News & Editorial Analysis 21 February 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Uniform Age of Marriage:
GS II Topic Social Issues:
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a petition that sought to raise the marriage age for women from 18 to 21 years, placing them on par with men. The court noted that such decisions should be left to the “ultimate wisdom of the Parliament” in this regard.
“We shouldn’t believe that we are the only ones responsible for maintaining the Constitution. The Parliament is equally responsible for the Constitution. Parliament has the authority to amend the law to set a minimum age for marriage. The Parliament has the power to do this, regardless of how beneficial it is. There are several issues that the Parliament alone has the authority to regulate and change. Ashwini Upadhyay, the petitioner’s attorney, was informed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud: “The legislation cannot be implemented here.
Minimum marriage age in India:
The minimum age for marriage for the woman was set at 18 years old by the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, and the minimum age for the groom was set at 21 years old.
Islam accepts that a young person who has achieved puberty may marry.
The Special Marriage Act of 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, respectively, set the minimum age of consent for marriage at 18 and 21 years old.
India has taken the following steps to reduce the gender pay gap: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was ratified by India in 1993.
Article 16 of this Agreement specifies the minimum age for women to get married and vehemently forbids child marriage.
Since 1998, India has had national legislation that only focuses on defending human rights, in conformity with international agreements like the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Arguments in Support of the Minimum Age The law sets a minimum age for marriage in order to effectively criminalise child weddings and stop the exploitation of children.
Early pregnancy, malnutrition, and child marriage-related violence (mental, emotional, and physical).
Early pregnancy affects the mother’s health and is associated with increased infant death rates.
Justifications for Increasing the Legal Marriage Age:
Protection of Fundamental Rights: Women’s protection from early and child marriage is a protection of their fundamental rights. As a result of this historic decision, related legislative frameworks will be forced to undergo reforms that will give the aadhi aabadi a comprehensive rights-based framework.
Improving Gender Parity: The Special Marriage Act’s Section 2(a) states that both men and women must be at least 21 years old to get married, which is an unusual requirement.
Since it is feasible to make voting and the legal age to consensually, voluntarily, and legitimately enter into a contract the same for men and women, why not establish equality in the age requirements for marriage?
Equal Laws Bring About Equals Equal laws are the foundation of equality, and laws both affect and are inspired by societal changes.
A change in the legislation is also more likely to cause a shift in societal perceptions in civilizations that are progressive.
Promoting Women’s Empowerment: There are many indications that the position of women is increasing, especially when it comes to the number of female students enrolled in higher education.
The majority of programme participants are women, according to initiatives like UJJAWALA, Mudra Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana.
Women’s empowerment will accelerate with an equal marriage age.
Arguments against lowering the marriage age:
It is unlikely that simply raising the marriage age will benefit the community it seeks to serve—young women who are not yet financially independent and who are unable to enjoy their rights and freedoms while still being subject to familial and societal pressures.
The prevalence of underage marriage is widespread despite stringent laws: About half of all women between the ages of 20 and 24 had wed below the legal minimum age in 2005, despite child marriage being prohibited in some form since the early 1900s.
Younger marriages without prior criminal convictions: Although more than one in five marriages took place before the age of 18, almost no violations of the Act are listed in the nation’s criminal history.
The cessation of child marriages is not assured: The number of women of marriageable age who will be impacted is large because about 60% of women who marry before turning 21 have children.
Raising the legal age of marriage to 21 does not guarantee that the practise of women being married before the age of 18 will end.
Women’s rights groups claim that in order to prevent forced weddings, domestic violence, and a lack of educational resources, parents frequently use this Act to punish their daughters who elope or marry against their wishes.
In a patriarchal society, it is therefore more likely that the change in the age restriction will increase parents’ power over young adults.
How to Proceed:
Guarantee Objective Equality: For reasons based on biology, society, or facts and study, it is not acceptable for men and women to be married at different ages.
After the passage of the Special Marriage Act in 1954, India proclaimed that age must be one of the essential prerequisites for a valid marriage. The only issue with this system—the lack of equality—has been addressed by an amendment to the Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006
Giving Disadvantaged Women More Power: To empower disadvantaged women, it is crucial to uphold their reproductive rights and make significant efforts in addressing the fundamental structural disadvantages that young brides face.
