27 Nov 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Notice to Centre on anti-graft Act
2. SC rejects fresh plea against Article 370
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Kartarpur corridor can build bridges: Venkaiah
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. ‘Govt. may miss fiscal deficit target for FY19’
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. NASA’s Insight rover heads for 6.5 minutes of terror
2. Chinese academic claims to have gene-edited twins
D. GS4 Related
1. Scully effect
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Magnificent Mary (Social Justice, Women Empowerment)
2. Yet another fiasco in J&K (Political Situation in J&K)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Rules for a resolution (India-China Relations)
F. Tidbits
1. PIL urges minimum wages for domestic workers
G. Prelims Fact
1. Iravatham Mahadevan, noted epigraphist, passes away
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. Notice to Centre on anti-graft Act

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the government to respond to a petition challenging two amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

  • It consolidated the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, some sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Criminal Law Act, 1952.
  • The 1988 Act enlarged the scope of the term ‘public servant’ and in­cluded a large number of employees within its ambit.
  • However, MPs and MLAs, even though performing ‘public duties’, have been kept out of the ambit of the Act.
  • If the offence against the public servant is proved in the courts, it is punishable with imprisonment of not less than six months but extending to a maximum period of five years.
  • A key problem of the 1988 Act was that the person giving the bribe was legally seen as a victim and so not held culpable or criminally liable.

Why is the “Prevention of Corruption Act” being amended?

  • Section 13 of the Act holds public servants culpable for securing a pecuniary advantage for another “without any public interest”.
  • This resulted in many honest officials being prosecuted even when they gained nothing and merely exercised their discretion in favour of someone.
  • Even former PM Manmohan Singh had criticised this provision as it is prone to misuse and affects decision making within the government.
  • Notably, even officials with the most honest of intentions tend to hesitate in making decisions if their actions are likely to be suspected and scrutinized.
  • Hence, the current government has proposed an amendment to rectify section 13 in order to make liberate officials from possible witch hunts.

What are the provisions envisioned in the new law?

  • The new version seeks to be more concise and restricts criminal misconduct to two offences namely: Misappropriating public property for private gratification and amassing unexplained wealth (beyond known sources of income)
  • The law also seeks to make citizens liable for offering a bribe to a public servant, which is in line with “UN Convention against Corruption”.
  • In situations where citizens are forced to give a bribe, the above provision doesn’t apply, provided the incidence is reported to authorities within a week.

Details of the present arguments

  • The amendments were the introduction of Section 17 A (1) by which prior permission for investigation of corruption offences was required from the government and the removal of Section 13 (1) (d) (ii) (criminal misconduct) from the Act. The latter provision had earlier made it an offence for a public servant to abuse his position to give pecuniary or other advantage to a third party.
  • Bhushan said the removed provision of ‘criminal misconduct’ was used in most prosecutions of public servants under the Act in cases where there might not be a charge of directly accepting bribes.
  • He referred to the prosecution of officials in the coal scam where officials gave leases to companies who they knew were not eligible. As for the new provision of Section 17(A), the CPIL said seeking sanction before commencement of investigation in a corruption case “not only takes away the element of secrecy and surprise but introduces a period of delay during which vital evidence can be manipulated or destroyed”.
  • “It gives time to the accused to lobby by employing various means for denial of permission. The seeking of permission in itself becomes a cause for corruption as it introduces yet another discretion, at the crucial stage of commencement of investigation,” the petition said.

2. SC rejects fresh plea against Article 370

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a fresh petition challenging Article 370, which gives special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • One of the main writ petitions pending is by NGO ‘We the Citizens’, which challenges the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370.
  • It argues that four representatives from Kashmir were part of the Constituent Assembly involved in the drafting of the Constitution and the State of Jammu and Kashmir was never accorded any special status in the Constitution. Article 370 was only a ‘temporary provision’ to help bring normalcy. The Constitution makers did not intend Article 370 to be a tool to bring permanent amendments, like Article 35A, in the Constitution.
  • The petition said Article 35A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India”. Restricting citizens from other States from getting employment or buying property in J&K is a violation of their fundamental rights, it said.

What is Article 35A?

  • The heading of Article 35A reads: “saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights”.
  • The laws granting special rights to permanent residents would not be deemed a violation of the fundamental rights of other citizens.

