The "reservation" issue is hot stuff these days. Almost the whole of India is protesting against it. Rallies, hunger strikes, cops lathi-charging the students, students collasping because of hunger, students dying because of hunger, media not being allowed to cover these incidents, and what not! I’m sure you guys must have heard about Karan Thapar’s interview with Mr. Arjun Singh, our HRD minister. It’s making news these days because of the dumb answers that Mr. Singh has given. Yesterday, I asked Dodo, my friend in Adelaide, to have a look at it. The conversation that we had after he read it made me aware of a lot of facts about the Indian Constitution that I actually didn’t know, or never bothered to know. I felt quite stupid and then, I felt enlightened because now, at least I’m aware of a couple of facts. I guess most of you guys must be aware of these facts. So, for those who are unaware, here’s a part of our conversation (I didn’t have much to say as I was more of blinking and reading :D)
Div: check this
Div: the interview
Div: what r u doing?

Dodo: reading the mindless answers that Arjun Singh has given…
Div: what a shame tht we such a person as the HRD minister
Dodo: its not a shame, its what the population has voted for.. remember "all that you reap is what you sow in the beginning".
Div: yea
Dodo: I’m not sure if you know, but there are more ammendments to the acts in the Indian Constitution than the original charter of the constitution itself.
Div: oh.. i didn’t know
Dodo: As far as I am aware India is the only country to have such a constitution where the number of ammendments outnumber the original charter. That in itself should point something out.
Div: yup!
Dodo: Also there is no provision under the Indian Constitution, in my knowledge, that allows a member of the public to dissolve the parliament of the country for any acts of gross negligence or misrepresentation.
Div: hmmm
Dodo: There is neither a process of appeal to overturn the decision of the parliament, unless a case is lodged in the Supreme Court to have the law overturned by the President of India himself.
Div: hmmm
Div: do other countries have such provisions?
Dodo: The catch in that however is that if such a decision is taken by the president, and this bill is presented in the Lok Sabha again and is passed by both houses of parliament then the President has to approve it and after that there is NO recourse.
Dodo: Other countries have abolished Reservations just for this reason.
Div: good
Dodo: Good for them, but where do we stand?
Dodo: I’m today a PR of another country. I have a course where I can settle in another country. what about the others?
Dodo: what about you for example?
Dodo: where are you supposed to go?
Div: hmmmm
Dodo: Do you know that no university in India apart from the Open University can give admission to students over 25 years of age!
Div: oh.. didn’t know that!
Dodo: If a country doesnt allow its own population to become educated then where is the country in general heading?
Div: country will go into a ditch..
Dodo: Another fact!
Dodo: During no election, have I ever seen a written mandate by any party in India, which they fight the elections on. Given the fact that verbal statements hold no respect under the constitution, hold no merit and the person cant be held accountable for such statements. Where does that lead a country?
Dodo: I as a person have no avenue of being able to appeal this ruling, which as is alleged in this interview a UNANIMOUS decision. Under such circumstances what is a population’s course of action?
Div: population has been doing a lot about it and it has almost no effect on the govt.
Dodo: Also the parliament is not required to give any justification as to based on what facts it has passed such a bill!
Div: what else will they do apart from protesting?
Div: to what extent will they go?
Dodo: Considering the fact that they’re all Government of India Employees, and servants of the Republic of India who are they accountable to?
Div: yup, what will Arjun Singh say when the parliament itself cannot justify the reasons for apssing a bill
Dodo: Question isnt about what they can do apart from protesting, its the fact that they have no rights to question the rulings of its parliament!
Div: ya, so they can just protest, and that’s it.
Div: protest and get crushed.
Dodo: He doesnt have to say anything. Once a bill has been passed by both houses of Parliament, the only course to revoke the law is to file a case in the Supreme Court and then get the president to revoke it.
Dodo: Then again, I’ve already told you what the catch with that is!
Div: ya
Dodo: Let me tell you another fact!
Dodo: If you go into the parliament as a visitor, you can if permitted ask two questions to the house! However, you are not allowed to ask those questions without the approval of the Speaker of the house in the first place and secondly, you cant ask any leading questions from the answers that you obtain in response to your original question!

Dodo: There are lots of loopholes that cater for the protection of the parliament and its decisions in the Indian constitution, however the power of being able to question the government or the opposition is almost non-existent!
Dodo: Read this:

          Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come
          to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other
          corollary: Reservations also gives preference and favour to caste over merit.
          Is that acceptable in a modern society?
          Arjun Singh: I don’t think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.
Dodo: Ask him to explain what in view of the PARLIAMENT OF INDIA is a Modern Society?

Dodo: For me to ask a minister that question, I have to queue for atleast 3 weeks, in term of the fact that my question has to be deposited, possibly reworded to the liking of the house’

Dodo: and then when I get the chance to go to the parliament I can ask the question, without even knowing whether the concerned minister is in the house to answer questions.

Dodo: Also it is not required that the house be discussing the same subject on the given day when you present your question and if it so happens that the relevant official from the ministry is not present, he/she can choose to answer your question in writing at their convenience!
Dodo: What do you think is the likelyhood of being able to ask a question and getting a firm answer from anyone in the Indian Parliament?
Dodo: Oh yeah, you are not allowed to ask question furthermore on proposed bills, until such time that they’re passed by parliament and are law!
Dodo: as a bill has no standing under the constitution until such time!
Dodo: The full protection that is given to the decisions made by the parliament is such tightly knit into the constitution and its ammendments that to revoke one law, or just to bring about changes to it from the public can take anything in the time period of 3 years and upwards
Dodo: also ministers are not required to give details if they so feel that it may affect the socio-economic balance and may make the country unstable.
Dodo: hence when you read through this interview commentry, Arjun Singh is at liberty to deny almost every question that might ask him to quote a figure!
Dodo: You know another thing, defence dealings need not be explained by any MP if they see even as much as think that it may be a matter of National Security. And guess what protects them there, THE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT. Under which any dealings, such as that shown to have been made by Bangaru Laxman, can be completely covered up!


And after this conversation, Dodo decides to study law so that he can get to study the Indian Constitution 🙂 I say he must! I dunno how many of you actually reached here after reading this WHOLE conversation, but, I guess it’s worth a read for those who’re unaware, like I was 😀