Shashi Tharoor, a senior leader from the Congress party, has once again demonstrated that he has no principles and the loyalty towards values and virtues that he claims to have is all fluff. In reply to a desperate appeal by defence-analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra to intervene in the matter of the doctor from Kerala who was forced to resign, he said that there was no basis for intervening with a private hospital making a decision on employment.
The appeal by Abhijit Iyer-Mitra was in response to the recent case of Dr Vyas Vishwanathan being forced to resign from the hospital he worked in at Palakkad, Kerala. He was forced to resign due to his support towards the Citizenship Amendment Act and the deportation of illegal immigrants from the country. The Defense Analyst said that since Narendra Modi just uses people, he was hoping that Shashi Tharoor will ‘do something to set this right’ even though the doctor’s views were diametrically opposed to his.
Dr Vishwanathan was accused of being genocidal and a ‘religious fanatic’ and following complaints to the hospital, he had to issue his resignation. Iyer-Mitra’s desperate appeal to Shashi Tharoor came after he resigned himself to the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t personally intervene in the matter.
Amusingly enough, Shashi Tharoor who rejected Iyer-Mitra’s desperate appeal had introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2016 that advocated for intervening in the affairs of private businesses. In 2020, Tharoor says he sees no basis for intervening in the matter of Dr Vishwanathan but the ‘Anti-Discrimination and Equality Bill’ he introduced in the Lok Sabha four years ago was based entirely on the premise that it is righteous for the government to interfere with how private businesses are run in order to uphold secular-liberal values.
The Anti-Discrimination and Equality-Bill, 2016 would have made it illegal for house-owners to refuse to rent out their accommodation as per their own preferences. It would have attracted ‘exemplary’ punishment. Furthermore, the Bill specifically mentions as hospitals and nursing homes as places where the provisions of the Act, if the Bill is passed, will apply. It is worthy of note that Tharoor’s Bill provides the basis for interfering into business operations but in this particular instance, where the victim is a Hindu who supports the CAA and NRC, Tharoor suddenly believes there is no basis.
In fact, Tharoor’s Bill goes so far as to say that “Catering to the prejudices of others is not a legitimate objective.” However, the statement made by the leader with respect to the case of Dr Vishwanathan only serves to expose the utter lack of commitment to ideals. Some examples of ‘discriminatory’ behaviour that Tharoor’s bill seeks to remedy include “An employer pays part-time workers at a lower hourly rate than full-time workers, for doing the same work. A majority of part-time workers in his establishment are women but a majority of full-time workers are men” and “A milk delivery company has a policy of not supplying milk to butchers”.
For purposes of feigned objectivity, Tharoor’s bill also adds an instance of a Hindu boy being attacked for his relationship with a Muslim girl. But, to compensate that perhaps, another illustration of discriminatory behaviour says, “A young woman has her movements restricted and monitored by her family because she is seen at a cinema hall in the company of a young man belonging to the same gotra as herself.”
The larger aim of the Bill is clear from the manner in which it defines ‘disadvantaged groups’. The Bill, if it ever passes both the houses of the Parliament, will legitimize the worst form of identity politics that has immense scope for misuse. There is, indeed, a proliferation of disadvantaged groups. The Scheduled Caste and Tribes are to be expected and is natural, however, a subtle attempt is made to equate even Muslims and Christians and other religious minorities with SCs and STs.
Some of the other ‘disadvantaged groups’ mentioned are utterly incredulous as well. People with a darker skin tone are considered to form a ‘disadvantaged group’, non-vegetarians are considered to form another ‘disadvantaged group’. The most incredulous, however, is that ‘gender-non-conforming persons’ are to be treated as a ‘disadvantaged group’ as well. Tharoor advocates government intervention into private businesses to rectify ‘discriminatory’ behaviour against all these groups. However, in the case of Dr Vishwanathan, Tharoor doesn’t see any basis for a personal intervention on the matter.
To be fair to Tharoor, the Anti-Discriminatory Bill would have applied equally to majority communities as well as the minority communities. The Bill defines “caste, race, ethnicity, descent, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion and belief, tribe, disability, linguistic identity, HIV status, nationality, marital status, food preference, skin tone, place of residence, place of birth or age” as protected characteristics.
Any discrimination on the basis of this would lead to remedial action, as per this Bill. However, as is obvious from a common-sense point of view, it’s easy to figure out why such a law if it ever came into place would be unimplementable and would turn out to be just another tool in the hands of privileged people to harass those not so privileged.
Shashi Tharoor says, “Cases of discrimination continue to be witnessed in all spheres of social, economic and political life. They are frequently directed against Dalits, Muslims, women, persons of different sexual orientations ‘hijras’ persons with disabilities, persons from the North-Eastern States unmarried couples and non-vegetarians, among others.” He adds, “There is a need to protect everyone who are subject to all forms of unfair discrimination under single comprehensive legislation which should be neutral and free from bias. Although it is normally minorities that are at the receiving end of discrimination, the law, in order to be sound, should encompass all citizens. It must protect both minorities as well as majorities, which is the intention of this Bill.”
In reality, the Bill does not provide a solution to any of this but is only a cause for unleashing greater strife. Furthermore, it would have made it very easy for people to target legitimate businesses. For instance, we have seen leftists outrage against ‘Brahmin Sambar Powder‘ and see it as not a dietary preference but a symbol of caste supremacy. Furthermore, it would have penalized vegetarian house owners for refusing to rent their homes to non-vegetarians. And the possibilities are endless. The Bill if it ever becomes an Act will make it extremely easy for governments to bully private businesses into submission.
Thus, Shashi Tharoor, whose entire Bill is dependent on government intervention into private affairs, says Dr Vishwanathan’s case is not suitable even for his personal intervention. It only goes on to show that the Anti-Discrimination and Equality Bill he introduced has little to do with either equality or reducing discrimination. The sole purpose of it is politics and the motivations behind it are the same that led to the forming of the anti-Hindu Communal Violence Bill.