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Human Rights Issues

[op-ed of the day] Preventing mob lynchingop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Protection of vulnerable section and mob lynching.


Context

The spate of incidents of lynching over the past few years has led to a heightened sense of insecurity among the marginalised communities. The Centre should specify penal action against officials and doctors accused of dereliction of duty.

2018 Supreme Court Judgement

  • In 2018, the Supreme Court described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy”.
  • The Court exhorted the Centre and State governments to frame laws specifically to deal with the crime of lynching.
  • The SC laid down certain guidelines to be incorporated in these laws including
    • Fast-track trials.
    • Compensation to victims, and
    • Disciplinary action against lax law-enforcers.

The State laws

  • Manipur bill for the law against lynching:  The Manipur government came up first with its Bill against lynching in 2018, incorporating some logical and relevant clauses.
    • Provision of nodal officer: The Bill specified that there would be nodal officers in each district to control such crimes.
    • Compensation to the victim: The law provides for adequate monetary compensation to the victims or their immediate kin.
    • Punishment for failure to enforce the law: Police officers who fail to prevent the crime of lynching in their jurisdiction are liable to be imprisoned for a term that may extend from one to three years with a fine limit of ₹50,000.
    • No concurrence of state for the prosecution of the police: No concurrence of the State government is required to prosecute them for dereliction of duty.
  • Rajasthan bill: The government has accepted only a few guidelines issued by the apex court.
    • No action against police officers: The bill is also silent on any action to be initiated against police officers who may be accused of dereliction of duty.
  • West Bengal bill: Most other guidelines of the Supreme Court have been adopted by the State.
    • Stringent punishment: Punishment for lynching to death is punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹5 lakh.

What the Centre can do

  • Adoption of the SC guidelines: The Centre should adopt the guidelines provided by the SC to deal with the crime.
  • Action against doctors: Centre would do well to incorporate sections in the law for penal action against doctors who stand accused of-
    • Dereliction of duty.
    • For delay in attending to victims of lynching.
    • For submitting false reports without carrying out a proper and thorough medical examination of the victims.
  • The compensation scheme for victims: Under the compensation scheme for the victims, the amount to be paid to the victims should be recovered from the perpetrators of the crime.
    • Collective fines: Collective fines should be imposed on the villagers where the lynching takes place.
  • Punishment for a political leader for inciting the mob: Centre could even provide for punitive action against political leaders found guilty of inciting mobs.
  • Punitive action against police: Punitive action to be taken against police officers accused of dereliction of duty, as incorporated in the law enacted by Manipur government, could be replicated in the Central law too.
    • Punitive action as a deterrent: It would deter police officials acting in a partisan manner in favour of the lynch mob.

Conclusion

Until a zero-tolerance attitude is adopted in dealing with mob lynching, this crime will continue to show a rising trend.

 

Internal Security Trends and Incidents

[op-ed snap] Maoist rebellion: policy fade-out, policy fade-inop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Threat of Left Wing Extremism and ways to deal with it.


 Context

When much is made of peace talks with rebels in Northeast India, avoidance of peace talks with Maoist rebels is strange.

States left to deal with the Maoists

  • Scale and extent of the problem: Officially in 2019, there are 11 states and 90 affected districts.
  • State subject: This is because policing and maintaining law and order are matters devolved to states.
  • The approach adopted to deal with the problem: According to MHA-
    • Capacity building: Primarily by capacity building of the state governments.
    • Areas of capacity building: Capacity building is to be carried out in areas of security and development. This will continue with the-
    • Better police training.
    • Better intelligence gathering.
    • Reinforcing police stations in conflict zones.
    • And recruiting locals into auxiliary forces.
  • Support by MHA: MHA will continue to provide the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other paramilitaries under its command.
    • Support of NTRO: Intelligence gathering outfits such as the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).
    • NTRO has in the past year increased drone surveillance over the densely forested Abujhmad area in southwest Chhattisgarh, which remains the main rebel hub.

