21 September, 2020
- Govt. tables Bill to amend FCRA (Polity & Governance)
- Make ethics code must for all news channels, NBA tells SC (Polity & Governance)
- Define the contours of hate in speech - Lead Article (Polity & Governance)
- U.S. says UN sanction on Iran back in force (International Relations)
- A neglected temple's transition over the centuries (History & Culture)
- Amid fierce protest, Rajya Sabha passes two farm Bills + It's a no green signal from the farm world (Economy)
- Question for the Day
UPSC Current Affairs: Govt. tables Bill to amend FCRA |Page 01
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains: GS Paper II | Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: FCRA | UPSC
Context: The Centre is set to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and proposes to make Aadhaar a mandatory identification document for all the office-bearers, directors and other key functionaries of an NGO or an association eligible to receive foreign donations. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Sunday by Minister of State for Home Affairs.
Need for the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020
- The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution have not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under the said Act.
- Many of them were also found wanting in ensuring basic statutory compliances such as submission of annual returns and maintenance of proper accounts. This has led to a situation where the Central Government had to cancel certificates of registration of more than 19,000 recipient organisations, including non-Governmental organisations, during the period between 2011 and 2019.
- The criminal investigations also had to be initiated against dozens of such non-Governmental organisations which indulged in outright misappropriation or mis-utilisation of foreign contribution.
- Therefore, there is a need to streamline the provisions of the said Act by strengthening the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution worth thousands of crores of rupees every year and facilitating genuine non-Governmental organisations or associations who are working for the welfare of the society.
Proposed Amendment - The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, inter alia, seeks to provide for—
- Include "public servant" within its ambit, to provide that no foreign contribution shall be accepted by any public servant;
- Prohibit any transfer of foreign contribution to any association/person;
- Reduce the limit for defraying administrative expenses from existing "fifty per cent." to "twenty per cent.
- Insertion of a new section 12A empowering the Central Government to require Aadhaar number, etc., as identification document;
- Enabling the Central Government to permit any person to surrender the certificate granted under the Act;
- Ensure that every person who has been granted certificate or prior permission under section 12 shall receive foreign contribution only in an account designated as ‘‘FCRA Account’’ which shall be opened by him in such branch of the State Bank of India at New Delhi, as the Central Government may, by notification, specify and for other consequential matters relating thereto.
UPSC Current Affairs: Make ethics code must for all news channels, NBA tells SC | Page 01
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Mains: GS Paper II | Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Media regulation | Ethics in television Journalism | UPSC
Context: In the backdrop of restraining order by Supreme Court on airing objectionable content against Muslim community on Sudarshan TV, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has listed number of measures which can be taken by the government to prevent malicious and biased media reporting. The Supreme Court is currently hearing the matter and is likely to deliver judgment very soon. In this news analysis, let us understand about prior restraint of any broadcast, News Broadcasters Association and important highlights of Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards on Self-regulation by Media outlets.
About Prior Restraint
- Prior restraint is prohibiting the exercise of free speech before it can take place. Imposition of pre-censorship or prior restraint on speech is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.
- Any restrictions imposed on this right have to be found under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, which lists out “reasonable restrictions” that include interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, public order, and incitement to an offence among others.
- Any legislation that imposes a prior restraint on speech usually has the burden to show that the reason for such restraint can be found under Article 19(2). It is generally allowed only in exceptional circumstances. The idea is that speech can be restricted only when judged on its actual content and not pre-emptively based on perceptions of what it could be.
- The court has adopted the “proximity” test to determine if public order would be affected to allow prior restraint — the state is required to demonstrate a proximate link between public order and the speech.
About News Broadcaster Association
- The News Broadcasters Association (NBA)represents the private television news & current affairs broadcasters. It is the collective voice of the news & current affairs broadcasters in India .
- NBA is an organization funded entirely by its members.
- The NBA has presently 26 leading news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 70 news and current affairs channels) as its members.
- The NBA presents a unified and credible voice before the Government, on matters that affect the growing industry.
