Insights Daily Current Events, December 13, 2013
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December 13, 2013
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Rules, 2013, notified
The Women and Child Development Ministry has notified rules for prevention of harassment at workplace. Following are the guidelines:
- Any malicious complaint of sexual harassment by a woman will attract the same punishment a man who has been found guilty of it at the workplace suffers.
- The Ministry has recommend that action for sexual harassment/malicious complaint would include – a written apology; warning; reprimand or censure; withholding of promotion, pay rise or increments; termination from service; or undergoing counselling or doing community service. These will apply in cases where service rules do not exist.
- Anyone who discloses the name or identity of the aggrieved woman or witnesses will be liable to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000.
- On the inquiry procedure, internal complaints committee or local complaints committee can, on a written request, grant the complainant relief during the pendency of inquiry by restraining the accused from reporting on the work performance of the aggrieved woman or writing her confidential report, and, in case of an educational institution, by restraining the respondent from supervising any academic activity of the woman.
- A complaint of sexual harassment can be filed by a relative or a friend, a co-worker or an officer of the National Commission for Women or the State Women’s Commission or any other person who has knowledge of the incident where the complainant is unable to do it herself because of physical incapacity. But this has to be done with her written consent.
- According to you what are the preventive measures to be taken in regard to sexual harassment at workplace? Also what are the measures/steps taken by the Government?
- Impact that it would have on women participation at work(organized, unorganized employment) and on Women Empowerment
- Does the clause of punishment for malicious complaint act as a deterrent for women coming forward to give complaint?
- Will law alone be suffice to prevent harassment of women, if not what r the additional steps to be taken?
Health Ministry worried SC verdict will affect AIDS control
- Over the recent order of the Supreme Court, stating gay sex is illegal, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry has expressed its concerns saying that- this would prevent vulnerable communities from accessing health facilities for fear of discrimination and stigma.
- The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) is defined as a high-risk group by the National AIDS Control Organisation(NACO; now Dept. of AIDS Control )with HIV infection prevalence among men having sex with men (MSM) being the highest, between 6.5 and 7.2 %. This is the second most vulnerable community after injection drug users.
- According to the NACO 2010-11 annual report, India had an estimated 40 lakh persons in the MSM community, of whom 10% were at risk of contracting HIV infection.
- The Department of AIDS Control provides inclusive healthcare service for gay men and transgenders primarily for checking HIV infections, and the service was being accessed by a large number of the LGBT community following the 2009 Delhi High Court judgement that had struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised “unnatural sex.”
- The HIV Estimation of 2012 suggests an overall reduction of 57% in the annual new HIV infections (among adult population) from 2.74 lakh in 2000 to 1.16 lakh in 2011, reflecting the impact of various interventions and scaled-up prevention strategies.
- Based on these outcomes, the Department of AIDS Control designed the fourth phase of NACP (2012-17) to accelerate the process of reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response. The main objectives of NACP are reducing new infections and providing comprehensive care and support to all People Living with HIV and treatment services for all those who require them.
- While HIV prevalence shows declining trends among female sex workers, MSM, injecting drug users and single male migrants are emerging as important risk groups.
Reaction across the globe regarding ‘same-sex’ marriage:
- ‘Don’t discriminate against LGBT’ U.N. chief, the Secretary-General has re-affirmed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and stressed the need to recommit ourselves to building a world of freedom and equality for all.
- While UK has supported gay marriage, Australia’s top court has overruled gay marriage ruling that Parliament must decide on same-sex unions
- The Marriage Act of Australia does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples.
India’s Response to HIV/AIDS:
- Shortly after reporting the first AIDS case in 1986, the Government of India established a National AIDS Control Program (NACP) which has now become the Department of AIDS under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- In 1991, the scope of NACP was expanded to focus on blood safety, prevention among high risk populations, raising awareness in the general population, and improving surveillance. A semi‐autonomous body, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), was established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to implement this program. This “first phase” of the National AIDS Control Program lasted from 1992-1999. It focused on initiating a national commitment, increasing awareness and addressing blood safety.
- The second phase of the NACP began in 1999 and ended in March 2006. Under this phase, India continued to expand the program at the state level. Greater emphasis was placed on targeted interventions for the most at risk populations, preventive interventions among the general population, and involvement of NGOs and other sectors and line departments, such as education, transport and police.
