9 PM Daily Brief – September 21st, 2020

Daily current affairs summaries

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9 PM for Mains examination

GS-2

  1. Hate speech
  2. Peace in Afghanistan

GS-3

  1. The genuine concerns of farmers
  2. Aatma nirbhar action plan required

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Hate speech

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Context– The Sudarshan News case is a chance to infuse clarity in our legislation by identifying the distinction in merely offensive speech, hate speech and the exceptional cases.

What is Sudarshan News Case?

Recently, the Supreme Court of India injuncted a Hindi language television Channel, Sudardhan News, from continuing its broadcast as object of the programme is to vilify Muslim community.

The show added a number of evidently false statements-

  • It claimed that the upper age limit for Hindus attempting the civil service examination was 32 years, while the age limit for Muslims was 35.
  • Muslims were entitled to nine attempts at the examination when Hindus were entitled only to six.

Supreme Court remarks– It was “insidious” to use the freedom of press to make “rabid” allegations and mount an attack on a religious minority community.

What is hate speech?

The term hate speech is understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis their collective identity, be it race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality.

The hate speech attacks two key tenets of democratic republic-

  • The guarantee of equal dignity to all
  • The public good of inclusiveness.

What are India’s hate speech laws?

India prohibits hate speech by several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and by other laws which put limitations on the freedom of expression and Article 19(2) of the Constitution gives all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression but subject to “reasonable restrictions” for preserving inter alia “public order, decency or morality”.

Section 153 (A) of Indian Penal Code

Whoever

  • By words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or
  • Commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquility.

Section 295 (A) of Indian Penal Code

Whoever

  • With deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class,

Shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.

The grounds that speech must reach a level of incitement to be criminalized are-

  1. The utterance dispute must go beyond advocacy.
  2. The second ground requires a re-imagination of our hate speech laws.

Way forward-

The Supreme Court must chisel its contents into a feasible, constitutionally committed model. When it becomes evident that the basic objective of a broadcast is to evoke hatred and to vilify a vulnerable minority the law must find a way to foil the harm. A lot will ride on how the Court strikes this balance — for hate speech, once uttered, not only leaves little room for restitution but can also ramify to serve all manners of undemocratic ends.

2.Peace in Afghanistan

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2- India and its neighbours

Context: Recently, intra-Afghan talks commenced in Doha.

What are the factors that should be considered during intra-Afghan talks?

  • Polity: The balance of Afghan society and polity which was shaken in 1973 with the monarchy’s departure has never been restored need to be discussed.
  • Instability:The country has witnessed the overthrow of the monarchy, a nationalist dictatorship, communist rule, the mujahideen era, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate and the current Islamic Republic.
  • Sovereignty:It has also experienced almost three decades of the presence of foreign forces and outside interference, especially from Pakistan.
  • Social factors:  sharpening ethnic divides, extremist ideologies and theologies, large migration to foreign lands, internal displacement, spread of narcotics and violence.
  • Concerns of Youth: over the past 15 years, a section of Afghan urban youth linked to the world through the social media wants more open systems within an Islamic framework.

What are the challenges present before Afghanistan?

  • Taliban is in a position of strength: The Afghan political class had failed to consolidate the republic and to keep  Taliban confined to a small area.
  • Taliban-Pakistan nexus:The Taliban with Pakistani support has shown remarkable resilience and has gained great confidence.
  • No concrete steps taken against Taliban-Pakistan: To effectively tackle the nexus, American troops would have had to enter Pakistan territory and carry out a sustained operation. That, none of the three presidents who had to deal with the Taliban after 9/11 were willing to do.
  • Flawed system: The 2019 presidential election was deeply flawed. The declaration of the incumbent president, Ashraf Ghani, as victor was dubious.
  • Disunity among negotiators:Ghani was forced to accept his rival Dr Abdullah as the head of the Peace and Reconciliation Council which implies that he would have to share authority in decision-making in the peace negotiations.
  • Issues of religious interpretation and social codes:The constitution of the Islamic Republic, adopted in 2004, begins with the Islamic shahada and commits the state to the “Holy religion of Islam”. Whereas the Taliban accept Hanafi jurisprudence like the majority of Afghans but believe that the Islamic sharia in its extreme Deobandi interpretation along with distorted Pashtun social codes.
  • Violence by Taliban to show influence:it would be unrealistic to expect the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire though they may calibrate violence as the talks progress.
  • Fears among Non-pushtun: At its core the Taliban is Pushtun. However, it has tried to put forward a pan-Afghan image and has succeeded in making some headway in a few non-Pushtun areas. However, old fears remain strong among many non-Pushtun especially in the cities.