The government must invest significantly more money in equity-related programmes that will aid the impoverished in completing their education, provide career assistance, and support skill development and job placement.
Safety issues must be addressed in public places as well, such on public transportation.
The behaviour of parents must also be changed because most women’s parents eventually determine whether or not to get married.
increasing awareness of women A useful but difficult approach to achieving the aim is to assist girls in preventing early pregnancies and provide them with the tools they need to improve their health.
The focus must be on increasing public awareness of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health as well as reducing female forced school or college dropouts.
2 – EPFO:
GS III Topic Statutory and Non-Statutory Bodies:
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) sent a circular to its regional offices on Monday describing how to implement the Supreme Court’s decision regarding greater provident fund (PF) pension, which was delivered on November 4 following days of debate. In order to request a larger pension based on their actual income exceeding the permitted limit under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of 1995, it specifies the actions and paperwork needed for current employees and retirees who accepted their retirement after September 1, 2014.
About the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO):
This government organisation, which also manages the pension and provident fund accounts of its member employees, implements the Workers’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, which is applicable across India with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Workers’ Provident Fund and Other Provisions Act of 1952 makes it possible for provident funds to be established for employees of factories and other businesses.
It is managed by the Ministry of Labour & Employment of the Indian Government.
It is one of the biggest social security organisations in the world in terms of its customers and the volume of financial transactions it handles.
Employees Pension Scheme (EPS):
A social security scheme, it was first implemented in 1995.
After they retire at age 58, employees in the organised sector are entitled for pensions under the EPFO-provided plan.
Employees who belong to the EPF are also enrolled in EPS automatically.
12% of the employee’s monthly salary goes to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme (base pay plus dearness allowance).
Employees who earn more than Rs. 15,000 per month are required to take part in the EPF programme.
The EPS receives 8.33% of the 12% employer share.
The federal government additionally contributes 1.16% of workers’ monthly wages.
3 – PIL:
GS II Topic Judiciary related issues:
The Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition that contested the Bihar caste census and questioned whether it qualified as a “publicity interest action.”
In order to allow the petitioner NGO Ek Soch Ek Prayas to pursue the appropriate legal remedies in the competent High Court, a Bench presided over by Judge B.R. Gavai declined to become involved.
What does “public interest litigation” entail?
A legal action known as a public interest litigation (PIL) is one that is brought to protect “Public Interest” in a court of law. Any issue that jeopardises the interests of the general public, such as pollution, terrorism, road safety, construction dangers, etc., may be the subject of a public interest litigation in a court of law.
The phrase “public interest litigation” was adopted from American law, which instituted the practise to provide legal representation to those who did not previously have it, including the underprivileged, members of racial minorities, unorganised consumers, and those who were passionate about environmental issues.
No law or regulation contains a definition of PIL. Courts have interpreted this to mean considering the intention of the wider public. The courts have given the general public this power through judicial activism. Read the Judicial Activism section of the linked website carefully. Nonetheless, the petitioner must convince the judge that the petition is being filed in the public interest and not simply as needless litigation by a busy body.
Public interest litigation considers a variety of issues, including child neglect, bond labour problems, violence against women, failure to pay minimum wages to employees, exploitation of temporary workers, adulteration of food, environmental pollution, disruption of the ecological balance, preservation of heritage and culture, etc.
The significance of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India:
PILs were initially developed to give underprivileged and disadvantaged individuals access to justice.
It is an essential tool for making sure that those who have been denied human rights get them.
It democratises access to justice for all. Any competent person or organisation may file petitions on behalf of those who are unable or unable to do so due to lack of funds.
It helps with judicial control over state institutions like prisons, asylums, safe houses, etc.
It is an essential tool in judicial review.
Criticism of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India:
PILs have lately changed into a marketing tool. They file frivolous petitions, wasting their time and the time of the courts. They’ve also been used for political purposes. They burden the court system needlessly. Even if the petition is finally dismissed, the courts spend time and effort on them before dismissing them.
Presently, a petition can only be rejected by courts. Just making sure that a petition’s technical conditions are completed is all that the SC or HC Registry does. As a result, petitions are granted to court regardless of the case’s merits.
