UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis Jan17 2019

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
B.GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Justices Maheshwari and Khanna made SC judges
2. ‘Slump in numeracy skills of rural Class VIII students’
3. States cannot pick police chiefs on their own: SC
4. Facebook to tighten political ad rules for polls
C.GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. RBI eases norms for external commercial borrowing
ENVIRONMENT
1. Decoding patterns of lion, tiger and leopard attacks on humans
D.GS4 Related
E.Editorials
1. Sedition and politics (Alleged misuse of the law relating to sedition?)
2. Hitting its stride (“Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank”)
3. Anti-lynching law by Manipur
F.Tidbits
1‘A third of UN staffers reported sexual abuse’
2Cut red meat, sugar by 50%: Lancet’s diet plan for the world
3Cricket in Dubai brings Pandits and Muslims closer
4Tobacco companies are targeting children: study
G.Prelims Facts
1Repugnant market
H.UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I.UPSC Mains practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category:POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Justices Maheshwari and Khanna made SC judges

Context

  • The government on Wednesday notified the appointment of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Delhi High Court judge Sanjiv Khanna, as Supreme Court judges.
  • The Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, unanimously recommended Justice Khanna’s name along with Justice Maheshwari’s on January 10, despite objections raised by sitting SC judge, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
  • Justice Kaul had complained about how Justice Khanna’s elevation would be at the cost of overlooking the seniority of other High Court Chief Justices and judges. Justice Khanna was ranked 33 in the High Court judges’ seniority list.

Appointment of Judges

  • The Constituent Assembly adopted a consultative process of appointing judges to ensure that judges remain insulated from political influence.
  • It avoided legislative interference and also the undemocratic provision of a veto to the Chief Justice.
  • Instead it vested in the President the power to both make appointments and transfer judges between high courts.
  • The President (to act on the advice of the council of ministers) was however required to consult certain authorities such as the CJI or chief justice of the high court appropriately.
  • ‘Consultation’ – The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the word “consultation” could not be interpreted to mean “concurrence”.
  • Accordingly the CJI’s opinion was not binding on the executive.
  • Nevertheless, the executive could depart from the opinion only in exceptional circumstances and any such decision could be subject to judicial review.
  • The system was thus fairly balanced and in the First Judges Case, 1981 the court once again endorsed this interpretation.
  • Second Judges Case – In the famous Second Judges Case, 1993 the court however overruled its earlier decisions.
  • It now held that “consultation” meant “concurrence”, and that the CJI’s view enjoys primacy.
  • This is with the rationale that CJI could be best equipped to know and assess the “worth” of candidates.
  • But, the CJI was to formulate the opinion only through a body of senior judges that the court described as the ‘collegium’.
  • In the Third Judges Case, 1998 the court clarified that the collegium would comprise CJI and four senior-most colleagues, in appointments to the Supreme Court.
  • And, the CJI and two senior-most colleagues in the case of appointments to the high courts.
  • Additionally, for HCs, the collegium would consult other senior judges in the SC who had previously served in the HC concerned.
  • On whether these views of the consultee-judges are binding on the collegium or not, the judgments are silent.
  • NJAC – The government, through 99th constitutional amendment, sought to replace the collegium with the National Judicial Appointments Commission. The Supreme Court however struck NJAC down.
  • The court’s rationale was that the NJAC law gave politicians an equal say in judicial appointments to constitutional courts.
  • In what might now be called the Fourth Judges Case (2015), the court upheld the primacy of the collegium.
  • More importantly it declared collegium as part of the Constitution’s basic structure.
  • And so its power could not be removed even through a constitutional amendment.
  • But given the criticisms against the system, the judgment promised to consider appropriate measures to improve the collegium system.

2. ‘Slump in numeracy skills of rural Class VIII students’

Context

  • While there has been some improvement in the reading and arithmetic skills of lower primary students in rural India over the last decade, the skills of Class VIII students have actually seen a decline.
  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018, the results of a yearly survey that NGO Pratham has been carrying out since 2006, shows that more than half of Class VIII students cannot correctly solve a numerical division problem and more than a quarter of them cannot read a primary level text.

