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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 19th September 2016

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NATIONAL 

 

[1]. SC moves away from death penalty – Topic

The Hindu

Context:- Supreme Court, instead of issuing death penalty to a child rapist and murderer in the Lodhi case, has resorted to a new kind of punishment which is being dubbed as a “judicial innovation”.

 What is this new judicial innovation?

This new kind of punishment was formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case in December 2015 i.e. in the Union of India versus Sriharan alias Murugan case

The innovation involves substituting death penalty with a “special category” of life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years, if not more.

This special category is to be limited to a “very few cases”.

First mention

This special category finds its first mention in the Swami Shraddananda versus State of Karnataka judgment of the Supreme Court in 2008.

Court’s rationale in substituting Death penalty

In the present case, SC has given the following rationale for resorting to this special kind of punishment,

 SC has stripped the convict in this case of his right to apply for release from prison on remission for the next 25 years. Thus, any hope convict might have had for his release after serving the first 14 years was effectively extinguished.

Note: A convict can resort to remission after serving 14 years under life imprisonment

Some would say that convict was let off easily and he should be hanged

That is not true. Hanging would have served a quick death to the convict but incarcerating him for 25 years in a jail with no possibility of remission is a far worse punishment than a swift end.

Conclusion

SC might have found an alternative to the capital punishment. This new category of punishment will surely bridge the gap between the extremity of death sentence and only 14 years of life imprisonment on the other.

 

[2]. Cambodia emerges as a surrogacy hub – Topic

 The Hindu

 Context:- With India toughening its stand on surrogacy, evident in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016, surrogacy service seekers, and even doctors have started moving to destinations that still allow this service.

New destination

After Bangkok and Thailand, Cambodia has become a new attraction for surrogacy seekers

Why Cambodia?

As in the early days of surrogacy in India, the lack of proper laws or guidelines in Cambodia has proved a big attraction.  Doctors from Thailand have set up infertility clinics here.

 Concerns

  • There is a huge pressure building and Cambodia is ill-prepared to handle it
  • Poor medical infrastructure

 A better alternative

As per experts Ukraine is a better alternative than Cambodia because it has the required legal framework in place.

 

EDITORIAL 

[1].A blow for the right to knowledge  – Topic

 The Hindu

Context:- Author tries to analyse the recent Delhi HC judgement in the copyright case, its implications and whether there is any merit in the publishers’ argument against the exception clause in the Indian copyright Act.

Delhi HC judgement

On 16th September 2016, Delhi High Court in a landmark judgement held that the photocopying of course packs prepared by Delhi University comprising portions from books published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis did not amount to infringement of copyright.

In simple words, here is what the whole case is about.

 Who are the parties involved in the dispute?

  • 5 Major Publishing Houses [Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press India Pvt. Ltd., Taylor & Francis Group, U.K. Taylor & Francis Books India Pvt. Ltd] vs;
  • Rameshwari Photocopy Service and the Delhi University

Who filed the case?

In 2012, the above mentioned publishing houses filed a case against the photocopy service and DU

Why the case was filed?

Publishing houses contended that bounded sets of photocopied material sold by the Rameshwari photocopying services are in direct contravention with the 1957 Indian Copyright Act and said that the rights of reproduction rested only with the publisher. So, they filed the case of copyright violation against them.

DU is involved because it has outsourced its work of providing photocopying service for its students to the Rameshwari photocopy shop

Arguments given

Publishers: the creation of course packs and the photocopying of academic material for the same amounted to an infringement of the exclusive copyright of the authors and publishers

DU & Rameshwari copy service: the defendants argued that the reproduction of materials for educational purposes fell within the exceptions to copyright under Section 52(1) (i) of the Copyright Act

 Let us take a look at the judgement now,

What is a natural right & statutory right?

Statutory right: A right granted by the law like right to vote.

Natural right: Nature endows every human (without any distinction of time or space, and without any regard to age, gender, nationality, or race) with certain inalienable (which can’t be taken away) rights (such as the right to ‘life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness’) which cannot be abrogated or interfered with by any government. Such rights are termed as natural rights. Even if law doesn’t provide such laws, government is wrong if it violates them.

Not a moral right

Judgement clearly enunciated that right to copyright is a statutory right and not a natural right & being a statutory right it is also limited by the exceptions enshrined in the law.

