Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘indian constitution’

The Supreme Court judgement on the OBC reservation issue should not surprise anyone. After all, the Supreme Court’s job isn’t to make laws but merely to ascertain whether existing laws were broken. And in the present case, the Supreme Court decided that nothing in the Indian Constitution prevents Arjun Singh from adding a 27% quota in government institutions. Again, I have to agree — the Constitution itself has been weakened to such an extent through laws and precedents that it will be surprising if any law is ever again judged uncontitutional.

For those who are concerned that this will devalue the IIT and IIM brands, slow down development, heighten inter-caste animosity and reduce opportunities for much of the population without really helping the rest — well, of course you are right, but fret not! As Aristotle The Geek points out, the market will do its best to correct the situation.

So much of recent history can be viewed as a case study of the market systematically correcting (at least some of) the ills caused by ill-advised government action. Isn’t that ironic?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Supreme Court of India has once again put its weight behind freedom of expression, overruling the ban on the film “Jodha Akbar” by three state governments.

It is a sad matter that in India people think they have a moral right to ban things they don’t like. And the ludicrous loopholes in our constitution (think “free-speech for everyone, except those who really need it”) do not help either.

Read Full Post »

An Indian NGO questions the requirement that all political parties adhere to socialism in writing.

Will this case lead to change? I am sceptical. Yet, one can always hope, and I will.

Read Full Post »

I was a young lad once and like most kids was susceptible to the perceived infallibility of the written word. To give a relevant example, it wasn’t apparent to me that our civics text-books were less fact and more a bunch of Nehruvian platitudes. But even then, I often wondered about the role of the Constitution in a democracy. It seemed to be – contrary to the importance my book seemed to give it – little more than just a symbol or a guidance, not of much more significance than Gandhi’s “My experiments with truth”. After all, if the real authority was the democratically elected government, what role could a bulky book which no one reads have?

I was both right and wrong. I was wrong because I failed to realise that a Constitution is intended to be a check on what the government can do; it is a well thought out document that lays down certain core values which no law can violate. By its very nature it is much harder to amend the Constitution than it is to pass a law. In the US and other Western democracies, many laws – passed by the government of the day – have been deemed unconstitutional and overturned. The American government will find it impossible to ban a controversial book – without repealing the First Amendment, an unthinkability. Indeed the Constitution is a device for freedom, a vital muscle that makes a democracy tick strongly and prevents it from turning into a tyranny by the majority. We all know that mobs can be manipulated and fooled, not all of them and not for all time, but certainly temporarily. The Constitution keeps the flag of freedom flying at those times – it prevents the passage of parochial laws by extremist parties, it curbs populism, it can arrest collectivism.

Unfortunately, I was right in that none of the above is true in the Indian setup. The freedoms granted by our Constitution were peppered with so many caveats as to render them almost useless and successive governments have further eroded it through amendments that have taken away much of what remained. Today our Constitution is truly what it once seemed to me and probably seems to most other Indians – a mere symbol. And the real tragedy is that most people are unaware it can be anything else.

Read Full Post »