Highlights of the ASER 2018

  • In 2008, 84.8% of Class VIII students could read a text meant for Class II; by 2014, only 74.6% could do so, and by 2018, that percentage had fallen further to 72.8%.
  • Four years ago, 44.1% of students in Class VIII could correctly divide a three digit number by a single digit number; in 2018, that figure had fallen slightly to 43.9%.
  • Noting that the “additional value added in terms of math skills for each year of schooling is low,” Pratham researchers concluded that “without strong foundational skills, it is difficult for children to cope with what is expected of them in the upper primary grades.”
  • The picture is slightly more encouraging at the Class III level, where there has been gradual improvement since 2014. However, even in 2018, less than 30% of students in Class III are actually at their grade level, that is, able to read a Class II text and do double digit subtraction. “This means that a majority of children need immediate help in acquiring foundational skills in literacy and numeracy,” said Pratham.
  • The ASER survey covered almost 5.5 lakh children between the ages of 3 and 16 in 596 rural districts across the country. In an encouraging trend, it found that enrolment is increasing and the percentage of children under 14 who are out of school is less than 4%.
  • The gender gap is also shrinking, even within the older cohort of 15-and-16-year-olds. Only 13.6% of girls of that age are out of school, the first time that the figure has dropped below the 15% mark

Context

  • While there has been some improvement in the reading and arithmetic skills of lower primary students in rural India over the last decade, the skills of Class VIII students have actually seen a decline.
  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018, the results of a yearly survey that NGO Pratham has been carrying out since 2006, shows that more than half of Class VIII students cannot correctly solve a numerical division problem and more than a quarter of them cannot read a primary level text.

Highlights of the ASER 2018

  • In 2008, 84.8% of Class VIII students could read a text meant for Class II; by 2014, only 74.6% could do so, and by 2018, that percentage had fallen further to 72.8%.
  • Four years ago, 44.1% of students in Class VIII could correctly divide a three digit number by a single digit number; in 2018, that figure had fallen slightly to 43.9%.
  • Noting that the “additional value added in terms of math skills for each year of schooling is low,” Pratham researchers concluded that “without strong foundational skills, it is difficult for children to cope with what is expected of them in the upper primary grades.”
  • The picture is slightly more encouraging at the Class III level, where there has been gradual improvement since 2014. However, even in 2018, less than 30% of students in Class III are actually at their grade level, that is, able to read a Class II text and do double digit subtraction. “This means that a majority of children need immediate help in acquiring foundational skills in literacy and numeracy,” said Pratham.
  • The ASER survey covered almost 5.5 lakh children between the ages of 3 and 16 in 596 rural districts across the country. In an encouraging trend, it found that enrolment is increasing and the percentage of children under 14 who are out of school is less than 4%.
  • The gender gap is also shrinking, even within the older cohort of 15-and-16-year-olds. Only 13.6% of girls of that age are out of school, the first time that the figure has dropped below the 15% mark

3. States cannot pick police chiefs on their own: SC

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the pleas made by five States to implement their own local laws for selection and appointment of their State police chiefs.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the applications filed by Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Haryana and Bihar for modification in the Supreme Court orders in the procedure to be followed for appointment of Director Generals of Police (DGP).
  • The court said its directions were issued in larger public interest and to protect the police officials from political interference.

Background

  • On December 12 last year, the Supreme Court extended till January 31 the tenures of the present DGPs of Punjab and Haryana and agreed to hear the States’ pleas seeking to implement their local laws for the appointment of the police chief.
  • DGPs Suresh Arora (Punjab) and B.S. Sandhu (Haryana) were due to retire on December 31 last year and will now remain in office till January 31 according to the earlier order of the Supreme Court.
  • In July 2018, the Supreme Court restrained State governments from appointing DGPs without first consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Present guidelines for appointing the DGP

  • The State government concerned has to send to the service commission the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGP is to retire.
  • The UPSC will prepare a list of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back.
  • It shall, as far as practicable, choose the people who have got a clear two years of service and must give due weightage to merit and seniority.
  • The State, in turn, shall immediately appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the commission.
  • States may make an endeavour to allow the DGP appointed to continue in office despite his or her date of superannuation, this extension of tenure should be only for a reasonable period.
  • On the practice of States appointing ‘Acting DGPs’, the court ordered that States shall not ever conceive of the idea of such appointments. There is no concept of Acting DGPs

4. Facebook to tighten political ad rules for polls

Context

  • Facebook said on Tuesday it would tighten rules for political ads in countries such as India where elections are scheduled in the first half of the year, building on transparency efforts already under way in the United States, Britain and Brazil after a series of scandals.
  • “As we prepare for major elections around the world this year, we’re continuing our focus on preventing foreign interference and giving people more information about the ads they see across our platforms,” the social media giant said in a post.
  • In India, the network will launch an Ad Library and enforce authorisations before spring elections, it said.

