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GS 2

‘Jail term for adultery does not make sense’

News:
1. Five years jail imprisonment for adultery does not sound any sense, Chief Justice of India observed recently.

Important facts:

1. The five judge bench of the apex court gave the following arguments on countering the submission made by the Centre that adultery should remain in Indian Penal Code (IPC).
⦁ The bench observed that adultery is a civil wrong and not qualify to be called a criminal offence because an adulterous relationship is carried on with the consent of the woman.
⦁ The court observed that “protecting the marriage is the responsibility of the couple involved. If one of them fails, there is a civil remedy available to the other.
⦁ The court also observed that there might be cases in which adultery was a consequence of a broken marriage.
⦁ There might be cases in which husband could foist a case of adultery of his estranged wife’s paramour to trouble her, court observed.
⦁ Section 497 gives a husband the exclusive right to prosecute his wife’s lover. A similar right is not conferred on a wife to prosecute the woman with whom her husband has committed adultery.
⦁ The provision does not confer any right on the wife to prosecute her husband for adultery.
⦁ Section 497 does not take into account cases in which the husband has sexual relations with an unmarried woman.

2.  Meaning of Adultery:

⦁ Adultery is a voluntary consensual relationship between a married individual and someone who is not his/her lawful spouse.
⦁ Section 497 of the IPC defines adultery as “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”
⦁ There has been a long dispute over the constitutional validity of Section 497.

 

GS 3

New breastfeeding policy comes into effect in Rajasthan

News:
1. Rajasthan government has launched new breastfeeding policy.

Important policy:

1. The policy came into effect for encouraging it promotion among rural communities.
2. The policy is expected to meet the nutritional needs of young children.
3. The initiative has been taken as part of the National Nutrition Mission-2022.
4. The policy was jointly developed by the Department of Women and Child Development and National Health Mission.
5. It would also ensure “more intensive work” towards improving the current breastfeeding rates.
6. The new policy stipulates initiation of supporting mothers to ensure the continued exclusive breastfeeding and counseling till two years of the child’s age.
7. The National Family Heath Survey-4, heighted that the early initiation of breastfeeding in the State was only at 28.4%, while only 58% infants were able to exclusively breastfeed during the first six months of their lives.
8. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the initiative should be utilized for reducing infant and neonatal mortality and improving children’s immunity towards infections.
9. The State had noticed a remarkable progress in institutional deliveries, which were currently at 86.6%, the early initiation of breastfeeding was low.
10. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months has also doubled during the last decade.

Going by the numbers

Article:
1. Puja Mehra, Delhi-based journalist, discussed the complexity of the GST process in revenue collections.

Important facts:

1. After one year of its rollout the Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue collections from the indirect regime are at the centre of a debate.
2. The recommendation for introducing a GST had first come in 2004 from a task force formed under economist Vijay Kelkar.
3. The present government has consulted Mr. Kelkar on the GST, but has not accepted his recommendations on an alternative IGST system compliant with global norms.
4. By these, the IGST would be simplified as a substitute for SGST in inter-State supplies, and exporters, while not subjected to the IGST, would be truly zero-rated.
5. The NITI Aayog, it seems, concurs with this proposal.
6. According to the author, the complexity of the GST process is hindering collections and diminishing potential economic benefits.
7. A member of the GST Council estimates a “shortfall” in the April-June quarter of this year.
8. SGST collections over the past several months have been consistently exceeding CGST collections.
9. In April, both CGST and SGST collections dropped and Integrated GST (IGST) collections took off sharply.
10. In each of the months since then, IGST collections have overshot CGST and SGST collections.
11. The reasons for the Centre’s GST collection falling behind that of the States are given below:
⦁ Insecure over loss of fiscal autonomy, the States succeeded in pressing a GST that is made of two types of levies, the CGST and the SGST.
⦁ The Constitution empowers the Centre to tax sales anywhere nationally, but it allows a State to collect taxes only on sales within its territory.
⦁ So, all 29 States and two Union Territories with legislatures have separately enacted their respective SGSTs.
⦁ The GST is being levied at the point of consumption, not the factory gate, unlike many of the levies it has subsumed.
⦁ Given the territorially limited tax jurisdictions of States, the collection of the SGST poses a problem every time goods and services get sold outside the State they were produced in.
⦁ IGST is imposed on inter-State sales.
⦁ On inter-State sales, the IGST, at a rate equal to the applicable CGST and SGST, is levied. This means, despite its national tax jurisdiction, the Centre has confined the levy of the CGST to intra-State sales.
⦁ A selling dealer in an exporting State collects the IGST from the buying dealer. The GSTN credits it to the IGST account.
⦁ To avoid exporting taxes, no GST is to be levied on exports out of India.
⦁ In practice, despite their GST-exempt status, exporters first pay the IGST and then it is refunded back to them.
⦁ Letters of undertaking or bonds can be submitted in lieu of IGST payments, but they increase exporters’ vulnerability to bureaucratic rent-seeking.

