Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Men of Action Bhagwant Mann and Navjot Singh Sidhu By Amba Charan Vashishth AAP and its Punjab CM nominee Bhagwant Mann seem either to be unaware of some of the healthy traditions or bent upon smashing these in the matter of installing a new CM. As per the tradition, when a political party was voted into power on its own strength, it convened a meeting of the newly-elected MLAs to elect its leader to be the CM. The person so elected accompanied by a few party MLAs called on the Governor with the claim to form a government. When a person whose party had not been blessed with an absolute majority, he was first elected leader of that party and with a copy of a number of MLAs belonging to other party/parties signing support for his/her meets the governor seeking his invitation to form a government. But AAP went forward defying the tradition. Mann was not elected the leader of the AAP legislature party but went to the governor with a letter signed by all the AAP MLAs expressing support for Bhagwant Singh Mann to form a new government. Mann has committed, deliberately or otherwise, an impropriety by ordering the police to withdraw the security from about 122 individuals, who include Panjab politicians, ex-ministers, and others. When a State Police Additional Director-General (ADGP) paid a courtesy call to Mann, the latter is reported to have directed him to do so. The ADG was over-smart and he issued directions the very next day. It needs to be kept in mind that Mann was not the CM at that time. It is still Charanjit Singh Channi who, though has resigned, as is the tradition, has been asked by the Governor to continue as acting CM till alternative arrangements are made. He will cease to be the acting CM the moment the Governor administers the oath to Mann. It is worthwhile to recall the great tradition in the USA. A new President is elected on the first Tuesday of November. The person elected continues to be President-elect till 21st January next year when an oath is administered to him. George Bush was the President of the USA completing his second term. His party’s candidate had lost the election to Bill Clinton. In the meantime, President Bush continued to pound bombs on Iraq. A press reporter went to Clinton and said you are the President-elect and Bush’s party candidate had been defeated. How can Bush continue to do that? Clinton’s response was marvelous in keeping with the tradition. He said, look, George Bush is my (and nation’s) President till January 21 and I support him for whatever he does till my oath-taking. Mann has also withdrawn the security of the incumbent Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. Perhaps Mann is not aware of the Constitutional position that a Speaker of the Assembly continues to function till a new person is elected by the new assembly. Even when the state assembly has been dissolved and it is under President’s rule, the office of the Speaker continues to function till a new person is elected after fresh elections. That can be because of a lack of knowledge and experience. SIDHU, TO WHERE? There is one and the only Sidhu in the country, maybe in the world even: Navjot Singh Sidhu. Don’t confuse him with his wife whose name is also Navjot Kaur Sidhu. They make a lovely couple, made for each other. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar (Panjab) as a BJP nominee in 2004 and again in 2009. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from where he resigned shortly afterward. Later, he joined the Congress and was elected as MLA from Amritsar in 2017. He was made a cabinet minister in Capt, Amrinder Singh’s ministry. He fell out with the CM and resigned. He secured a meteoric rise in Congress and became the State Congress President in less than five years in the party. But his eyes were always at the post of CM. When Imran Khan won elections in Pakistan he invited many Indian cricketers, including Sidhu for his oath ceremony as Pak PM. It was only Sidhu who took part in the ceremony. Besides hurling praises on PM Imran, he also hugged Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who, in India is seen as the perpetrator of proxy war against India and responsible for many killings of innocent citizens in Kashmir as also Indian soldiers and paramilitary men. Sidhu continued to take pride in his friendship with Pak PM. This cost him heavily in his image in India. Since his resigning from BJP and joining Congress Sidhu continued to stress very boldly and proudly that you will find Sidhu where there is the interest of Punjab. Sidhu lost the Amritsar seat as a Congress nominee and the Panjab Congress President to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee. With the Panjab electorate having given a massive majority to AAP, they have clearly given their verdict that Panjab’s interests lie safely in the hands of AAP. What will Sidhu do now? His vociferous declarations that people will find him standing where lay the interests of Punjab, i.e. with AAP. Where will now he be found standing? ***

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Personal Right to Wear Hijab Can’t be Gate-crashed into Public Institutions

