IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 18th December 2017
Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Infrastructure
- A 60 MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project (HEPP) has been constructed in Mizoram.
- It has been constructed as a Central Sector Project and implemented by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), under the administrative control of the Ministry of Power.
- This is the biggest power project located in Mizoram and will feed the entire energy to be generated to home State.
The State’s current power demand is 87 MW and this is being met by the mini power projects and Central sector projects.
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Fixed dose combination- Issue fixed by SC
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- The Supreme Court in its verdict on fixed dose combination medicines paved the way for greater transparency in the approvals of these medicines.
- As per the SC’s order the government can order a drug off the market shelf if it is found to be unsafe, without having the issue first examined by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB).
- The government can take a product off the market if there are reports that it has been banned in other countries or there are reports within the country that the product was unsafe.
- The pharmaceutical industry that had stressed on the need for DTAB’s evaluation before an FDC was banned.
- A fixed dose combination (FDC) medicine involves more than one ingredient bundled into a product, and the market place has seen sometimes five to seven drugs being combined into a single product.
- Rampant introduction of irrational FDCs not only exposes the patients to unnecessary risk of adverse drug reactions but also creates health problem in larger groups of people. Most of these FDCs are available in India as over-the-counter products.
- In an attempt to address the issue, the Centre had the Kokate committee look into it. The panel had termed 963 FDCs “irrational”, posing health threats. The government finally banned 344 FDCs last year. But with pharmaceutical companies arguing against the order, the case landed up at the Supreme Court.
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Part of: Mains GS Paper II- India and its neighbours
- India and the Maldives carried out Exercise Ekuverin, their eighth annual joint military training event, in Belagavi, Maldives.
- The focus of the exercise is to acquaint both armies with each other’s operating procedures in the backdrop of counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism operations in an urban or semi-urban environment under the U.N. charter.
- The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability between the two armies as the contingents hone their tactical and technical skills.
- Starting 2009, Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force have been holding Exercise Ekuverin, meaning ‘friends’ in the Maldivian language, in their countries on alternate years.
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General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States
General Studies 1:
- Social empowerment
- Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
Criminalising triple talaq: Justified or not?
The Centre has proposed to make instant triple talaq an offence punishable with three-year imprisonment and a fine.
The proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, has provisions for maintenance or subsistence allowance to the wife and children in the event of triple talaq being pronounced.
By a three-two majority, the Supreme Court has declared that the practice of talaq-e-biddat, or instant divorce of a Muslim woman by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice, is illegal and unenforceable.
While two judges in the majority said the practice was arbitrary and, therefore, unconstitutional, the third judge ruled that it was illegal because it was contrary to Islamic tenets.
- It is an unnecessary attempt to convert a civil wrong into a criminal act.
Disagreements in marriage are normally civil matters and injustice to one party, not constituting violence, is best treated as a civil offence. State can step in to resolve differences and ensure equitable terms of disengagement.
Criminalising divorce, even an illegal one, would be overreach.
- Instant triple talaq is viewed as sinful and improper by a large section of the community itself. Therefore, there can be no dispute about the need to protect Muslim women against the practice. But it is also well established that criminalising something does not have any deterrent effect on its practice.
- There is no need for a fresh criminal provision when existing laws, under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code or provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, already allow the prosecution of a husband for inflicting physical or mental cruelty, emotional and economic abuse, and for deprivation of financial resources.
- Regardless of whether instant talaq would fall under any of the forms of cruelty or domestic violence under PWDA Act, criminalising it risks defeating the objective of preserving the husband’s legal obligations, and the payment of maintenance.
- Irrespective of the government’s intent three years in prison of the convicted husband will end up penalising the already aggrieved wife and children too.
- The draconian punishment cannot but aggravate the already acute insecurity and alienation of the Indian Muslim community — its womenfolk included — under the current regime.
- Given the widely acknowledged anti-Muslim bias in a section of the Indian police, there is no guarantee that the new law will not be used against Muslim men.
- The Centre would should reconsider its draft and limit its scope to providing relief to women, instead of creating a new offence out of a civil matter.
- The fine amount under consideration can be awarded as maintenance or subsistence allowance.
- In the best interests of justice to Muslim women it is better to invoke a secular law that already exists: Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005.
Parliament should pass a law unambiguously stating that the very utterance of the words “talaq, talaq, talaq” would amount to “domestic violence” as defined in the PWDVA.
The PWDVA was conceived as a law that ensures speedy relief — ideally within three months — to an aggrieved woman: Right to stay in the marital home, protection against violence, right to maintenance etc.
- Provided the free services of a government-appointed “protection officer” under PWDA would save Muslim women money on hiring a lawyer.