The success achieved so far

  • Influence reduced to 90 districts: The policies so far has certainly contained the rebels across 90 affected districts.
  • Surrender and rehabilitation policy: Most Maoist-affected states in India have a surrender and rehabilitation policy.
  • Surrender policy along with search and destroy : Surrender policy rides in tandem with search-and-destroy missions that police and paramilitaries provide.
  • This pincer has massively depleted rebel leadership and ranks with regular killings, arrests, and surrender of its leaders and cadres.

Return of conflict displaced people

  • It is crucial for the conflict-displaced to return to their homes.
  • Issues related to return of displaced: Agencies discourage those returning from going back to their old home and instead are offered state-mandated enclaves.
    • No or little economic imperatives: Those returning are offered little economic imperative besides daily wage labour and scrambling for government handouts.
    • Some government jobs: For some, jobs are offered in
    • That is, in any case, the present for much of the 50,000 or so who did not manage to escape to Telangana and elsewhere.

Conclusion

  • The central government would do well to focus here and in beginning negotiations for peace.
  • The Left-wing rebellion, a reality for over 50 years, is difficult to end until poor governance is improved.

 

Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

[op-ed snap] The perils of RBI’s fixation on inflationop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Inflation targeting by RBI, and other mandates of RBI.


Context

The RBI’s responsibility to regulate the financial sector may have taken a back seat after the adoption of inflation targeting as the main objective. Has a fixation with inflation rate made the RBI take its eyes off the loan books of the banks?

Evolution of the role of the Central Banks

  • Maintaining financial stability: The establishment of some of the world’s oldest central banks was inspired by the goal of maintaining financial stability.
    • Harm to the depositors: It was recognised that when private commercial banks fail, whether due to malfeasance or misjudgement, they harm their trusting depositors.
    • Harm to the entire system: But when banks fail they not only harm the depositors they can also take down with them the rest of the financial system.
  • Banks lending to one another: The entire financial system also gets harmed when banks have lent to one another, which is not uncommon.
    • The collapse of credit: In the crisis that ensues, there is a collapse of credit which, in turn, leads to a downturn in economic activity.
  • Lender of last resort: To avoid this, the central bank was conceived of as the lender of last resort.
    • Prevention of run on the banks: Lender of last resort is the one that could pre-empt a run on banks and give them time to put their books back in order.
    • Regulation of banks: However, this was to be accompanied by the adoption of a tough regulatory stance.
    • Whereby the central bank would stay hawk-eyed towards the activities of banks, particularly risky lending.
  • Rise of neo-liberalism and change in a role: With the rise of neoliberalism, the central tenet of which is that markets should be given free play, the regulatory role of central banks took a back seat.
    • Inflation control as primary role: The Central banks came to be primarily mandated with inflation control.

Inflation targeting and regulation of the financial market by RBI

  • Multiple indicator approach: In India, the RBI had earlier pursued a ‘multiple indicators approach’.
    • What was the multiple indicator approach: The approach involves concern for outcomes other than inflation, including even the balance of payments.
    • Discouraging the approach: Developments in economic theory discouraged ‘multiple indicators approach’.
    • It was argued that having economic activity as an objective of monetary policy leads to higher inflation.
  • Favouring low inflation over lower unemployment: Discouraging the ‘multiple indicator approach’ encouraged low inflation over low unemployment.
  • Inflation targeting as the sole objective of monetary policy: The Indian government also instituted inflation targeting as the sole objective of monetary policy.
    • The fixed target for the RBI: The RBI was permitted to exceed or fall short of a targeted inflation rate of 4% by a margin of 2 percentage points.
  • But have the RBI’s original mandate as a central bank been met?
    • IL&FS crisis: In 2018, within three years of the adoption of inflation targeting goal, a crisis engulfed IL&FS, a non-banking financial company in the infrastructure space.
    • Not a small player: It operated over 100 subsidiaries and was sitting on a debt of ₹94,000 crores.
    • Effects of default: Given this, IL&FS default had a chilling effect on the investors, banks and mutual funds associated with it both directly or indirectly.
    • PMC bank crisis: In 2019, a run on the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank had to be averted by imposing withdrawal limits.
    • Outright fraud in PMC case: While in the case of IL&FS, some part of the problem may have been caused by a slowing economy, outright fraud underlay the crisis at PMC Bank.
    • Raghavendra Sahakara Bank case: In early 2020, curbs have had to be placed on withdrawals from the Bengaluru-based Sri Guru Raghavendra Sahakara Bank.
  • Pertinent question
    • Regulatory sector at the backseat? It is not too early to ask if the RBI’s responsibility to regulate the financial sector may have taken a back seat after the adoption of inflation targeting as the main objective.
    • Has a fixation with inflation rate made the RBI take its eyes off the loan books of the banks?

