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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Briefs – 3rd January 2017

 



  • Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]

  1. SC extends judicial review powers
  2. Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC
  3. Centre stalling judicial transfers: SC
  4. Agni-IV test a ‘grand success’
  5. It will be a disservice to the ‘little man’: SC
  • Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]

  1. All’s not well in the Army
  2. What is special about special courts?
  3. When women eat last
  4. New Year’s-eve tragedy in Turkey
  • ECONOMY [The Hindu]

  1. Demonetisation hits manufacturing sector
  • Indian Express

  1. Quotas are for justice, not to plug job holes

Live Mint

  1. Demonetisation and welfare

Click here to Download 9 PM Daily Current Affairs PDF (3rd Jan. 2017)

Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]


[1] SC extends judicial review powers


The Hindu

Context

In a blow to Ordinance Raj, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court widened the boundaries of judicial review to the extent that it can now examine whether the President or the State Governor was spurred by an “oblique motive” to bypass the legislature and promulgate an ordinance

What has SC ruled?

The satisfaction of the President under Article 123 and of the Governor under Article 213 is not immune from judicial review

Fraud

In case the apex court concludes that the President or the Governor was influenced by ulterior motives to promulgate the ordinance, such an act by the two constitutional authorities would amount to a fraud on their respective powers

Backdrop

The question that came up in reference before the seven-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur dealt with the constitutionality of seven successive re-promulgations of the Bihar Non-Government Sanskrit Schools (Taking Over of Management and Control) Ordinance of 1989.

  • The State government had approached the Supreme Court after the Patna High Court declared that repeated re-promulgation of the ordinances was unconstitutional after relying on the D.C. Wadhwa judgment on the dos and don’ts of promulgation of ordinances by another Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 1986

Read More: Repromulgation game,judicial review vs Judicial overreach vs judicial activism


[2] Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC


The Hindu

Context

Terming religion a very private relationship between man and his God, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority judgment (4:3), held that an appeal for votes during elections on the basis of religion, caste, race, community or language, even that of the electorate, will amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ and call for disqualification of the candidate.

SC said that

Election is a secular exercise and therefore a process should be followed… The relationship between man and God is an individual choice and state should keep this in mind

Backdrop

SC was interpreting the word “his” in the Sec 123 (3) of Representation of People Act

  • The provision mandates that it would amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ if a candidate or his agent or any other person, with his consent, appeals for votes on religious or such grounds

The Question

The question referred to the Constitution Bench led by CJI T.S. Thakur on a batch of poll petitions was,

 Whether the word ‘his’ only meant a bar on appeals made in the name of the candidate or his rival or his agent or others in his immediate camp. Or, does the word also extend to soliciting votes on the basis of the religion, caste, community, race, language of the electorate as a whole.


[3]Centre stalling judicial transfers: SC


The Hindu

Context

Recommendations of the Collegium cannot be allowed to languish on somebody’s desk, says CJI.

Article throws light on the ongoing tussle between the government and the judiciary over the judicial appointments.

Give it a go-through.


[4] Agni-IV test a ‘grand success’


The Hindu

Context

It can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne over a distance of more than 4,000 km

Simple article detailing the success of the latest Agni launch.

Give it a go through once


[5] It will be a disservice to the ‘little man’: SC


 The Hindu

Context

The question referred to the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur on a batch of election petitions was whether the word ‘his’ used in Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act only meant a bar on appeals made in the name of the candidate or his rival or his agent or others in his immediate camp.

News has already been covered

Give it a go-through once


Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]


[1] All’s not well in the Army


The Hindu

Context

A military force with sharp internal divisions and discontent in the ranks has far-reaching national security implications. It’s time the defence establishment got its act together.

Issue: Various issues plaguing the Indian army

Addressing the problems

Author states that there is an urgent need to address the

  • Lopsided promotion trends in the Army
  • Shortage of over 9000 officers
  • Rising infighting within the force, and their implications for India’s national security.

