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India: Tamil Nadu wants to rename Madras High Court after state

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Name changes have been going allover India ever since India got independence from Great Britain, trying best to Indian towns, streets, statues; among other historically important details look pure Indian and entirely regional looking.

Many countries like now Sri Lanka (earlier Ceylon) have change their names   to more localized ones. Tamil Nadu in India has already changed the name of its capital from Madras to Chennai and but the move to change the name of Madras University and Madras high Court have remained unsuccessful so far due mainly to vehement opposition to change the   traditional names.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is pressing to change the name of Madras High Court and pleads with the Central government to rename the Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu HC in keeping with new reality since there is no Madras today.

A resolution moved by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the state assembly urged the Modi Union government to make necessary amendment to the High Court’s (Altercation of Names) Bill 2016 to rename Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court. While moving a resolution in this regard in the Assembly, Jayalalithaa argued this and said Tamil Nadu High Court would be more “appropriate”. She also pointed out that several other HCs in the country are named after the respective states. She also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to change the High Court’s Bill, 2016, to rename Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court, and not the Chennai High Court which was suggested earlier.

After a detailed discussion, the Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to call upon the Government of India to move necessary amendments to the bill introduced in the Lok Sabha so as to rename the High Court of Madras as the High Court of Tamil Nadu for the reasons outlined in the resolution. “The text of Resolution passed unanimously in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly today is appended. I request the Government of India to take immediate further action on the basis of the Resolution,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said in her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 August.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly, on 1 August, unanimously passed the special privilege motion to rename the Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court. The Tamil Nadu government emphasized that the name Tamil Nadu High Court must be picked over the name Chennai High Court, as naming it the latter would be inappropriate.

The Tamil Nadu government emphasized that the name Tamil Nadu High Court must be picked over the name Chennai High Court, as naming it the latter would be inappropriate. The government’s argument for renaming Madras HC after the state, instead of Chennai only, is that the court’s jurisdiction extends to the entire state.

All opposition parties, including the DMK and Congress, welcomed the special privilege motion and supported the motion.

The government position is Madras High Court may not be renamed as Chennai High Court. Instead, it may be called the Tamil Nadu High Court. The government’s argument for renaming Madras HC after the state, instead of Chennai only, is that the court’s jurisdiction extends to the entire state beyond the Chennai city. Earlier Tamil Nadu was known as Madras state and hence High Court of Madras state was called Madras High Court. Now the state Tamil Nadu and hence the Court should reflect its jurisdiction to entire state, not just Chennai city. .

The National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre has recently introduced the High Court’s (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha to change the name of the Madras High Court to Chennai High Court.

Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved to introduce The High Court’s (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 in the Monsoon session of the Parliament. The Bill prescribes the changing of names of Bombay High Court as Mumbai High Court, Madras High Court as Chennai High Court and Calcutta High Court as Kolkata High Court respectively. The three courts were named after the cities. After renaming of the three cities, there have been demands seeking change in names of the HCs also. However, in the absence of any law in this regard, a new law needs to be passed by the Parliament to make the prescribed changes effective.

The related Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 19 July with an aim to rename the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. While the Bill suggested that Madras High Court be renamed Chennai High Court, the proposed change was debated in the state assembly in the wake of the public opposition to the move.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said, “former Chief Minister C N Annadurai moved a resolution and it was passed by the assembly to change the name of Madras Presidency to Tamil Nadu. Following this, the state was renamed as Tamil Nadu from January 14, 1969.” She said the city’s name was changed from Madras to Chennai in 1996, but that hold for the city alone. “Madras high court was set up by the British, and an Act was passed in 1861 by Queen Victoria. But since then states have been divided and each high court in that state is called by the state’s name,” she said, adding that the court does not belong to the city alone, but to the entire state.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the 10,000 Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia will be evacuated soon, reported PTI. The Union minister said Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh will leave for the Gulf country at the earliest to oversee the evacuation process. The 10,000 Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia will be evacuated soon, says Sushma Swaraj. The external affairs minister informed Parliament that ration for 10 days has been distributed in all the five relief camps set up in the West Asian country. “Not one worker of ours will go hungry. This is my assurance to the country through Parliament… We will bring all of them back to India,” Swaraj said, adding that the National Democratic Alliance government was coordinating with the foreign and labor offices in Saudi Arabia regarding the plan.

The minister informed the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha members that the West Asian country’s laws do not have the provision for exit visas without no objection certificates from the employers. The people who had recruited the Indian workers in question have shut their factories and left the country. The Centre is in talks with its Saudi counterpart to get the visas so that the stranded workers can leave the country, she said. She also informed the Assembly that the Indian Consulate has distributed ration for 10 days in all five relief camps set up to help the stranded people. “I am personally monitoring the situation,” Swaraj said. On Twitter, she had said on Sunday that her ministry has asked the Indian embassy in Riyadh to provide free ration to the unemployed Indian workers.

