an accord between the Union and a State of the Union and the parleys were held by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his deputy, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. They began at Patel’s residence on May 15, 1949 and ended in mid-October with an agreed text. But it was moved in an altered form in the Constituent Assembly on October 17, 1949 by N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar in the absence of Sheikh Abdullah who happened to be in the lobby. He rushed to the House.
Article 370 made Kashmir’s Constituent Assembly the sole authority to accord consent to any addition to the Centre’s power and to further extension to Kashmir of India’s Constitution. The Assembly first met on October 31, 1951 and was formally dissolved on November 17, 1956. Article 370 enabled the State government to accord its concurrence only subject to J&K’s Constituent Assembly’s concurrence. This was abused to make the State government and even the Governor alone to be the consenting authority.
The result? Ninety-four of the 97 entries in the Central List were applied to Kashmir leaving a balance of three. So much for the ‘special status’. The Constitution is studded with ‘special’ provisions for Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa (Article 371A-1). Kashmir had an elected Sadr-E-Riyasat. The Centre replaced him with a Governor it nominated.
We have high legal authority for challenging the ‘laws’ of August 5, 2019. After the First World War, countries of the British Empire were restive about their independence. In 1926, the Earl of Balfour devised a formula which pleased all. The autonomy of those countries was recognised simultaneously with their loyalty to the British Crown. This was incorporated in the Statute of Westminster passed in 1931 by the British Parliament. It said that no law it passed would extend to the Dominions unless they had so wished (Section 4). In 1935, the Privy Council ruled that “the Imperial Parliament could, as a matter of abstract law, repeal or disregard Section 4 of the Statute. But that is theory and has no relation to realities. In truth, Canada is in enjoyment of the full scope of self-government”(British Coal Corporation v. The King).
Areas of ‘special status’
Areas of ‘special status’ abound the world over. Scotland joined England in 1707 to form Great Britain. It held a referendum on its independence withoutits beingcalled ‘treason’. Quebec held two referenda on secession in 1980 and 1995. All three failed.
For historic reasons, the German-majority South Tyrol is partly Italy. Its autonomy is guaranteed by an Austro-Italian accord. The Swedish-majority Aaland Islands are Finnish territory under an accord of 1921. The autonomy of both territories (Aaland Islands and South Tyrol) is internationally guaranteed.
Indonesia quelled militancy in Aceh by an accord on August 15, 2005 based on “special autonomy”. Newfoundland signed the Terms of Union with Canada on December 11, 1948 after a referendum. Denmark conferred home rule on Greenland in 1979. On June 12, 2009, Denmark enacted an Act on Greenland Self-Government to confer greater power than that of our States.
Fifty years ago, Sheikh Abdullah told former Foreign Secretary Y.D. Gundevia, “Only that person who enjoys the confidence of the Government of India can be Chief Minister of Kashmir”. A ‘special status’ worse than, say, Kerala or Tamil Nadu, which can have Chief Ministers that the Centre does not approve of.
The Supreme Court’s record on Kashmir is uninspiring. The matter is too politicised. The petitions must be withdrawn in favour of a political, peaceful, constitutional approach. The Gupkar Declaration of August 4, 2019 must be amplified in a Convention.
On July 9, 1953 Maulana Azad offered to Sheikh Abdullah that the Government of India “is willing to declare that the special position given to Kashmir will be made permanent without any conditions”. Abdullah replied on July 16, “If such a declaration had been earlier, it would have strengthened my hands”. Now, “if I fail to gain the confidence of my people here, I will not be able to render my service to my friends.” The people matter more than they did in 1953. Statesmanship lies in crafting a solution acceptable to them.
Time is running out. The Delimitation Commission visited Kashmir to fulfil the vision of the BJP’s Vision Document — more seats for Jammu. A lot depends on the statesmanship of Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq. Their objectives should be two-fold: to work for the restoration of Kashmir’s identity and pride and help to complete the four-point formula which former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had built four-fifth. The all-party conference failed because it ignored Kashmiri sentiments.
A.G. Noorani is a constitutional expert
On Sunday, the government of Uttar Pradesh released a “Population Policy” in which it stated its intention to bring the gross fertility rate in the State down from the existing 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026. To achieve this, the government says it will consider the enactment of a new piece of legislation. One such law that might be on the anvil is an ominous proposal released just days earlier by the State’s Law Commission (https://bit.ly/3xGH2TF).
