Mains Q & A 18 February 2023
Q1. Witch hunts are an embarrassment to contemporary culture. It is not enough to simply outlaw superstitious practises to solve this antiquated custom. Analyse. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Social Issues
Women are viewed as representations of their caste, family, society, and all other types of divisions in India. In certain societies, women are worshipped as goddesses while they are executed as witches in others. The problem has not been eliminated from society despite several legislative regulations.
Witch-hunting in India:
An outmoded practise known as “witch hunting” entails the cruellest treatment of women in society. It is an example of violence against women committed in the name of culture, religion, and societal conventions, which society usually disregards.
It involves stigmatising specific groups of people, notably widowed women, childless women, elderly women, women from lower socioeconomic classes, etc.
Socio-Cultural Impoverishment Some castes and tribes in various parts of India seem to engage in “witch-hunting” and witchcraft more frequently than others. These communities have suffered from social marginalisation, a lack of resources, and educational inequality for millennia.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 2,500 Indians were hunted down, tortured, and killed in such cases between 2000 and 2016, with Jharkhand topping the list of witch-hunting fatalities (NCRB).
According to the Guwahati High Court, one of the worst and most dehumanising forms of violating a person’s rights is to declare them to be a witch and then go out and hunt them down.
The caste system and patriarchal culture in India are utilised to demonise women who dare to speak up and criticise the social hegemonic framework as witches, according to a poll.
Interest: Land speculators frequently use the stigmatisation of women as witches as a tool to deprive families of their property. Occasionally, in an effort to maintain their social rank, people act in such a way towards persons from lower castes.
Moreover, it is used as a vengeance weapon against women who refuse to be seduced.
Personal Gain: The local doctors, medicine men, and Ojhas have transformed the practise of witch hunting into a social and religious endeavour in order to meet their materialistic wants.
The criminal justice system has a problem because many cases that were initially opened were later closed as a result of inadequate investigation, a lack of witnesses and evidence, or a settlement negotiated between the victims and the criminals.
Lack of scientific understanding and education is one of the factors contributing to the practise of witch hunts being so common in India. For instance, all natural disasters, including rising infant mortality, famine, floods, and pandemic diseases, among others, were attributed to women.
Laws and rules that apply to this:
National legislation does not expressly and clearly forbid witch hunts. The Indian Criminal Code of 1860’s provisions (Section 302, which charges for murder, Section 307 attempt for murder, Section 323 injury, Section 376 which penalises for rape, and Section 354) are therefore used as a substitute for the victim.
According to the Indian Criminal Code of 1860, witch-hunting is prohibited and is against Articles 14, 15(3), 15(4), 21, 51, and 51A of the Indian Constitution. Additionally, it violates other national laws including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 and the Preservation of Human Rights Act of 1993.
Bihar passed the Prohibition of Witch (DAAIN) Activities Act in 1999, and Jharkhand ratified it in 2001.
In Jharkhand, the “Anti Witchcraft Act” was established in 2001 to protect women from cruel treatment and provide victims of abuse with a legal means of seeking recourse.
In order to curb the killing of women after branding them as witches, the Assam police initiated Operation Prahari in 2001.
In 2005, Chhattisgarh put into effect the Tonahi Pratadna Nivaran Act.
The Rajasthan government passed the “Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection from Atrocities)” Bill, 2006, making it illegal and punishable to refer to any woman as a “dayan” or claim that she is a witch.
The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill was approved by the US President in 2015.
What must be done:
National law: When India ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1993, it made a commitment to putting an end to social injustice and discrimination against women.
Additionally, it clearly specifies that, in accordance with Section 5(a) of the applicable agreement, the states must take the appropriate steps to reform the social and cultural norms of behaviour for men and women.
It is therefore vital to enact national legislation making witch-hunting unlawful.
To ensure that the police and other officials properly investigate a complaint, proactive measures must be taken.
In states where this crime is more prevalent, women will be protected from unwarranted harshness and violence through the establishment of special cells.
The victims must be offered compensation and rehabilitation resources.
A comprehensive plan including legal action, psychosocial aid, economic empowerment, education, and punishment of the perpetrator is needed to improve indicators of human development. This is in accordance with Article 51-A.
We may improve access to medical care while simultaneously guaranteeing that women who have been accused of crimes receive justice via all available channels by quickly implementing programmatic and policy changes by recruiting psychiatrists and psychologists at the block level.
It is crucial to support awareness programmes and initiatives that inform people about the devasting psychological and financial effects that charges of witchcraft have on women in order to transform the deeply embedded patriarchal value system that discriminates against and devalues women.
Witch hunts violate people’s rights to life, especially those of women. In the New India, Sabka Vikas is not possible until and unless crimes like witch-hunting are completely abolished. The government must communicate with a range of stakeholders in order to ensure coordination and coordinated departmental responses to the issue of witch branding.
