SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 OCTOBER 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization;
1) “As marriages in India come under the purview of personal laws, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) stops short of invalidating child marriage.” In the light of recent Supreme Court judgement criminalising sex with a child bride, discuss the statement. (200 Words)
- Supreme Court read down the marital rape exception for married girls between the ages of 15 and 18. The judgment is prospective in nature.
- Essentially, the court held that since sexual assault in marriage is already a crime under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), it is discriminatory and arbitrary to suspend the protection of the rape law for these underage married girls.
- Supreme Court questioned the rationality and validity of the Exception 2 under Section 375 provided in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which validates intercourse of a man with a girl who could be between the ages of 15 and 18 provided she is his wife.
- As a girl did not cease to be a child under the age of 18, Exception 2 ran contrary to the beneficial intent in Article 15 (3) of the Constitution, which enabled Parliament to make special provisions for girls and women.
- In April 2017, Karnataka inserted “sub-Section (1A) in Section 3 of the PCMA, declaring that henceforth every child marriage that is solemnised is void ab initio”, i.e., it is to be treated as invalid from the outset.
- A 2014 UNICEF report, which ranked India 6th among the top 10 countries with high rates of child marriage among women, found that the median age at first marriage was 15.4 years for women in the poorest quintile, and 19.7 years for those in the richest quintile.
- The prevalence in Rajasthan was as high as 65%, followed by Jharkhand at 63%.
- The Rapid Survey on Children commissioned by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2013-14 estimated that such marriages had declined from 47.4 per cent according to the National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06) data to 30.3 per cent.
- As per census 2011, the percentage of child marriage in 2011 is 31.6% which was 52 % in 2001 which shows a decreasing trend.
- As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4(2015-16), the percentage of Women age 15-19 years who were already mothers or pregnant is 6.3% which was 16% in National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3(2005-06).
Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- There are provisions in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, that allow for annulment of a child marriage within two years of the minor attaining majority.
- For the order to be effective, it is important for the legislature to step in and amend the PCMA, making marriage between minors void, and not just voidable, i.e., capable of being adjudged void, as is the case now.
- As marriages in India come under the purview of personal laws, the PCMA stops short of invalidating child marriage. It holds that marriage between a boy of under 21 years and a girl under 18 years of age is voidable, at the option of the contracting parties.
- This means a child marriage, even under the secular laws, can only be annulled if a case is filed in a district court by either of the two contracting parties within two years of becoming adult, or through a guardian if still a minor.
- Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, was amended to create the PCMA in 2006, introducing more stringent punishments, including a jail term of up to two years for the 18-years-plus boy or anyone who abets/performs such a marriage
Personal laws and PCMA
- Dissolution of marriage
- Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, (applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains) and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, a girl can legally seek dissolution of her marriage if she was married off before the age of 15 years — but she has to do so before she is 18 years of age (unlike the PCMA which sets the age at 20 for girls and 22 for boys).
2.Age of marriage
- The uncodified Muslim personal law considers puberty (presumed to be 15 years) as the minimum age of marriage for girls.
- The Hindu Marriage Act, while making the marriage of an under-18 girl punishable, applies the punitive measures only against the boy who is over 18 years of age, and not against the parents or guardians.
- The Indian Christian Marriage Act also in a way legitimises child marriage by stating that marriage registrars have to put up a public notice for 14 days prior to the marriage of a minor.
- While the PCMA overrides personal laws, it has been argued that personal laws should be amended to make them consistent with PCMA.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Role of civil services in democracy; Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
Union and state government have taken several steps like weakening of Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA), 1988 or dilluting provisions of Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2006.
Rajasthan has issued an ordinance making it a punishable offence to disclose the names of public servants facing allegations of corruption before the government grants formal sanction to prosecute them. Prior sanction to prosecute public servants is one such retrospective step which defy the very motive of legislative intent as:
Protects loyal officials
- While no one can object to genuine measures aimed at insulating honest officials from frivolous or motivated charges of wrong-doing, mandatory sanction will help government to protect loyal and corrupt public servants
No protection to whistleblower
- The functioning of the media and whistle-blowers will be affected which will require prior sanction to name corrupt officials.
- It is not only against the basics of governance, but also against Article 19.
- Lokpal had the authority to provide such sanctions which is likely subsumed by government in case of prior sanction.
