IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 19th July 2018
Sabarimala temple ban unreasonable: SC
Part of: GS Mains II – Fundamental Rights; role of Judiciary; Discrimination; Society and Secularism
The Supreme Court of India has repeatedly struck down discriminatory religious practices, the latest of which is the woman’s right to enter the famous Sabarimala temple.
Issue: women aged between 10 and 50 were banned from entering a temple because they are considered ‘impure’ (due to menstrual cycle)
- The SC Bench was supposed to decide whether Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 allows a ‘religious denomination’ to ban entry of women between the age of 10 to 50 years. If so, does this amount to discrimination and violation of the fundamental rights to equality and gender justice.
- SC bench has said – exclusion of women aged between 10 and 50 from entering a temple because they are considered ‘impure’ amounts to the practice of untouchability, a social evil abolished by law.
- Sabarimala temple drew funds from the Consolidated Fund, had people coming from all over the world and thus, qualified to be called a “public place of worship.”
- Therefore, ‘exclusion of women amounts to the practice of untouchability’
CJI quoted Article 25 (1) which mandates freedom of conscience and right to practise religion. “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion…”
Important Value Additions:
Tradition in conflict with the constitution:
- Preventing women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple with an irrational and obsolete notion of “purity” clearly offends the equality clauses in the Constitution.
- It denotes a patriarchal and partisan approach.
- The entry prohibition takes away the woman’s right against discrimination guaranteed under Article 15(1) of the Constitution.
- It curtails her religious freedom assured by Article 25(1).
- Prohibition of women’s entry to the shrine solely on the basis of womanhood and the biological features associated with womanhood is derogatory to women, which Article 51A(e) aims to renounce. The classification based on age is, in essence, an act of discrimination based on sex.
- Dr. B. R. Ambedkar famously said that public temples, like public roads and schools, are places meant for public access and so the question of entry is, essentially, a question of equality.
- The managerial rights of religious authorities under Article 26(b) of the Constitution cannot override the individual woman’s religious freedom guaranteed under Article 25(1). The former is intended to safeguard, not annihilate, the latter.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity
- The revised proposal for the construction of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue in the Arabian Sea has received environmental clearance (EC) from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
- However, the height of the statue has been reduced to 126 metres from the originally proposed 190 metres.
Fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugar cane raised
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian economy and agriculture; Farmer’s income
- Centre has raised the fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugar cane for the next season to ₹275 a quintal at a 10% recovery rate.
- This is the minimum price that mills must pay farmers.
- The decision was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister.
- Mill owners say the current FRP is “unaffordable”.
What is the difference between FRP (fair and renumerative price) and MSP (minimum support price)?
- Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices. The minimum support prices are announced by the Government of India at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). MSP is price fixed by Government of India to protect the producer – farmers – against excessive fall in price during bumper production years. The minimum support prices are a guarantee price for their produce from the Government.
- FRP is the minimum price that the sugar mills have to pay to farmers. It is supposed to signal to farmers the need to plant more or less cane for the coming year.
- In MSP the farmer is paid a sum which is 50% more than the input costs. There are different methods of calculation of the input costs. Some methods take into consideration the lease rate of the land, the labour cost invested by the farmer working himself on farming, the intrest coat of the loan etc etc.
- The Fair and Remunerative Pricing is used in sugarcane industry to replace the MSP. This is based on the Rangarajan Commitee report of reorganising the sugarcane industry. The commitee found that in the production of sugar 70% of the input cost is sugarcane.
- In FRP the farmer is paid 70% of the total turnover of the company if only the sugar turnover is considered and 75% of the total turnover if other products like bagasse and molasses etc are also considered.
- This FRP method is useful in times when the sugar prices are high but the FRP method ask the sugar companies to pay the farmer the MSP for sugar when the sugar and hence sugarcane price is low. This is adversely affect the financial health of the sugar factories in times of low sugar prices where the companies has to pay the MSP even though the sugar prices are low.
In pursuit to avoid deaths of Languages
Among various deaths, the deaths of Dalits and tribals who are trapped by hunger and humiliation; the death of a tree or a forest sacrificed at the altar of development – are mourned but not spoken about. Similarly, the death of language is literally shrouded in silence.
Concern: languages spiraling toward extinction
- The world’s indigenous languages are under threat of disappearing, with one language dying every two weeks and many more at risk.
- Language is an important part of any society, because it enables people to communicate and express themselves. When a language dies out, future generations lose a vital part of the culture that is necessary to completely understand it. This makes language a vulnerable aspect of cultural heritage, and it becomes especially important to preserve it.
Impact of policy instruments
- Death of language too is a form of violence. Large parts of culture get exterminated through slight shifts in policy instruments than through armed conflicts.
- The destruction of culture can be caused by something as small as a bureaucrat’s benign decision.
- Even a well-intentioned language census can do much damage.
Note: The below article tries to assess how the Census of India has failed to adequately reflect the linguistic composition of the country and why there should is a need for good policy action.
