Friday, July 27, 2007

A Constitutional Bench. Finally!!

Great News!

The Reservations case is being transferred to a Constitutional Bench that would begin hearings on the 7th of August. Apparently 15 questions of law would be decided by the Court.

However, on the 31st of this month the Supreme Court would hear the parties on the application of the Impugned Act from this Academic year.

ps: My previous posts on reservations may seen here.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Coming to terms with reality

I was talking to Rachita and Aanchal tonight at the lane (They happen to be very good friends of mine). Its just that somewhere down the line the discussion got down to humanitarian issues and my notion got affirmed.
"We live in this space surrounded by walls on all sides that in our petty existence we forget to come to terms with reality. We forget that there are 300000 people die in darfur, violations take place everyday in Kashmir, government policy seems to be a scam."

Pretty true then that someone in the Times of India wrote the other day that 'NALSAR Ideals fall to Mammon'. The institution talks of itself producing socially active lawyers when all we do is laze around within these four walls. There are times when we need to come to terms with reality. the glitzies of the corporate world then seem to attract us more while we forget to do our bit to save this world that for now seems to be running haywire.
I recommend my readers to read this letter by Dr. Elfarra. It made me understand that human relationships are totally linked to injustice in life. How politics can become an integral part of one's survival.

My mother is in her last moments and I cannot cross the borders

My mother is in the hospital at the moment. She is severely ill. She was admitted to hospital 3 days ago. I cannot reach her.

I finished my 45 day speaking tour in the USA. All across the USA and in every lecture I told the audience about our suffering, living in this big prison called Gaza. I told them about the borders closure and about the patients who passed away while waiting to cross the borders.

The borders have been closed for more than 5 weeks, 28 patients died while waiting to cross the Rafah crossing, the only crossing between Gaza and Egypt. All other exits are completely sealed by the Israeli army. The border was opened 70 times in one year.

Now it is my personal story, like the daily stories of 1.4 million people in GAZA under siege and occupation, poverty, lack of resources, killing, shooting, violence etc....

I cannot cross the borders, I cannot cross the Rafah crossing. I badly need to be next to my mother. I badly need to be there with her to help her, to do whatever I can for her. To say good bye mum.

I was always there for my patients and many people, to help and try to alleviate their suffering. In her last hours I cannot be there, my hands are tied. I am helpless, I can do nothing, I just have to wait and wait and wait. My throat is dry, my eyes are full of tears.

This is unjust, inhuman. It is the occupation. How can it come to be just and fair, when it is mainly based on injustice, aggression and cruelty?

Can somebody help me to go home? I badly need to be at home next to my mother in her last moments.

Good bye mum, I hope you rest in peace, a peace we do not enjoy in Gaza.

with love and solidarity

Mona ElFarra

Sunday 15 July 2007

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The Will to Hope

There is this very interesting article by Amit Sengupta in the May-June 2007 issue of Combat law. In this article titled, "The Will to Hope", Mr. Sengupta explores the diffusion of the Left in India and the rise of a new power in the form of Hindu fundamentalism. He argues that the BJP and the RSS would come down heavily and learn from their past mistakes. What would then ensue is something similar to what is happening presently in the BJP ruled states, blatant HR violations, communal clashes and prejudices in the name of religion.

"Instead, like primordial creatures of sacred cults who can undergo multiple metamorphosis, the octopus-like parivar, with its many fronts and institutions (unlike the official or radical Left), blooms and flourishes under State patronage. That is why, the Gujarat hate lab is a 100 percent success story; and Gujarat’s prototypes and microcosms are actively spreading, like slow epidemics, in all BJP-ruled or BJP-coalition states: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, even Karnataka where they tried to communalise a site of shared, secular synthesis: Babubudangiri."

After Nandigram and incidents in Kerala, indeed the left has had to go through rough stages. They seem to be losing their identity in the States they rule. To quote Amit, "West Bengal's openly joining the race as to who owns more malls and multiplexes, big industries and factories". However, in as much as this article is written to show that the left influence is fading, the central theme in the article shifts to a vehement attack on Modi and the BJP ruled states. Amit seems to be talking more about justice to the victims of Gujarat than about Karat and his influence on the left.
True however is the premise that despite a Left backed government in our country, Leftist ideals dont seem to be followed. We looked towards the left when it came to Petrol prices and nothing happened. Nandigram is a black stain on the left that time and again talks about atrocities in Gujarat.

"Meanwhile, the 10 percent growth remains an elusive category for the 93 percent of our unorganised workforce in the informal sector, in urban and rural areas, mostly the poorest. They are compulsively isolated outside the paradigm of social safety, social security, health, education, food, drinking water, or shelter, as constitutional rights, with not even 100 days of employment in a year, despite the fudged up National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the scrapped National Advisory Council. So what does the neo-liberal State want them to do: line up outside the SEZs and commit mass suicides?"

