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List of Contents
India needs to replace frequent elections with One nation One election
Source- The Indian Express
Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
Synopsis – India should hold simultaneous elections (One nation one election) to tackle various challenges associated with frequent elections.
About One nation one election:
- It is the idea of synchronising the elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. In can be achieved by restructuring the current Indian election cycle.
Challenges in frequent Elections
- Huge incalculable expenditure to conduct elections. For example- the Bihar assembly election alone in 2015 cost about Rs 3000 crore.
- Frequent elections impact the delivery of essential services. Such as,
- Teachers lost teaching weeks on election duty.
- Officers and vehicles from practically every other department are “requisitioned” for election duty.
- Frequent elections also disrupt essential public work such as road construction, welfare scheme supervision, etc.
- Imposition of the Model Code of Conduct: This will impact the governance and implementation of key policy initiatives.
- The efficiency of a politician doing public good is also reduced during the campaign. This is because most of them are putting in 16-18 hours of work each day doing only rallies and campaigning. As a result, important meetings and decisions get postponed.
- Further, there is also a huge cost involved in deploying security forces repeatedly during elections.
Challenges in holding One nation one election in India
- India had concurrent elections for the first two decades. The first general elections held simultaneously to Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of the States in October 1951.
- But in 1968 1969 and 1970, the cycle got disrupted due to the premature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies.
This is the reason that some experts believe that if a government loses its majority in the House, it eventually leads to fresh elections and disrupt One nation one election in India.
Suggestions to conduct One nation one election
It is virtually impossible for a ruling party/coalition to lose numbers with the current anti-defection law. Even if they do, there are certain global legal provisions available to maintain the electoral cycle.
- Coupling the ‘no-confidence motion’ along with the ‘vote of confidence’ in an alternative government. This vote of confidence will also mention a leader to head it. After passing both of them(no-confidence motion and vote of confidence), the alternate government will head the government for the remaining term. This helps to maintain the fixed term.
Benefits of having Simultaneous Elections
- Reduced Financial cost of conduction Election
- Reduced Cost of repeated administrative restrictions
- Reduced visible and invisible costs of repeatedly deploying security forces
- Reduced campaign and finance costs of political parties.
There is a need to calibrate and club the elections in a mature and sensible way. So that it could come to a situation where all elections are held simultaneously.
COP26 a last chance to fulfil Paris agreement goals
Source: The Hindu
Gs3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Synopsis: There are certain issues that need to be addressed in the upcoming Cop26 to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
- The Paris Agreement aims to restrict the rise of global temperature this century below 2-degree Celsius, above pre-industrial levels. And also, to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- But an average global temperature rise of 2 °C, compared to 1.5 °C, would affect 100 million more people.
- Worryingly, the Climate Action Tracker estimates that countries’ current emissions reduction targets will lead us to an average temperature rises of 2.4 °C.
- In this background, COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties is set to be hosted by the United Kingdom in Glasgow from November 2021.
- So, restricting the global temperature rise well below 1.5 degrees Celsius should be the main focus of COP26.
Steps taken by India to mitigate climate change
- One, India has committed to achieve significant domestic targets to have 450GW of renewable energy by 2030.
- Two, India’s leading role in establishing the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
- Three, India has played a critical role in delivering the landmark Paris Agreement.
- Four, the 2030 UK-India Roadmap to facilitate green growth agenda in both the countries.
What areas should Cop26 focus on?
- One, achieving Net-zero emissions. CoP26 leaders should push for a global action to reach net-zero emission by the middle of this century. Ambitious short-term targets backed up by a net-zero target will lead to a low carbon future.
- Two, addressing the issues of communities most vulnerable to climate change. CoP26 leaders should address, plan and deliver for the communities most vulnerable to climate change. Flood defences, warning systems and other vital efforts to minimise, the loss and damage caused by climate change should be worked out. India’s CDRI initiative is a step in the right direction.
- Third, Climate Finance. The CoP26 leaders should convince developed countries to deliver the $100 billion they promised annually to support developing countries. Right flow of finance and technology will help to meet the needs of developing countries such as India in their transition.
- Fourth, building consensus among governments, international collaboration, businesses and civil society Partnership are key to achieve the Paris agreement goals.
Issues with NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2020-21
Source: click here
Syllabus: GS 2
Synopsis: Although India has a better score in the latest SDG India Index 2020-21, some procedural changes in the methodology have resulted in an inadequate measurement of economic inequality.
NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2020- 21 was released recently. India has improved its overall SDG score from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2021. This is being credited to the efforts put in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health.
Major findings of the NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2020-21
- Areas showed improvements in the index: Following categories of SDGs showed developments in many States and Union Territories,
- Abolition of poverty and hunger
- Steps related to the availability of affordable, clean energy. The campaign to improve the access of households to electricity and clean cooking fuel has been an important factor in this regard.
- Areas showed a decline in the index: The Index also mentions the following areas as worse due to the lockdowns imposed by the governments.
