Issue :   
December 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:December' 2018


Banning criminal netas a must !

Jagdish N Singh

Parliament of India In a parliamentary democracy the leadership of the government is in the hands of political representatives. This makes the growing criminalization of our politics a matter of grave concern . Criminals in politics are prone to act in defiance of our constitutional morality and values. Some of the recent judgements of the Supreme Court would go a long way in addressing this malady.
The Court has ruled that the leaders of outfits who instigate a mob to an act of vandalism that results in death or loss of public and private property wound now personally face criminal action and be liable to compensate the victims in the case . The Court has ordered that the persons caught red-handed be arrested on the spot itself. This is good that the Court has now pinned the criminal liability squarely on criminal-minded leaders. So far the taxpayer had to cough up money to pay for the destruction caused by such political punks .
In another judgment to remedy the evil of criminalization in politics , the Court has directed all our political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases of their candidates. The Court has urged Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for “heinous and grievous” crimes, such as rape, murder and kidnapping. The court has directed the candidates to divulge their criminal past to the Election Commission as well as to their political parties . Our Parliament must heed the Court’s counsel . According to an authentic estimate, our past three Lok Sabhas have seen an increasing number of legislators with criminal background — 128 in 2004, 162 in 2009 and 184 in 2014. Our democracy cannot take risk with allegedly criminal elements in our Parliament. The process of trial in India is very long. By the time a politician is found guilty , he / she/ whatever might have already done some considerable damage to the Nation.
In order to avoid this possible risk, our Parliament may amend the current Representation of the People Act(1951). This Act bans only convicted politicians from contesting. It does not stop those facing trial. There must be a law to bar politicians charged with heinous offences access to Parliament or Assemblies as long as they are not proved innocent . The rule of law demands that allegedly criminal elements in our politics are treated on par with other such criminals in the larger society. According to an estimate, there are about 2.7 lakh prisoners in jails under trial across the country today. They hardly enjoy their rights to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation and right to dignity.

Curbing 'Fake' News

Nasim Zaidi In an Indian Express-organized panel discussion the other day, our former Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi lamented many social media platforms today spread disinformation. He observed that “ the time has come to ensure that misuse of social media is a separate chapter in the Model Code of Conduct.” Zaidi said, “I don’t see any harm in talking to them (social media companies) and coming up with g u i d e l i n e s which they s h o u l d adhere to.” He rightly warned the fake news might disrupt free and fair elections by impairing the voter’s ability to “hear himself” in the exercise of his or her franchise.
I wonder what kind of self-regulation we could invent for social media platforms. Have our already existing regulatory tools for our newspapers and news channels worked well ? Regrettably, they have hardly cared to do what they are supposed to in our democracy.
Democracy is supposed to foster people’s progress. The successive post-colonial leaderships in India have largely been too focused on their own development to care for our national economy . In the recent decades , they have been increasingly aligned with certain privileged mercantile, casteist and communal gangs. Media leaders are normally aligned with their political and mercantile masters. They refrain from exposing the lapses on the latter’s part. Shockingly,the media leaders have rather been engrossed in an exercise of building the image of their masters.

Islamist dictate

Asia Bibi and Salman Taseer The human rights movement had a major breakthrough last month when the P a k i s t a n Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges. Bibi had been arrested in 2009 on the false charges of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed and sentenced to death in 2010. I wonder why the Prime Minister Imran Khan government has caved in to certain radical Islamist forces and put Bibi on its no- fly list. Her life is in danger in Pakistan now . She must have the freedom to live wherever she wants. The Khan government’s approach would embolden the radical forces to proceed with their agenda of misusing Islam to persecute religious minorities in Pakistan. These forces were said to have been behind the assassination of former secular Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer in 2011, for he had campaigned for Bibi’s release . They were said to have been behind the assassination of then Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti too, for he had called for amendments to the Blasphemy Law. Progressive forces in Pakistan and the world must come together to defend Bibi. All democratic governments must reach out to Bibi and do everything possible to help her out . The Netherlands must grant her asylum at once. It must not insist that Bibi file an application for asylum from within the Netherlands.

Coptic Christians ’ plight

A shocked nun after a terror attack. When the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood collapsed , I thought Coptic Christians in the country would have a better time. They would come to enjoy their freedom of religion and cultural identity. Coptic women would have all their rights.
Unfortunately, there has been little change on this trouble. Reports are that there was yet another deadly attack on Egyptian Copts on November 2. Soon after a group of Coptic tourists from Al-Minya and Suhag, Upper Egypt, left the Monastery of Saint Samuel , some Islamist terrorists allegedly ambushed their vehicle , forced the passengers to step outside and asked them to renounce their faith and convert to Islam. On their refusal, the terrorists opened gunfire on them killing seven and injuring 13.
In May last year a similar tragedy took place just one kilometer away from the place of this incident. Over 28 Copts were killed and many injured in that incident . Time for 80 million Egyptian Muslims to assert and do the needful for their Christian neighbours. Islam is for peace and brotherhood. They must defend their religion.