Tamils expect similar approach by New Delhi with regard to Tamil fishermen who are taken to jails by Lankan navy off and on and who keep suffering in Lankan jails for fishing in their traditional zones.

Indian government is expected to come out with a statement on the tensed issue.

India needs to talk to Lankan government to sort out the issue earnestly. A credible and sustainable solution to the vexed problem is long overdue.

New Delhi cannot have two yardsticks to measure importance of Indians abroad keeping in mind the economic or political utility aspect of those working or living abroad. It is a fact that Indians working in Arab world are the source of fast growing Indian economy. But the fact remains that India has taken measures to “resettle” these 10000 Indians working from Saudi Arabia thanks to powerful NRI lobby. New Delhi considers Indians in Mideast and West Asia in terms of financial input from them and does not value the fishing of Indian Tamils in Katchatheevu being not a part of India’s growing economy.

That is an error. Though the fish Tamils bring from Katchatheevu help the fishing community in Rameswaram, it has its own part in Indian economy.

It is not enough that Sri Lankan High Commissioner is called by the foreign ministry as a mere formality and given some “counseling” but it has to act seriously by sending the foreign minister and foreign secretary to Colombo to sort out the issue so that peace prevails in Rameswaram. Unfortunately, even in Tamil Nadu the issue is being treated as that of just fishermen alone and there is not enough awareness or pretest statewide to support the cause of India. For Tamil Nadu government the problems the fishing community in Rameswaram has been facing should merit more attention than renaming of a court which is indeed an ordinary and routine matter. .

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South Asia

Pakistan PM’s Saudi affair likely to backfire

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Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia flourished during the previous government headed by Nawaz Sharif, primarily due to his personal business interests in the Kingdom and friendly association with members of the Saudi royal family. Despite the criticism at home, Sharif never missed an opportunity to eulogize the Saudi rulers and support their wrongs.

During Sharif’s tenure as Prime Minister, while Pakistan’s ‘love affair’ with Riyadh blossomed, relations with Tehran plummeted. When the ambitious gas pipeline project was shelved by the Sharif government in 2015 under the Saudi pressure, some experts couldn’t resist the temptation of reading the obituary of Iran-Pakistan friendship. It seemed game over.

But the political transition in Islamabad this year rekindled hopes of a new foreign policy taking shape in Islamabad under the populist premier Imran Khan.

In his victory speech, Khan made it categorically clear that he would like to strengthen ties with allies in the Middle East, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. During his first meeting with the Iranian envoy to Islamabad, Khan reiterated his desire to bolster ties with Tehran and revive important projects that had been put on the backburner by the previous political dispensation, including the gas pipeline.

Experts termed it a “significant shift” in Pakistan’s foreign policy as his predecessor was seen overtly inclined towards stronger Pakistan-Saudi relations than Pakistan-Iran relations. Writing in The New Arab, Dr. Fazzur Rahman Siddiqui, a fellow at Indian Council of World Affairs, said with the exit of Nawaz Sharif, Saudi Arabia had lost a reliable ally who never concealed his affection for the Gulf states in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular “for both personal and strategic reasons.”

It was widely believed that Khan’s approach will be different from Sharif and he will not yield to covert pressures from Washington or Riyadh. At least that is what appeared.
When Khan embarked on his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, keeping alive the tradition set by his predecessors, he sought to underscore that Riyadh will remain a priority for Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pertinently, it was President Hasan Rouhani of Iran, not King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who first extended an invitation to him.

But the faith in his leadership or his vision for ‘Naya Pakistan’ (new Pakistan) was not yet dented. The massive army of his followers on Twitter ensured that the public opinion, or at least the opinion of netizens, was firmly in favor of his leadership and policies.

As the country’s fiscal deficit inflated to 6.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the 2017-2018 financial year, Khan panicked. He boarded the plane to Riyadh again, this time to seek funds. To woo the Saudi rulers, Khan said Riyadh had “always stood with Pakistan in difficult times and the Pakistani government and its people highly acknowledge it.”
Speculation had been put to rest. Khan was walking in the footsteps of his predecessor.

Following his second visit to Riyadh, Saudi regime announced $6 billion in financial support to Islamabad. It corresponded with the international outrage over the cold-blooded murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Even as many world leaders boycotted a Saudi investment conference, the so-called ‘Davos in the desert’, over Khashoggi’s death, Khan attended the event.

