IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 5th December 2017
Merger of scam-hit NSEL with FTIL
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Economy
The Bombay High Court verdict upheld the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ order directing the merger of scam-hit NSEL with Financial Technologies (India) Ltd (FTIL).
- In February 2016, the MCA had passed a final order directing the merger of scam-hit NSEL with FTIL.
- It was the first case of the government ordering the merger of two private sector companies (under Section 396 of Companies Act, 1956).
- 5,574-crore payment crisis had erupted at NSEL.
- A merger of NSEL with FTIL would result in the latter assuming all the liabilities of the scam-hit spot exchange, which is now a subsidiary of FTIL.
- The order would have a serious impact on the limited liability concept by lifting the corporate veil by an executive order and without running a full evidence-led adjudication.
- Even in the case of consensual merger of two government companies, the principle of natural justice, constitutional validity and stakeholder voting (which are shareholders, creditors and employees) are taken into account. In this case, where two private companies are involved, the rule book and shareholder compensation has been ignored.
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Agreement on IUU fishing and overfished stocks: At WTO
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- India will not agree to a commitment against subsidies for illegal, unregulated, unaccounted (IUU) fishing and overfished stocks at the WTO Ministerial meet to be held in Buenos Aires in December.
- New Delhi’s firm stand on the matter is important as the livelihood of millions of artisanal farmers will be at risk if subsidy reduction commitments are undertaken without safeguards.
- Countries including Malaysia, Cameroon, Oman, Paraguay and the Philippines, too, have spoken out against commitments to reduce subsidies at the Ministerial meet while others such as the EU and New Zealand want their inclusion.
- The Africa Group has expressed its willingness to go along with commitments on disciplining fisheries subsidies as long as developing and less developed countries are exempt.
- China said it can support subsidy prohibitions but only for IUU fishing and not for overfished stocks.
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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister on a visit to South Korea
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Federalism, International relations
- The Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (EDB) entered into a letter of intent (LoI) with a group of 37 South Korean companies.
- The CM appealed to the Korean companies to draw inspiration from Kia Motors and come forward to invest in the State.
- The group has shown interest in investing ₹ 3,000 crore in A.P. and providing employment to 7,171 people.
Benefits for MNCs in A.P.
- The government has provided many facilities and has created the ecosystem for growth of industry.
- Proximity to Bangalore airport and Krishnapatnam port.
- Infrastructure is in place.
- There are no law and order problems.
- Neither there is labour unrest.
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SC directs centre to repeal laws that discriminate against leprosy patients
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
· Centre told to respond in eight weeks to a call to repeal 119 laws that discriminate against leprosy patients.
· Twenty-first century society cannot justify shunning persons affected by leprosy or keeping them hidden in homes and away from the mainstream.
· The court asked the Centre to respond in eight weeks to a call to repeal 119 Central and State laws in practice since the 1950s that discriminate against leprosy patients, stigmatise and isolate them despite the fact that modern medicine completely cures the disease.
· Statutory laws continue to recognise superstitions that leprosy is “infectious and has something to do with genetics”.
How laws discriminate against leprosy patients?
- Cause stigmatisation and indignity to persons affected by leprosy.
- Isolate/segregate persons affected by leprosy.
- Deny them access to public services.
- Impose disqualifications on them under personal laws.
- Bar them from occupying or standing for public posts or office.
These laws rob persons affected by leprosy by denying them equal treatment under personal laws, in matters of employment and appointment or election to public office, as well as access to and free movement in public places.
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Focusing on Indo-Pacific
Indo-Pacific as an idea gained attention during 2017.
Its time India must think on another expansive geopolitical construct — Eurasia.
The concept of Indo-Pacific and Eurasia:
- Like the Indo-Pacific, the concept of Eurasia is quite familiar to geographers.
- Marine bio-geographers use the Indo-Pacific to describe the large stretch of tropical waters from the east coast of Africa to the Western Pacific that has many common features.
- For geologists, Eurasia refers to a tectonic plate that lies under much of what we know as Europe and Asia.
- It is in the domain of politics that the terms Indo-Pacific and Eurasia holds significance.
- There was a resistance in Delhi to the idea of the Indo-Pacific. For many, the Indo-Pacific was a suspicious American invention.
- Like India, America was not quite sure. It was President Donald Trump who ended American ambivalence by consistently using the term “Indo-Pacific” during Asian tour last month.
The Indian political and policy establishment must adapt to the slow but certain integration of India into a single geopolitical theatre.
- The Chabahar port on the south-eastern coast of Iran, formally launched on Sunday by President Hassan Rouhani, opens up not just an alternative route to Afghanistan but also facilitates India’s overland connectivity with Central Eurasia.
- At the annual gathering of the heads of government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Sochi, Russia-
- Delhi, along with Islamabad, has been accepted earlier this year as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The membership of the SCO covers the heart of Eurasia.
- The annual summit of an organisation called C-CEEC was held at Budapest, Hungary. It promotes cooperation between China and 16 Central and East European Countries. It is more popularly known as “sixteen plus one”. That India is hardly interested in this new forum underlines the problem it has in dealing with a changing Eurasia.
