This may be a blessing, or not for some, but the government has rethought its decision on orange passports. Sharp criticism brought about the change in color. It’s also important to note that any changes brought to passports will not affect the currently valid passports. Fear of discrimination against those with the new passport brought about change.
The original plan
Initially, the plan was to issue orange passports for those below class 10 in the country. It was also going to do away with the last page of the passport which served as valid address proof. But upon receiving sharp criticism the plan was done away with. A petition was filed in the Kerala High Court, arguing that the orange passports would leave workers vulnerable because it would give away their status.
Therefore, the Ministry of External Affairs has decided to retain the last page in the passport and the blue passports. The changes were proposed in the beginning of January. After the protests, Sushma Swaraj reviewed the decision. Even though the aim was to protect the illiterate and vulnerable sections from trouble, critics argued that it would, in fact, lead to more discrimination. The suggestion to remove the last page was to make life simpler for citizens like single parents. The orange jacket was also suggested for migrant workers from the gulf and other workers.
Arguments against it
The Emigration Check Required (ECR) categories include those below who haven’t finished school and migrant workers. If the proposed changes were carried out then Rahul Gandhi argued that these people might be treated as second-class citizens. The aim might have to make the process smoother and efficient, but the case is not so.
The orange passport would then be given to those who were poor, marginalized as a mark of shame or failure. This would have a lasting impression on how the citizens feel divided in the future. Inadvertently it would increase the pressure on those with orange passports while blue passports would be a symbol of pride and of class. Till now the blue kept people’s identity and characterization anonymous, but that wouldn’t be the case if they had orange passports. Progress doesn’t mean categorizing people, the MEA can be said to have learned its lesson.