Q2. The introduction of election bonds signalled the dawn of a new era of accountability and openness. Indeed, all that electoral bonds have done is make secrecy legal. Think critically about it. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Election related issues
By the usage of electoral bonds, donors will be able to finance political parties through banks. The banking product, which is known as a bond but resembles promissory notes, will not yield interest. The electoral bond will not bear the payee’s name; it is a bearer instrument that can be bought for any sum in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, or Rs 1 crore.
Electoral bonds are an innovative way to finance elections that have attracted a lot of attention and controversy since their introduction in 2018. This has drawn criticism for being a significant step backward in the direction of reaching the goal of political financial transparency.
Argument in favour of the electoral bonds:
Election bonds have been developed in order to promote transparency in the funding and donations received by political parties.
The strategy asks for creating an audit trail and a validated KYC system for bond purchases. Because of the limited window and quick development process, misuse would be improbable.
The electoral bonds will induce donors to make contributions through banking services, enabling the issuing authorities to gather their names. This will ensure transparency and accountability and is a key step towards election reform.
It is utterly opaque the previous practise of accepting cash donations from unknown sources. The identity of the donor, the donee, the quantity of donations, and the nature of expenditures are all kept a secret.
According to the government, the Bonds system will encourage donations of clean money to politics from people, businesses, HUF, religious organisations, charities, etc.
The political parties of these organisations’ choosing may get the bonds after they have been purchased from them, but they are required to repay them within the specified time.
The quantity of bonds that each donor and party have acquired in their accounts as well as the number of bonds that they have received must both be disclosed. This would increase the process’ level of transparency.
The purpose of the electoral bonds is to put an end to the practise of providing large sums of money to political parties secretly, which leads to the emergence of black money in the economy.
Since their creation, election-related bonds have developed into a vital source of fundraising for all major political parties.
Between March 2018 and January 2021, parties redeemed Rs 6,514.50 crore in electoral bonds.
Although though the ruling BJP was able to collect the bulk (60.17%) of political donations generated through the bonds, this method was used to contribute about 50% of the total income of all national and regional parties.
The percentage of political donations originating from cash gifts or other anonymous sources appears to have dramatically decreased for both of the major political parties.
Instead, a greater amount of money is now moved through the established banking system. Due to the fact that most political donations were made in cash and were therefore impossible to track, the earlier technique was unable to support this.
The electoral bonds scheme is superior to the old system from this point of view.
Election bonds have only served to legitimise opacity:
The activity could be exploited due to the absence of disclosure regulations for people purchasing electoral bonds.
Due to electoral bonds, the funding of elections has become significantly more complicated. As a result, more and more illegal money will get into the political system. Election-related bonds would “severely influence” the financial openness of political parties.
Businesses may have a legitimate means to give money they have hidden away in tax havens to a political party through the use of electoral bonds. If this was possible, a businessman might legally give the politician or party that brought about the policy change a percentage of the profits that follow from it.
The reforms will let “unchecked foreign sponsorship of political parties in India which could result in foreign firms influencing Indian politics” and inject illicit funds for political financing through shell corporations.
Companies are no longer obligated to publish the names of the organisations to whom they have made donations in order to prevent shareholders from understanding where their money has gone.
Since that they are both aware of the person’s identify, the donor bank and the recipient bank have the potential to significantly favour the ruling party. Yet, both banks provide information to the RBI, which is constrained by the Central government’s need for information.
Election funding alternatives:
According to the previous chief election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, a National Electoral Fund that accepts donations from all donors is a solution to take into account.
According on how many votes each political party receives, the funds would be awarded to them. In addition to protecting contributors’ anonymity, this will stop dark money from funding political campaigns.
Even one year of an MP’s five-year term would be sufficient to pay for the state to sponsor Lok Sabha candidates because the yearly cost of MPLADS funding for all MPs is close to 4,000 crore. This is a legal way for MPs and MLAs to shower money on their supporters at the expense of the government.
The amount of compensation given to candidates who get direct funding will depend on the final percentage of votes cast.
The only way to ensure such openness in political fundraising is to forbid any monetary contributions from individuals or organisations to political parties.
demanding that only checks or other forms of payment be accepted as donations by all parties.
There should be specific rules defining who is eligible to receive tax benefits for making such donations.
Make it mandatory for political parties to tell the income-tax division and the Election Commission of all donations.
Government funding of political parties is a possibility. The Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Financing of Elections gave its approval to the state’s partial sponsorship of recognised political parties.
The mechanisms of this process must be correctly created in order to give funding to national parties, state parties, and independent candidates as well as to track candidates’ personal spending above what the government contributes.
Voters must be made aware of the detrimental effects of money power in elections through awareness programmes. extending the RTI act’s application to political parties.
According to the 255th Law Commission Report on Electoral Reforms, secretive political financing allows large donors to “lobby and capture” the government. One of the commissions that has made specific recommendations on the best remedies is the Election Commission. Public money needs to be examined and put into place with the right checks and balances.
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