ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dignity of Public Institutions


In the political sphere it is interesting if not intriguing to come across words like “insult.” It is interesting in the sense that it is used in relation to a public institution and the reference to individuals occupying these institutions is in the background. This was evident in the public use of this kind of language by the Indian Prime Minister who suggestively used this word in order to establish a relationship between the morally painful feeling of insult and the “innocent” Government of Jharkhand. This can lead to an interesting point of inquiry. Can public institutions be insulted and, if yes, what are the grounds on which the claim to have insulted the public institution be taken to be morally valid?

Arguably, public institutions do not inherently possess an element of moral sensitivity that can produce the feeling of insult. This is because they are mere physical structures. Similarly, it will be absurd to say that institutional procedures suffer from human insult although they could be abused by human beings. One may not deny the fact that these procedures can be quite insulting and humiliating depending on who is handling them. Thus, these institutions due to their public nature acquire an abstract character as they do not belong to one single person. These two dimensions necessarily disallow any association of the feeling of insult to an institution. If this is the case where one cannot stick insult to a public institution then how does one understand claims such as “the government has been insulted”?

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Updated On : 15th Jul, 2019
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