Background: Missing the crucial link
Over the last many decades, successive governments in India have carried out a decadal census.
- The 1931 Census was a landmark as it collected information on caste and community.
- War disrupted the exercise in 1941 and during 1951 census, the new Indian republic was too busy.
- It was during the 1961 census that languages in the country were enumerated in full. India learnt that a total of 1,652 mother tongues were being spoken.
- However, in 1971 census, using ill-founded logic, this figure was pegged at only 109. (as only those languages who had more than 10,000 speakers were recognized and respected)
- This practice, which had neither scientific basis nor was a fair decision, continued in upcoming censuses.
Do you know?
- The language enumeration takes place in the first year of every decade. a
- However, the findings are made public about seven years later as the processing of language data is far more time consuming than handling economic or scientific data.
How recent Census has failed again?
Earlier this month, the Census of India made public the language data based on the 2011 Census.
- It took into account 120 crore speakers of a very large number of languages.
- Language division of the Census office deserves praise but the data presented leaves behind a trail of questions.
- During the census, citizens submitted 19,569 names of mother tongues.
- Based on previous linguistic and sociological information, the authorities decided that of these, 18,200 did not match “logically” with known information. Only a total of 1,369 names were picked as “being names of languages” , therefore, leaving out the rest (nearly 60 lakhs citizens)
- And because of the classification regime, their linguistic citizenship has been dropped.
In addition to the 1,369 “mother tongue” names shortlisted, there were 1,474 other mother tongue names and these are placed under generic label – “Others”
The classification system has not been able to identify what or which languages these are and so they have been silenced by having an innocuous label slapped on them.
The 1,369 mother tongue have been grouped further under a total of 121 “group labels”, which have been presented as “Languages”.
Of these, 22 are languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, called “Scheduled Languages”. The remainder, 99, are “Non-scheduled Languages”.
However, what is worrying is most of the groupings are forced.
For instance, under the heading “Hindi”, there are nearly 50 other languages.
- Bhojpuri (spoken by more than 5 crore people, and with its own cinema, theatre, literature, vocabulary and style) comes under “Hindi”.
- Under Hindi too is the nearly 3 crore population from Rajasthan with its own independent languages.
- The Powari/Pawri of tribals in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh too has been added. Even the Kumauni of Uttarakhand has been yoked to Hindi.
There is a similar and inflated figure for Sanskrit.
Census has classified a total of 2,59,678 Indians as who speak English as their “mother tongue” – which is a sign of semantics disaster. (Semantics refers to the branch of study within linguistics that deals with language)
Role of UNESCO in protecting and promoting languages
From time to time, UNESCO tries to highlight the key role that language plays in widening access to education, protecting livelihoods and preserving culture and knowledge traditions.
- In 1999/2000 – it proclaimed and observed February 21 as International Mother Language Day
- In 2001 – the ‘Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity’ accepted the principle of “Safeguarding the linguistic heritage of humanity and giving support to expression, creation and dissemination in the greatest possible number of languages.”
- UNESCO has also launched a linguistic diversity network and supported research.
- It has also brought out an Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, which highlights the central place of language in the world’s heritage.
However, our language census has failed to be in consistent with these ideas and principles.
Census in India should adequately reflect the linguistic composition of the country. It is not good practice when data helps neither educators nor policy makers or the speakers of languages themselves. The Census, a massive exercise that consumes so much time and energy, needs to see how it can help in a greater inclusion of the marginal communities, how our intangible heritage can be preserved, and how India’s linguistic diversity can become an integral part of our national pride.
Connecting the dots
- Why is it important to preserve and promote India’s local and tribal languages? Also examine the initiatives taken in this direction.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Is the time ripe for third wave of banking reforms in India?
India carried out nationalization of its Banks in 1969 and 1980 with the stated objective of ‘controlling the commanding heights of the economy’. As a result eighty percentage (20) banks were nationalised and brought into the fold of government.
Access to banking for the poor was the main aim and rural development was the focus. This culminated in the establishment of new institutions such as NABARD AND SIDBI. But they have not been successful in meeting the true ends as they act more as banks for the governments doing more treasury business than banking for the target groups.
Next phase of big bang reforms started when the Narasimhan committee recommendations were accepted which resulted in the privatization of banks to induce competition. Banks competed alright but not for serving the unserved population, rather for profits.
Technology was introduced. The costs of technology being huge, they had to be recovered from the customers.
Charges for services started rising. Internet facilities were introduced. Convenience banking and convenience charges became the order of the day.
Issues with the Indian banking
- Technology became the master and banks became servants. Huge numbers of complaints started and banking Ombudsman had to be appointed by the regulator. Banks were supposed to be financial intermediaries but this intermediation was taken to the extreme, introducing universal banking providing for sale of third party products.
- The year 2014 saw the ‘Jandhan’ as new avatar of ‘no-frill’ savings bank accounts. Credit to the needy sectors and persons showed signs of improvement but for a short period.
- The vitality of financial sector was lost during the last ten years with irresponsible lending to corporate houses, several at the behest of government and vested interests resulting in unsustainable non-performing loans currently standing at Rs 10 lakh crore.
