Comprehensive News Analysis – 28 October 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Indo-Bhutan bilateral update

2. WHO seeks special U.N. session on TB

3. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) – Oman meet

C. GS3 Related:

1. Centre for in-principle share sale in some PSU’s

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Situating law in the land

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
I. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!

B. GS2 Related
  1. Indo-Bhutan bilateral update

Category: Indo – Bhutan bilateral

Topic: Trade pact

Key Points:

  • The Union cabinet has approved a new agreement on trade, commerce and transit between India and Bhutan. It provides for a free trade regime between two countries, and duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries. According to the pact, bilateral trade between will continue to be transacted in Indian Rupees and Bhutanese Ngultrums.

The agreement was renewed on 29th July 2006 for ten years. The validity of this agreement was extended, with effect from 29th July 2016, for one year or till the new agreement comes into force, through exchange of diplomatic notes.

  • Bhutan was among the SAARC nations that had shared the concerns of India in the wake of the Uri attack, and expressed solidarity with New Delhi saying it was not conducive to hold the SAARC Summit in Islamabad under the situation that prevailed then. Bhutan is also part of the BIMSTEC grouping that had recently held talks with BRICS nations including India to boost ties.

Note – Bilateral trade between India & Bhutan had grown by 55 per cent year-on-year in FY’16 to $750 million, with India’s exports increasing 40.4 per cent to $469 million, while imports from Bhutan rose 87 per cent to $281 million.

 

  1. WHO seeks special U.N. session on TB

Category: International Organizations

Topic:  WHO

Key Points:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) frustrated with a lack of political will shown by nations with a high burden of tuberculosis, is calling for the 1st United Nations General Assembly on the deadly but curable infection.

The development follows the release of the Global TB report, in which the WHO had to significantly revise the global burden of TB after a 34 per cent increase in cases reported from India. The country shoulders the highest burden of 2.2 million cases a year. Nearly 2, 40,000 people die of TB each year, and 61,000 develop an untreatable form of the disease, called Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

  • The UNGA meeting on TB is a strategy copied from the HIV movement, when member states adopted a political declaration to fast-track progress in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Countries adopted a set of time-bound targets in June this year towards combating the worldwide scourge of HIV/AIDSover 5 years and ending the epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

So far, on the WHO’s urging, Russia and South Africa – both high-burden countries have initiated a dialogue. The idea is to move beyond Health Ministers and involve Ministers of Justice (as TB is a common problem among prisoners) and Finance Ministers.

  • Meanwhile, the global health community gathered at the 47th World Lung Conference in Liverpool is keenly following developments in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level meeting on TB.


  1. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) – Oman meet

Category: International Summits

Topic: IISS

Key Points:

  • At a time when all official meetings between India and Pakistan are on hold, senior MEA and R&AW officialsmet their counterparts in the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and ISI at a conference in Oman, organised by the U.S. Military National Defence University and British think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies – IISS.

The conference, which is held annually in Oman, brings together officials from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to discuss regional security.

  • After India pulled out of the SAARC summit, Pakistan has cancelled its attendance at an Asian Disaster Risk Reduction conference to be held in Delhi – November 2-5. The Muscat conference that took place on October 21-23 was the 10th round of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies at the US National Defense University’s dialogue on South Asian Security.


C. GS3 Related
  1. Centre for in-principle share sale in some PSU’s

Category: Economy

Topic: Disinvestment

Key Points:

  • The Centre made a cautious move towards large scale disinvestment of public sector enterprises with the Cabinet agreeing in-principle to a case-by-case examination of just some of the 20-odd firms and units recommended for strategic sale by its think-tank Niti Aayog.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the strategic sale of such public sector units with the transfer of management control to a private entity, will be taken up subsequently by the cabinet on a case-by-case basis after consultations with their respective administrative ministries, but there’s no timeline set for the process.

The recommendations of the Niti Aayog with regard to both disinvestment and strategic sales came up for consideration before the cabinet. In principle, the cabinet approved the recommendations with regard to some of the units about which the recommendations were made. The Centre had set a target to raise Rs.20, 500 crore in 2017-18 through strategic sales of public sector firm and another Rs.36, 000 crore is to be raised from the sale of minority stakes in PSUs.

  • The Department of Investment and Public Assets Management and the administrative ministries in charge of the specific PSUs would now undertake a detailed examination óf each firm and finalise the methodology to be followed and the base price for a sale, before bringing individual proposals to the Cabinet.