Related Concept – Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951

  • Section 126 of the RP Act prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.
  • “Election matter” has been defined in that Section as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.
  • The provision prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of their results during the period mentioned therein, in the hour fixed for commencement of polls in the first phase and half hour after the time fixed for close of poll for the last phase in all the States.
  • Violation of the provisions of Section 126 is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with fine or both.

Suggestions by the Committee

A Committee constituted to review and suggest modifications and changes in the provisions of the Section 126 and other sections of the RP Act 1951 and provisions of Model Code of Conduct has submitted its report. The panel was headed by senior deputy election commissioner Umesh Sinha.

  • Internet service providers and social media companies should take down content violating the 48-hour ban on campaigning prior to polling, instantly and latest within 3 hours of EC issuing such a direction.
  • Amend Section 126(1) of R P Act to impose the “campaign silence period” on print, electronic media and intermediaries. The definition of intermediaries, as per Section 2(w) of the Information Technology Act, includes telecom service providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, etc.
  • Bring in changes in the model code of conduct to ensure that parties release their manifesto at least 72 hours prior to polling (or 72 hours prior to polling for first phase in a multi-phase election).
  • Star campaigners should desist from addressing press conferences or giving interviews on election matters during silence period. Also, in a multi-phased election, there should be no direct or indirect reference seeking support for parties/candidates in constitutencies observing silence period.
  • Intermediaries should ensure that their platforms are not misused to vitiate free and fair polls. This would include a notification mechanism by which EC may notify the platform of potential violations of Section 126 of R P Act.
  • The intermediaries would also need to maintain a repository of political advertisements with information on their sponsors, expenditure and targeted reach.
  • The recommendations made by the Committee, when implemented will help in minimizing the possible interference of activities which aim at indirectly influencing voters during the valuable silence period of 48 hours provided to them.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. RBI eases norms for external commercial borrowing

Context

  • In a bid to improve ease of doing business, the Reserve Bank of India has decided to liberalise external commercial borrowing (ECB) norms, allowing all companies that are eligible for receiving foreign direct investment, to raise funds through the ECB route.
  • The list of eligible borrowers has been expanded. All entities eligible to receive foreign direct investment can borrow under the ECB framework. The new framework takes immediate effect.
  • The RBI has decided to keep the minimum average maturity period at 3 years for all ECBs, irrespective of the amount of borrowing, except for borrowers specifically permitted to borrow for a shorter period. Earlier, the minimum average maturity period was five years. The ceiling for borrowing remains at $750 million.

External Commercial Borrowings or ECBs

  • ECB is the financial instrument used to borrow money from the foreign sources of financing to invest in the commercial activities of the domestic country. Simply, borrowing money from the non-resident lenders and investing it in the commercial activities of India is called as external commercial borrowings.
  • External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) includes commercial bank loans, buyers’ credit, suppliers’ credit, securitized instruments such as Floating Rate Notes and Fixed Rate Bonds etc.,
  • ECBs are being permitted by the Government as a source of finance for Indian Corporate for expansion of existing capacity as well as for fresh investment.
  • ECBs provide opportunity to borrow large volume of funds. The funds are available for relatively long term. Interest rate are also lower compared to domestic funds
  • ECBs are in the form of foreign currencies. Hence, they enable the corporate to have foreign currency to meet the import of machineries etc.
  • Corporate can raise ECBs from internationally recognised sources such as banks, export credit agencies, international capital markets etc.
  • The ECBs have emerged as a major form of foreign capital called as FDI. PSUs and corporate use this ECB as a major platform for the source of investment

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Decoding patterns of lion, tiger and leopard attacks on humans

