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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 2 May 2020


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.


 

1. Yet the fulcrum for Indian National movement was in Bengal and regions around it, the contributions from other parts of India really made it a “national” movement. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: Modern Indian history by Spectrum publications.

Introduction:

The Nationalist Movements in India were organized as mass movements emphasizing and raising questions concerning the interests of the people of India. In most of these movements, people were encouraged to take action. Provincial roots of Indian nationalism, however, may be traced to the beginning of the era of crown rule in Bombay, Bengal, and Madras.

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Bengal and neighboring areas- the epicenter:

  • Bengal, as West Bengal is popularly known, enjoys eminence for its immense contribution to Indian Independence Movement.
  • With the Battle of Plassey fought against the British East Indian Company in 1757, the seeds of freedom struggle were sown in the soil of Bengal.
  • It was the first rebellion to have paved the way for national freedom movement across the county. Mangal Pandey, the first martyr in the history of Indian freedom struggle, was a noble son of Bengal.
  • In the early 20th-century, Bengal emerged as a hotbed of the Indian independence movement, as well as the epicenter of the Bengali Renaissance.
  • The Swadeshi Movement was the expression of the outrage triggered in Bengal by the partition of the province of Bengal in 1905.
  • Revolutionary nationalism emerged as a potent political force in Bengal in the wake of the Swadeshi Movement in the first decade of the 20th century and thereafter it worked alongside mainstream nationalism that was represented by the Congress party, sometimes in cooperation, at other times along parallel tracks.
  • Rabindranath Tagore who brought the Nobel Prize for literature to Bengal fired up the spirit of the revolutionaries through his patriotic songs and poems: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”. Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda and Kazi Najrul Islam carried the torch of nationalism in British India.
  • The freedom fighters of the then undivided Bengal (including both West Bengal and Bangladesh) were such revolutionary figures as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Khudiram, Chittaranjan Das, Surya Sen, Prafulla Chaki, Rash Behari Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Matangini Hazra.
  • Bengal was the epicenter of “Quit India” movement in 1942.

Contribution from North India:

  • Punjab is known for the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh in the revolution against the British.
  • A firm believer in the Marxist ideologies, he spread the fire of freedom movement throughout the then undivided Punjab. He motivated the youth of Punjab to join the Indian Independence Movement.
  • Bhagat Singh was hanged at the age of 23.
  • The Jallianwala Bagh massacre 1919 in Punjab was one of the deepest wounds inflicted to Mother India.
  • Today, this historical site with a memorial dedicated to the martyrs is a tourist attraction in Punjab.
  • The murder of British Police Officer John Saunders, was one of the greatest of Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary activities.
  • Chandra Sekhar Azad and Lala Lajpat Rai are the other noted revolutionary figures of Punjab.

Contribution from West India:

  • If Bengal was instrumental in active revolution for freedom of the country, Gujarat in the west of India followed the path of non-violence, shown by Mahatma Gandhi, in protest against the British rule.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most popular nationalists, was the axis of Non-cooperation National Movement all over the country.
  • Some of the epoch-making historic events such as the “Non-cooperation” movement, Civil Disobedience movement “Quit India” movement and “Dandi March” were driven by his principle and leadership.
  • He had initiated the country with the mantra, “Do or Die”.
  • Sardar Vallabhai Patel, an ardent follower of Gandhiji, is another name associated with the country’s freedom struggle in Gujarat.
  • The torch of Indian Independence Movement was borne throughout Maharashtra
  • Among the freedom fighters of Maharashtra, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Vinoba Bhave and Dadabhai Naoroji were active nationalists and strong advocates of freedom. It was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who shook the nation with his call for “Swaraj” (self-rule).
  • His voice, “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it”, was echoed all over the country. He was one of the powerful vehicles driving the Boycott Movement and Swadeshi (Nationalist) Movement against the Partition of Bengal in 1905.
  • One of the senior leaders of Indian National Congress, Gopal Krishna Gokhale was a political mentor to Mahatma Gandhi. He had forced the British rulers of India to allow the educated Indians in the governing and policy making process.

