IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 15th September 2018
Welfare panels cant evaluate dowry complaints: SC
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS II – Social issues
- The Supreme Court modified its earlier order on setting up family welfare committees to look into cases of dowry harassment.
Section 498-A IPC
It is a cognisable and non-bailable offence. A guilty person faces up to three years in prison and shall also be liable to fine.
- The court had ordered ‘family welfare committees’ to be set up in the districts.
- These committees, composed of eminent citizens, were supposed to act as a vanguard against “disgruntled wives” using the anti-dowry harassment provision of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as a “weapon” against their husbands and in-laws, young and old, rather than a “shield.”
- Even the police could register an FIR only after the committee cleared the complaint as valid and not frivolous.
- SC had raised this concern over abuse of the anti-dowry law and had also said that no arrest “should be affected” without authenticating allegations as a violation of human rights of innocents can’t be swept aside.
- A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra withdrew the court’s direction from July 2017
- The judges accepted that such a committee would create an extrajudicial entity not envisaged in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- They also decided to remove another guideline that gave a district judge the power to dispose of proceedings if the parties in a case reach a settlement. Such a power in a non-compoundable provision such as Section 498A exclusively belongs to the High Court, the top court held
- It restored to the police their power to immediately register an FIR and act on a dowry harassment complaint filed by a married woman.
- It further says a designated police officer should be there to probe dowry complaints. It ordered the Director General of Police of every State to provide such officers rigorous training.
Part of: Prelims and mains GS I- CULTURE
- It is celebrated on 14 September because on this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India had adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the official language of India.
Do you know?
Hindi’s Popularity in other countries
- Fiji: The island country in the South Pacific Ocean is the only other country, apart from India, where Hindi is designated as an official language.
- The migration of the language to Fiji can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, when it became a British colony and when the colonial authorities needed imported labour in order to sustain the sugarcane industry there.
- Today, about 37 per cent of Fiji’s population consists of Indians, a large majority of whom are the descendants of indentured labourers from India.
- Mauritius: The island nation on the Indian Ocean passed on as a colony from the Dutch to the French to the British over the course of three centuries.
- Indian presence in Mauritius can be traced back to the time when it was a Dutch colony and a large number of slaves and convicts were brought in from Bengal and South India.
- The trend followed during the French colonial period as well.
- With the British occupying the island in 1810 and the indentured labour system being established from the 1830s in order to meet the requirements of the sugarcane industry, Indian presence in Mauritius entered a whole new period.
National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) study on AIDS
Part of: Prelims and mains GS II- Health services and issues
According to figures released by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) it said it would not be an easy battle to end the disease as there are still around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV in India, with the prevalence among adults stood at 0.22 per cent.
Why is this study important?
- The objective of HIV estimations is to provide updated information on the status of the HIV epidemic in India at the national and State/Union Territory level.
- Estimations of adult HIV prevalence, annual new infections (HIV incidence), AIDS-related mortality, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) needs are produced as outcomes of HIV estimations.
- The modelled estimates are needed because there is no direct reliable way of measuring these core indicators, which are used to track the epidemic monitor and evaluate response around the world
What does the report say?
- This epidemic is high in some geographical regions and population groups
- The report has noted that the rate of decline in annual new HIV infections has been relatively slower in recent years
- The impact of the HIV/AIDS control programme has been significant, with more than an 80 per cent decline in estimated new infections from the epidemic’s peak in 1995.
- There were around 87,000 new HIV infections and over 69,000 AIDS-related deaths (ARDs) in 2017.
- Around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
- India’s 2017 figures also do not show a significant positive shift from 2015, the previous year for which when such a survey had been carried out.
- In 2015, India had reported 86,000 new HIV infections.
- Of these, children (<15 years) accounted for 12 per cent (10,400)
- Remaining (75,000) were adults (15+ years).
- In 2015, the total number of people living with HIV in India was estimated at 21.17 lakh, while the same figure was 22.26 lakh in 2007.
There should be no place for complacency as the country aims to achieve the ambitious goal of ending AIDS in India by 2030.
Doklam final report lauds government
Part of: Mains GS II- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
A report by the parliamentary panel on External Affairs, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, has lauded the efforts of Narendra Modi Government for the overall handling of the Doklam crisis by standing up against china but has expressed concern that Chinese infrastructure built close to the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction has not been dismantled
Extracts from report
- The Army’s reaction to the crisis was laudable but Indian diplomacy failed to measure up to the task
- The panel appreciated the “brave and timely” action of security forces for checking the PLA troops from continuing with their road construction.
- The Committee is concerned about the multiple reports which allude to Chinese presence around Doklam plateau and the statements from Chinese authorities about chances of similar happenings in future also, even after the stand-off ended
- The panel said the Indian government should not take the Chinese lightly at any point and continue to monitor the Chinese activities along the border in general and the area in particular very intensely.
