Read summary of all news articles of the day below


GS – 2

Government policies


SC to hear Rohingya plea for help: (The Hindu)

Recently, the National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the government on the proposed deportation plan.

Context:

  • The Supreme Court on 1st September, 2017 agreed to hear an urgent plea made by two Rohingya Muslim immigrants.
  • The plea is against the government’s proposed move to deport their 40,000-strong refugee community back to their native Myanmar.

Explanation:

  • The two immigrants says that the Centre’s move to deport the refugees to Myanmar violated the constitutional guarantee that the Indian state should protect the life and liberty of every human being, whether citizen or not.
  • The immigrants added that The proposed deportation is contrary to the constitutional protections of Article 14 (equality), Article 21 (right to life) and Article 51(c) (respect for international law and treaty obligations) of the Constitution.
  • Most importantly if the refugees are deported, they may be executed.


To clear the path ahead: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • The latest ruling on instant talaq completely and unconditionally invalidates talaq-e-bid’and renders it bad in law.
  • The Koranic procedure of talaq is the only way by which a Muslim husband will be able to divorce his wife from now on.

Achievement from the judgement

  • The biggest achievement of Justices Nariman and Lalit is their harmonization of constitutional equality with Koranic egalitarianism.
  • It was done by endorsing the Koranic law of talaq mentioned in Shamim Ara case and declaring talaq-e-bid’a to be “manifestly arbitrary” and violative of Article 14 because it allows a Muslim man to break the marriage “capriciously and whimsically” without attempting to save it through reconciliation.
  • On these grounds, Section 2 of the 1937 Act was struck down as being void to the extent that it recognizes and enforces instant talaq.

Bad theology

  • The purpose of the Shariat Act was to declare Shariah as the “rule of decision.”
  • Any practice that goes against the Shariah cannot be legally protected.
  • Talaq-e-bid’a falls outside the Shariah because it goes against its primary source, the Koran. Therefore, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.

Constitutional protection to personal law

  • The personal laws of all communities in India enjoy constitutional protection.
  • As these laws are sourced from religious scriptures in most cases, the Apex Court cannot but uphold the right of individuals and groups to profess, practise and propagate everything that forms an essential part of their religious scripture, subject to the provisions of Article 25(1).
  • It may be pointed out here that the Koranic procedure of talaq that was implicitly upheld in this judgment does not in any way violate any constitutional values.

The minority opinion

  • They declared talaq-e-bid’a to be an essential part of the Hanafi faith and gave it protection under Article 25(1).
  • This opinion is based on the flawed theological premise that a religious custom which has been in vogue for several centuries automatically becomes integral to the denomination that practises it.
  • One fails to understand how after having declared instant triple divorce a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution the judges could direct the state to bring a law against it.
  • The minority view also failed to appreciate the fact that hadeeses quoted by the AIMPLB were comparatively less authentic than those cited in High Court judgments relied upon by the petitioners which were from the six most authentic Sunni hadees books ( Sihah Sitta ).

Implications of the verdict

  • The biggest goal attainment for Muslim women is the realization that talaq-e-bid’a in any of his manifestations will not dissolve the marriage.
  • It renders redundant not just halala but the incorporation of a platitudinous advisory against instant talaq in the nikahnama .
  • There is also scope now to amend the 1937 Act, even without designating it as statutory law, to exclude talaq-e-bid’a from the definition of the word “talaq” mentioned in Section 2, and make the Koranic procedure of talaq gender-neutral.
  • Indeed all provisions of the Shariah mentioned in the 1937 Act can be similarly redefined to bring them in conformity with the humanitarian teachings of the Koran and the Prophet.
  • This judgment will also encourage legally and theologically informed Muslim intellectuals to establish mediation centres across India under the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism to help Muslim couples amicably resolve their marital disputes.


Switzerland for early India-EFTA pact: (The Hindu)
Context

  • The early conclusion of the proposed Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between India and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as well as an investment protection framework would boost economic ties between the two sides, said Switzerland President Doris Leuthard on Friday.

Who all are members of EFTA?

  • EFTA members include Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Statement by Switzerland President Doris Leuthard

  • “We want to bring the (FTA) negotiations that have been running between India and EFTA since 2008 to an end,” said Leuthard.

·She added, “I would really like to have India as a strong economic partner with trade agreement and an investment protection framework to be the base of the new era of cooperation.”

India’s stand

  • India was also keen on concluding negotiations for the pact as it would benefit both sides.
  • India’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) was in compliance with the global rules and ensured that the patent, copyrights and trademark rights of any individual or company gets respected.
  • India was ready to address any questions on IPR or concerns on data security.

On Data security      

  • Switzerland believes that rights have to be protected to promote investments.
  • Internet is evolving at a rapid pace but there is a regulatory gap, the need to close the gap needs to be deliberated upon.

    GS-3

    Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment


    ‘India’s growth will rebound to 7%-7.5%’: (The Hindu)

    Context:

    The new Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar is hopeful that India’s economy will expand at 7%-7.5% in the current quarter after declining for five consecutive quarters.

    Introduction

    • He also categorically dismissed any link between the slowdown in growth and demonetisation.
    • As per official data released on Thursday, India’s GDP grew at 5.7% between April to June this year, the slowest pace in 13 quarters.
    •  Dr Kumar said that with a good monsoon, increase in FDI and FIIs, smooth rollout of GST and a large number of IPOs lined up, economic growth in the July-September quarter will be in the range of 7-7.5%.