Context

  • A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology reveals that lion attacks led to more human fatalities, persisted for a longer time and extended over larger areas than tiger or leopard attacks.
  • Titled ‘Species-specific spatiotemporal patterns of leopard, lion and tiger attacks on humans’, the study was initiated by lion expert Craig Packer and ecologist Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones.
  • The study analysed 908 attacks on humans by these species in India, Nepal, and Tanzania. Researchers said very little is known about the pattern of such attacks and studies like these provide a range of perspectives.
  • The lion and tiger attacks were disproportionately located in residential woodlands habitat with 10–100 people per sq km, and lions also attacked more people in areas with recent loss of tree cover.

Human–Wildlife Conflict

  • It refers to the interaction between wild animals and people and the resultant negative impact on people or their resources, or wild animals or their habitat.
  • The conflict takes may results into loss of life or injury to humans, and animals both wild and domesticated.

Causes of this conflict

  • Expansion of human population into animal habitats; there by natural wildlife territory is displaced.
  • The availability of natural prey/food sources is reducing
  • The new resources created by humans in the form of crops draw the wildlife resulting in conflict.
  • Competition for food resources also occurs when humans attempt to harvest natural resources such as fish and grassland pasture.

Solutions

  • Land should be organized in such a way that both animals and humans have the space they need.
  • Key wildlife areas have to be protected without negatively affecting the human needs.
  • Proper insurance/compensation mechanism
  • Practical field-based solutions has to be given priority
  • Role of different stakeholders has to be considered – local community, NGOs, governments and international organizations.
  • Modern techniques like Strobe Lights, Natural Barriers, Disguise, corridors, mappings can help in handling the conflict in more smoother manner.

D. GS4 Related

 Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

1. Sedition and politics (Alleged misuse of the law relating to sedition?)

Note to Students:

This editorial analysis takes into account two editorial releases, namely “Sedition, once more” that was published by the Hindu on 15th January, 2019 as well as, “Sedition and politics” that was published by the Hindu on 17th January, 2019.

We at BYJU’S have covered a video lecture on sedition which will help give you a deep perspective on the subject and its historical context. Kindly refer the same to only cover the  historical perspective on the issue. The controversy surrounding the incident at JNU has also been touched upon in this lecture. 

What is Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code?

  • Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
  • Explanation 1.-The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
  • Explanation 2.-Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
  • Explanation 3.-Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.  

Past Observations Made on Sedition:

  • he Law Commission, in a consultation paper released in 2018, had called for a reconsideration of the sedition section in the IPC.
  • The Law Commission, headed by Justice (retired) B S Chauhan, had said that the stringent sedition law should be invoked only in cases “where intention” behind the act is to “disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means”.

A Brief Look at recent cases such as Hiren Gohain:

  • Experts opine that the slapping of sedition charges against noted Assamese scholar Hiren Gohain and two others for remarks made against the proposed citizenship law is a textbook case of misuse of the law relating to sedition.
  • The FIR against Mr. Gohain, peasant rights activist Akhil Gogoi and journalist Manjit Mahanta relates to speeches at a recent rally that alluded to the possibility of a demand for independence and sovereignty if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was pushed through Parliament.
  • Currently, Mr. Gohain and others have obtained interim bail from the Gauhati High Court.
  • The registration of the case has caused much public outrage in Assam.

What have they been accused of?