Arguments against Article 35A

  • The ‘classification’ created by Article 35A has to be tested on the principle of equality as it treats non-permanent residents of J&K as ‘second-class’ citizens.
  • Such persons are not eligible for employment under the State government and are also debarred from contesting elections.
  • Meritorious students are denied scholarships and they cannot even seek redress in any court of law.
  • Further, the issues of refugees who migrated to J&K during Partition are still not treated as ‘State subjects’ under the J&K Constitution.
  • It was inserted unconstitutionally, bypassing Article 368 which empowers only Parliament to amend the Constitution.
  • The laws enacted in pursuance of Article 35A are ultra vires of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution, especially, and not limited to, Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (protection of life).

Arguments in favour of Legality of Article 35A

  • Article 370 (1) (d) empowers the President of India to extend with requisite exceptions and modifications the other provisions of the Indian Constitution to J&K as may be necessary.
  • The Delhi Agreement of 1952 followed Article 370. According to the Clause 2 of the agreement, the State Legislature of J&K was given power to make laws for conferring special rights and privileges on the ‘state subjects’.
  • Article 35A follows the Instrument of Accession and the guarantee given to the State of J&K that the State’s autonomy will not be disturbed.
  • Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and such other states also have laws which say that no outsider can buy land.

Article 370

  • Article 370 of the Indian constitution is an article that grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution, which relates to Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.
  • The state’s constituent assembly was empowered to recommend the articles of the Indian constitution to be applied to the state or to abrogate Article 370 altogether. After the state constituent assembly has dissolved itself without recommending abrogation, Article 370 is deemed to have become a permanent feature of the Indian constitution.
  • In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the representatives to the Constituent Assembly requested that only those provisions of the Indian Constitution that corresponded to the original Instrument of Accession should be applied to the State.
  • The Article 370 was incorporated into the Indian Constitution, which stipulated that the other articles of the Constitution that gave powers to the Central Government would be applied to Jammu and Kashmir only with the concurrence of the State’s constituent assembly.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Kartarpur corridor can build bridges: Venkaiah

Context

  • The Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan will “open new doors” and is a “unifier, building bridges across old chasms,” Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said here on Monday.
  • Naidu was joined by leaders from all political parties in Punjab in laying the foundation stone for the four-lane “human corridor” to be completed by November 23, 2019, in time for Sikh founder Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary, which was decided on by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a Cabinet meeting last week.
  • The corridor will drastically cut down the distance pilgrims travel from more than 200 km to just 6 km.
  • “That is the history we have to create together, a history that will make our two countries and the entire world a more peaceful place for our children and grandchildren to live and grow together,” Mr. Naidu said.

Brief history of kartarpur Gurdwara

  • The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of the Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore.
  • It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
  • The shrine is visible from the Indian side, as Pakistani authorities generally trim the elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view.
  • Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers for darshan from the Indian side, and binoculars are installed at Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak.

The significance of the Gurdwara

  • The gurdwara was opened to pilgrims after repairs and restoration in 1999, and Sikh jathas have been visiting the shrine regularly ever since.
  • There are no restrictions on visiting Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib once a pilgrim has entered Pakistan on a valid visa.
  • Sikh jathas from India travel to Pakistan on four occasions every year for Baisakhi, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev.
  • These Indian pilgrims are given access to all gurdwaras in Pakistan.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. ‘Govt. may miss fiscal deficit target for FY19’

News

  • Lower than expected indirect tax and non-tax revenue will result in the government likely missing its fiscal deficit target for the year, according to India Ratings and Research.
  • FY19 will be the third consecutive year in which fiscal deficit/GDP will be 3.5%.”
  • Although the introduction of e-way bills has helped the government plug leakages in GST collection, aggregate indirect tax collections (union excise duties, customs, service tax and GST) grew only 4.3% during the [first half of FY19] versus the budgeted growth of 22.2% for FY19.”

What is Fiscal Deficit?

  • The fiscal deficit is the difference between the government’s total expenditure and its total receipts (excluding borrowing). Fiscal deficit in layman’s terms corresponds to the borrowings and liabilities of the government.
  • As per the technical definition, Fiscal Deficit = Budgetary Deficit + Borrowings and Other Liabilities of the government.

