Bills/Act/LawsDOMRExplainedGovt. SchemesHistorical Sites in NewsIOCRMains Onlyop-ed of the dayop-ed snapPIBPrelims OnlyPriority 1SC JudgementsSpecies in NewsStates in News
November 2019
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Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] A blow against punitive constitutionalism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Beggary act

Context

Two centuries of colonial rule imposed many cruelties upon Indians. There was criminalisation and stigmatisation of entire populations that did not “fit in” to a certain, narrow way of life.

Examples of such laws

    • Criminal Tribes Act –  indigenous peoples were deemed criminals by birth and herded into concentration camps, where families were separated and forced labor was the norm.
    • Post Independence – despite Independence and adoption of Constitution, post-colonial Indian state replicated many of the worst excesses of the British regime.
    • “Beggary law” – it was enacted in Bombay in 1958, and later extended to many States and Union Territories. 
    • These laws criminalise itinerant and nomadic communities, anyone who does not fit the state’s definition of a “normal” citizen.
    • They establish a system of “certified institutions” that are little better than detention centres.
    • They facilitate the continued stigmatisation and incarceration of some of the most vulnerable and marginalised segments of society.

Recent judgment

    • Jammu and Kashmir High Court struck down that state’s iteration of the Beggary Act. 
    • It identified the colonial origins of the law and found it to be a gross violation of human dignity, equality, and freedom.

The Beggary laws

    • Broad definition of “begging” – “begging” is defined as “having no visible means of subsistence and wandering about or remaining in any public place… in such condition or manner, as makes it likely that the person doing so exists by soliciting or receiving alms”.
    • Beyond begging – beggary laws go substantially beyond criminalising the act of begging. They criminalise people who are “wandering about” and who look like they might need to beg at some point.
    • Purpose – the purpose of such provisions is not to protect public peace or prevent crimes, but to effectively “cleanse” these spaces of individuals who appear poor or destitute.
    • Process – People found “begging” can be arrested without a warrant and thrown into “Beggars’ Homes” for a year to three years. The Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Rules authorised forced medical examinations of “beggars” taken in police custody, “shaving” of hair and “removal of clothing” in order to undertake the euphemistically-phrased “cleansing” of the body.
    • Government defense – The government defended the law on the ground that it was necessary to make “good citizens” out of “beggars”, and that it was necessary to maintain public order.

Analysis in the judgment

    • Origins of such statutes – Under the belief that people without settled means of sustenance were a threat to society, a number of “vagrancy statutes” were enacted and served as precursors to the beggary laws. 
    • In India – begging was first criminalised in the 1920s to “subjugate certain communities by imputing criminality to them.”
    • What begging indicates – begging and homelessness is indicators of abject, chronic poverty. Poverty had social causes. Beggary is a manifestation of the fact that the person has fallen through the socially created net.
    • Poverty not individual created the court rejected the view according to which poverty is a consequence of individual failings.
    • Fundamental rights – “begging” was a peaceful method by which a person sought to communicate their situation to another, and solicit their assistance. It was protected under Article 19(1)(a)’s freedom of speech guarantee.
    • No proof – the government failed to demonstrate how incarcerating “beggars” into homes would transform them into “good citizens”. 
    • Public spaces access – by criminalising “wandering about” in public spaces, the law attempted to exclude the poor and marginalised from places that were meant “for the enjoyment of every member of the public without exception.” It also violated the constitutional guarantee of freedom of movement.
    • Nature of existence – a large number of itinerant communities such as the Gujjars and the Bakarwals, whose very nature of existence is moving from place to place. This would bring them within the ambit of the beggary law. 
    • Dignity – by effectively criminalising poverty, the beggary law violated basic human dignity.
    • Prejudiced view – The legislation was steeped in prejudice against poverty and premised on an absolute presumption of potential criminality of those faced with choicelessness.
    • Right to life – coupled with the draconian processes under the Act, it violated the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Submerging individual rights

    • Recent years have seen the rise of a phenomenon known as “punitive constitutionalism”. 
    • It seeks to submerge individual rights to a grand and undefined national project. It says that an individual may be stripped of their rights if they do not do their bit to contribute to this project. 
    • Laws barring political participation to those who have more than two children, or who lack formal education, effectively make freedom and equality conditional upon the state’s vision of what a “good citizen” should be like. 
    • Rights are no longer about being human, but about earning the right to be treated as a human.
    • The beggary laws belong within this same family of punitive constitutionalism.

