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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Developed nations’ colonial mindset impeding Bharat’s development, judiciary must honor ‘separation of power’: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hit out at the colonial mindset of developed nations which is attempting to restrict developing nations like Bharat from using those resources and paths which they themselves took to become developed.

He regretted that some in Bharat are using western benchmarks and environment to impede the country’s progress.

Speaking at the Constitution Day celebration at Vigyan Bhawan, the PM said, “Today no nation exists as a colony to any other nation. Doesn’t mean that colonial mindset has ended. This mindset is giving birth to many skewed ideas. Glaring example of this is the impediments put in the (way of) progress of developing countries. The resources and the path which led to the western countries reaching the status of ‘developed’, today there is an attempt to restrict the same resources and the same path for the developing nations.

“In the last few decades, these attempts have been variously nomenclatured. But, the internecine agenda of all these attempts is the same – stop the progress of developing nations. Environment as an issue is also being attempted to be hijacked to achieve this end. We saw its live example at COP26 (Climate of Parties, the climate change summit) a few weeks back. If we talk of absolute cumulative emissions, developed nations caused 15 times more emissions than Bharat since 1850. Even If we look at per capita basis, developed nations have caused 15 times more emission than Bharat…America and European Union have on per capita basis caused 20 times more emission than Bharat…We are proud that we come from a civilization that teaches use to live in harmony with nature, where objects of nature are considered divine, Earth is worshipped as mother. Still, Bharat is lectured on environmental conservation!

Without referring to numerous PILs by activists on environmental issues in the Supreme Court leading to stalling of many hydro-electric projects, road construction and power plants, the PM said though Bharat is among the leading nations focusing on clean fuel and various green measures, and the only country which is going to achieve the goals set in Paris Agreement, various kinds of pressure is brought to bear to distract it from its goal of reaching the benefits of development to each and every citizen in every nook and corner of the country.

He said those who do this (impede development) do not face the consequences.

“The consequences of their action cause distress to a mother whose child cannot study because of the stalling of a power plant, to a father who cannot take his ailing son to hospital because of under constructed roads. The impact is felt by the middle class, who cannot enjoy modern facilities as these go beyond what they can afford. This colonial mindset has turned the hopes and aspirations of crores of people into desperation,” he said.

Separation of Power: a message to Judiciary

Modi also said “separation of power” (between legislature, executive and Judiciary) is often talked about and forcefully reiterated. But in taking the country to new heights by the time it celebrates the centenary of independence, for which the government has set extraordinary goals, all institutions must come together in achieving those targets which are a common goal.

Judicial encroachment on the executive and legislative domain is a big worry, and we saw how courts berated and humiliated governments during the Covid-19 crisis, instead of trying to understand constraints and have a solution-oriented approach. The hasty intervention of courts also contributed to the Oxygen crisis in Delhi, as the demands of the Delhi government that were accepted at face value by judiciary were later proven to be massively overblown when an audit was done.

In UP, the High Courts’ refusal to delay panchayat elections most likely contributed to deaths of many election workers in the deadly second phase. Former SC judges and legal eagles have been claiming that judiciary was responsible for center’s vaccination policy and the successful vaccination drive, to the bemusement of ordinary citizens left puzzled by the publicity seeking behavior.

“Judiciary has a big role in “Sabka Prayas’ (collective effort)…Separation of power between the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature is very important….Without compromising on the ‘separation of power’ we have to chart the roadmap for collective responsibility to take the country towards its desired goal,” the PM said.

One hopes this important speech by the PM has the desired effect. All right-thinking members of the judiciary must realize how the judiciary has alienated itself from the people it serves. The first step should be to end the opaque Collegium system of appointing judges, which has reduced the higher judiciary to a self-serving cabal in the eyes of many. Next should be a meaningful move to Indianize the judiciary and legal system, something even CJI Ramana has spoken about.

On Constitution

While addressing the audience at the Central Hall of Parliament, in another program to commemorate the Constitution Day or the National Law Day, Modi remarked how unique the Constitution of India is.

“Our constitution is not just a collection of many articles, but it is a modern expression of the great tradition and unbroken stream of India of millennia,” he said.

Modi questioned the political parties for their ability to maintain democracy when they have lost their democratic character.

The prime minister voiced Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts in his speech while stating, “The seeds of duty sown by Mahatma Gandhi should have become banyan trees today. If the duty had been emphasized after the independence of the country, then the rights would have been automatically protected.”

There can be no doubt that a Constitution is an important document for any modern Republic. But we must not forget that our Constitution has been amended 105 times in the last 75 years, and the original spirit of the Constitution makers has been hijacked by many amendments and judicial interpretations. In particular, Articles 25-30, which were meant to ensure that minorities enjoy equal rights, have become tools to deprive the majority of those very same rights, leading to a perverse minoritarianism taking root.

Most members of the Constituent Assembly, including Dr. Ambedkar, would be aghast at the outlook of the Nehruvian elites who act as upholders of ‘Constitutional Morality’ today.

Also, the elevation of the Constitution to the status of a ‘holy book’, which PM Modi too is guilty of doing, is unwarranted. The world has seen how blind adherence to religious ‘holy books’ considered infallible and immutable can have dangerous consequences. As a rational and Dharmic people, who believe in the path of self-enquiry even in spiritual matters, we must learn to see the Constitution as a document meant to serve the best interests of the citizens, and not the other way around.

The world has changed a lot since Bharat became independent in 1947, and the country has learnt many new lessons. We must not shy away from reforming and simplifying the Constitution to make it more relevant to our times and accessible to the masses.

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