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Q.1)Democracy is in decline state all over the world as per the recently released Democracy index. In this context discuss the reasons behind India’s poor performance?(GS-2)

Global democracy has declined significantly over the last year, according to the latest edition of the Democracy Index 2017.  The   report was released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The report shows that democracy is in decline across the world. It is the worst performance since 2010-’11 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Some highlights of the report:

The Democracy Index also provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy worldwide. This year’s report includes a special focus on how media freedom and freedom of expression are faring in every region.

The index ranks 165 independent states and two territories on the basis of five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. The list has been divided into four broad categories — full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.

Norway, Iceland and Sweden are the top three on the list while Chad, Syria and North Korea bring up the bottom. The total score of 89 countries fell when compared to their ranking in 2016.

Asia recorded the biggest decline compared to other regions of the world. According to the index, Asia (5.63) lagged behind North America (8.56), Western Europe (8.38) and Latin America (6.26). Indonesia was the worst-performing nation, falling to 68th position from 48th rank.

India’s position and reasons for low performance:

  • India was one of the countries whose score declined the most.
  • It fell ten places in the rankings from 32 to 42 as its score deteriorated by 0.58 points to 7.23 (on a scale of 0 to 10).
  • In the ‘media freedom ranking’, India ranked 49 out of 167 countries that the index covered.
  • The report has classified India as a “flawed democracy” and attributed the dip in India’s rankings to lack of freedom of speech and free media.
  • The report notes that the rise of conservative religious ideologies has mainly affected India.
  • The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices.
  • In some states in India, the authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services.
  • India has also become a more dangerous place for journalists, especially the central state of Chhattisgarh and the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year.Journalists are at risk from government , military and non-state actors and radical groups, and threat of violence has a chilling effect on media coverage.
  • It has not managed to score so well on other four parameters — political culture, functioning of government, political participation and civil liberties.

Q.2) Indian judiciary is often alleged to be corrupt. In this context, discuss the relevance of “in-house mechanism” for clean judiciary with recent examples.  Why the judiciary needs a revamp?(GS-2)

Meaning of  “in-house procedure”:

  • The in-house procedure, crystallised in a 1995 Supreme Court judgment in the C. Ravichandran Iyer case.
  • The procedure  was developed in 1999 in order to deal with allegations of misdemeanor against Judges, including accusations of sexual harassment against Judges of Supreme Courts.
  • Under the In-house procedure, when a complaint is received against a Judge of the High Court, by the Chief Justice of the High Court, he shall first examine it himself. If it is found by him that it is frivolous or directly related to the merits of a substantive decision in a judicial matter or does not involve any serious complaint of misconduct or impropriety, he shall file the complaint and inform the CJI accordingly

Relevance of “in-house procedure” for clean judiciary with recent example:

  • It helps in judge’s accountability.
  • It will serve as a safeguard for the members of the higher judiciary from being maligned or being subjected to vilification by false and frivolous.
  • It helps in investigation into complaints against sitting high court judges.
  •  It will bring transparency and fairness in judicial decisions.
  • Its own procedure consistent with the principles of natural justice.
  • The adoption of the In-House Procedure would enable a complaint against a Judge being dealt with at the appropriate level within the institution.
  • Such a procedure would serve a dual purpose.
  1. In the first place, the allegations against a Judge would be examined by his peers and not by an outside agency and thereby the independence of the judiciary would be maintained.
  2. The awareness that there exists a machinery for examination of complaints against a Judge would preserve the faith of the people in the independence and impartiality of the judicial process.

Recent example of in-house mechanism:

Recently, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has decided to recommend the removal of Allahabad High Court judge Justice S N Shukla as part of an in-house procedure after he was found guilty of misconduct by an internal probe into a medical college admission scam.  The judge was in  news for committing judicial impropriety and spreading corruption in the higher judiciary.

Since Justice Shukla has not resigned as yet, as per the in-house mechanism, the CJI is bound to write to the President and the Prime Minister for initiation of proceedings to remove the judge by way of an impeachment motion.

