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GS-2

Government Policies

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue: (The Hindu)

Context:

  • The Supreme Court has finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country’s national security and economic interests.

How did the judiciary reach this decision?

  • The decision is that the government should not deport Rohingya now, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing international ramifications.
  • The status quo remains though the court gave the community the liberty to approach it in case of any contingency.
  • The court deferred the case to November 21 for detailed hearing. It will reopen after the Deepavali holidays on October 23.

Who are the Rohingyas?

  • The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority group living primarily in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
  • They practice a Sufi-inflected variation of Sunni Islam.
  • The estimated one million Rohingya in Myanmar account for nearly a third of Rakhine’s population.
  • The Rohingya differ from Myanmar’s dominant Buddhist groups ethnically, linguistically, and religiously.

What is the Rohingya crisis?

  • The Rohingya crisis is a human rights crisis with serious humanitarian consequences.
  • Large number of Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar, many crossing by land into Bangladesh, while others take to the sea to reach Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
  • The unfair policies of the Myanmar government in Rakhine state have resulted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee since the late 1970s.

International organisation for migration

  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. As of September 2016, it became a related organization of the United Nations.
  • IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management: migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration, and addressing forced migration. Cross-cutting activities include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants’ rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.

The legal message: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • Recent Supreme Court’s decision on criminalising sex between a man and his minor wife, while the court refrained from adjudicating on the larger issue of marital rape
  • Removing the current marital exception to rape will also have an important signalling effect

About the recent ruling

  • Sexual Intercourse with a girl below 18 years of age is rape, regardless of whether she is married or not.
  • The exception carved out in section 375 of the Indian Penal Code creates an artificial distinction between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child.
  • The exception clause took away the right of a girl child to bodily integrity and reproductive choice.
  • Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC now states that sexual intercourse or acts with a man with his own wife, not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.

Section 375 vs Constitution

  • Exception 2 to Section 375 (which defines rape) of the IPC (as amended by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013), as violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution

Article 14 Equality before law

  • The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

Article 15  Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

  • The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them
  • No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition
  • Article 21  “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”
  • Article 21 can only be claimed when a person is deprived of his “life” or “personal liberty” by the “State” as defined in Article 12.

Article 21 secures two rights:

  • Right to life
  • Right to personal liberty
  • The Article prohibits the deprivation of the above rights except according to a procedure established by law

Verma committee recommendations on marital rape

Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.  The Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013.

  1. On rape  — The IPC differentiates between rape within marriage and outside marriage.  Under the IPC sexual intercourse without consent is prohibited.  However, an exception to the offence of rape exists in relation to un-consented sexual intercourse by a husband upon a wife.  The Committee recommended that the exception to marital rape should be removed.  Marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts.  Therefore, with regard to an inquiry about whether the complainant consented to the sexual activity, the relationship between the victim and the accused should not be relevant.  
  2. On sexual assault — The Committee recommended that non-penetrative forms of sexual contact should be regarded as sexual assault.  The offence of sexual assault should be defined so as to include all forms of non-consensual non-penetrative touching of a sexual nature.  The sexual nature of an act should be determined on the basis of the circumstances.  Sexual gratification as a motive for the act should not be prerequisite for proving the offence.  The offence should be punishable with 5 years of imprisonment, or fine, or both. Use of criminal force to disrobe a woman should be punishable with 3 to 7 years of imprisonment.  
  3. On Sexual harassment —  Some of the key recommendations made by the Committee on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 that is pending in Parliament are provided below:
  • Domestic workers should be included within the purview of the Bill.
  • Under the Bill the complainant and the respondent are first required to attempt conciliation.  This is contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan which aimed to secure a safe workplace to women.
  • The employer should pay compensation to the woman who has suffered sexual harassment.
  • The Bill requires the employer to institute an internal complaints committee to which complaints must be filed.  Such an internal committee defeats the purpose of the Bill and instead, there should be an Employment Tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
  1. On Child sexual abuse — The Committee has recommended that the terms ‘harm’ and ‘health’ be defined under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 to include mental and physical harm and health, respectively, of the juvenile.
  2. Punishment for crimes against women — The Committee rejected the proposal for chemical castration as it fails to treat the social foundations of rape.  It opined that death penalty should not be awarded for the offence of rape as there was considerable evidence that death penalty was not a deterrence to serious crimes.  It recommended life imprisonment for rape.