- It also suggested that military infrastructure, especially the roads on the Indian side, need to be improved.
- There is also an urgent need for high-technology gear to prepare our security forces to respond befittingly.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Constitution, Democracy, Governance and issues related to it
- Polity; India and the world
- Government policies and issues arising
Performing moderately: the state of democracy in South Asia, especially India
Today, the world celebrates the 11th International Day of Democracy (15 September) in pursuance of a UN resolution.
Rise of Democracy
- The world saw a huge wave of democratisation after World War II.
- The newly-liberated states in Latin America, Africa and Asia adopted democratic forms of government after centuries of colonial subjugation.
- Today more people live under various forms of democracy than ever before.
- More than 120 of the 192 countries in the world have some form of democracy — only 11 parliamentary democracies existed in 1941.
- This indicates the appeal of democratic ideas and systems.
- Despite the democratic upsurge, there are significant challenges like poverty, inequality, gender injustice, nepotism and corruption.
- Elected despots and authoritarian leaders are weakening democracies across the world. Political experts have argued that democratic values are on the decline, especially in the West.
- People are losing faith in democracy because of corruption, nepotism and unemployment. This often leads to people disengaging with key public policy issues, which in turn makes those in power less accountable.
- Transparency in political processes, accountability of elected representatives, basic freedoms for all citizens, equal rights for women and minorities and high rates of voter participation are the things which contribute to the popularity of democracies.
Study of state of democracy
- The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), an inter-country organisation, tried to evaluate the state of democracy in the world in the light of such worrying claims.
- The Global State of Democracy Index (GSoD) looks at the trends in democratisation from 1975 to 2017.
- With the help of a set of 98 indicators, IDEA aims to study the factors which threaten democracy throughout the world and those that make it strong and resilient.
- The study covers a variety of important indicators such as representative government, fundamental rights, checks on the government, impartial administration and participatory engagement. These have many sub indicators for an in depth indices-based analysis.
Democracy in South Asia
- South Asia is home to 3 per cent of the world’s area and 21 per cent of the world’s population.
- It’s significant that 50 per cent of the world’s population living under some form of democratic rule resides in this region.
- When it comes to representative government, India and Sri Lanka have maintained relatively high scores. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan have had periods of non-elected regimes. The general trend in South Asia in this respect has, however, been positive.
- With respect to ensuring fundamental rights, the region’s score matches that of Asia Pacific but it is slightly below the global average.
- At the country level, Afghanistan and Nepal have seen the most improvement. Sri Lanka and Pakistan saw a slight decline in the 1970s and 1980s. India’s score has been stable since the late 1970s. However, a decline has been observed since 2015.
- South Asia shows a steady improvement on the yardstick that measures gender equality with Nepal standing out.
- India’s score was better than the world average till 2003 but there has been a dip in the country’s performance on the gender equality yardstick since then.
- When it comes to checks on government, South Asia has shown a steady increase from 1975 to 1994.
- Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan have shown the most improvement. Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have remained relatively stable with scores in line with the global average.
- In the yardstick on impartial administration, South Asia follows both the regional and global trends with no significant change, except in Nepal, which has seen a significant improvement.
- However, the “absence of corruption” sub-indice within the “impartial administration” category shows a worrying tendency in South Asia. The region has the lowest scores in the world despite a slight improvement between 2012 and 2015.
- A robust civil society is essential for deliberative decision making.
- Civil society participation has increased in India by leaps and bounds between 1978 and 2012 after which it declined drastically to fall below the average of Asia Pacific and that of the World. In 2017, it was the lowest since 1975.
- In 2017, the gap between the Indian score and the world average in the yardstick that measures “personal integrity and security” was the widest since 1977. This is worrying.
- In the past 10 years, South Asia’s scores for electoral participation are in line with the global average but slightly below the Asia Pacific average.
- Recently, there has been a decrease in voter participation in Bangladesh but a slight increase in India and Sri Lanka.
Democracy in India
- The GSoD report analyses India’s performance on all the above-mentioned indicators and shows that the country has done moderately well.
- On yardsticks such as elected government, effective parliament and impartial administration, the country’s scores hover around the world average.
- In the last decade, there has been a significant dip in the country’s record on civil liberties, personal integrity and security, freedom of association, media integrity, gender equality and basic welfare.
- India’s performance on the yardstick to measure media integrity was better than the global and South Asian average between 1994 and 2012. However, the country’s score has fallen below the global and Asia-Pacific average in 2017.
- Given that a free and fair media is crucial to a meaningful democracy, this is a worrying tendency.
- The Election Commission has played an important role in conducting free and fair elections in the country. The Commission’s Systematic Voters Education for Electoral Participation Programme role has been crucial in this respect.
- An independent judiciary is another reason for the resilience of democracy in India. The apex court has given judgments that keep a check on the government and ensure a transparent and accountable system.