Conclusion

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s judgment is explicitly premised upon the unconstitutionality of “invisiblising” a social problem by criminalising it. Thus, it shows us the exact way in which our Constitution rejects this harsh world view.

Disinvestment in India

[op-ed snap] Push for the better

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Disinvestment

Mains level : Current disinvestment India - challenges

Context

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the strategic disinvestment of five public sector enterprises – Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Container Corporation of India Ltd, Shipping Corporation of India, Tehri Hydro Power Development Corporation (THDC) and the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO).

Disinvestment target

    • 1.05 lakh cr – The proceeds from the stake sales will help the Centre move closer to achieving its disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore for this year.
    • Disinvestment so far – only Rs 17,364 crore or 16.5% of its budgeted disinvestment target is met, as per data from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management(DIPAM).
    • Revenue shortfall – Centre is facing huge shortfalls in both direct and indirect tax revenues. Its gross tax revenues have grown by 1.5% in the first half (April to September) of the current financial year.

Current disinvestment

    • BPCL – Of the five companies, the stake sale in BPCL is likely to be the biggest. The sale will be of interest to both domestic firms and major international players. 
    • The government could fetch around Rs 63,000 crore from its stake sale in the company.
    • Adding proceeds from the sale in the Container Corporation and the Shipping Corporation, Centre may earn more than Rs 70,000 crore through these three firms alone. 

Challenges

    • Less time – With only four months to go, the stake sales may not be wrapped up by the end of the financial year. 
    • Other PSU buying – It should not be another case of public sector firms stepping in to buy these entities to bail out the government. 
    • Transfer of assets – The sale of THDCIL and NEEPCO to NTPC, is essentially a transfer of assets between various arms of the public sector.

Way ahead

    • Plan – The government should draw a more ambitious, better laid out, medium-term plan for disinvestment.
    • Not for revenues – It should not be approached as merely an arrangement for plugging its revenue gaps. 
    • Calendar – It should draw up a list of potential candidates and release an advance calendar, indicating the period of disinvestment. This would help draw in more buyers.
    • Use of proceeds – should be only for the creation of new assets, not to meet its revenue expenditure.

Back2Basics

Disinvestment Policy in India.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

The Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019

Mains level : Significance of the Bill


The Union Cabinet has approved The Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019.

The Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019

  • It proposes to amalgamate
  1. The Trade Unions Act, 1926,
  2. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and
  3. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
  • This is the third Code in the government’s proposed codification of central labour laws into four Codes.

Importance of the Bill

  • The most important aspect of the Bill is that it presents the legal framework for ushering in the concept of ‘fixed-term employment’ through contract workers on a pan-India basis.
  • Currently, companies hire contract workers through contractors.
  • With the introduction of fixed-term employment, they will be able to hire workers directly under a fixed-term contract, with the flexibility to tweak the length of the contract based on the seasonality of industry.
  • These workers will be treated on a par with regular workers during the tenure of the contract.
  • The move to include it in a central law will help in wider reach, and states are expected to follow similar applicability.

Changes in the Bill

  • The threshold required for government permission for retrenchment has been kept unchanged at 100 employees, as against the proposal for 300 employees in an earlier draft of the Bill, which was opposed by trade unions.
  • Instead, the government has now provided flexibility for changing the threshold through notification.
  • The rigidity of labour laws about laying off labour has often been cited by industry as the main reason limiting scalability and employment generation.
  • At present, any company having 100 workers or more has to seek government approval for retrenchment.
  • The provision of fixed-term employment, which helps in the flow of social security benefits to all workers along with making it easier for companies to hire and fire, in The Industrial Relations Code Bill.