Violates Article 14
- Equality before law is first and very base of our constitution which is diminished with provision
Enough protection already exist
- Public servants already enjoy the protection of Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which make prior sanction mandatory before a court can take cognizance of a case.
Constitutionality of pre-investigation sanction ambiguous
- Constitutionality of the pre-investigation sanction requirement is debatable.
- Supreme Court verdict of May 2014 striking down a statutory provision for prior government clearance for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against officials of the rank of joint secretary.
Such a provision destroys the objective of anti-corruption legislation, blocks the truth from surfacing, thwarts independent investigation and forewarns corrupt officers.
It is argued that such provisions are to prevent policy paralysis and public officials feel confident in making quick decisions. However government has failed to understand that public trust in the system is more important than shielding corrupt officials. In times where economy is on turmoil, such provisions add to agony of common public.
Government should also make it a point to implement Lokpal bill in spirit and not just in letters.
Topic: Citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Fake news refers to deliberate creation of misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media shaping the belief of people around the nation and world.
Its impact along with recent incidences
- Influence Election process : As seen in US presidential election 2016 and Indonesia , Phillipines and eleswhere.
- Ethnic Violence : led by decepted internet content in Myanmar and beating of Assamese students in Bengaluru in 2012
- Antagonism : led by malicious rumours and fake news during Kaveri water dispute seen in Karnataka especially Bengaluru.
- Misinformation in Public Domain : via fake news of GPS tracking in newly introduced 2K notes post demonetisation
- Regulating Social media and News Organisations
- Mandate to put proper checks through rigorous internal editorial and advertising standards and imposing fines upon its inability to stop poliferating of fake news.
For example there has been a debate in US to count facebook and twitter as media organisations and penalized in case fake news is distributed.
- The legal and social consequences of fake news should be made aware about.
- Properly define broad forms of fake news to avoid unnecessary litigation and putting in place a strong monitoring mechanism for proper implementation.
4.Leveraging human resources with exisiting social media
- Create Whatsapp group of reliable citizens in regions, so that news could be quickly verified, and appropriate clarification issued.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Environmental pollution
- Negative emissions refers to removing the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere in excess or changing the radiation pattern of the earth through geo-engineering. It is like a cure to the blunder man has already manifested.
- The solution however lies more in prevention than the cure per se due to the inability of this method to control the situation.
Negative emission effects will be limited because
- It will take time to convert into effective results
- It requires huge investment in infra and technology to reduce emission cuts
- Unequal resources between the countries as many developing countries need to have more push for industrialization to improve their economy
The need of the hour is to reduce the source of emission itself by:
- USE OF RENEWABLE SOURCE OF ENERGY
- Eco friendly sources of energy will help reduce carbon emission like use of hydro power and solar energy.
- Progressive tax as per increasing carbon emission can be levied to ensure that individuals and institutions are forced to reduce carbon emissions.
- Incentives can be given to those who achieve in reducing carbon emissions.
4.REDUCTION IN VEHICULAR EMISSIONS
- Adopting cleaner fuels and better protocols can lead to lesser emissions.
5.FILTERING THE POLLUTING EMISSIONS
- The smoke from pollution causing industries can be filtered before being left in the environment.
- At rural level
- Afforestation and better farming practices. Instead of stubble burning in open, using machines to cut the stubbles and convert them as source of energy in bio plants.
2.At urban level
- Use of electric vehicles
- Encourage public transport
- FAME India should pace up its projects.
- Adoption of natural gas- Urja Ganga, Gas4campaign, Subsidy on CNG vehicles.
3.At industrial level
- Transition to renewable sources
- Integration with grid sources
- Carbon tax
- New thermal plants also needs to build renewable sources within their premises
4.At international level
- Use of space satellites for better planning of projects
- Mapping of hotspots to deal them effectively
- Best international practices needs to be built in developing countries like Germany is using renewable sources for its energy requirement, Bhutan’s carbon neutral model can also be replicated.
Topic: Issues relating to intellectual property rights.
- India is placed 60th among 127 countries according to the Global Innovation Index of 2017 — an index prepared by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Switzerland tops the list followed by Sweden, the Netherlands, the US and UK. Singapore is ranked seventh, Japan is at the 14th position, Israel is ranked 17th, and China 22nd.
