IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 13th February, 2016
TOPIC: General Studies 2
Constitution, Polity – Fundamental Rights (FR); Governance
Dissent and Freedom in India
We have a tradition of tolerance and plurality. But we — and the courts — have to work hard to preserve it
Freedom to express ones views, opinion, and belief, convictions including contempt, enmity and disaffection openly (applied)
Article 19 (2)
State can impose reasonable restrictions on this exercise if:
Hampers sovereignty + integrity + security of India
Comes in the way of friendly relations with foreign states
Disruption in Public order
Contempt of Court
Incitement to an offence
Restrictions: Not arbitrary and impairment of freedom must be ‘as little as possible’
Ushered in an era of Revolutions:
For Independence: Courageous men used their power of free and fearless reasoning to gift us freedom
Social Change: Voices rose against massive levels of poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, price rise, and lack of health care, farmers’ suicides, and discrimination against the minorities, women and Dalits
Freedom of Press: Most paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and this can be observed in the improvement in ranking (136th) of India in the ‘World Press Index Freedom 2015’.
The ‘unfreedoms’ heaped on us by our rulers—
The penal codes legislated by the imperial rulers still govern important parts of our life.So have these unfreedoms really ended? Take for examples:
Section 377: Criminalises gay sex
Section 295(A): Related to the sentiments of any religious group —wherein a person can be threatened with jail sentence for hurting the religious sentiments of another, however personal and however bizarrely delicate — that portrayed sentiment might be.
March 3, 2014 Judgement—Supreme Court gave priority to the fundamental right of the people to express themselves, as enshrined in the Constitution.
Far cry from the activities that go beyond the possible explanations—
Murders have occurred on grounds of hurt sentiments from other people’s private eating.
Children have been denied the nourishment of eggs in school meals in parts of India for the priority of vegetarian sentiments of powerful groups.
The researched works of leading international scholars have been forced to be pulped by scared publishers, threatened to be imprisoned for the offence of allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
Journalists often receive threats — or worse — for violating the imposed norms of vigilante groups. The Indian media has a good record of standing up against intimidation, but freedom of speech and reporting need more social support.
—Hindus have been familiar with, and tolerant of, arguments about religious beliefs for more than 3,000 years—
“Who knows then, whence it first came into being? … Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not,”
Rigveda, Mandala X, Verse 129
Too tolerant of Intolerance—
The silencing of dissent and the generating of fear in the minds of people violate the demands of personal liberty, but also make it very much harder to have a dialogue-based democratic society.
The present-day phenomenon of intolerance of dissent and of heterodox behaviour did not start with the present government.
F. Husain, one of the leading painters of India, was hounded out of his country by relentless persecution led by a small organised group, and he did not get the kind of thundering support that he could have justly expected.
The government’s role was much more direct when India became the first country to ban Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses
So what should we do, as citizens of India who support freedom and liberty?
We should move away from blaming the Indian Constitution for what it does not say.
We should not allow colonial penal codes that impose unfreedoms to remain unchallenged.
We should not tolerate the intolerance that undermines our democracy, that impoverishes the lives of many Indians, and that facilitates a culture of impunity of tormentors.
The courts, particularly the Supreme Court, have good reason to examine comprehensively whether India is not being led seriously astray by the continuation of the rules of the Raj, which we fought so hard to end. In particular, there is need for judicial scrutiny of the use that organised tormentors make of an imagined entitlement of “not to be offended” (an alleged entitlement that does not seem to exist in this particular form in any other country).
If some states, under the influence of sectarian groups want to extend these unfreedoms through local legislation (for example, banning particular food), the courts surely have to examine the compatibility of these legislation with the fundamental rights of people, including the right to speech and to personal liberties.
Connecting the Dots:
‘The remedy to evil counsel is more speech, not enforced silence’. Comment
‘Vigilance has been long recognised to be the price of freedom’. Discuss
Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effect on industrial growth.
Distress amongst Indian factories
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its December 2015 Financial Stability Report noted that sectors including iron and steel, mining, infrastructure, textiles and aviation accounted for the majority (53%) of scheduled commercial banks’ total stressed advances.
The recently released Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) shows that the distress in these sectors has resulted in slower wage growth, lower output and higher interest outgo at the factory level.
What are the different Segments which are under distress?
Metals segment consisted of basic metals and those involved in the manufacture of fabricated metal products, excluding machinery and equipment.
Mining, commodities such as coke and refined petroleum, industries involved in other non-metallic mineral products and those classified under other mining and quarrying activities.
Infrastructure segments such as electrical equipment, machinery and equipment, as well as entities involved in machinery repair and installation.
Why there is a distress amongst Indian factories?
Sectors such as iron and steel, mining, infrastructure, textiles and aviation accounted for the majority (53%) of scheduled commercial banks’ total stressed advances. Chances of becoming Non-performing assets are more.
The biggest issue is lack of domestic demand for the output of the factories.
Threat of Chinese imports.
There has been a slowdown in demand and debt has become costlier
What is the outcome of such distress amongst industries?
Workers in the distressed industries showed slower wage growth than the industry at large.
The reason for slower wage growth can perhaps be seen in the fact that their interest expense has risen faster than all industries put together.
Output has grown at a slower pace.
Interest paid as a proportion of total output worsened most for government enterprises.
What is the larger impact of such distress?
Industries such as Iron and steel, Coal , Crude oil , Manufacturing form part of 8 core industries under Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
IIP shows that outlook for the sectors is not bright in the short term.
What is IIP?
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index for India which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mining, electricity and manufacturing.
The all India IIP is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period.
It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).
It shows activity of different sectors in the economy.
It does not show volume of activity and only shows the magnitude which represents the status of production in the industrial sector for a given period of time as compared to a reference period of time.
Government needs to increase credit to small scale industries, and look at providing incentives related to infrastructure, land and labour laws.
Connecting the dots:
Can credit given to small scale industries by Government act as de-stressing factor addressing the distress amongst Indian Industries? Comment.
Just another ‘zone’?- The lack of a robust policy, efficient implementation and effective monitoring has seriously jeopardised India’s efforts to industrialise and boost exports through special economic zones