TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related JUDICIARY 1. Supreme Court must set example on backlog, says R.M. Lodha SOCIAL JUSTICE 1. Panel to study issues raised by #MeTooIndia INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. India wins election to UNHRC C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. Overhaul GDP norms: MPs D. GS4 Related E. Editorials ECONOMY 1. As the rupee spins downwards POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. By extension (NRC Assam) F. Tidbits 1. ‘Do you want a country of vegetarians?’ 2. SC stays High Court ban on ‘fatwas’ G. Prelims Fact 1. Conde wins alternative Nobel H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s advice that the Chief Justices of the High Courts should ensure that fellow judges do not take leave on working days and remain in court during working hours to clear the backlog of cases, drew a counter-suggestion from one of his predecessors. Former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha said the Supreme Court ought to be the first to “set an example” in the matter.
- “The Supreme Court should first set the example, not just the CJI but the entire court of 24 judges,” said Justice Lodha, who had during his term as CJI mooted a 365-day work calendar for the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- “Charity begins at home. Such initiatives should be objectively implemented by the Supreme Court, then it will percolate to the High Courts,” Justice Lodha told.
- “Firstly, the CJI, or for that matter, the Supreme Court has no administrative control over the High Courts in a federal structure. That is our constitutional scheme. CJI cannot give orders, he can only advice” Justice Lodha said.
- “It has to be left to the High Courts concerned to ensure that the advice is properly implemented.”
- The former CJI said the effort to trim the backlog should be “collective, collaborative and consensual” among the CJI, Supreme Court judges and the Chief Justices of the various High Courts.
- Justice Lodha said the successive short tenures of CJIs also impeded implementation of their plans. Changes for the better should be institutionalised.
Reasons for Judicial Delays at a glance
- Large number of unfilled judicial vacancies
- A long drawn judicial process: This is compounded by the fact that often witnesses are not willing to come forward. The process concerning criminal cases also takes time; this is exacerbated by the fact that it takes time for reports such as medical reports, forensic reports, etc. to be given. There are at times even strikes in Courts that delay the process.
- Fast growing population
- Lack of Infrastructure: Chief Justice, Dipak Misra has described that the lack of infrastructure, as one of the causes.
- Lack of good quality judges
- Salaries and Perks of judges: If better salaries and better perks are provided, then better lawyers would be interested in becoming judges. Today, the quality of lawyers interested in becoming judges is poor, because of which the quality of judges is down and because of which the justice delivery system is also suffering.
- An increasing number of states and central laws
- Mounting number of appeals
- Shortage of judges in courts
- Delay in hearing of cases of common civil rights in High Courts
- Increase in Appeals in High Courts against the orders of the quasi-judicial bodies
- The Petition for revision and appeal in a case
- Continuous adjournment
- Indiscriminate utilisation of writ rights
- Inadequate system of monitoring cases
- Difficulties in tracking trials
- Efforts to prevent a case during hearing
- Lack of will and capability to decide cases
- Apart from these, there are delays during pre-trial and trial of cases
- The government will set up a committee of judges and lawyers to examine the existing legal and institutional framework to deal with complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace, Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi announced on Friday.
- The Minister said the expert committee will advise the Ministry to strengthen the existing framework.
Views of the Minister on this issue
- “I believe in the pain and trauma behind every single complaint. Cases of sexual harassment at work must be dealt with a policy of zero tolerance. The Ministry will be setting up a committee of senior judicial & legal persons to examine all issues emanating from the #MeTooIndia movement,” Ms. Gandhi tweeted.
- “It takes a lot for women to come out like this. These cases have been elephants in the rooms for the last 25 years. The question here is how can they prove these after all these years… they have faced verbal assault, they have been touched, pinched, their clothes have been pulled,” Ms. Gandhi told the news agency PTI in an interview.
- “The first thing to do is naming and shaming these monsters. Naming and shaming will go a long way in lessening the pain these women have been carrying,” Ms. Gandhi said.
What is #MeToo movement?
- The Me Too movement (or #MeToo movement), with many local and international alternatives, is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
- #MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.
- It followed soon after the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
- Tarana Burke, an American social activist and community organizer, began using the phrase “Me Too” as early as 2006, and the phrase was later popularized by American actress Alyssa Milano, on Twitter in 2017.
- Milano encouraged victims of sexual harassment to tweet about it and “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
- This was met with success that included but was not limited to high-profile posts from several American celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman.
- India was elected to the United Nations’ top human rights body on Friday for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates.
- The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections here for new members to the UN Human Rights Council. The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.
- In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 votes, Bangladesh 178, Bahrain and Philippines 165 each.
- India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 terms.
- It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system
- It is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
- It was created by UNGA on 15 March 2006 to promote human rights globally.
- It had replaced former UN Commission on Human Rights.