What needs to be done?

  • Consensus building: the search for durable peace and stability will not succeed unless all parties and, in some cases their foreign patrons, especially Pakistan, are willing to give up personal gains.
  • Flexible approach: The world has been transformed and both sides need to be flexible. The Kabul elite would also have to make concessions on political issues and social codes.

What was India’s position?

  • Solution should be Afghan led:Indian policy-makers refused to modify their Afghan approaches even as it became increasingly evident that the Taliban had gained ground in the country and was getting international legitimacy.
  • Diplomatic contradictions:India failed to strengthen its ties with Kabul and at the same time opened links with the Taliban while all other major powers were doing so.

What India should do now?

  • India should continue with its traditional policy of fostering close ties with any legitimate Afghan government.
  • In the interests of Afghanistan and the region, India should stress for a successful peace talks that their failure would be catastrophic for the Afghan people and the region.

3.The genuine concerns of farmers

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3- Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

Context- The Prime Minister blamed the Opposition parties for misleading farmers about the three Bills on agriculture in Parliament.

What are the bills and their purposes that have been protested by the farmers?

The farmers have been protesting against the bills ever since it was promulgated as ordinances in June. The bills are following-

  1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020.
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The purposes of the bills are-

  • The Bills aim to do away with government interference in agricultural trade by creating trading areas free of middlemen and government taxes outside the structure of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) along with removing restrictions of private stockholding of agricultural produce.
  • Farmer organisations also agree that there is excessive political interference.
  • There is need for reform as far as functioning of mandis are concerned.

What is the issue in implementing these bills?

Several reforms at the level of the central government as well as at the State level have been introduced and welcomed by farmers. However, the issue is not about the Bills-

  1. Avoiding stakeholders-The government has failed to have or hold any discussion with the various stakeholders including farmers and middlemen.
  2. Rejecting the role of state government-The government didn’t consult the bills with State governments even though the subject of trade and agriculture are part of subjects on the State list.
  3. Corporation of agricultural sector-The farmer organisations see these Bills as part of the larger agenda of corporatisation of agriculture and a withdrawal of government support.
  4. APMC Mandis and MSP-The immediate concern has been the attempt to weaken the APMC mandis and eventual withdrawal of the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) guaranteed by the government.
  5. Ignoring poor farmers conditions-The preference for corporate interests at the cost of farmers’ interests and a lack of regulation in these non-APMC mandis are cause for concern.

Therefore, the attempt to pass the Bills without proper consultation and given the track record of this government on many issues including demonetisation of 2019, the introduction of Goods and services tax, and many more adds to the mistrust among various stakeholders including State governments and farmers.

What are the roles of APMCs Mandis and the concerns for farmer?

  1. Plays an important role of price discovery essential for agricultural trade and production choices.
  2. Most farmers are familiar with the functioning of mandis and see it as an essential part of agricultural trade despite shortcomings.

Farmers concerns-

  • Farmers in these Punjab and Haryana have genuine concern about the continuance of the MSP-based public procurement given the large-scale procurement operations in these States
  • After the abolition of mandis, farmers in Bihar on average received lower prices compared to the MSP for most crops.
  • Despite the shortcomings and regional variations, farmers still see the APMC mandis as essential to ensuring the survival of MSP regime.
  • The vilification of APMCs and the middlemen who facilitate trade in these mandis is a poor reflection of the understanding of functioning of agricultural markets as The middlemen are a part of the larger ecosystem of agricultural trade, with deep links between farmers and traders

Way Forward

The government should make reforms in its rising input costs, so that farmers do see the market providing them remunerative prices. At the same time, ad hoc interventions by the government such as raising import duties on masur and a ban on onion exports should be taken into reconsideration to erase the suspicion about the intent of the government to leave the price discovery mechanism on the market. If government will take steps for the benefit of the farmers, instead of pushing them into a miserable condition alone. Only then farmers may end their protests and place their trust on the government and its stated objectives of these reforms.