Contributions from South India:

  • Of the 72 original delegates who formed the Indian National Congress in 1885, 22 of them were from Madras Presidency. In fact, the biggest contribution to the formation of Congress came from Bombay and Madras presidencies in the form of organizations such as Madras Mahajana Sabha and Poona Mahajana Sabha.
  • The most important freedom movement in pre-Gandhi era was the Indian Home Rule Movement, whose one of the main founders was S. Subramania Iyer. Along with Annie Beasant (who was also based in Madras then) he helped create a strong grassroots organization that was later utilized by the Mahatma. He later gave up his “Sir” title to protest the Jallianwallabagh Massacre.
  • The leading newspapers of the freedom fighters – The Hindu  – was started in Madras in 1878 and was a torchbearer for freedom fight. The founders of the paper formed the core of the original Indian National Congress.
  • While most of the other revolts were political, an Indian dreamt to break the British Steam Navigation Company’s monopoly over Indian trade and hurt the British where it really hurts – economy. In 1906 V. O. Chidambaram Pillai started the first Indian-owned shipping company. So threatening it was to the British rule that his ships were seized and he was immediately sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. The trade revolt was decisive and gave others the dream of throwing British owned monopolies and eventually the British.
  • Srinivasa Iyengar established the Madras Swaraj Party that pushed for immediate self-rule for India (while Indian National Congress was still ambivalent) and cornered all the seats in Madras Presidency.
  • Subramanya Bharathi – the legendary poet of TN aroused the Tamils for the cause of freedom and made them restless. By the time Mahatma came to the state, it was already ready to push for freedom.
  • The first 3 recipients of Bharat Ratna were 3 Madras folks – C. Rajagopalachari (the last governor general of India), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (one of the greatest philosophers) and C. V. Raman. All the 3 greatly brought pride to the freedom movement (the former two directly and the latter indirectly by spreading scientific knowledge).
  • On the extremist side there were V. V. S. Aiyar, Subramaniya Siva and Vanchinathan who used acts of “violence” in getting rid of British and the former was exiled to French territory of Pondicherry.
  • One of the key events in India’s Satyagraha movement was the Vaikom Satyagraha in present Kerala. It helped put an end to untouchability and strengthened the moral base of the freedom struggle.

Contributions from North-East India:

  • The Northeast participation in India’s freedom struggle is a tale of valour and courage which started in the 19th century itself with a mass peasant uprising against the British and resistance by the hill people. The political events in the rest of the country culminating in Independence in 1947, found a strong support and response in this region.
  • The East India Company’s rule in the region effectively began with the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826 which ended the First Anglo-Burmese War. The victorious British, then, seized control of the region.
  • The successive years saw an increasing opposition to British subjugation.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, Matmur Jamoh refused to bow down to the Britishers. He breathed his last in Andaman’s Cellular Jail where he was lodged after killing a British officer.
  • Among others who rose against the colonialists was Rani Gaidinliu. A Naga spiritual leader, she became a leading political figure in Manipur.
  • She was arrested at the age of 16 and spent 14 years in jail. The title ‘Rani’ or queen was bestowed upon her by former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who met her while she was lodged in prison.
  • Rani Gaidinliu has gained national prominence in recent times. Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitated the freedom fighter in 2015.
  • Kanak Lata Barua was Assamese freedom fighter associated with Quit India movement. Shot dead by British in the year 1942 as she held up the National Flag with pride.
  • U Tirot Singh – current Meghalaya. Tried to unite tribes and communities and fought with the British for 3 years after which he was imprisoned in Dacca and died.

Conclusion:

Indian national movement and the consequent freedom is a result of the collective work of people from all regions of India. That is what’s so special about our story. From Mahatma in the west to Lajpat Rai in the north to Tagore in the east to Rajaji in the south, people dared to dream and lead. Their contributions created the framework that helped us stay as one nation.

