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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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Post-UNGA: Kashmir is somewhere between abyss and fear

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Hailed as a hero for calling out New Delhi’s draconian measures in occupied Kashmir, Imran Khan warned the world of a “bloodbath” once India lifts its lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir. He persuaded global leaders to denounce the brutalities and human rights violations unleashed on Kashmiris ever since the disruption of the decades old status quo, which had been granted by the symbolic autonomy of Articles 370 and 35(A) within the Indian constitution. The constitutional coup d état ensures the alienation of Kashmiris in IOK beyond the point of redemption with massive spillover effects across the LOC. Pakistan is home to 4,045,366 self-governed and independent Kashmiris as per the 2017 census, who are desired of more than a political and diplomatic support for their brothers in IOK. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars on the Kashmir issue.

Focusing on the brazen denial of core human values, Imran Khan prognosticated a more radicalized world as the scourge of radicalism finds more fodder in a discriminated society. If climate change is ignored, the clichés of religious affiliation continues and the inherent right of self-determination remains disregarded, violent reaction is inevitable. He said, “we all know that marginalisation leads to radicalization”… “No one did research that before 9-11, the majority of suicide bombers in the world were Tamil Tigers. They were Hindus”, but Hindus rightly escaped the blame since belief and religion has nothing to do with desperation.

Imran Khan talked more like Gandhi than the nation of Gandhi itself. He reminded the world of the reincarnation of the progrom and racial ridden medieval periods when religion and state were inseparable .It has reshaped and now resides more in inter-state relations while negatively stirring regional cooperation and globalization. Already enwrapped in a world of deprivation, the fifth largest population of South Asia is fearfully seen at the brink of a nuclear war with there being very few options left for a seven times smaller nuclear state of Pakistan, which has been already driven to the wall. The speech was well received and touched a chord with many Kashmiris reeling under the unprecedented communications blackout and travel restrictions in place since August 5.

“It felt like there is someone to watch our back. It felt that someone is talking for us, that we are not alone”, was the feeling commonly displayed. Hundreds of affected Kashmiri stakeholders came out of their homes, shouting slogans in support of Imran Khan and calling for the independence of Kashmir despite the movement restrictions and deployment of additional force by India in Srinagar.A fresh charge sheet has also been filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India against the chief of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, (JKLF) Yasin Malik, and other leaders including Asiya Andrabi, and Masarat Alam on October 4, 2019.

Conjuring up his dystopian vision, Prime Minister Modi made no mention of the disputed region of Kashmir in his read-out speech at the UN along the lines of diplomatically bureaucratic explanation. He only ticked the fanciful boxes of development, progress, and world peace, annihilation of terrorism and protection of environment. This speech however, was soon followed by a threat from his own government’s defence minister calling for the liberation of Pakistani Administered Kashmir as the next step in India’s quest for regional dominance.

Moreover, Imran Khan has also expressed his fears in his erstwhile meetings with Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the General Assembly session. Trump has offered mediation, but only if both Pakistan and India agree. A senior US diplomat for South Asia called for a lowering of rhetoric between India and Pakistan, while saying that Washington hoped to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there. Similarly, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi, in his address to the General Assembly on 27 September stated that,;”The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”

Nonetheless, an arrogant denial by India to the support of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir by Turkey and Malaysia is more of an inept understanding of diplomacy and international commitment. India needs to step out of the skeptical comprehension of the role of the UN that was pronounced by Ms. Vidisha Maitra India’s Permanent Mission to the UN. The sway of diplomatic terms espoused with preconceived historical interpretations could be misguiding for political leaders. Modi needs to keep his ears close to the ground to save his political future. It is an extensional battle for Kashmiris. No concertina wire can blur the contradiction in his approach to the issue, “when they are in India they say it is an internal issue and when they are on the international forums, they consider it a bilateral issue,” said one of the residents of Srinagar. Confusion exacerbates the fear, which consequently becomes a forerunner to terrorism. Same goes for the US whose mediator’s role gets paradoxical by Trump’s close alliance with Modi in his perusal of Asia-Pacific policy. Though, Imran Khan is perpetually using his political and diplomatic influence proactively, to mobilize both the international community and his own people, the anti-India feeling, the pro-militancy sensitivity and the general sense of despair — is stronger than before in Kashmir.

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Kashmir Issue at the UNGA and the Nuclear Discourse

Haris Bilal Malik

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The Kashmir issue has more significance in view of the nuclearization of South Asia as many security experts around the world consider Kashmir a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan. The revocation of the special constitutional status of Kashmir by the BJP government on August 5, 2019, also referred to as Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and the subsequent lockdown in Kashmir has since considerably increased political and diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan. India’s recent moves and actions in Kashmir have once again internationalized the Kashmir dispute. This was evident during the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session, where the Kashmir issue remained a crucial agenda item for several countries.

During this year’s session prominent leaders of the world condemned Indian brutalities in Kashmir. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the international community for failing to pay attention to the Kashmir conflict and called for dialogue to end this dispute. Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Kashmir “has been invaded and occupied” by India despite the UN resolution on the issue. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also discussed the issue and called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute based on the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions. Based on the grave importance of Kashmir as a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the UNGA warned the world community about the dangers of a nuclear war that according to him might break out over Kashmir due to Indian atrocities. The current situation appears to be the most critical time for both the countries and the region as both countries are nuclear-armed.