What will be the consequences of rising fiscal deficits?

  • Higher government expenditure will push up demand and generate more money in the economy which may lead to higher inflation.
  • The government in order to repay its debt would likely to levy more taxes in the future.
  • Higher fiscal deficit also leaves little room for interest rate cuts which would affect private investments from taking off.
  • Borrowing costs may remain high for consumers and industry/companies which might stall economic growth

What measures needs to be taken?

  • Fiscal consolidation is important from the point of view of the credibility of policy-making.
  • Though there is an improvement in the tax to GDP ratio after the anti-tax evasion steps, gains from tax revenues was lost on account of non-tax revenues.
  • Framing a proper asset monetisation plan will help a lot in generating non-tax revenues as the government is among the largest owners of property and immovable assets in the world.
  • Thus the non-tax revenue needs to be boosted by a structured long term plan which will help in outlining the course of action and help provide predictability to the earnings from non-tax revenues.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. NASA’s Insight rover heads for 6.5 minutes of terror

Context

  • NASA’s top scientists admitted to sleepless nights, sweaty palms, stomach aches and moments of pure terror as their $993 million Mars Insight spacecraft approaches a high-drama finale late on Monday night: landing on Mars.

NASA’s Insight Rover

  • NASA’s first-ever mission named as InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.
  • InSight is NASA’s Discovery Program mission that aims to place stationary lander equipped with seismometer and heat transfer probe on surface of Mars to study red planet’s early geological evolution.
  • It is terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science. It will help in understanding processes that shaped rocky planets of inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.
  • The robotic lander will perform a radio science experiment to study internal structure of Mars by deploying seismometer and a burrowing heat probe. It will measure Mar’s vital signs such as pulse (seismology), temperature (heat flow probe) and reflexes (precision tracking). It will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Earth.
  • Mars Insight’s goal is to listen for quakes and tremors as a way to unveil the Red Planet’s inner mysteries, how it formed billions of years ago, and by extension, how other rocky planets like the earth took shape.
  • The unmanned spacecraft, launched nearly seven months ago, is NASA’s first to attempt to touch down on Mars since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012.
  • More than half of 43 attempts to reach Mars with rovers, orbiters and probes by space agencies from around the world have failed.
  • NASA is the only space agency to have made it, and is invested in these missions as a way to prepare for the first Mars-bound human explorers in the 2030s. “We never take Mars for granted. Mars is hard,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for the science mission directorate.

2. Chinese academic claims to have gene-edited twins

Context

  • Chinese health and medical ethics authorities started an investigation on Monday into claims by a scientist who released videos on YouTube, saying he had altered the genes of twins born earlier this month, creating the first gene edited babies.
  • In the videos, the scientist defended his work: “I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology. And I am willing to take the criticism for them.”
  • Earlier, Mr. He said he was aiming to bestow on the gene edited babies “lifetime protection” against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • He said he began his work in the second half of 2017 and enrolled eight couples. All of the potential fathers involved were HIV-positive. Five chose to implant embryos, including the parents of the twin girls, identified only by the pseudonyms Mark and Grace. The babies’ names are Lulu and Nana, He said in one video.
  • “If true, this experiment is monstrous,” said Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford.

Cutting-and-pasting DNA

  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology that allows scientists to essentially cut-and-paste DNA, raising hope of genetic fixes for disease. However, there are also concerns about its safety and ethics.
  • CRISPR is a dynamic, versatile tool that allows us to target nearly any genomic location and potentially repair broken genes. It can remove, add or alter specific DNA sequences in the genome of higher organisms.
  • CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) are sections of DNA and are sections of genetic code containing short repetitions of base sequences followed by spacer DNA segments.
  • CAS-9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) is an enzyme. It uses a synthetic guide RNA to introduce a double strand break at a specific location within a strand of DNA. It is a system used by bacterial cells to recognize and destroy viral DNA as a form of adaptive immunity.

What are the pros of Gene editing?

  • CRISPR could be used to modify disease-causing genes in embryos brought to term, removing the faulty script from the genetic code of that person’s future descendants as well. Genome editing (Gene editing) could potentially decrease, or even eliminate, the incidence of many serious genetic diseases, reducing human suffering worldwide.
  • It might also be possible to install genes that offer lifelong protection against infection.