On asked why he attended the conference when many other world leaders had turned down the invitation, Khan said Pakistan was “desperate” for Saudi loans to shore up the flailing economy.

“Unless we get loans from friendly countries or the IMF, we actually won’t have in another two or three months enough foreign exchange to service our debts or to pay for our imports. So we’re desperate at the moment,” he was quoted saying by the Middle East Eye.

Khan conceded that his immediate foreign policy priority was maintaining good relations with Saudi Arabia despite unprecedented outrage over Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi officials or the outcry over Saudi’s horrendous war crimes in Yemen.

Pakistan, which had previously maintained a neutral stance on Yemen war, might now be forced to support the Saudi onslaught there, some observers fear. If Khan can ignore a reprehensible crime like the killing of Khashoggi because of Saudi petrodollars, it can be expected that he will support the Saudi war crimes in Yemen also, although he has so far resisted doing that.

While Khan has adopted a strong and unwavering stance against the US, he seems to have succumbed to the temptation of being subservient to the Saudi Kingdom, for funds. That is where he risks losing the goodwill he has earned back in Pakistan and in the international community.

At a time when the world is saying ‘no’ to Saudi Arabia, Khan is part of a tiny minority that is going against the tide. This approach will only isolate Pakistan and it has isolated Riyadh and Washington.

Being subservient to Saudi interests also means that Khan will be forced to toe his predecessor’s line on Iran. If that happens, Islamabad will again be forced to shelve the gas pipeline project, which is being described as critical to Pakistan’s energy requirements.

Khan is walking a tightrope. Wisdom lies in taking informed decisions in the best interests of Pakistan keeping in view long-term goals. In the cricketing terminology, the cricketer-turned-prime minister could do well by playing the forward defensive shot rather than the mistimed stroke in the air.

First published in our partner MNA

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Pakistan a peace loving nation

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Muslims when meeting each other greet “Peace be upon you”. Islam is the religion of Peace and Love, Islamophobia is the creation of a few minds only. There is no doubt that there exists few criminals in every society, every religion, and every country, but such exceptions, may not be used to blame the whole nation, religion or country. Since its independence Pakistan has been promoting peace and stability around the world. Pakistan’s Peace-keeping missions have been playing important roles around the world to maintain peace in troubled areas. We are major contributor to Peace-Keeping Force and have been part of almost all of UN Peace-Missions, during the history of 7 decades. Pakistan is supportive of any efforts by any nation towards promotion or maintenance of peace.

Recently, UNGA’s Disarmament Committee adopted Pakistan’s resolutions with an overwhelming support, in New York on 9th November 2018. Three resolutions proposed by Pakistan were adopted by the UN General Assembly’s First Committee with an overwhelming support. The whole world supported Pakistan’s resolution while India was the only country to oppose them.

In fact, the resolutions highlight the importance of regional approaches to disarmament, which complement global disarmament efforts and stress the need to promote confidence building measures for enhancing regional and international peace and security. The resolution on conventional arms control was adopted by a large majority of 179 countries. India was the sole country to vote against the resolution.

Earlier, a big victory for Pakistan came, on November 1stwhen the Committee also adopted Pakistan’s resolution on assuring non-nuclear weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by 122 votes. The First Committee of the UN General Assembly which meets annually deals with disarmament, global challenges, and threats to peace that affect the international community and is mandated to seek solutions to global security challenges by considering all disarmament and international security matters within the scope of the UN Charter. Pakistan’s role in disarmament was admired and non-proliferation of uranium. We strongly condemn biological and chemical weapons and strictly adhere to UN decisions.

Pakistan is a responsible country and always exploring the opportunities of peace. Pakistan has always initiated the peace process with India and sincerely tried best to resolve all issues with India, including Jammu and Kashmir, by a peaceful dialogue. Pakistan respects UN, Respect UN mandate, Respect UN Charter, and wants others to do the same. It believes in diplomacy, and there is precedence that some of the more complicated issues around the world, has been resolved by diplomacy, then why not Pakistan-India issues be resolved by dialogue too.

We support the supremacy of UN and all nations must respect the UN. We always stand with the oppressed and raise voice for the victims. Our struggle for justice and righteousness is always admired. We keep on struggling for global peace and be part of any peace process around the world.

The Indian opposition to Pakistani resolution and persistent refusal to leave Kashmir has exposed the true Indian face. The recent International Amnesty report on Human Right violation in Kashmir was a big blow to India. Indian atrocities against its own minorities and lower caste Hindus is condemned widely. Indian opposition to the UN resolution on Palestine is also an example of India’s international position.

It is time that serious notice is taken by the UN, International Community and all conscious individuals to stand up for International Peace, Justice and Human Rights.  We all should keep on struggling for a better world for our next generation. We should be united for “Peace, Stability and Prosperity” for humanity globally.