- It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Members: UNHRC is made up of 47 UN member states which are elected by UN General Assembly (UNGA) with specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe.
- The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
- Members of the council work to engage countries on improving human rights.
- They make decisions ranging from exposing violations to recommending that UN Security Council make referral to International Criminal Court (ICC).
- UNHRC does not have authority to take action but can exert significant pressure on violating country.
- It can also set up special persons with mandate to investigate and report human-rights violations and abuses.
- The council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and engages the United Nations’ special procedures.
- The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership.
C. GS3 Related
- The current manner in which the GDP is measured needs an overhaul as it provides an incomplete estimation of economic activity, a report by the Estimates Committee of Parliament pointed out in a draft report.
- The committee noted that the GDP calculation does not measure the depletion of natural resources, a point several economists including former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian have pointed out.
- The report said the current measure of GDP did not incorporate the economic contributions of women in running households and maintaining accounts; nor did it have any measure of whether an increase in GDP resulted in an increase in happiness.
- “The Chief Economic Adviser [Arvind Subramanian], in this context, has candidly expressed before the Committee that GDP, the most frequently used indicator for measuring growth of the economy, has many deficiencies and it has been elevated and given sanctity that, may be, it does not deserve,” it said.
There are different types of parliamentary committees
- Consultative committees for different ministries which provide a forum for discussion on the policies and the working of the ministry
- The Select or Joint select Committees on individual bills for investigation or inquiry.
- The Parliament may appoint a committee for specific purpose of studying a particular subject matter for example, a committee for the welfare of Scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
- There are committees to inquire into the various matters like the Committee of Petitions and the Committee of Privileges, the Committee to Scrutinize or the Committee of Government assurance and Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
- There are also committees of administrative character relating to the business of House such as Committee on absence of Members from the sittings of the House, Business Advisory Committee and Rules Committee.
- A few committees are concerned with the facilities of a Member of Parliament like the House Committee and Library committee. However, one of the most important committees include the financial committees such as Estimates committee, Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.
The Estimate Committee
- The Government of the day formulates the economic policies and present demands to the Parliament for carrying out the policies.
- In order to scrutinize the expenditure proposed by the Government in an informal atmosphere disregarding party lines, an Estimate Committee is constituted after the budget is presented before the Lok Sabha.
This committee of the Lok Sabha examines the estimates in order to make suggestion in regard to—
- Economy and improvement in organizational efficiency or administrative reform consistent with policies underlying the estimates.
- Suggest alternative policies for bringing efficiency and economy in administration.
- Examine whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy.
- To suggest the form in which the estimates are to be presented to the Parliament.
The committee functions would not include a Government undertaking which has been referred to the Committee on Public Undertakings.
Constitution of the Committee
- The committee shall not have more than 30 members. The members are elected by proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
- A Minister cannot be elected to the committee and if after election a person is appointed a Minster, he ceases to be a member of the committee.
- The members are appointed for a period not exceeding one year. The report of the committees is not debated in the House.
- The committee keeps on working throughout the year and places its views before the House. The demand for grants made by the Government does not wait for the report of the Estimates committee.
- The Estimates Committee makes useful suggestion and checks Government’s extravagance in making demands for the next financial year.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Note to Students:
- This is an analysis-based article that examines the Government’s measures for arresting the rupee’s slide. The article asserts that the approach which has been adopted so far needs a rethink.
- UPSC aspirants would benefit from these points as they can use much of this content to present answers on the topic in case it is asked in the UPSC Mains Examination, be it as a part of the General Studies- III paper or the Essay paper.
- Besides many narratives, this article also touches upon the idea of ‘Rupee Depreciation’. We at BYJUs have covered a detailed topic on ‘Rupee Depreciation’ as part of our YouTube video release series. Students are advised to go through the below link:
Role of the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance
- The Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance do have a number of options for stabilisation.
These include the following:
- overtly intervening in the forex market,
- selling non-resident Indian bonds (as last done in 2013) and
- conducting a sovereign bond issuance
An analysis of the Government’s approach:
- It is important to note that when the crude prices-current account deficit-rupee macroeconomic equation had started becoming unfavourable, the government’s early arguments focussed on external factors that lay outside its control.
These include factors such as a) oil prices, b) U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy, c) turmoil in the international currencies, etc.
- Currently we observe that the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, reassured markets that the fiscal correction target would be met without a cutback in capital expenditure. However, this assurance did not change market expectations. All in all, the response measures could not turn the tide. The depreciation continues, and we currently face a reality where the rupee may figure 75-to-a-dollar very soon.
- Experts believe that a durable solution to this issue would be to attract stable, long-term capital, and not hot money chasing arbitrage differentials.
- It is important to note that the move to raise the import tariffs on select ‘non-essentials’ confers protection on local industries with competitive disadvantage vis-a-via imports.