Way ahead:
⦁ The economic impact of the GST ought to be the focus.

Reforming the civil services

News:
1. Amitabha Bhattacharya, retired IAS officer, discussed his views on reforming the civil services and also discussed pros and cons of lateral entry into civil services.

Important facts:

1. Recently, the centre’s decision to seek applications from outstanding individuals to fill posts of Joint Secretary has raised many issues.
2. Retired bureaucrat has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against this decision.
3. The move was critized for the following reasons:
⦁ Many serving bureaucrats see this move as threatening their hegemony.
⦁ For some retiring officers the move is the beginning of the end of a “neutral and impartial” civil service with the likely induction of loyalists to the current dispensation.
⦁ It has also been argued that this marks the “privatization of the IAS”.
⦁ Private people may plant their people for influencing government policies.
1. The author discussed the functioning of the secretariat as follows:

⦁ In Cabinet system of government with collective responsibility, the secretariat plays a crucial role.
⦁ Higher bureaucracy in the secretariat examines proposals received from specialized departments/corporations and in consultation with other ministries and departments.
⦁ This is a complex consultative process for which detailed procedures have been formulated.
⦁ A Joint Secretary to the government has crucial “line” function to perform in policy formulation and its implementation.
⦁ The original proposal is often prepared by technical experts and sent to the “government”, the final decision rests with the Joint Secretary/ Additional Secretary, the Secretary and finally the Minister/Cabinet.
1. Generalist v. specialist
⦁ Terms like “professionalism”, “specialisation”, and “technical expertise” are often used vaguely and inter-changeably.
⦁ Specialists like engineers, doctors, agricultural scientists, lawyers have always had a substantial say in the decision-making process.
⦁ Besides, Secretaries to the Departments of Atomic Energy, Science & Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research, Health Research, and Agricultural Research have always been scientists of eminence.
⦁ Similarly, in departments like the Railways, Posts, etc., all senior positions are manned by Indian Railway or Postal Service officers.
Demerits of lateral entry:
⦁ Such lateral entrants may be increased with time and that the political leadership, by creating a ‘divide and rule’ mechanism, would further demoralise the ‘steel frame of governance’.
⦁ In the garb of recruiting outstanding individuals, politically indoctrinated persons will be inducted into the system.
⦁ These fears could have been allayed by letting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) handle the recruitment process, after defining the job requirements more explicitly.

Way ahead:
⦁ The government must ensure that only candidates, the likes of whom are not available in the existing system, are appointed.
⦁ If they turn out to be truly outstanding, there should be provisions to induct them permanently in the government, with approval of the UPSC, and consider them for higher postings.
⦁ Ideas have also been advanced for IAS and other officers to gain work experience, for a limited period, in the private sector.
⦁ The automatic mode of every member of the higher services reaching the top echelons requires a hard look.
⦁ The lateral entry scheme, if implemented properly, may foster more competitive spirit, break the complacency of the higher civil servants and eventually prove to be a pioneering initiative in public interest.