- The Third Phase of NACP (NACP 3) program has dramatically scaling up targeted interventions in order to achieve a very high coverage of the most at risk groups. Under this phase, surveillance and strategic information management also receive a big boost. Partnerships with civil society organizations was at paramount in the implementation of the program with special focus on involvement of community in the program planning and implementation.
- NACP IV -The focus of this phase will be primarily on scaling up prevention through NGOs and sustaining the efforts and results gained in last 3 phases and integration with the health systems response to the epidemic e.g. through provision of ART, STI services, and treatment of opportunistic infections through the National Rural Health Mission.
- What are the causes of HIV, how is it spread and its impact, preventive measures, treatment once contacted? What are the steps taken by the Govt. in Prevention of AIDS?
- What impact would the recent SC ruling have on the LGBT community?
- Laws in other foreign countries, regarding ‘same-sex’ marriage?
- Impact of same sex marriage on our culture and society as a whole. Are we losing our traditions by being too liberal? Or are we still a conservative society, considering the fact that we are still talking of legality of gay sex while some western nations have moved forward and recognised same sex marriage on par with a heterosexual marriage?
Russia to boost Arctic presence
- President Vladimir Putin has ordered the military to step up its presence in the Arctic after Canada signalled it planned to claim the North Pole and surrounding waters.
- The tough and rapid response to Canada’s announcement reflected Russia’s desire to protect its oil and natural gas interests in the pristine but energy-rich region amid competing claims there by countries that also include Norway and Denmark.
- Canada had earlier filed a claim with the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf concerning the outer limits of its continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean. The claim also included Canada’s stake on the North Pole.
- Russia has an overlapping claim to both the North Pole and swathes of the Arctic that the U.S. Geological Survey thinks could hold 13 % of the world’s undiscovered oil and up to 30% of its hidden natural gas reserves.
- In 2007, a government-sponsored diving team in had planted a Russian flag under the North Pole, and the Russia has been contemplating to deploy a large military presence in the region from a long time.
More about Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS): It’s Purpose, functions
The purpose of the CLCS is to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention) in respect of the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (M) from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
Under the Convention, the coastal State shall establish the outer limits of its continental shelf where it extends beyond 200 M on the basis of the recommendation of the Commission. The Commission shall make recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of those limits;
its recommendations and actions shall not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.
Functions of the Commission:
(a) To consider the data and other material submitted by coastal States concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf in areas where those limits extend beyond 200 nautical miles, and to make recommendations in accordance with article 76 and the statement of Understanding adopted on 29 August 1980 by the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea;
(b) To provide scientific and technical advice, if requested by the coastal State concerned during preparation of such data.
In accordance with article 76(8), the Commission shall make recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf. The limits of the shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.
Courtesy- http://www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/commission_purpose.htm#Purpose (UN website)
- Impact of exploration in north pole on climate change, global warming etc(help it offers in protecting Himalayan ecology, studying monsoons, data)
- Russian confrontationist diplomacy, India’s stakes in arctic (in terms of research, energy security); Indian presence in the region.
- How is arctic region governed? Future potential of the region apart from energy.
Amid tensions, South Korea and Japan hold East China Sea drills
- South Korea and Japan have carried out a naval drill in the East China Sea, deploying destroyers and maritime helicopters in a region where both countries are involved in a dispute with China.
- A biennial naval drill took place in a part of the sea that lies within China’s newly established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).
- The drill has signaled that both the countries will not follow China’s regulations by deploying helicopters without filing flight plans with China.
- The drill took place near the Leodo reef, which is controlled by South Korea but lies within the exclusive economic zones of China and South Korea. The area also falls within both Chinese and South Korean air defence zones (which are not territorial claims but a defined airspace within which countries track aircraft heading towards their territory.)
- China has reiterated that its move was ‘just, reasonable and complying with international practices’. While China has hit out at Japan’s criticism of the zone, pointing out that Japan had established a bigger ADIZ in 1969, it has taken a more measured reaction to South Korean concerns.
- China has said it would deploy ‘emergency’ defensive measures if aircraft entered the zone without filing plans. Civilian and other aircraft that were not seen as posing a threat would merely be ‘identified’ and ‘tracked’.
- Relations of the 3 nations among themselves; importance of the region for each of them; historical evolution of the relations.