The recent rise in inflation and shortfall of currency notes

  • Inflation at 7%: At over 7%, the inflation rate in December is the highest in five years.
    • Not cause of concern: This may not be the reason to panic, for the price rise could be seasonal and may well abate.
    • Question on inflation targeting: But it does raise a question on the efficacy of inflation targeting as a means of inflation control.
    • Reason for moderate inflation so far: If the inflation rate was within the intended range so far, that may have been due to both declining food prices and, for a phase, oil prices.
  • The shortfall of notes: The central bank has a monopoly on the issue of notes.
    • There is an absolute shortage of small denomination notes in the bazaars of India.
    • Small-denomination notes are mostly unavailable.

Conclusion

While focusing on the inflation, the Central bank also needs to keep the other mandates especially the regulation of the finance sector in check.

 

 

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Agreement to end the Bru-Reang Refugee CrisisPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bru/Reangs

Mains level : Tribal issues in the NE


The Ministry of Home Affairs has presided over the signing of an agreement between Union Government, Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives to end the 23-year old Bru-Reang refugee crisis.

Who are the Brus?

  • Reangs or Brus are the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram.
  • Their exodus in 1997 was spurred by violent clashes in Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area, when they demanded creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.
  • Around 34,000 people were forced to live in sub-human conditions in tents in Tripura. No solution could be reached all these years.
  • These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Highlights of the Quadripartite Agreement

  • Under the new agreement around 34,000 Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura and would be given aid from the Centre to help with their rehabilitation and all round development.
  • These people would get all the rights that normal residents of the States get and they would now be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes of Centre and State governments.
  • Under the new arrangement, each of the displaced families would be given 40×30 sq.ft. residential plots.
  • This would be in addition to the aid under earlier agreement of a fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakhs, Rs. 5,000 cash aid per month for 2 years, free ration for 2 years and Rs. 1.5 lakhs aid to build their house.
J&K – The issues around the state

Suspension of the Internet: What the Rules say, what the SC underlinedSC Judgements

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Relevant sections of the CrPC and the Telegraph Act

Mains level : Right to internet access and various issues


The Supreme Court through a recent judgment significantly strengthened checks on the government’s power to shut down the Internet. A major aspect of the verdict relates to the Rules passed in 2017 that outline how and when the government can enforce shutdowns.

Checks on the Centre

  • The Centre has never ordered a nationwide Internet shutdown. Still, India tops the list of Internet shutdowns globally.
  • According to Software Freedom Law Center’s tracker, there have been 381 shutdowns since 2012, 106 of which were in 2019.
  • The ongoing shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in any democratic country.

Who can pass the orders of Internet Shutdowns?