Causes of high cases of marital rape in India

  1. Patriarchal mindset
  2. Inequality in society
  3. Sexual dissonance between couple
  4. Domestic issues
  5. Attempt of women to demand her right in marital relationship
  6. Economic dependence over husband
  7. Absence of legal procedure to recognize marital rape

Conclusion

  • UN multi-country study on violence in Asia-Pacific which recommended that strategies must focus on structural factors that prevent the incidence of rape, rather than focussing only on strengthening response mechanisms.
  • Therefore, in addition to sensitising law enforcement authorities whose attitudes are merely symptomatic of widely-held beliefs about women and gender roles, we need to work with children, parents and the larger community to ensure marital rape is condemned, not condoned.

Effects of developed and developing countries policies

Islamabad to revive talks on terror: (The Hindu)

Context

The Afghanistan Foreign Ministry has announced a revival of the Pakistan-led Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) to bring the Taliban into talks.

Who all does it concern?

  • The next meeting of the group will comprise officials from the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The meeting will held in Oman, Muscat on October 16.

What will be the topic of discussion?

  • Two topics will be discussed: counter-terrorism, and Pakistan’s honesty in fulfilling its promises that it will make in the presence of China and the U.S. at the meeting.
  • The meeting is also significant for its timing just ahead of the visit of American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who will travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India from October 23.
  • The visit is taking place under Trump’s new South Asia Policy for Afghanistan which suggested a tougher line on Pakistan’s support to terror groups, and greater cooperation with India.
  • The meeting is expected to convey a “zero tolerance” policy for support to the Haqqani group and other groups targeting Afghan forces.

Why such steps?

  • Critics say that Pakistan’s push to revive the QCG process now may be a reaction to the growing number of strong statements from the U.S. accusing its intelligence agency ISI of supporting terrorism in the neighbourhood.

What is India’s stand on it?

  • India shared its perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, the need to strengthen Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, need for an Afghan led and controlled peace and reconciliation process. However, India is not a part of the QCG, and officials said no request had been made to invite India to the revived version.

GS-3

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment

India to build more roads on China border: (The Hindu)

Context:

  • The Indian Ministry of Defence has decided to significantly enhance infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border including near Doklam.

What are the bolstering capabilities of India?

  • The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) following the Dokalam standoff had fast-tracked the construction of the 73 strategic India-China Border Roads along the LAC, most of which are planned to be completed by 2022.
  • Besides developing proper road connectivity, India is also ensuring the capability development of its forces through force multipliers such as artillery guns and helicopters to be ready for any future conflict.
  • A road map for intra-sector connectivity within the central sector and the inter-sector connectivity with neighboring areas is also taken into consideration.

The Doklam Issue: an overview

  • The Doklam conflict started when India (Indian Army) objected a road construction by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in the Doklam plateau which China claims to be a part of its Donglang region. However, India and Bhutan recognise it as Doklam, a Bhutan territory.
  • Later, China accuses Indian troops of entering in its territory and India accused the Chinese of destroying its bunkers (People’s Liberation Army bulldozed an old bunker of the Indian army stationed in Doklam).
  • Thereafter China stopped the passage pilgrims heading toward Kailash-Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass, Sikkim.

What are the causes of friction between India and China?

  • India has done well since 1991 and has emerged as one of the largest economies in the world, but the gap with China will remain enduring for the foreseeable future. Some of the causes of friction between India and China are as follows:
  • One of the major reasons of tension between India and China is the border dispute surrounding Arunachal Pradesh.
  • There is another region named Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir that is part of this border dispute as well; Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India while Aksai Chin is a part of China.
  • China has also been opposed to India’s entry in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that contains 48 countries in all.
  • China wants to be a dominant force in Indian Ocean. China has adopted a strategy named String of Pearls whereby it has set up bases all across the area, where India and the US maintain naval bases as well.
  • Thus, India is afraid that this is a major containment strategy by its northeastern neighbours.
  • In case of China and India, water issues are becoming major area of concern between two states.
  • China’s plan of constructing big dams and diverting the water of rivers to its own advantage has discontented in India.

Conclusion:

  • India needs to be self-reliant in the defence sector.
  • Jointness and integration by all services should be a priority for emerging challenges.
  • Moreover, utmost priority has to be given to procurement of arms, ammunition and equipment.
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