July 6, 2021
What’s in a name?
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📰 FEATURE STORY
War of words: Is it the ‘Central’ or ‘Union’ government?
Recently, a controversy erupted in Tamil Nadu after Chief Minister MK Stalin referred to the government of India as ‘Union government.’ By not using the term ‘Central government,’ his party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was suspected of having an ulterior motive. However, DMK claimed that the term ‘Union government’ was constitutionally correct and the party did not have any ill intentions.
On June 4, MK Stalin-led Tamil Nadu government addressed the Centre as ‘Ondriya Arasu’ (Union Government) instead of the age-old practice of calling it ‘Madhiya Arasu’ (Central Government). This small linguistic change sparked controversy between the state political parties.
As per the Constitution,
- The usage of the term ‘Union government’ originates from Article 1 (1) of the Indian Constitution – “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” Article 53(1) reasserts that – “The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President.”
- Alternatively, the term ‘Central government’ does not find a definitive place in the original Constitution. However, in the General Clauses Act, 1897 it has been mentioned that –
“Central Government shall, in relation to anything done or to be done after the commencement of the Constitution, mean the President.”
Hidden agenda behind the usage of ‘Union government’
Opposition parties suspected that the DMK was playing a political game by making this verbal change. BJP MLA Nainar Nagendran from Tirunelveli asked if there was any hidden agenda behind this. He alleged that the present government had suddenly invented a new term that none of its late leaders like Arignar Anna or M Karunanidhi had used.
Following this, the state unit of BJP and allied parties accused DMK of trying to separate the state from India. K Krishnaswamy, Puthiya Tamizhagam leader alleged that by using ‘Union Government,’ the DMK aimed to undermine the position of the Centre.
BJP leaders condemned that using ‘Ondriya arasu’ was DMK’s confrontation approach against the government of India. The party’s state General Secretary KT Raghavan questioned why DMK started using ‘Union’ only after May 2, 2021. He alleged that they had been using the term ‘Centre’ before elections and changed track after coming to power.
Raghavan pointed out that there was no need to reintroduce an out-of-practice phrase. The motive behind using the term was to instil the idea of a separate Dravida Nadu in people’s minds. He stated that the country is an entity, and the states are merely administrative units. He also urged the CM to revert to the use of ‘Central government.’
There were pleas lodged in front of the court to direct the CM and other ministers to refrain from using the phrase ‘Union government.’ The petitions implored the Centre to educate people of Tamil Nadu about the need to respect the country by calling its official name in writings.
‘Union Government’ is the ideal phrase
The DMK government strongly believes that ‘Union Government’ is the right term of reference. Chief Minister MK Stalin cited Article 1 of the Indian Constitution and justified that the government was only using the correct constitutional term for the Centre.
He clarified that the word ‘ondriyal’ or ‘union’ was based on the principles of federalism, which was why the officials would continue to use the term. Accordingly, he claimed that it should not be seen as a social crime to refer to the Centre as the Union government.
The CM also mentioned that union simply meant that the states were united. The term was not coined recently to create issues. It had been used by the DMK in their Election Manifesto as early as during 1957 elections.
Manuraj Shanmugasundaram, the national spokesperson for DMK asserted that if the opposition found the term Union wrong, it was their misreading of the Constitution. The supreme law of the land continuously used the term ‘Union’ to refer to both the country and the government that governed it.
Historian Rohit De elucidated that the Constituent Assembly which passed the original Constitution did not include the term ‘Central Government.’ It was only added through amendments in the Constitution. In his opinion, the phrase ‘Union Government’ should be emphasized as its legal interpretation was more significant when spelt as such.
Subash Kashyap, a constitution expert added that ‘centre’ was a point in the middle of a circle, as opposed to ‘union’ which constituted the entire circle. As per the Constitution, the relationship between the Centre and the States was a relationship between the whole and its parts. Therefore, ‘Union government’ would be the correct phrase to refer to the federation of the Union and States.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
- Sangh’s outreach to Muslims could face challenge from its own base.
For the Left:
- What General Rawat Really Said On Theatre Commands And What That Implies.
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Power Crisis (Punjab) – On Sunday, the second unit of the Talwandi Sabo power plant developed a snag which resulted in a further shortage of power in the state. The industries had shut down, and domestic and commercial consumers experienced sudden power cuts. The first unit of the power plant had earlier developed a snag and would begin generating power only around end of this month.
Mass Virtual Bunk (Karnataka) – Students from a total of 42 well-established colleges across the state boycotted their online classes on Saturday. The students demanded that the government should cancel exams for their previous semesters. Notably, they also demanded that before conducting offline classes or exams, the government must provide both the doses of Covid-19 vaccine free of cost. They had resorted to various methods of protest over the past 10 days. When they received no response, they resorted to a complete boycott of online classes. They further warned that they will be forced to intensify their struggle if the demands were not met.
Bone Death due to Covid19 (Maharashtra) – After black fungus, ‘bone death’ could be the next serious condition in post covid patients. At least three confirmed cases of Avascular necrosis (AVN) or death of bone tissues after Covid19 was reported from Mumbai. The steroid proven to help Covid-19 patients was a common factor between mucormycosis and avascular necrosis. The doctors feared that more cases could be reported in the upcoming months.
Bizarre Threat (Gujarat) – Rameschandra Fefar, Gujarat government officer threatened to curse the state government if he was not given a ₹16 lakh salary and gratuity. He identified himself as the Kalki avatar, the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu. He had not been going to the office and had been demanding a salary. Additionally, he had claimed that India had been receiving good rainfall due to his divine presence.
Highly Contagious (Mizoram) – Domestic and feral swine in Mizoram in the state were affected by the highly contagious viral disease, African Swine Fever. It was reported that ASF had affected 10 out of the 11 districts in the state and killed more than 9,000 pigs in the past three months. African Swine Fever reportedly resulted in ₹36.68 crore loss so far.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
96.8 lakh – Number of school teachers in India, as per the Unified District Education Report for 2019-20. At 49.2 lakh, women teachers outnumbered male teachers for the first time ever.