- Democracy does not merely mean voting rights for people, it means empowering people by granting them equality. It also means the creation of mechanisms to resolve differences through dialogue and with mutual respect and understanding.
- India does have the highest rating among South Asian democracies. But its performances on several yardsticks makes it a flawed democracy. If we want the largest democracy to count among the world’s greatest, there must be serious introspection among all stakeholders.
Connecting the dots:
- India is world’s largest democracy but there is much more to be done to become world’s greatest democracy, Comment.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Constitution, Democracy, Governance and issues related to it
- Polity; India and the world
- Government policies and issues arising
The Supreme Court trans-formed
- The decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Navtej Johar judgment holds special relevance for transgender rights.
- Not only was Section 377 used disproportionately against transgender persons, the legal battle also took a new and positive turn from 2014 after the Supreme Court recognised the right to gender identity in NALSA v. Union of India .
Step by step
- When the Supreme Court in 2013 passed the Koushal judgment, overturning the Delhi High Court judgment reading down Section 377 in Naz v. Union of India 2009, the LGBTQ community faced a huge setback.
- The silver lining was that the LGBTQ movement on the ground was growing rapidly, with social acceptance for LGBTQ concerns increasing.
- Transgender persons continued to be the most marginalised and vulnerable group within the community.
- They were routinely arrested and harassed by police, sexually abused, and had to bear the brunt of criminal threats as they were on the streets forced into begging and sex work.
- This changed with NALSA. In 2014, a bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri passed a judgment holding that transgender persons have the constitutional right to self-identify their gender as male, female or transgender even without medical re-assignment.
- The Supreme Court held that the rights to life, dignity and autonomy would include the right to one’s gender identity and sexual orientation.
- NALSA judgment immediately gave new grounds and new hope, to revive the Section 377 challenge.
- In 2016, two fresh petitions were filed under Article 32 of the Constitution: the first by Navtej Johar and others, and the second by Akkai Padmashali, Umi and Sana, three transgender activists from Karnataka.
- Both petitions urged the Supreme Court to reassess the constitutionality of Section 377. This was also the first time that transgender voices were before the Supreme Court.
- In 2017 came another big judgment in Puttaswamy v. Union of India , in which the Supreme Court said that there is a constitutional right to privacy inherent in the right to life, equality and fundamental freedoms.
- It went on to hold that the right to privacy specifically includes the right to have intimate relations of one’s choice and the right to sexual orientation and gender identity, and that the Koushal judgment was incorrect.
- After Puttaswamy , more petitions and interventions were filed against Section 377.
- Finally, the Supreme Court, in a five-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice of India, unanimously held in Navtej Johar that Section 377 was unconstitutional to the extent that it criminalises consensual relationships of any kind between adults, and overruled Koushal.
- The most far-reaching contribution is the elaboration on the right against non-discrimination on the basis of sex, guaranteed in Article 15 of the Constitution.
- The Supreme Court confirmed that as held in NALSA, ‘sex’ under Articles 15 includes discrimination on the ground of gender identity.
- It went even further to say that discrimination on the grounds of ‘sex’ would also include discrimination due to sexual orientation or stereotypes.
- This means that being gender non-conforming or not adhering to society’s ‘norms’ of gender roles, which is the main reasons for violence against trans persons, be it in the way you dress, speak or behave, cannot be a ground for discrimination.
- This inclusion of discrimination on the ground of sex stereotyping will go a long way in dismantling gender stereotypes not just for the LGBTQ community, but also for women.
- The impact of the Navtej Johar decision is unprecedented.The ‘Navtej Johar’ judgment has created the conditions to dismantle gender biases in diverse ways.
- Justice D.Y. Chandrachud recognised that Section 377 had consigned a group of citizens to the margins and was destructive of their identities, and held that lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender persons have the constitutional rights to full and equal citizenship and protection of all fundamental rights.
- In this way, with the Navtej Johar judgment, the court has gone far beyond the anti-sodomy judgments from around the world that were referred to it.
- By recognising these twin aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation, the court acknowledges the voices of the most vulnerable sexual minorities within the LGBTQ community and takes the stand that the Constitution protects the rights of all.
Connecting the dots:
- Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 is a landmark judgement but it also will spark many more challenges to inequality, discrimination. Analyse.
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Q.1) Section 498A of IPC has been in the news for quite some time for its increasing misuse. It deals with which of the following cases?
- Domestic violence
- Anti-National Activity
- Martial Law
Q.2) Family Welfare Committee was in news related to
- To control population via family planning.
- A formal committee in each ward of urban local body to oversee implementation of government health schemes.
- Committee to look into complaints of dowry harassment set up by District Legal Services Authorities.
- Committee to oversee the functioning of primary health center.
Q.3) Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is concerned with
- AIDS/HIV Virus
- Blood Cancer
India’s shrinking democratic space
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About false promises
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