Q.1) In India, corruption is acceptable as a way of life. How far the recent amendments in the Prevention of Corruption Act will help in dealing with this menace?
Answer: India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the “worst offenders”.
Amendments to PCA:
- Giving bribe is a specific and a direct offence.
- Those convicted of taking bribes can be imprisoned for three to seven years besides being fined under the provisions of the Bill.
- Bribe-givers have also been included in the legislation for the first time and they can be punished with imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine or both.
- It makes a provision for providing protection to ‘coerced’ bribe-givers if the matter is reported to the concerned law enforcement agencies within a week.
- The Bill also redefines criminal misconduct and will now only cover misappropriation of property and possession of disproportionate assets.
- The Bill proposes a ‘shield’ for government servants, including those retired, from prosecution by making it mandatory for investigating agencies such as CBI to take prior approval from a competent authority before conducting an enquiry against them. Such permissions shall not be necessary for cases involving the arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage for himself or for any other person.
- In any corruption case against him or her, the factor of “undue advantage” will have to be established.
- The trial in cases pertaining to the exchange of bribe and corruption should be completed within two years.The trial cannot exceed four years.
Efficacy of the amendments:
- Senior officers needed to be assured that any bona fide economic decision taken by them would not be second-guessed many years later and make them the targets of investigative action and prosecution much after they have retired from service.
- The new directive that requires prior approval at the preliminary inquiry stage as well as before the registration of a regular case carries many risks in speeding up investigation.
- The changes may be futile if the sanctioning authority is itself dishonest.
- The deletion of the whole of Section 13(1)(d) defining ‘criminal misconduct’ as the acquisition of a ‘valuable thing’ or ‘pecuniary advantage’ is disappointing because corruption in high places is sophisticated and takes place in a highly clandestine manner.
- Where a public servant causes performance of a public duty which is improper and against prescribed rules and procedures, and there is no proof of a transaction of bribery, he will go scot free.
- Given the overburdening of the judiciary, even fast-track courts may be unable to stick to this deadline of completing trial in two years. Hence, addressing corruption from this front could remain a challenge.
Q.2) India’s #MeToo is a watershed moment in societal evolution. In this context discuss the steps taken by government and suggest suitable remedial measures against sexual harassment.
Answer: In the #MeToo movement, such a large number of women feel comfortable enough to relate experiences that they were thus far too inhibited or fearful of recounting. This is a mirror of the progress India as a society has achieved.
Steps taken by government:
- Vishakha guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 was thus passed.
a) It widens the definition of ‘aggrieved woman’ to include all women, irrespective of age and employment status, and covers clients, customers and domestic workers.
b) It expands ‘workplace’ beyond traditional offices to include all kinds of organisations across sectors, even non-traditional workplaces.
c) It mandates the constitution of the internal complaint committee (ICC) and the filing of an audit report of the number of complaints and action taken at the end of the year.
d) It lists the duties of the employer, like organising regular workshops and awareness programmes to educate employees about the Act.
2. Ministry of WCD recently launched an online complaint management system titled Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box) for the effective implementation of the SH Act, 2013. This will enable a monitorable and transparent system of grievance redressal under the Act.
3. It was also decided that the Act, the rights of a woman official and the responsibility of the Internal Complaints Committee must be given adequate publicity through different methods including the websites of the ministries.
- Sex education from childhood in school curricula.
- Training of employees on gender equal workspaces.
- Awareness generation among women employees to launch their grievances.
- Broader attitude change in the society to be more receiving of the complaints from women.
- Speedy disposal of cases related to sexual harassment.
Q.3) Discuss the concerns raised against India’s inclination which are more towards Iran than rest of the countries in the Arab world.
Answer: Reasons for perceived tilt of India towards Iran:
- Absence of a meeting with the GCC this year.
- The confrontation between the Gulf Arabs and Iran.
- Though Arab countries welcomed US’ decision to discard the nuclear deal, India is ready to continue its oil trade with Iran.
- Despite Arab reservations on Iran’s behavior in the region, India’s closeness with Iran is perceived as a problem.
- India’s construction of Chabahar airport in Iran and its coordination with Iran on bringing an end to the Afghanistan war.
Problems with the tilt:
- Problems in bilateral relations with the USA. Indian companies could suffer if USA imposes sanctions.
- Despite efforts, Iran is tending to inch closer towards Taliban in Afghanistan, which is an irritant for India.
- So many of India’s interests, including trade, energy, expatriate remittances and counter-terror cooperation, are so heavily to tied to the Gulf Arabs.
- Alienating Arabs is a problem for India in the long run, both strategically and economically.
Q.4) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recently released a report in Seoul highlighting the impacts that developing countries like India would face if global warming touches 2°C as compared to 1.5°C. Discuss what steps can be taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change on India.
Answer: What the IPCC report says:
- UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030(in 12 years), precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
- Governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.
- Global temperatures have already warmed by about 1 degree C.
- As higher temperatures lead to sea level rise and more extreme rainfall, more and more people are already learning to live with catastrophic flooding.
- More frequent or intense droughts, such as the one that nearly ran the taps dry in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as more frequent extreme rainfall events such as hurricanes Harvey and Florence in the United States.
- Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C. This means any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
- Lowering emissions to this degree would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities.
- Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off to experience the largest impacts on economic growth due to climate change.
- Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems.
Steps to be taken to mitigate impact:
- Responding to climate change involves a two-pronged approach:
a) Mitigation – Reducing emissions of and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
b) Adaptation – Adapting to the climate change already in the pipeline
2. Low-carbon Growth: it is based on low carbon power sources that has a minimal output of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the biosphere.
3. Swaminathan committee said that research has to be undertaken to pre-empt the adverse impact of a rise in mean temperature.
4. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate.
5. It is necessary for developed countries to be compliant on their commitments based on historical responsibilities and the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.
6. Technologies like climate engineering can be employed either to remove excess CO2 in the atmosphere or to reduce further emissions of these GHGs.