Sports and celebrations are the antitheses of social distancing.
No guarantee protection against a malevolent virus
Social distancing and cancellation of public events are necessary.
BCCI’s hand was forced after the Sports Ministry’s missive about staging events without an audience and the government’s refusal of visas to foreigners till April 15.
The situation is still fluid and it all depends on how the epidemic shapes up in the coming weeks.
Dominion over territory
The verdict by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court on the respective roles of the elected regime in Puducherry and the Administrator appointed by the President.
The Bench has done well to say that its role is not to lay down who has residual control — whether it is the Council of Ministers or the Administrator — but to highlight the existing legal framework under which their powers are defined.
The Bench has set aside a single judge’s 2019 order that the Lieutenant-Governor should not interfere in the day-to-day administration of Puducherry.
It became French colony in 1673
Indian Union took place in the year 1963
To this extent, it is a shot in the arm for L-G Kiran Bedi, but it also contains a note of caution against the Centre going beyond its constitutional limitations.
An interesting facet of the case is that both last year’s judgment by Justice R. Mahadevan, and the one overruling it by a Bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad, rely on the exposition of the law by the Supreme Court in relation to the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
The main ground on which the single judge’s verdict has been set aside is that it was based on an inappropriate parallel sought to be drawn between a ‘Union Territory’ and a ‘State’.
The apex court had emphasised on the need for constitutional morality and constitutional trust among high dignitaries, implying that Lt. Governors and Chief Ministers must work in unison as far as possible.
In the event of an unresolved difference of opinion, the L-G should refer it to the President for a decision.
The single judge was not wrong in holding that the Administrator is bound by the “aid and advice” clause, and that the power to refer any matter to the President should not mean “every matter”. The ambit and the limits of ‘diaspora diplomacy’
Joint rallies by U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad last month and at Houston last September were unique.
In Ahmedabad, Mr. Trump referred to Indian Americans as “truly spectacular people”.
Indian diaspora not just as a part of India’s “soft power”, but a fully transferable political vote bank as well.
Mr. Modi has also brought this dual effect into play in several diaspora rallies worldwide.
The government has also frequently blurred the line between Indian expatriates and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) in describing India’s strength abroad.
India has the world’s largest diaspora, about 17.5 million and receives the highest remittance of $78.6 billion from Indians living abroad (Global Migration Report 2020).
Members of the diaspora, often seen as more “successful” and therefore more influential, can have a big impact on their relatives back home, and this makes for a potent combination for any politician.
The transferability of votes has not yet been proven conclusively.
One obvious reason is that the Indian community isn’t large enough to make a difference in the voting patterns in any of these countries.
In the upcoming U.S. election, it remains to be seen whether the Trump outreaches at Houston and Ahmedabad bring in a haul of new Indian-American voters, but the statistics are daunting.
The second issue is that politically active members of the Indian diaspora don’t necessarily support the Indian government’s actions.
Addressing the Lok Sabha in 1957, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said about the diaspora, “We want to have no vested interests at the expense of the population of those countries…if they adopt the nationality of that country we have no concern with them. There may be sentimental concerns but politically they cease to be Indian nationals.” (A reply to the debate on foreign policy in Lok Sabha; September 2, 1957).
Most immigrant Indian communities have been marked by their ability to assimilate into the countries they now live in.
Much of that comes from a desire to be treated as equal citizens, not as immigrants.
Temples of critical thinking and debate
In the recent subject-wise ranking of world universities by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Indian institutions improved with 26 departments or schools placed in the top 100 of their respective disciplines.
Science, technology and business studies were the fields in which our universities showed their mettle. Not even a single Indian university features in the QS ranking of the world’s top 150 in overall parameters.
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) of Bombay and Delhi are at the 152nd and 182nd places in the overall rankings, while IISc Bangalore appears at the 184th position.
QS’s top 10 in overall terms include five American universities (MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Caltech and Chicago), four British universities (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and Imperial College) and one Swiss university (ETH Zurich).
All the five American names in this list are private universities, while the British and Swiss institutions are public universities which have nonetheless enjoyed significant autonomy from governmental control over decades.
One common factor behind the success of the topmost universities is the freedom with which they operate.
They have been major centres of innovation in teaching and research thanks to independence from bureaucratic or corporate meddling and political intervention by parties of the day.
They could remain centres of extraordinary excellence in a sustained way by according primacy to matters of the mind, i.e. intellectual ideas and solutions to problems, and avoiding becoming hostage to dogmatic thought.
All the great universities of the world are ideologically pluralistic, with a mix of right, left and centre among their faculty and students.
Professors and students are free to choose whatever opinion they prefer.
No one is penalised for holding a pro- or antiview on social, economic, political, cultural or scientific matters.
The top universities are also excellent at attracting and retaining talent.
They hire professors very selectively, based on outstanding scholarly abilities.
They reject a large number of candidates for admission as students, and admit only the brightest and the most meritorious.
Big universities also inculcate critical thinking, debating and writing abilities in their students. They encourage students to look at issues through interdisciplinary lenses and to challenge their own professors.
This type of interactive pedagogy produces champion graduates who have a reputation for cutting-edge skills and knowledge in the job market.
Top global universities are also super-smart financial managers.
By 2019, the total endowment of Harvard was worth $40 billion, which is made up of over 13,000 individual funds.
Since the top Anglo-American universities go back centuries, it is arguable whether such type of elite institutions can be quickly and easily replicated outside the U.S. and the U.K.
These big universities are products of historical circumstances which relied on private philanthropy, colonial plunder or governmental subsidies to reach the level they are at today.
In the QS world rankings on overall basis, Tsinghua University is ranked number 16, Peking University is at 22, Fudan University is at 40, and Zhejiang University is at 54. This is a miraculous leap forward.
In India, as the government is cash-strapped and lacks the kind of resources which the Chinese state deployed.
Insularity and self-congratulatory frog-in-the-well attitudes have held us back for long.