What are the cons of Gene editing?

  • Making irreversible changes to every cell in the bodies of future children and all their descendants would constitute extraordinarily risky human experimentation.
  • There are issues including off-target mutations (unintentional edits to the genome), persistent editing effects, genetic mechanisms in embryonic and fetal development, and longer-term health and safety consequences.
  • Some argue that we do not understand the operations of the genome enough to make long-lasting changes to it. Altering one gene could have unforeseen and widespread effects on other parts of the genome, which would then be passed down to future generations.
  • Many consider genome alterations to be unethical, advocating that we should let nature run its course.
  • Few argue that after permitting human germline gene editing for any reason would likely lead to its ignorance of the regulatory limits, to the emergence of a market-based eugenics that would exacerbate already existing discrimination, inequality, and conflict.
  • It will become a tool for selecting desired characteristics such as intelligence and attractiveness.

D. GS4 Related

1. Scully effect

(Note to the students – This concept can be used as a part of Social influence and persuasion)

  • This refers to a social phenomenon wherein movie characters can surprisingly inspire behavioural changes in people in the real world.
  • It is named after Dana Scully, a woman character in the American television series The X-Files which was aired mostly in the 1990s.
  • Studies have found that the character, portrayed as a medical doctor and a special agent successfully working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, inspired many women who watched the series to take up education and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and with various law enforcement agencies.

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Magnificent Mary (Social Justice, Women Empowerment)

Editorial Analysis:

    • M.C. Mary Kom recently enhanced her already legendary status when she defeated Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota in the 48 kg segment of the Women’s World Boxing Championship in Delhi on 24th November, 2018.
    • This was her sixth gold across World Championships, drawing her level with Félix Savón, the Cuban great who ruled amateur boxing in the 1980s and 1990s.
    • This was the latest of her six world titles and was secured after a gap of eight years. Kom had said that this latest accomplishment was the toughest of them all.
  • It is important to note that this accomplishment has come at a time when the competition has risen manifold following the inclusion of women’s boxing as an event in the Olympics in 2012.
  • Kom got past other strong opponents before clinching the bout against Okhota. Further, Kom also had to bear the additional pressure of the expectations of home crowds.
  • It is important to note that Mary Kom has always defied the odds. She has gone against gender stereotypes, and overcome the odds posed by the lack of resources and poor infrastructure that hold back so much athletic talent in India.
  • In the process of doing so, she has firmed up Manipur’s place on India’s talent map, brought India on the world boxing landscape, and reinforced women’s sport by winning consistently with exceptional determination and grace.

A Brief Note on Mary Kom:  

  • Kom, who is now 35 and a mother of three, has had a good 2018.
  • She won her maiden Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this year, 2018.  
  • She extended that form in Delhi and cemented her place in the history of the World Championships with an overall haul of seven medals, including a silver on debut in 2001.
  • She was a bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics.
  • In the recently concluded event, the victory has fuelled further expectations from this late-career burst.
  • Kom will switch to the 51 kg weight class in the pursuit of a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Impact as a Rajya Sabha member of Parliament:

  • As a Rajya Sabha member of Parliament and idol for many upcoming women boxers, she has a full schedule, and will be aware that it will take all she has to fight with younger and stronger rivals in a higher weight category.
  • She has been hailed as ‘Magnificent Mary’ by the International Boxing Association.  Further, the International Boxing Association had chosen her as its representative in the International Olympic Committee athletes’ forum.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Kom has been an inspiration globally.
  • Her rise from a humble background to be an international role model has inspired a book and a Hindi movie chronicling her life.
  • Raffaele Bergamasco, the India coach, sums up Kom’s legend with these words, “Mary in boxing is like Maradona in football.”
  • Experts also point out that the gender comparison is crucial too — at a time when the women’s competition at diverse levels and different sporting events is being sought to be placed on a par with the men’s, in terms of infrastructural support and remuneration, Mary Kom’s record will indeed give heart to all women athletes.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Rules for a resolution (India-China Relations)

Note to Students:

This article focuses on Ajit Doval’s visit to China. The writer takes the view that this occasion presents an opportunity to take stock of the boundary question between India and China.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts point out that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to China for the 21st edition of Special Representatives talks presents an opportunity to take stock of the dos and don’ts related to the resolution of the boundary dispute.