How to Proceed:
Politicians and others shouldn’t use the judicial system improperly to obstruct administrative action or further their own political goals.
The PIL activists must be responsible and accountable.
The petitioner’s integrity and lack of self-interest must be carefully monitored by the court.
While considering how to phrase the relief, the court must take into account how it would affect those public interests.
Since that it is an exceptional remedy that is accessible to all citizens of the country, it should not be exploited by all litigants as a replacement for conventional remedies or as a means of bringing unfounded complaints.
4 – Hate Speech:
GS III Topic Internal Security of India:
The Supreme Court was notified by the Delhi Police on February 20 that the investigation into instances of hate speech in the capital was “advanced stage.”
The results of the voice sample testing were “expected,” according to Assistant Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, who spoke on behalf of the police before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud.
According to petitioner Tushar Gandhi’s lawyer Shadan Farasat, the police informed the court during the previous hearing that their investigation was “essentially concluded.”
It frequently refers to remarks intended to stir up animosity towards a certain group, which could be a race, religion, or community. After this speech, which may or may not mean anything, violence is anticipated.
In a recently published manual for investigating agencies on instances of cyber harassment, the Bureau of Police Research and Development defines hate speech as words that denigrate, insult, threaten, or target a person based on their identity or other qualities (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).
Incitement to hatred towards a group of individuals who are primarily recognised by their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other traits is referred to as hate speech. The Law Commission of India’s 267th Report contains this term.
Whether a particular communication qualifies as hate speech or not depends heavily on the context of the speech.
The largest challenge is to prevent the ideals of autonomy and freedom of expression from being applied in a way that is damaging to any group in society.
Freedom of speech is necessary to promote a diversity of opinions in cases where hate speech violates Article 19(1)(a) (Freedom of Speech and Expression).
Leading factors for hate speech include:
Sense of Superiority:
Individuals have deeply ingrained assumptions that lead them to believe that a class or group of people are beneath them and hence are not eligible to share their rights.
Stickiness with a Particular Ideology
People’s tenacity in clinging to their ideology without taking into account others’ rights to peaceful coexistence makes hate speech worse.
Legal Stance on Hate Speech:
According to the Indian Criminal Code:
Sections 153A and 153B of the IPC punish acts that create hatred and resentment between two communities.
Under Section 295A of the IPC, acts that purposefully or deliberately hurt someone else’s religious sensibilities are illegal.
It is forbidden to publish or distribute items that can encourage hostility or hatred among different populations under Articles 505(1) and 505(2).
The Representation of the People Act states that:
According to Section 8 of the Representation of Peoples Act of 1951, a person who has been found guilty of exercising their right to free expression in an improper manner is not permitted to run for office (RPA).
Paragraph 123(3A) and 125 of the RPA prohibit the promotion of animosity on the basis of race, religion, community, caste, or language in relation to elections and classify such activity as corrupt electoral practises.
Suggestion for IPC Modifications:
The Viswanathan Committee for 2019:
It proposed amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) by introducing Sections 153 C (b) and 505 A for inciting someone to commit a crime on the basis of that person’s race, caste, or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, place of residence, language, disability, or tribe.
It advised a fine of 5,000 rupees and a prison term of up to two years.
Bezbaruah Committee of 2014:
It suggested amending IPC Sections 509 A (using words, gestures, or actions to insult members of a particular race), which is punishable by three years in prison and a fine, or both, and Section 153 C (promoting or attempting to promote acts prejudicial to human dignity), which is punishable by five years in prison and a fine, or both.
Many examples of hate speech:
The most recent SC ruling:
In the context of discussing the limits of free speech and what may constitute hate speech, the Supreme Court (SC) has declared that “Historical truths must be depicted without in any manner disclosing or inspiring antagonism or enmity between diverse groups or communities.”
Shreya Singhal v. Union of India:
Questions were raised about Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 in respect to the Constitution’s fundamental protection of the right to free speech and expression found in Article 19(1)(a). The court determined that the first two were the fundamental clauses of Article 19 and distinguished between discussion, advocacy, and incitement. (1).
Assam State v. Arup Bhuyan:
The Court concluded that unless someone committed violence or encouraged others to use violence, they could not be punished for a simple act.