Exception to the copyright law

Copyright Act 1957 has certain limitations embedded into it via section 52(1) (i) allows for the reproduction of any work,

  • by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or
  • as part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or
  • in answers to such questions

Publishers’ narrow interpretation of the word “in the course of instruction”

  • Publishers said that the exception clause simply allowed for the provision of materials in the course of a lecture and restricted to a classroom

Meaning: Materials can be provided only during the lecture and only in the classroom i.e. cannot be sold outside

Courts’ interpretation of the word “in the course of instruction”

  • HC said that the instruction includes entire methodology from the creation of syllabus to teaching and provision of reading materials.

Further arguments made by the court

  • Court argues that “when an action, if onerously (causing hardship) done, is not an offence, it cannot become an offence when, owing to advancement in technology doing thereof has been simplified”

Meaning: if a student is not in violation of law when he is copying from relevant material through his own hands sitting in the library then when the same thing is done through a technological advanced method i.e. photocopy machine, it can’t be labelled as an offence

  • Philosophical basis of copyright law: Judge noted that copyright doesn’t mean that the creation is an absolute ownership of the creator like a literary work rather it is designed to stimulate activity and progress in the sphere of arts. It is not intended to obstruct the gathering of knowledge by the public but rather increase it.

 Global implications

The Delhi HC judgement is a clear assertion of the principle of equitable access of Knowledge.

In the face of global push by the copyright lobby, such as Hollywood, the music industry and the publishing cartels, copyright law as framed under the international agreements like TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) has effectively been hijacked by narrow commercial interests.

  • Judgement delivered is acutely aware of the specific needs of countries like India where libraries and universities have to cope with the needs of thousands of students simultaneously, and it would be naïve to expect every student to buy copies of every book

This judgement can work as a model basis for other countries which feel themselves stifled by the international copyright laws and want to orient their national legal framework as per the current prevailing conditions.

Conclusion

Publishers should understand that a student cannot buy an entire book just for few pages of relevant study material from it.  In a time when books and reading itself are under threat from competing media forms, it may be useful to remember that it is education and greater access that makes readers, not copyright.

 

[2]. Coherence in the neighbourhood – Topic

The Hindu

Context:- Author summarizes the developments during the recently concluded visits by Afghanistan president and Nepalese PM to India. 

India-Nepal

  • The recent visit by Nepalese PM is being seen as the one which will begin the damage control after India’s failed policy intervention in Nepal last year during the constitutional crisis.
  • Joint statements made at the end of the visit,

India’s stand: India welcomed the ongoing efforts of the Government of Nepal to take all sections of the society on board for effective implementation of the Constitution. Key thing which is to be noted here is that India did not stress on any amendment to the constitution pertaining to Madhesi population. This reflects a mature Indian position unlike the foreign policy blunders committed by it earlier.

 India-Afghanistan

With Afghanistan realizing that Pakistan is not serious about eliminating Taliban or bringing Taliban on to the discussion table for resolution of the ongoing conflict, it tried to chart a closer relationship with India during this visit.

  • Afghanistan requested India to provide Military assistance to Kabul in terms of helicopters, tanks and ammunition assistance but India didn’t promise anything on this front
  • Joint statement issued at the end of the visit mentioned

Indo-Afghan resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement

  • No mention of Pakistan’s support to terror groups

 

 

ECONOMY

[1]. Simplify factory inspections for ‘ease of doing business’: CII – Topic

 The Hindu

Context:- A white paper titled “Inspections and Regulatory Enforcements for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India” by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) states that the factory inspection system needs a complete overhaul to bring India among the top 50 countries in terms of ‘ease of doing business’ in the next two years.

Current ranking

India is currently placed at 130 out of 189 countries in the ‘ease of doing business’ rankings

Observations made in the white paper

  • A manufacturing company in India has to comply with around 70 laws and regulations.
  • Around 40 inspectors and government officials visit factories on an average “with the ulterior motives of corruption. Most of the inspections conducted are related to environment or labour law compliances.
  • A company has to file around 100 returns every year
  • Inspection in India have been found to be excessive, duplicate and complicated resulting significant cost to businesses specially MSMEs
  • Variations – While inspectors for labour compliances visit most SMEs once or twice a year, it has been observed that in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, SMEs are visited by labour inspectors once every month

Solutions

  • An integrated inspection system & a risk-based approach in the inspection system meaning inspections are not random but the targets are analysed based on the potential risks like industries which are prone to child labor can be frequently inspected
  • A portal could be created for automatically updating invoices related to excise, sales tax, customs etc. by SMEs instead of physically visiting the factory premises.
  • Audited accounts of SMEs could be used by inspectors while performing verification.
  • It also urged the central government to encourage the states to pursue a process for simplification of labour laws and compliance.

 

[2]. Current account may be in surplus, raising export concerns – Topic

 The Hindu

Context:- India’s current account has moved in to surplus in the April-June quarter of 2016, after a gap of 9 years

What is current account deficit?

