Sunday, April 7, 2013

Indian Union and the European Union

The Lisbon Treaty defines the objectives of the European Union as follows:
  • the promotion of peace and the well-being of the Union´s citizens
  • an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers
  • sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and social justice
  • a social market economy - highly competitive and aiming at full employment and social progress
  • a free single market
My question in this posting is about the Indian Union. Is it without internal frontiers? Is it a free single market? Does it give its citizens the freedom to move to any part of the union and seek a job there? Does it have simple and uniform laws that allow goods to be transported all over the union without paying 5 to 10% to corrupt border guards over many of its internal frontiers?
Let me tell you about people moving from one state to another. 

A friend of mine was born in Hosur when it was a part of the Madras Province including what is now Tamil Nadu and what is now Karnataka. Seventeen or eighteen years later, when he started seeking admission in a professional degree course, things were quite different. His father, a state govt employee, had elected to join one of the states into which Madras Province was split into – Tamil Nadu. But he was unwelcome there, as his birth certificate showed that he was not born in Tamil Nadu. Karnataka did not want him either, as he had done his high school in Tamil Nadu. 

He survived all this and turned up at a US university a few years later. After standing in the queue for paying the fees, he found a lady at the counter asking him if he was a resident of the state. No, he said, having arrived in that state only a week earlier. “No problem”, she declared, “you just pay a non-resident fee this semester; from the next semester you will need to pay only a resident’s fee”. She explained that the residence requirement was that you should have spent 3 months in that state. My friend had described this experience to me a few years later when he was visiting India. At last, I understood where my state was, he said! So much for the mobility of citizens in India!

All Indian institutions do not respect internal frontiers! Anna Hazare and Arun Kejriwal may not recognize it, but corrupt educational institutions in India do not discriminate against candidates from outside the state! All Indians are equal as long as they pay them Rs 2 Crores per seat! 

Srinivasan Ramani

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