Governors vs States
THE Cover Story articles (December 16) were a candid analysis of the gradual degeneration of the office of Governor, which was once held in high esteem. This long-standing colonial relic has outlived its utility, and it is high time the post was scrapped. Of late, gubernatorial posts have become a way to reward party loyalists, and Raj Bhavans have become the nerve centre for political manipulation and power broking. By acting against State governments, Governors are striking at the roots of cooperative federalism and have lowered the esteem of the office in the eyes of the public.
The Congress lecturing the Narendra Modi government on political propriety with regard to the functioning of the Governors it has appointed is both amusing and hypocritical because the Congress cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of appointing its own political nominees as Governors and dismissing State governments on a whim.
B. Suresh Kumar
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
THE Cover Story was an unequivocal scrutiny of the constitutionally unacceptable way Governors are functioning, particularly in opposition-led States. Up until 2014, there were mostly minor clashes. But after the BJP came to power at the Centre, Governors have become centres of unlawful interference and are perpetually converting minor problems into crises at the behest of the BJP and wantonly impeding the progress of non-BJP governments intent on showing them in a bad light so that people develop an aversion to these governments. Against the backdrop of the Machiavellian manoeuvres of Governors, it is time these sinecures were abolished.
THE articles were timely and appropriate. The Governor of Kerala recently flouted all democratic principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution. But look at the Left Democratic Front, which was neither Left nor democratic in its rule and actions during its last six years of power. Whether it is the choice of Vice Chancellors and Pro-Vice Chancellors of universities and other higher educational institutions, its role is partisan and violative of democratic principles. It is true that a Governor should uphold constitutional values and be non-partisan. State governments should also follow the democratic principles that lawmakers promised to uphold when they took the oath of office.
THE much publicised Vizhinjam International Port project ran into rough weather when the construction was nearing completion (“Port in deep water”, December 16). The Church, which has a tremendous influence on the fisher community protesting against the port, made the issue a rallying point and staged protests, which led to a 3,000-strong mob attacking the Vizhinjam Police Station on November 27 and injuring several police personnel and damaging vehicles and other property. The importance of this modern port is that it will be a major challenge to the Dubai, Sri Lanka, and Singapore ports once it is completed. The government needs to allay the fears of the coastal communities.
IT is true, as the article “Revenge of the ruling classes?” (December 2) said, that reservation “allows members of victim community to enter spaces of social power” and when such people get into positions of power, new opportunities are created for a community to re-evaluate its inferior status. But we do not have the studies to show that reservation has led to a decline in social problems since it became policy. Indian society is quite dynamic, and an improvement in social status could be the cumulative effect of many factors. On the other hand, the benefits of improving the economic status of a community through policies cannot be ignored. Maybe what is needed are policies that take into consideration both economical and social aspects.
THE article “A new low for media freedom” (December 2) was way off the mark. Fundamental human rights did not come under the boot of Indian rulers only eight years ago; this was the case even eight decades ago. At that time, too, the media allowed themselves to be used and misused. The ruled are always in slavery. There never was any freedom, independence, or people’s government in ancient India or Bharat Rashtra, not even in the 1940s. There was only transfer of power to rule over hundreds of kingdoms and crores of people.
THE epithet “gentle revolutionary” is apt for Ela Bhatt, the life and soul of the Self-Employed Women’s Association, who was a beacon in the lives of millions of poor women working in the informal economy (“A gentle revolutionary”, December 2). Hers was a giant presence in SEWA, but she saw to it that she never became an overarching banyan tree under which nothing grows.
THE RTI Act appeared 17 years ago as a tool to reduce crime and improve Indian democracy (“Fading sheen”, December 2). People filed appeals and revealed numerous unreported crimes in an effort to obtain justice. But the rise in the backlog of appeals and complaints and the threats made against RTI activists demonstrate the subservience of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and State Information Commissioners (SICs) to the government.
WHEN the RTI Act was passed, it gave ordinary people a glimmer of hope that they would have access to information that they could never have dreamt of obtaining otherwise. It enabled everyone to seek information just as MLAs or MPs do in the State Assembly or Lok Sabha.
But subsequently, some government agencies were given immunity from the Act and the Act itself was amended, making it toothless. Besides this, the fact that more than a dozen RTI activists have been brutally attacked and more than a hundred murdered across India in the last 17 years has made people afraid of using it.
The backlog of applications, the non-filling of the posts of Chief Information Officers in the States, and the staying of the orders of the CIC and the SICs by High Courts have almost crippled the Act.
A LAW should be passed making it mandatory for political parties to include the RTI Act in their party’s constitution or else face being deregistered and derecognised. The Act must be highlighted and strengthened through debates and discussions both inside and outside elected bodies. Cases must be filed in courts to prevent its amendment and dilution.
Since the RTI Act promotes transparency, it must be used fearlessly and continuously to expose and fight against corruption. Red tape should be removed to fast-track dealing with complaints about delayed responses and pleas relating to applicants’ life and liberty. Hence, a strong and rejuvenated RTI Act is needed to strengthen democracy.
THE recent UN climate change summit assumes great significance in the wake of recurring natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and much more the world over (“Feeling the heat”, December 2). Summits apart, what action should to be taken? Humans are dependent on natural resources and agriculture. Just imagine what would happen to humanity if climate change prevented farming activities? Therefore, UN climate summit parleys should advocate strong action and support farming in all forms and encourage green activities. Parleys on climate action should not be a blame game. Considering the magnitude of the impacts, fighting the climate crises requires all countries to do so together.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai
THE dismal performance of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019 and in Assembly elections in the current year is mainly because people have lost faith in the rule of the Nehru-Gandhi family (“Agent of change?”, November 18). Many senior leaders have left the party. Despite this, influenced by Gandhi family members, party workers elected Mallikarjun Kharge as the party president.
Sonia Gandhi seemed reluctant to avail herself of the services of Shashi Tharoor, a capable MP and prominent party leader who was ready and willing to devote his time to helping the party regain its lost reputation.