Thursday, May 25, 2017

Counter-terrorism is not terrorism

There is a lot of hullabaloo over a soldier of the Indian army tying a stonepelter in the bonnet of his vehicle with a view to ensuring safe passage for officials on poll duty. The army is facing a tough situation when it is called upon to maintain law and order which the terrorists are on a crusade to destroy.

An army man cannot be denied the right to protect himself and law-abiding citizens. If agitators can pelt stones and subject soldiers to all kinds of insults, the army cannot turn pacific. So-called liberal media will be well advised to shed its misplaced empathy for those out to terrorise the nation. It is not expected of the media to align itself with terrorists.

Lord Ganapathi and Sage Vyasa

Lord Brahma was sought by Sage Vyasa to suggest how to convert his thoughts which formed the Mahabharata into writing. Brahma told him to approach Lord Ganapathi whose blessings are sought for any new venture.

Vyasa prayed to Ganapathi who consented to write the entire epic for Vyasa subject to one condition. Vyasa should narrate without interruption so that Ganapathi would never need to wait. Lord Ganapathi was a speed writer. So Vyasa planned a ruse and requested the Lord he must write any verse only after understanding it. Ganapathi agreed.

Whenever Vyasa needed rest, he would come up with a verse difficult to comprehend. Thus, Vyasa would gain some breathing time. There are 8,800 such difficult verses which even today pose a challenge to scholars for interpretation.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Justices Katju and Karnan

Any comparison between Justice Karnan and Justice Katju is likely to be dismissed in limine as absurd. But there is a stark similarity between the two.

Both have an obsessive longing to be noticed by the public. Just like a child would throw a tantrum just to attract the attention of its parents, these honourable judges come up with bizarre statements which cannot be ignored by the public.

There is of course a noticeable difference. Katju's legal acumen is far sharper. So he tends to raise subtle points of law, give them a twist and await people's anger or approbation. Karnan unfortunately seems to be deficient in legal expertise and therefore adopts a different course. He raises issues of probity of individual judges and tries to draw the attention of PM or the President.

There may be truth in Karnan's allegations but he is unable to follow it up properly like the Bhushans because of his legal knowledge deficit. The attention-seeking behaviour of both of them, though infantile, provides huge entertainment.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Aadhaar

BJP has not crowned itself with glory in the issue relating to aadhaar. While in opposition, BJP was anti-aadhaar. In power, they are its crusaders.

On one hand, the government makes PAN Card invalid if it is not linked to aadhaar by June 30th. On the other hand, they also claim June 30 is not a deadline. The Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed its view that aadhaar should not be mandatory till the pending case is disposed of. Government does not seem to care.

Poor people cannot avail social subsidies in the absence of aadhaar number. But aadhaar is not compulsory. Strange are the utterances of the government.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Triple Talaq

The Supreme Court is now hearing various legal luminaries on legality or otherwise of the Islamic practice of triple talaq. The central question is whether it is a religious practice and if so is it an essential religious practice.

Kapil Sibal is bending over backwards to prove that it is both. The argument as reported in The Hindu runs on these lines:

"Triple talaq is a matter of faith for Muslims similar to how it is a matter of faith for Hindus that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Why is the Centre so keen to raise doubts about the constitutional morality of Muslims' faith in the 1400-year-old practice of triple talaq when no such doubts have been raised about the Hindus' faith that Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram? Who is the government to say that triple talaq, evolved through social and family norms, is “un-Islamic”? senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for AIMPLB, asked a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar."

It is absurd to equate a matter of belief with a matter of practice. The belief that someone was born in a place does not jeopardise anyone. But a practice that impinges on one's right is capable of landing a person in deep trouble. Triple talaq is something that is practised and some claim that it is unilaterally deleterious to the interests of affected women. It is accepted that it is not the only way of divorce. Therefore, if the court is convinced that it is repugnant to gender-justice, it has to be outlawed.

Kapil Sibal further argues:
"“For example, the husband is cruel and a drunk. The woman is fed up and wants instant triple talaq, but the husband refuses it to torture her further. She has no money to go to the courts. She is left to live her life in utter despair. If the society intervenes and her husband gives her instant talaq, you will call it illegal. So, there are many complexities, which the Supreme Court cannot go into in a matter of just six days. Personal law relates to personal relationships,” he argued."

This is where the learned advocate really bends over backwards. In the process he gives an incredible and utterly unlikely example. When we try to take care of an extremely unlikely event like the far-fetched example provided by Sibal, we are likely to sacrifice the interests of a preponderant majority and this is what happens here.
In any bilateral relationship such as marriage, conferment of right to one party and not to the other party is prima facie perverted and cannot claim legal protection.


Chidambarams in the dock

BJP has sounded the political bugle for the 2019 general elections. Chidambarams and Lalus are easy targets to ignite people's misgivings about UPA.

It is not unusual for sons to tarnish the image of their father. This is exactly what Karti Chidambaram has been doing for a long time. If Modi's government has not taken punitive action against Karthi for three long years, there must be some deliberate purpose behind this. The government is interested not in punishing the culprits but only wants to utilise the shenanigans of these culprits to shower electoral advantage on BJP.

This may be good politics. But it is bad governance. It is an open secret that Karti Chidambaram was a power-broker when his father was the Finance Minister. Chidambaram should not have allowed his fatherly affection to blind his eyes to his son's activities.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

China's OBOR project

China has launched an extremely ambitious infrastructure project costing $ 1 trillion over 4 years spanning 60 countries. This 'One Belt One Road' project is expected to employ millions of Chinese labourers in multiple countries.

China has figured that that it is sitting on the infra tiger and it cannot afford to get off lest its unemployment problem should go out of hand. This biggest infrastructure project ever attempted will certainly pose expected and unexpected problems. If China were a democracy, this would not have taken off.

This is an opportunity for China to offload a part of its huge forex kitty. In the process, many Asian and African countries are also forced to spend large sums of money. Social friction in many nations will be unavoidable. It will be interesting to watch how China executes this massive project.