 

2. What are the key problems faced by migrant workers? Critically analyze measures taken by government for solving these problems.(250 words)

Reference: Live Mint The Hindu 

Introduction:

Thousands of migrant labourers have headed home on foot after national lockdown, which has created an acute shortage of labourers in major agrarian states. The inter-State migrant worker community, thousands of these migrant labourers have been leaving cities, even on foot, for their towns in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and elsewhere.

After days of uncertainty following the lockdown, nearly 1,200 migrant workers from Odisha, stranded in Kerala will undertake a journey to return home

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Hardship faced by migrant labourers:

  • Between 100 million to 125 million people leave their villages, families and homes to find work far away wherever they can find it; their invisible hands harvest the crops and feed us, clean streets, run factories, build roads, and construct our houses.
  • The migrant workers are largely dependent upon casual and daily wage labour and unorganized retail.
  • The lockdown would severely affect their livelihood opportunities.
  • Citing the uncertainty of employment, and therefore of money and resources, these migrant labourers sought the comfort of the social net in their towns and wanted to return back.
  • Most of the migrant workers live in cramped spaces where it would be difficult to maintain physical distancing.
  • The lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities makes this section highly vulnerable to such epidemics.
  • An analysis of the migration trend shows that a major portion of the rural-urban migration constitutes the migration of men to cities in search of better employment opportunities.
  • They are generally the primary breadwinners, and the survival of their families back home is entirely dependent on these migrant labourers. The anxiety of being affected by the virus drove many to return to their families.

Issues faced by migrant lockdown due to Government lockdown:

  • The Central government announced the lockdown with just a four-hour notice, making it even harder for the migrant labourers to figure out ways to face the challenge of a lockdown.
  • The lockdown has a disproportionate impact on the socioeconomic conditions of the poor and unorganized sector.
  • The lack of social security among the poor makes it difficult for them to practice social distancing. They are mostly dependent upon daily and even hourly wage earnings. The lockdown would lead to an income security challenge to them.
  • There have been suggestions that given the prior warnings of COVID-19, the situation could have been handled much better. There have been concerns that the decision was arbitrary, unplanned and ill-prepared.
  • The lockdown was not accompanied by practical and necessary relief measures.
  • The movement of the labourers towards their hometowns was not aided by the government.
  • There have been some sections which have argued that if the government was willing to evacuate Indians from other countries, why similar intent is not being shown to make sure that the poor migrant labourers reach their hometown.

However, the Government’s measures were necessary:

  • The need for a very short notice before lockdown was considered essential given the fact that a larger time lag would lead to large scale movement of people and make it difficult to contain the spread of the epidemic.
  • The decision for a lockdown at the earliest was considered necessary given the examples of other countries like Italy and Spain where a delay in lockdown had substantially increased the number of cases. The intention was to announce the lockdown and then taken necessary actions for easing the pressure on the citizenry.
  • The first priority during such a crisis has to be tackling the health challenge, which can be followed by other measures. The economic package by the government in the form of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana was directed at easing the pressure on the vulnerable.
  • Given the daunting scale of tracking that would be required if the migration was allowed, the government chose not to allow migration of the labourers to their hometowns. The possible spread of the virus in the rural hinterlands would be beyond the carrying capacity of the Indian health system.

Measures needed:

  • The proposed quarantine camps must be well equipped with sufficient supplies of essential items for all.
  • Governments must use schools and college hostels for the migrants to stay and also utilize the Public Distribution System to provide food.
  • Governments must show resolve, commitment, and compassion to deal with the migrant crisis.
  • Civil society must come forward and support the most vulnerable.
  • For the migrants already enroute to their places, there should be proper screening en route and they should be informed of the practical health protocols to be practiced during the first 14 days.
  • These migrants need to be put under observation, further screening, isolation, testing, and quarantine where required.
  • The affected families also have to be given minimum guarantees of food, health, and some income by the government during the lockdown.