  • In addition to Section 124A (sedition), they have been accused of entering into a criminal conspiracy to “wage war against the government of India” (Section 121) and “concealing a design to facilitate” such a war (Section 123).
  • Experts have opined that the action of the police in charging them with “offences against the state” under the Indian Penal Code is quite reprehensible.
  • It is possible that speeches at the rally organised by the Forum Against the Citizenship Amendment Bill contained strident opposition to the legislative changes that would allow persecuted non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries to obtain Indian citizenship.
  • Experts point out that the thrust of the protest, therefore, would be squarely covered by the exception to the sedition clause, which says comments expressing disapprobation of government measures with a view to obtaining their alteration do not constitute an offence, as long as there is no incitement to violence or disaffection.
  • Mr. Gohain, a Sahitya Akademi awardee, and one of Assam’s best known public intellectuals, has explained that he had intervened more than once to silence some youth who had talked about invoking their sovereignty if the Centre continued to ignore their demand.
  • In recent years, there have been many instances of State governments seeking to silence political dissent by accusing dissenters of promoting disaffection.
  • It is precisely to prevent such a heavy-handed response to strident political criticism that courts have often pointed out that the essential ingredient of any offence of sedition is an imminent threat to public order.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts opine that the recent filing of sedition and conspiracy charges against three former Jawaharlal Nehru University students and seven others nearly three years after a political event on its campus, is a needlessly heavy-handed response to campus sloganeering.
  • They further point out that the fact that it took so long to ready a charge sheet, which has been filed a few months ahead of the general election, casts a shadow of political motive. They assert that it would have been far wiser to dismiss this as an instance of radicalised student politics than proceed against them with a stringent colonial-era law, which should not have been allowed to even remain in the statute book.
  • Also, There is no convincing case that the students, and the others present, disrupted public order or incited violence.
  • Further, it is important to note that even if all the charges about the shouting of “anti-national” slogans and supporting those who questioned the country’s sovereignty were true, these acts do not merit the use of the sedition law.
  • The Delhi Police had arrested JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar in February 2016, but failed to protect him from assault while being produced in court; it did nothing to bring to book his assailants.
  • Currently, in filing formal charges of sedition, experts opine that it continues to ignore the law laid down by the Supreme Court on what constitutes ‘sedition’.
  • The essential ingredients of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, that there should be a call for violence or a pernicious tendency to foment public disorder, are conspicuously absent in the case.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Unless there is actual incitement to take up arms or resort to violence, even demands that go against the legal or constitutional scheme of things would not amount to sedition.
  • Mere expression of critical views, howsoever scathing, cannot be an excuse for accusing someone of planning to wage war or promote disaffection against the government.
  • Finally, while the provision, which is couched in broad terms, needs a much narrower definition, some experts point out that the right course is to scrap Section 124A, a relic of the colonial era, altogether.
  • Also, with reference to the JNU incident, campuses ought to nurture political opinions of different shades, but there has been a disquieting tendency to brand as “anti-national” those who do not endorse all actions of the state. That the ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, has not done well in several student union elections may also be a factor in driving antipathy towards some institutions. In every case of sedition, which is filed invariably in connection with a dissenting speech or piece of writing, there is a political element.
  • With reference to the recent filing of sedition and conspiracy charges against three former Jawaharlal Nehru University students and seven others, the filing of the charge sheet appears to subserve the political and electoral purpose of advancing a populist nationalist agenda. Experts take the opinion that it is also liable to be seen as an attempt to criminalise contrarian views among student activists and also a clampdown on dissent.
  • In conclusion, it will be in the fitness of things if the trial court examines the Delhi Police report in the light of the Supreme Court’s restricted interpretation of sedition before it takes cognisance of it.

2. Hitting its stride (“Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank”)

Larger Background:

A Note on the AIIB:

    • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a multilateral development bank which was established in 2016 with its headquarters located in Beijing.
    • AIIB is a new multilateral financial institution founded to bring countries together to address the daunting infrastructure needs across Asia.
  • The bank has 52 member states with its headquarters at Beijing, China.
  • United States and Japan are not its members.
  • It aims to stimulate growth and improve access to basic services by furthering interconnectivity and economic development in the region through advancements in infrastructure.
  • AIIB offers sovereign and non-sovereign finance for projects in energy and power, transportation and telecommunications, rural infrastructure and agriculture development, water supply and sanitation, environmental protection, urban development and logistics.

Suspicions about the AIIB in its aims and intentions:

  • The initial scepticism towards AIIB was that it was primarily a vehicle to fund BRI-related projects as well as to further China’s strategic goals.
  • This was partly to do with the fact that The AIIB project was first announced in 2013 simultaneously with Chinese President’s mooting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The initial projects approved by the AIIB in 2016 were granted to China’s close allies—mainly in Central Asia and Pakistan, as well as Oman, which was a strategic centre of trade and exchange along the historic maritime Silk Road.
  • China is the AIIB’s single largest contributor and holds around 28% voting share, giving it veto power over major decisions at the AIIB.
  • Currently, a distracted U.S. appears neither willing nor capable of fundamentally reshaping and resourcing the much-vaunted Bretton Woods-era institutions for the challenges of the 21st century.
  • India, China and other multilaterally minded major countries will need to pick up this gauntlet in the areas of trade, development and finance.
  • The successful mainstreaming of the AIIB in three short years must become just the beginning of system-wide reform and overhaul.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts opine that on January 16, 2019, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) marked its third anniversary. Further, India has been the bank’s biggest beneficiary, with a quarter of the AIIB’s approved projects geared towards its development. India is also the only country apart from China to enjoy a permanent seat on the Bank’s board of directors.
  • Experts point out that when the AIIB opened for business in 2016, critics attacked it as a barely concealed attempt by China, India and the global south to supplant the existing international financial order.
  • The reality is that the bank has been both a rule-maker and rule-taker, devising innovations in multilateral development finance while upholding existing best practices. Most of its projects are co-financed with the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank, suggesting a healthy mix of complementarity and competition with its peers.
  • Critics have also attacked the AIIB for its non-transparent internal procedures, notably the lack of a resident board, and potentially lax loan appraisal standards, which they claimed would spark a rash of irrecoverable loans.
  • It is also important to note that former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration sought to dissuade Western countries and Asian allies from joining the bank as prospective founding members, pointing to concerns related to governance and environmental and social safeguards.
  • The reality is that the AIIB’s lending practices have been socially conscious and prudent, attested by its triple-A credit rating secured from the three major international rating agencies.
  • Disregarding the U.S.’s ‘dog in the manger’ attitude towards infrastructure finance, 90-odd countries have signed up as founding or prospective members.

The Way Forward:

  • Finally, as the AIIB marches from strength-to-strength, experts point out that it should develop a wider portfolio of projects in areas such as smart cities, renewable energy, urban transport, clean coal technology, solid waste management and urban water supply.
  • Along with the New Development Bank, its uniqueness must lie in faster loan appraisal, a lean organisational structure resulting in lower cost of loans, a variety of financing instruments, including local currency financing, and flexibility in responding to its clients’ needs.
  • Also, experts suggest that the AIIB should leverage its unique ‘special funds mechanism’ to crowd-in infrastructure financing from external sources, including extra-regional, public and private, as well as nurture infrastructure as a profitable asset class for capital market investors.

3. Anti-lynching law by Manipur

Larger Background:

Background

  • Supreme Court anguished by what it described as ‘horrific acts of mobocracy’ — issued a slew of directions to the Union and State governments to protect India’s ‘pluralist social fabric’ from mob violence.
  • The court felt compelled to act in the shadow of of surging hate violence targeting religious and caste minorities. It also urged Parliament to consider passing a law to combat mob hate crime.
  • The Union and most State governments have done little to comply with the directions of India’s highest court. But Manipur became the first to pass a remarkable law against lynching

Manipur Law

The Manipur law closely follows the Supreme Court’s prescriptions, creating a nodal officer to control such crimes in every State, special courts and enhanced punishments.

  • Its definition of lynching is comprehensive “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds .…”
  • The law, however, excludes from its provisions solitary hate crimes.
    • For the law to apply instead it requires that these hate crimes are undertaken by mobs (defined as a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching), thereby excluding from its provisions solitary hate crimes.
  1. Rules laid for Strict Police Action
  • It lays down that “any police officer directly in charge of maintaining law and order in an area, omits to exercise lawful authority vested in them under the law, without reasonable cause, and thereby fails to prevent lynching shall be guilty of dereliction of duty” and will be liable “to punishment of imprisonment of one year, which may extend to three years, and with fine that may extend to fifty thousand rupees”.
    • Equally path breaking is that it removes the protection that is otherwise extended to public officials charged with any offence committed while acting in their discharge of official duty.
  • At present, no court can take cognisance of such an offence except with the previous sanction of the State government.
    • The Manipur law means that now no prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching.

Karwan-e-Mohabbat:

The Karwan-e-Mohabbat, or peace yatra, is a movement where activists visit places where lynchings and hate crimes have taken place and attempt to forge links between different communities.

