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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Madras High Court dismisses petition - the North South divide !!!!

India is a vast country with diverse traditions, different landscapes, different languages, culture and more – Unity in diversity is what India shines. In the land with a rich history, the capital was moved to Delhi in the early part of last century – and British built a new Secretariat building to house the Govt offices.  For administration, many  employees were brought into the new capital from distant parts of British India, including the Bengal Presidency and Madras Presidency.  It is a majestic building that is the administrative office – the Secretariat built in 1910s, is home to most important ministries of the Cabinet of India. Situated on Raisina Hill, New Delhi, the Secretariat buildings are two blocks of symmetrical buildings (North Block and South Block) on opposite sides of the great axis of Rajpath, and flanking the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House).

The South Block houses the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs.            The North Block primarily houses the Ministry of Finance and the Home Ministry. The terms 'North Block' and 'South Block' are often used to refer to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of External Affairs respectively.

Globally, the ‘North–South’  divide is broadly considered a socio-economic and political divide. Generally, definitions of the Global North include North America, Western Europe and developed parts of East Asia. The Global South is made up of Africa, Latin America, and developing Asia including the Middle East. The North is home to four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  While the North may be defined as the richer, more developed region and the South as the poorer, less developed region, many more factors differentiate between the two global areas.  The better off regions have better education, more resources, technology and political stability. 

In India too, often there is talk about ‘North South’ divide – to some, everyone hailing from below Vindhya region is ‘Madrasi’.  The divide can be extended further within Tamilnadu – as saying Chennai and its neighbouring parts are better cared for and have more resources than their southern neighbours.  Inside Chennai city – the southern part of Chennai is considered to be luxurious than the Northern part. 

Generally, North Indians are fond of chai (tea) while South Indians (with the exception of Keralaites) are fond of kapi (coffee).  Wholesale prices of Indian tea have been diverging sharply between North and South India this year. Prices at the auctions in South India have fallen sharply, even as those up north have held firm.  For the period up to September 2014, prices in North India averaged about Rs.145 a kg while those for the South averaged Rs.85 a kg, according to Tea Board data.

The dravidan parties of the State have been harping on this for some decades.  During the Nehru era, Annadurai stated that  the South, particularly Tamil Nadu, was being meted out step-motherly treatment while north India enjoyed the fruits of development . Vadakku vazhgirathu, therku theigirathu (The North thrives, the South wanes) may no more be relevant with the rapid progress of southern states in the present day,  but many still hold that perception.   There’ s no North-South divide asserted  the Madras High Court.  Read this interesting newsitem that appeared in Times of India of date.

The Madras high court yesterday  dismissed a “public interest petition“ that objected to the court granting four to five days of holidays for “north Indian“ festivals like Diwali, and imposed an exemplary cost of Rs.20,000 on the petitioner.  Slamming a journalist who filed the petition and accusing him of raising divisive issues for publicity , the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan said: “There is no north-south divide, but for the endeavours of persons like the petitioner, who seek to raise divisive issues only to gain publicity and create unrest among people. It is necessary for this court to come down with heavy hands .“

Petitioner V Anbazhagan, claiming that till a couple of decades ago the HC had been granting just a day’s leave for Diwali, said that because chief justices of the HC happened to be from north India they tried to thrust northern culture on the people of TN. Granting four days of holidays in November 2015 for Diwali is unnecessary and it makes advocates jobless and affects court work, he said. Not more than one day should be declared a holiday for Diwali, he said.

Rejecting his contention, the first bench said the court’s calendar had been prepared after a lot of deliberations. “Whether advocates are rendered jobless or not is not the concern of the petitioner, as advocates and their representatives are consulted during the framing of the calendar. ” the judges said. The petitioner cannot set the calendar of the court by raising a divisive issue “of mythological nature”, they said. As for the PIL’s averment that senior judges were being brought from Northern states, they said: “It is immaterial who presides over this court as chief justice. That is an instant of policy of having an outsider as CJ, possibly to have greater national amalgamation.” Noting that India was a country with various cultures, they said: “All these cultures together form the nation. It should not segregate the country by raising divisive issues.” They asked the petitioner to deposit the cost within 15 days at the mediation centre of the court.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Dec 2014.

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