Personal Right to Wear Hijab Can’t be Gate-crashed into Public Institutions By Amba Charan Vashishth Joining issue with the controversy raised about the right of women to wear Hijab in schools and colleges, Gandhi family scion and Congress General Secretary Mrs. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat (veil), a pair of jeans or a hijab, it is a woman’s right to decide what she wants to wear. This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women”. Her comment implies that, if they wish and like, women can go to a school or college in a swimsuit, a burqa, or any other dress they wish to. We also speak of gender equality in every sphere of life. As a corollary to this rightful opinion, it means that liberal leaders, like her, would also respect a man’s “right to decide what” he “wants to wear” as this “right is guaranteed by the Indian constitution”. Tinkering with this right would not only amount to “harassing” men but also be an act of discrimination against them and a flagrant violation of the provisions of the constitution. Thus, the school and college boys have the freedom to go to their alma mater wearing just a langot, underwear, a pair of bunyan, nicker, and even a half-pant. If this freedom of both the sexes was respected, the present turmoil in the student community would evaporate altogether, instantly. It will add up to parity and generate a greater sense of amity and camaraderie between both the sexes More, why should this freedom be restricted to school and college students only? This should also extend to the right of men and women working in other vocations and avocations, like the courts, lawyers, doctors, staff working in health services, drivers and conductors, police, security forces, hotel staff, airlines, and the like. How can the right guaranteed by the constitution to decide what one wants to wear be denied to other sections of Indian citizens? Some people are citing the instance of the Sikhs who are allowed to wear turbans everywhere. It needs to be understood that the turban (pagdi} worn by the Sikh community as per the religious edicts is not its exclusive headgear; it is worn by choice by almost every section of society. It is proudly put on by a bridegroom and his relatives on the occasion of a marriage ceremony in most of the castes and communities in almost every part of the country. But the burqa and hijab have just a communal tinge as these are donned by Muslim women only. The current controversy was initially generated by Muslim students of various schools and colleges in Karnataka, asserting their right to come to school in hijab defying the dress code prescribed by their educational institutions definitely strikes a communal chord, particularly in view of the ongoing assembly elections in five states of the country. These students had been putting on the school and college dress decided by these institutions. Why has the insistence of Muslim women to don it surfaced at this time? This virus has now spread to other states too. When a student seeks and gets admission, he/she agrees to abide by the dress code and other disciplines prescribed by the institution. If any restriction is not acceptable to the student or the family, they are free to try their luck elsewhere where the conditions are conducive to their liking. No student and his family have a right to impose their caste or community edicts on any institution. Every school has its own morning prayer. Will that institute have to change it only because a minuscule minority of students objects to it and wants a prayer it wishes to sing? The country has many educational institutions run by various religious bodies — public schools by Christian organisations, Sanatan Dharma Sabhas, Arya Samaj, Muslim, social establishments, and others. All these educational establishments are open to admission to one and all irrespective of their caste and creed. The same is true of the schools and colleges run by state governments. Every institute has its own dress code. This provides their students with a distinct identity of its own. It also eliminates any caste, creed, social and economic disparities among the students that do become prominent in the absence of a dress regulation. It would be a heterogeneously awkward scene in a class of a school or college where every student — boy or girl — is there in a dress of his/her own individual choice. The situation is analogous to a person getting his child admitted to a public school with English as the medium of instruction but insisting his ward’s constitutional right to be taught in a language of his choice — Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, or any other language of the country. Or a devout Hindu visiting the Vatican City wishing to conduct his puja and perform a havan in a church demanding protection of his human and minority rights. It needs to be understood that the personal law may be the ultimate for the followers and faithfuls within the four walls of the person or the contours of the society but it remains and remains personal to them. It cannot be imposed on others and the public institutions which are open for all. Outside one’s family and society, it is the Constitution that is supreme and the superior law of all, no questions raised and asked. The present squabble makes one wonder whether the students go to their school or college to learn or to promote attires signifying their religious identity of differences. It also looks that at the time of taking admission the students and the parents were not careful enough to see that the institution caters to their religious, linguistic and regional susceptibilities. Instead of creating scenes now, the best course for them remains to leave the institution that does not conform to their tastes and requirements and join the one that does. This will eliminate the type of turmoil that is now being raised with political and electoral objectives in view. Further, we have to respect what the Hon'ble High Court ultimately directs on the issue. ***