Measures suggested by News Broadcaster Association in Supreme Court
- The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has told the Supreme Court to make its code of ethics against airing malicious, biased and regressive content applicable to all TV news channels.
- Code of Ethics of NBA can be included within the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. This will ensure following code of ethics to be followed compulsorily by all news channels irrespective of whether they are members of News Broadcaster Associations or not.
- The NBA said the News Broadcasters Services Authority (NBSA) should be granted recognition as an “independent self-regulatory mechanism” to receive and deal with complaints. Former Justice A.k. Sikri is the Chairperson of NBSA.
- The orders passed by the NBSA should be made binding and enforceable on the channels. Recognition to the NBSA would strengthen News Broadcasting Standards Regulations.
Why has NBA Suggested such a proposal?
- The NBA affidavit is in response to an order by the Supreme Court on September 18 to suggest steps to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism to prevent or penalise airing of communal or derogatory content on electronic media.
- The order of Supreme Court was in the backdrop of a petition to stop airing of a programme “Bindas Bol” on Sudarshan TV containing objectionable content against the Muslim entries into the civil services.
Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards on Self-regulation by Media Outlets
- Impartiality and Objectivity in Reporting
- Ensuring Neutrality in airing news
- Ensuring that reporting on crime does not glorify such crime or any kind of violence
- Depiction of Violence against Women & Children
- Not to show sex or nudity through news channels
- Ensure Right to Privacy of citizens and not interfere in such area
- Use news channel to endanger national security
- Refraining from advocating or encouraging superstition or occultism
- Sting Operations should be used as last resort to reveal any information for viewers.
- Any mistakes in the course of broadcast of any news must be acknowledged and corrected on air.
- All news channel must provide mechanism to obtain customer feedback and ensure appropriate response if any complaints are received.
UPSC Current Affairs: Define the contours of hate in speech | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper II | Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Hate speech | UPSC
Context: The Sudarshan News case is a chance for Supreme Court to infuse clarity on offensive speech, hate speech, and the exceptional cases.
Professor Waldron’s Definition of Hate Speech
- While defining Hate Speech, Supreme Court can use definition of Hate Speech provided by Professor Jeremy Waldron.
- In Prof. Waldron’s definition, hate speech refers to utterances that incite violence, hatred, or discrimination against people on the basis of their collective identity, be it race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality.
- Professor says the limitation in these cases should be restricted to those categories of minorities who are vulnerable. Under this conception, a merely offensive statement would not qualify as hate speech.
- For example, a mockery of Buddhism’s tenets would not be illegal simply because it offends the sensibilities of its practitioners; on the other hand, speech that describes all Buddhists as amoral would qualify.
- Similarly, a work of satire on a religious figure that outrages the sentiments of his followers will be safeguarded, but speech that vilifies an entire community by describing them, say, as “anti-nationals” would go unprotected.
- This is because hate speech, as Prof. Waldron argues, attacks two key tenets of a democratic republic: the guarantee of equal dignity to all, and the public good of inclusiveness.
Professor Waldron’s Definition as per Indian Preamble
- Waldron’s theory is also appealing because it fits with India’s democratic vision. Specifically, it animates the values of LIBERTY, EQUALITY AND FRATERNITY that the Constitution’s framers viewed as foundational.
- Until now, however, the country’s hate-speech laws have suffered from a Delphic imprecision i.e. inaccuracy. Section 153A and Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises speeches that seeks to promote enmity between different groups and speech/acts that outrage/s religious feelings - are no more than a poor imitation of what hate speech laws ought to be.
- They are vaguely worded, and they are frequently invoked to quell speech that so much as offends a person’s belief. As a result, they militate against the permissible grounds for limiting free speech enumerated in Article 19(2) of the Constitution, and, in particular, the restrictions allowed on considerations of public order and morality.
When can speech be criminalised?
- The first of those grounds demands that speech must reach a level of incitement to be criminalised. That is, the utterance in dispute must go beyond advocacy.
- The second ground requires a re-imagination of our hate speech laws. It obliges us to read morality not as societal morality but as constitutional morality.
