5 August 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis
1) More of the same: On Trump's signing of order against hiring H1B visa holders-
GS 2- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
- The list of U.S. President Trump’s attacks on the inflow of skilled foreign workers into the country continues to expand rapidly.
- The latest act from the White House seeking to potentially prevent such workers from participating in any federal government contracts indefinitely.
IMPACT ON INDIA:
- The executive order signed by Mr. Trump specifically targets the H-1B visa as one that purportedly(claimed) results in the loss of jobs to U.S. persons owing to cheap foreign labour.
- Indian nationals tend to be granted 60-70% or more of visas in this category annually, which implies that the potential impact of this order on IT and ITES firms based in India could be considerable
- This would produce a ripple effect in the bilateral economic space.
- The sense of shock that this order is likely to cause among those in corporate India who invest in the U.S. economy and create jobs there should hardly come as a surprise, given Trump’s support right from the beginning.
- Even in April 2020 the White House announced that it would be suspending the issuance of green cards, effectively halting legal migration into the U.S.
- In June 2020, the immigration crackdown was extended via an order to stop processing new visas across several skilled worker categories, including H-1B visas.
- The latest order avoids the language of an outright ban on foreign workers joining federal government contracts.
- It calls for a review of contracting and hiring practices by federal agencies, with a focus on foreign temporary workers and U.S. government-related services that were offshored to foreign countries.
- To an extent, it is understandable that the weight of performance expectations that rests upon Mr. Trump’s shoulders is of immense magnitude.
- The economy, which was in fine fettle until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, appears to be grinding to a halt, with an expected surge in unemployment numbers to nearly 18 million jobless people.
- To describe the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic crisis as lukewarm would be generous.
- There is a high possibility that voters may punish Mr. Trump on November 3, 2020.
- However, instead of striking a positive note about finding the U.S.’s greatest source of economic resilience in the diversity of its people, Mr. Trump has steadily retreated deeper into the morass(trouble) of hateful tropes about immigrants stealing jobs.
- This may well strike a chord(sympathy) with his core support base of blue-collar workers across middle America who are undeniably in economic pain.
Bitter polarisation(division) is a perennial(continuous) trait of the political landscape of the U.S., but it has rarely ever been as worsened as in the last four years.
2) Language of unity: on rejection of the three-language formula-
By rejecting the three-language formula advocated in the National Education Policy 2020, Tamil Nadu CM has only reiterated(repeated) the State’s position on an emotive and political issue.
Its two-language policy, implemented decades ago after a historic agitation against the imposition of Hindi, remains non-negotiable for almost the entire political class.
RESISTANCE TO IMPOSITION:
- Opposition from the State had last year forced the Centre to amend(change) the draft NEP and withdraw a proposal to teach Hindi as a third language in schools in non-Hindi speaking States.
- Yet in the NEP, approved by the Union Cabinet last week, it chose to push for the three-language formula, packaging it as a means to promote multilingualism and “national unity”.
- Though the policy said that no language will be imposed on any State, it has expectedly cut no ice(no influence) with parties in Tamil Nadu, which have risen in near unison to oppose the proposal.
- In fact, Mr. Palaniswami, citing “collective sentiments” of the people, noted that the proposal was “saddening and painful” and appealed to the Prime Minister to allow States to follow their own language policy.
- In a State that resisted multiple attempts to impose Hindi since 1937, political parties are understandably wary of any mandate to impart an additional language in schools.
- They fear this would eventually pave the way for Hindi to enter the State through the back door.
- Since 1985, the State has even refused to allow Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas to be set up as they teach Hindi.
- The two-language policy of Tamil and English, piloted by former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai in 1968, has thus far worked well in the State.
- In a liberalised world, more windows to the world are being opened up for those proficient in English, a global link language.
- The State’s significant human resources contribution to the ever-expanding IT sector is also attributed to the English fluency of its recruits as much as to their technical knowledge.
- There is this counter-argument that Tamil Nadu is depriving students of an opportunity to learn Hindi, touted as a national link language.
- However, its voluntary learning has never been restricted and the growth over the past decade in the number of CBSE schools, where the language is taught, would bear testimony(proof) to this.
- The patronage for the 102-year-old Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, based in Chennai, also proves this.
- In the Sabha’s centenary year, Tamil Nadu accounted for 73% of active Hindi pracharaks (teachers) in South India.
- Out of necessity, many in the State have picked up conversational Hindi to engage with the migrant population that feeds the labour needs from factories to hair salons.
Only compulsion is met with resistance. India’s federal nature and diversity demand that no regional language is given supremacy over another.
States must be allowed to follow their own language policy.
3) Violating human rights in the Valley-
- A few human rights concerns have emerged in the Kashmir Valley over the last one year since the abrogation(end) of Article 370 of the Constitution.
- Till the time of writing, the national portal of India website india.gov.in continued to show this Article as a part of the Constitution! What is the truth?
