9 PM Daily Brief – July 31st,2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-1

  1. The Debate around Age of Marriage

GS-2

  1. Anti-Defection Law
  2. The National Education Policy, 2020
  3. Show cause Notice

GS-3

  1. Towards Sustainable Marine Fisheries

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.The Debate around Age of Marriage

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-1- Society

Context: The government had given a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women.

Current age of Marriage:

  • At present, the t minimum age of marriage is 21 and 18 years for men and women, respectively.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority, which is gender-neutral. According to the Indian Majority Act, 1875, an individual attains the age of majority at 18.

Status of Child Marriage in India:

  • Though, there has been a decline in the incidence of child marriage nationally (from 54% in 1992-93 to 27% in 2016) and in nearly all states, the pace of change remains slow, especially for girls in the age group 15-18 years. Further, according to NHFS 4, 6.6% married before 15 years of age.
  • Child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas (48%) than in urban areas (29%).

 Impact of Child Marriage on Health

  • Sexually transmitted diseases: Child marriage exposes the young girls to risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Maternal Mortality: Women attain maximum height during adolescence (10-19 years). Entering pregnancy at this stage obstructs attaining optimum height. It also prevents full growth of reproductive organs resulting in higher chances of obstructed labour and mortality.
  • Child Malnutrition:Poor maternal height (<145 cms) is reported to be one of the highest risk factors associated with chronic child undernutrition. According to data, prevalence of malnutrition among children born to adolescent mothers is 11% higher than among the others.
  • Mental health is also a major concern. Violence and abuse at marital home can lead to post-traumatic stress and depression.

Can raising age of marriage help address women health issues?

  • Raising the age of marriage will raise the age of motherhood, and thus address the health problems of young mothers and their infants. It will also lower the fertility rate.
  • However, it is important to understand that the root cause of child marriage is poverty and address the issue.  Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry often lead a family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs. Therefore, if poor women continue to remain poor and malnourished, raising their age of marriage by a few years would not make much difference.

Way Forward:

  • Incentives or cash transfer education schemes for girls to enable them to complete secondary education. Further, efforts should be made to provide gainful employment to women.
  • Efforts need to be made to delay the age of conception. Schemes such as universal registration of marriage can help in providing newly married couples with information on family planning and family care.

2.Anti-Defection Law

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

Context: The recent interim order passed by Rajasthan High Court’s that stayed Sachin Pilot disqualification raises serious questions on powers of court and role of governor in deciding anti defection law.

Need for anti-defection law:

  • To deal with the issue of floor crossing(Aya Ram, Gaya Ram) by legislators that leads to the collapse of governments.
  • SC observation: In Shrimath Babasaheb Patil v. Hon’ble Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly (2019), the apex court held that the objective of anti-defection law is to stop the lure of political offices.

Disqualification under tenth schedule: Under anti-defection law a person can be disqualified for not only going against the party whip, but it also prohibits “voluntarily given up membership of the party”.

Circumstantial evidence can be considered as a proof:

  • Observations from earlier court rulings: Circumstances such as going to the governor with opposition leaders and non-compliance with party instructions can be considered as a fulfilling criterion for “voluntarily given up membership of the party”.
  • SC directive In Ravi S. Naik (1994): it held that resignation is not necessary for voluntarily giving up party membership and an inference can be drawn from a person’s conduct in this regard.
  • In a notable incident, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu has disqualified a senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav for attending an RJD rally.

Powers of speaker and courts in deciding Anti defection

  • Power of speaker: The final decision on disqualification rests with the Speaker as per provisions Clause 6(1) under the Tenth Schedule.
  • Power of courts: Clause 7 of the tenth Schedule explicitly bars the jurisdiction of courts with respect to any matter connected with disqualification.
  • Power of High court: As per the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the HC does not have much of a choice in determining the constitutionality of the anti-defection law.

Supreme court directives with respect to judicial review in matters pertaining to Anti defection

  • In Kihoto Hollohan judgment (1992) and Jagjit Singh (2006): The Supreme Court held that the Speaker’s decision is subject to judicial review.
  • In Shrimath Babasaheb Patil v. Hon’ble Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly (2019), the apex court held that only limited judicial review is available against the Speaker’s decisionon the grounds of violation of constitutional mandate, mala fides, non-compliance with the rules of natural justice and perversity.

