Hindustan Times (Delhi)
Issuing coloured passports is cruel and discriminatory
This violates Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution under which every citizen has to be treated equally
The Union government’s recent decision to change the colour of the passport for certain categories of people, as I understand, was in response to the demand,especially from single parents and adopted children, for removal of the father’s name found on the last page in the document. But now, by doing away with the entire page, important details such as a person’s emigration status will no longer be there. By addressing one issue, the government has introduced other complications.
The incorporation of emigration clearance status — the ECR or ECNR — into the passport was a measure adopted by the government as per The Emigration Act, 1983, to protect people with less educational qualifications working abroad from exploitative labour regimes.
The alternative measure suggested by the government is to adopt a distinctive colour for the cover page of the passports. The move to provide two different types of passports to people of the same nationality is discriminatory and condemnable. Under the pretext of protecting the rights of one section of citizens, the government has harmed another set who will now be treated as second-class citizens based on their educational status and employment.
If the present dispensation is serious about addressing the concerns of single parents, they could provide an option to the persons concerned to choose whether they want to incorporate the name of the father in the passport while applying for it. We can include unique bar codes on the basis of the nature of the passports which connects with the MEA networks. This could help the ministry in monitoring their welfare.
The government should realise that by removing the last page from passports, it is reducing its utility and making it just a document for international travel, instead of an authentic identification document. It is a major setback for Indians living abroad as they use this document as an identity proof to create bank accounts, birth and death registrations, and so on.
Educational qualifications should be the criteria only for selection to a profession and not to grade people. It is not by choice that some sections could not study more than they did. At least 15% of the 2.5 million Keralites in West Asia have an ECR status, which means they must now get orange coloured passports. The new law is a violation of Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution under which every citizen has to be treated equally.
How could a responsible, democratic government rely on the logic of officials from two ministries and take a decision which is going to impact the fundamentals of our constitutional ethos and the lives of millions? When somebody wrongs you — either by accident or on purpose — it can be hard to get over it. You may never be able to reconcile with the wrongdoer. People these days take advantage and repeat their mistakes, and then come to ask for forgiveness. How does one believe and forgive such people?
Forgiveness may be the last thing on your mind when someone does something truly awful to you. But forgiveness is not just for them — it’s essential for your well being.