13 Mar 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. SC seeks data on child sex abusers
2. SC admits plea on lawmaker-lawyers
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. EIB cautions India against levy of import duties on solar parts
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. NASA probe to search for interstellar water
2. ‘Super-Earth’ that may host water discovered
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY
1. Fees charged by private schools
2. Death penalty for those who rape children 
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. SC seeks data on child sex abusers

  • As an eight-month-old rape survivor from Delhi battles for her life at the AIIMS, the Supreme Court ordered a nationwide inquiry into how many child sex abusers had actually been punished.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, ordered data from the High Courts on the number of pending cases of child abuse booked under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
  • There was a 95% pendency rate, as per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • Chief Justice Misra said the court wanted fresh and independent data collected by a team constituted under the supervision of the Chief Justices of the High Courts.
  • The Bench said it wanted to know the status so as to set a deadline for the completion of trials in special courts. The court gave the High Courts four weeks to submit the data to the Supreme Court Registry.

 

 

2. SC admits plea on lawmaker-lawyers

The Supreme Court admitted a PIL petition to ban MPs and MLAs from doubling up as lawyers.

The writ petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said legislators donning the lawyers’ robes was a matter of serious concern to both the judiciary and the legislature.

This essentially amounts to advertising, as their ‘brand’ is promoted among the public, many of whom are potential litigants.

This virtually seamless transition between the two spheres by these legislators is causing irreversible harm to both the profession and public interest.

Violation of law

  • The petition said the practice was in violation of Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India Act, which forbade an advocate to be full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as he continues to practice.
  • The lawmakers draw their salaries and pensions from the exchequer.
  • MPs and MLAs drew their salaries from the Consolidated Fund of India, and hence were “employees of the State”.
  • Under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, MLAs and MPs were public servants. Hence, allowing them to practice as an advocate and restricting other public servants was arbitrary, irrational and violation of Articles 14-15 of the Constitution.
 

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. EIB cautions India against levy of import duties on solar parts

  • European Investment Bank (EIB) President Werner Hoyer cautioned India against slapping import and safeguard duties on solar components, saying the country’s best interests still remained in multilateralism and free trade.
  • In January this year, the Directorate General of Safeguards had recommended the implementation of a 70% safeguard duty on solar cells imported from China and Malaysia for a period of 200 days.
  • The government had not taken a decision on this yet, but the issue had come under considerable debate in the domestic solar sector.
  • Over the last 10 years, Europe has lost ground in terms of R&D and innovation by at least 1% of GDP per year in comparison to East Asia, South East Asia and North America.

 

 

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. NASA probe to search for interstellar water

  • NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is set to peer into reservoirs of interstellar water to understand the origin and evolution of key building blocks for habitable planets.
  • A molecular cloud is an interstellar cloud of dust, gas, and a variety of molecules ranging from molecular hydrogen (H2) to complex, carbon-containing organics.
  • Molecular clouds hold most of the water in the universe, and serve as nurseries for newborn stars and their planets.
  • Within these clouds, on the surfaces of tiny dust grains, hydrogen atoms link with oxygen to form water. Carbon joins with hydrogen to make methane.
  • Nitrogen bonds with hydrogen to create ammonia. All of these molecules stick to the surface of dust specks, accumulating icy layers over millions of years.
  • The result is a vast collection of snowflakes that are swept up by infant planets, delivering materials needed for life as we know it.
  • To understand these processes, researchers will examine a nearby star-forming region to determine which ices are present where.
  • The project will take advantage of Webb’s high-resolution spectrographs to get the most sensitive and precise observations at wavelengths that specifically measure ices.
  • Webb’s spectrographs, NIRSpec and MIRI, will provide up to five times better precision that any previous space telescope at near- and mid-infrared wavelengths.
  • The team plans to target the Chamaeleon Complex, a star-forming region visible in the southern sky.
  • By observing many background stars spread across the sky, astronomers can map ices within the cloud’s entire expanse and locate where different ices form.
  • Comets have been described as dusty snowballs. At least some of the water in Earth’s oceans likely was delivered by the impacts of comets early in our solar system’s history.