  • The Rules, issued under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, stipulate that only the Home Secretary of the Union or a state can pass an order, and that the order must include the reasons for the decision.
  • The order should be forwarded to a review committee the day after it is issued, and must be reviewed by the committee within five days to assess its compliance with Section 5(2) of The Telegraph Act.
  • Under this the government has the power to block the transmission of messages during a public emergency or for public safety.
  • In the case of the central government, the review committee comprises the Cabinet Secretary and the Secretaries of the Departments of Legal Affairs and Telecommunications.
  • In the case of states, the committee comprises the Chief Secretary, Secretary, Law or Legal Remembrancer In-Charge, Legal Affairs, and a Secretary to the state government (other than the Home Secretary).

Who else can issue such orders?

  • In “unavoidable circumstances”, the order can be issued by an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary or above, authorised by the Centre or the state Home Secretary.
  • Telecom service providers must designate nodal officers to handle such requests.

What laws governed this area before the 2017 Rules were notified?

  • Internet shutdowns were ordered under Section 144 of the CrPC, which gives District Magistrates broad powers during dangerous situations.
  • Even after 2017, many local shutdowns are issued under this law. Section 69(A) of the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 gives the government powers to block particular websites, not the Internet as a whole.

Issues with the Kashmir Shutdown

  • The Internet shutdown in Kashmir was not compliant with the Rules.
  • The Rules require the suspension to be temporary; also, the orders did not provide reasons for the restrictions.
  • The petitioner contended that the order claims a law-and-order danger, as opposed to a public order danger specified in the Rules.

What did the court say?

  • The court said that because the Rules require the order to be in accordance with Section 5(2) of The Telegraph Act, the order must be during a “public emergency” or in the “interest of public safety”.
  • Also, the suspension must be “necessary” and “unavoidable”.
  • In furtherance of the same, the State must assess the existence of an alternate less intrusive remedy,” the court said.
  • The Bench also said that the State should make the orders freely available, even though the Suspension Rules do not specify this.
  • The Rules also don’t specify a time limitation for the shutdown, the use of “Temporary” in the title notwithstanding. The Bench decided that an indefinite suspension is “impermissible”.
  • Ultimately, the court ordered the government to review its order, ruling that the freedom of speech and trade on the Internet is a fundamental right.

Way Forward

  • Law and technology seldom mix like oil and water.
  • There is a consistent criticism that the development of technology is not met by equivalent movement in the law.
  • In this context, we need to note that the law should imbibe the technological development and accordingly mould its rules so as to cater to the needs of society.
  • Non recognition of technology within the sphere of law is only a disservice to the inevitable.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women Business and the Law (WBL) Index 2020IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WBL index

Mains level : India's poor performance and reasons behind


 

The Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020 index to measure the economic empowerment of women was recently published.

WBL Index

  • The WBL report released by the World Bank.
  • It is based on the countries’ formal laws and regulations that have a bearing on women’s economic participation, covering eight areas (eg, parenthood, equality of pay).
  • It tracks how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city.

India’s poor performance

  • India placed 117th among 190 countries on the index.
  • India, the world’s most populous democracy scored 74.4 on a par with Benin and Gambia and way below least developed countries like Rwanda and Lesotho.
  • The global average was 75.2 — a slight increase from 73.9 in the previous index released in 2017.

Global Performance

  • Only eight economies scored a perfect 100 — Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden.
  • Those countries have ensured equal legal standing to men and women on all the eight indicators of the index.
  • No economy in ‘East Asia and the Pacific’, ‘Europe and Central Asia’, or ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ were among top reformers, the report claimed.
  • Countries in ‘Middle East and North Africa’ and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ accounted for nine of the 10 top progressing countries on the WBL Index:
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. The United Arab Emirates
  3. Nepal
  4. South Sudan
  5. São Tomé and Príncipe
  6. Bahrain
  7. The Democratic Republic of Congo
  8. Djibouti
  9. Jordan
  10. Tunisia

Significance of the Index

  • Legal rights for women are both the right thing to do and good from an economic perspective.
  • When women can move more freely, work outside the home and manage assets, they are more likely to join the workforce and help strengthen their country’s economies.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Punjab’s new Right to Business BillStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Right to Business

Mains level : Various mover for the MSME sector


The Punjab Cabinet this week gave its approval to a Punjab Right to Business Bill, 2020, a law aimed at ensuring ease of doing business for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.

