Issue :   
January 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         January 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Jan' 2018


Will Modi honour the cause dear to Ambedkar?

Jagdish N Singh

Addressing a ceremony to dedicate Dr. A m b e d k a r International Centre to the Nation the other day , our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Many great souls have been born in our country who have not just become the face of social change but whose thoughts have also given shape to the nation's future and thought... It will not be wrong if I say that more people today are influenced by Babasaeb than by the family for whose sake such things were done."

Indira Gandhi There is a lot of substance indeed in what Modi said. We all know how the family and its courtesans he alluded to have overlooked to advance the ides of Dr Ambedkar. I, however, wonder if the sins of those who fell outside the family are any less in this regard.
After the fall of Cong res s P r i m e Mi n i s t e r I n d i r a Gandhi, we have had n o n - C o n g r e s s governments, too, at the Centre from time to time. India had Prime Ministers Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, V P Singh, H D Devegowda, I.K. Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Since 2014 Modi himself has been our Prime Minister. I am not aware if anyone of them has done anything substantial to advance the ideas of Dr Ambedkar.

B. R. Ambedkar We all know Dr Ambedkar fought for the annihilation of castes in India. He took on our Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi on this front. Did any non-Congress Prime Minister take any concrete step to annihilate the caste system in the country? Another idea close to Ambedkar's heart was the independence of Tibet. Historically, Tibet has been an independent country. For over one thousand years, Tibet consisting of three provinces (Cholka sum) , was ruled by a line of 42 Tibetan kings— beginning with Nyatri Tsenpo (127.B.C.) and ending with Tri Ralpachen ( 838 A.D). It was a great military power in the region. With the fragmentation of its central authority, Tibet came under the control of Mongol chieftain Genghis Khan in the 13th century. For over four centuries, since the founding of the Ganden Phodrang government by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1642 to the rule of the 12fth Dalai Lama, the successive Dalai Lamas ruled the country.

Morarji Desai                      A. B. Vajpayee                Narendra Modi Tibet started facing interference only with the advent of the 13th Dalai Lama. He assumed temporal power in 1895. British India invaded Tibet and compelled him to flee to Mongolia and China in 1904. Later, in 1910, Manchu China invaded Tibet and compelled him to flee to India. The 13th Dalai Lama returned to Tibet and reasserted its sovereignty in 1913. (See Gupta, S.P. and Ramachandran , K. S. "A History of Tibet," TPPRC. 2012, pp. 81-82 ). However, he could do little. By the Shimla Convention China acquired locus standi in the conduct of Tibet's foreign policy. Aware of this historical truth, Ambedkar pleaded India should recognize Tibet as an independent nation. As our first Law Minister, Ambedkar took on our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on this front. In a discussion in Parliament, he said:

"By allowing the Chinese to take possession of Lhasa, the Prime Minister has practically helped the Chinese to bring their border down to the Indian border. Looking at all these things, it seems to me that it would be an act of levity not to believe that India, if it is not exposed to aggression right now, is exposed to aggression and that— aggression might well be committed by people who always are in the habit of committing aggression."

Has any Prime Minister cared to advance the cause of Tibet? We all know what Vajpayee, the previous BJP Prime Minister, did on Tibet. Will Prime Minister Modi follow Ambedkar on Tibet? All that has happened during his prime ministership so far is his government's attempts to develop places– like the house at Alipur in Delhi where Ambedkar died and his birthplace at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, into some memorials. His government has also announced some social welfare schemes after Ambedkar's name.
Dear Prime Minister, just such acts are no justice to his legacy. Honour him by serving the causes dear to him!

Time running out

The Dalai Lama at a press meet Speaking at an interactive session hosted by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata the other day, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said, "We are not seeking independence... We want to stay with China. We want more development... Tibet has a different culture and a different script... The Chinese people love their own country. We love our own country."
Will communist China allow Tibet the kind of development the Dalai wishes? Some experts say Beijing must accommodate the Dalai. Time is running out. He will soon be 83. He wishes to live 113 years. But who knows? The Dalai has already made a lot of compromise on the issue of Tibet's independence. As long as the Dalai is alive, Tibetans are likely to follow whatever course he chooses for Tibet. But the Tibetans may behave differently when the Dalai leaves the scene. There is no body of his stature to control the ardent will of ordinary Tibetans to demand complete independence for their homeland and fight for it to the end.

Justice to undertrials

Delhi High Court One of the pitfalls of our governance is our legal system is still unfair to the common people. There is no statutory or legal scheme for compensating those who have spent years in jail before being acquitted. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, of the 4,19,623 inmates lodged in jails nationwide in 2015, 67% were undertrials. Prison records show 3,599 undertrials were detained for five years or more. The highest number of such prisoners were in Uttar Pradesh (1,364), followed by West Bengal (294) and Bihar (278).
A Bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta said, "The instances of those being acquitted by the High Court or the Supreme Court after many years of imprisonment are not infrequent... They are left to their [own] devices without any hope of reintegration into society or rehabilitation since the best years of their life have been spent behind bars..."
Over the years, the Supreme Court has held that compensation can be awarded by constitutional courts for violation of fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. The rulings include compensation to those who are wrongly incarcerated. The Bench has now directed the Commission to undertake a comprehensive study and make its recommendation to the Union government.

Bleak prospects

Nikki Haley Ours is an era of democracy. It is supposed to be an era wherein the will of the last man in every society reigns supreme. But the common people are still the worst sufferers the world over. According to an estimate, there are the more than 60 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced for a variety of reasons. Will their lot improve? Prospects are bleak.
Knowledgeable sources say that in 2016 the 193 members of the U.N. General Assembly unanimously had adopted a nonbinding political declaration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs. But most of the states hardly care for the displaced. Even the United States, which is supposed to be the leader of the democratic world today, cares little. Last month Washington informed the United Nations it would no longer participate in the Global Compact on Migration. The U.S. mission to the U.N. said the declaration "contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration's immigration principles."
American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said "America is proud of our immigrant heritage and our longstanding moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe. . . But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone... We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty."
American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said , "While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations, in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders."