Category Archives: Nation

Was hoisting the national flag in private property restricted as per Flag Code before 2002

Was hoisting the national flag in private property restricted before 2002 ?

The answer is Yes. In 1995 Navin Jindal case first in Delhi HC and later in Supreme Court clearly shows it. Flag hoisting on private property and pinning/wearing it on the body was allowed after a judgment by SC on 23 January, 2004.

Here is a brief history of that case:

National Flag hoisting on private property was not allowed legally before 23 January 2004 as it was regulated by the government. A SDM level government officer had the authority to regulate flag hoisting on private property and even in public places. The issue came into prominence when Sri Navin Jindal hoisted the Tiranga on his Raigarh, Chattisgarh (then M.P.) based factory. He was served a notice by SDM and finally the Bilaspur District Magistrate refused him to give permission for hoisting Tiranga on his factory. Local court upheld the decision of Bilaspur DM. Jindal then filed appeal in Delhi HC in 1995.

The view of Union of India to this issue was that the Central Government is authorized to impose restrictions on the use of National Flag at any public place or building, and can regulate the same by the authority vested in it under Section 3 of the Emblem and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. The Union of India also viewed that the restriction imposed by the Act and orders issued by the Government are constitutionally valid, being reasonable restrictions on the Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on 22nd September, 1995 allowed the writ petition filed by Naveen Jindal holding that “Any restriction contained in the “Flag Code – India” relating to the flying of national flag by the citizens cannot be enforced except when contravention of those restriction come within the purview of any law in force.” A mandamus was issued to the Respondents (Union of India & others) restraining them from interfering with the right of the Petitioner to fly the national flag on his premises. Jindal pleaded that the Flag Code of India was only a set of executive instructions from the Government of India and therefore not law.

The High Court allowed the petition and held that the Flag Code of India was not a valid restriction on the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The High Court observed that, according to Article 19(2), the only valid limitations on this right were those that were contained in statute. In cases concerning the regulation of the flying of the national flag, such limitations could be found in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950 or the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971.
Central govt appealed in SC which upheld Delhi HC judgment on 23 January 2004.

  • Contributed by Sri Jagdish Upasane

RSS and its association with the Tricolour

Agneepath/Agniveer

By: M S VenkateshwarA retired officer from the Armed Forces of India

The Agneepath scheme announced by the government recently has invited extreme reactions from a section of people, both within the armed forces and outside, with some – from within the forces too – going to the extent of claiming that one of the most dangerous outcomes could be ‘ militarisation of society – an extremely serious charge – when viewed in the context of the number of veterans in society today.

While the senior leadership of the services has become the object of derision and memes, significant blame has been laid at the doorstep of the political dispensation too, on issues concerning the execution and nitty-gritties of implementation, which is beyond their scope.

What is the truth and what should be the way forward ?

A lot of discussion has centered around a narrative already created – as an offshoot of opposition to anything that the government of the day does. The same cynicism applies to military leadership at the higher levels too, with the retired fraternity being fairly unsparing in showing a mirror of ‘ virtuosity ‘, probably forgetting their own recent past in the very same positions of authority. Some comments – in the form of memes – have been downright derogatory and unbecoming of conduct expected from the ‘ services ‘ community.

Policy Making

There has been an attempt at confusing the roles of policy making, and execution. Policy is made by the government and execution is left to the services. The government directive would have been to work out a scheme on the lines of the short service commission for officers, with financial implications being specified, if at all. It is presumed that it would have been a consequence of a study, since policy making does not happen in a vacuum. The nitty-gritties thereafter, would have been left to service HQs, to work out the modalities. Hence, the issues of the rank structure, etc. would have been worked out by the services themselves. To say that government has dictated issues like rank structure is to deliberately muddy the waters !

The difference between policy making and execution/implementation needs to be understood clearly to assign culpability if any. However, from a holistic assessment, it can be safely surmised that the benefits likely to accrue to the individual as well as society make it a win-win for all.

The positives of the policy

At the end of the tenure of four years a few thousand well-trained youth at the peak of fitness – both mental and physical – will be joining the civilian society with no individual family commitments . At the individual level, it will provide them the ability to take risks – which becomes a great handicap a few years down the line – in whichever career option they choose. The liberal options being announced for pursuit of higher education for those who wish to, makes for availability of very promising alternatives to the youth. For the country, there will be a few thousand trained youth – every year – to absorb, and make the best use of. And these are youth who carry no baggage – hierarchical or otherwise – and can be groomed by the organisation they join. It is a given that the organisation will be the gainer since they will have a bunch of dedicated, motivated and most importantly, trained manpower who can be moulded, and entrusted with responsibilities beyond capabilties of normal people, secure in the belief that their integrity would be beyond reproach. And the tenure in the armed forces will be their USP .

Benefits to Society

The fall out of youth with integrity and character joining the work force will not be lost on the rest of the people who come in contact. This will have a ripple effect on the rest of the organisation in terms of efficiency and morale, since this will be an annual feature. It would not be mere hype to predict that a lot of organisations would be waiting to induct these Agniveers , mainly because they are an extremely well trained resource being made available.

Over a period of a few years, the change in society itself will be visible, since the forces have always been considered as a classless – albeit hierarchical – community. The same will rub off at the grass roots of society too, since most of the intake is from the rural areas !

Effects on the Military

The most important effect on the armed forces and hence a huge responsibility will be to ‘ manage change ‘. The arguments being bandied about – about the turnover and short duration of tenure – doesn’t not paint the leadership in a good light. The management of change in the units will rest upon the officers. The ability to extract the best from the men under command does not change, whether they are in permanent service or short service . If the template of the short service commissioned officers be any yardstick, are they – in any way – lacking vis-a-vis the permanent commissioned officers ? If so, the blame has to be taken by the leadership, and the same should be applied here too. There should be no leeway in any aspect of service. There are enough processes to weed out the bad apples by strict punishment being meted out and an example being set.

Today’s youth are growing with technology and are far smarter, if the adage of ‘ every succeeding generation being smarter than the previous one, since our ancestors were apes ‘, holds true. Therefore, the fear of them not being up to the task or being found to be wanting in any way, is unfounded.

Issue of Rank and Dress

This should not even be an issue, since these are mere cosmetics. The authorities – the Service HQs – should and probably would, certainly have the flexibility to change these since these issues are an internal affair, and beyond the scope of the civilian beaurucracy and politicos.

Fear of Militarised Society

Those among the experts – retired, serving or civilians – putting forward this apprehension really need to introspect. It is the kind of charge which points all the fingers at the one pointing it. It is akin to saying that the training in the armed forces churns out criminals ! Nothing can be farther from the truth than this misplaced charge. In all these decades of highly trained men – with huge experience – leaving the forces, the number ‘ turning rogue ‘ has been a statistic that armed forces all over the world have been extremely proud of . To raise such fears is to indulge in runour-mongering to prove a point and ‘ is an insult to the ethos of the armed forces* . However, should it happen, exemplary punishment to the initial cases should settle the issue once and for all. But to use this argument for withdrawing the scheme is to hold the country to ransom. Also, it implies a failure of the forces in training their soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The charge of 75 percent being perceived as rejects does not hold water since it is in nature of service in all military organisations. Even amongst the officer cadre, the steep pyramid ensures that only a miniscule number make it to the top. Those being overlooked is always construed as a limitation of the organisational structure rather than a failure . The same is a part of the formal counseling process, an aspect that needs to be inculcated in this case too. Needless to say, it is extremely important to ensure these kind of negative vibes are avoided at all costs, to avoid a spiral and prevent a culture of despondency at the very beginning . It assumes greater importance in these times of toolkits, which are highly effective in inflaming passions .

Conclusion

For the naysayers and the non-believers, one would only request them to go back in their career and recollect how they felt when they were immediately out of training, and freshly-minted commissioned officers who felt ‘ the world was their oyster ‘ and they owned it , purely on the strength of the confidence in their abilities , arising out of their extremely good training in the forces.

The same privilege should be accorded to the future Agniveers too , rather than make them dependent on doles, in the form of permanent absorption as the only option.

A Rejoinder to Q’s raised on Kashmir Files

There are a number of WA messages doing the rounds, one of which is by Vinta Nanda – A Media Critique. She makes some 11 points but all need not be countered since just 4 of them will show what her whole agenda is. This reply was part of a response on a group, so it would seem verbatim at places.

  1. It has been tried to portray as if all the problems related to Kashmiri pandits exodus and the later genocide began in 1989. This is far from the truth. Many personnel belonging to the army, know that the buildup to an insurgency begins a few years before the actual event happens. 

So what happened since 1984, 

In July 1984, Ghulam Mohammad Shah, ( supported by Indira Gandhi ), replaced his brother-in-law Farooq Abdullah and assumed the role of chief minister after Abdullah was dismissed.  G. M. Shah’s administration, did not have people’s mandate and turned to Islamists and opponents of India, notably Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari & Md Shafi Quereshi & Salafi to gain some legitimacy through religious sentiments. This gave political space to Islamists who previously lost overwhelmingly in the 1983 state elections. In 1986, Shah decided to construct a mosque within the premises of an ancient Hindu temple inside the New Civil Secretariat area in Jammu to be made available to the Muslim employees for Namaz.

 In February 1986, Shah on his return to Kashmir valley retaliated and incited the Kashmiri Muslims by saying Islam Khatre Mein Hey (transl. Islam is in danger). As a result, this led to the 86 Kashmir riots  where Kashmiri Hindus were targeted by the Kashmiri Muslims. Many incidents were reported in various areas where Kashmiri Hindus were killed and their properties and temples damaged or destroyed. The worst hit areas were mainly in South Kashmir & Sopore . In Vanpoh, Lukbhavan, Anantnag, Salar and Fatehpur, Muslim mobs plundered or destroyed the properties and temples of Hindus. An investigation of Anantnag riots revealed that members of the ‘secular parties’ in the state, rather than the Islamists, had played a key role in organising the violence to gain political mileage through religious sentiments. Shah called in the army to curb the violence, but it had little effect. His government was dismissed on 12 March 1986, by the then Governor Jagmohan following communal riots in south Kashmir. This led Jagmohan to rule the state directly. The political fight was hence being portrayed as a conflict between “Hindu” New Delhi (Central Government), and its efforts to impose its will in the state, and “Muslim” Kashmir, represented by political Islamists and clerics. 

The Janata Dal under VP singh was in power between 89- 90 only for 1 year..  To attribute the exodus is VP Singh & not the powers that rule the country & after clearly shows what the agenda is. To exonerate a party which had 3/4th majority between 84 to 89 & then bring the focus on just 89 says a lot.

2. Jagmohan was a BJP leader – Fact : Jagmohan was a governor and not a BJP leader when he served as Governor of JnK . In fact he was Lt Gov of Delhi in 1980 when Indira was the PM. He joined the BJP much later after he fell out with Rajiv Gandhi on the way J&K was begin handled. 

3. . Does anyone ask why Valley with lower population had higher representation in the VIdhan sabha. IN such a scenario, how could any party come to power without any one party of the valley viz PDP or NC. The process of delimitation of J&K has started after the BJP came to power. Isnt it ? 

4. The much misused Article 370 & 35A which was the reason why Scheduled caste Hindus were treated as permanent sweepers & scavengers , which discriminated against women & the reason why J&K was the hub for separatism. It was the BJP lead government at the centre which did away with this. How can we forget that ?  

To attribute political interests to this film is an insult to the Hindus of Kashmir who suffered immensely. 

India 1989-2014 and after — a paradigm shift

“Why China, why not India?” is a question debated in India without a credible answer.

By S Gurumurthy for The New Indian Express

Why China, why not India?” is a question debated in India without a credible answer. Asking an identical question, “Why China flew, India just grew?” Forbes magazine (2019) answered that it was because of the barrier-free autocracy in China and nightmare democracy in India. Forbes pointed out that in the 1980s India and China were on par, but by 2018, China’s per capita income grew to 3.5 times India’s. To drive home its point, Forbes compared how China constructed the Three Gorges Dam on Yangtze river with how India built the Narmada Dam.

Yangtze vs Narmada

The Three Gorges Dam flooded 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages and displaced 1.2 million people. Yet, China completed it in a decade. In contrast, the Narmada Dam flooded no city. Inundated no town. Impacted far less villages, just 178. And displaced less than 1/10 of the people the Chinese dam had. But how long did India take to complete the Narmada Dam? 48 years! Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation for it in 1961. The World Bank agreed to fund it in 1985, but went back after Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) began its agitation.

The NBA moved the Supreme Court, which stayed construction in 1995. In 1999, the Court lifted the stay, limited the dam height to 88 metres, but later over 19 years, raised the height in five painful instalments — in 2000 to 90 metres, in 2002 to 95 metres, in 2004 to 110 metres, in 2006 to 122 metres, and in 2019 to 139 metres, its full capacity. Democratic India’s Narmada Dam took five times longer to build compared to autocratic China’s. Why, then, wouldn’t China fly over just growing India, asked Forbes. But the magazine missed the wood for the trees. For 25 years (1989-2014) India had only rickety, compromising coalitions, which had debilitated the economy. This is what Forbes sadly missed. 
4 elections, 7 PMs in 10 years

In 10 years, 1989-1999, when globalisation was opening the lucrative Western markets to the rest, India saw four parliamentary polls and as many governments with seven prime ministers. V P Singh, 11 months. Chandrashekhar, 4 months. Narasimha Rao, 5 years. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 13 days. Deve Gowda, 11 months. Inder Gujral, 11 months. And Vajpayee again, 13 months. Would the West look at India, the duration of whose governments were measured in months and days, instead of China, which was firmly under one man, Deng Xiaoping? Hoping to make the stable China a democracy rather than attempt to make the Indian democracy stable, the US began “positive engagement” with China in 1993.

Things did improve for India between 1999 and 2014 when India had multi-party coalition governments for full terms. Vajpayee, who had better control over his coalition, had earlier even boldly opted for the Pokhran II explosion. But according to Sanjaya Baru, Dr Manmohan Singh’s media advisor, Singh was just a proxy for Sonia Gandhi who exercised real power. How long would the 10 Indian governments that ruled between 1989 and 2104 last in office was always a question. Result, a whole generation of Indians had lost hope that India could ever have a stable government with absolute majority under a strong leader, like say Indira Gandhi. And so did the world. This swung the world to China.

Paradigm shift

In 2014, when Narendra Modi won an absolute majority after 30 years, the paradigm shifted  and stunned the world. Not just Modi, Indian democracy gained the world’s confidence to the extent that in 2019, US magazine Foreign Policy even said Indian democracy “is the silver lining, even golden lining of democracies” in the world. Had an elected Indian government with a majority of its own been in power in the 1990s, like in 2014, autocratic China would not have been the default choice of the West. When India changed hands from one PM to another seven times in 10 years, would the West need a better reason to turn to China? Result? The early bird China wrapped up 70 strategic partnerships by 2020. But including the US-India nuclear deal by Dr Singh in 2008 risking his government and Sonia’s wrath, the late entrant India could manage only 20. No nation would choose India — whose government could fall the next day — as a long-term partner. This is what changed in 2014. The result was instant. Modi soon emerged as a global leader.

According to the monthly survey of US-based Morning Consult, since January 2020 till now, Modi remains at the top among 13 leaders from the US to Australia in the global leadership approval ratings. Long used to be led by others, India is now playing the lead role in the multilateral fora. The latest G7-plus, G20 meetings and the COP26 conclave testify to India’s lead role. The world is now undoubtedly turning to India like it was turning to China in the 1990s. The UBS Evidence Lab CFO Study, Information Technology and Innovation Fund research, Bloomberg report and Qina Report point to the US and the West shifting away from China to India. Japan-Australia-India trade ministers held a virtual meeting in April 2021 to move away from China in 5G and semiconductor tech businesses. By the strategic Pokhran II, India shed its reservation about global power play. With the people of India giving him full majority, Modi has actually led India into the global power play. 

Plans, to develop

Backed by the absolute majority from the people, Modi set such long-term goals, planned on such scales as not imagined in India earlier. Result, in the seven years from 2014, he succeeded in executing massive schemes like opening bank accounts for 43.81 cr unbanked poor; installing 11.5 cr public and private toilets; achieving six lakh-plus open defecation-free villages; building 2.33 lakh-km long rural roads; constructing 2.13 crore houses for the poor; electrifying all villages; providing electric connections to 2.81 cr homes; fixing 37.8 LED bulbs to reduce power consumption; laying optical fibre to 1.69 lakh villages; giving free cooking gas connections to 8.7 cr homes; extending medical insurance to 25.6 cr people, life insurance to 11.16 cr, crop insurance to 11.6 cr farms; putting cash directly in 11.77 cr farmers’ bank accounts; issuing 22.81 cr soil health cards; lending to 33.8 cr micro businesses; bringing 3.42 cr people, plus 55 lakh self-employed under pension schemes; linking 1.71 cr farmers under e-market; connecting 1.85 cr students and youth with online courses for skilling; arranging 1.46 lakh post office payment banks in villages; issuing 129.5 cr Aadhaar identity cards to every Indian resident and 4.9 cr biometric identity certificates. The list goes on.

The speed with which he worked his plans is measured by just one fact. Till 2014 — in 64 years — the length of national highways built was 91,287 km; but in Modi’s seven years alone it was 46,338 km — 50% more. Modi’s development plans are intensely integrated. He could not have opened tens of crores of bank accounts for the unbanked without providing Aadhaar card to all, without connecting lakhs of villages by optical fibre, without lakhs of doorstep post office banks or without laying lakhs of kms of village roads. Nor without these could he have provided several tens of crores in medical insurance, crop insurance, life insurance, soil health cards, toilets, cooking gas connections, health cards or put cash in tens of crores of farmers’ bank accounts. One would not have been possible without the other or others.

Purgatives, to detoxify

He also administered unpopular purgatives to the economy like demonetisation (DM), GST, bankruptcy law, privatisation of PSUs to make his long-term development plans work. Many fault DM for failing to catch black money hoarders red handed while exposing people to hardship. But what was missed was that DM was a multidimensional venture. It brought the informal and black trade into registered accounts. But for DM, the taxpayer base of India which was 3.79 cr till 2016, would not have shot up to 6.84 cr in 2018 — a rise of 80%. The tax-GDP ratio, too, would not have gone up. Had the parallel black trade continued as before DM, GST mop-up could have failed miserably. That could have threatened states’ finances and the federal structure itself, even caused financial emergency. State Bank of India’s two latest Ecowrap research reports (Nov 1 & Nov 8) have brought out the truth about the unpopular DM. It says because of DM, the Jan Dhan bank accounts rose by 5.7 cr; digital transitions from 182 per 10K in 2014 to 13,615 in 2020 — by 135 times; ATM network growth, that indicated cash drawls, has flattened; the savings in the Jan Dhan accounts has risen to Rs 1.40 lakh cr.

It also says DM, GST and digital transactions have reduced the share of the informal economy from 54% in 2014 to 15-20% in 2020-21. The formalisation extended to 36 lakh jobs, says the Employee Provident Fund office, and to 5.7 cr unorganised workers — mostly in Bengal, Odisha, UP and Bihar in that order — as per government’s E-Shram portal. Cash use of Rs 1.2 lakh cr, agricultural credit of Rs 4.6 lakh cr, and petrol/diesel purchase of Rs 1 lakh cr have also been formalised through bank or digital transactions. The outcome of the formalisation is higher GST collections. For October 2021, GST collection is Rs 1.30 lakh cr. Ecowrap (8.11.2021) also brings out the social benefits of the rise in Jan Dhan accounts and says it has reduced alcohol & tobacco consumption, wasteful spending and crime rates! Truth always emerges, but late.

Forbes went wrong

Integrating development plans with purgatives to detoxify and formalise the Indian economy reflected the Modi government’s long term vision. But neither could have been possible without the other. And, both would have been impossible without bold leadership. Nothing would have been possible had Modi not won absolute majority for the second time. Forbes was wrong in faulting democracy. As the dynasty-led Congress declined, Indian democracy was in distress for a quarter century. Narration of what an absolute majority rule with bold leadership could do cannot be complete without saying how India handled the Covid challenge. 

Covid challenge

Modi’s greatest challenge came within months of winning the 2019 elections. The mysterious Covid-19 hit India. With no textbook model to counter it, Modi had to innovate, experiment with risky, unorthodox, unpopular ways to stop it, but failed. That disturbed the people, crashed the economy, inviting the Opposition to go ballistic. Seeing a golden chance to cow him down and India, China began spilling blood on the borders. Facing the worst challenge from within and outside, which was exploited every minute by the Opposition, he focussed on his Indradhanush Mission to produce Made in India vaccines for Indians.

How important it is can be measured by the fact that in the past, foreign made vaccines took as long as 17 to 60 years to reach India. Had India depended on foreign-made Covid vaccines, first it would have become bankrupt paying for it, and next, it could never ever think of relief from Covid. Millions would have died. As Modi doggedly rooted for Made in India vaccines, the Opposition even cast doubts on its efficacy, causing vaccine hesitancy. Finally, India, one of the earliest, now the largest, producers of Covid vaccines, has vaccinated the largest number of people fully and partially. India has well confronted Covid compared to the best of the world. If the Indian economy is looking up today, credit should go to the Made in India vaccine. 

This is where post-2014 India stands. Imagine a rickety, compromising coalition in its place with some proxy prime minister. Where would India have been with the Covid devastation from within and China firing at the border? This is the difference between India during 1989-2014 and after.

S Gurumurthy
Editor, Thuglak, and commentator on economic and political affairs