Why protecting innovation is required?
- Failed government efforts
- National Innovation Council (NIC) was constituted in 2010 under Sam Pitroda, then adviser to the prime minister on innovations. The NIC’s key mandate was to draw a roadmap for innovations between 2010 and 2020. The council submitted three annual reports to the government, the last of which was in 2013.
- Sectoral innovation councils were set up in 25 major departments of the Union government, including in the ministry of agriculture.
- State Innovation Councils were also set up.
- The idea behind the setting up of these councils was to mainstream the idea of innovation in the functioning of the Union and state governments.
2.Innovation cannot happen in government agencies
- However, it soon became evident that despite the government’s best intentions, there were hardly any innovative ideas which could be scaled up to the national level.
- This shows that government organisations are not ideally suited to devise game-changing innovations as they are mired in routine work.
- The work of the Sectoral Councils proves that innovations are designed in a supporting environment, irrespective of the size or nature of an organisation.
- The most important support that the government can provide is to protect the innovation itself.
- The first lesson is to create an enabling environment to safeguard the intellectual property of individuals, private and public companies that develop new products and ideas using their own investments.
- PM Modi said that “Innovation is life. When there is no innovation, there is stagnation”.
- In budget 2015, the finance minister announced the setting up of the Atal Innovation Mission.
Topic: Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints
The food processing industry has a high concentration of unorganised segments, representing almost 75 per cent across all product categories.
Indian agro-processing industry is suffering from various issues like-
Supply side bottlenecks
- Small and dispersed marketable surplus due to fragmented holdings, low farm productivity, high seasonality, perishability and intermediation result in lack of distribution on supply and quality, and in turn, impede processing and exports.
- More than 30 per cent of the produce from farm gate is lost due to inadequate cold chain infrastructure and inadequate logistics.
- The development of cold chains and logistics infrastructure remains an unviable investment option, on account of, lack of critical scale and high operating costs.
- Instead of using specialised transportation for perishables like reefer vans, their logistics predominantly rely on traditional modes, commonly used for grains.
Deficiencies in the regulatory environment
- Lack of integration & clarity: Numerous laws, under the jurisdiction of different ministries and departments, govern food safety and packaging – leads to contradictions in specifications, conflicting approach, lack of co-ordination and administrative delays.
- Lack of Holistic Approach – absence of vital peripheral infrastructural linkages and legislation for contract and corporate farming, inadequate implementation of the APMC Act and cumbersome procedures to avail grants.
- Besides these, inherent anomalies such as mounting cost of finance, lack of skilled and trained manpower, inadequate quality control and packaging units and high taxes and duties, thwart development of FPI.
- Plug supply side and infrastructure bottlenecks
- Foster development of backward linkages by evolving conducive regulatory framework for contract and corporate farming and encouraging commodity clusters and intensive livestock rearing.
- Promote holistic development through private sector participation while expounding a robust supporting framework with well defined roles of the participants, risk sharing mechanisms, fiscal incentives and partnership models for creation of infrastructure for logistics, storage and processing.
- Encourage technology up gradation of existing facilities and investment in development of ancillary industries like research and development, packaging, food processing equipment manufacturing, food safety certifying agencies by extending fiscal incentives to investors.
2.Streamlining the regulatory structure
- Remove impediments of multiple departments and laws in seeking approvals by bringing them under a single window thereby providing clarity in roles and channels of operational and service delivery.
- Ensure uniform implementation of the APMC act to encourage private sector investment in infrastructure development.
- Hasten harmonization of indirect taxes by implementation of Goods & Services Tax, as aimed in the current budget, to warrant uniform tax structures across the country and reduce vast price differences in products.
- Change in mindset-Orienting stakeholders towards ‘demand and profit driven production’ – Need to shift their focus from trying to market ‘what is produced’ to producing ‘processable varieties and marketable products’ meeting global quality standards and traceability requirements, duly adopting need based viable technologies and quality controls.
4.Human resource development-to meet increasing demand for skilled manpower
- Stimulate industry, academia and government to put in combined efforts for development of specialized institutes and courses for providing training on managerial, safety and enforcements, technology and production, warehousing and distribution aspects.
- Encourage State Agricultural Universities to commence courses in food packaging, processing, bio-technology, information technology in agriculture and such allied fields.