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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 01st October 2018

  • IASbaba
  • October 1, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains

Focus)- 01st October 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


India-Pakistan: Concerns

Part of: GS Mains Paper II – India and its neighbours; International Relations

In news:

  • India called off the meeting with the Pakistan Foreign Minister in New York.
  • New Delhi had cited the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India also cited stamps issued by Pakistan to “glorify” Hizb militant Burhan Wani as a reason for cancellation.

India’s stand:

  • India had never eyed someone else’s territory maliciously. This in itself was our commitment and dedication towards peace.
  • India is one of the largest contributors to various United Nations Peace Keeping Forces in terms of sending its personnel. India’s brave soldiers wearing blue helmets have played a stellar role in ensuring maintenance of world peace.

SATAT initiative

Part of: GS Mains Paper II – Government schemes and Policies

In news:

  • SATAT is an initiative aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.
  • It is a joint initiative of IndianOil, BPCL and HPCL to turn waste into green energy.
  • Petroleum Ministry with PSU Oil Marketing Companies inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential entrepreneurs to set up Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make available CBG in the market for use in automotive fuels.

Benefits of Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG)

There are multiple benefits from converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on a commercial scale:

  • Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution
  • Additional revenue source for farmers
  • Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment
  • Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals
  • Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil
  • Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations

Do you know?

  • The Government of India had launched the GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources) scheme earlier this year to convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to CBG and compost.

Amul alternative economic model: PM

In news:

  • PM said a cooperative like Amul is a viable economic alternative to capitalist and socialist models.
  • ‘It is controlled neither by govt. nor by capitalists’, PM said.

Place in news: Mansar Lake

In news:

  • Mansar Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the Shivalik range of the Jammu region.
  • The lake is facing an existential threat due to human intervention and climate change.

National Park/Sactuary in news:

Locate and mark the following location on your Atlas/Outline map of Odisha state

  • Simlipal National Park
  • Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary
  • Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Satkosia Tiger Reserve
  • Ushakothi (Badrama) Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Bhitarkanika National Park
  • Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary

(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Indian Constitution: Right to equality, Freedom and dignity
  • Social justice and governance

Dumping an archaic law

Introduction

The Supreme Court delivered series of land mark judgments this month, including Section 377, Sabrimala, and decriminalisation of the offence of adultery by holding Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) unconstitutional.

As previously: Adultery an offence

  • India was one of the few countries in the world that still considered adultery an offence.
  • The Indian definition of this crime was that it did not punish the erring spouses, but instead punished the adultering man, or rather ‘the outsider’, for having extra-marital relations with a woman who he knows to be married.
  • It was only an offence if the husband had not consented to this relation, implicitly suggesting that the wife was the property of her husband.
  • Hence, the husband was considered to be the “victim” of adultery and could file a case. The same recourse was, however, not available to the wife.

Moral wrong as crime

  • For any act to be a crime, it has to be committed against society at large.
  • The main argument for retaining the criminal provision was that the outsider should be punished for breaching the matrimonial unit and that the law should mandate punishment for such a moral wrong.
  • This violation was seen as a crime against the institution of marriage, thus justifying it to be a breach of security and well-being of society, this argument was unanimously dismissed by the bench.

Observations of the SC

  • The court observed that the issue of adultery between spouses was a private matter, and could be a ground for divorce under civil law.
  • It did not warrant the use of criminal sanction against any party involved.
  • Moreover, no justification can be given by the state for penalising people with imprisonment for making intimate and personal choices.
  • Addressing the issue of making the penal provisions of adultery gender neutral, the court held that even then the matter was private, and anything otherwise would be a grave intrusion into the privacy of individuals.
  • As the law previously stood, the victim would be the husband alone, whose property (i.e. the wife) was trespassed upon. The court dismissed this regressive patriarchal notion of women being “chattels” of their husband.
  • The court held that Section 497, as it existed, denied women ownership of their sexuality and agency over their own relationships.

Rights violated by Section 497 of IPC

  • The court relied on K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India to explain this deprivation of autonomy as a violation of their right to privacy and to live with dignity, thus violating their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The adultery provision also violated the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14. The fact that the commission of the offence would have been in the absence of the husband’s consent proved the inequality between the spouses.
  • Section 497 consumed the identity of a wife, as an individual with rights as an equal partner to the marriage, tipping the scales to favour the husband.

Justifications given in support of Section 497

  • Previous challenges to this provision claimed that exempting women under Section 497 from prosecution and being prosecuted was ‘protecting’ them.
  • Also claimed, was in consonance with Article 15(3) of the Constitution that allowed the state to make laws for the benefit of women and children.
  • This provision was made when bigamy was prevalent and Lord Macaulay, the drafter of the IPC, did not find it fair to punish one inconsistency of the wife when the husband was allowed to marry many others.
  • Misconception in this reasoning was pointed out by the court — the law that takes away the right of women to prosecute, just as her husband had the right to proceed against the other man, could not be considered ‘beneficial’ and was, in fact, discriminatory.