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Inter-state inequality: There was a stark difference between the southern- western States and the north-central and eastern States in their performance on the SDGs. This points to socioeconomic and governance gaps. This will result in federal challenges if left unaddressed.
Methodological changes and their impacts on SDG India Index 2020-21
The Index has made the following methodological changes:
- Change in indicators: The 2020-21 Index drops several economic indicators, like:
- Gini Coefficient: This year the index dropped the well-recognized Gini coefficient.
- The index did not use the growth rate for household expenses per capita among 40% of rural and urban populations (instead, only the percentage of the population in the lowest two wealth quintiles is used)
- Impact: Dropping of these indicators means that the SDG score on inequality may have missed out on assessing the impact of the pandemic on wealth inequality.
- Greater weightage to certain indicators: The index gives greater weightage to social equality indicators such as the representation of women and people from marginalized communities in legislatures and local governance institutions, and crimes against SC/ST communities
The second wave of the pandemic had similar outcomes on livelihoods and jobs. A better score for India to achieve SDGs will bring some optimism. However, governments must work on addressing persistent issues such as increased inequality and economic gloom.
The Right to a fair trial and the Indian Evidence Act
Source: click here
Syllabus: GS- 2
Synopsis: Acquittals in rape cases are often based on stereotypes about rape survivors and their past sexual history. But that has to change if India wants to ensure the Right to a fair trial.
During the recent judgement by the Goa session’s court in Tarun Tejpal case the court referred to the survivor’s sexual history in graphic detail. Further, the judgement held the following things,
- The court denied accepting the victim as a sterling witness. It was stated that the survivor did not fit into the court’s preconceived ideas of a rape survivor’s behaviour.
- This disregards the women’s struggles that forced changes in law, in case of law, and in approaches to victims of rape.
Can the court go into the details of a survivor’s sexual history?
No. Doing so would be a form of discrimination by the court.
- It violates Article 14’s guarantee of equality before the law and the equal protection of laws.
- Article 15 of the constitution also forbids the state from discriminating against citizens based on stereotypes related to their sex and gender.
There have been many cases wherein the Supreme Court of India has warned against stereotyping rape survivors. This is because it not only violates their fundamental rights but also leads to divergent results in sentencing.
Was the sexual history of a survivor admissible in court in the past?
- Under Section 155(4) of the Indian Evidence Act, a rape survivor’s past sexual history used to be acceptable. The rape accused could state that the rape survivor was of immoral character and claim that she consented to the sexual acts.
- Past sexual history was used to suggest that the survivor was immoral and thus not a trustworthy witness.
- This section was removed in 2003 after recommendations in the Law Commission of India’s 172nd report.
Significant cases which led to amendments in the Indian Evidence Act:
- In Aparna Bhat & Ors. vs State of Madhya Pradesh case, the Supreme Court warned of the dangers of typecasting rape survivors.
- Rape myths: It mentioned the prevalent rape myths which include fixed notions of chastity, resistance to rape, having visible physical injuries, behaving a certain way, reporting the offence immediately etc.
- If the survivor had agreed to similar acts in the past should be irrelevant. The SC directed courts not to doubt a woman’s testament just because she was sexually active.
- In the Mathura rape case (Tukaram vs Maharashtra, 1979), the Supreme Court released two policemen accused of raping a 14-year-old Adivasi girl in a police station. Stating that she was sexually active and considered her proof as “a tissue of lies”(Not considered her as a witness).
- This verdict led to the introduction of Section 114-A of the Evidence Act. It applied in serious rape cases where the accused was a police officer or member of the armed forces.
- In 1996, in the Punjab v Gurmit Singh case, the SC warned courts against making remarks about the rape survivor’s character. It stated that a woman who was sexually active could still refuse to consent.
- In 2013, the JS Verma Committee, created after the Delhi 2012 rape case, suggested that a past relationship between the accused and the victim should be inapt while deciding whether the victim consented.
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 united many of such judgements and recommendations into legal law.
- Section 53A of the Evidence Act stops courts from depending on evidence of the character of the victim. Such as her prior sexual experience with any person to decide questions of consent in sexual assault cases.
- The 2013 Act also amended Section 146 so that a rape survivor cannot be asked questions about her immoral character or prior sexual experience to prove consent.
- The 2013 amendment also introduced a fixed minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment for rape (This is increased in 2018 to 10 years) and 10 years for serious rape.
How the 2013 amendment impacted the conviction rates in rape cases?
Studies show that conviction rates fell after the 2013 amendment. In a review of 1,635 rape judgements passed by Delhi trial courts between 2013 and 2018, the conviction rate fell from 16.11% under the old law to 5.72% under the new law. This is due to the following reasons. Such as,
- Survivors were doubted because of varying statements at several stages of the trial,
- Failure to reveal details of the incident to anybody,
- Delay in registering the complaint.
The rape stereotypes and dependence on past sexual history are damaging for rape survivors and the criminal justice system. The right to a fair trial under Article 21 states that cases should be decided on facts. Acquittals based on stereotypes impair the faith of the public in the criminal justice system.