IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 24th August 2018
Stricter directions to service providers
Part of: GS Mains II – Welfare issue; Social issue
- Centre asks Supreme Court to get tough with FB, YouTube
- It is aimed to curb circulation of online videos of sexual violence against women and children.
- Legal provision involved – certain sections of IT Act
- Service providers will be asked to employ agencies for identification and removal of sexually violent content, particularly videos relating to child pornography and rape, besides deploying “proactive monitoring tools.”
- Time taken for content removal reduced from 36 hours to less than 10 hours.
Kerala Flood: Issue over accepting foreign aid
Part of: GS Mains III – Disaster Management
- After UAE, Pakistan offers help to flood-hit Kerala.
- Government and MEA’s action, which declined foreign aid for relief and rehabilitation work in the State, has attracted criticism.
- India said it would depend on “domestic resources” for providing short and long term help in Kerala.
- MEA indicated that the current decision was taken on the lines of decision taken in 2004 to avoid foreign support in the context of the deadly tsunami that affected a large number of countries in the Indian Ocean region.
Do you know?
- The Central government clarified that the ₹600 crore fund released for relief works in flood-hit Kerala was only the advance assistance and that additional funds would be released from the National Disaster Response Fund on assessment of damages.
- Own house for every Indian family by 2022 (under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna)
General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The battle against leprosy
- Over 110 Central and State laws discriminate against leprosy patients. These laws stigmatise and isolate leprosy patients and, coupled with age-old beliefs about leprosy, cause the patients untold suffering.
- The biased provisions in these statutes were introduced prior to medical advancements. Now, modern medicine (specifically, multi-drug therapy (MDT)) completely cures the disease.
Do you know? (Some facts about leprosy in India)
- In India, the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) is the centrally sponsored health scheme Government of India. The programme is also supported by WHO, ILEP, and few other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
- From a prevalence rate of 57.8/10,000 in 1983, national prevalence brought down to “elimination as a public health problem” of less than 1/10,000 in December 2005 and even further down to 66/10,000 in 2016.
- India by the end of March 2011–2012 succeeded in achieving elimination at the state level in 34 states/UTs out of the total of 36 states/UTs.
- Only the state of Chhattisgarh and the UT of Dadra & Nagar Haveli were yet to achieve elimination.
- By the end of March 2016, 551 districts (82.36%), out of the total 669 in districts, in India had a prevalence of <1/10,000 population.
- Despite the above successes, India continues to account for 60% of new cases reported globally each year and is among the 22 “global priority countries” that contribute 95% of world numbers of leprosy.
- In the year 2007, new cases detected in India were 137,685, and nine years later in 2016, the number remained almost the same at 135,485, a significant increase over the 127,326 new cases detected in 2015.
- This increase in new cases is attributed by NLEP to their recent strategy of innovative Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC), which resulted in the detection of 34000 new cases in 2016.
Recommendations of various reports and resolutions:
- India has signed and ratified the UN General Assembly Resolution of 2010 on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’.
- National Human Rights Commission recommended a decade ago to introduce amendments in personal laws and other statutes.
- The Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions, in its 131st Report on ‘Petition praying for integration and empowerment of leprosy-affected persons’, had examined various statutes and desired that concerned Ministries and State governments urgently wipe clean the anachronistic and discriminatory provisions in prevalent statutes.
- The Law Commission of India, in its 256th Report, ‘Eliminating discrimination against persons affected by leprosy’, had also recommended removing the discriminatory provisions in various statutes against leprosy patients.
About the proposed (amendment) bill:
- The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeks to make a start in amending stigmatising statutes.
- It attempts to end the discrimination against leprosy persons in various central laws: the Divorce Act, 1869; the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939; the Special Marriage Act, 1954; the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956.
- The Bill eliminates leprosy as a ground for dissolution of marriage or divorce.
- The condition under Section 18 (2) (c) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, that a Hindu wife is entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to maintenance if the latter is “suffering from a virulent form of leprosy”, has been omitted.
- The amendments introduced in the Bill omit the provisions which stigmatise and discriminate against leprosy-affected persons.
- The Bill is meant to provide for the integration of leprosy patients into the mainstream.
Due to the huge number of population, even incidence of 0.66/10,000 makes a big number. Along with measures at medical and technological levels, there is need of steps to change social behaviour towards the disease. It can be possible through political will and inculcation of scientific temper among members of the society.
Connecting the dots:
- That Leprosy is still a major public health problem. Critically analyse our fight against leprosy.
Note: Website of National Leprosy Eradication Programme: http://nlep.nic.in/
General Studies 2
- Governance, Constitution, Polity
- Federal Structure
Should Article 35A be scrapped?
- Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was an integral part of the Dominion of India, according to the Instrument of Accession which was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh on October 26, 1947 and subsequently ratified by the Constituent Assembly of J&K.
- Article 35A of the Constitution is now being vigorously contested with its constitutional validity being challenged before the Supreme Court.
Introducing Article 370
- The Instrument of Accession gave only limited rights to the Centre to interfere with the autonomy of J&K. That is why Article 370 was introduced, to recognise the special status of J&K.
- It said that the power of Parliament to make laws in J&K shall be limited to those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the State government, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession.
Explaining Article 35A
- The Instrument of Accession and The birth of Article 35A were explained in detail in IASbaba DNA of August 10, 2018.
- The heading of Article 35A reads: “saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights”.
- Article 35A declares that any law enacted by the J&K State Legislature on the issues of permanent residence, or special privileges and rights, or imposition of restrictions, or employment, acquisition of immovable property and settlement in the State, or aid from the State government shall not be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with any rights conferred on other citizens of India.
- In short, such laws granting special rights to permanent residents would not be deemed a violation of the fundamental rights of other citizens.
Arguments against Article 35A
- The ‘classification’ created by Article 35A has to be tested on the principle of equality as it treats non-permanent residents of J&K as ‘second-class’ citizens.
- Such persons are not eligible for employment under the State government and are also debarred from contesting elections.
- Meritorious students are denied scholarships and they cannot even seek redress in any court of law.
- Further, the issues of refugees who migrated to J&K during Partition are still not treated as ‘State subjects’ under the J&K Constitution.
- It was inserted unconstitutionally, bypassing Article 368 which empowers only Parliament to amend the Constitution.
- The laws enacted in pursuance of Article 35A are ultra vires of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution, especially, and not limited to, Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (protection of life).
Another apprehension: Discrimination against women
- The major sufferers are women who marry outside J&K. Though they retain their Permanent Resident Certificate, their children cannot be permanent residents. This restricts their basic right of inheritance.
- It is for the J&K to decide, according to its laws, on the issue of discrimination against women with regard to property rights.
- Such a law is discriminatory according to the Indian Constitution, and is repugnant to the issue of gender equality.
- But under the Instrument of Accession and the autonomy given to the State of J&K, this will also have to be decided according to laws and the Constitution of the State.
Arguments in favour of Article 35A
- With the issue of plebiscite under UN auspices still hanging, India moved to consolidate its relationship with the State by enacting Article 370 on October 17, 1949.
- Article 370 (1) (d) empowers the President of India to extend with requisite exceptions and modifications the other provisions of the Indian Constitution to J&K as may be necessary.
- The Delhi Agreement of 1952 followed Article 370. According to the Clause 2 of the agreement, the State Legislature of J&K was given power to make laws for conferring special rights and privileges on the ‘state subjects’.
- Article 35A follows the Instrument of Accession and the guarantee given to the State of J&K that the State’s autonomy will not be disturbed.
- The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954 contains Article 35A, which empowers the State Legislature to define permanent residents.
- Striking Article 35A down will have implications for other constitutional amendments contained in the 1954 Presidential Order.
- The accession of J&K was conditional to their being given their rights, their sovereignty with regard to matters concerning land and settlement, are Therefore, it cannot be challenged on the ground that it violates fundamental rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.
- Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and such other states also have laws which say that no outsider can buy land.
- Article 35A is recognition of the conditional accession of J&K into India. Kashmir never acceded fully to India. Therefore, it is a quasi-sovereign State. It is not like any other State.
- This matter requires the active participation of all stakeholders. It is necessary to give confidence to the residents of J&K that any alteration in status quo will not take away their rights but will boost J&K’s prosperity as it will open doors for more investment, resulting in new opportunities.
- Article 35A, which was incorporated about six decades ago, now requires a relook, especially given that J&K is now a well-established democratic State.
- Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee firmly believed that the issues relating to J&K could be resolved following the principles of insaniyat (humanity), jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri values). Hopefully, this issue will be resolved using the same principles.
Connecting the dots:
- Article 35 A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it created a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. Critically comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following
- Tetanus-Maternal and Neonatal
The list of diseases which India is free from are:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 4
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.2) Consider the following statements with reference to Leprosy in India
- National Leprosy Eradication Program looks after the detection and treatment of leprosy cases in India.
- India accounts for more than half of global burden of leprosy.
- India has achieved elimination of leprosy as a public health problem.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.3) Consider the following statements about ‘Article 35A’ of the Constitution of India
- It empowers J&K legislature to define state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
- It was added by a 1954 presidential order issued under Article 370
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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