Current account deficit (CAD) is a measurement of a country’s trade where the value of the goods and services it imports exceeds the value of the goods and services it exports.

In simple terms, when,

Imports>Exports we witness CAD

Reducing the CAD

A country can reduce its current account deficit by increasing the value of its exports relative to the value of imports. It can place restrictions on imports, such as tariffs or quotas, or it can emphasize policies that promote exports
Effect of Current Account surplus

It results in strengthening of rupee so RBI has said that it could intervene to prevent rupee from strengthening too much

Note: – Exchange rates used in the following explanations are imaginary and just for the sake of understanding.

 What is meant by strengthening of rupee here?

Let us say that 1$ = Rs50 so if rupee strengthens i.e. 1$ = Rs 40 it means 1 dollar will be able to buy less number of rupees.

High exports mean more people with dollar will come to RBI to exchange it for rupee i.e. demand for rupee will increase thereby making it a little costlier than earlier.

Effect of a strengthened rupee

A strong rupee is bad for exporters. For eg: An exporter sells his product for 10$ in USA. When he will go to RBI, he will get 500Rs (as per current exchange rate of 1$ = Rs 50). Now, let us assume that exports have surpassed imports, and country is in Current Account Surplus. Exchange rate now will be 1$ = Rs 40. So, the exporter in this case will get = Rs 400, which is Rs 100 less than the previous case where rupee was weaker.

 

INTERNATIONAL 

[1]. Rich Indians worry as ‘dollar’ visa set to end – Topic

 The Hindu

 Context:- In the backdrop of allegations of fraud and corruption including against Indian-origin individuals related to the EB-5 programme, the U.S. Congress will soon consider whether to renew it or not

What is EB-5 programme?

The EB-5 programme grants rich entrepreneurs as well as their spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 an opportunity to bag the coveted U.S. Green Card (or status of permanent residence) and Citizenship. All they have to do is invest in just over half a million dollars in the U.S. and ensure that the funds help generate at least ten full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers

  • The programme is named EB-5 as it is the fifth preference category under the Employment-Based (EB) immigration visas
  • The EB-5 programme was created in 1990 with the approval of the US Congress
  • It aims to boost the American economy by attracting investment from foreign nationals and generating employment for locals.

Conditions to be considered for permanent residency

In order to be considered for permanent residency status in the U.S., the Programme mandates a qualified foreign investor to invest at least $1 million — or a minimum of $500,000 if the investment is made in certain rural areas or regions with high unemployment — and show that ten or more full-time positions were generated or preserved directly or indirectly as a result of that investment.

More Indians

In 2015, the U.S. authorities issued 111 EB-5 visas to Indians that is 15 more than the previous year, and 74 more than the number of such immigrant visas issued in 2011.

  • The rapid rise in the number of EB-5 visas to Indians in the last few years had led to the filing of over a thousand applications under that category from India in 2016
  • There is a yearly limit of 700 visas per nation. However, if a country crosses that limit, there is a clause that allows U.S. authorities to make available the “unused visa numbers” to applicants from countries (such as China) that have crossed that limit.

 If the EB-5 is given a new lease of life,

  • It will most certainly be reformed through restrictions (such as a higher level for minimum investment),
  • It will mean more stringent norms for fraud prevention, as well as steps to protect America’s national security (through foolproof measures to prevent terror- and other illegal finance flowing into the programme)

Countries

The Chinese have been way ahead of others in taking advantage of the EB-5 opportunities so far. 

 India’s investment

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from India into the U.S. under the EB-5 programme was worth only $161.5 million during 1992-2014, an analysis by the IIUSA showed. China, however, outshone the rest with $6.7 billion worth FDI into U.S. during 1992-2014, as per the IIUSA (Invest in the USA)

 Conclusion

The general backlash against globalization and immigration laws in US mean that the task ahead of US congress is not going to be easy.

 

INDIAN EXPRESS

[1]. The pulse of the matter – Topic

 The Hindu

Context:- Author brings forth the fact that farmers in India tend to lose out irrespective of the fact that crop prices go up or down

Only traders benefit

Price of tur/arhar dal had reached very high levels of around Rs 200 /Kg. Similar was the case with onion too. The additional profit, due to the higher prices of pulses and onions was consumed by traders. The farmers haven’t received much.

Potato has had a bumper crop. A kg of a potato is Rs3 Rs 4 at present at the wholesale market. The potato farmer is suffering despite giving a record harvest. And yet, the consumer continues to buy the potato at Rs 15-20 per kg.