Governors role should be facilitating to sort out issues related to anti defection  

  • SC directives: To stop horse trading, the SC in cases of defection/dissidence has been insisting on an early floor test. Hence governors should convene the assembly as soon as possible when legislature is not in session
  • Also, Governor’s powers on convening the Assembly is not discretionary:In Nabam Rebia case (2016), the Supreme Court held that under Article 174, the governor’s office does not have any discretion in this matter.
  • Duties of a governor: under Article 159, he has a duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and not the interests of any particular political party.
  • Impartiality of Governors office: In Hargovind Pant v. Dr Raghukul Tilak (1979)the Supreme Court has held that the governor’s office is an independent constitutional entity and he is not under the control of the central government.

Way forward: Constitutional reforms

  • Limited Disqualification: The Dinesh Goswami Committee in 1990 had suggested to limit the grounds of disqualification to confidence or no-confidence motion, money bill and voluntarily giving up the membership of a party.
  • Anti-defection law should be applied only when the government is in danger the Law Commission,170th report,
  • Empowering Election commission: Dinesh Goswami Committee has recommended that the decision on disqualification should be taken by the President/governor on the advice of the Election Commission.

Conclusion: Rajasthan High court’s decision to status quo MLA Sachin Pilot’s disqualification will produce an undesirable effect of diluting the anti-defection law, curtailing the powers of the Speaker and ruining the well-established law on legislative privileges.

A judge must not alter the material of which the act is woven, but he can and should iron out the creases” – Lord Denning, one of the foremost British judges of the 20th century.

3.The National Education Policy, 2020

Sources: The Hindu, The Indian express, The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- Education

Context: The Ministry of human resource development announced The National education policy 2020 with a goal of transforming the system to meet the needs of 21st century India.

Introduction

  • Any educational reform can be implemented only with support from the states and with common consent built by the centre on the plans because ours is a federal (linked) system.
  • The policy aims to eliminate problems of teaching methods, structural inequities, access imbalances and uncontrolled commercialisation.
  • It has to cope with multiple crises in the system as this NEP 2020 is the first policy after one issued in 1986.
  • In structural terms,  the NEP’s measures are intended to:
  • Introduce early childhood education from age 3
  • Offer school board examinations twice a year to help improve performance and move away from rote learning.
  • Raise mathematical skills for everyone
  • Shift to a four year undergraduate college degree system and create a higher education commission of India.
  • The policy also states that students should be taught in their mother tongue or regional language until class 8 and beyond.
  • In a large and diverse country like ours, the students should also have an option to study in a language that enables a transfer nationally.

Good elements of NEP 2020

  • Provision to provide an energy filled breakfastalong with nutritious mid-day meal to help children achieve better learning outcomes.
  • Creation of ‘inclusion funds’to help socially and educationally disadvantaged children pursue education is another.
  • Universalization of access, both in schools and higher education. However, a national higher education council as an apex control organisation is bound to be resented by states.
  • The deadline to achieve universal literacy and numeracy by 2025 should be a top priority as a goal that will crucially determine progress at higher levels.

Vision for NEP 2020

  • It acknowledges the 21stcentury need for mobility, flexibility, alternate pathways to learning and self-actualisation.
  • The policy adopts a5+3+3+4 model for school education as it recognises the importance of the formative years from ages 3 to 8 in shaping the child’s future.
  • Multilingual felicitycould become the USP of the educated Indian and so blending the mother tongue and English in the first five years of school would be a beneficial move as picking up languages as a toddler is easier.
  • Breaking the streams:The new policy aims to break the barriers of arts, commerce and science streams in high school and plans to introduce vocational courses with internships.
  • The policy anticipates100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in education by 2030.
  • NEP 2020 proposes amulti-disciplinary higher education framework with portable credits, and multiple exits with certificates, diplomas and degrees.
  • Inclusion of online pedagogy:The huge potential of online teaching and learning methods would be incorporated in order to attain the GER (gross enrolment ratio) target.

