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Daily current affairs for IAS upsc

Citizen vs State {Rights Issues}

News:

In a rare unanimous verdict pronounced by nine judges, the Supreme Court has ruled that privacy is a fundamental right that requires constitutional protection.

right-to-privacy-9-bench-judges verdict

Beyond news:

  • This restatement of first principles became necessary mainly due to a strange and perverse argument by the Union government in the course of the hearings on the validity of its Aadhaar-based unique identity scheme that privacy is not a fundamental right.
  • The fact that all the judges unanimously came down on this argument shows how much the government misunderstood the constitutional underpinnings of privacy as a value in itself and as an ineluctable facet of human dignity.
  • The government argued that privacy is “so amorphous as to defy description”, that it is needless to call it a fundamental right as it is one in common law, and that it has been given statutory protection in different forms.
  • There was even a suggestion that privacy is an imported value and that it is elitist. All these arguments fell by the wayside.

Detailed analysis of PRIVACY AS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT is covered here

Stir in Valley over Article 35A {Constitutional issues}

  • With five days to go for the Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A, protests are gaining ground in the Kashmir Valley with the separatists rolling out a five-day protest programme.
  • Supporting the protest call, Kashmir Traders’-Manufacturers’ Federation and Kashmir Economic Alliance president Muhammad Yaseen Khan said, “We are ready to face bullets in order to protect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It will be an all out war if the Centre scraps Article 35A.

Endgame for Section 377? {Constitutional issues}

  • The guillotine has fallen on the right of men to unilateral divorce by mere pronouncement in one go.
  • It is a reflection of the failure of politics in India, and the pusillanimity of the political class that is its custodian, that the practice had the long life that it enjoyed in a secular republic.

Rulings by the Supreme Court can have significant spread effects.

  • Even when rulings in one case may not directly impact those in other areas, they have the potential to change behavior across society.
  • Thus, activists see the ruling against triple talaq as generally empowering women among India’s Muslims.
  • Similarly, the ruling that has closely followed it in time, namely the one upholding privacy as a fundamental right of the citizen under the Constitution, is believed to have major implications for the lives of Indians.
  • It has been suggested that the ruling has a bearing on the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises acts “against the order of nature”.
  • In the first instance, this immediately devalues by association the homosexual condition, a historical peeve of European Christianity.
  • Under Hitler homosexuals were to be exterminated so that Germany would be populated by the perfect race.
  • It needs to be acknowledged at the same time that it is the Christian West that has taken the lead in reversing the historical prejudice against homosexuality and that members of its political class have played a leading role in this.
  • But we live in India and must perforce address its realities.

Caste and class {Governance}

  • There are inequalities and then there are inequalities within unequal entities. That reservation in jobs and education did address socio-economic disparities in India to some degree is true.
  • But, the benefits of reservation have not been distributed equitably, and large segments of the weaker sections and backward classes continue to have no access to quality education or meaningful employment.
  • The relatively rich and dominant sections among the backward castes have tended to take up a disproportionately larger share of the reservation pie.

Solutions:

  • The introduction of the concept of ‘creamy layer’ to isolate the well-off among those eligible for reservation was initially perceived as an attempt to limit the benefits of reservation, and to politically divide the beneficiaries of reservation..
  • The Union Cabinet’s decision to set up a commission to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes speaks to the long years of failure in effectively preventing large sections of the creamy layer from taking advantage of the quota system to the detriment of the poorer sections among their own caste groups.

Current scenario:

  • In effect, the Union government is now seeking to ensure a more equitable distribution of reservation benefits by further differentiating caste groups coming under backward classes on the basis of their levels of social and economic backwardness.
  • The decision on sub-categorisation came on the same day the Cabinet decided to raise the ceiling for deciding who remains outside the creamy layer to those earning Rs. 8 lakh annually, an increase of Rs. 2 lakh.
  • This is at cross-purposes with the move toward sub-categorization, allowing as it does those with higher earnings to enjoy reservation benefits.
  • The reservation pie is limited, and no group, whether rich or poor, dominant or subservient, can hope to gain except at the expense of another socio-economic category.

Privacy is a fundamental right, declares SC { Rights Issues}

  • In a unanimous verdict, a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court declared that privacy is intrinsic to life and liberty and an inherent part of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
  • The court held that privacy is a natural right that inheres in human beings because they are human.
  • The state does not bestow natural rights on citizens.
  • Natural rights like privacy exist equally in all individuals, irrespective of class, strata, gender or orientation.

Detailed analysis of PRIVACY AS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT is covered here

Don’t fear trade deficit{Indian Economy}

  • Amidst rising political tensions between India and China, trade relations between the two countries have come under some pressure recently.
  • India’s trade deficit with China, which stands at over $50 billion, has been projected by many on the Indian side as an economic evil that needs to be curbed by all means.
  • To this end, they have demanded heavy tariffs and bans on Chinese imports.
  • The trade deficit with China, in effect, is seen as a loss to India and a gain to the Chinese economy.
  • So, naturally, steps to curb it are seen as justified.

To read and write better {Education}

  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill of 2017 aims to maintain the standard of elementary education along with the avowed objective of providing compulsory education to children between the ages of six and 14.
  • The new Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha proposes to substitute Section 16 in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, which provides that “no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education.”
  • The provision was made in the original Act because examinations were often used to hold back children who obtained poor marks.
  • Parliament had no intention to demotivate a child by compelling him or her to repeat the same class or leave school altogether.
  • However, the recent years have seen several States and Union territories raise the adverse impact of Section 16 on elementary education.
  • Authorities claimed that there was a steady dip in the learning standards of students in elementary classes.

Niti Aayog’s action agenda has great potential: Jaitley{Economic Policy}

News:

  •  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said : Niti Aayog’s three-year action agenda has the potential to trigger much more economic activity and development in the country than we have today.

Beyond News:

  • “This publication (three year action agenda) really has the potential for becoming, for those in governance, a good textbook.
  • If those in Centre or States keep in on their table and every time, they have some doubt as to what next step is to be taken, they glance through pages of this…they can find some unfinished agenda,” the Minister said, adding this document will be very useful in the economic planning.
  • The government think tank, in its first three-year action agenda (2017-18 to 2019-20), which talks about reforms in the judiciary and social sectors, among other things, has said that “there are good prospects that we will return to the 8% plus growth trajectory in another two to three years if not sooner.

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