IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs- 18th September, 2015
The LGBT agenda in India
India was among the 43 countries that voted in support of a Russian-drafted resolution that proposed removing benefits for same-sex partners of United Nations staff.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in India face legal and social difficulties not experienced by non-LGBT persons.
Sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is criminalised and is punishable by law in India.
LGBT in India : Statutory status
Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1860, introduced during the British rule in India, criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, arguably including homosexual acts.
Section 377- Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section.
Legal battle for the rights of LGBT community :
Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an activist group, which filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court in 2001, seeking legalisation of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults.
In a historic judgement delivered on 2 Jul 2009, Delhi High Court overturned the 150 year old section, legalising consensual homosexual activities between adults.
The essence of the section goes against the fundamental right of human citizens, stated the high court while striking it down.
However, On 11 December 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled homosexuality to be a criminal offence setting aside the 2009 judgement given by the Delhi High court by stating “In view of the above discussion, we hold that Section 377 IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the Division Bench of the High court is legally unsustainable”.
Analysis of the judgement :
The Delhi High Court derived most of its reasoning in decriminalizing Section 377 on the basis of it being violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India (Right to life and equality).
The supreme court by quashing the Delhi High Court judgement will deny basic human rights to sexual minorities in the country.
Further, it will inhibit discussion on an issue already considered controversial and taboo, especially as discussion on sex and sexuality in any form is rare.
And also upholding section 377 will lead to further alienation of LGBT persons and groups, and cause a severe setback to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM).
This law can also be used to blackmail and perpetuate violence against sexual minorities.
With the supreme court judgement – after a brief period that was considered a breakthrough in LGBT rights after the Delhi High Court verdict– India once again joins the ranks of countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is considered a criminal offence and the penalty is life imprisonment or even death. This is a regressive move from the world’s largest democracy.
Connecting the dots:
Discuss the current statutory provisions regarding LGBT community in India.
Critically analyse the Supreme court’s judgement in criminalizing sexual activities among LGBT community in India.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Skilling the gaps
By 2020, the average age of India’s population will be the lowest in the world and will be the only country with a youth surplus of about 45 million while the global economy is expected to face a shortage of young population of around 56 million.
To get maximum benefits out of this demographic dividend, India must take all necessary steps on mission mode to bridge the skill gap and make its youth more employable.
Various Reports and Studies give a check and express serious concern on the education level, skills and employability of Indian youth. Some of them are:
According to PISA (Program for International Student Assessment; which measures the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds), Indian students’ scores were way behind OECD average.
ASER (Annual status of education report) shows low level of learning among 5-16 year age group (unable to do basic 2-digit carry forward subtraction).
A report by an online talent assessment company asserts that only 10 per cent of MBA graduated and 17 per cent of engineering graduates in India are employable.
According to research report by NCARE, only 10 percent of people with secondary education in India have access to higher education.
Opportunities to improve standards
The Lack of quality education at basic levels and accessibility at later levels are the driving forces behind the ill statistics.
While India has achieved near universal enrolment at elementary level and enhanced hard and soft infrastructure, the challenge lies in providing access to secondary and higher education to make the youth employable.
Growth of information technology, increased internet user base, greater smart phone penetration and policies of government such as digital India, National optical fibre network provides immense opportunities to provide education and skill development via online platforms.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs), with their unlimited capacity to teach millions at scale, can play a key role in India’s future.
People who do not have chance to receive traditional college degrees from top institutions can now earn certificates from MOOCs offered by the world’s top institutions.
What are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?
It is a recent and widely researched development in distance education using online platform. It provides free and unlimited access to thousands of courses from various universities across the world. Premium services like certification and placement are also offered by many course providers at a nominal fee.
Large non-profit organizations like ‘Bill and Melinda gates foundation’, ‘MacArthur foundation’, ‘National science foundation’, ‘American council on education’ etc are stood behind MOOCs Platf
World’s Top most universities like Standfrod, Harward, MIT, Texas etc have offered various courses. NPTEL courses from IITs and IISc are also offered in MOOCs.
Initiatives by Government for education and skill development
Recently the Union government acknowledging the huge skill gap among Indian youth, launched a development mission to make India a centre of skilled talent.
Various programs of government towards skill development are,
Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)
Technical Quality Education Improvement Program (TEQUIP)
National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF)
Department of Skill Development and entrepreneurship has been created under Ministry of skill development, Entrepreneurship, youth affairs and sports.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Koushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) is a placement linked skill development scheme for poor rural youth.
NaiManzil for education and skill development of dropouts;
Upgrading Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD) to conserve traditional art/crafts and build capacity of traditional artisans and craftsmen belonging to minority communities.
NaiRoshni, a leadership training programme for women
MANAS for upgrading entrepreneurial skills of minority youths.
Source: Economic survey 14-15
India’s GDP growth has nearly halved from last three years. Can this be attributed to large skill gap prevailing among Indian youth?
Does India have the potential to become a economic super power? Analyse
What are the issues and challenges to reap the benefits of larger demographic dividend of India?