IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 1st September 2018
Law Commission on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
Part of: GS Mains I and II – Indian Polity; Issues affecting secularism and integrity of the nation
Law Commission of India views on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
- UCC is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.
- Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
- In other words, ‘Cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation’.
- Diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority. At the same time, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.
Do you know?
- Uniform civil code is the ongoing point of debate within Indian mandate to replace personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set of rules governing every citizen.
- Article 44 of the Directive Principles expects the state to apply these while formulating policies for the country.
- Apart from being an important issue regarding secularism in India & fundamental right to practice religion contained in Article 25, it became one of the most controversial topics in contemporary politics during the Shah Bano case in 1985 (dealing with Triple Talaq issue).
- Although Article 44 of the Indian Constitution guarantees UCC to all citizens,the debate arouse when the question of making certain laws applicable to all citizens without abridging the fundamental right of right to practice religious functions.
India-Pakistan issues: Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) meeting
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and its neighbourhood- relations
- India and Pakistan concluded the 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Lahore.
- India has invited Pakistan to visit sites of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal hydro-electric projects on the Chenab.
- As per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, technical discussions were held on implementation of various hydroelectric projects including Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) in Jammu and Kashmir.
For fast recap on Indus Water Treaty – refer the link https://iasbaba.com/2018/08/iasbabas-daily-current-affairs-prelims-mains-focus-28th-august-2018/
Person in news: Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk receives 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards
- Two Indians, Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk, receive Ramon Magsaysay awards.
- Ramon Magsaysay Award, is often referred to as Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
- Cambodian activist Youk Chhang, Filipino Howard Dee, Vietnam’s Vo Thi Hoang Yen and East Timor’s Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz were also honoured for their work at a ceremony in Manila. All of them have worked for the poor or those who have suffered violence.
Do you know?
- Sonam Wangchuk, a 51-year-old educational reformer from Ladakh, widely regarded as the inspiration for Aamir Khan’s character, Phunsuk Wangdu in the film ‘3 Idiots,’ received the award.
- The other is Bharat Vatwani, a psychiatrist who works for mentally ill street people in Mumbai.
- Mr. Vatwani has dedicated his life to rescuing mentally ill people from the streets and providing them with shelter and treatment through his Shraddha Rehabilitaion Foundation.
- Census 2021 to collect OBC data, use maps/geo-referencing at the time of house listing
- GDP grows 8.2% in April-June: The Indian economy grew 8.2% — the highest in two years — in the April-June quarter, driven by robust growth in the manufacturing, construction and farm sectors.
- Vodafone, Idea merge; overtake Bharti
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- 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, Indian diaspora.
India and the U.S. — it’s complicated
The first round of the India-U.S. 2+2 talks at the level of External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister from India and their US counterparts, is scheduled for September 6 in Delhi.
Significance of 2+2 dialogue
- It is a significant development but one that appears perfectly logical when seen against the two-decade-old trend line of India-U.S. relations.
- The trend line has not been smooth but the trajectory definitively reflects a growing strategic engagement.
- From estranged democracies, India and U.S. can worst be described today as prickly partners.
The emerging strategic convergence
Three factors have contributed to the emerging strategic convergence.
- First, the end of the Cold War provided an opportunity to both countries to review their relationship in the light of changing global and regional realities.
- Second, with the opening of the Indian economy, the American private sector began to look at India with greater interest. Trade grew and today stands at more than $120 billion a year with an ambitious target of touching $500 billion in five years.
- If U.S. foreign direct investment in India is more than $20 billion, Indian companies too have invested $15 billion in the U.S., reflecting a sustained mutual interest.
- The third factor is the political coming of age of the three-million-strong Indian diaspora. Its influence can be seen in the bipartisan composition of the India Caucus in the U.S. Congress and the Senate Friends of India group.
- The U.S. is used to dealing with allies and adversaries. India is neither, and is also determined to safeguard its strategic autonomy.
- Developing a habit of talking to each other as equal partners has been a learning experience for India and the U.S.
- Both countries also consider themselves to be ‘exceptional’, the U.S. as among the oldest democracies and India as the largest.
- Indians become wary of the U.S.’s attempts to drive unequal bargains, and Americans find the Indian approach rigid and sanctimonious.
Growing defence cooperation: Evolution
- The parallel tracks of dialogue began in the 1990s.
- The strategic dialogue covering nuclear issues shifted gears following the nuclear tests of 1998 and imposition of sanctions by the U.S.
- The over a dozen rounds of talks between both the countries during 1998-2000 marked the most intense dialogue between the two countries. It helped change perceptions leading to the gradual lifting of sanctions.
- The next phase was the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership steered by the then National Security Advisers, Brajesh Mishra and Condoleezza Rice.
- The momentum received a new impulse, thanks to the warmth between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush, eventually leading to the conclusion of the India-U.S. bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2008.
- The defence dialogue began in 1995 with the setting up of the Defence Policy Group at the level of the Defence Secretary and his Pentagon counterpart and three Steering Groups to develop exchanges between the Services.
- A decade later, this was formalised and enlarged into the India-U.S. Defence Framework Agreement which was renewed for 10 years in 2015.
- Today, the U.S. is the country with which India undertakes the largest number of military exercises which have gradually evolved in scale and complexity.
- During the Cold War, more than three-fourths of India’s defence equipment was of Soviet origin. This gradually began to change, and in recent years, the U.S. and Israel emerged as major suppliers.
- The Indian Air Force went in for C-130J Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster aircraft, along with Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy lift helicopters.