- Unchecked preventive detention — whether in the form of house arrest (admitted or denied) or preventive detention in jail in the Valley or outside the erstwhile(former) State — is a matter of grave concern.
- So is the difficulty in accessing information whether through normal channels of communication or through electronic means such as the Internet.
UNDER HOUSE ARREST:
- The concept of house arrest is not specifically mentioned in the criminal manual but the state is empowered to declare a building or house as a sub-jail.
- Through such declarations, residential accommodations of some political leaders have been converted into sub-jails.
- The resident of a sub-jail is automatically and undeniably under detention and what is commonly known as house arrest.
- When a residential accommodation is declared a sub-jail, the state virtually acquires and takes over the property for its own purposes.
- The owner of the property is entitled to rent or compensation for the use and occupation of the property.
- So, in a sense, a person under house arrest without receiving compensation is doubly jeopardised(risk).
- Compulsory takeover of property even for a limited period has been an issue of great concern in Mizoram where vast tracts of land were taken over by the armed forces to quell an insurgency.
- Many of these landowners have petitioned for compensation, though with little effect. Residents of the Valley will perhaps face the same problem as the Mizos.
- A variation of house arrest was employed during the Emergency when a few tourist resorts close to Delhi were declared as sub-jails and prominent political leaders incarcerated therein, without taking over their property.
- In a sense, therefore, some Emergency steps have now been adopted to quell(suppress) dissent.
- Preventive detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) has caused immense hardship to a very large number of persons.
- Preventive detention is based on a prognosis(prediction) of future events on the basis of past conduct.
- Like all preventive detention laws, the PSA is draconian(harsh) but our Constitution provides important procedural safeguards that must be followed by the state or else the detention order will be quashed.
- Among them is the fundamental right to be communicated, as soon as may be, the grounds on which the order has been made and the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order.
- Decisions of the Supreme Court hold that if there is an unexplained delay of even one or two days in dealing with the representation, the order of preventive detention is vitiated(spoilt).
- A challenge to an order of preventive detention can be mounted on these and other procedural grounds.
- The law regulating the PSA is no different.
- Many preventive detention orders have been challenged through habeas corpus petitions but unfortunately many of them are still pending in the concerned High Court.
- This did not happen even during the Emergency. What is the truth behind the delay?
A.K. ROY V. UNION OF INDIA CASE:
- A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held in the case of A.K. Roy v. Union of India (1981) that, “Laws of preventive detention cannot, by the back-door, introduce procedural measures of a punitive kind... The normal rule has to be that the detenu will be kept in detention in a place which is within the environs of his or her ordinary place of residence.
- If a person ordinarily resides in Delhi to keep him in detention in a far of place like Madras or Calcutta is a punitive measure by itself which, in matters of preventive detention at any rate, is not to be encouraged... Whatever smacks of punishment must be scrupulously avoided in matters of preventive detention.”
RESORT TO PREVENTIVE DETENTION:
- Although the PSA permits a detenu being detained outside the erstwhile State, such detention should ordinarily not be resorted to for a variety of reasons.
- But unfortunately the view of the Supreme Court has been followed more in the breach(violation) in the case of several PSA detenus.
- One gets the impression that resort to preventive detention is actually as a measure of punishment or conviction without a trial.
- There are several other reasons why the incarceration(jailing) of hundreds of persons in the erstwhile State is a gross human rights violation.
- What makes the situation worse is that a very large number of children have had to suffer what is called detention for their own good.
- The welfare and best interests of a child can hardly be decided in a police station without the involvement of the parents of the child.
TAKING A STEP BACK:
- Access to information might not yet be a fundamental right but it is certainly a human right.
- For the last one year, the residents of the Valley have been deprived of the benefit of 4G Internet.
- This has had an adverse impact on various aspects of daily life. For students, the joy of learning has become an imposition with 2G Internet.
- Medical professionals have difficulty in advising and counselling their patients.
- The right to health is an essential component of the right to life and this has been denied to a large number of patients.
- Businessman have suffered, the economy in the Valley has taken a hit and it appears that the powers that be are in no mood to relent.
- The Supreme Court has twice intervened but with no tangible effect.
- Orders concerning the Internet were required to be reviewed under the rules by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
- The committee has been downgraded and is now headed by the Home Secretary.
- In other words, rather than a step forward towards access to information, a small step back has been taken.
- While it may be that uncontrolled access to Internet could pose a security risk through misuse by terrorists and militants, today’s technology is so far advanced that it is possible to block access even in a limited way.
- For example, thousands of child pornography sites have been successfully blocked in different parts of the world, including India.
- Therefore, where there is a will to checkmate militants and terrorists through the effective use of technology, it is possible to do so, but taking a short cut by permitting download only by 2G possibly does more harm to a greater number of people than is necessary and is disproportionate.
It is time to introspect and make the human rights of all our citizens an inclusive subject of free and frank discussion.