They cite the following:

  1. Firstly, China has resolved all its continental land borders, except with India and Bhutan.
  • In those instances, the U.S. was neither an ally nor a key defence partner of that counterpart country.
  • It is also important to note that New Delhi’s blossoming maritime ties with the U.S. implies that the India-China frontier will remain an expedient pressure point in China’s playbook, to signal disaffection.
  • Further, full resolution will have to await that as-yet distant day when India is willing to elevate its ties with Beijing at par with Washington.
  • Experts point out that vigilance and patience are counselled in the interim.
  1. Secondly, the lack of a medium-term resolution does not prevent India and China from narrowing their boundary-related differences.
  • It is important to note that each easing cycle in India-China ties, going back to the establishment of the Special Representatives mechanism in 2003, has witnessed an initial focus on repair and stabilisation on the ground followed by a successful effort at narrowing the underlying dispute at the table.
  • Further, with the ‘Wuhan spirit’ as the backdrop, the recent effort to link up military headquarters and regional commands with hotlines bodes well for an intensive phase of settlement-related discussions after the general election next year.
  1. Thirdly, none of China’s 12 territorial settlements has been concluded under duress or reflects an obsession with cartographic detail.
  • Rather, an opportunity cost-based calculus tied to good neighbourliness has prevailed. The received wisdom that New Delhi can leverage its American relationship or the Dalai Lama to extract a stiffer bargain on the boundary is wrong.
  • Both recent periods of effusive Indo-American warmth (2007-2010 and 2015-2017) witnessed more, not less, pressure on the boundary.
  1. Fourthly, experts point out that while India has been admirably flexible in accommodating a variety of dispute settlement modes, including third-party arbitration, a solitary principles-based package approach has characterised China’s territorial settlements.
  • Mr. Doval’s preference for a bottom-up approach which clarifies specific points of contention along the Line of Actual Control is unlikely to find purchase with State Councilor Wang Yi.
  • That having been said, it is nowhere written in stone that a package-based settlement must extend across every inch of the frontier all at once.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts point out that Mr. Doval should aim to realise an early harvest settlement that delimits a substantial portion of the boundary in the east and west, while shelving the most intractable points to a future date when India and China are more geopolitically supportive of each other’s aspirations in Asia and the world.

2. Yet another fiasco in J&K (Political Situation in J&K)

Note to the Students:

  • This particular editorial analysis focuses on the larger issue of the recent dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir State legislative assembly by Governor Satya Pal Malik.

We have taken two editorials here for consideration: 1) The editorial, “Yet another fiasco in J&K” published by The Hindu, and 2) “An ill wind in the Valley”, an article as featured in The Indian Express.

Larger Background:

  • In a recent dramatic development in the month of November 2018, Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik decided to dissolve the Legislative Assembly immediately after rival parties staked claims to form a government.
  • Experts have criticized this decision by the Governor.
  • Experts have questioned Mr. Malik’s actions.  

Editorial Analysis:

Reasons cited by the Governor for dissolution:

  • Experts have pointed out that the Governor’s reasons for dissolution are not only disingenuous, they are downright dangerous.
  • Further, the allegation that political parties with opposing ideologies should not come together can more plausibly be levelled against the coming together of the People’s Conference (PC) and the BJP than against the PDP-NC-Congress grouping.
  • Some experts have pointed out that the PDP, the NC and the Congress share several common positions, including on:
  1. confidence-building measures (CBMs),
  2. peace talks and
  3. safeguarding constitutional rights.
  • Experts point out that this latest episode also represents a return to the dark days of political meddling by the Centre in State politics, a practice that had been gradually relinquished between 2002 and 2014, a period which saw three of the freest and fairest elections in the State.
  • Those years, of partial peace-building, have been forgotten in the Valley.