- The Indian Navy acquired a troop carrier ship and the P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. An agreement for 24 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy is expected soon.
- The Indian Army went in for the M-777 howitzers and artillery radars. From a total of less than $400 million of defence acquisitions during 1947-2005, the U.S. has signed defence contracts of over $15 billion since.
- During the Obama administration, the US Defence Secretary understood that a defence supply relationship needed to be backed by technology sharing and joint development and came up with the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTII).
- To get around export control licensing and other bureaucratic hurdles, an India Rapid Reaction Cell in the Pentagon was set up.
- In 2016, India was designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ country.
- Another step forward in the middle of this year was the inclusion of India in the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) category, putting it on a par with allies in terms of technology access.
- The U.S. proposed its standard logistics support agreement text in 2003 which was finally concluded in 2016, after it was made into an India-specific text.
- It facilitates logistics supplies during port visits and joint exercises and does not contain any obligations for joint activity or any basing arrangements.
- The India-specific Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), is likely to be signed.
- With the possibility of acquiring armed Sea Guardian drones, COMCASA was necessary to ensure optimal use.
Obligations and challenges
- Acquiring U.S. high technology comes with its own set of obligations in terms of ensuring its security. These take the form of various undertakings often described as foundational agreements.
- Two difficult issues loom large and the 2+2 offers an opportunity for addressing these.
- The first is the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) enacted last year which enables the U.S. government to sanction countries that engage in ‘significant transactions’ with Russian military and intelligence entities.
- The proposed purchase of the S-400 missile defence system would attract CAATSA sanctions. A waiver provision has now been introduced to cover India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
- The second relates to U.S. sanctions on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
- Iranian crude imports have grown significantly in recent years and India also stepped up its involvement in developing Chabahar port.
- Creative thinking will be needed in the 2+2 dialogue to overcome these challenges, which should also ensure that there are no nasty surprises and difficult issues are settled through quiet diplomacy.
- In order to realise the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region (2015), both countries will have to nurture the habit of talking and working together to diminish some of the prickliness in the partnership.
Connecting the dots:
- Give an overview of India – US defence and strategic relations.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Indian Constitution- significant provisions
- Functions and responsibilities of the government
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,.
The sedition debate: Section 124-A of IPC
Controversial Section 124-A of IPC, regarding sedition, is being hotly debated. Whether such draconian provision deserves a place in the statute of a modern democracy like India?
About Section 124-A and Criticism on it
- Rulers everywhere tend to treat trenchant criticism as attempts to excite disaffection and disloyalty.
- That is perhaps the only reason that Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, enacted under colonial rule, remains on the statute book.
- The foremost objection to the provision on sedition is that its definition remains too wide. ‘Overbroad’ definitions typically cover both what is innocuous and what is harmful.
- Under the present law, strong criticism against government policies and personalities, slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders and stinging depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime are all likely to be treated as ‘seditious’, and not merely those that overtly threaten public order or constitute actual incitement to violence.
- In fact, so mindless have some prosecutions been in recent years that the core principle enunciated by the Supreme Court — that the incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence — has been forgotten.
- However, as long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief.
Misuse of Section 124-A
- There have been repeated instances of its misuse. Regimes at the Centre and the States have often been shown in poor light after they invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonists.
- Since Independence, many have seen the irony of retaining a provision that was used extensively to suppress the freedom struggle.
- Despite all this, Section 124-A has tenaciously survived all attempts by successive generations to reconsider it, if not repeal it altogether.
- In particular, it has raised the pertinent question: how far is it justified for India to retain an offence introduced by the British to suppress the freedom struggle, when Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago?
Law Commissions’ observations
- The Law Commission, for the third time in five decades, is now in the process of revisiting the section.
- Its consultation paper calls for a thorough reconsideration and presents the various issues related to it before the public for a national debate.
- In an earlier report in 1968, the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section.
- In 1971, the panel wanted the scope of the section to be expanded to cover the Constitution, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition to the government to be established by law, as institutions against which ‘disaffection’ should not be tolerated.
- The only dilution it mooted was to modify the wide gap between the two jail terms prescribed in the section (either three years or life) and fix the maximum sanction at seven years’ rigorous imprisonment with fine.
There can only be two ways of undoing the harm it does to citizens’ fundamental rights: Either it can be amended so that there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes sedition, or the far better course is to do away with it altogether.
Connecting the dots:
Do you think that difference between dissent and sedition is diminishing day by day? Critically comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Uniform Civil Code has been in discussion for quite sometime. Uniform Civil Code refers to the body of laws governing rights and duties pertaining to property and personal matters like marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance. Which of the following Statements are correct about UCC?
- Article 45 of DPSP of the Constitution of India speaks about the Uniform Civil Code.
- It is based on Gandhian Philosophy.
Select the code from below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Consider the following statements:
- The State shall endeavour to secure for all the citizens a Uniform Civil Code.
- The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws.
- Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of public employment.
Which of the above given provisions reveal the secular character of the Indian State?
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.3) Consider the following statements with regard to Ramon Magsaysay Award
- Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six who have been declared winners of 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award.
- The award was established in 1957 in the memory of British Prime Minister Raman Magsaysay, who started Communal Award during 1930s.
Choose the correct answer:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal hydro-electric projects, which are in news recently, is over –
- Chenab river
- Sutlej river
- Beas river
- Jhelum river
India and the U.S. — it’s complicated
Story of a leaking ship
Nowhere to hide
Not a question of cash
Chanakya In Our Times