A year after scrapping Article 370 and the subsequent bifurcation of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state into union territories, it is pertinent to analyse the aftereffects of the same. The issue was seemingly falling into oblivion amidst the Covid-19 pandemic but it was partially and briefly resuscitated on 31 March when the Union Home Ministry notified the promulgation of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order 2020 for the Union Territory.
After initial fumbling with the domicile requirements in the first order, the Union Home Ministry came out with a second order within three days which restored roughly the pre-amendment situation vis-à-vis employment. As things stand today, for eligibility to both gazetted and non-gazetted employment under the Jammu and Kashmir government, the applicant needs to fulfil the twin requirements of permanent residency and residency of the district/division.
What is worth mentioning is that while the first order made the domiciliary requirement mandatory only for the low rank jobs, the second order extended it to all posts. Practically barring all non-domicile/non-residents from obtaining a job under the J&K administration, even the dispossessed Kashmiri Pandits.
The domicile question
Article 370 and Article 35A played a crucial role in materialisation of distinctive Kashmiri identity. Article 35A, which empowered the state government to define the “permanent residents” of the state, along with Article 370, secured for the permanent residents a first and an exclusive right to all state’s resources and benefits.
With the Centre coming out with another set of presidential orders — first watering down the effects of Article 35A and then introducing a domicile rule which more or less restores the status quo, the domicile question has come back in a full circle. The matters which hold significance here are the domicile requirements for employment and the period of residency for being considered a permanent resident.
While domiciliary quota for employment under a state government is not unheard of, a blanket order which reserves all employment such as the one aforementioned is a peculiar case. The closest parallel can be found in Article 371D of the Constitution of India, which provides for reservation to a class of employment created exclusively for locals in the state of Andhra Pradesh. However, very recently a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court struck down the Andhra Pradesh government’s provision for 100% reservation for local tribes as constitutionally invalid.
It is interesting to see how the J&K domicile rules which harbour a similar spirit will survive judicial scrutiny. Also, the mandatory period of residence required for a person to be considered a permanent resident of Union Territory of J&K is also rather unusual. While most states of the Indian union require five to ten years of residence to be considered a domicile/residents, Jammu and Kashmir, both the erstwhile state and the newly formed union territory keep it at fifteen years. The recent orders leave it untouched.
Concerns have been raised, most pressingly by the local parties of Jammu and Kashmir, regarding the new domicile order as an attempt to bring about demographic change in the Union Territory. However, the domicile order can be validly construed as an attempt to address the long pending demand of the “unrecognised” residents of the erstwhile state with regard to right of public employment and property. It is pertinent to note that the new domicile order doesn’t throw open the gates for the Indian citizens at large. Rather, it attempts to broaden the beneficiary base for the ones who have resided/served in Jammu and Kashmir for the stipulated period of time. Besides, the claim of significant demographic change stands on weak ground as the number of people likely to benefit from the domicile order is too little to cause such an effect.
Walking the tightrope
The Union government’s aforementioned dilemma is symbolic of the broader struggle to strike a fine balance between nationalist pitch and local aspirations. The extension of all constitutional provisions to J&K was aimed at socio-economic-political integration with the rest of India. It seems sub-national interest developed and nurtured, under special status granted to erstwhile J&K state is there to stay and assert itself. Therefore, unsurprisingly, local units of the ruling BJP were at the forefront in the display of concerns and discontent with the domicile order. Interestingly, demand for justice voiced as the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits has been one of the cardinal principles of the BJP’s politics since the late 1980s. However, the exclusion of dispossessed Kashmiri Pandits from the domicile rules for employment effectively closes a potent channel for resettlement.
Sub-nationalism based on local identity/aspiration is not new to the Indian republic. In a way, it reflects the diversity it encompasses. There are constitutional safeguards for preserving local interest/norms/culture in many states. The recent domicile order by reserving all government jobs for locals intends to further/safeguard subnational interests. An important dimension of J&K is the weaponisation of Kashmiri identity and involvement of external actors. This graduates sub-nationalism (for which there are constitutional provisions) into secessionism challenging India’s territorial sovereignty. Therefore, amendment to the domicile rule aimed at accommodating local sentiments is being criticised by the ones who supported amendments to Article 370 last year, on the grounds of impeding national integration. It is viewed as a dilution of the ruling party’s resolve/vision with respect to the relationship of the Union Territory of J&K with the rest of India.