Incentives and disincentives
This draft law, titled the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021, seeks to provide not only a series of incentives to families that adhere to a two-child norm, but also intends on disentitling families that breach the norm from benefits and subsidies. These recommendations are rooted in a culture of coercion. They are also steeped in myth. Experiences from across the world demonstrate that laws of this kind simply do not work. They invariably instil an attitude of discrimination, with a burden imposed disparately on the most vulnerable groups in society.
The draft Bill echoes the U.P. government’s new policy in claiming that the State’s ecological and economic resources are limited. According to it, unless population growth is regulated, the State will be unable to guarantee the provision of basic rights to all citizens. It also invokes some of the now-usual buzzwords: sustainable development, it says, cannot be achieved without government-imposed birth control.
To these ends, the draft postulates an array of measures. It promises public servants who undergo sterilisation and adopt a two-child norm several benefits. These include two increments during their service, subsidy towards the purchase of a house, maternity, or paternity leave, with full salary and allowances, as the case may be, for up to 12 months, and free health care and insurance coverage for the spouse.
This is as far as the “incentives” go. The draft Bill also contains a list of punishments. It terms these euphemistically as “disincentives”. A person who breaches the two-child norm will be debarred from securing the benefit of any government-sponsored welfare scheme and will be disqualified from applying to any State government job. Existing government employees who infringe the rule will be denied the benefit of promotion. And last, transgressing individuals will be prohibited from contesting elections to local authorities and bodies.
It is worth pondering over whether regulation of population is necessary at all. But assuming such regulation is a legitimate governmental aim, the first question that we must ask of the new proposal is: why. After all, experiences from other States in India show us that there are more efficacious and alternative measures available to control the growth of population, including processes aimed at improving public health and access to education.
Indeed, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conceded as much before the Supreme Court late last year. Through an affidavit filed in court, the central government argued that “international experience shows that any coercion to have a certain number of children is counter-productive and leads to demographic distortions”. The Government further confirmed that India was committed to its obligations under international law, including the principles contained in the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, 1994.
Pledge on right
Foremost in those principles was a pledge from nations that they would look beyond demographic targets and focus instead on guaranteeing a right to reproductive freedom. Since then, in India, the Supreme Court of India has recognised this right as an inalienable promise. InSuchita Srivastava & Anr vs Chandigarh Administration(2009), the Court found that a woman’s freedom to make reproductive decisions is an integral facet of the right to personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21. “It is important,” the Court wrote, “to recognise that reproductive choices can be exercised to procreate as well as to abstain from procreating”.
This ruling was endorsed by the Supreme Court’s nine-judge Bench verdict inK.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India(2017). A reading of the plurality of opinions there shows us that the Constitution sees a person’s autonomy over her body as an extension of the right to privacy. In his judgment, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held that privacy partakes different connotations. These include decisional autonomy, which comprehends, among other things, liberty over “intimate personal choices such as those governing reproduction”. Justice S.K. Kaul similarly declared in his separate judgment that the right to procreation was an important constituent of “the privacy of the home”.
Like all other fundamental rights, the right to privacy is not boundless. But, asPuttaswamyclarifies, any restriction placed on the right must conform to a doctrine of proportionality. This requires first, that the limitation be rooted in statute; second, that the state show us that the objective of its law is founded on a legitimate governmental aim; third that there are no alternative and less intrusive measures available to achieve the same objective; and fourth, that there exists a rational connection between the limitation imposed and the aims of the statute. The logic here is simple: in pursuing public interest, it is essential that governments ensure that individual liberties are encroached upon to the lowest degree possible. A simple reading of U.P.’s draft law will show us that, if enacted, it will grossly impinge on the right to reproductive freedom. The government will likely argue that there is no violation of privacy here because any decision on sterilisation would be voluntary. But, as we ought to by now know, making welfare conditional is a hallmark of coercion. If we want the idea of India as a welfare state to mean something, the right to access basic goods cannot be made provisional on a person sacrificing her bodily autonomy.
By all accounts, therefore, the proposed law will fall foul of a proportionality analysis. If nothing else, the Union government’s concession in the Supreme Court demonstrates that there are several alternative, less-intrusive means available to regulate population.