S. Rangarajan & al. v. P. Jagjivan Ram:
According to the court’s ruling in this case, the right to free speech cannot be curtailed unless the situation it has caused is dangerous to the community or the public interest, and this threat must be remote, improbable, or unlikely. The expression must be directly related to another idea or concept.
How to Proceed:
The most effective strategy for minimising hostility is education. Our educational system must play a significant role in helping students develop and understand compassion for others.
Fighting hate speech requires a team effort. It has to be discussed in the UN or another venue with a larger audience. It should be the duty of all responsible governments, regional organisations, and other international and local actors to address this issue.
Since it proposes an alternative to the drawn-out court processes and encourages the resolution of problems between parties through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and/or conciliation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can be utilised to address situations of hate speech.
Additionally, by doing nothing to prevent vigilante organisations from executing their own laws, inciting racial strife, and spreading hatred against the populace of the country, public authorities must be held accountable for failing in their duty of care and for disregarding the court’s directives.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
An Effort To Go Green:
Can the growth of urban areas and green space coexist? Can new motorways be built in older neighbourhoods without destroying avenue trees and roadside gardens? Telangana has demonstrated it to be.
Hyderabad has won multiple awards for being a green metropolis with increasing forest cover over the previous two years, turning into Telangana’s infrastructural growth engine.
Telangana’s successes and critiques:
The Miyawaki forest in Hyderabad is currently the biggest in the country. The 18-acre forest at Kavaguda, adjacent to the airport, is a refuge for birds and has 126 different native fruit and blooming tree varieties.
The Miyawaki method, created by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, speeds up the growth of native plants to produce dense, quick-growing forests that resemble those that exist in their natural habitat.
The State government has made a staggering number of tree plantings available to show the state of the forest. The Telangana administration’s main environmental initiative is an afforestation programme known as Telangana Ku Haritha Hram (the green garland of Telangana).
Nonetheless, the figures baffle environmentalists. They claim to have noticed how the tree cover has been gradually vanishing. Moreover, reports commonly mention instances of old trees being cut down for construction. The trimming, cutting, and moving of trees for the Hyderabad E-Prix over the past few months has further illustrated the conflict between environmentally friendly practises and outward growth. Over 900 banyan trees, each roughly 100 years old, are the focus of a campaign by people on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Hyderabad was also selected as one of the “2020 Tree Cities of the World” along with another 51 cities by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (during 2020 & cumulative 120 cities from 63 countries).
The majority of the cities were from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and other countries. It is the only Indian city to have done so up to this point.
The awards themselves have also drawn criticism. By providing a mayor’s certification of the city’s tree count, the administration submits the city’s nomination for the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City of the World” award. There is no external auditing to confirm the data’s veracity.
Although green programmes have gained credibility, the State still has to deal with indigenous people encroaching on forest grounds. The right to live permanently in areas that were originally designated as woods may have an impact on voting trends.
Scheduled Tribes are given nine of the 119 seats in the State Legislature. According to the 2011 Census, STs make up 9.3% of the population of the State. In his address to the legislature, the chief minister said that STs would receive “pattas” (papers proving their land ownership). He qualified it by saying. He declared that additional encroachment into forests would not be authorised and that the land distribution was one of the last attempts to regularise property ownership.
Will it be successful to execute plantation drives and protect forests at the same time? To predict would be premature. Yet, it is clear from its actions that Telangana’s administration strives to be a “green state.” Although if counting the number of trees planted in a park may not be a good gauge of advancement, it is nevertheless a step in the right direction. It promotes environmental awareness, which up until a few years ago was seriously lacking.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
MP Model In Agriculture:
India’s economy is currently worth $3.5 trillion. According to IMF predictions, the country’s GDP is expected to reach a value of $5.4 trillion by 2027 if the current growth pattern holds.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the turmoil in Russia and Ukraine have rocked the world economy, but India’s ambitious goal of having a $5 trillion GDP by 2025 is still very much within reach.
India’s economic development following independence:
Particularly when compared to its development in the first 60 years following 1947, India appears to be on the right track and doing fairly well.