- Mechanical application of accountability to credit decisions has left bank managers shy of taking normal business risks. This has led to committee decisions on credit to large conglomerates making no one accountable for their failure.
- The central issue of banking today is reducing government ownership in banks. With 82% of the total banking in public space, the government is the active owner. Its omnipresent role results in conflict of interests.
- The bureaucracy and the political system have developed a vested interest in maintaining the status quo – over 60% of the work of the banking division in the Ministry of Finance relates to Parliament work, a largely unproductive use of time.
Do you know?
SARFAESI Act 2002:
SARFAESI Act or Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 lets the banks as well as other financial institutions of India auction commercial or residential properties for the purpose of loan recovery. ARC, the first asset reconstruction company, was established under this act.
The SARFAESI Act, 2002 was framed to allow the financial houses to assess the asset quality in different ways. In other words, the act was made to identify and rectify the problem of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) through multiple mechanisms.
The SARFAESI Act provides provisions in details for the formation and actions of Asset Securitization Companies as well as Reconstruction Companies. The act details the scope of capital requirements, funding and activities. Reserve Bank of India regulates the institutions established under the SARFAESI Act.
The Act, to insulate assets in a legal way, addresses the financial assets of banks and other secured creditors. According to multiple provisions under the act, the financial institutions enjoy the rights and power to handle different types of bad asset issues. The prime objectives of the SARFAESI Act under Insolvency Law In India are as follows:
- The Act details the procedures for NPAs’ transfer to the asset reconstruction companies for the purpose of asset reconstruction.
- The Act specifies the legal framework for scanning activities in India.
- The Act confers powers to the financial institutions to take custody of the immovable property, which is charged or hypothecated, for debt recovery.
- The Act imposes the security interest without any intervention from the court.
IBC CODE 2016
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy. The bankruptcy code is a one stop solution for resolving insolvencies which at present is a long process and does not offer an economically viable arrangement
Insolvency Resolution: The Code outlines separate insolvency resolution processes for individuals, companies and partnership firms. The process may be initiated by either the debtor or the creditors. A maximum time limit, for completion of the insolvency resolution process, has been set for corporates and individuals. For companies, the process will have to be completed in 180 days, which may be extended by 90 days, if a majority of the creditors agree. For start-ups (other than partnership firms), small companies and other companies (with asset less than Rs. 1 crore), resolution process would be completed within 90 days of initiation of request which may be extended by 45 days.
Insolvency regulator: The Code establishes the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, to oversee the insolvency proceedings in the country and regulate the entities registered under it. The Board will have 10 members, including representatives from the Ministries of Finance and Law, and the Reserve Bank of India.
Insolvency professionals: The insolvency process will be managed by licensed professionals. These professionals will also control the assets of the debtor during the insolvency process.
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Adjudicator: The Code proposes two separate tribunals to oversee the process of insolvency resolution, for individuals and companies:
- The National Company Law Tribunal for Companies and Limited Liability Partnership firms
- The Debt Recovery Tribunal for individuals and partnerships.
The way ahead
- Single dwelling house of any small enterprise should be prevented from Sarfaesi proceedings in regard to micro enterprises, particularly when the bank did not cover the loan under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)
- Let the ownership take responsibility for all the lapses and regulator admitting to laxity.
- The ICAI should work on realistic accounting policies and accounting standards and disclosure norms.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should restart the bank inspections, as in the 1980s when a few large advances and branches were also being inspected. Prompt action should follow on lapses noticed.
- Governance improvement in banks should be the main agenda on the reforms. The RBI should stop sending its persons to the Boards of Banks. The board should review its performance once in six months against the director’s own commitment each year.
- Vigorous media campaigns should be conducted and supporting measures assuring service to every type of customer on time and at transparent cost by GOI and RBI to fill the trust deficit gap.
- Safety, security, easy access at affordable cost of both deposit and credit services should reign supreme on the reform agenda.
- The RBI may appoint a high-level committee of a few of the past governors and reputed economists excluding bureaucrats to come up with a reform agenda within the next three months.
Connecting the dots
- What is the Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) challenge? How can the new Indian Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and the announcement of recapitalisation package for Public Sector Banks (PSBs) address the same? Elaborate.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) The case of Ban on ‘menstruating women’ in Sabarimala Temple violates women’s rights under
- Article 14, 16 and 25
- Article 15, 17, 25
- Article 14, 17 and 18
- Article 14, 18, 21
Q.2) Which of the following Fundamental Rights are available only to Indian Citizens?
- Equal opportunity in Public employment.
- No discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
- Protection of language and script
- Right to establish and administer educational institutions
Select the code from below:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 3 and 4
- All of the above
Q.3) In India, Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) is used for:
Q.4) Consider the following rights provided to the linguistic minorities in the Constitution. Which of these fall under the category of ‘Separate Domain’?
- Right to administer educational institutions of their choice
- Provision for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage
- Provision for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities
Select the correct code
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
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