The balancing act?
On the flip side, this shows that the ruling dispensation in New Delhi is cognisant of local needs. This highlights local electoral logic-induced tampering of the ideological pitch. It contradicts the motive of demographic change that was being attributed in the wake of constitutional amendments last year. In fact, the major demographic change that the erstwhile state of J&K has witnessed is the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. A consequence of weaponisation of Kashmiri identity against the natives itself.
It could also be seen as a measured attempt at the partial dilution of the strict regimen of Article 35A. Previous arrangement had a ‘no-doors-open’ policy to anyone who was not a permanent resident. The new order does open a few windows to fill the gaps like making eligible West Pakistani refugees, Gurjars, Bakarwals, Valmikis, women marrying outside communities, displaced people, etc.
An important question to reflect is the trade-offs that the Indian State confronts in maintaining a fine balance between upholding over-arching constitutional obligations and accommodating local aspirations. This assumes special significance when local resentments find expression in terrorism aided by external actors. It can be argued that risking the tranquility in the Valley would open an additional front for the Government of India which is currently tackling Covid-19 coupled with Chinese transgressions. Therefore, it is imperative to keep in mind broader geopolitical calculus and constraints before boxing the recent backtracking on J&K domicile rules into a pro/anti framework.
Anurag Mishra is an LLM from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; and Paras Ratna is a research associate at Vision India Foundation, New Delhi.
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How mind blanking helps us understand ongoing thoughts
When we are awake, we typically believe that our minds are always racing with ideas. We maintain our own dynamic mental stream, which is like a river stream that never stops flowing.
A thought may lead to another, whether or not it is important to what we do, and it may ebb and flow between our inner world and the outside world.
But how does the brain manage to stay in such a thought-related condition all the time? According to a recent study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it truly cannot be done because our brains must occasionally “go offline,” which we can perceive as mental voids.
Re-analyzing a previously gathered dataset, researchers from the University of Liege, EPF Lausanne and University of Geneva asked healthy subjects to describe their mental state as it was just prior to receiving an auditory probe (beep) while lying still in the MRI scanner. The options were environmental perceptions, thoughts influenced by stimuli, ideas unaffected by stimuli, and mental lapses. Using this experience-sampling technique, good photos were gathered.
In contrast to the other states, mental blanking episodes were recorded much less frequently and recurred much less frequently over time, according to the researchers. The researchers also discovered, using machine learning, that during episodes of mind-numbing, our brains were arranged so that all brain regions were in constant communication with one another.
Mangaluru’s Dasara celebration culminate with grand procession
The 10-day ‘Mangaluru Dasara’ celebrations culminated on the final day of ‘Navratri’ with a grand procession amidst thousands of devotees.
As the celebrations of Dussehra concluded on Wednesday, idols of all the nine forms of Maa Durga, including goddess Shailaputri (Daughter of mountain), Brahmacharini (Mother of devotion and penance), Chandraghanta (Destroyer of demons), Kushmanda (Goddess of the Cosmic egg), Skandamata (Goddess of motherhood and children), Katyayani (Goddess of power), Kalaratri (Goddess of auspiciousness and courage), Mahagauri (Goddess of beauty and women), Siddhidhatri (Goddess of supernatural powers or siddhis), and Lord Ganapathi were carried in the procession with much zeal and enthusiasm by the massive crowds in Mangaluru.
Navratri, one of the most important and auspicious Hindu holidays, is observed with great fanfare throughout the nation. It honours Goddess Durga and is celebrated for nine days and nine nights. Maa Durga worshippers do a number of rituals, keep fasts (vrats), make special meals, recite shlokas, clean their homes, and dress in new garments during this period.
In addition, each day of Navratri honours Maa Durga, or Shakti’s nine manifestations, commonly known as Navdurga, or the Nine Forms of Durga. According to Drik Panchang, Goddess Parvati, who is regarded as the greatest strength among all Goddesses, is the source of the idea of Navdurga. Worshippers of Maa Durga honour her nine incarnations and offer prayers for happiness in their homes and daily lives.
The celebration started with great pomp and show. Not just that, a massive crowd gathered to celebrate this festival to the fullest by participating in the festivity.
The celebration also included a series of parades by artists dressed up as religious figures.