 

2. ‘Super-Earth’ that may host water discovered

  • Scientists have discovered 15 new planets – including one ‘super-Earth’ that could harbour liquid water – orbiting small, cool stars near our solar system.
  • These stars, known as red dwarfs, are of enormous interest for studies of planetary formation and evolution.
  • One of the brightest red dwarfs, K2-155 that is around 200 light years away from Earth, has three transiting super-Earths, which are slightly bigger than our own planet.
  • Of those three super-Earths, the outermost planet, K2-155d, with a radius 1.6 times that of Earth, could be within the host star’s habitable zone.
  • The researchers found that K2-155d could potentially have liquid water on its surface based on 3D global climate simulations.
  • A more precise estimate of the radius and temperature of the K2-155 star would be needed to conclude definitively whether K2-155d is habitable. A key outcome from the current studies was that planets orbiting red dwarfs may have remarkably similar characteristics to planets orbiting solar-type stars.
  • It’s important to note that the number of planets around red dwarfs is much smaller than the number around solar-type stars.
  • Red dwarf systems, especially coolest red dwarfs, are just beginning to be investigated, so they are very exciting targets for future exoplanet research.

 

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY

1. Fees charged by private schools

What is the issue?

  • Regulating school fees is one of the most significant legal and political challenges policymakers in India face.
  • The issue of fee regulation finds itself at the intersection of constitutionally protected freedoms enjoyed by private schools and the need for making quality education affordable and accessible.
  • Over the years, the issue of skyrocketing tuition fees has confronted parents. Adding to their burden is the annual and steep hike in tuition fees along with additional costs such as fees for transport, extra-curricular activities and sports.
  • Every academic year sees the media reporting instances of unhappy parents expressing their anger against what they perceive to be unjust hikes.
  • The managements of such schools claim that these hikes are reasonable and justified as the costs of maintaining a fully functional private school with quality teaching and world-class infrastructure are quite steep. In this context, balancing the autonomy of private schools and their public welfare function becomes a contentious issue.

So can private schools arbitrarily hike fees?

  • In M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka(2002), the Supreme Court held that regulatory measures imposed on unaided private educational institutions must, in general, ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure and the prevention of mal-administration by the school management.
  • Subsequently, in Islamic Academy of Education and Anr. v. State of Karnataka and Ors(2003), a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that these institutions have the autonomy to generate surplus which must be used for their betterment and growth.
  • While private schools are ‘entitled to a reasonable surplus for development of education and expansion of the institution, there has to be a balance between autonomy of such institutions and the measures taken to prevent commercialisation of education’.
  • However, there is not much clarity on what the terms “surplus”, “reasonable surplus” or “commercialisation of education” entail.

Weak laws

  • In order to prevent private schools from charging unreasonably high fees and to prevent misuse of funds, several State governments have either enacted fee regulation laws or are in the process of framing them.
  • States such as Tamil Nadu follow the fee fixation model whereby a government committee is empowered to verify and approve fee structures proposed by private schools.
  • Karnataka is for a formula that caps fees for schools by way of framing rules under its school education legislation.
  • Maharashtra has a weakly enforced legislation to regulate fees and has multiple government bodies to approve school fees. Recently, the Maharashtra government’s decision to cap proposed fee hikes at 15% was widely criticised by schools.
  • A recent order of the Gujarat High Court upholding the validity of the Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2017 is now being reconsidered by the Supreme Court. The court has directed the government to not take any coercive steps against schools in the interim period.
  • As of now, these models are affected by the challenges of weak implementation, a lack of capacity and constant legal challenges posed by private school associations.
  • There is a larger irritant which is entrenched in the way private schools operate. In 2010, the Comptroller and Auditor General slammed 25 well-known private schools in Delhi for arbitrary fee hikes.
  • According to the report, money was being collected from parents under false heads, while at the same time, teachers were being underpaid, and accounts misrepresented.
  • Existing legislative efforts have made an incomplete assessment of the deeper problems with financial management and accounting practices adopted by private schools.

Accounting standards

  • The new wave of fee regulation laws being debated and enforced in States has the potential to address the problems Indian parents face.
  • However, there is still a lack of jurisprudential clarity on what private schools can or cannot do, how much “surplus” they can make, or what “commercialisation” actually means.
  • In order to make these laws more effective, the solution would be to address the disease of financial mismanagement and misreporting, and not the symptoms. In Modern School v. Union of India(2004), the Supreme Court recommended accounting standards for private schools.
  • Further, measures such as regular government supervised audits, generating capacity in State-level Departments of Education, regular inspections, and stricter sanctions for fraudulent reporting could be considered.
 

2. Death penalty for those who rape children

  • The amendments to the Indian Penal Code passed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh introducing the death penalty as a possible punishment for the rape of a girl below the age of 12 years is a perfect example of lawmaking that is as thick on rhetoric as it is thin on empirical evidence.
  • Though child sexual violence is one of the relatively better-documented areas in criminal justice, little of that research is reflected in the imagination and passing of these amendments.

What is the purpose of these amendments?

  • Statements from politicians in the two States will reveal the three interests that drive this move: first, there is the belief that harsher punishments will deter people from committing child rape; second, justice for child survivors demands that the law provide for the death penalty; and third, our abhorrence for the crime makes the perpetrator ‘deserving’ of the death penalty.