- However, certain questions arise:
Were the items really chosen through serious analysis of the current account deficit? Import duties were raised up on washing machines, but only on those ‘less than 10 kg’.
Critics raise many questions, for example: would the government be able to explain as to why it considers imports of washing machines ‘10 kg and more’ essential? This is socialist-era redux. The rupee’s tumble has brought out the controlling tendencies that were retired in the 1990s.
Another question that arises is as to why have markets have not bought the government’s reading of the macroeconomic situation?
- Currently, the government has taken the position that the rupee’s troubles are due to international developments beyond its control- that these include a) rising U.S. interest rates and b) global crude prices.
- It is important to note that these short-term difficulties have certainly touched what are traditional vulnerabilities.
- The twin (fiscal and current account) deficits get stressed whenever crude prices surge or there is a dollar-investments sell-off. A short period of rupee volatility follows.
- The markets are readjusting their expectations of the twin deficits. The depreciation underway is confirmation that things have not changed, as is evident from the frequent use of stop-gap plugs rather than long-term fixes.
- When we do a critical study of the four years since 2014, the current government has reduced the fiscal deficit by just one percentage point, despite the huge bonanza from the fuel taxes.
- The policy, as conceived, was to tax when crude prices are low, use the proceeds so raised to balance the fiscal books, and whenever prices rise, reduce the tax rates. When this policy is done right, it could mitigate retail prices volatility and fiscal imbalances. However, the government dithered on expenditure reforms, and so its dependence on the fuel taxes has grown.
- Currently, the Government finds itself caught between voter and market expectations. The Finance Minister, Mr. Jaitley has currently decided to trim fuel tax rates, accepting a minor revenue loss for a cosmetic price relief.
- Further, he ensured state-controlled oil marketers also cut retail prices and absorbed the losses. This has destroyed the discipline of deregulation being practised since 2010 for a trivial giveaway of Rs. 1 a litre. The reform reversed had held for the past eight years.
- The markets looked back to the RBI (with no result) for bringing a pause in the rupee’s slide. The burden of expectations tested the RBI’s commitment to the new monetary policy framework. The mandate of the monetary policy framework is to target inflation.
- Its exchange rate management duties are limited to subduing rupee volatility. In not hiking the policy interest rate last week, the RBI has remained duty-bound and within mandate.
- What the RBI can do, as it has in the past too, is to open special windows for the forex needs of crude oil importers. Taking this considerable source of demand-side pressures off the forex market could provide the rupee some relief.
Note to Students:
The issue concerning the NRC Assam has been a widely debated topic in the news over the past few months now. In this coverage of the issue, we have attempted towards giving a detailed background of this issue which would lend greater insight from the perspective of the UPSC examination.
- The NRC Assam, the Register containing names of Indian Citizens in Assam, was prepared in 1951 as a non-statutory process by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during 1951 Census.
- The Assam agitation (1979-85) against the illegal foreigners led to the signing of Assam Accord on 15th August 1985 between the Central Government, State Government, All India Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam GanSangramParishad (AAGSP), which stipulated 24th March, 1971 as the cut-off date for identification and deportation of illegal migrants from East Pakistan (Bangladesh).
- Accordingly, the Citizenship Act, 1955 was amended by inserting section 6A as special provisions for Assam.
- In a tripartite meeting of the Central Government, State Government and AASU chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister in May, 2005, it was agreed to update NRC, 1951. The modalities were approved by the Government of India in consultation with the Government of Assam.
- In pursuance of the Supreme Court’s direction, the exercise of NRC update in Assam commenced in December 2013 to be completed over a period of three years. The Supreme Court is continuously monitoring the progress of NRC update and has given various directions from time to time.
- The preparation of NRC is the most extensive citizen engaging exercise, which touches the life of every resident of Assam. It is part of the action for the fulfilment of Assam Accord and understanding arrived in a tripartite meeting held in 2005 at the level of Prime Minister. The National Register of Citizens, Assam will contain the names of genuine Indian citizens and will help the government to check illegal immigration in India.
- The final draft of the National Register of Citizens for Assam was recently released. Just three months after this was released, the Honourable Supreme Court of India has tagged a petition seeking a similar process for Tripura.
- This petition, now tagged to the Assam case, was heard by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.
- The petitioners, in this particular case are a group of activists from Tripura, who sought a process to identify illegal migrants and deport them from the State.
What was the position of the petitioners?
- The petitioners maintained that the influx of such migrants amounted to “external aggression” and that they have turned the tribal people into a minority in their own native land.
- It is important to note that much of the migration into Tripura occurred before the creation of Bangladesh.
- The petition takes recourse to the 1993 tripartite accord signed by the Government of India with the All Tripura Tribal Force that asked for the repatriation of all Bangladeshi nationals who had come to Tripura after March 25, 1971 and are not in possession of valid documents authorising their presence in the State.