However, unfortunately, the Indian leaders and media perceived Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning as a nuclear threat and termed it as ‘brinkmanship’. Contrary to this perspective, it is worth mentioning here that the Indian leadership itself is involved in negative nuclear signaling and war hysteria against Pakistan in recent months. For instance, the 2019 Indian General Election campaign of Prime Minister Modi was largely based on negative nuclear signaling comprising of several threats referring to the possible use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan. Furthermore, as an apparent shift from India’s ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy, on August 16, 2019Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while on a visit to the Pokhran nuclear test site paid tribute to the late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and asserted that India might review its NFU policy. He stated that a change in future circumstances would likely define the status of India’s NFU policy. Since then there is no official denial of this assertion from India which indicates that India might abandon its NFU policy.

Moreover, India’s offensive missile development programs and its growing nuclear arsenal which include; hypersonic missiles, ballistic missile defence systems, enhanced space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance and the induction of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile-capable submarines clearly indicate that India’s nuclear weapons modernization is aimed at continuously enhancing its deterrence framework including its second-strike capabilities vis-à-vis Pakistan. This is also evident from India’s military preparations under its more recent doctrines such as the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD)which are also based upon more proactive offensive strategies and indirect threats of pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan.

As evident from the above-mentioned developments, it seems likely that India aspires to increasingly project itself as a regional hegemon and a potential superpower. The BJP government under Prime Minister Modi inspired by the Hindutva ideology is taking offensive measures under the notions of ‘a more Muscular or Modern India’ based on strong military preparedness. In such circumstances, Pakistan’s threat perception would likely remain increasingly inclined towards its eastern border. Pakistan due to its economic constraints would also likely face considerable difficulties in competing with India toe to toe with respect to its military modernization plans. Pakistan is already punching well above its weight, and nuclear deterrence would be the only way through which Pakistan can maintain a precise balance of power to preserve its security. This could only be carried out by deterring India with the employment of both minimum credible deterrence and full-spectrum deterrence capabilities. This posture clearly asserts that since Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes in principle, they are aimed at deterring India from any and all kinds of aggression.

Hence, at the present India’s forceful annexation of occupied Kashmir and the resultant nuclear discourse at the UNGA has further intensified Pakistan-India tensions. Under present circumstances, the situation could easily trigger another politico-military escalation between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi has bet his political reputation on his move to annex the region and his political career is on the line. The same way Pakistan’s politico-military establishment is equally unlikely back down from its stance on Kashmir. It would be difficult for both countries to come down from the escalation ladder because politico-military reputations would be at stake at both ends. Consequently, Pakistan might be forced to take action before India’s modernization plans get ahead and might respond even sooner.

The nuclear discourse in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech against the backdrop of the Kashmir crisis at such a high forum like UNGA would likely keep the issue internationalized. The situation demands the UN fulfill its responsibility of ensuring peace and to prevent billions of people from the dangers of a nuclear war. However, Indian blame game, aggressive behavior and offensive nuclear signaling against Pakistan all present a clear warning of nuclear war. It would greatly limit the prospects for international mediation especially by the United Nations whose resolutions on Kashmir clearly provide a right of self-determination to decide Kashmir’s future.  

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1.2 trillion rupees on the move: Modi’s greatest piece of purchase yet

Sisir Devkota

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Last week, the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) was taken aback by more than a surprise. Just when it was dealing with the uncomfortable series of events that led to the transfer of surplus 1.2 trillion rupees into the government of India; social media erupted. It quickly realized that losing the battle regarding the transfer would only add fuel to the hoax of closing down nine commercial banks. RBI enjoys considerable amount of autonomy and independence in the largest democracy, and still, it had to kneel down to Modi’s alleged quick fix.

The RBI would have to vouch for the government in times of need, it is primarily what is expected of the institution; but there was a great deal of discomfort in how the government justified it. A committee set up under the ex-governor, Mr Bimal Jalan, cited how central banks would not need so much of surplus to carry out their affairs. Effectively, it was an order, not a request, which became the underlying discomfort behind RBI’s hesitancy in adhering to the views of capital transfer committee. Not that anyone expected the central lender to protest longer, it did however, request Mr Jalan to reconsider the decision at the face of various consequences. To say the least, it was embarrassing for a premier financial institution to be put under the public eye. The social media hoax was another ridicule of the sickly RBI. In the tales of grand conquests, the victorious army steals the wealth from the losing party. Similarly, the BJP led government in India are redefining all forms of state tools in favour of their interests.

Stolen wealth is most often than not used to correct economic blunders. Just like in the tales of grand conquests, the decision to transfer national wealth from the reserve bank is nothing new. It is nevertheless baffling, that the money transfer is looping in the same direction. While the BJP government in India were imposing a comprehensive GST (Goods and Service Tax) policy, they would not have anticipated complaints from large industries over decreased consumer consumption. For a party that is now known to redefine the legitimacy of governance, falling prey to NBFC’s (Non-bank Financial Companies) incompetence or bankruptcy is a visible defeat. Unlike many other soaring economies, there are large group of subsidiary lenders operating in India. On hindsight, economic policies are barely creating tunnels through which the capital is getting recycled in the same loop. Revenues are not generating further revenues. It is merely closing down on its self-inflicted gap.

The Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) almost played with fire. Uncharacteristically, it proposed a framework to work together with the RBI in order to claim outstanding defaults from high value clients. The RBI was never going to agree with a defaming offer as such but the incident did fuel the argument of capital shuffling. It only makes the bluff look more real. A strategic plan to counter all measures that would have blocked the transfer of trillions. As Mr Jalan sheepishly implied how the importance of central bank and what is does is only limited to the public perception, RBI fought a fix in between larger or rather dangerous political agendas. Consolidating requests from SEBI to only fall into the whims of the government shows the lack lustre personality of the central funding institution. For the time being, Narendra Modi has his way, a theft of national treasure-like his opposition colleague Rajiv Gandhi expressed in the media. However, there will also be a far-fetched evaluation of Modi’s actions. A move of 1.2 trillion rupees in the same pot. Not by any means, a cunning cover up.

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