Conclusion

  • The court rightly explained: “Marriage in a constitutional regime is founded on the equality of and between spouses. Each of them is entitled to the same liberty which Part III [of the Constitution] guarantees.”
  • Therefore, not affording both parties to a marriage equal rights and opportunities would be discriminatory and a violation of their right to equality.
  • It is surprising to see that even after the verdict many have opposed this decision of the Supreme Court, most countries around the world have done away with this practice.
  • While the struggle for equality in many other spheres still continues, the decision to scrap this archaic law is definitely a step in the right direction.

Connecting the dots:

  • The Indian civil and criminal codes (IPC and CrPC) designed and drafted by colonial lawmakers should be scrapped and redrafted again, according to needs of modern Indian democratic society. Do you agree? Elucidate.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Indian Constitution : Elections, Parliament
  • Democratic governance and society

Decriminalisation of politics: In Parliament’s court

Introduction

  • The issue of candidates facing criminal charges getting elected to Parliament and State legislative Assemblies is often raised, but initiatives to minimise the problem, if not eliminate it completely, have been rather slow.
  • In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court has left it to Parliament to legislate on the subject, with regard to preventing such candidates from contesting elections.

Steps taken by Supreme Court

  • Some important changes in the electoral laws — making it mandatory for candidates to submit an affidavit with full disclosure of criminal cases, if any, and details of their asset and income — were made mandatory by the judiciary.
  • The court made it mandatory for political parties and candidates themselves to make public disclosure through print and electronic media.
  • Providing an option to voters to exercise None of the Above (NOTA) in case they do not want to vote for any of the candidate contesting an election, was also introduced by the judiciary in 2003 on the basis of the PIL filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
  • The court mentioned that it was not within its powers to disqualify politicians facing criminal cases from contesting election, but recommended that Parliament enact a strong law.

Concerns and challenges

  • There is serious doubt whether this judgment would in any way help in making our politics cleaner than before. The chances of Parliament acting fast on this issue are dim.
  • No political party is free of this problem. The use of muscle power along with money power is a weapon used by all political parties to maximise electoral gains.
  • In such a scenario, any move to ban candidates with a criminal record from contesting elections would mean political parties inflicting self-harm.
  • Public opinion too is not firm on this. A survey found that opinion was divided when people were asked whether they would be willing to vote for a honest candidate who may not get their work done, or a tainted candidate who could get their work done.

What data show?

  • Data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) indicate that 179 out of the 543 elected Members of Parliament in the present Lok Sabha have some kind of criminal case pending against them.
  • While it is true that some of these may be of a frivolous nature, it is also true that many of these cases concern allegations of their involvement in serious crimes.
  • In the case of over 100 MPs, the cases were of a very serious nature such as crimes against women and kidnapping.
  • There seems to be very little improvement in this regard in the last five years.
  • In the previous Lok Sabha (2009), 163 had criminal cases pending against them, many of which were of a serious nature.
  • The profile of members of the Upper House is no better; of 228 members of the Rajya Sabha for whom data could be analysed, 20 have cases of serious crimes pending against them.
  • Among the current ruling party’s MPs (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), 107 (32%) have criminal cases pending against them.
  • Of them, 64 (19%) have cases of serious crimes pending against them.
  • The Congress is only a shade better than the BJP; 15 MPs (15%) have criminal cases pending against them, of whom eight (8%) have cases of serious criminal offences pending against them.
  • There is hardly any difference between the national and regional parties in this regard.
  • In the Shiv Sena, 18 MPs (86%) have criminal cases pending against them, of whom 10 (48%) are alleged to be involved in serious criminal cases.
  • Of all MPs, six each of the Nationalist Congress Party (55%) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (67%) have serious criminal cases pending against them.
  • Going by the ADR’s estimates, there are more than 1,500 MPs and MLAs in Parliament and State Assemblies with criminal cases pending against them.

Conclusion

  • While political parties raise concern about candidates with a tainted background contesting elections and getting elected, none of them come forward to set an example for others when it is time to act.
  • The issue is far more important and serious than the attention being paid to it by the policy makers.
  • While the Election Commission has limited powers to legislate on such laws, it is only Parliament which can legislate to bring about the desired change.

Connecting the dots:

  • Merely relaying on electoral reform for decriminalisation of politics is not sufficient. There is need of multidimensional approach to wipe out this disease. Comment.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Sunabeda National Park was in news recently. The national park is located in –

  1. Tamil Nadu
  2. West Bengal
  3. Arunachal Pradesh
  4. Odisha

Q.2) SATAT is an initiative associated with –

  1. Rural Electrification
  2. Solar Pumps
  3. Compressed Bio-Gas
  4. Sustainable and Affordable Housing

Q.3) Consider the following statements:

  1. Mansar Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the Shivalik range of the Jammu region.
  2. Surinsar-Mansar Lakes is designated as Ramsar Convention.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None

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