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. Situating law in the land
  • With the submission of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government’s affidavit in Supreme Court a few days ago, the debate on Muslim personal law has intensified, prompting even the Prime Minister to join the fray in support of the constitutional rights of Muslim women.
  • Although the government’s affidavit did not specifically ask the court to ban or abolish instant talaq or polygamy, and concedes that only some women are directly and actually affected by these practices, it nevertheless tells the highest court that the issue of validity of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy needs to be considered in the light of principles of gender justice and the overriding principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality.
  • The government affidavit seems to have ignored the fact that in the Shamim Ara case (2002) the Supreme Court, relying on several earlier rulings, had invalidated instant triple talaq and, by that decision, rendered even halala redundant and equally illegal. Halala is the un-Islamic temporary marriage a victim of instant talaq is forced to undergo with another man to remarry her first husband. As is obvious, the delegitimisation of instant talaq makes halala An overview of the Shamim Ara judgment and some of the rulings cited in it can be found in Justice K. Kannan’s article “Frames of reference”, published in this newspaper on October 21. 
  • Polygyny in the Islamic contextPolygamy includes both polygyny and polyandry. The Koran categorically prohibits polyandry and therefore, it is polygyny that the Supreme Court will be ruling on in the present case.

Polygyny, which finds mention just once (4:3) in the Koran, is one of the most misunderstood concepts of Islamic law. It has been abused over the centuries by Muslim men without appreciating the spirit behind its exceptional sanction, which is clearly contextualised in the historical conditions of the time when a large number of women were widowed and children orphaned as Muslims suffered heavy casualties in defending the nascent Islamic community in Medina. Even a simple reading of verses 4:2, 3 and 127 will show that it was under such circumstances that the Koran allowed conditional polygyny, mainly to protect orphans and their mothers from an exploitative society.

Muslim polygyny v. Hindu bigamy – From another point of view too, a total ban on polygyny may not be advisable. Latest census data and impact studies conducted by researchers such as Flavia Agnes show that bigamy continues to prevail among the Hindus despite the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 outlawing it, and Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) declaring it a punishable offence.

Factoring in social reality – The consolation is that our courts are fully aware of the flaws in the Hindu law and have tried to overcome them through deontological interpretations. In the Rameshchandra Rampratapji Daga v. Rameshwari Rameshchandra Daga case of 2004, the Supreme Court, while justifying the granting of maintenance to a second wife and her daughter, observed: “…a bigamous marriage may be declared illegal being in contravention of the provisions of the [Hindu Marriage] Act but it cannot be said to be immoral so as to deny even the right of alimony or maintenance to a spouse financially weak and economically dependent.” This view was fully endorsed in 2013 by another Supreme Court Bench in the matter of Badshah v. Sou. Urmila Badshah Godse & Anr where it was emphasised that “just as change in social reality is the law of life, responsiveness to change in social reality is the life of the law.”

Rights of the ‘second wife’ If, in the light of the foregoing arguments, a blanket ban on Muslim polygyny is being opposed, it should not be construed as an expression of support for the practice. The point that is sought to be made here is this: if polygyny is abruptly declared illegal for Muslims, without first identifying and addressing the causes of failure of Hindu law in preventing bigamy, it would end up creating the same confusions in the Muslim law, especially with regard to the rights of the second wife under Articles 14, 15 and 21. Therefore, pending examination of the Hindu bigamy law through the prism of these facts, the most judicious option, insofar as Muslim polygyny is concerned, would be to fetter it with Koranic conditions as discussed above.

This should not be a difficult decision given the fact that eight out of the 10 countries cited approvingly in the government’s affidavit have regulated polygyny by making it conditional. It would therefore be improper to hold up these countries as examples in the case of instant triple talaq which all 10 have invalidated while ignoring 80 per cent of them on polygyny. A. Faizur Rahman is an independent researcher and secretary-general of the Chennai-based Islamic Forum


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • WHO
  • Tuberculosis
  • International Institute of Strategic Studies
  • Disinvestment
  • Goods & Services tax
  • NITI Aayog


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

NITI Aayog

DIPAM – Disinvestment


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: The Shangri-La Dialogue - an annual meeting of Asia-Pacific region Defense Ministers in Singapore, and the Manama Dialogue - an annual meeting of Persian Gulf region security ministers and officials in Bahrain are organized by

a) International Institute of Strategic Studies

b) NATO

c) UN General Assembly

d) Gulf Cooperation Council


Question 2: Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis is caused by

a) Virus

b) Bacteria

c) Fungus

d) Worms


Question 3: Which of the following statements are correct regarding the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management - DIPAM?
    (i) It lays down the procedure and mechanism for strategic disinvestment of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs)
    (ii) It works under the Union Ministry of Finance

a) (i) only

b) (ii) only

c) Both (i) & (ii)

d) Neither (i) nor (ii)


Question 4: The 2016 SAARC Summit which was cancelled in the wake of Uri terror attacks, was supposed to be held at?

    a) Dhaka, Bangladesh

    b) Kathmandu, Nepal

    c) Bamiyan, Afghanistan

    d) Islamabad, Pakistan


Question 5: Which of the following statements are correct regarding the Uniform Civil code?
    (iii) It is mentioned in Part 4 of the Indian Constitution – DPSP
    (iv) It is justiceable – enforceable in a court of law

a) (i) only

b) (ii) only

c) Both (i) & (ii)

d) Neither (i) nor (ii)


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