Indian judiciary needs a revamp because of the following reasons:

  • Judicial Corruption exists because public trials are almost never heard by the public.
  • Lack of accountability breeds corruption.
  • Judicial accountability is as important as accountability of the executive or legislature.
  • Judicial accountability promotes at least three discrete values: the rule of law, public confidence in the judiciary, and institutional responsibility.
  • Judges become corrupt when they enjoy absolute power and their strong personal agendas dominates over merit of the case.
  • Corruption in lower courts: India’s judicial corruption is a cancer that begins at the lower levels and inches its way up.
  • According to the Global Corruption Report 2007, the perception of corruption is higher in India and Pakistan in comparison to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.In Pakistan, 55 per cent of the respondents said the judiciary was corrupt.
  • A Transparency International report released in 2007 showed that 77 % per cent of respondents in a survey in India believe the judiciary is corrupt.

Q.3) Write a short note on any two of the following:

a) .Difference between Aadhaar and SSN(GS-3)

b)  INS Karanj(GS-3)

c) Protein lamin B2(GS-3)

a) Aadhaar:

  • Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued to Indian citizens by the Central government.
  • It is issued and managed by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
  • Aadhaar captures biometric and demographic data while verifying  details of every resident Indian citizen’s .
  • Aadhaar is now governed by Aadhaar Act 2016.
  • Aadhaar facilitates financial inclusion of the underprivileged and weaker sections of the society and is therefore a tool of distributive justice and equality.
  • It promotes hassle-free people-centric governance.
  • It is one of the key pillars of ‘Digital India’ and is the largest biometrics based identification system in the world.
  • Aadhaar identity platform enables the Government of India to directly reach residents of the country in delivery of various subsidies, benefits and services.

Social Security Number (SSN):

  • The United States enacted the landmark Social Security Act in 1935, giving birth to the Social Security Number (SSN).

Difference:

  • Aadhaar can be used as a single proof of identity and address for any resident in India. On the other hand SSN (Social Security Number) is used to track worker’s earnings and keep a record of social security benefits to be received by them. Temporary workers are also allowed to obtain SSN in certain cases.
  • Aadhaar project involves collection of biometric data which includes fingerprints, face and iris of eyes, whereas SSN captures demographic data.
  • The Aadhaar number can be adopted by any public or private entity as a sole means of identifying an individual. SSN is required by private entities in case of any transaction with the revenue service.

b) INS Karanj

The Navy’s third state-of-the-art Scorpene class submarine, INS Karanj, was launched by Reena Lanba, wife of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba. The new submarine is named after the earlier Kalvari class INS Karanj, which was decommissioned in 2003.

Third Scorpene class submarine joins Naval fleet:

Six Scorpene class submarines are being built under Project 75 by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), Mumbai, under a $3.75 billion technology transfer signed in October 2005 with the Naval Group of France.

Scorpene class

  • The Scorpene class is the Navy’s first modern conventional submarine series in almost two decades, since INS Sindhushastra was procured from Russia in July 2000
  • INS Kalvari, the first to be launched, was commissioned in December 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. INS Khanderi, which was launched in January 2017, is currently undergoing deep dive trails and is expected to be commissioned later this year, according to Navy officials

c) Protein lamin B2:

Lamin B2 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the LMNB2 gene. It is the second of two type B nuclear lamins, and it is associated with laminopathies.

Lamin B2 controls the shape and the function of the nucleolus

  • The aggregate occupied more volume than when the nucleoli were separate entities.
  • When the lamin B2 was restored to its normal level, the nucleoli regained their original shape.
  • This strongly suggests that lamin B2 controls the shape of the nucleolus
  • Besides controlling the shape, lamin B2 also controls the function of the nucleolus.

Depletion of Lamin B2

  • When the lamin B2 level was depleted in the cancer cells, there was an increase in the levels of ribosomal RNA precursors
  • Lamin B2 also modulates the entry and exit of a multifunctional RNA binding protein (nucleoli). This protein too forms an aggregate in the absence of lamin B2
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