But the new proposal is also worrying because it is likely to bring with it a host of other deleterious consequences.
For instance, an already skewed sex ratio may be compounded by families aborting a daughter in the hope of having a son with a view to conforming to the two-child norm. The law could also lead to a proliferation in sterilisation camps, a practice that the Supreme Court has previously deprecated. InDevika Biswas vs Union of India(2016), the Court pointed to how these camps invariably have a disparate impact on minorities and other vulnerable groups.
As is so often the case with bad laws in India, though, this draft Bill may find support from some past judgments of the Supreme Court. In this case, the Government may point to the judgment inJaved & Ors vs State of Haryana & Ors(2003), where the Court upheld a law that disqualified persons with more than two children from contesting in local body elections. But not only is the present proposal far more disproportionate — in that it virtually sanctions civil death for those that violate the norms it fixes — the judgment inJavedcan no longer be seen as good law.
For one thing, its reasoning flies in the face ofPuttaswamy. But as rousing as the nine-judge Bench verdict is, its legacy depends on how its findings are applied. For the judgment to have tangible value and meaning, any law of this kind, which invades upon our most personal and ethical choices, must be seen as repugnant to the Constitution.
Suhrith Parthasarathy is an advocate practising at the Madras High Court
The British referendum five years ago was supposed to settle the United Kingdom’s historical love-hate relationship with Europe, but while the full consequences of Brexit will not be analysed for decades, the U.K. remains as divided as ever, and the way people voted in 2016 forms a large part of their identity. The referendum dominates British politics as the most significant event since the Second World War, resulting in two general elections, ousting two premiers and threatening the political geography of the U.K.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needed a rapid departure from the European Union (EU), and the Withdrawal and Trade and Cooperation Agreements of December 2020 were rushed through. Problems were soon apparent. The U.K. imports 70% of the fish it consumes; the industry only contributes 0.12% of GDP and employs 0.1% of the workforce (https://bit.ly/3i7emwG), but has political traction. In May, after 60 French fishing boats massed to blockade Jersey over fishing rights, naval units from both Britain and France deployed off Jersey, a farcical reminder of the loose ends of Britain’s exit from the EU.
Case of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland, part of the U.K. but in the EU’s single market, and therefore obliged to follow EU rules, is another case in point. The EU’s external border would be in the Irish Sea between Britain and Northern Ireland, and goods for Northern Ireland would need to be inspected there, which is politically untenable for the U.K. The alternative would be that the EU would itself impose inspections to protect its single market and structure a border either on the island of Ireland or between Ireland and the EU, which are both equally unfeasible.
Tensions predictably arose between Britain and the EU over the import of chilled meat products from Britain to Northern Ireland, with Britain seeking an extension of the transition arrangements from June 30 by three months. No one believes that this can be a lasting solution. It seems Britain is questioning Brexit agreements rather than following them, while boasting about its COVID-19 immunisation compared to the EU and the success of the City of London in maintaining its status against hostile EU legislation and incentives for banks to move to European capitals. To supporters of Brexit, it looked as if the EU wanted to punish Britain for leaving, if only to discourage its other members from doing the same. Thus, after membership of the EU for almost 50 years, mutual trust is lacking, and two versions of a rules-based order are colliding. This was apparent during the G-7 summit, when bilateral meetings between Mr. Johnson and EU leaders lacked warmth. The EU conceded the Northern Ireland postponement and persuaded its member States, especially France and Germany that are losing patience with Britain, to avoid a trade war over British sausages. Such recriminations may become a permanent feature of U.K.-EU relations as a small nation plays a poor hand against the world’s largest trading bloc while seeking trade deals with distant countries, which even official forecasts suggest will produce negligible benefits.
In Scotland, the National Party, which seeks an exit from the U.K., has grown in popularity since the Brexit vote. Scots voted in the referendum by 62% against 38% to remain in the EU, but were dragged out by the overall result. For many Scots, leaving the U.K. is the clearest path back to the EU, and anticipate that among other benefits, the EU will grant Scotland least developed status and subventions on the scale enjoyed by the Irish Republic. This is as much an anti-Westminster stance as an effort to join the EU since the chances of an independent Scotland jumping the queue of EU applicants and of all member States approving Scottish membership are not great. Nevertheless, the prospect of a break-up of the United Kingdom is of grave concern to London. Meanwhile, a vote on reunification in Ireland seems more probable now than at any time since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which brought an uneasy peace to fratricidal factions in the North.
