Mains Q & A 3 March 2023
Q1. Do you think raising the legal age of marriage for women to 21 is the right step in the right direction? List a few of the challenges both urban and rural areas will face with such a move. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS I Women Empowerment
The Union Cabinet decided on December 15 to raise the age at which women can legally get married from 18 to 21. Legal marriage requires males to be 21 years old. The government will equalise the marriage age for both sexes by making this decision. The recommendation to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 was made in the task team’s final report, which was overseen by Jaya Jaitley.
In order to look into the connection between the average age of marriage and concerns with women’s nutrition, anaemia prevalence, IMR, MMR, and other social indicators, the Ministry for Women and Child Development organised a task group in June 2020.
The committee was presided over by former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly. Secretaries from several ministries and Dr. V K Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog’s (Health) board, were also present.
The committee has proposed raising the marriage age to 21 years old based on feedback from young adults from 16 colleges around the country. More than 15 Organizations were also involved in order to interact with young adults in rural areas and underserved populations.
Several factors support raising the marriage age for women:
The government decided to reconsider the legal age for women to be married for a number of reasons, including gender neutrality, welfare and nutrition standards. Early marriage and the subsequent pregnancies have an impact on the overall health and emotional well-being of mothers and their children as well as their nutritional status.
Infant and maternal mortality rates are also impacted, as well as the empowerment of women who are prevented from attending school or finding work due to early marriage.
reduction of child marriage Child marriage in the country has somewhat fallen from 27% in 2015–16 to 23% in 2019–20, according to the recently released National Family Health Survey (NFHS), however the government has been attempting to further reduce this number.
Gender parity In India, women only make up 25% of the labour force, compared to a global average of 60%. We cannot allow women to remain unemployed if we wish to rise to the status of a world power.
Implementing gender neutrality is necessary.
Eliminating stereotypes Having different legal requirements “contributes to the perception that wives must be younger than their husbands,” the Law Commission stated in a consultation paper on family law reform released in 2018.
The rule, according to proponents of women’s rights, supports the idea that since women are more mature than men their age, they should be able to get married sooner.
For both urban and rural women, potential obstacles include:
Raising the marriage age for women has been opposed by proponents of children’s and women’s rights as well as population and family planning experts on the grounds that such legislation would push a sizeable portion of the population into illegitimate unions.
They contend that while if the legal age of marriage for women in India is still 18, the drop in these partnerships is not due to the law as it currently stands, but rather to the increase in opportunities for girls to pursue education and jobs.
They contend that marginalised groups like the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes will suffer from the law’s coercive nature and become lawbreakers.
According to the UNFPA’s State of the World Report 2020, 51% of young women in India without any formal education and 47% of those with only an elementary education were married by the age of 18.
Thus, education inequality is a significant problem.
In addition, a research by the International Centre for Research on Women found that girls who leave school are 3.4 times more likely to get married or have their marriages already fixed than girls who stay in school.
Societies must advance sustainably if women are to be granted more power. High-quality education and skills are the two most effective weapons for this, and to get there, young marriage pressure must be avoided.
Early pregnancy affects the mother’s health and is associated with increased infant death rates. As a result, a mother’s health and ability to procreate must be taken into consideration.
Targeted social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) initiatives must be given top priority by the government, together with the economic and social empowerment of women and girls. Raising the age at which women can legally be married would also contribute to gender neutrality.
Expanding the scope of females’ rights to education to encompass career development.
Q2. Do you believe that the Indian Constitution's Directive Principles of State Policy are an unnecessary addition? Consider it critically. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Indian Constitution
The Directive Principles of State Policy are listed in Articles 36 to 51 of Part IV of the Constitution (DPSPs). These ideas are referred to as “new elements” of the Indian Constitution by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. The Directive Principles and Basic Rights serve as the cornerstones of the Constitution’s philosophy.
How DPSPs are an unnecessary addition to the Indian Constitution:
No legal standing: They were compared to a blank check, new year’s resolutions, the physical manifestation of goals and wishes, and they were referred to as “pious superfluities” having no legal basis.
Without the ability to be enforced, as Article 32 protects basic rights, the DPSP was little more than a collection of guidelines that were difficult to put into practise.
DPSP have faced criticism for their illogical organisation and lack of a clear ideology.
orthodox and conventional Some of the provisions are out of date and contradict current ideas.
Using the prohibition of alcohol as an example.
Might lead to discussion and misunderstanding:
When DPSP is implemented, it could potentially lead to tensions between the centre and the states.
Early in the confrontation between the FRs and the DPSP, constitutional challenges were frequent.
The president and the cabinet, the federal government and the states, etc., might dispute. For instance, if legislation passed to implement the DPSP breaches the FRs, States may be removed for non-compliance and the President may refuse to approve.
The Directive Principles are not merely an afterthought:
These are crucial to how the nation is administered, according to the Constitution. The Directives are what L M Singhvi, a well-known attorney and diplomat, refers to as the “life-giving clauses” of the Constitution.
The Directives, in the opinion of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, are crucial because they establish that “economic democracy”—rather than “political democracy”—is the aim of Indian politics.
These seem to be a general set of guidelines or a “Instrument of Instructions” that all Indian Union officials must follow. They help to reaffirm the underlying ideas that underlie the new social and economic system that the Constitution seeks to establish.
For the courts, they have been helpful beacon-lights. They have helped the judiciary as it has used its authority to decide whether a statute is constitutional or to conduct judicial review.
In certain aspects, they serve as a guide for the courts and provide the overarching framework for all state activity, whether legislative or executive.
They emphasise the Preamble, in which justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity are solemnly promised to all Indians.
They are an addition to a citizen’s fundamental rights. They are designed to secure social and economic rights, filling up the gaps left by Part III.
The significance of DPSP given the Supreme Court’s ruling:
The 25th Amendment Act produced the new Article 31C, which now includes the following two clauses: 1. A law that seeks to follow the socialist directive principles outlined in Article 39(b) or (c) cannot be ruled unconstitutional simply because it violates a basic right covered by Article 14 or Article 19.
The Supreme Court ruled in the Kesavananda Bharati case that the aforementioned first paragraph of Article 31C was legitimate and constitutional (1973).
In the Minerva Mills case, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the Indian Constitution is based on a balance between the Basic Rights and the Directive Principles (1980).
They are the basis of a dedication to a social revolution. In every way, they are absolutely equal, like the two wheels of a chariot.
Giving one thing absolute precedence over another would disrupt the Constitution’s balance.
The fundamental framework of the Constitution is critically dependent on the harmony and balance between the two. Without sacrificing the benefits the Fundamental Rights give, the Directive Principles’ objectives must be met.
As a result, the Directive Principles are currently superseded by the Fundamental Rights. Nonetheless, in this circumstance, the Directive Principles are still applicable. To implement the Directive Principles, the Parliament may edit the Fundamental Rights, so long as the change does not compromise or undermine the Constitution’s core values.
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