4.Aatma nirbhar action plan required

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Economy

Context:  Action plans should be prepared to ensure success of Atma nirbhar Bharat project,.

What is ANBA and why is there a need for it?

  • India’s dependence on other countries has been exposed in several areas ever since the spread of covid-19. The country should now refocus on manufacturing, and be self-reliant.
  • The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (ANBA) was announced as a part of the post-pandemic economic revival package.
  • Rs 20 lakh crore (10 per cent of India’s GDP) was set aside for the purpose.
  • Self-reliance and self-esteem:Only a self-reliant nation can serve the diverse needs of its population and provide them with choices.
  • A content nation can also contribute to the welfare of other counties with a sense of self-pride.
  • It is a rare opportunity for India to reinvent itself, economicallybecause of the COVID-related pressures and the unfortunate border tensions with its largest import partner.
  • India imports goods from China worth $65 billion, these imports include raw materials, components and intermediates required in producing finished goods by a large number of enterprises across several sectors, including MSMEs.
  • For example, the pharmaceuticals sector imports nearly 70 per cent of its raw material and drug intermediates.

Is the thought of reviving the local born out of unrealistic enthusiasm? 

  • It may not be feasible to replace all Chinese importsin the near future.
  • It may also be debatable if the end goal is to replace the entire chain of imports from a country. 
  • Some economists pick up, a majority demand for dumping all that is of Chinese origin, may be forgotten soon.
  • Experts and industrialists do state that the ANBA is an excellent initiative and gives India the opportunity to board on the self-reliance drive.
  • A major part of the Vocal for Local mission rests on the MSMEs which are struggling for survival.However, the reforms announced as part of the ANBA should put them on a stronger footing. Some reforms are:
  • Collateral free credit
  • Expanding the scope of the sector
  • An online market place exclusively for it
  • The proposal that governments will pick up equity stakes in enterprises that show growth potential

What are the positives of ANBA?

  • Creation of large scale employment opportunitiesfor both the skilled and unskilled workforce.
  • A stronger manufacturing base will also lead to positive derivativesrelated to the supply-purchase of local raw material and capacity building of allied manufacturing units.
  • ANBA has a well-defined charter. Even, then implementing the reforms would require innovative ways to overcome day to day obstacles and challenges.

What are the steps to be taken?

  • An action plan should be drawn by the Niti Aayog listing all possible categories of targets under the ANBA and the Vocal for Local Mission.
  • A monitoring agency will review and suggest course correctionto ensure that no delay is allowed to build.
  • Each state/UT will develop an action plan in consonance with the umbrella plan with a similar agenda and a healthy mechanism.
  • A separate organisation created by each state will be responsible for the implementation of the action plan, as well as running all related operations on a day-to-day basis.
  • It will also conduct regular studies to identify local and global market trends and invite competitive solutions to meet market demands.
  • Each district will work out a more detailed action plan, and license of responsibilities for ground level officers and departments.
  • The district action plan should incorporate the setting up of certain bodies/groups.
  • An autonomous authority to be headed by an additional DM or a technocrat to manage and pilot the implementation of the listed measures on ground, and be solely accountable for timely delivery.
  • Scaling up and setting up of a certain number of companies/ industries/ manufacturing units over a fixed time period.
  • The authority will also set up a 24X7 facilitation centre to help the existing and the newcomer companiesand resolve their doubts and disputes.
  • This agency will be responsible for creating public awareness amongst all stakeholders.
  • Another group in the district authority will be tasked to lay out detailed norms and guidelines on safe working conditions in each sector.
  • It will be responsible for matters related to workers’ families welfare, particularly in respect of health, education, and decent civic conditions.
  • The state/ UT and district authorities should be headed by a few hand-picked officers.
  • The state government will facilitate regular interactions amongst district authorities and help develop sector-specific strategies.

Way forward

  • The ANBA is a mission to empower the people of India. People of the country and executive machinery should keep their faith in the spirit and mandate of this mission. It will in all likelihood become a benchmark of how governments and their various organisations can work in a mission mode.

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