Controversial appointment

Appointment of Gen Rawat has been a controversial one as he has been made army chief by superseding two of his seniors. Those people who are supporting his appointment, author says that, are missing few points,

  1. No compelling reason: To breach a well-established tradition in a conservative and hierarchical institution like the Army, the government should have a convincing and compelling reason which it doesn’t seem to have
  2. Merit argument is flawed: The argument of merit is largely redundant at the topmost levels of an organisation where all officers are equally competent, failing which they wouldn’t have made it to the Lt. Gen. rank in the first place
  3. Subjective criteria: There is no objective criteria for deciding merit at the senior levels of the Army brass besides previous annual confidential reports and civilian considerations, both of which are subjective
  4. Coordinator not an operational commander: The argument that Gen. Rawat has the required experience in certain theatres is again beside the point because the “Chief of the Army Staff” is not an operational commander but a coordinator and chief strategist
  5. Politicisation of armed forces: Non-traditional appointments without a compelling rationale set a bad precedent and could potentially lead to the politicisation of the armed forces. Imagine senior Generals of the Army running around ruling party politicians to make it to the top!

Politically Wrong signal

Author states that as per speculations third in line Gen Bakshi might be appointed as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). By ignoring second in line Gen Hariz (a Muslim officer) government is sending a wrong signal

Just a counter-insurgent force

The justification of Gen. Rawat’s appointment as stemming from his experience in dealing with insurgency is also indicative of the deeply entrenched tactical thinking within the government at the Centre. This then means that the present government considers anti-militancy and counter-insurgency operations to be the fundamental job description of the Indian Army ignoring the other important aspects like strategic planning and an appreciation of the long-term strategic environment.

 Promotion-related discrimination

  • Disproportionate opportunities: Infantry and artillery officers frequently get appointed to the top ranks in the army. Officers from other wings, especially the Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry, have been publicly voicing their concerns. This is over and above the fact that only officers from the fighting arms of the Army make it to the top, meaning that those from Engineers and Signals don’t even stand a chance of doing so.  This already existing discrimination is getting even more glaring thanks to the new promotion policy adopted by the Army. The victims of the new policy have been fighting it out in the Supreme Court.
  • Chiefs often promote officers from their own regiment

Ill-designed reservation policy

  • Kargil Review Committee report: The current debate about the Army’s promotion policy has its genesis in the Kargil Review Committee report which recommended that promotion to the Colonel and Brigadier levels should be made quicker so that younger officers can command battalions and brigades
  • AVSC Committee: The AjaiVikram Singh Committee (AVSC) made some important recommendations in 2001 to restructure the officer cadre in the Army. Among other things, it recommended,
  • Command Exit Model: The implementation of the Command Exit model (as opposed to the pro rata basis) for promotion to the colonel level. The pro-rata basis model gave advantage to infantry and artillery officers and the Command Exit model gives even more advantage to infantry
  • Command Exit Model prescribed differentiated command tenures (that is, the length of the tenures of commanding officers i.e., colonels before promotion to the next level)
  • Tenures fixed under AVSC: the AVSC fixed the command tenure of Infantry officers at 2.5 years, that of Armoured/Mechanised Infantry and Artillery at three years, and Engineers and Signals at four years. This has not only led to quicker promotions for officers from the Infantry but they have also successively managed to corner the Army chief’s post as well, including the last four times. The last four Army Chiefs, including the current one, have been infantry officers.

 Violates of Article 14

This ill-designed policy was challenged by serving officers in the Armed Forces Tribunal, which squashed the new promotion policy, holding that it violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

  • SC upheld the policy: However, the Supreme Court in February 2016 upheld the policy, at the same time asking the government to create 141 additional posts at the rank of colonel to be granted to officers from Engineers, Signals and Air Defence
  • Present situation: Around 350 senior Army officers have again approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of its February judgment

 Author suggests

Author states that though politicisation of army is indeed harmful it may also not be a good idea to let the Army handle its own business as it deems fit.

