Recently our Founder and CEO Pradip Bhandari was present as a panelist on the show The Buck Stops Here which is a regular show on NDTV. The host of the show is Vishnu Som where he discusses recent issues related to Public, Law and Society. This time the agenda for the discussion was, “Are ‘Orange’ Passports discriminatory?”.
Issue in Point
The government’s decision to offer orange-coloured passports for economically weaker and less educated citizens has resulted in a lot of protests. There are also concerns on the decision to remove the last page of the passport. The last page contains proof of address, names of spouse, parents and other details. But it’s the new orange-coloured passports that some say is blatantly unjustified and discriminatory. The government, though, feels the move was necessary to protect some of India’s most vulnerable citizens when they travel abroad. On The Buck Stops Here, we debate: is the new orange-coloured passport discriminatory? Is this part of some sort of new apartheid as some political leaders have alleged?
Along with Jan Ki Baat’s Founder and CEO, Pradip Bhandari, the panelists for the show were.
1- Rakesh Sinha – RSS Thinker
2- Pawan Khera– From Congress.
3- Dr S. Irudaya Rajan – Chair Professor, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) Research Unit on International Migration at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
4- Pranay Kotasthane – Heads the Geostrategy programme at the Takshashila Institution in Bengaluru.
The Core Discussion:-
Question – How do see the Government’s step to introduce ‘Orange’ color passport for citizens who require emigration checks (vulnerable laborers etc)?
Pradip Bhandari – I would interpret it as a better identification for administrative convenience. The three-member panel of Ministry of External Affairs along with Ministry of Women and Child Development which had recommended the Government to take such steps. This would lead to better identification, as identification based on color is easier. According to me all colors are equal.
Question – But why there is such a need to introduce Orange color Passport?
Pradip Bhandari – As per The Emigration Act, 1983 the protector of the emmigrants is the sole authority who is responsible to ensure that the laborers abroad are not exploited. Now all of us agree on the point that these people are unskilled and not relatively educated so since these people are not skilled and relatively less educated; for them also, it would be understandable that they are holding an Orange passport and if suppose tomorrow their employer exploits them, they know where to go to. In the contrary situation, if they have Emigration Check Not Required(ECNR) Stamp, it would be difficult to trace them, identify them and make appropriate arrangements for them. I dont know how identifying with a color leads to discrimination, it leads to better differentitation.
I understand that address is necessary on the passport but from the point of view of single mothers and adopted children, i think it is a very necessary step.