A Closer Analysis:

A Note on the SR Bommai Case and Article 356:

  • It is important to note that a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in the SR Bommai (1994) case had observed that the power under Article 356 is extraordinary, must be used sparingly and should never be used for political gain for the party in power at the Centre.
  • After the imposition of President’s Rule on Republic Day in Arunachal Pradesh and invoking of Article 356 just a day prior to the trust vote in Uttarakhand, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik within minutes of the claim of formation of government by the PDP, NC and Congress, dissolved the assembly.
  • The reason cited by the governor is that political parties of opposing ideologies were coming together to form the government.

Flawed Reasoning by the Governor?

  • Experts point out that the reasoning of the Governor is flawed for two reasons. These are as follows:
  1. Firstly, the governor has no power to examine the ideologies of the political parties prior to inviting them to form government. No party that does not have faith in the Constitution of India can be registered by the Election Commission and therefore the option of doubting the credentials of registered political parties is not available to anyone.
  2. Secondly, how can the governor oppose the coming together of parties of opposing ideologies when the BJP itself was in a coalition government with the PDP for more than two years? Or is the governor, by implication, admitting that the PDP and BJP are ideologically on the same page?

Questions arise: Why was the BJP-PDP alliance termed historic if the PDP was a “terror-friendly” organisation? If the BJP is serious in its allegations, it should seek de-registration of the PDP as a political party.

  • Experts point out that there is more in common between the PDP, NC and Congress. The reasons cited are the following:
  1. The two are regional parties committed to the cause of Kashmir and reflect the aspirations of the people.
  2. All three favour autonomous status of Kashmir and retention of Article 370.
  3. All three are unanimous in their views on Article 35A.

Experts also point out another precedent: The BJP formed government with the BSP twice in UP, even though the two parties are ideologically poles apart.

A few more perspectives:

    • It is important to note that even in pre-Independence times, the Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League had formed a coalition government in a few provinces.
    • Thus, parties that fight against each other can legitimately form government and the only responsibility the governor has is to satisfy himself that the new formation has the numbers.
    • The governor himself, after taking over, had promised that he would not dissolve the House and would explore the formation of a popular government.
    • Experts point out that it is an open secret that the BJP has been making efforts to break the PDP and form the first BJP-led government in Kashmir.
    • Further, what raises questions is the speed with which the governor dissolved the House. Experts point out that this clearly shows mala fide intentions and now this dissolution will face judicial scrutiny.
    • Further, it is important to note that no court has so far held any government accountable for violating the law laid down by the apex court and revived a dismissed state government.
  • However, in the Bommai case, the court, following the Nawaz Sharif judgment of the Pakistan Supreme Court, did say that it has such a power and it may revive the dissolved House. If an assembly is revived, it will be a huge loss of face for the BJP. Of course, our courts do not decide such matters in a time-bound manner or interfere if the election process gets underway in the meanwhile.

A Political error of Judgement?

    • Some experts argue that even politically, the BJP has made an error of judgment as now it would be seen as an anti-democratic party. It has unnecessarily made the Opposition a martyr. The abrupt dissolution was bad strategy.
    • Experts add that the governor should have bought time by asking the Opposition to submit a signed list of legislators supporting it. He could have said that he is consulting Constitution experts and examining the issue of stability of the government. Ideally, he should have allowed the coalition government to collapse under its own weight. It would have been difficult for the three parties to agree to a common minimum programme.
  • Dissolution of the assembly to prevent the formation of a popular government shows a lack of belief in parliamentary democracy, which is the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Dissolution of the assembly may be legal in strict terms if the court does not find it mala fide, but it is certainly contrary to constitutional morality. The governor has indeed gone against constitutional trust as there is nothing like absolute discretion. Absolute discretion is the anti-thesis of constitutionalism. Satya Pal Malik should have recalled that in quashing the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, the apex court had criticised Governor Rajkhowa by describing the happenings in the state as “a thrashing given to the Constitution and a spanking to governance”.