Fixed Term Employment Workman

  • Earlier the government had included the category of ‘Fixed Term Employment Workman’ for all sectors in the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
  • This was only applicable to ‘central sphere’ establishments, and the states did not follow suit.
  • Finance Minister saif that workers under a fixed-term contract would be taken up depending upon the seasonality of the industry, but would be treated on a par with regular workers.

Criticisms of the bill

  • The unclear provision regarding retrenchment would lead to uncertainty, and discretionary behaviour during implementation by the central or state government.
  • The moment the law will provide flexibility for the applicability, it leaves the matter to the discretion to the appropriate government (states or Centre). Then the clause can be misused.
  • Any discretion in law leads to uncertainty, lack of clarity, discriminatory implementation, and provides scope for unnecessary usage.
  • The government should be clear whether to increase the threshold or retain the threshold and face the consequences.
  • Also, fixed-term employment needs to be introduced with adequate safeguards, otherwise it runs the risk of encouraging conversion of permanent employment into fixed-term employment.

Intellectual Property Rights in India

Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Performing Right Society

Mains level : Civil socities and their functioning in India

  • The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has registered an FIR against a film producer others for alleged criminal breach of trust and failure of payment.
  • The FIR was registered on a complaint by the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS). This is the first criminal case initiated by the IPRS after it was re-registered as a copyright society in 2017.

Indian Performing Right Society

  • The IPRS is a representative body of artists, including music owners, composers, lyricists, and publishers of music.
  • It collects royalties due to the artists if their work is used anywhere from a wedding to a New Year function or on radio or TV — in other words, wherever music is played.
  • The body was set up in 1969, and re-registered as a copyright society in 2017, following which it started functioning actively.
  • The IPRS has its offices in Mumbai, and lyricist Javed Akhtar is its chairman.

Functioning

  • A 2012 amendment in The Copyright Act, 1957 laid down that artists would get 50% of royalties every time their work was used, even if the copyright remained with the production house or the music brand.
  • It meant that every time a song was played in, say, a large party in a hotel or by a radio station, or streamed or even used as a mobile phone ringtone, 50% of the royalty would go to the production house or music company.
  • The other 50% would be split between the lyricist and composer of the song.
  • The IPRS is responsible for collecting the 50% royalty that is due to artists involved in “literary work accompanied to music” — meaning lyricists, music composers, and publishers of music.
  • While even individual artists can theoretically approach the users of their work directly, it is likely to be a difficult and long drawn-out process.
  • As members of IPRS, they have better infrastructure at their disposal to press their claim and collect the money due to them.

How does the process of licensing with the IPRS work?

  • The IPRS has a database of around 10 million songs, including Indian and international numbers, for which it collects royalty.
  • If cases of big events, the IPRS generally approach the organizers beforehand to inform them about the licensing required to play the songs of artists who are registered with them.
  • Most online streaming platforms are registered with IPRS, and licensed to use the artists’ songs.
  • After being re-registered as a copyright society in 2017 under the amended Copyright Act, the IPRS sent letters to all media platforms, asking them to ensure that artists are paid 50% of the royalty as per the Act.

J&K – The issues around the state

[pib] Himayat Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himayat Mission

Mains level : Ensuring effective governance in J&K


The Jammu and Kashmir administration is working on effective implementation of Himayat Mission.

Himayat Mission

  • It is an initiative of Union Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It is implemented by Jammu & Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) with Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) Ahmedabad, as coordinating /monitoring agency.
  • The project aims to generate sustainable livelihood opportunities through self employment for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir by the crosscutting approaches of holistic entrepreneurship development programs.
  • It aims at providing entrepreneurial skills for sustainable livelihood to 10,000 youth of J&K and facilitate access to finance and support services to at least 50% of them over a period of 3.5 Years.
  • Under this, 42 projects have been sanctioned for training and placement target of 68,134 youths.

Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

[pib] Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission Indradhanush

Mains level : Immunization programme in India


Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare have reviewed the preparedness within States for rollout of Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0.

Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0

  • IMI was launched from Vadnagar in 2017 and immunization has been given a strong push in the Gram Swaraj Abhiyaan and Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyaan.
  • The IMI 2.0 aims to achieve targets of full immunization coverage in 272 districts in 27 States and shall be implemented in the block level (652 blocks) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • In October 2017, the PM Modi launched IMI, an ambitious plan to accelerate progress.
  • It aimed to achieve 90% full immunization coverage with focus towards districts and urban areas with persistently low levels.
  • IMI was built on MI, using additional strategies to reach populations at high risk, by involving sectors other than health.
  • It was an effort to shift routine immunization into a Jan Andolan, or a “peoples’ movement”.

Salient features of IMI 2.0

  • Immunization activity will be in four rounds over 7 working days excluding the RI days, Sundays and holidays.
  • Enhanced immunization session with flexible timing, mobile session and mobilization by other departments.
  • Enhanced focus on left-outs, dropouts, and resistant families and hard to reach areas.
  • Focus on urban, underserved population and tribal areas.
  • Inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination.
  • Enhance political, administrative and financial commitment, through advocacy.
  • IMI immunization drive, consisting of 4 rounds of immunization will be conducted in the selected districts and urban cities from Dec 2019 to March 2020.

History- Important places, persons in news

Lutyens’ Delhi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lutyen's Delhi

Mains level : British architecture in India


The Central government has kick-started its ambitious plan of redeveloping the three-km-long Central Vista and Parliament.

Lutyens’ Delhi

  • Lutyens’ Delhi is an area in New Delhi, India, named after the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944), who was responsible for much of the architectural design and building during 1920s and 1940s.
  • This also includes the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ).
  • Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect of Delhi, designed 4 bungalows in the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate, (Viceroy House Estate); now, these bungalows lie on the Mother Teresa Crescent (then Willingdon Crescent).
  • Sir Herbert Baker, who also designed with the Secretariat Buildings (North and South Block), designed bungalows on the then King George’s Avenue (south of the Secretariats) for high-ranking officials.
  • Other members of the team of architects were Robert Tor Russell, who built Connaught Place, the Eastern and Western Courts on Janpath, Teen Murti House, etc.
  • It is on the 2002 World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites made by World Monuments Fund, a heritage organization based in New York.

Why redevelop the area?

  • The British built Parliament House and the North and South Blocks, which contain the offices of the Ministries of Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs, between 1911 and 1931.
  • Post-1947, the government of independent India added office buildings such as Shastri Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan and Nirman Bhavan.
  • While the British-built buildings are not earthquake-proof, the buildings that came up after 1947 are prone to fires.

Tourism Sector

Tourist arrivals in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Development of Tourism in India


Bangladesh, the United States, and the United Kingdom were the top three countries from where foreign tourists arrived in India in 2018, statistics provided by the Ministry of Tourism to Parliament show.

Foreigners’ arrival in India

  • The Ministry’s data also exhibit a consistent increase in overall foreign tourist arrivals as well as foreign exchange earnings over the years 2016, 2017, and 2018.
  • Among individual states, Tamil Nadu saw the most visits by foreign tourists in 2018 — over 60 lakh in that year. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh followed, with over 50 lakh and 37 lakh visits respectively.
  • In 2017, arrivals from Bangladesh increased significantly to 21,56,557 from 12,80,409 in the previous year.
  • In 2018, the number further went up to 22,56,675. The trend from Pakistan showed a sharp contrast, with numbers falling from 1,04,720 in 2016 to 44,266 in 2017, and further dropping to 41,659 in 2018.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[oped of the day] In our own words

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 3 language formula

Mains level : Role of mother tongue

Context

India is a linguistic treasure-trove. India is widely acknowledged for its extraordinary linguistic and cultural diversity.