 

Decoding the DNA Bill

Article:
1. Helen Wallace, Director, GeneWatch UK, analyzed the pros and cons of the recently introduced DNA technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018 and also suggested futuristic course of action for the Bill.

Important facts:
1. Recently, the Bill was introduced in Parliament.
2. The purpose was to create a national DNA database for use by the police in solving crimes and identifying missing persons.
3. However the Bill was criticized on various grounds such as:
⦁ For creating large databases because these databases is often not a cost-effective way to solve more crimes.
⦁ The DNA Regulatory Board proposed by the Bill is not transparent and accountable.
⦁ The Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative published its report, “Establishing Best Practice for Forensic DNA Databases”, last year. A comparison with the

DNA Bill reveals the following issues:

1. Using DNA during criminal investigations requires proper crimes scene examination, trained and reliable policing, proper use of expert evidence on court.
2. Without these prerequisites, a DNA database will exacerbate rather than solve problems in the criminal justice system.
3. A number of other privacy protections are also missing from the Bill.
4. The Bill includes provisions for the destruction of DNA samples and removal of innocent people’s DNA profiles from the database.
5. These provisions are inadequate because it is unclear how they will operate in practice.
6. To set up these databases involved huge expenditure.
7. Important safeguards and a cost-benefit analysis are still lacking for this Bill.
8. A number of other privacy protections are also missing.
9. The Bill includes provisions for the destruction of DNA profiles from the database. However, these provisions are inadequate.
10. Recently, the Home Ministry provides guidelines to States on how to search crime scenes and collect, store and transport DNA samples in criminal cases.
11. The author provides the following suggestions:
⦁ Separate the databases for missing persons and for criminals set up by the Bill, so that people who volunteer their DNA to help find their missing relatives are not treated as suspects for criminal offences
⦁ Conflict-of-interest should be published for each board member when appointed.
⦁ Board proceedings should be published.
⦁ The Board need to review the ethics of its own behaviour
⦁ An independent ethics board should be set up.
⦁ Provisions which give the government or the Board the power to amend aspects of the safeguards in the Bill, and to avoid accountability in court, should be deleted.
⦁ The Boards responsibilities for privacy protections need an independent regulator. This is important after the Supreme Court’s Right to privacy judgment.
⦁ Need to restrict DNA profiling so that it uses only non-coding DNA.
⦁ Any international sharing of DNA profiles should be covered by a privacy or data protection law, and meet international human rights standards.
⦁ Separate the databases for missing persons and for criminals set up by the Bill. Provisions allowing the use of these databases for civil cases, for example to test paternity, should be deleted from the Bill.

Alarm as deadly maize pest seen in Karnataka

News:
⦁ ICAR discovered a deadly foreign maize pest in Karnataka.

Important facts:
⦁ Recently, the ICAR discovered invasive agricultural pest Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Karnataka.
⦁ This is the first report of the pest in Asia.
⦁ Since then, it has threatened the continent’s maize crop.
⦁ First reported in Central and Western Africa in 2016, it has spread to 44 African countries presently.
⦁ In India, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are at immediate risk.
⦁ The confirmation of presence of this deadly pest came through DNA barcoding at Begaluru’s Indian Institute of Horticultural Research.
⦁ The discovery is more worrisome because the pest feeds on around 100 different crops, such as vegetables, rice and sugarcane.
⦁ The first line of defence against the Fall Armyworm will be insecticides like lambdacyhalothrin.
⦁ Researchers have found some natural predators such as coccinellid beetles that can aid biological control.
⦁ A fungal species called Nomuraea rileyi also infects the Fall Armyworm.
⦁ Africa’s experience shows that pest can colonise a new continent very quickly.

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