Dussehra is widely known as Vijayadashami in the southern part of India. It is that time of year when the well-known Ramlila is performed, gorgeous fairs are held, crowds swarm to see Ravan effigies burst into flames, and the aroma of traditional sweets fills the air.
Despite the fact that celebrations and cultural practises vary depending on location in India’s culturally rich country, the fabric that binds everyone together remains the festival.
Dussehra, also known as Dasara, symbolises the triumph of good over evil, and it is tied to two stories. After a fierce battle that lasted more than nine days, it is said that Maa Durga conquered Mahishasura on this day. According to another tale, Dussehra is observed to commemorate Lord Rama’s victory over Lanka’s ten-headed evil king, Ravana.
The tenth day of Navratri, which is comprised of nine days dedicated to honouring each form of Goddess Durga, is Dussehra. Vijayadashami, on the other hand, is the day of victory. While some connect it to the famous Ramayana conflict, others do it to remember Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demonic Mahishasura.
In some regions of the country, Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami or Dasain, makes way for the Diwali celebrations.
Twenty days after Dussehra, one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals, the festival of lights – Diwali, commemorates Lord Rama’s return home following his victory over Ravana. However, the main message of the Dussehra festival is that of good triumphing over evil, and it is on this day that people pray for prosperity and good health.
The nine days of Navratri culminate in the killing of Ravana and the burning of his life-size effigy at the Ramlila, together with those of Meghnad and Kumbhakaran, on the day of Dussehra, or Vijayadashami, when the holiday is celebrated with great grandeur.
As each of Ravana’s heads represents a different negative attribute, Dussehra also represents purging oneself of sins or undesirable traits.
In several southern Indian states, Shami Puja is also known as Banni Puja and Jammi Puja. Devotees wish Maa Durga farewell on Dashami, and the visarjan is performed at Aparahna time or Pratahkala while Dashami Tithi is in effect.
The tenth day is also known as Vijayadashmi, when Maa Durga’s idol is submerged in water in the hopes that she will keep an eye on them and fend off all misfortunes and evils. Vijayadashmi and Dussehra commemorate the triumph of good over evil, and worshippers celebrate the festivals by indulging in various foods with their loved ones.
‘Toxic stereotyping of Asian women doesn’t just end once the credits roll’
A new edition of Meghan Markle’s Archetype podcast, which launched last month with Serena Williams as its guest, has finally come out.
The Duchess of Sussex’s podcast released its most recent episode as the first one following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II earlier in September. The most recent episode followed a discussion on toxic Asian stereotypes featuring journalist Lisa Ling and actor-comedian Margret Cho.
Meghan and the guests discussed a variety of topics, including their own experiences, how they overcame stereotypes, the problematic representations of Asian women on television and in the media, and much more.
The Duchess recalled the various cultures she was exposed to while growing up in Los Angeles and stressed that many Asian cultures were a part of her life while growing up in the opening scene of the ‘Demystification of Dragon Lady’ episode. Meghan acknowledged that she had been ignorant of the stereotypes that many Asian women had endured for a very long time and emphasised the negative portrayal of Asians on screen.
She said, “This toxic stereotyping of women of Asian descent — this doesn’t just end once the credits roll. Movies like Austin Powers and Kill Bill—they presented these caricatures of women of Asian descent as oversexualized or aggressive.”
Before the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, three episodes of Archetype were broadcast, featuring guests like Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, and Mindy Kaling, who seemed to dispel stereotypes about women. Following the late monarch’s funeral on September 19, a week of mourning was observed by Queen Elizabeth’s family. After that, the members of the Royal family went back to work.
The podcast has resumed, but the release date for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix docu-series has been further delayed as a result of the Queen’s death.
BJP accuses CM Kejriwal of corruption in electricity discoms
BJP on Thursday leveled another corruption charge against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). This time, party spokespersons Syed Zafar Islam and Harish Khurana accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of appointing chosen officials to facilitate corruption in the electricity companies and prevent audits.
BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam pointed out the Delhi Chief Minister’s previous promises and accused him of “stealing” electricity. In 2013, Kejriwal used to accuse the two companies of the Anil Ambani group and Tata Discom of being “thieves”. I want to ask what happened that the man who used to talk about stopping electricity theft, is himself stealing electricity,” Islam said.
“BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPS) and BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL). In both these companies, 51% of the shares are with Anil Ambani and the remaining 49% with the Delhi Government. “Since the Delhi government also had a 49% stake, the government used to keep retired IAS officers, retired Finance Secretaries, and retired Revenue Secretaries as its representatives to protect their interests,” the BJP leader continued. But, Kejriwal Ji removed them and appointed his own pawns to protect his own interests and facilitate corruption. ND Gupta and Jasmine Shah are known for corruption. Kejriwal has kept them as his pawns,” Islam said
He also alleged Kejriwal of stopping the audit of the government funding and accused him of corruption by giving commissions. “The Kejriwal government took a decision in 2016 that audits will be conducted every year. But, he didn’t follow his own decision. Because, if the audit had been done, it would have revealed how much money went to the public and how much to the beneficiaries, “Islam said.” Islam said.
BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana also attacked the Kejriwal government, saying, “When the AAP government came, Kejriwal used to say that we would waive off all the electricity bills and the electricity bills would be the lowest in Delhi. He also used to accuse the power discom of being thieves”. He claimed that the public has no idea of how their money had been spent and demanded an audit of government spending.
“A total of Rs 16,233 crores has been extracted as fixed charges in the last five years. Rs 12,408 crores were given as subsidies between 2015 and 21. 2,677 crores were given as a surcharge, the regulatory assets were worth 9,195 crores, and 3,900 crores were paid for the power purchase agreement. But, the total figure stands at Rs 49,636 crores”, Khurana said.
“No one knows the calculation of this Rs 49,000 crores. I want to ask, do the people of Delhi don’t have the right to know how their money has been used? We are only asking what the Kejriwal government promised. We demand the whole audit of the government spending,” Khurana said.
The allegation comes amid a spate of corruption cases being investigated against several AAP leaders, including Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Amantullah Khan, etc.
5 most successful college dropouts
From our childhood, we have been told that the most promising way of being successful is by studying hard and achieving good grades in school and college. But some people have taken the less travelled road and dropped out of school. Even after this huge risk, these people are billionaires. Let us take a look at a few of these popular names:
- Steve Jobs
The founder of Apple left Reed College when he was just 19, reportedly because it was too much of a financial burden for his family. Despite his short tenure at Reed, Jobs still found his time there valuable. In a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, he credited a Reed calligraphy course for inspiring the typography he used on the first Mac. Apple is a well-known brand in today’s time.
2. Bill Gates
Bill Gates attended Harvard for two years before he dropped out to create what would become Microsoft. The Harvard Crimson describes him as “Harvard’s most successful dropout,” and today he is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. Imagine dropping out of your college and trying your hands at something you love then eventually becoming one of the richest men in the world. How crazy is that?
3. Evan Williams
Evan grew up in Clarks, Nebraska, where his family ran a farm. He attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for three semesters before dropping out.
Williams was a freelance software programmer for Hewlett-Packard and Intel before landing a gig at Google. He later quit his job at Google to build and became a billionaire.
4. Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, founded Facebook and now he has a net worth of 5070 crore USD. According to the book “The Facebook Effect,” it took him just five minutes to decide to quit college. Zuckerberg’s company Meta Platforms owns the most famous social media sites instagram and whatsapp.
5. Michael Dell
You must be well aware of Dell computers. Dell technology is founded by Michael Dell. He dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin during his freshman year at the age of 19. His net worth is 4,960 crore USD.
In New Zealand, Jaishankar raises visa delay issue
With delays impeding the study plans of some Indian students who are trying to enter New Zealand, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar voiced his worries over visa delays to his New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta.
During his visit to New Zealand, S. Jaishankar urged the country to treat individuals who have been affected by the pandemic “more sympathetically” and “fairer.”
“I also raised with the minister the concerns that some of our students have faced, students who had to leave New Zealand during the Covid period and who didn’t have the opportunity to get their visas renewed,” S Jaishankar said.
I urged a fairer and more sympathetic treatment for them, also students who are waiting to come to New Zealand to pursue their studies and whether the visa process for them could be hastened,” he further said during a joint press interaction with his New Zealand counterpart.
India ranks second among the countries sending students to New Zealand to pursue higher education in a range of fields.
S Jaishankar said, “There are perhaps demands in New Zealand which could be met out of India, and we have a mobility understanding with many countries, so the possibility of those could serve as guidance for progress between us.”
Along with the country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, S Jaishankar will honour members of the Indian community in New Zealand for their contributions.
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