Q. 1) The Punjab Cabinet’s decision to amend the law to make acts of sacrilege against the holy books of major religions punishable with life imprisonment is retrograde and fraught with undesirable consequences. Explain.
Answer: The law will introduce a new section 295-AA in the IPC after India’s ‘Blasphemy law’, Section 295-A, which criminalises “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings”.
How is it retrograde:
- It uses religious sensitivities to score political points.
- Section 295-A itself already covers it.
- Providing for a life term for the same offence in relation to religious texts would be grossly disproportionate.
- ‘Sacrilege’ itself is a vague term, and would render the section too broad.
- There are many instance of misuse of laws aimed to protect religious sentiments.
- It recognises the inherent rise of intolerance in managing conflicting situations between two groups.
- The amendment is trying to criminalise blasphemy in a country which is supposed to be secular and progressive. Even when the restrictions on free speech were introduced in the Constitution, blasphemy was not one of them.
What could be the consequences:
- The freedom of speech could be curtailed and anyone claiming to be outraged can now pursue vexatious prosecutions.
- It may increase demands for similar legislation in the rest of India to meet demands of different groups.
- In the Shreya Singhal case, SC struck down Section 66A of IT Act for being vague and unclear and being an unreasonable restriction on the right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19(1)(a)).
- Punishing sacrilege runs contradictory to the right to privacy – since even private expressions of discontent against a particular text could be considered sacrilegious.
- Blasphemy laws are abused by governments to silence opposition, critics and dissidents.
- Religious extremists have exploited such laws to justify attacks on minorities.
Q.2) Discuss the concept of ‘hothouse earth’. What measures are required to prevent a ‘hothouse earth’ pathway?
Answer: A “greenhouse Earth” or “hothouse Earth” is a period in which there are no continental glaciers on the planet. The levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are high and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) range from 28 °C in the tropics to 0 °C in the polar regions.
Measures to prevent hothouse earth pathway:
- Fundamental shifts in social values and economic mores are essential, like reduced energy consumption.
- Increasing contributions from renewables and improvements in energy efficiencies.
- Technological innovation like green technologies and climate smart agriculture techniques.
- Increased funding for innovation in climate friendly technologies.
- Global deals like the Paris Climate Agreement and International Solar Alliance should work towards greener goals.
- Creating or enhancing biological carbon stores life afforestation, preserving water bodies. Biodiversity conservation, improved forest management, and the development of carbon-capture systems that store carbon underground.
Q.3) Discuss the reasons why India is lagging behind in promotion of sports and culture? Highlight the significance of progress in these fields for a country.
India has the 2nd largest population in the world. Our performance in various sporting events has been
Reasons for lagging performance:
- Nature of school education is mostly monotonous and does not encourage creativity in children. The focus of education has remained to be more result oriented. Our education system has reduced the notions of competence and merit only to that of science, thereby denying the greatness inherent in so many other domains.
- State of administration – institutions are not held accountable to the results of that funding.
- Cultural response to the idea of excellence – it is difficult for a person to stand out in terms of high quality work since the system has little support for excellence.
- Countless artists and musicians struggle to survive in spite of creating great work. There is no monthly salary, provident fund and pension for some of the greatest artists, performers, writers and others. This lack of state support to creativity and talent is a reason for our performance.
Significance for a country:
- It enhances the status of a country on the world platform. It can be tapped to enhance the soft power of the country.
- It provides multiple opportunities for individuals to excel in different fields.
- The advances in attitude reflects in the state of development in a country. Britain embraced scientific revolution before it advanced to industrial revolution and became a large power.
- It effectively taps the demographic dividend of our country.
Q.4) Explain what are the individual responsibilities and collective responsibilities with reference to Council of Ministers? Also highlight the differences between ‘council of ministers’ and ‘cabinet’?
Answer: Responsibility of Ministers
- This is the fundamental principle underlying parliamentary system of government. Art 75 clearly states that CoM is collectively responsible to LS.
- All the ministers own joint responsibility to LS for all their acts of omission and commission.
- They work as a team and swim or sink together.
- The principle of collective responsibility also means that Cabinet decisions bind all cabinet ministers even if they differed in cabinet meeting. It is the duty of every minister to stand by cabinet decisions and support them both within and outside Parliament.
- Article 75 also contains principle of Individual Responsibility.
- It states that ministers hold office during pleasure of president – President can remove a minister even when CoM enjoys the confidence of LS. President removes a minister only on the advice of PM.
- In case of a difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with the performance of a minister PM can ask him to resign or advice President to dismiss him.
- By exercising this power PM can ensure the realisation of the rule of CR.