Way forward:

 

 

3. The changing geopolitical situation in Afghanistan holds significant implications for India in terms of economy, security and geostrategy. In this context propose the future course of action for India to regain its position in Afghanistan.(250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Introduction:

The United Nations Secretariat held a meeting of what it calls the “6+2+1” group on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan recently. India was conspicuous by its absence from the meeting, given its historical and strategic ties with Afghanistan. As India seeks to fight back its exclusion there are certain issues that need to be addressed. India’s reluctance to enter into talks with the Taliban in one such issue, which needs a rethink.

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Changing geopolitical situation in Afghanistan:

  • Recently, the United Nations Secretariat held a meeting of what it calls the “6+2+1” group on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan, a group that includes six neighbouring countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; global players, the United States and Russia, and Afghanistan itself.
  • India was conspicuous by its absence from the meeting, given its historical and strategic ties with Afghanistan, but not for the first time.
  • India was left out form talks similarly in 2001 and 2010.
  • In both 2001 and 2010, however, India fought back its exclusion
  • At the Bonn agreement of 2010, India played a major role in Northern Alliance accepting Hamid Karzai as the Chairman of the interim arrangement that replaced the Taliban regime.
  • After the 2010 conference, New Delhi redoubled its efforts with Kabul, and in 2011 India signed the historic Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was Afghanistan’s first such agreement with any country.

India’s position on Afghan-led peace process and reality

  • India’s resistance to publicly talking to the Taliban has made it an awkward interlocutor at any table.
  • Its position that only an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled process can be allowed is a principled one but has no takers.
  • The Ashraf Ghani government does not lead, own or control the reconciliation process today, comprising the U.S.-Taliban negotiation for an American troops withdrawal, and intra-Afghan talks on power-sharing.
  • The U.S.-Taliban peace deal means that the Taliban, will become more potent as the U.S. withdraws soldiers from the country.
  • Taliban will hold more sway in the inter-Afghan process as well, as the U.S. withdraws funding for the government in Kabul.

Implications for India:

  • New Delhi’s decision to find grounds for Ashraf Ghani government has had a two-fold effect:
    • India’s voice in the reconciliation process has been limited
    • It has weakened its position with other leaders of the deeply divided democratic setup in Kabul such as the former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah.
  • Meanwhile, India’s presence inside Afghanistan, painstakingly built up since 2001, is being threatened anew by terror groups.
  • These include the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), believed to be backed by Pakistan’s establishment.
  • The recent brutal attack that killed 25 at a gurudwara in Kabul was meant for the embassy in Kabul.
  • Intelligence agencies had also warned of suicide car bomb threats to the consulates in Jalalabad and Herat in December 2019.
  • The government has said that the novel coronavirus pandemic prompted its decision to clear out both consulates in April 2020.
  • But the truth is that a full security reassessment is under way for them.
  • Either way, India’s diplomatic strength in Afghanistan should not appear to be in retreat just when it is needed the most.

Importance of Afghanistan for India:

  • Afghanistan serves India’s security and economic interests.
  • Afghanistan is tied to India’s vision of being a regional leader and a great power, coupled with its competition with China over resources and its need to counter Pakistani influence.
  • India’s ability to mentor a nascent democracy will go a long way to demonstrate to the world that India is indeed a major power, especially a responsible one.
  • The pipeline project TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), which seeks to connect an energy-rich Central to South Asia, will only see the light of the day if stability is established in Afghanistan.
  • India’s interest in Afghanistan relates to its need to reduce Pakistani influence in the region.
  • New Delhi needs Kabul to get a better view of Islamabad and hence it is pertinent that it fosters positive relations.
  • For access to the landlocked Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan.
  • The country is home to resource deposits worth one trillion dollars, according to the US Geological Survey.