Diversity in India

    • More than 19,500 languages and dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues, according to the Language Census.
    • There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in the country.

Challenges to languages

    • 196 languages in India are classified as endangered.
    • We are not doing enough to preserve our rich native languages.
    • Governments need to be doubly careful while adopting policies regarding the medium of instruction, particularly at the primary and secondary school levels. 
    • The mother tongue lays a strong foundation for the expression of creativity.

Language

    • It is a tool for intellectual and emotional expression. 
    • It is a vehicle of intergenerational transmission of culture, scientific knowledge, and a worldview. 
    • It is the vital, unseen thread that links the past with the present. 
    • It evolves with human evolution and is nourished by constant use.
    • Our languages permeate every facet of our day-to-day life and form the very basis of our civilisation. 
    • They are the lifeblood of our identity, both individual and collective. 
    • They play a significant role in creating and strengthening bonds among people. 

Language evolves

    • Languages are never static. They evolve and adapt to the socio-economic milieu. 
    • They grow, shrink, transform, merge and die. 
    • The great Indian poet, Acharya Dandi, had said that if the light of language does not exist, we will be groping in a dark world.
    • When a language declines, it takes with it an entire knowledge system and a unique perspective of viewing the universe. 
    • The traditional livelihood patterns disappear along with our special skills, arts, crafts, cuisine, and trade.

Language preservation and development

    • Making the mother tongue as the medium of instruction in our schools at the primary level.
    • A number of studies conducted all over the world have established that teaching the mother tongue at the initial stages of education gives an impetus to the growth of mind and thought.
    • It makes children more creative and logical.
    • Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, said: “For UNESCO, every mother tongue deserves to be known, recognised and given greater prominence in all spheres of public life.”
    • Mother tongues do not necessarily have national-language status, official-language status, or status as the language of instruction. 

English

    • There is a misconception that only English education offers opportunities to grow in the modern world.
    • There are only a handful of English-speaking countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, the US, etc. 
    • Countries like China, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, etc did very well without English education. 
    • Knowing English is useful, like knowing other international languages. 
    • This can’t be extended to make a case for supplanting the mother tongue with English. 
    • It can be learned easily at an appropriate stage after a strong foundation is laid in the mother tongue.

Way ahead

    • Make mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the primary level.
    • Take all steps to make it the language of administration, banking, and judicial proceedings.
    • Remove the existing linguistic barriers to realize the goal of inclusive governance. 
    • Wherever there is a government-public interface, it should be in the language people understand.
    • In 1999, UNESCO adopted a resolution on multilingual education and suggested the use of at least three languages in education: The mother language(s), a regional or national language and an international language. 
    • The crucial role of the mother language is a source of knowledge and innovation. The “command of a mother tongue facilitates general learning and learning of other languages”. 

Steps in the direction

    • The new draft National Education Policy puts forth a number of suggestions for supporting education in home languages and mother tongues, tribal as well as sign languages.
    • The United Nations has proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages to preserve, revitalise and promote indigenous languages. 
    • People can start using their native languages at home, in the community, in meetings, and in administration.
    • We must accord a sense of dignity and pride to those who speak, write and communicate in these languages. 
    • We must encourage Indian language publications, journals and children’s books. 
    • Dialects and folk literature must be given adequate focus. 
    • Language promotion should be an integral part of good governance. Swami Vivekananda once said that language is the chief means and index of a nation’s progress.
    • In the Rajya Sabha, a provision has been made for its members to express themselves in any of the 22 scheduled languages. 
    • The Supreme Court has recently decided to make available its judgments in six Indian languages, to start with. 
    • The finance ministry has decided to conduct the examinations for employment in Regional Rural Banks in 13 regional languages, in addition to English and Hindi.
    • The Railways and Postal departments started conducting their exams in the states’ official languages.

Back2Basics

Explained: Three Language Formula