Change in discourse:
- The rise of China is connecting up the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Beijing is breaking down the idea that Europe and Asia are two different continents.
- By exporting large amounts of capital for infrastructure development, drawing its economies east ward, and creating new political groupings, China has begun to undermine the Western hubris and Russian self-regard in Central Europe.
- It also widens the strategic options for Central European states.
Challenges for India:
- Delhi’s world-view, traditionally defined in terms of an irreconcilable tension between “East and West”, “North and South” or “Europe and Asia” is becoming unsustainable as China’s massive Silk Road Initiative begins to integrate Europe with Asia.
Chinese expansion and American retrenchment is reshaping the political and economic geography of Eurasia.
- The government has put India back in play in the maritime world by accepting the Indo-Pacific idea. But Delhi is yet to come to grips with continental Eurasia. Delhi has been reluctant to walk though the open door in Europe. Focused as it is on bilateral relations with France, Germany and Russia, Delhi has neglected the European Union and ignored Central Europe.
There is thus an imbalance between how India deals with the concept of Indo-Pacific on one hand and the concept of Eurasia on the other. Correcting the imbalance is the first step towards a more purposeful Indian engagement with Eurasia.
Connecting the dots:
- While Delhi has focused on bilateral relations with France, Germany and Russia, it has neglected the European Union and ignored Central Europe. Critically analyze.
General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
General Studies 4:
- Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships.
Need for Law against Torture
About Convention Against Torture (CAT)
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
Convention Against Torture (CAT) and India
- The Convention Against Torture (CAT) came into force in 1987 and India signed it in 1997, however it is yet to ratify it. Efforts to bring a standalone law against torture have lapsed.
- Today, the CAT has 162 state parties; 83 are signatories. In refusing to ratify the CAT, India is in the inglorious company of Angola, the Bahamas, Brunei, Gambia, Haiti, Palau, and Sudan.
- In 2008, at the universal periodical review by the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the UN, country after country recommended that India expedite ratification. India’s response was that ratification was “being processed”.
- In 2011, desiring to be appointed on the HRC of the UN, India took a voluntarily pledge to ratify the CAT. Once on the Council, India forgot its commitment.
- In 2012 review, once again countries overwhelmingly recommended that India “promptly” ratify the CAT to which India responded “supported”, which indicates agreement.
Need for ratifying the CAT and enacting Prevention Against Torture Act:
In recent times there is a fresh note of urgency attached to the need for early ratification, as the country has pending requests for the extradition of its nationals from other countries.
The National Human Rights Commission has been strongly urging the government to recognise torture as a separate crime and codify the punishment in a separate penal law.
Torture cases have escalated in India: India’s NHRC had reported a significant number of torture cases involving police and security organisations.
- In Raghbir Singh v. State of Haryana (1980), the Supreme Court said it was “deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture.”
- In Shakila Abdul Gafar Khan v. Vasant Raghunath Dhoble (2003), the Supreme Court said that “torture is assuming alarming proportions… on account of the devilish devices adopted. The concern which was shown in Raghubir’s case has fallen on deaf ears”.
- In Munshi Singh Gautam v. State of M.P. (2004), the Supreme Court said: “Civilisation itself would risk the consequence of heading towards total decay resulting in anarchy and authoritarianism reminiscent of barbarism.”
India has been making promises but doesn’t seem intent on keeping them. India has undermined its prestige by repeatedly promising — and failing — to ratify the CAT.
In an era of increasing international cooperation on criminal matters, India will be better served if it is seen as adhering to international treaties, especially its obligations under the CAT.
This is a serious lacuna for a country that otherwise has a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
Does India needs an Anti torture law?
- There may be some doubt whether India needs a fresh law to prevent and punish torture. Provisions relating to causing hurt or grievous hurt, especially with a view to extracting a confession, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement already exist in the Indian Penal Code.
- However, the idea of a stand-alone law ought to be ultimately seen as a more tangible way of expressing commitment to eliminating torture.
- A concrete step towards enacting a law was made when the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2010, but it was referred to a Select Committee in the Rajya Sabha.
- In its report submitted in the same year, the committee recommended exhaustive amendments to the Bill to make it consistent with the language and intent of the Convention. Thereafter the Bill lapsed.
- Given the pervasive nature of custodial violence and its complex policing requirements, the present legislative and administrative framework is obviously inadequate to prevent torture in a country of India’s size.
In the age of global push for rights to all sections of the society laws against torture and inhuman treatment is a seminal necessity. India as a global voice against extreme violence should lead the way by bringing globally acceptable laws against torture.
It is imperative that a strong law that criminalises torture, imposes stringent punishment for it and contains liberal provisions for those suffering torture to complain against their perpetrators, prosecute them and be compensated and rehabilitated, is passed at the earliest.
Connecting the dots:
- Analyse the need for an exclusive anti torture law of global standards in India. Also discuss the significance of ratifying the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
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