Possible future course for India:

  • New Delhi must move swiftly to regain the upper hand in the narrative in Afghanistan.
  • The following should assure India a leading position in Afghanistan’s regional formulation:
    • India’s assistance of more than $3 billion in projects
    • trade of about $1 billion
    • a $20 billion projected development expenditure of an alternate route through Chahbahar
  • India’s support to the Afghan National Army, bureaucrats, doctors and other professionals for training
  • Three major projects include the Afghan Parliament, the Zaranj-Delaram Highway, and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma dam).
  • These and other hundreds of small development projects have cemented India’s position there, regardless of Pakistan’s attempts to undermine it.
  • So, it would be a mistake, at this point, if India’s support is only to Kabul or the Ghani government.
  • The Indian government must strive to endure that its aid and assistance is broad-based, to centres outside the capital (Kabul) as well.
  • This should be the case even if some lie in areas held by the Taliban.
  • India must also pursue opportunities to fulfil its role in the peace efforts in Afghanistan, starting with efforts to bridge the Ghani-Abdullah divide.
  • An understanding between Iran and the U.S. on Afghanistan is necessary for lasting peace as well, and India could play a mediatory part.
  • India should also use the UN’s call for a pause in conflicts during the novel coronavirus pandemic, to ensure a hold on hostilities with Pakistan.
  • Above all, New Delhi must consider the appointment of a special envoy, as it has been done in the past, to deal with its efforts in Afghanistan.

 

4. Covid-19 responses show need to revisit India’s drone policy, do you think our drone policy is in tune with the emerging scenario? Give your opinion with suitable justifications. (250 words)

References: Economic Times 

Introduction:

Villages, cities and even entire countries are locked down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, exposing big holes in local supply chains and in how governments access people across dense urban clusters and remote village areas. Incidentally, as it often happens in emergencies, it also uncovered our ingenuity in finding new and useful applications for available things and technologies. Like, how we use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly called drones.

The Director General of Civil Aviation has finally announced its policy for remotely piloted aircraft or drones, which came into effect from December 1, 2018. The new policy defined what will be classified as remotely piloted aircraft, how they can be flown and the restrictions they will have to operate under.

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Usage of drones in times of COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Pictures and news reports from the world over showed authorities putting drones to a variety of uses while tackling the pandemic.
  • They were used for surveillance and monitoring during lockdowns, for broadcasting important messages, for tracking down violators of restrictions, for decontamination of hotspots, for delivery of medicines and some essential items.
  • Right now, a Chennai-based company is using drones to disinfect areas specified by the Chhattisgarh government.
  • The police in Spain and in some Indian states are using drones with attached sirens and loudspeakers to warn residents to stay home.
  • China used drones for transporting medical equipment to contagious areas with minimal risk.

Extra information: Drone policy details:

Who can fly?

  • The policy also stipulates that RPAs shall be flown only by someone over 18 years of age, having passed 10th exam in English, and undergone ground/ practical training as approved by DGCA.
  • Under the new framework, civilian users seeking UIN/UAOP have to be Indian citizens.
  • Companies seeking permits for commercial use must be registered in India, with two-thirds of the board members, including the chairman, being Indian nationals. Their primary place of business must be India and “substantial ownership” and this has not been defined must be resting with Indian nationals.
  • The basic operating procedure will restrict drone flights to the daytime only and that too within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).This applies to all categories.
  • Also, along with other SOPs, the DGCA has clarified that no remote pilot can operate more than one RPA at any time.Manned aircraft will also get priority. There can’t be any human or animal payloads, or anything hazardous. It cannot in any manner cause danger to people or property. An insurance will be mandatory to cover third-party damage.

Where can drones not be flown?

  • RPAs cannot be flown within 5km of the perimeters of the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and within 3km from the perimeter of any other airport.
  • It cannot fly within permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas and within 25km from international border which includes the Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).
  • It cannot fly beyond 500 m into sea from the coast line and within 3 km from perimeter of military installations.
  • It also cannot be operated from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
  • Eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are off-limits without prior permission.
  • Violations will be acted on under relevant sections of the IPC and the Aircraft Act 1934.