- Thus, speech that merely causes offence and is no more than disparaging or unpleasant, would continue to remain shielded. But speech that treats communities with disparate concern, by creating in them a sense of dread, a sense of exclusion from civic life, will go unprotected.
Issue of Prior Restraint
- While it is clear that the Constitution offers no protection to hate speech, the state’s failure to apply the Programme Code uniformly is linked to a wider incongruence in the law’s contents. Just like the substantive hate speech provisions in the IPC, the Programme Code is also much too vague.
- The Supreme Court must chisel its contents into a feasible, constitutionally committed model. SC must decide whether a prior restraint on hate speech can be imposed
UPSC Current Affairs: U.S. says UN sanctions on Iran back in force, others disagree | Page 13
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper II | International Relation
Sub Theme: Sanctions on Iran | UPSC
Context - The U.S. unilaterally proclaimed on Saturday that UN sanctions against Iran were back in force and promised to punish those who violate them. The U.S. administration also promised to “impose consequences” on any UN member state which does not comply with the measures.
Other major countries, including U.S allies, have said that this declaration by U.S lacked legal basis.
The U.N sanction that was imposed on Iran included ban on –
- Conventional arms embargo
- Iran engaging in nuclear enrichment and reprocessing-related activities;
- ballistic missile testing and development;
- transfer of nuclear and missile-related technologies.
Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA) of 2015 deal, endorsed by the Security Council, lifted the sanctions. Under the agreement Iran agreed to not seek to build nuclear weapons.
But President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark accord in 2018, saying the deal — negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama — was insufficient.
Despite the US in May 2018 pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, Washington argues it is still technically a "participant" and could trigger the so-called "snapback".
"Snapback” was a mechanism devised by the US negotiating team before the signing of the JCPOA that stipulated that if Iran breached its commitments, all international sanctions could snap back into place.
No legal backing
Members of the Security Council disputes Washington’s ability to execute this legal pirouette (an act of spinning on one foot).
France and Britain — issued a joint statement along with non-permanent member Germany saying U.S notification was “incapable of having any legal effect.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said that Washington’s statements lacked legal authority.
UPSC Current Affairs: A neglected temple’s transition over the centuries | Page 08
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Culture
Sub Theme: Temples of India| UPSC
A temple constructed by emperor Ganapati Deva, a ruler of the Kakatiya dynasty, in Dharanikota near present Andhra Pradesh capital Amaravati, has been converted into an abode of local goddess Balusulamma (Goddess Durga).
The presiding deity at this 13th century temple was Kakati Devi, the tutelary deity of the Kakatiya rulers. Due to the ravages of time and improper upkeep, the presiding deity’s idol got damaged. The villagers of Dharanikota, who had no knowledge about the temple’s past, installed the Balusulamma idol and started worshipping it.
Facts for prelims
- The Kakatiya dynasty was a South Indian dynasty whose capital was Orugallu, now known as Warangal. It was eventually conquered by the Delhi Sultanate.
- Ganapati reigned between 1199–1262.
- He significantly expanded Kakatiya lands during the 1230s when he launched a series of attacks outside the dynasty's traditional Telangana region and thus brought under Kakatiya control the Telugu-speaking lowland delta areas around the Godavari and Krishna rivers. The outcome in the case of all three dynasties, says historian Richard Eaton, was that they "catalysed processes of supralocal identity formation and community building".
- He organised the building of a massive granite wall around the city, complete with ramps designed for ease of access to its ramparts from within.
- Ganapati was keen to bolster the dynasty's economy. He encouraged merchants to trade abroad, abolishing all taxes except for a fixed duty and supporting those who risked their lives to travel afar. He created the man-made Pakhal Lake.
- Ganapati Deva is the first king who introduced the worship of Kakati Devi in the coastal region of Andhra.
- After successfully annexing the Andhra region into the kingdom, Ganapati Deva made matrimonial alliances with the Kota chiefs of the Dharanikota region.
- On the occasion of marriage of his daughter, Ganapati Deva constructed the temple and sanctified the limestone idol of Kakati Devi as the presiding deity for his daughter to worship.