Farmers are agitating over a very low price for a particular paddy variety Pusa Basmati 1509. Due to weak export demand, Pusa Basmati prices have fallen from Rs 26 per kg last year to Rs 13 per kg in 2016

The real problem

  • Farmers complain that they get inputs in the form of seeds, manure and equipment etc easily but no one cares about the sale of their produce at remunerative prices.
  • Focus is solely on increasing production without paying adequate attention to the supply side.
  • When the production goes up, prices in the markets go down and a farmer’s net gain is nullified despite the fact that he may have incurred higher costs due to the application of improved inputs.
  • Even IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited) and KRIBHCO KrishakBharati Cooperative) are only focused on selling inputs for agriculture. They have not made efforts to ensure that farmers receive remunerative prices for their produce.
  • Farmers have to sell immediately after the harvest when the prices are low, due to debt. With the passage of time, the prices go up and it is only the traders who gain, not the farmers. Prices rise further when the produce reaches retail outlets. Hence, a consumer doesn’t benefit irrespective of the bumper production. In the case of deficit production a farmer never gains due to rise in prices.
  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) for up to 25 agricultural crops is declared by the government but, in effect, procurement is conducted only for paddy and wheat. Overtime this has led to a distorted production wherein rice and paddy are grown widely as they are considered beneficial.

Problem: A wheat-rice cycle, year after year, is damaging the fertility of the soil as well. The cultivation of pulses rejuvenates the soil by fixing the nitrogen

What state should do?

Problems listed above are grave enough that the government takes steps to eliminate it.

 A Case of Dal

Problems & Steps that can be taken by the government to improve pulses production

  • Problem: The supply shortfall in pulses is about 15-20 per cent.

Remedy: This can be bridged either by increasing the productivity or increasing the acreage under pulses. Substitution of arhar dal by matar dal or rajma may also be helpful.

  • Problem: In the northern parts of the country, pulses cultivation also suffers from the extensive damage caused by the blue bulls. They belong to the antelope family, but farmers refrain from killing them because of their Hindi name, “neelgai”.

Remedy: Need to spread increased awareness that the governments issue licences to kill them.

  • Problem: Indian government has no policy to maintain buffer stocks of oilseeds and pulses meaning the government is in no position to release stocks in the markets to stabilise prices when they start to rise.

Remedy: Procurement of pulses for maintaining buffer stocks

  • Pulses are mainly grown in rain-fed areas so improving irrigation facilities in such areas will result in increased productivity

 Conclusion

Farming in India should be transformed in to an attractive profession so that food security and nutrition do not pose a threat to the entire Indian populace. Farming has already become an unattractive option and those engaged in it are doing so because they have no other option. Assuring farmers of profitable return on their hard-work is the least that government can do.

 

[2]. For the mother and the child – Topic

 The Hindu

 Context:- Author discusses about the ethical concerns regarding the Draft Surrogacy Bill 2016

What is the draft surrogacy bill?

This bill proposes to ban commercial surrogacy in India. It permits heterosexual married couples of not less than 5 years to avail the option of assisted reproductive methods and that too from a close relative i.e. only altruistic surrogacy is permitted.

Note: – For a detailed review of surrogacy bill & the issues raised against it, please refer to the 9pm brief dated 1st September 2016

 

Ethical concerns

The proposed law seeks to address two major ethical concerns:

  • The practice of commercial surrogacy by putting the human womb on hire
  • The need to safeguard the interests of the unborn child.

Arguments for& against commercial surrogacy

For: It is argued that surrogate mothers who come from poor backgrounds are able to sustain themselves and their families in a greater way by playing professional surrogates and receive far better housing & nutrition during the course of it than they otherwise would have.

Against: Repeated surrogacy and subsequent pregnancy takes a toll on the health of the mother. In case of a caesarean operation this toll assumes even greater proportions.

What is Parens Patria?

In law, it refers to the public policy power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child or individual who is in need of protection.

Author states that,

  • It is the duty of the state to protect the rights of the children under the doctrine of “Parens Patria”. The state must regulate surrogacy to safeguard the rights of children born through surrogacy. The child’s welfare overrides the reproductive autonomy of parents.
  • Similar to a screening process during the child adoption, parents opting for surrogacy should also be made to go through it.
  • Ultimate consideration should be a secure familial environment for the child. It should not matter as to from whom this environment takes its root. It may be a relationship between a heterosexual or homosexual couple, a live-in couple or a married one.

Conclusion

Author concludes by saying that while encouraging artificial methods of child bearing with serious ethical concerns, can we remain oblivious to the reality that India is also home to the largest number of children abandoned by their biological parents?

 

 

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