Need to align the drone policy in tune with changing times:

  • There is a need to introduce a few changes for faster adoption of drone technology by government agencies providing emergency services.
  • For instance, to deploy drones at present, government agencies like the fire department, police and NDMA need to take permission from the DGCA and AAI 24 hours in advance under the no permission no take-off (NPNT) regulation.
  • If the emergency necessitates a faster response and cannot be predicted, these agencies should be exempt from NPNT.
  • The security risk here is addressed because the agencies are mostly state bodies themselves or are at least aiding the government for public good.
  • Hence misuse by rogue operators is out of question.

Way forward:

  • Going forward, drones could be integrated into emergency response mechanisms called “cobotic responses”.
  • These are responses in which humans cooperate with robots (effectively drones are robots).
  • This could be the future, and even the new normal, and may even open up several possibilities.
  • Imagine being able to go to the site of a nuclear accident like that in Fukushima with a drone capable of detection and resolution.
  • India must also examine prevailing policy mechanisms in other countries to adopt their best practices as it formalises its regulatory framework. However, a point to be underlined is that guidelines alone are not sufficient so the key is ensuring implementation and compliance.
  • Flying drones safely in India will require research and development to understand how they can be best used in India’s unique landscape.
  • The government needs to create the right ecosystem for drone operations to add to the economy’s automation dividend.

 

5. Discuss the importance of protection of basic civil rights amidst the present lockdown scenario and also comment upon the need for a comprehensive law on epidemics in post Covid-19 situation.(250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Introduction:

Covid-19 pandemic has raised a number of challenges across the globe; practically in different spheres of administration, border crossings, health services, civic behaviour, technology’ diplomacy and so on. Country after country is struggling with the tough choice between saving lives vs saving livelihoods. In a large and diverse country such as India, the challenges are even more complicated, particularly when public health is not a central or even a concurrent subject but purely a state subject.

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India declared a complete nationwide lockdown for a month becoming one of the first democracies in the world to opt for this stringent measure. There was a string of criticism and concerns related to it.

Importance of protection of basic civil rights amidst the present lockdown scenario:

  • The post covid-19 world will not be same again.
  • Further evidences show that due to increased climate change effects, epidemics and pandemics through various means like Zoonotic diseases is a reality.
  • The lockdown, however, does not come without a fair share of problems of its own, the most pertinent is centered around the protection of basic civil rights in this lockdown.
  • People at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, especially migrant workers have been the worst hit by the lockdown.
  • India, with its vast territory, large but extremely diverse population, and low literacy levels, poses a special kind of challenge to a government trying to develop a nationwide solution to tackle the epidemic.
  • The reckless disregard to the lockdown by some people and the numerous instances of rumour mongering have been extremely problematic for the administration to maintain law and order across the country.
  • This presents an extremely peculiar position where the government, on the one hand, has to ensure the basic civil rights of people, and on the other, has to curb the outbreak of the disease.
  • Though it might be too early to call, but from the data available, one can easily deduce that countries which have opted for ‘slightly authoritarian measures’, like Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, despite their proximity to China have prevailed, while countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy either due to their lax or vacillated approach have succumbed to the virus.
  • A cursory inference of this data easily invokes the dogma of whether “desperate times require desperate measures”, meaning whether and to what extent should the government impose restrictions on civil rights to curb the pandemic.
  • In such testing times, where the entire scenario can be narrowed down to the equation of liberties vs lives, a hybrid approach that encompasses the spirit of both sides should be applied.
  • Drawing the line in such cases, however, becomes an arduous task.
  • This implies that while certain fundamental rights, such as the right to religion or the right to expression can be restricted, the restriction in all such cases shall be reasonable and open to judicial scrutiny.
  • The recent case of T. Ganesh Kumar vs Union of India captures the essence of this quandary, where the Madras High Court rightly dismissed a petition that sought a ban on newspapers.
  • The current law governing during epidemics is the colonial-era Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which leaves much to be desired. The four-page long law is dotted with ambiguous and open-ended wording.