Concluding Remarks:

  • It is important to note that the graph has been of rising violence since 2014 not only in the Valley, but in the border districts of Jammu as well.
  • Experts have pointed out that in the backdrop of this volatile situation, the impact of the events of the past six months, starting from the BJP toppling its coalition government with the PDP, to the Governor thwarting the PDP-NC-Congress claim to forming a government, has been disastrous.
  • It has driven even those who sought a peaceful and feasible resolution to the sidelines.
  • Unfortunately, by his actions, Mr. Malik has joined a line of Governors appointed by the BJP-led government at the Centre who have skated far too close to constitutional red lines, violating the propriety of their office.
  • Further, as numerous constitutional experts have pointed out in the past, this particular case appears fit for the Supreme Court to overturn a Governor’s decision, but there are few Kashmiri parties which wish to go to court. The PC might have greatest reason, but it cannot go against the Governor. The NC, the PDP and the Congress all stand to gain from elections.
  • In conclusion, an important question arises: will the Governor try to postpone elections again, on the pretext of security?
  • It is important to note that Governor’s (or President’s) Rule is rarely more stable than under an elected government, even an unstable coalition as the PDP-BJP combine was.
  • Further, a more coherent coalition – the most likely outcome of Assembly elections – will certainly provide better political conditions for reconciliation than a Governor can, since the latter will have neither the grassroots reach nor the experience of local conditions that the former does.

F. Tidbits

1. PIL urges minimum wages for domestic workers

Context

  • The petition filed by NGO Common Cause along with social activist Aruna Roy and the National Platform for Domestic Workers, said: “Latent classism and lack of education make domestic workers prone to violence and abuse at the hands of their employers and placement agencies”.

Details of the PIL

  • The petition asked the Supreme Court to lay down guidelines to protect the workers’ rights.
  • As employment is largely through word of mouth or personal referrals, employment contracts are rarely negotiated, leaving the terms of employment to the whims of the employer
  • The petition said Indian homes had witnessed a 120% increase in domestic workers in the decade post liberalisation. “While the figure was 7,40,000 in 1991, it has increased to 16.6 lakh in 2001,” the NGO said.
  • The petition sought the recognition of domestic work under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Their work hours should be reduced to eight a day and they should be given a mandatory weekly off as a basic right under Article 21.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Iravatham Mahadevan, noted epigraphist, passes away

 

  • Iravatham Mahadevan, 88, one of the world’s leading scholars on the Indus Valley Script, the pre-eminent scholar on the Tamil Brahmi script, and a man of many accomplishments, passed away here early on Monday after a brief illness.
  • A former member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Mr. Mahadevan joined the service in 1954 and took voluntary retirement in 1980, after holding various positions in the Central and Tamil Nadu governments.
  • In August 1987, he became the Editor of the Tamil daily Dinamani and served the paper for four years. He succeeded A.N. Sivaraman, who held the post for over 45 years.
  • In the last three decades of his life, he devoted himself wholly to the study of India’s early writing systems. He kept in active touch with leading scholars of early India, including historian Romila Thapar and the Finnish specialist on the Indus Valley Script, Asko Parpola.
  • The Indus Script – Texts, Concordance and Tables, compiled by Mr. Mahadevan with a grant from the Indian Council of Historical Research and published by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1977, continues to be a definitive and an indisputable resource for Indus Valley scholarship.
  • A man of letters, principles, and philanthropy, he founded the Vidyasagar Educational Trust, in memory of his late son, to support under-privileged students. His eyes were donated, as per his wishes, to Sankara Nethralaya.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Bioremediation Technology:

  1. Bioremediation is the use of living microorganisms to degrade the environmental contaminants into less toxic forms.
  2. One of the advantages of Bioremediation is that it effective in all environmental conditions.
  3. Genetic engineering can be used to create microorganisms specifically designed for bioremediation.
  4. Any contaminant with heavy metals such as cadmium and lead cannot be completely treated by bioremediation using microorganisms.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 1, 3 and 4
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

See

Answer
Question 2. Environmental Performance Index is released by
  1. WWF
  2. UNEP
  3. Yale and Columbia Universities
  4. Society for Conservation of Nature

See

Answer
Question 3. Parali I island sometimes seen in news is located in:
  1. Lakshadweep
  2. South China Sea
  3. Andaman and Nicobar
  4. Sea of Japan

See

Answer

 

 

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. CBI has been caught in a den of controversies with allegations and counter allegations being thrown left, right and centre. In this context, explain in detail the issues faced by CBI and the role played by judiciary in reforming CBI and the impact of such measures. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. Vietnam is an important regional player in SE Asia and its growing economic clout demands increased engagement with the country. There are several common concerns among India and Vietnam which need to be used as foundations to build the bilateral relationship. Discuss (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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