Punjab Right to Business Bill, 2020

  • Under the law, an MSME unit can be set up after ‘In-Principle’ approval from the District Bureau of Enterprise, headed by the Deputy Commissioner, working under the guidance of the State Nodal Agency, headed by the Director, Industries.
  • Approval for units in approved Industrial Parks will be given in three working days.
  • For new enterprises outside approved Industrial Parks, the decision on the Certificate shall be taken by the District Level Nodal Agency within 15 working days, as per the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee.

What is the timeframe for unit owners to comply?

  • Unit owners will have three and a half years after setting up the unit to obtain seven approvals from three departments: the sanction of building plans; issuance of completion/occupation certificate for buildings; registration of new trade licences.
  • The industries involving hazardous processes will have to obtain a Fire NOC and get approval for the factory building plan before setting up the unit.
  • All units will have to get environmental clearance from the Pollution Control Board beforehand.

Why was a law needed, rather than an executive order?

  • According to the government, the Act will have overriding powers over various Acts of different departments that make approvals necessary before the setting up of small and medium units.
  • This purpose could not have been achieved by an executive order.
  • How the law actually works on the ground remains to be seen, however.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GSAT-30 successfully launchedPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GSAT-30 and its applications

Mains level : Not Much


India’s first satellite of 2020, the GSAT-30 was successfully launched. The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-251 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana.

GSAT-30 

  • GSAT-30 derives  its  heritage  from ISRO’s  earlier INSAT/GSAT  satellite  series  and  will  replace  INSAT-4A  in 
  • In the  days  ahead,  orbit-raising  manoeuvres  will  be  performed  to  place  the satellite  in  Geostationary  Orbit  (36,000  km  above  the  equator)  by  using  its  onboard  propulsion
  • During the  final  stages  of  its  orbit  raising  operations,  the  two  solar  arrays  and  the antenna  reflectors  of  GSAT-30  will  be
  • Following this,  the satellite will be  put in  its final orbital .     The satellite will  be  operational  after  the successful  completion  of  all in-orbit  tests.

Utility of the satellite

  • GSAT-30 will provide  DTH  Television  Services, connectivity to  VSATs for  ATM,  Stock-exchange,  Television unlinking and Teleport  Services,  Digital  Satellite  News  Gathering  (DSNG)  and e-governance applications.
  • The satellite  will  also  be  used  for  bulk  data  transfer  for  a  host  of an emerging  telecommunication
Inland Waterways

[pib] Assam Inland Water Transport ProjectPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Assam Inland Water Transport Project

Mains level : Inland water transport in India


India and the World Bank signed a loan agreement of $88 million for Assam Inland Water Transport Project.

Assam Inland Water Transport Project

  • A majority of Assam’s more than 361 ferry routes cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands, providing a crucial means of transport to thousands of commuters in both the urban and rural areas of the Brahmaputra Valley.
  • The project will draw guidance from ‘working with nature’ principles that aim to design new infrastructure or rehabilitate existing infrastructure in a way that works with natural river processes.
  • The terminals will have better access, lighting and signage while the new vessels will allow for individual seats, and separate toilets. Moreover, a strengthened regulatory regime will ensure reduction in overloading, adherence to time schedule and better crew standards.
  • The Project will help Assam improve the passenger ferry infrastructure and its services and strengthen the capacity of the institutions running the inland water transport.

Significance

  • Inland Water Transport is also a more sustainable mode of transport. And Assam has the largest network of navigable waterways in India.
  • It provides low-carbon and low-cost options when compared to the cost of constructing and maintaining flood-resilient roads and bridges across the long stretches of the Brahmaputra river.
  • Technically better-designed terminals and energy-efficient vessels (both new and retrofitted) will make the ferry services more sustainable with least disruption to nature.