- Government must consult all stakeholders, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. Some Muslim women groups would prefer codification of Muslim personal law rather than piecemeal legislation.
The right approach would be to launch a massive campaign across India to publicise the Supreme Court judgment. Criminalising acts that do not result in the commission of crimes will be legally untenable.
Connecting the dots:
- Criminalising triple talaq is not justified. Critically analyze.
Also read: Triple Talaq case: the judicial intervention
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability and institutional and other measures.
Party reform in India
In India there is no real movement towards democratisation of parties; the selection of candidates, Chief Ministers and office-bearers of party units is usually left to the discretion of a handful of leaders who take decisions behind closed doors.
India’s success in consolidating a democratic system of government has paradoxically forestalled pressure for party reform. Taken as a whole, the electoral process is more representative but political parties look a lot like oligarchies. Most parties are subservient to one supreme leader.
Political parties still refuse to lay down settled and predictable procedures for almost everything they do, from the selection of candidates to the framing of a manifesto.
The question of party reform is a pressing one in India.
- The lack of institutionalisation and, partly as a consequence, democratisation.
The biggest weakness of parties is that they are leader-centric and most leaders are unwilling to institutionalise procedures for the selection of candidates and increase the participation of members in party functioning. As a rule, strong leaders rarely support institutionalisation because it constrains their discretion and personal power.
- The lack of internal democracy in the party.
The practice of adhering to the principle of dynastic succession in contrast to the rise of party workers to top echelons. Quite a few political families have sprung up in the recent past, and more are mushrooming.
- Nearly all parties are centralised in their decision-making and have been run from the top down in terms of distribution of party tickets, selection of Chief Ministers and State party leaders, and party finance.
- Winning elections has become the only role a party envisages for itself. The privileging of elections at the expense of other aspects of the democratic process implies that parties are inattentive to the need for constant organisational change and renewal.
- The opacity of political financing, necessitates ‘unhindered top-down control’ and ‘absolute loyalty down the line’.
As party funds are raised and controlled centrally, it weakens the State units and rank and file vis-à-vis the central leadership on a range of issues including leadership selection and nominations for elections.
It also discourages democratisation as this would limit their power to accumulate wealth or amass a fortune or promote personal power at the expense of public interest.
- In the absence of intra-party democracy and a well-defined process for the distribution of tickets to candidates before polls, political parties hand over tickets to ‘winnable’ candidates, leading to the presence of criminals in the Parliament.
- The lack of intra-party democracy has also contributed to the growing nepotism in political parties. For the MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha, there is a direct relationship between age and links to a political family.
- Leader-centric political parties are detrimental to the political system as it impedes the growth of broad-based non-sectarian parties.
Need of Intraparty democracy:
- It is the political parties that form the government, man the Parliament and run the governance of the country. It is therefore, necessary to introduce internal democracy, financial transparency and accountability in the working of the political parties.
A political party which does not respect democratic principles in its internal working cannot be exposed to respect those principles in the governance of the country.
- It is the political parties whose governments deliver ‘good governance’ through bureaucracy and legislative mechanisms.
- Political parties play a central role in the functioning of India’s vibrant democracy. Given their centrality, it is imperative that their functioning be subject to some regulation or public scrutiny.
- It is to ensure that the institution is truly free, fair and untainted as envisaged in our Constitution for a representative democracy.
Evidence from other democracies shows a trend towards greater intraparty democracy, decentralisation and transparency within parties.
- In Germany parties are required to meet certain conditions in nominating their candidates to party posts.
They have to be chosen by a direct secret vote at both constituency and federal levels.
- In the U.S., laws were enacted that required the use of secret ballots in intraparty elections.
- The British Labour Party, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, the Democratic Party in the U.S. and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada have all seen movements by party activists and by the rank and file to reduce the power of entrenched party elites.
- A number of committees set up to suggest electoral political reforms have recommended introduction of intra-party democracy mechanisms in recruitment of members and candidates; elections for important party posts such as secretary, treasurer and president; consultations with party members on deciding party agenda; fund raising and spending and providing opportunities for young politicians to climb hierarchy ranks.
- The 170th report of the Law Commission of India on reform of electoral laws, dedicated an entire chapter on the necessity of providing laws relating to internal democracy within parties. It states,
- The report from the National Commission for Review of Working of Constitution recommends that there should be a comprehensive legislation, regulating the registration and functioning of political parties or alliances of parties in India.
It is imperative that political parties undertake party reforms and ensure intra-party democracy. This would not only attract the youth toward politics in India and thus new energy but also strengthen overall democracy.
Connecting the dots:
- Lack of inner party democracy and institutionalization is a serious issue with political parties in India. Discuss.
Divorce as crime
Adding law to injury
For farmers, the next big idea
Education as a gamechanger