According to the IMF, it took India nearly 59 years after its independence for its economy to reach $0.95 trillion in 2006. Nonetheless, it later grew to a $2.3 trillion economy by 2016, with $1.35 trillion added in just 10 years.
And by adding $1.2 trillion in just six years, the GDP grew to $3.5 trillion in 2022.
By 2047, India’s economy might grow to $25 to $30 trillion if it continues on its current path. It makes sense that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dubbed the 25 years leading up to India’s 100th anniversary of independence as Amrit Kaal.
In spite of this, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development are necessary:
We need to concentrate on two topics.
The first is how inclusive this expansion is, and the second is how sustainable it is going to be, particularly in terms of the environment, given that climate change is already at our doorsteps.
What does “inclusive growth” mean?
We gauge inclusiveness by examining the track records of the underperforming states, particularly the so-called BIMARU states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh), as well as the performance of the agricultural sector, which will employ the largest percentage of workers in 2020–21 (46.5%).
It is well knowledge that when economies develop, workers leave farmland for employment with better productivity in cities, particularly those involved in building new cities and the infrastructure needed to support them.
Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, although India’s population is still primarily rural by about two-thirds.
Construction of infrastructure, notably in rural regions, and preparing a sizable portion of the working population for jobs with increased productivity should be the country’s top priorities during the next 25 years.
In this regard, the Union budget for 2023–24 has performed admirably, and Nirmala Sitharaman, the finance minister, is deserving of praise.
performance of the state’s GDP, specifically in the agriculture sector, from 2005–2006 through 2021–2022,
According to the infographic, the country’s GDP increased by 6.7% year on average over this time, while the growth of its agricultural GDP was 3.8% annually.
Although not as impressive as China’s performance, this is nonetheless rewarding. With an aggregate GDP growth rate of 8.9%, Gujarat had the highest rate of all the main states, followed closely by Uttarakhand (8.7%), Telangana (8.6%), and Haryana (8.7%). (8 per cent).
Jammu and Kashmir (5.2%), Assam (5.4%), West Bengal (5.5%), Uttar Pradesh (5.6%), and Jharkhand were at the bottom of this list (5.7 per cent).
We examine the agri-GDP growth in BIMARU states to assess how inclusive this increase has been.
Madhya Pradesh has done exceptionally well; its 7.3% agricultural growth rate is the highest in the nation.
Its overall GDP growth rate is a creditable 7.5%. The state is a shining example of how to double the contribution of horticulture in its value of agriculture and allied sector, and its agri-GDP growth is far above the agri-GDP growth for all of India.
Rajasthan, one of the BIMARU states, has performed well in agriculture as well, with an average annual growth rate of 5.7%, followed by UP and Bihar with 4.5% and 4.4%, respectively.
The MP model in agriculture as a benchmark for agricultural development:
Madhya Pradesh has done exceptionally well; its 7.3% agricultural growth rate is the highest in the nation.
MP has established itself as a key player in the cultivation of soyabeans, mandarin oranges, pulses (particularly gramme), and tomatoes.
The low water and fertiliser requirements of pulses and oilseeds ensure environmental sustainability. They also fix nitrogen.
After UP, MP is the second-largest producer of wheat, and after Rajasthan and UP, it is the third-largest producer of milk. It has followed a well-diversified agricultural strategy over the past two decades, increasing irrigation coverage from 24 to 45.3% of its gross cultivated area.
When compared to 18.8% at the all-India level, MP is the only state where the contribution of agriculture to overall GDP has climbed to 40%; its approach is therefore inclusive and sustainable.
Some areas to consider:
Punjab, the winner of the Green Revolution, hasn’t fared well. Over this time, its agri-GDP growth was a pitiful 2% annually.
One could argue that the state already produces a lot of wheat and rice and that additional agricultural expansion may not be possible.
Yet, Punjab could have had more agricultural growth and, more significantly, conserved priceless groundwater and power subsidies if it had diversified into high-value horticulture or even some pulses and oilseeds.
There may have been significantly less methane and nitrous oxide emissions as a result of paddy agriculture. Policymakers in Punjab should pause and reflect on this.
In order to improve agriculture-led economic growth, states can adopt the MP model with modifications. Moreover, crop diversification is necessary to maintain the environment and natural resources.
This agriculture expansion approach will then be more successful.
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