  • Civilian oversight: It is time to consider civilian oversight of the promotion process at the highest levels of the armed forces. However, civil servants in the MoD (Ministry of Defence) or the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet can’t alone be entrusted with that job.
    • Empowered Parliamentary Standing committee/Selection Committee: Ideally, such high-level appointments should either be vetted by an empowered Parliamentary Standing committee on Defence or be decided by a ‘bipartisan’ Selection Committee composed along the lines of the one that selects the Central Bureau of Investigation chief and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

Need for reform

Author correctly points out that an armed force suffering with sharp internal divisions and discontent in the ranks can pose challenges for the country’s national security and the morale and cohesion of the fighting forces.

Conclusion

Author concludes by saying that government and the new army chief should take urgent measures to address the source of the problems of the growing discontent within the armed forces. Also, the senior Army leadership needs to rise above parochial regimental considerations and look after the interests of the force as a whole rather than those of their own regiments.


[2] What is special about special courts?


The Hindu

Context

The legislature has introduced special courts on many occasions through various laws, usually with the intention to enable quick and efficient disposal of cases.

Short study

In a short study by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, 764 Central laws enacted and amended between 1950 and 2015 (excluding laws that were repealed in this period or that may have been amended after 2015), were examined to determine the frequency of their occurrence.

  • Methodology: These statutes were looked for only mentions of ‘special’ or ‘designated’ courts or judges, that is, courts or judges established to ensure effective trial and that have powers of district or sessions courts. Forums like quasi-judicial bodies, tribunals, and commissions were excluded.
  • Observations: It was found that only three laws provided for special courts between 1950 and 1981, whereas between 1982 and 2015, 25 laws mandated the establishment of such courts
    • The five-year period from 1982 to 1987 witnessed an unexplained spurt in the number of laws creating special courts
    • A similar increase was seen between 2012 and 2015
    • The largest number of special/designated courts were created between 1982 and 1992. However, there is no categorical rationale for these developments

Setting up and designating special courts

Laws interchangeably use the terms ‘set up’ or ‘designate’ with respect to special courts

  • Setting up vs designating: Setting up a special court may require new infrastructure and facilities, whereas a designated court merely adds additional responsibilities to an existing court

 Studying the nature and frequency

Based on the availability of data, following laws were studied to observe the nature and frequency of institution of ‘special courts’:

  • The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (POA), 1989:
    • Huge pendency rate under POA: The pendency rates in courts for cases filed under POA are huge. While the national average is 84.1 per cent, States like Maharashtra and West Bengal have pegged their respective pendency rates well above the average. The number of cases being registered from these States has also been significant. However, the absence of exclusive courts in these States has been stark
  • National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (NIA Act): Under the NIA Act, in spite of mandating special courts, all the courts set up have been designated courts
  • Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (POCA): There have been several special courts and fast track courts being set up under POCA although the total number of cases registered is nearly 1/10th of cases under POA

 No exclusivity

From the available data, it is fairly conclusive that there is no exclusivity in ‘special courts’. Laws enacted in the last three decades have considered special courts as quick remedy for questions of delays in trial. However, a striking absence of number of ‘special courts’ set up provides a glaring contrast to such an objective. Notably, in most instances where existing courts are designated as special courts, the original intent of speedy disposal of cases seems to have been defeated

  • Absence of rationale behind designating courts as special courts and actually setting up special courts has rendered the whole exercise in efficiency as useless.

Limitations of the study

Poor quality or complete absence of data remains a major concern for this study. Official websites (for instance, nodal ministries) did not always have the latest updated versions of statutes. The status of these laws is difficult to assess as information about the number of courts set up or designated under various laws is not always available.

Open questions

Author points out that, this study throws open many questions for research like,

Q: What is so special about special courts if they only provide an additional forum to dispose cases?

Q: Is this purpose still served if existing courts are merely designated as special courts without any new infrastructure being created?

Q: Can inferences be drawn about the state of the judicial system where special courts have been introduced by way of amendments to parent laws?

Q: Is the legislature monitoring the health of special cour


[3] When women eat last


The Hindu

Context

India has a major child malnutrition problem. Women’s undernourishment contributes substantially to India’s unacceptably high rates of child stunting.

Issue: Author relates the problem of child stunting with mal nourishment faced Indian mothers

Mal nourishment problem in India

India has a major child malnutrition problem.

