INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED

ISSUE: DEBATE BETWEEN MINORITY AND MAJORITY SHAREHOLDERS

WHY IN NEWS?

Decision of NCLAT in favor of Cyrus Mistry who owns minority shareholding in Tata Group.

AUTHOR RAISES FEW QUESTIONS?

What is the point of owning 51 per cent of a company if you cannot decide on who the chairman of the company is?

Should corporate democracy not offer clear rights to the majority shareholder (contained of course in not doing things that may be prejudicial or oppressive to the minority shareholders)?

Can the majority shareholders not remove a director?

Do they need to discuss who a chairman of a company is with every minority shareholder in the name of corporate governance before taking a decision?

How would the mechanics of such consultation work?

Can a board not appoint or remove a CEO? Around the world we see swift action. Most recently, the GE board suddenly removed its CEO without comment.

HOW MINORITY SHAREHOLDER SHOULD BE PROTECTED?

What is oppressive and prejudicial to a minority shareholder is where, say, the management diverts funds out of the company. But a bad business decision cannot be seen as oppressive to minority shareholders, it happens in the course of business, all the time.

Minority shareholders rights need to be protected from prejudicial actions of the majority for sure but we should be careful not to disturb the basic tenets of corporate democracy.

CONCLUSION

Minority shareholders should be protected but not at the cost of majority shareholders.

 

ISSUE: ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019

CONTINUES THE SECULAR TRADITION OF INDIA

The idea of the CAA was mooted and finally given shape in law to protect people from religious persecution in three neighbouring countries — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. All of them are Islamic states and the increasing radicalisation of society in these countries led to brute religious majoritarianism against minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. There has been consensus in India that such victims should be given dignity and protection.

In fact, it constitutes a core ingredient of our social philosophy from time immemorial. Even before we framed our secular democratic Constitution, India provided shelter to people facing religious persecution. When Parsis and Jews faced threats to their right to worship and religious identity, they found dignity and space on our soil.

CORRECTS HISTORICAL MISTAKE

The Act also corrects the historical mistake committed in the Nehru-Liaquat pact. Then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had not engaged his cabinet colleagues and senior party leaders before signing the pact on February 8, 1950. The secular pretensions of Nehru, emanating from the Western variety of flawed modernity, led him to backtrack from the promises to the Hindus who lived in Pakistan. The Congress leadership had promised during Partition that their life and religion would not be in peril.

On December 4, 1947, Mahatma Gandhi demanded that the Nehru government bring back Scheduled Castes from Pakistan due to the inhuman treatment meted out to them and their forced conversion. The CAA is a fulfilment of the historical responsibility to those people whom Partition made stateless.

CONCLUSION

The CAA fulfils both the constitutional morality and civilisational ethos historically endowed to us. It is time for the Muslims to be part of this Indian tradition rather than being fed the delusion that the Modi government is anti-minority.

ISSUE: CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019

What were the Indian ideas and rules of citizenship in the Constitution before the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019?

The Articles (5-11) on citizenship in the Constitution of India were formulated specifically for the immediate aftermath of the Partition, leaving it to Parliament to enact the law on citizenship, which it did in 1955.

The Constituent Assembly held the principle of jus soli (citizenship based on birth on the soil of a country) to be the more “enlightened modern civilised” principle, as compared to the “racial” principle of jus sanguinis (citizenship based on descent); although citizenship by descent, as well as registration and naturalisation, also found recognition in The Citizenship Act of 1955.

Should the exclusion of Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan bother Indians?

It is true that the CAA per se does not impact Indian Muslims. When twinned with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), however, it could adversely impact not only Indian Muslims, but also poor Indians of all faiths.

The very introduction of the principle of religious discrimination is cause for concern. Once the principle is admitted, that discrimination on religious grounds is permissible in law, it may not be possible to limit or contain its application to other realms as well.

The new amendment consolidates this shift, introducing an explicitly religious criterion into a hitherto religion-neutral law.

What other examples are there in the world of countries asking all citizens to prove citizenship at government windows, in the way that some fear the NRC might do? Does that not mean assuming everyone is illegal unless proven otherwise?

I am not aware of any example in the world in which an entire population has been asked to prove its citizenship.

In 2006, the United Kingdom legislated National ID cards, to be linked to a National Identity Register, carrying 50 categories of information on every citizen.

The Act was repealed in 2011, and the data on the National Identity Register was destroyed within a month.

Based on the experience in Assam, how much might a nationwide NRC exercise cost?

The cost of the Assam NRC was Rs 1,600 crore, and 50,000 officials were deployed to enrol 3.3 crore applicants. We now know that it ended up excluding 1.9 million people, mostly genuine citizens of all religious affiliations. If we take this as the basis of a back-of-the-envelope calculation, counting only the Indian electorate of 879 million voters, an all-India NRC would entail an expenditure of Rs 4.26 lakh crore, and would require 1.33 crore officials to conduct it.

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