The question of regulation

  • NEP 2020 makes an effort to free schools, colleges and universities from periodic inspections and place them on apath of self-assessment and voluntary declaration.
  • Presence of a single lean bodywith four verticals for standards setting, funding, accreditation and regulation is proposed.
  • Institutions will now have to pursue transparency, maintain quality standards and favourable public perception 24×7.
  • Support for challenged kids:NEP lays emphasis on providing adequate support to ensure that no child is deprived of education, and every challenged child is provided the special support he/she needs.
  • A target of public spending at6 percent of GDP has been set. Given the current tax to GDP ratio, this is certainly an ambitious target.

Challenges faced in providing quality education

  • Lack of resources and capacity.
  • Dozens of mother tongues and a link language despite being a global language of choice is not well versed with the majority.
  • Persistent mismatch between the knowledge and skills imparted and actual job requirements.

Critical analysis of NEP 2020

  • There is an absence of any mention of reservationin academic institutions for students, teachers, or other employees.
  • The passing reference to educational institutions in tribal areas designated as ashram shalas (NEP 1.8) and predicted as part of theEarly Childhood Children Education programme.
  • The implementation of policies in a situation of growing privatisationand the near collapse of public institutions of higher education is a matter of concern.
  • A linear top-down mode of administration, as predicted, will deprive members of HEIs of an opportunity to engage with the challenges of democratic functioning.
  • Departments in Languages, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Indology, Art, Dance, Theatre, Education, Mathematics, Statistics, Pure and Applied Sciences, Sociology, Economics, Sports, and other such subjects needed for a multidisciplinary, stimulating Indian education and environment will be established and strengthened at Higher education institutions across the country.
  • While the list is unexceptionable, the fields of studies such as Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Dalit Studies, Studies of Discrimination and Exclusion, Environmental Studies and Development Studies, all of which have developed over the last three or four decades have no mention.
  • The idea of a national higher education regulatory council as a supreme control organisation is bound to be disliked by the states.

Way forward

  • There should be opportunities to examine its long-term implications and if necessary, a chance to revisit it, before it is actually implemented.
  • Nep 2020 provides the ingredients of a right recipe; all we have to do is to find a way to gather resources from public and private sources.
  • The deadline to achieve universal  literacy and numeracy by 2025 should be a top priority as a goal that will crucially determine progress at higher levels.

4.Show cause Notice

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS2: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

Context: The Rajasthan High Court’s order staying the anti-defection proceedings initiated by the Assembly Speaker raises important constitutional issues such as

  • Can Show cause noticebe challenged in the court.
  • Power of Court in dealing with anti-defection laws.
  • whether the Governor has any discretionary power in the matter of summoning the Assembly.
  • Strict adherence to 21-day gap between the date of summons and of the commencement of the House

Brief info on the Rules of Lok Sabha that needs to be adhered while issuing a Show cause notice

  • In 1985, the then Lok Sabha Speaker first framed these rules and more or less all the State Legislatures have adopted it.
  • Rule 6 of the Lok Sabha deals with the filing of the petition and further proceedings
  • According to Rule 6 (4) the petitioner should satisfy himself that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the member concerned has become subject to disqualification before seeking the disqualification of a member.
  • According to Rule 7 the Speaker should evaluate whetherthe petition complies with the requirements of Rule 6.
  • If it doesn’t comply with all the requirements, he can dismiss it.
  • If it complies with all the requirements, the speaker can forward the copy of the petition to the concerned member and shall ask him to submit his comments within 7 days from the receipt of the copy of the petition. This is called Show cause notice

Can the Showcause notice issued by the speaker challenged?

  • Speaker’s act of forwarding the petition cannot be legally challenged unless he is acting in accordance with the rules of the house.
  • Exception: InKihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu (1992),the Supreme Court held that a challenge is not barred if there is an imminent threat of disqualification/ suspension before the Speaker takes a final decision.