  • The activists in these cases have found that, the police acted brazenly in ways that would have been deemed crimes by public officials if a law such as the Manipur law had been in force.
  • They arrived late deliberately, or watched even as the crimes were under way without restraining the mobs;
  • they delayed taking those injured to hospital and on occasion even ill-treated them, ensuring their death;
  • After the hate crimes, they tended to register criminal cases against the victims and to defend the accused.

If police officers knew that they could be punished for these crimes (which would also put them at risk of losing their jobs), it is very unlikely that they would have acted in this way. They would have prevented, or stopped in their tracks, these hate crimes, and protected the victims.

  1. Manipur law does away with the requirement of prior state sanction before acting on a hate crime.
  • All hate crimes today should attract Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which is related to fostering enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on.
  • But registering this crime requires prior permission of the State government, and most governments use this power to shield perpetrators of hate crimes who are politically and ideologically aligned to the ruling establishment.
  • The Manipur law does away with this requirement, which would make acting against hate crimes far more effective and non-partisan.
  1. The Law clearly lays down the duty and responsibility of the State government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses
  • It should protect the victims from against any kind of intimidation, coercion, inducement, violence or threats of violence.
  • It also prescribes the duty of State officials to prevent a hostile environment against people of the community who have been lynched, which includes economic and social boycott, and humiliation through excluding them from public services such as education, health and transport, threats and evictions.
  1. Rehabilitation
  • The last substantial contribution of the law is requiring the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation.
  • Again, in most cases of lynching, we have found that States have only criminalised the victims, never supported the survivors who live not just in loss and fear, but also in penury.

Issues with the Law:

  • When we look back at the last four years, the majority of hate crimes were indeed by mobs of attackers and onlookers, but we also saw solitary hate murders, such as of the Bengali migrant Mohammad Afrazul in Rajasthan.
  • This restriction of numbers is arbitrary, since the essence of what distinguishes these kinds of crimes is not the numbers of attackers but the motivation of hate behind the crimes; therefore, provisions of this law should apply to all hate crimes not just lynching, regardless of the numbers of persons who participate.

Conclusion

  • The law needs to prescribe a much more expansive framework of mandatory gender-sensitive reparation, requiring the state to ensure that the victim of hate violence is assisted to achieve material conditions that are better than what they were before the violence, and that women, the elderly and children are supported regularly with monthly pensions over time.
  • If emulated by the Union and other State governments, such a sterling law could substantially prevent hate attacks, ensure public officials are faithful to their constitutional responsibilities and victims, and that their families and communities are assured of protection and justice

F. Tidbits

1. ‘A third of UN staffers reported sexual abuse’

  • A third of employees have reported experiencing sexual harassment at the world body over the past two years, according to the findings of the first-ever survey on such misconduct released on Tuesday.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told staff in a letter that the study contained “some sobering statistics and evidence of what needs to change” to improve the workplace at the United Nations.
  • One in three respondents, or 33%, reported at least one instance of sexual harassment in the past two years, but that figure climbed to 38.7% for those who reported some form of sexual harassment during their time at the United Nations.
  • The most common type of sexual harassment were sexual stories or jokes that were offensive, or offensive remarks about appearance, body or sexual activities.
  • UN employees were also targeted for unwelcome attempts to draw them into discussion about sexual matters, offensive gestures and touching, according the survey carried out by Deloitte in November.
  • Two out of three harassers were men and one in four were supervisors or managers. Nearly one in 10 harassers were senior leaders, according to the survey.

2. Cut red meat, sugar by 50%: Lancet’s diet plan for the world

  • With the ideal diet, your life would be less sweet but your lifespan would be longer. Cut consumption of sugar and red meat by 50%, and increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, and nuts — that is the top recommendation of a worldwide diet plan according to a special report released on Thursday by the journal Lancet. Such a diet would not only be healthier but also more environment-friendly.
  • The EAT-Lancet Commission, an independent non-profit consisting of 19 scientists and 18 co-authors from 16 countries, was tasked with developing global scientific targets for a healthy diet and sustainable food production.
  • The experts on this panel from India included Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation of India and Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment.
  • The Commission recommended that the average adult, whose daily requirement is about 2,500 calories, must strive to source around 800 calories from whole grain (rice, wheat or corn), 204 calories from fruits and vegetables, and not more than 30 calories from red meat (beef, lamb or pork).
  • It also suggested that the ideal diet should have no “added sugar” or “added fat”. Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill-health worldwide, and following this healthy diet could avoid approximately 11 million premature deaths a year, the report said.
  • People in North American countries eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while those in South Asia eat only half the recommended amount. All countries are eating more starchy vegetables (potatoes and cassava) than recommended, with intakes ranging from between 1.5 times above the recommendation in South Asia to 7.5 times the optimum level in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The report shared a road map to help global populations move towards such a diet by 2050. These include re-orienting the focus of agriculture from large-scale production of a few crops to “a diverse range of nutritious foods from biodiversity-enhancing food production systems”.