The need for a comprehensive law on epidemics arises from the deficiencies in the current laws governing during epidemics:

  • The biggest deficiency of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is its failure to provide an outline of the basic civil rights which the government needs to ensure during the epidemic.
  • The act is neither successful in laying out the course of action, nor in describing the rights of the citizens in such a situation.
  • That combined with its excessive reliance on Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (where the maximum punishment is six months’ imprisonment or a thousand rupees) for penal punishment in cases of violation, presents an extremely haphazard state of affairs.
  • The effect of these shortcomings in the statute is also indicated in several states invoking the National Security Act (NSA) against people who violated the lockdown norms and potentially, put others in harm’s way.
  • However, maintaining the charges of NSA, within the courtroom can be extremely challenging. The Supreme Court in the case of Vikram Singh vs Union of India has held that the punishment must be proportionate to the offence committed, and conviction under an act like NSA requires an exceptionally high level of threshold.

Way forward:

  • The best remedy to successfully tackle the current epidemic and prepare for the future lies in modifying or rather creating a comprehensive legislation that specializes in dealing with such cases.
  • A law that provides a detailed road map of the course of action and a clear demarcation between rights and liberties; the ones that may be restricted by the State and the ones that cannot be restricted.
  • Swiss law model:
    • Quite like the recent Ordinance on Measures to Combat the Coronavirus (Covid-19 Ordinance 2) promulgated by The Swiss Federal Council that has been enacted to take steps to contain spread of the disease.
    • It helps mobilize the capacities required to manage the epidemic, particularly to maintain the conditions required to provide the population with adequate care and a sufficient supply of therapeutic products.
    • The Ordinance has specific provisions for border crossings, export controls for protective equipment, provisions for health care and also measures that apply to population, organizations and institutions.
    • The Swiss Federal Council Ordinance also provides for a three-year jail term for violators. It would do India well to have a comprehensive health epidemic legislation for the country.

 

6. Many people perceive only the two pillars of sustainability; environmental protection and economic development. Why do you think people often fail to recognise the role of justice and social equity? Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon publications

Introduction:

Sustainable development is widely conceptualized as resulting from a balance of economic, environmental, and social equity concerns. Yet, critics argue that social equity is routinely left out in development practice. Aiming to help identify solutions that can address this problem. In recent times there has been increased focus on sustainability especially in the realms of Environmental protection and Economic Development. However, we have failed to address the equity and inclusivity part of the problem. Sustainable development also involves inclusive growth. Without distributive justice and social equity, it will remain elusive.

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Reasons why role of justice and social equity is sidelined in process of Sustainable development:

  • Conventionally, equity and justice are seen as ‘social’ issues, as ‘red’ issues, while the environment is characterized as distinct from these, as a ‘green’ issue, thereby suggesting that they are disconnected, separate realms.
  • In the process of the further diffusion of the sustainable development and its apparent general acceptance, the dimensions of equity and poverty alleviation tended to be de-emphasized.
  • Several multilateral finance and development institutions, important bilateral aid agencies, as well as many national governments, continued to privilege economic growth in GDP terms as the focus of
  • This trend continues despite the parallel and growing realization that national income is only a partial measure of development    that matters and that such growth can co-exist with a wide range of inequalities include widening income disparities
  • By using   the   term ‘sustainable’   as   if   it   captured   all   aspects   of ‘environmental soundness’, the mainstream conception of SD has perversely narrowed the basis of environmentalism itself.
  • For instance, very often, the polluters are better off than the pollutees: such as industries polluting rivers whose waters are consumed by poor farmers, or dams destroying livelihoods of poor fisherman downstream.
  • By focusing on “sustaining” something, which by default becomes the ‘current, already perilous state of the environment’, developing countries and the poor within them are unconsciously condemned to remain   where   they   are   Sustainability   is   equated   with ‘no   further   transformations of the natural landscape’, a frozen concept with no room for transformative social action on nature and society itself.
  • Another major shortcoming in practice has been the restriction of considerations of SD to developing countries. In the context of developed nations, sustainability has been limited to an aspirational goal, or limited strictly   to   local   environmental   considerations, or   reduced   to   purely   an   individual lifestyle question.
  • Under the garb of sustainable development, nations usually enrich their economy and environment at the cost of other poor nations. E.g.: the disposal and transfer of waste from developed to developing and Least developed countries.