The International Monetary Fund warned that the British economy faced a 10% GDP decline in 2020 (https://bit.ly/3raZXUs) In first quarter 2021, food and drink exports to the EU declined by nearly 50% (https://bit.ly/3yUvj41) and export of services also shrank. At least 500 British companies have relocated to Europe (https://bit.ly/3ejG746). The Brexiteers who forecast a clean break with the EU either underestimated or ignored the practical inconveniences of leaving, including the vast paperwork involved in exporting and importing with the EU, but the success of British COVID-19 vaccination compared with the EU’s bungled efforts has enabled Brexiteers to claw back some ground.
In sum, most people have accepted Brexit though few are satisfied with the divorce settlement. No version of Brexit will satisfy everyone, and it has left the United Kingdom less united.
Krishnan Srinivasan is a former Foreign Secretary. Julius Fein is a British historian
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is India’s premier national institute for improving access to education. Recently, IGNOU launched a degree course in astrology. This obsession with astrology is not a new phenomenon in a country which recently sent a spacecraft in orbit around Mars. A similar decision was taken by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2001, which was withdrawn after widespread opposition. In this context, all the citizens of this country who are concerned about the status of education and the role of scientific temperament in education need to take a stance about this decision.
Content of syllabus
Let us start by examining what is covered by the IGNOU syllabus. Even a casual look at the syllabus gives us an understanding of the unscientific nature of the course. The syllabus includes the study of horoscopes, which are determined by the state of different planets at the time of our birth and which apparently impact all the things that we do throughout our life. It also includes how to decide on an auspicious time for initiating a specific task. It claims to train its students in how to nullify the ill effects occurring due to specific problems in their horoscope. The range of problems for which astrology can offer solutions has no limit. It provides solutions on when one needs to apply for a job to ensure a good result to even determining the time a nation has to take a decision to start a war!
Let us try and evaluate the three basic assumptions of astrology on which this syllabus is based. The first assumption is that the planets around us in the universe have a continuous effect on human life. The second assumption is that the result depends on the time of birth of the person and the third assumption is that the future of a person depends on all this and can be changed by solutions offered by an astrologer.
Let us now look at the main objections by astronomy (the science of the universe) to these assumptions. As per astrology, nineNavagrahasaffect our lives. All of us know that four of theseNavagrahasare not evengrahas(planets). The sun is not a planet but a star. The moon is the natural satellite of the earth. Rahu and Ketu, which are claimed to be the most dangerous planets in astrology, are not even planets but points of intersection of the paths of the sun and the moon. The Milky Way, in which the sun and solar system are included, has countless stars other than the sun. It is not very difficult to appreciate how unscientific and potentially dangerous it will be to allow something like astrology as a mainstream course.
Next, let us look at the time of birth. The nature of a horoscope is dependent on the time of one’s birth. And the time of birth used for this purpose by astrology is the time when the baby takes the first breath outside the mother’s womb. Modern science tells us that the baby is actually born when the sperm and ovum come together to form the embryo, and it grows for the next nine months through different stages. How do all theseNavagrahasnot have any impact on the baby when it is inside the mother’s womb and start affecting it only when it comes out? Astrologers have no answer. It is a simple observation that thousands of children are born in the world every second and their futures are not the same. What will be in their horoscope when a human being gives birth to a baby, say, on the moon or Mars tomorrow? The most serious effect of depending on astrology is that it takes human agency out of our lives.
Science and pseudoscience
While we are on the path to astrology, Elon Musk, an American businessman, has started a project to humanise Mars under the SpaceX mission. The robotic rovers sent by NASA to Mars are collecting information and sending it back to earth. Stephen Hawking stated that the search for a habitable planet like earth in the universe should be the priority of astronomical research. Against this background, one needs to learn to differentiate between astrology, which is a pseudo-science, and astrophysics, which is a robust scientific discipline. Astrology exploits the vulnerability of the human mind while people face uncertainty. On the other hand, astrophysics depends on the core scientific principles of precise observations, hypothesis, experimentation and results based on all these. In an era where pseudoscience has started becoming the new normal, it’s our responsibility as citizens to oppose such decisions and demand the withdrawal of such a course.
