Patriarchy of Paperwork: Did he, or did he not?

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by Ragamalika Karthikeyan

(Also read Part I and Part II of the ‘Patriarchy of Paperwork‘ series.)

On the 11th of August 2014, Lok Sabha’s Unstarred questions list featured a query from the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. For the few people who noticed, the fact that a sitting Prime Minister had asked a question in Lok Sabha was only less surprising than the question itself – and the answer it got.

The question, accessed in late October 2014, read[1]:

(a) whether it is mandatory to write the name of the father while writing the full name of an individual in Government documents;
(b) if so, the details thereof and state the provision of relevant law;
(c) whether an individual can write the name of his /her mother, instead of father, in Government document;
(d) if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons therefor along with the provision of law;
(e) whether the Government proposes to enact/amend relevant law to enable the citizens to write the name of the mother or father, as per the wish of an individual; and
(f) if so, the details thereof and the time by which it is likely to be amended.?

The Law Ministry, to which the question was addressed, gave a reply that most MPs are familiar with – but one, that no one expected the Prime Minister to get: “The information is being collected and will be laid on the Table of the House.”[2]

While working on the Partriarchy in Paperwork series, we tried to access the question again, to see whether this has been answered at all. And surprisingly, we found that instead of Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Saumitra Khan (of TMC), the same question is now attributed to Advocate Narendra Keshav Sawaikar, a BJP MP from Goa.[3] This seems to have happened after some news reports in February 2015 talked about how even the Prime Minister couldn’t get his questions answered in Parliament![4]

And while one Narendra has been replaced by another, the second MP whose name was on the question initially seems to have disappeared from the document altogether!

[1] Inclusion of Parents Name in Documents, Unstarred Question No. 4604, Answered on 11.08.2014; accessed on Oct 29, 2014 at 02:46am IST

[2] Answer to “Inclusion of Parents Name in Documents”, Unstarred Question No. 4604, Answered on 11.08.2014; accessed on Oct 29, 2014 at 02:46am IST

[3] Inclusion of Parents Name in Documents, Unstarred Question No. 4604, Answered on 11.08.2014; accessed on December 1, 2015 at 11:00am IST

[4] Parents’ name in documents: PM Modi seeks clarification from Law Ministry, Times of India, February 25, 2015; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Parents-name-in-documents-PM-Modi-seeks-clarification-from-law-ministry/articleshow/46362745.cms accessed on December 1, 2015 at 11:00am IST

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