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The Making of Modern Maldives: A Look at Maumoon Gayoom

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Authors: Srimal Fernando and Pooja Singh

Former Maldivian President Maumoon Gayoom occupies an important place in Maldivian political history largely because he guided this equatorial island nation to unprecedented levels of economic growth and also through tough times when democracy was challenged. Gayoom has a national as well as international reputation that made his name familiar to the rest of the South Asian countries. It was after his return from Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University as a lecturer, Gayoom commenced his political journey as a close aid of prime minister Ahmed Zaki in mid-70’s and later as a cabinet minister under Ibrahim Nasir. Gayoom’s leadership embarked on a more reformist approach in the first two terms during his presidency. He was able to take credit for the rise of the tourism sector and an increase in the fish productivity. In Male, as well as in the rest of the Maldivian islands, building of small fisheries harbors were accelerated under the rapid development programs initiated under his presidency. When one looks at the Maldivian foreign policy, Maumoon was credited as one of the key founders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. Hence, he raised global awareness on climate change on the international arena. In this context, especially the awareness on small island nations facing rise in sea water levels which affects the livelihood of the islanders was a key theme which brought international attention. On the development side, the Hulhulemale reclamation project and the upgrading of roads and other infrastructure initiatives that he implemented are highly credited for by the Maldivians. In fact, the people’s president who visits the islands regularly was named as “A Man for All Islands” by the famous author in his book about Gayoom’s biography.

Early in his administration, former president introduced socio-economic experiments in reawakening the islands. His administration accelerated the economic growth in the twenty Atolls from Northern Haa Atoll to Southern Seenu Atoll instilling a degree of optimism and enthusiasm among the Maldivians. Yet another economic achievement in the tourism sector was the increase of luxury resorts from two in 1978 to hundred by 2008. Gayoom’s career is most relevant due to his performance and for changing the country’s political system to a multi-party democratic system where the power is vested on the citizens.

Another milestone during his tenure was to expand the average income of Maldivians from US$ 377 in 1978 to US$3,654 in 2008. However, towards the end of his presidency, the first signs of irreconcilable difficulties with the Maldivian opposition led by Mohamed Nasheed, the leader of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) started emerging in 2000. The Maldivian pro-democracy movement started in Male in 2003 and then moved to other Islands. As a result, Maldives adopted a multi-party political system and in 2008. In the same year the presidential campaign came to a climax where in the second phase of the presidential elections, the confident president had felt a constant sense of uncertainty since most of the opposition presidential candidates supported Mohamed Nasheed, the leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party. Gayoom lost the election and Nasheed the opposition leader assumed presidency.  The courageous former president Gayoom transferred the presidential powers to the newly elected president smoothly.

In fact, the reformist former president Gayoom formed the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party and later, he was one of the key founders of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) where his half-brother, Yameen Abdul Gayoom shared powers within the party. Hence, Qasim Ibrahim, a former finance minister under Nasheed’s government and also close confidant of president Gayoom led the Jumhooree Party (JP) which combined with PPM in 2013 presidential elections.

Unfortunately, in 2012 the overthrow of president Nasheed one of New Delhi’s closest allies in South Asia shocked the diplomatic circles on both sides of Asia as well as in the west. It took more than five years for Gayoom’s PPM party under the presidency of Yameen to return to power. However, due to widespread corruption and authoritative rules under Yameen’s presidency, many of the opposition party members such as former Maldivian president Nasheed, Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim and many other political leaders who opposed the undemocratic rule were prisoned through unlawful means.

During the darkest period of the Maldivian politics from 2017 to September 2018, the lone voice of the public opposition belonged to a few opposition leaders such as, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih cannot be forgotten. In the same period, former president Gayoom, Nasheed and several opposition members created a united opposition to unseat president Yameen and his majority party rule through democratic non-violent means. One of the major reasons for this change by Gayoom in Yameen’s leadership was the widespread corruption and the authoritative rule. Finally, president Yameen prisoned former president Gayoom and his son, Faris Maumoon. This was one of the main reasons where large number of Gayoom supporters broke away from PPM led by president Yameen. This reason influenced the 23rd September 2018 presidential elections where opposition common candidate Ibrahim Solih saw a massive victory margin against president Yameen.

One could argue that, Gayoom, the president who guided Maldives to economic prosperity was the same charismatic leader who guided the South Asian Island nation towards democratic maturity. Maumoon Gayoom has been the most unpredictable political influencer in the modern political making of Maldives.

*Pooja Singh, a scholar of Masters in Diplomacy, Law, Business at Jindal School of International Affairs, India.

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