Hamid Dabholkar is a psychiatrist and member of the rationalist movement, Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti
The Delhi Chief Minister recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to consider awarding an “Indian Doctor” the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour. “By an ‘Indian doctor’, I mean the entire medical community — all doctors, nurses and paramedics should be given the award, collectively,” he wrote. He requested the Prime Minister to change the rules if the current rules do not permit conferment on any group as such.
While this is a great gesture, changing the rules would open a Pandora’s box and erase the sanctity attached to this prestigious award. There is no doubt that doctors need to be honoured for their relentless and dedicated service during the pandemic. But there were many who also fleeced patients and the kin of the deceased by exploiting their helplessness and desperation. Many private hospitals charged exorbitant amounts for treatment. Should these plunderers also be grouped with those who worked selflessly and be part of the honour?
Rather than eulogising their services, the Chief Minister could have at least ensured that the doctors and nurses were paid their salaries on time. Several doctors and nurses went on strike because they were not paid. According to the Indian Medical Association, 798 doctors died in the second wave. With Delhi recording the highest number of such fatalities (128 doctors), the Chief Minister should have paid an ex gratia amount of Rs. 1 crore to each of them. The Delhi government had, in April 2020, announced Rs. 1 crore in ex gratia for families of front-line workers who die of the infection while on duty. But most of the families of the doctors have not been paid. Nor have the kin of policemen who died of the infection while on duty. The wife of a deceased constable knocked on the doors of Delhi High Court claiming the promised amount. The hearing is scheduled for July 28.
While doctors and paramedics rendered yeoman service during the pandemic, other front-line workers, including the police, too contributed at grave risk to their lives.
Meanwhile, while the local courts in New Delhi have reprimanded the Delhi Police for their handling of the riots and fined them Rs. 25,000 for mishandling of cases related to the riots, 25 personnel of the Delhi Police have staked their claim for the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry, citing their role in the Delhi riots last year. Among them is the then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ved Prakash Surya, who was seen standing next to BJP leader Kapil Mishra when Mr. Mishra was delivering a controversial speech a day before the riots broke out. Even the Joint Commissioner of Police has entered the fray.
Choosing the awardees
Every individual will exaggerate his role in the riots to stake his claim. Much would depend on the projection of the individual’s role in a manner that would be convincing enough to consider the case for award of a medal. In such rigmarole, the possibility of the wrong persons getting awarded cannot be ruled out. The deserving ones who are left out get demoralised and shy away from exposing themselves to risk.
According to a senior official of Delhi Police, a high-powered committee of senior officials goes through every case thoroughly. Depending on the degree of bravery displayed by each, a few are recommended for the gallantry medals while others are recommended for the Police Commissioner’s Commendation Disc.
There is always a proclivity for officers to garner gallantry medals as these carry monthly allowances and other perks such as free travel by train with a companion and even a rent-free landline telephone. Officers cannot operate in isolation and they are accompanied by their subordinates. Utmost care needs to be taken to ensure that the deserving among the lower ranks are not left out when they have displayed bravery in dealing with unruly elements at grave risk to their own lives.
M.P. Nathanael is Inspector General of Police (Retd), CRPF
In what must be adéjà vumoment for outgoing Prime Minister K.P. Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the Supreme Court of Nepal set aside their dissolution, in May, of the House of Representatives. The apex court had in February overruled Mr. Oli’s decision to dissolve the House in December 2020 as well. But this time, the ruling was more than just a rap on his knuckles. The judgment also paved the way for Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress to be appointed as Prime Minister after recognising his claim based on signatures of 149 lawmakers across different parties affirming their support. The five-member Constitutional Bench also provided the way out of the unending political deadlock in the House by allowing individual lawmakers to ignore their party whips during a trust vote that is a must win for Mr. Deuba. The inability of Mr. Oli and Mr. Deuba to win trust votes, prior to the dissolution decision by Ms. Bhandari, was because the support for them in the 275-member House divided both the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (UML) and the Opposition Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) as rebel lawmakers risked suspension. The court’s decision earlier in the year to de-recognise the merged Nepal Communist Party was another factor too. Mr. Oli had minority support within the merged NCP, but his faction retained the endorsement of the bulk of the legislators in the de-merged UML. The rebels, led by Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, were limited to a smaller faction. The other component of the NCP, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre), meanwhile endorsed Mr. Deuba’s candidacy, while the JSP was split vertically, with the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato-led faction supporting Mr. Oli as opposed to the Baburam Bhattarai-Upendra Yadav-led faction.