The various justifications

  • The deterrence argument is attractive because it appeals to our intuition that fear of the harshest punishment will prevent individuals from committing child rape. But social, economic, cultural, psychological and other factors in each of our lives interact in far more complex ways than just that simple equation.
  • In 2012, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. published a comprehensive analysis of deterrence studies and came to the conclusion that it is impossible to determine whether the death penalty is a deterrent or not.
  • The specific counter in the context of child rape is that there is an extensive body of work that documents many preventive measures and policies that have a definitive impact on preventing child rape.
  • By diverting resources to the death penalty, we are taking away from developing strategies like risk assessment and management, cognitive behavioural treatment and community protection measures that have proven to have far greater preventive potential.
  • Death penalty as justice to the child survivor is a disingenuous argument because it seeks to cover-up the real reasons that prevent justice to survivors.
  • Child rights groups have often expressed grave concerns over the manner in which investigations and criminal prosecutions take place under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and low conviction rates.
  • The lack of specialised investigators, prosecutors, judges, mental health professionals, doctors, forensic experts and social workers working on cases of child rape specifically has been repeatedly cited as the need of the hour.
  • Further, our efforts to ensure justice for child survivors have suffered from grossly inadequate child protection and rehabilitation services, lack of compliance with child-friendly legal procedures, and no real system of positive measures to reduce vulnerabilities of children in this context.
  • Research on child sexual violence in India shows that a large proportion of perpetrators are family members or those close to or known to the family.
  • This results in massive underreporting of such crimes. This concern will only intensify with the death penalty because we are effectively asking the child’s family to risk sending a family member or a known person to the gallows.
  • The third reason perhaps lies at the core of these amendments and everything else appears to be dressing around it.
  • The abhorrence associated with the crime and perpetrators of such crimes drives the sentiment that such individuals ‘deserve’ the death penalty.
  • Under our Constitution, a legislation has to always give a sentencing judge the option of choosing between life imprisonment and the death penalty; death penalty cannot be declared as the only punishment for any crime.
  • The sentencing judges will have to make this choice in the context of child rape too. If our abhorrence is a valid constitutional consideration, how is a judge to choose which child rapist deserves or which one doesn’t deserve to die? Are we then to signal that the rape of a certain child matters more than the rape of another?
  • This will inevitably become a judge-centric exercise where the individual predilections of a judge will take precedence over any rule of law.
  • In essence, this would be a ‘lethal lottery’ that will express our abhorrence for some perpetrators but will do very little for the survivors or those at risk of such violence.
  • Arbitrariness in imposing death sentences has been explicitly discussed in judgments of the Supreme Court and also led the Law Commission to recommend the gradual abolition of the death penalty in its 262nd report.
  • This concern about arbitrariness is only bound to worsen when judges are asked to pick instances of child rape where the death sentence is to be imposed based on the ‘rarest of rare’ standard.
  • It is mind-boggling to imagine the manner in which judges will attempt to apply the requirements of that standard to balance aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
  • In essence, we will be asking judges to decide why certain instances of child rape are worse than others.

Targets the poor

  • The arbitrariness of the death penalty in India also arises from the discriminatory impact of the choice of what constitutes ‘rarest of rare’.
  • The Death Penalty India Report of 2016 found that a very large proportion of death row prisoners (over 75%) are extremely poor and belong to marginalised groups with barely any meaningful access to legal representation.
  • Thus the weakest sections of society bear the burden of the death penalty. It is important to understand the implication of this for the discussion on child rape.
  • While there is widespread agreement that child rape is a concern across all sections of society, by choosing the death penalty as a response we are focussing on a punishment that structurally targets the poor.
  • The death penalty for child rape is a counterproductive diversion that helps the government presents the illusion that it is serious about child rape.
  • Governments are looking for the easy way out on an issue that requires sustained planning, engagement, and investment of resources.
  • The measures required for protecting children from sexual violence and providing survivors with justice require governments to take steps that are very different from steps meant to convey our abhorrence.
 

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about S-400:
  1. It is a long range air defence missile system.
  2. It can destroy incoming missiles and aircraft including drones.

Which of the statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. It is built across the Mahanadi River in Odisha.
  2. Taliperu Reservoir is a medium irrigation project constructed across the Taliperu River, a tributary of Godavari River.

Which of the statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements about Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:
  1. It is an international institute based in Sweden
  2. It is dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Which of the statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

General Studies II 

  1. Discuss the various issues involved when a Practicing lawyer also works as a Parliamentarian.
  2. Will death Penalty to child rapist act a deterrent? Examine.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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