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Don’t interfere with religion and language

Editor,

There are certain so called “delicate issues” which should be treated as sacrosanct and which by no means ought to be interfered with. Two of such issues are religion and language. Whenever these issues are interfered with, there has always been violent reactions by the affected groups. Decades back, the central government tried to impose Hindi in South India which met with violent resistance resulting in disdain for the national language. In the 1970s the Assam government tried to impose Assamese language on tribal communities and the result was a demand for cessation from Assam and the creation of separate states.

These days, the West Bengal Government is stirring the hornet’s nest by trying to impose Bengali language on the hill tribes of Darjeeling. This has caused a revival of the demand for a separate Gorkha Land. We are witnessing a lot of violence and unrest in these hill regions. I am sure if the government tries to pursue this policy, it is going to create more chaos in the region and many more innocent lives will be lost.

Trying to interfere with the religious beliefs of people is another delicate issue that can ignite fury and violence. History has ample lessons to teach us on this matter. What the BJP government is trying to do in many states of India today is exactly meddling with the religious beliefs of people. The so called “ghar wapsi” is a euphemism for forced conversion to Hinduism. Many Dalits have been enticed to come back to Hinduism through many incentives and sometimes even by threats. The attempt to impose a religious ideology, namely, that of the sacredness of the cow, on all citizens of India, is another form of religious interference. Why should a Muslim or a Christian be compelled to worship the cow just because we live in Hindu majority country? In my opinion, if religious beliefs of others are not respected or even interfered with, there is bound to be a reaction which may lead to undesirable results. Those at the helm of national or state affairs should keep in mind that they should never interfere with religions, cultures or languages of other communities. These are hallowed grounds for every group of people which should be respected and revered. It pays to remember the famous saying “fools rush where angels fear to tread.” A wise government is one that knows how to respect and preserve the secular characteristic of a nation. Religious or linguistic romanticism should by no means become a political ideology of a government.

Yours etc.,

Barnes Mawrie sdb,

Via email 

RTI vis-à-vis Students

Editor,

The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) is the most pivotal legislation ensuing to secure rights of the citizens to have access to information under the control of public authorities with some exceptions to information which are barred under the said Act. It is rightly said that an informed citizenry is the backbone of successful democracy. RTI has been an important tool for the citizen to be informed about the public affairs thereby promoting accountability and transparency in the functioning of the government.

When the RTI  is viewed vis-à-vis students, its scope and ambit has been questioned. There was a time when Boards and Universities did not allow its students to have access to their own answer scripts  even after the declaration of the results. Such practice continued even after the enforcement of RTI Act, 2005 for the reason that any move made by the students seeking photocopies of their respective answer scripts  were resisted by Universities and Boards causing hardship to the aggrieved  students and preventing them from availing  the remedies against erratic evaluation and also for re-assessing their performance in improving their answer presentation. Such a situation had indeed forced some of the students to go for litigation and the judicial decisions were in their favour.

The Apex Court in the case of CBSE vs Aditya Bandopadhayay and others observed that the evaluated answer-sheets are covered under the definition of “information” [reported in (2011) 8 SCC 497,]. Now the students are entitled to get photocopies of their answer scripts under the RTI. This would facilitate them to re-assess their performance and further to improve their performance for future examination. But the irony that in our state many students are not aware of this right. 

My suggestion is that the Boards and the Universities functioning in our state may enlighten the students about their right to get photocopies of their respective answer scripts by uploading notification in this regard in its official web-site and also get such information printed at the reverse side of examination admit card of the students.

Yours etc.,

Aneeta Synrem

Shillong- 1

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