Way forward:

  • There is a clear need to re-iterate and clarify the links between equity and justice on the one hand and sustainability, SD, and environmentalism on the other.
  • Integrate social equity into sustainability plans through an inclusive process. Leading practice communities invite input from a wide variety of community members and emphasize engaging stakeholders from marginalized communities.
  • Rights based planning and development should be a norm and be implemented at all levels.
  • Sustainable Development also means building stronger communities, promoting partnerships that enhance community living and also women empowerment.
  • Uppermost in our minds must be the importance of integrated decision-making which seeks to weave together the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development.
  • Expanding access to sustainable energy offers a good example of how to advance all three pillars of sustainable development simultaneously. Living standards can rise, economic growth can be pursued, and environmental balance is maintained. Goals of equity and sustainability are advanced.
  • Collaborate with local nonprofits, universities, private sector partners, and other local governments to achieve common goals. Benefits of collaboration include greater effectiveness and efficiency by streamlining efforts.
  • Use data and establish performance measures to track progress towards social equity objectives. Leading practice communities share progress to provide evidence as to whether social equity objectives are being achieved. This strategy ensures transparency and accountability.

Conclusion:

Inclusion and equity are indispensable requirements for sustainable development. Just as development cannot be only about economic growth, nor can sustainability be only about protecting the environment. Development must be people-centered and promote rights, opportunities, choices, and dignity.  Green growth must also be inclusive growth, generating social progress and contributing to eradicating poverty and achieving greater equality, as well as sustaining our natural environment. Our common future could be grounded in equitable and sustainable human development, with the explicit goal of expanding people’s freedoms and choices without compromising those of generations to come.

 

7. Write a short note on Durkheim’s materialistic explanation of religion. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon publications

Introduction:

Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist who rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, he is credited as being one of the principal founders of modern sociology. Chief among his claims is that society is a sui generis reality, or a reality unique to itself and irreducible to its composing parts. It is created when individual consciences interact and fuse together to create a synthetic reality that is completely new and greater than the sum of its parts. This reality can only be understood in sociological terms, and cannot be reduced to biological or psychological explanations.

Body:

Durkheim’s views on religion:

  • Durkheim defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things” (1915).
  • To him, sacred meant extraordinary—something that inspired wonder and that seemed connected to the concept of “the divine.”
  • There are, thus, three fundamental elements to every religion: sacred objects, a set of beliefs and practices, and the existence of a moral community.
  • Durkheim argued that “religion happens” in society when there is a separation between the profane (ordinary life) and the sacred (1915).
  • The next step in the genesis of religion is the projecting of this collective energy onto an external symbol.
  • As Durkheim argues, society can only become conscious of these forces circulating in the social world by representing them somehow.
  • The power of religion must therefore be objectified (materialized), or somehow made visible, and the object onto which this force is projected becomes sacred.
  • This sacred object receives the collective force and is thereby infused with the power of the community.
  • A rock, for example, isn’t sacred or profane as it exists. But if someone makes it into a headstone, or another person uses it for landscaping, it takes on different meanings—one sacred, one profane.
  • Physical objects, such as rocks, feathers, totem polls, crosses, and so forth, can also become infused with the force of the collectivity, thereby becoming sacred and serving as a physical reminder of society’s presence.
  • Such views on religion allow Durkheim to make the radical claim that a society’s sacred object is nothing but the collective forces of the group hypostatized.
  • Religion is society worshipping itself, and through religion, individuals represent to themselves society and their relationship to it.
  • But what would happen if religion were to decline? This question led Durkheim to posit that religion is not just a social creation but something that represents the power of society: When people celebrate sacred things, they celebrate the power of their society. By this reasoning, even if traditional religion disappeared, society wouldn’t necessarily dissolve.

Conclusion:

Durkheim is generally considered the first sociologist who analyzed religion in terms of its societal impact.