- Indian relations with the 3 nations, Indian concerns in the region in terms of transit, energy, strategic importance etc.
- What are the steps taken by India in recent times to balance the conflicting interests of the 3 Countries?
CCI nod for Jet-Etihad deal challenged
- Former Air India Executive Director Jitender Bhargava has challenged the CCI (Competition Commission of India) clearance to the Rs.2,060-crore Jet-Eithad deal in the Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compact).
- The CCI has sought explanations from the two carriers in this regard to ascertain whether they failed to provide information on certain commercial pacts, which could raise anti-competition concerns.
The Competition Act
- The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, follows the philosophy of modern competition laws. The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
- Goal: is to create and sustain fair competition in the economy that will provide a ‘level playing field’ to the producers and make the markets work for the welfare of the consumers.
Competition Commission of India (CCI)
- The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which has been established by the Central Government with effect from 14th October 2003. CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
- It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
- The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
- Purpose and Objective of setting up CCI? Need of such a commission? Consequences, in absence of such a regulatory body.
- Recent examples- cartelisation among traders in determining Cement prices, Onion prices, etc.
- Other regulatory bodies in India; Role and significance of such bodies.
WTO: A good start in Bali, but biggest battle lies ahead.
- The WTO’s relevance was fading away, with countries forging bilateral trade pacts and powerful regional trade agreements, especially in the developed world.
- But the recent trade agreement (also the ‘first-ever’ trade agreement) reached in Bali has been seen as a big-boost to multilateralism.
- The agreement is designed to simplify customs procedures and lower trade barriers between countries. The International Chamber of Commerce has estimated that the Bali deal will cut trade costs by 10-15% even as it adds an estimated $1 trillion to global trade. How realistic these numbers are will only be proved in the years ahead, but there is little doubt that global trade will get a significant boost from the Bali agreement.
- In a sense, the emergence of regional trade blocs which was seen as a threat to the WTO eventually proved to be its saviour as emerging economies such as India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia, realised the WTO was critical to their interests.
- The unyielding stance of India on protecting its farm subsidies which are set to increase following the enactment of the Food Security Act did cause some friction amongst the member-countries and at one stage even seemed set to hold up an eventual agreement.
- The ‘interim mechanism’ devised will allow India to continue with its agricultural support price programme undisturbed until a final solution is negotiated. A phase of difficult and tactful negotiations is ahead for India, as it seeks to get its farm subsidy programme into the WTO framework; support from other developing countries with similar programmes is crucial here. Indeed, from a larger perspective, the agreement at Bali is just the beginning. A lot of hard work lies ahead for the WTO, and the WTO chairman Mr. Azevedo too has acknowledged this.
- Trade negotiators need to carry forward the positive momentum built up at Bali as they seek to push through the Doha Round agenda. This will not be easy though, as negotiators will have to contend with regional groupings such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves the U.S., Japan and ten other Pacific Rim countries, and the powerful trans-Atlantic alliance between the U.S. and the European Union, negotiations for which are now on. Bali may have infused life into the WTO but its biggest battles lie ahead.
- Which kind of relationship – Multilateral & Bilateral is better for the developing world and why?
- Why are regional trade blocks seen as a threat to WTO? Do you agree?
- What was the agenda of the Doha round of negotiations? Why was it stalled all these years? What were the demands of developed and the developing countries?
- Relevance of WTO in the 21st century.
- Why was India against the ‘peace clause’ that was mooted by the developed countries, especially U.S?
- What impact it would have on developing countries? What kind of farm subsidies are provided in India and how does it violate WTO commitments? What kinds of subsidies are provided by developed nations and why does it now violate WTO rules?
- Impact on Indian agriculture and farmers if the demands on subsidy cut are agreed.
The article on ‘Judicial appointment, Rule of Law & independence of Judiciary’ (OPED page)
The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013, seek to reform the appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges by establishing a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). This significant opportunity to reform a vital part of the Indian legal system must not be lost to misconceived rhetoric about the ‘independence of the judiciary’ and the ‘rule of law’ or the mistaken view that this measure simply pushes us back into past errors.
JAC that restores parity between the executive and judiciary in the judicial appointment process is constitutionally valid.
Rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary, necessarily means that the judiciary must have primacy among the constitutional institutions in the judicial appointment process.
To continue reading –
‘Recasting the appointments debate’