The first day of the Assam Assembly’s budget session on Tuesday began on a stormy note. The Governor had started his customary speech detailing the State government’s development initiatives and roadmaps ahead. That the speech would be extra-zealous this time was expected because the government was fresh with the euphoria surrounding the unprecedented response received at the Global Investors’ Summit that concluded last Sunday, with 200 MoUs worth Rs 1 lakh crore signed with different companies for the making of a transformed Assam. Just about five minutes into his speech, the Opposition, led by the Congress and the AIUDF, raised an uncanny pandemonium in the House, charging the government for its failure on all fronts. The Opposition is not happy with the State government’s functioning, we are told. That is okay. Where is any opposition satisfied with the government it is confronted with on every issue, anyway? Placards were displayed on various issues such as the update of the NRC, probe into the Dima Hasao violence, publication of the agreement with the NSCN-IM, restoration of two paper mills, and operation of coal syndicates. It was then turn for the Opposition leaders to rush to the well of the House even as the Governor had great difficulty in reading out his speech. Ultimately, the Governor was forced to cut short his speech and jump to the last page. So, that was the drama.
Not Assamese Culture
It is not that the issues the Opposition was raising, or was trying to raise, are unimportant. They do matter. After all, the government is an entity of accountability and responsibility, elected by the people in a democracy. It must have answers to – and it must answer – every issue of public importance. But then, there is a way of doing things in a democracy, that too under a roof where elected representatives are expected to show decorum, and not to resort to tussles and brawls shaming even a fish market. The Opposition could have waited for its turn to come. After all, the Assembly would run for two long months and they would have enough time and ample opportunities to raise their voice and concern, to criticize the government as much as they could, and perhaps even bring the government to task if they could. But that was not to be. Impatience – or desperation of a bizarre kind as if the budget session was just for a day – ran high. Reason was the ultimate calamity as no one saw reason to wait for the Governor to complete his speech and then say what one had to.
Lawmakers, do you appreciate the fact of democratic life that when reason becomes a calamity in a democracy, what you have is a ba republic? Do you want this? And do you realize that such noise and indiscipline in the House reflects so very poorly on Assamese culture? This is not Assamese culture. Our culture teaches us to be patient, polite, and to maintain decorum. Sorry, you are not doing this.
Right to Marry
You have the right to love and get married by consent if you are an adult and no one can poke his nose into your affairs, says the Supreme Court. In a landmark observation, the apex court on Monday said no one, either individually or collectively, has the right to interfere in a marriage between two consenting adults. The court was hearing a khap panchayat case on sagotra and sapinda marriages – marriage between persons of the same genetic lineage. The court sternly told the khap panchayats not to assume the role of “conscience keepers” of society, saying the courts of the land go by law and not by tradition and gotra considerations to determine the legality of a marriage. The court asked the khap panchayats: “Who has appointed you as guardians of society or its conscience keepers? Do not assume that role…”
In view of the recent cases of violence against couples in wedlock against traditions such as gotras and religious faiths that should have nothing to do with the greatest religion on earth called love, the Supreme Court’s observation is revolutiory. It is such revolutions in the sphere of our mindset that we need if we are to evolve into a modern society based on reason and scientific temperament. Times are changing, as they must; likewise, mindsets too need to evolve and be in sync with the changes. Remember, the likes of these khap panchayats would have the diabolic evil of sati too prevail in modern society if they had their outfashioned worldviews! The good news now is that there is another new fundamental right guaranteed to us, thanks to the Supreme Court again when it made the Right to Privacy a fundamental right a few months ago. This right is inviolable. Combine this with the court’s Monday observation on marriage between consenting adults, and then with the talk of decrimilization of homosexuality (whose time has indeed come as it is in advanced societies), and what you have is a pleasing contour of a reason-based, modern Indian social paradigm. This is what we look for. After all, do we not call ourselves modern otherwise?