The above and a reference to farmer suicides seem to divert from the main issue of the article. In the end, Amit states that the UPA- Left must wake up to tackle these issues. True that they must wake up. But the reason should not be that otherwise the BJP would come to power and the consequences would be bad. In not allowing the 'devil to rise', we are asking the squirrel to gear up.
In a one liner to this article, Mr Sengupta looks at a lot of issues to adjust to the Central idea. However, the premises he uses to justify them are baseless.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Presidents to be

In a continuation to my previous post, I was browsing through India Uncut when I came upon this referral to The Washington Post. The article was titled "Hillary Clinton's tentative dip into Neckline Territory". The post couldn't get any more hilarious. One of the paras says,

With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding -- being a voyeur. Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. It doesn't necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease. It means that a woman is content being perceived as a sexual person in addition to being seen as someone who is intelligent, authoritative, witty and whatever else might define her personality. It also means that she feels that all those other characteristics are so apparent and undeniable, that they will not be overshadowed.

And then it goes on as to what it takes for a woman to show her cleavage. Well Pratibha Patil would make quite a contrast to this. I got a comment saying that APJ set high standards which would be difficult to compete with. Well, beat this!
Imagine that in 2008 both of them are woman Presidents and meet each other. One in a sari and the other a Donna Karan gown!!

PS: this post has nothing to do with HR or anything that this blog is meant for. Just felt like putting it up.

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Celebrating Pratibha

Its taken 60 years for us to elect a woman President. After a lot of lashing out by the opposition about her credentials, she finally won it fair.
But is she the right candidate for the Job? A lot of people would argue about that. I'd like to make one thing clear, "We are not America!". I say this because the President is a puppet and a representative head of our Country and in these circumstances qualifications dont matter. Shekhawat might be better for the job, but at the ceremonies and TV shows, I'd rather see my country being represented by a Woman. It is a sign of equality and that gender bias on the face of it has ended in our country.
Look at Ms. Patil. An extremely learned and spiritual lady. Its been a long way for her, standing up all for herself in the 1970's and winning an election 5 times. Then lastly becoming the Governor of a State. For someone who has to sit at Raisina Hill and pass Bills, that is more than enough. It is a sign of vigour and courage that she has put up in her life.
Kudos Ms. Patil. Enjoy your five years at Raisina.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Reserving Reservations!!!

The Supreme Court vacation ended. I now get to come back to my favourite topic ‘reservations’ once again.

On the 17th of July , a Three judge Bench of the Supreme Court sat again to decide on the next steps to be taken as regards to the Centre’s move in increasing the OBC’s by the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 to 27%. From what I heard, Solicitor General Vahanvati decided to give one last shot at asking the Court to allow the Quota to be implemented from this Academic Year itself pending a decision by a Constitutional Bench. There was a great fur ore created by this move and opposing counsels Rajiv Dhawan and Mukul Rohtagi opposed the move by stating that a three judge bench cannot have the power to review a division bench order by Justice Pasayat in May. The Court finally announced;

- That the parties are to file their replies as to the Solicitor General’s argument by the 31st of July.

- That the decision to transfer to a Constitutional Bench however would be taken by the end of next week.

I mentioned in my previous posts that the Supreme Court seems to be inclined towards the American way when it comes to reservations. If this is true, then this is bad news for those who want reservations in the Country. In late June, the United States SC decided Seattle School Dsitrict, a judgment that has partially overruled Brown v. Board of Education. This means that discrimination on the basis of race in admission of schools is now legal in the United States, with certain checks and balances. In the case the Court presents an idea of affirmative action that is something that the Indian Court has sought to borrow. The idea first arose in Grutter v. Bollinger and California v. Allan Bakke where the Court said that affirmative action, particularly in the admission process in universities, must be “narrowly tailored” to promote diversity, but not in such ways as would discriminate against those excluded from affirmative action because they do not belong to ethnic or racial minorities.

The above makes the stance taken by the Indian courts a lot of more confusing as we don’t know which way the Courts will go when it comes to laying down its judgment. For now, Waiting for the decision as to the Constitutional Bench sitting to come out.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Looking for a Direction


If the red slayer think he slays,
  Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
  I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near, 
  Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
  And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
  When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
  And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
  And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
  Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.


It was one of those moments where I was lost and was looking for some direction in life. Thought processes worked and I was made to read this wonderful poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson titled BRAHMA. The poem is a miraculous in its blend of Eastern and Western thought. In the poem, Emerson assumes the role of Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. All through the poem, Emerson alludes to Hindu mythology. The knowledge of which he gained through reading the Bhagavad-Gita and other Hindu scriptures. The poem talks about Emerson’s relation with the divine and his perception of the eternal creator.

I think I now got the direction I’m looking for. Will make a conscious effort to read the Bhagavad Gita in a few days time. and 

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gone are the Rickshaws

Next time you travel to Delhi and take a walk around Chandni Chowk, don’t be surprised if you don’t see any of three wheeled cycles around. The Delhi High Court in its archetypal style passed an order banning all cycle rickshaws on the arterial roads of Delhi and said that such roads were the main link roads and were meant for carrying vehicles.