- In fact, the petitioners go even further than the terms of the accord to demand that the cut-off date for the recognition of migrants should be July 1949, based on Article 6 of the Constitution.
- It is important to note that these demands must be contextualised in the light of the developments in Tripura over the last four decades.
- As early as in 1979, after years of struggle, the tribal people of the State had gained special autonomy provisions.
- These Special Autonomy Provisions include
- a) the institution of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council and b) recognition of their spoken language, among other assurances.
Since these developments, the empowerment of the council and the protection of tribal rights have steadily eroded the significant tribal versus non-tribal differences that once existed in the State.
- In conclusion, it is important to note that over the last three decades, multiple insurgent groups have ended violent struggles. These violent struggles have either quelled by force of law or as a result of conceding vital demands for preserving the gains made by earlier tribal struggles.
- Further, the judicial-bureaucratic process of hearing a petition to seek the deportation of long-settled migrants is beset with problems.
- These problems are not dissimilar to those already being faced in Assam.
- Currently, the question of what awaits the four million people whose names did not figure in the final NRC draft, and have been given a second chance to prove their antecedents, still hangs in the balance.
- However, it is important to note that the NRC process in Assam has an overall popular legitimacy across most political parties.
- Experts believe that there is no answer to how the deportation process could (or should) proceed. Embarking on any such bureaucratic exercise without considering its deep humanitarian impact will only create new fault lines.
- This is especially true for a State like Tripura where there is no such unanimity of views on the NRC process.
- It must be noted that this will undo years of work to bring about a reconciliation between Bengali-speaking and tribal people. The Supreme Court should be cognisant of this while hearing the petition.
- Hearing a petition for a ban on the “barbaric” meat trade and leather industry, Supreme Court Justice Madan B. Lokur on Friday asked whether the objective of the plea is to have a “country full of vegetarians.”
- A Bench of Justices Lokur and Deepak Gupta was hearing a PIL filed by ‘Healthy Wealthy Ethical World Guide India Trust’ for a “complete ban on the export of all types of meat (including beef, fish, pork, poultry) and all related products, whether by the government or by private parties”.
- “Meat exports and ancillary leather trade is anti-social, barbaric and the much talked of foreign exchange comes with a huge price at the cost of the nation,” the petitioner contended.
- “World over ‘slaughterhouse’ and ‘tannery’ are indicted as unsocial, obnoxious and hazardous… meat exporters do not talk about rampant pollution that emanates from this obnoxious industry,” the petitioner said.
- Contending that the Trust was not opposed to private domestic meat production, the petitioner chose to highlight the “rampant misuse of antibiotics in intensive animal agriculture and the spread of zoonotic diseases.”
- Meat trade and tanneries seriously affect public health, cause “reduction of our cattle wealth, contamination of the vital public resource of water and unbridled degradation of the environment,” the petitioner said in the plea.
- The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an Uttarakhand High Court order banning religious outfits from issuing ‘fatwas’, which are opinions given by qualified Islamic scholars to queries.
- The High Court on August 30 had barred fatwas on the ground that it infringed on the fundamental rights of individuals, including their dignity.
- The order was based on a media report that a panchayat had issued ‘fatwa’ to banish a rape victim’s family in Roorkee’s Laksar.
- In its plea before the apex court, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind has said the High Court order banning issuance of ‘fatwa’ by religious outfits and bodies was “illegal and unsustainable” and the legality of ‘fatwa’ had already been adjudicated by the top court in 2014.
G. Prelims Fact
- Guadeloupean author Maryse Conde on Friday won an alternative award formed in protest to the Nobel Literature Prize, postponed this year over a rape scandal that came to light as part of the #MeToo movement.
- The New Academy Prize in Literature was formed in protest to denounce what its founders called the “bias, arrogance and sexism” of the venerable Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel laureates.
- The Swedish Academy was plunged into turmoil in 2017 over its ties to Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, who was jailed for two years in early October for rape.
- Conde “describes the ravages of colonialism and post-colonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming,” the New Academy — founded by more than 100 Swedish writers, artists and journalists — said more than a week after the Nobel Literature Prize would have been announced.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. With reference to “Oxytocin”, recently in news, which of the following statement(s) is/are incorrect?
- Oxytocin is naturally secreted by the pituitary glands of mammals during sex, childbirth, lactation or social bonding, and is sometimes called “love hormone”.
- Males usually have this hormone in higher levels than females.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- 1 and 2 only
- Neither 1 nor 2
- 1 only
- 2 only
Question 2. With reference to “Global Innovation Index (GII)”, recently in news, which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
- India has been consistently declining in the GII ranking for the past two years.
- GII is jointly released by Cornell University, INSEAD and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 3. With reference to “Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve” which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
- The Reserve has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
- Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve is a National Park and a Biosphere Reserve located in Assam.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Comment. (150 words)
- Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India. (150 words)
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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