    Demenetisation and its impact:

    • Dr. Kumar said there cannot be any link between demonetisation and slowdown in GDP because re-monetisation started in the first week of January.
    • He said that demonetization had no role in the fall of GDP.

    Reasons for glow growth:

    • Dr Kumar said that the decline was mainly because of the fact that April-June quarter saw active destocking by firms in anticipation of GST.
    • Active de-stocking in anticipation of GST(Goods and Services tax), higher base and a deflationary impact of WPI(wholesale price inflation) had led to a fall in economic growth, according to Dr Kumar.       

    Private investment:

    • Dr kumar said that India was a country of entrepreneurs and private investors who accounted for 70% to 80% of total investments.
    • He said that revival of private investment along with job creation is his top most priority.


    Unending slowdown: (The Hindu, Editorial)

    Context

    • India‘s economy continues to decelerate with the government’s estimate for first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) pegging growth at a 13-quarter low of 5.7% in April-June.

    Reasons behind the protracted slowdown

    • A slide of five straight quarters from 9.1% in March 2016 is many and varied.
    • With little doubt the demonetization exercise combined with the uncertainty around the July 1 adoption of the new indirect tax regime served significantly to dampen economic activity.
    • It is still doubtful whether demand for industrial output is going to attain any meaningful strength.
    • The Reserve Bank of India last month said that its industrial outlook survey had “revealed a waning of optimism in Q2 about demand conditions across parameters and especially on capacity utilization, profit margins and employment.
    • A look at the sector-specific trends shows that manufacturing expansion in gross value added (GVA) terms has slackened to a near stall at 1.2%.
    • This, from 5.3% in Q4 of the last fiscal and 10.7% a year earlier, is a far from heartening sign.
    • With capacity utilization expected to weaken this quarter, according to the RBI, and with surveys suggesting that consumer sentiment has deteriorated steadily in August, the auguries for a demand rebound are far from promising.

    Words of Finance minister

    • The Finance Minister has acknowledged that the challenge before the government now is to work out both policy and investment measures to boost momentum.

    What measures can be taken?

    • One option would be to suspend the fiscal road map for a limited period in order to pump prime the economy through increased capital spending by the government.
    • The risks of fiscal undoing are manifold, especially at a juncture when several State governments have either announced or are contemplating large-scale farm loan waivers, which would push up interest rates and crowd out fresh lending.
    • Still, there is a thin sliver of a silver lining in the GDP data. The services sector continues to remain buoyant.
    • Quarterly GVA across this broad wrap up trade, hotels, transport, communication and broadcasting accelerated to 11.1%, from 6.5% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 8.9% posted in the corresponding period last year.
    • The civil aviation sector saw passenger traffic soaring by 15.6%, and construction activity, a provider of jobs, also ticked up by 2%.
    • The Finance Minister is on his way to find ways to restore momentum before the tailwinds of low inflation and affordable energy prices start reversing direction.

    Slowing down: (Indian Express, Editorial)
    Context:

    India’s GDP growth tumbled to 5.7% in the  first quarter, April to June of this fiscal, , is the slowest in 13 quarters.

    Introduction:

    Data released by the Ministry of Statistics show that GDP slowed to 5.7% in the quarter ended June 30, from 7.9% in the corresponding period a year ago.

    • The data also showed that the sectors that would have been affected by demonetisation were the ones that took the biggest hit.
    •  India, which had the mantle of world’s fastest growing major economy, has now slipped below China in terms of growth. Our northern neighbor reported a growth rate of 6.9% for the last quarter

    Sectors that have performed badly:

    Growth in manufacturing slumped to 1.2 per cent in the quarter to June — a five-year low compared to the earlier quarter.

    •  According to India’s chief statistician owed to a high level of inventory de-stocking, while mining contracted by 0.7 per cent.
    •  Agriculture growth too was weak.
    •  The construction sector grew by 2per cent after a negative March growth.

    Sectors that have registered strong growth:

       Financial services grew at 6.4% while trade, hotels, transport, and communication grew 11%.

    •    Defence services showed an impressive growth of 9.5%.

    Government spending:

    • The government spending is accounted for one-third of GDP growth in this quarter and reflected in the government’s fiscal deficit in the April to July period which is now 92% of the Rs 5.46 lakh crore estimated for FY 18.

    Background:

    • The Economic Survey had said that several deflationary impulses were weighing on the economy and that growth was likely to miss the upper band of the GDP forecast of 6.75 per cent to 7.5 per cent for FY 18.

    Key points:

     Finance Minister Arun Jaitley emphasizes the need to work more on policy and investment in the next few quarters.

    •  The current slowdown started in mid-2016 with demonetisation   accentuating it, with demand being squeezed.
    • Slowdown also comes at a time of farm distress in large swatches of the country, lower demand and capacity utilization, weaker external demand and when firms are deleveraging- a process which can stretch long and prove extremely painful for the economy.
    •  The gross fixed capital formation or GFCF, a measure of investment, rose 1.6 per cent year-on year .
    • The GFCF has been on the decline over the last few years, sliding to 26.9 per cent of the GDP in FY 17 compared to 29.2 per cent in the earlier fiscal.
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