Staying the speakers notice by the high court is not fair

  • Obstructs the objective of tenth schedule: because any member can go to court and obtain a stay and put a stop to the proceedings thus derailing its ultimate purpose.
  • Unconstitutional: A High Court cannot adjudicate a constitutional issue that was to be settled by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

Power of governor Governors w.r.t convening of the assembly

  • Summoning the Assembly is a routine constitutional function of the Governor. Under Article 174 of the Constitution, the Governor summons the Assembly.
  • Calling the session of the Assembly is a part of the executive functions of the government and the Governor can summon the Assembly only on the advice of the Cabinet. In Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix v. Deputy Speaker (2016), the Supreme Court reaffirmed this position.
  • The Governor does not exercise any of the executive powers except where the Constitution assigns him certain functions to be performed in his discretion.
  • Also, The Nabam Rebia case makes it clear that so long as the Chief Minister enjoys majority support in the Assembly, the Governor has no discretional powers and is bound to accept the decisions of the Cabinet in regard to the date of commencement of the session.
  • Further, the Governor has no role in the conduct of the business of the House, which is done under the control and supervision of the Speaker.
  • In Shamsher Singh v. State of Punjab (1974), the Supreme Court said: “The Governor has no right to refuse to act on the advice of the Council of Ministries. Such a position is antithetical to the concept of ‘responsible government’.”

21days gap followed between the date of summons and of the commencement of the House is not a water tight rule

  • In 1969, the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha recommended that the gap between the date of summons and of the commencement of the House should be 21 days.
  • This was thought of as necessary as the collection, collation and scrutiny of information relating to Questions, at different levels of bureaucracy, before it was placed in the House, was a time-consuming job.
  • Although Parliament changed it to 15 days later, many State Legislatures continue with the 21-day period.
  • It is not an inflexible rule, and says “unless the Speaker otherwise decides”. This rule is generally followed but it has never constrained governments from convening the House at shorter notice.
  • In fact, the Rajasthan House rule itself provides for a session at shorter notice. If the government feels the urgency, it is well within its power to convene the House at shorter notice.

Conclusion: only, our highest constitutional principles and practices should excite the citizenry not the political norms. Adversarial politics will disrupt the normal politico-constitutional operations in the field of governance which needs to be culled.

5.Towards Sustainable Marine Fisheries

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment- Conservation

Context: Marine fishery is among the many economic sectors lagging behind in India

Marine fishery Sector: The total fish output in India was about 13.7 million tonnes in 2018-19, out of which about 35% was contributed by the marine sector.

Unsustainability Issues in Marine Fishery Sector in India:

  • It is estimated, against the recommended fleet size, that the overall marine fleet size is in excess by about 125%
  • Out of the total assessed stock of 52 species of various finfish and shellfish along the Indian coast, nearly 44% are beyond their biologically sustainable levels.
  • For every tonne of fish caught, carbon dioxide emissions increased from 0.50 to 1.02 tonnes between 1961 and 2010.
Measures taken towards sustainable fishing:

· The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has promulgated a Code Conduct of Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). It calls to regulate the fishing practices that have destructive impacts on the environment.

· India has taken steps adhering to the CCRF norms. Kerala has adopted a comprehensive Marine Fishery Regulation Act.

Impact of Covid-19

  • There have been large-scale disruptions in the value chain due to Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown.
  • According to some estimates, the loss would be as high as Rs 6,863 crore / month, or about Rs 224 crore / day

Lessons that can be learnt from lockdown:

  • Behavioural Change: Resource enhancement during the lockdown period can have positive influence on the fishermen’s behaviour related to sustainable harvesting.
  • Building up fishing stocks:Due to the non-operation of mechanised fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone during the lockdown, the fishing pressure has reduced. This has given an opportunity to build up fish stocks at seas. Further, marine health might have also improved.
  • Hygienic Handling of Fishes: COVID-19 has necessitated high level of personal hygiene, including frequent washing of hands, wearing masks, physical distancing. These changes have brought about behavioural change among fishermen regarding hygienic fish handling methods.
  • Co-management: The experience during the COVID-19 in several villages in sharing food and meeting common challenges of the community has provided lessons on co-management and co-mobilisation.
    • Example: The Kerala government has proposed a co-management system by institutionalising fisheries management councils.

Way Forward:

The regular fishing ban / trawl ban period has adversely affected livelihood of fishermen. The primary focus at present should be giving social security payments and implement other welfare measures to address the plight of fishermen.


9 PM for Preliminary examination

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