It remains to be seen whether the lawmakers will now vote based on their individual agency with the fear of suspension gone. There is no guarantee that Mr. Deuba will win a trust vote as he must secure the support of the rebel factions within the UML and the JSP. The Madhav Nepal-led faction, which has not endorsed Mr. Oli and welcomed the judgment, has also been a mercurial force undecided on joining hands with the Opposition in this new situation. Nevertheless, this is a blow to Mr. Oli whose brinkmanship and authoritarian tendencies have come at a difficult time for Nepalis reeling from the COVID-19 outbreak. It is also a stinging rebuke to Ms. Bhandari whose actions as President rubber stamping her former party colleague Mr. Oli’s decisions have called into question her role as a constitutional functionary. Mr. Deuba has his task cut out, but a firm message of unity and consultative governance can bring about political stability, something that has long eluded Nepal during both its constitutional monarchy and its republican periods.
Less than a month after the Centre revised its vaccination policy and took over the responsibility of vaccine procurement from the States, old worries of a supply constraint appear to have resurfaced. The Centre’s CoWIN database shows that the weekly pace of vaccination has declined to nearly 60% of what was seen in the week after June 21, causing several States, particularly in South India, to complain of a shortage. On June 21, the first day of the new policy, 91 lakh doses were administered and until June 27, it was about 4 crore. The period July 5-11 saw only 2.3 crore vaccine doses dispensed. The Centre’s move to take over vaccine administration followed a chaotic April-May when the second wave roiled India with unprecedented ferocity. This was also the time that saw a surge in vaccine demand and the country being unable to deliver because of an underestimation of the need and demand. The heady week of June 21-27 saw 60 lakh vaccines a day becoming the norm. However, the last time India crossed that daily figure was July 3. At least 86 lakh doses have to be administered every day if all Indian adults are to be fully vaccinated by the year end. Beginning this week, the daily doses have again slipped to 30-40 lakh though this is better than in May when India struggled to provide even 20 lakh doses a day.
There are two major concerns with the slackening pace. One, India still has managed to inoculate only 33% of its adult population with at least one dose; just about 8% have been fully vaccinated. At this rate, it is impossible for the Centre to deliver on its stated goal of inoculating all Indian adults by the year end. Second, the signs are apparent everywhere of an uptick in cases. The U.S. — the only country with more cases than India — after a month of reporting less than 15,000 cases a day is now, like India, seeing over 40,000 cases a day. There has also been a rise there in daily deaths. A similar acceleration is also visible in the U.K. and both these countries have vaccinated a large fraction of their adults. India, while better off than in May, still averages about 800-1,000 deaths a day. So, it is far from being out of the woods even as economic activity appears to have near-normalised in many parts. The Centre continues to put the onus on States for planning but does not address a concern of inadequate Covaxin supplies. It has ordered at least eight crore doses since January but only 4.7 crore have been administered. The concerns over a third wave have been voiced but meaningful preparedness entails having enough vaccines. While daily vaccination rates will see spikes and dips, aggressive publicity measures and campaigns are necessary to boost vaccination, as was seen in end June. The Centre and States must work towards sprucing this up.
When the Chinese communists first came to power, they argued that China as a socialist State had no need to worry about the population problem. But a more sober attitude has prevailed since the collapse of the “great leap forward” in 1958 and to-day the two-child family is advocated, with the right age for marriage fixed at 25 for women and 28 for men. It this ideal is realised, a stable population would result. China-watchers based in Hongkong have estimated China’s population at 830 millions in 1970 and the crude birth and death figures at 43 and 21 per thousand, yielding a growth rate of 2.2 per cent. Even this would mean that China would reach the billion mark by 1980 and 1.6 billion by the end of the century. Mr. Edgar Snow, the American writer and friend of Mao Tsetung, has reported after another visit to China recently that the present population is somewhere between 750 and 800 millions and that the rate of growth is about 2 per cent. The Chinese planners hope to cut the rate to one per cent, though even this would yield a billion-strong population by 2000 A.D.