  • The Rapid Survey on Children (2012-13) found that about 4 in 10 children are stunted

Impact of stunting

  • On average, children who are stunted do less well in school, earn less, and die sooner than children who are not

 Causes of stunting

There are many causes of child stunting.

  • Poverty
  • Illiteracy
  • Poor sanitation: Research shows that poor sanitation spreads diseases that sap children’s energy and stunts their growth
  • Maternal health: The health of a child’s mother matters critically for whether or not the child is stunted
    • The first two years of life are the most important time for a child’s physical and cognitive growth. During this time, she depends heavily on her mother for nutrition. As a growing foetus, she gets all her food from her mother’s bloodstream

Maternal undernourishment: A potent contributor to child stunting in India

Research shows that many Indian women start pregnancy underweight and gain little weight during pregnancy. This leads to low birth weight babies, high rates of neonatal mortality, and less successful breastfeeding. Women’s undernourishment contributes substantially to India’s unacceptably high rates of child stunting.

Why are Indian women so malnourished?

Here, too, poverty and sanitation play a role. But a recent survey that author conducted with a team of economics and sociology researchers suggests that widespread discrimination against women in their own homes likely plays an important role too.

Survey by SARI

Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI) is a new phone survey that seeks to interview representative samples of 18-65-year-olds. One of the things SARI measures is discrimination against women.

Measuring discrimination in food intake

One aspect of discrimination against women that matters for health is whether women eat less or worse quality food than men.  In order to measure discrimination in women’s food intake, SARI used a question that was previously tested and used by the India Human Development Survey (2011):

“When your family eats lunch or dinner, do the women usually eat with the men? Or do the women usually eat first? Or do the men usually eat first?” 

How the above question matters?

Answers to these questions have implications for nutrition because in households with a limited food budget, or where there is no refrigerator to store leftover food, the person who eats last very often gets less or lower quality food than people who eat before her.

Observations

The IHDS 2011 survey interviewed married women aged 15-49 and found that one in five women in Delhi and half of the women in Uttar Pradesh said they ate after men did.

  • Situation worsens 5 years later: When SARI included the same question in the survey five years later, it found even higher numbers. One in three adults in Delhi, and six in ten adults in U.P. said they lived in households where men eat first

Author suggests

While the results may vary, the underlying problem remains the same ie  the practice of making women eat last is widespread in Delhi and U.P., and that it has important implications for a child’s health

  • Promoting gender equality: While the government cannot force people to give women an equal share of food, it could do a lot more to promote gender equality
    • It could publicise and condemn this practice. It could also more aggressively pursue policies to address discrimination against women in other domains
    • Encouraging girls’ education, discouraging dowry, supporting marriage choice, and encouraging female labour force participation would all give women more power to challenge this damaging practice.

[4]New Year’s-eve tragedy in Turkey


 The Hindu

Context

The New Year’s-eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed at least 39 people, mostly foreigners including two Indians, is yet another reminder of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Turkey.

Article provides a brief description of the deteriorating situation in Turkey.

Give it a go-through once.


ECONOMY [The Hindu]


[1] Demonetisation hits manufacturing sector


 The Hindu

Context

Demonetisation of high-value currency notes in November has begun to hit the manufacturing sector

Impact

Cash flow issues among firms also led to reduction in purchasing activity and employment

  • The withdrawal of high-value rupee notes caused the downturn in December since shortage of cash had resulted in a lower number of new orders.

Indian Express


[1] Quotas are for justice, not to plug job holes


 The Hindu

Context

Demonetisation of high-value currency notes in November has begun to hit the manufacturing sector

Impact

Cash flow issues among firms also led to reduction in purchasing activity and employment

  • The withdrawal of high-value rupee notes caused the downturn in December since shortage of cash had resulted in a lower number of new orders

Live Mint


[1] Demonetisation and welfare


Live Mint

Context

While evaluating demonetisation, one must account for any associated economic losses to the public.

Article tries to evaluate demonetization in a balanced way.

Give it a go-through.


 

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