'€˜Carrying Vehicles'! these are again one of those times when you get thinking what'€™s happening to our judiciary? In May 2007, the Court again had passed an order banning road side eateries. That meant the very paratha walas that we used to savour on would have had to go. Thankfully the government and SC stepped in and made certain clarifications. I remember the face that my friend Wrick made when the ITO and South Ex paratha walas had to close down for two days pending the order.

Coming back to the issue, on a petition by a like minded organisation, 'Initiative for Transportation and Developmental Programs' the Supreme Court has ordered a stay and decided to look into the matter. In what is termed as a surprising move by many people, Jusitce Balakrishnan and Justice Raveendran have issued notices to the Municipal Corpn of Delhi and will look into the SLP. I’ve just started wondering what would happen to the thousands of rickshaw owners who would be rendered unemployed if this order were to stay. Courts have started getting into this garb of elitism where they are not concerned of the consequences that would ensue to the poor of their decisions. An aspect of socialism is important to be present in this regard. Hopefully the Court should mend its ways and pass a decision that'€™s just in this matter. Even if it were to allow the order, adequate measures for rehabilitation should be provided.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Review

I read a Camu essay for the second time today. His "€œLessons from the Guillotine' is one of the most beautiful essays Ive ever read. What differentiates the book from other Camu novels is that this is not just an emotion filled piece of his like '€˜The Plague€' and '€˜The Outsider'€™ but has a touch of rationality in it. While I have quoted from his ‘Letters to a German Friend’ a lot of times in my previous posts, there is a lot more to speak about this book.

The 23 political essays in the book, "Resistance Rebellion and Death" speak on a diverse range of issues from Algeria, the World War to the Death Penalty and Democracy in general. Most of these essays were written at a time when he was underground and writing for the French revolutionary papers as a secret editor.

A review from reads,

"€œResistance, Rebellion, and Death bears witness to the passionately scrupulous sense of responsibility which made Camus the kind of man and the kind of writer he was"€ .

Another very important aspect of this book is that Camu makes it explicit that no democracy can function without the freedom and rights for all its citizens. Justice, he says is a trait of every successful democracy. I recommend this book for all those who would want to look at the moral and political side of Camu. The book is one of those that gives you a perspective into the human struggle for freedom and the demand for a just order. 


Sunday, July 1, 2007

The 'Weak End' Post

There is darkness everywhere. My efforts of looking for a ray of light have turned futile. All through out the week, there have been instances of grave injustice all over the world. Electing the head of a state has turned into a political game; Brown v. Board of Education has been partially overruled; One of the world’s greatest manipulators is now to fight for a human rights cause. What more could the world want? This is, to be succumbed by darkness.

This is for the first time I am noticing that electing a president has become more political an affair than any other process. Rather than electing non- political heads, we choose to put in those in favour of a particular party. This influx of ideas had started with Indira Gandhi putting up Giani Jail Singh as a Presidential candidate in the 1970’s and 80’s. How then can one come to terms with such incidents? This takes me back to the Constituent Assembly Debates and what Shashi Tharoor wrote in the Times of India. According to Shashi, the main reason why England chose not to remove the monarch/ royal head was that they feared that the position would become an example of political stigmata. So there was, the true West Minister model of governance.

Contrasting that with India, as smart as we Indians are (that’s sarcasm); we chose to have a West Minister model of Government. In theory the president was suppose to be apolitical. But alas! We don’t see that happening. Our ‘esteemed’ politicians decided to have a republic and elect a president. I think Radhakrishnan was not a victim of such policy. Neither was Rajendra Prasad. The situation however doesn’t remain the same after on. Today the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) makes allegations against a nominee (Pratibha Patil) and puts her credibility to stake. Something disgraceful for someone who could be President of this country. It then was wise for President Kalam not to fall into this trap.

The Bottomline, there is politics in everything. Not to forget that my college Student Bar Council elections are around the corner and political whips are in full swing here too.

So while all this happens in India, racial segregation has got a new meaning in the USA. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) has been partially overruled. That’s true! A few days ago, a nine judge bench of the US Supreme Court stated that certain segregation policies in the schools of Louisiana and another state were perfectly legal. This was a 5:4 ration judgment that has now overturned every aspect of a democratic ideal. Only an idiot cannot estimate the consequences of such a ruling. A New York Times editorial reported that the US Supreme Court has gone to become a Conservative institution and Earl Warren’s ideals no longer remain intact. At one hand where we expect the society to progress towards rationality (Russell) , we seem to be going backwards. Racially targeted recruiting strategies are now constitutionally legal in the United States.

There is also a lot of speculation about Tony Blair getting involved in the Middle east political process. Again NYT said,

“If Blair uses his manipulative skills then a result may be achieved else we must be prepared for a faux pass.”

So darkness prevails. Earlier I wrote that I have lost hope in the system. I now would like to retract from it as I am reminded of Albert Camu. In “Letters to a German Friend” he wrote,

“There are means that cannot be excused. And I should like to be able to love my vcountry and still love justice. I don’t want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born out of blood and falsehood. I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive.”

That’s my stand on the system now.


The University of Chicago on the 'School District Cases'. 

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