National Interest: Heads, I migrate; Tails, You're exiled?

Dr Sarojini Mahishi
Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India do not provide for equality of opportunity for all citizens based on language, yet if recent media reports are to be relied upon, observations made by a Karnataka High Court division bench after hearing a PIL seeking implementation of Sarojini Mahishi Varadi hint at the courts having misconstrued this minute detail of the said Articles. Reported observations:
English has became a global language. So think practically...Though the state cabinet approved the Mahishi report owing to political reasons, we cannot accept such recommendations and pass orders.
Besides, the report shows the court as having misunderstood the meaning of a PIL and burst out at the petitioner saying it cannot direct the State and that the demands of the petitioner are against national interest:
We cannot direct the state to provide jobs on the basis of language. It is illegal and also against national interest. Only Parliament can do such things (legislate)
Although I'd like to stop writing about the PIL and the court's observations, finding the phrase "against national interest" being used here doesn't let me do so! Which national interest is it against for a State legislative arm to pass a fully fair legislation, one that is even allowed under the Indian constitution? However, it would be tragic if we discovered that the judiciary interpreted the States' legislative action to be against national interest.

In this backdrop it is vital to recall some provisions in the Indian constitution: one that assures every citizen a fundamental right to live and settle anywhere in the country, another set of provisions that provide the central government an easy signature to supersede the governance of any State under Sections 355 & 356.

Agreeably, the former provides a right to move around, but is often misconstrued, even by some media houses, as a right that overrides the host State's duty to ensure that welfare of its original residents is not compromised by such in-migration.

This provision of an unconditional right to settle in any State is so unscientific, especially given the linguistic and cultural heterogeneity juxtaposed to become India, that if people continue to migrate into and out of a few financially promising States how are these States supposed to accommodate their highly dynamic populations and how are they supposed to roll out welfare programs for an ever changing demography, whereas that was not the original intention at the time of carving out linguistic States.

On top of this jeopardy that States are left to deal with, a shortfall of good administration as a fallout of this unforeseen and uncontrolled migration to a State could expose it to this latter provision allowing the Center to supersede its power in spite of being financially promising.

Sandwiched between these two provisions, the State Executives are being reduced to mere stenography centers taking directions from the Center under constant fear of being whipped for not accommodating the in-migrantion and consequent socio-economic aftermath. If that is the state of the executive, the legislature is under suspended animation because of inaction and fear of going against national interest by any of its actions!

All this is not helping build a good democracy from the roots. If States are the fundamental units of this union called India it is pitiable that these very States are reduced to such bad condition where they're mere caretakers of amoeba shaped real estates while the Center is busy converting all national assets into capital and framing laws to retain States in paralysis.

If the Indian union has to succeed, the State Legislatures and the State Executives must be freed up, and the Center must agree to look at the States as peers in running this nation and not subordinates who can be issued directives and whipped when fancied.

1 comment:

  1. Rohit, very much apt summary.
    our judiciary thinks that asking anything related to our language is illegal and against national interest. In addition to this, it pass statements like "English has became a global language. So think practically", On which part of Constitution this is based on! Why court won't take such tough stand on Hindi imposition by Central government and why it's own system deny services in local languages!!
    First, let them provide all the judiciary services in people's language. Peoples are supreme in Democracy and not the judiciary. constitution should be amended to protect the rights of the people.


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