3. Cricket in Dubai brings Pandits and Muslims closer

  • A record partnership of 251 runs between a Kashmiri Muslim and a Pandit in Dubai’s Kashmir Super League (KSL) has become a joint feat celebrated by the two communities, which parted on a bitter note during the traumatic displacement in January, 1990.
  • Openers Sandeep Bhan, a migrant Kashmiri Pandit whose family never returned to Kashmir after they left in 1990, and Rajab Abid, a current resident of Srinagar, bonded on the field at the Ajman Cricket Council Grounds in Dubai to build a record partnership in the ongoing KSL, a series started four years ago by Kashmiris living overseas.
  • Employed in Dubai, Mr. Bhan is among four other Pandit players representing the Razey Kadal Falcons (RKF) team, a name adopted from an area in Srinagar’s old city where Muslims and Pandits congregated before the 1990s. Around 14 teams named after places in Kashmir are participating in the tournament.
  • Kashmiri Pandits are participating for the first time in the cricket league, helping to mend broken bonds between the communities.
  • The timing could not have been better, as January 19 will mark the migration of hundreds of Pandit families 30 years ago.

4. Tobacco companies are targeting children: study

  • A report released on Wednesday said that tobacco companies in India are systematically targeting children as young as eight by selling tobacco products and placing tobacco advertisements near schools.
  • These tactics, happening all over the country, clearly violate the Section 5 and 6 of Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act, it said.
  • To gather evidence regarding tobacco products being sold around educational institutions in violation of the law, two groups working in the area of tobacco control — Consumer Voice and Voluntary Health Association of India — undertook a study in 20 cities across six states in India.
  • Titled ‘Tiny Targets’, the study was conducted to determine the extent of tobacco products being marketed and sold around schools in India
  • “The tobacco industry must be held accountable for their aggressive advertising efforts around schools,” said Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, Voluntary Health Association of India.

G. Prelims Facts

1. Repugnant market

  • This refers to certain markets where transactions between willing buyers and sellers are considered to be unethical.
  • The market for human organs, for instance, is considered by many to be a repugnant market.
  • A section of people believe that organ transplants should be facilitated through voluntary donations rather than through the exchange of money.
  • Many governments have banned the functioning of these markets due to various moral concerns that have been raised.
  • Supporters of repugnant markets, however, believe that allowing the exchange of money helps people in serious need to gain easier access to supplies than they would otherwise.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Question 1. Recently, India has suggessted Nine Point Agenda to G-20 is related
  1. Action Against Fugitive Economic Offences And Asset Recovery
  2. To end terrorism in all forms and manifestations
  3. Highlight the issue of Environmental degradation
  4. For uniting countries to deal with challenges associated with Poverty
See
Answer
Question 2. Which of the following countries are member of Both Shanghai Cooperation Organization and East Asia Summit?
  1. Brunei
  2. China
  3. India
  4. Pakistan

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 only
  4. 2 and 3 only
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Answer
Question 3. Johannesburg Declaration was recently in the news is adopted by which of the following grouping.
  1. G-20
  2. BRICS
  3. ASEAN
  4. SCO
See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The sedition law should be invoked only in cases “where intention” behind the act is to “disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means”. Analyse this statement with respect to the sedition law of India (10 Marks; 150 words)
  2. Two new studies on the devadasi practice by the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, paint a grim picture of the indifferent approach of the legislature and enforcement agencies to crack down on the practice. What is Devadasi Practice? Suggest some feasible strategies to eliminate this practice from our society (10 Marks; 150 words)

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