17 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- The Many challenges for WTO (EDITORIAL) Page 07- (International Relations)
- A protocol of deference that is plainly injurious (EDITORIAL) Page 06 (Polity and Governance)
- Discouraging Numbers (EDITORIAL) Page 06 - (Social Issues)
- Privacy a fundamental right the state must protect (EDITORIAL) Page 06 - (Polity and Governance)
- Excellence in Diversity (EDITORIAL) Page 06 - (Polity and Governance)
UPSC Current Affairs: The Many challenges for WTO | Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International relations
Sub Theme: International Organisations and their mandate | UPSC
For the first time in its 25-year history, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be led by a woman, as both the contending candidates for the Director-General (D-G) post are women, from Nigeria and South Korea respectively. In this regard the new leadership will have a slew challenges to navigate through.
The WTO is a body designed to promote free trade through organizing trade negotiations and act as an independent arbiter in settling trade disputes. To some extent the WTO has been successful in promoting greater free trade. The principles of the WTO are
Promote free trade through gradual reduction of tariffs
Provide legal framework for negotiation of trade disputes. This aims to provide greater stability and predictability in trade.
Trade without discrimination - avoiding preferential trade agreements.
WTO is not a completely free trade body. It allows tariffs and trade restrictions under certain conditions, e.g. protection against 'dumping' of cheap surplus goods.
WTO is committed to protecting fair competition. There are rules on subsidies, dumping
WTO is committed to economic development. For example, recent rounds have put pressure on developed countries to accelerate restrictions on imports from the least-developing countries.
Advantages of promoting free trade
Lower prices for consumers. Removing tariffs enables us to buy cheaper imports
Free trade encourages greater competitiveness. Through free trade, firms face a higher incentive to cut costs. For example, a domestic monopoly may now face competition from foreign firms.
The law of comparative advantage states that free trade will enable an increase in economic welfare. This is because countries can specialise in producing goods where they have a lower opportunity cost.
Economies of scale. By encouraging free trade, firms can specialise and produce a higher quantity. This enables more economies of scale, this is important for industries with high fixed costs, such as car and aeroplane manufacture. In new trade theory, it is this specialisation and exploitation of economies of scale that is most important factor in improving economic welfare.
Successes of WTO
To what extent has the WTO being able to promote free trade?
- The WTO has over 160 members representing 98 per cent of world trade. Over 20 countries are seeking to join the WTO.
- An increased number of trade disputes have been brought to the WTO, showing the WTO is a forum for helping to solve disputes.
- WTO regulations and co-operation helped avoid a major trade war; this was significant during 2008/09 global recession. We could compare this to 1930s, where trade wars broke out causing a fall in global trade. According to (Bagwell and Staiger 2002) the average tariff in 1930s was 50%. In 2000s, average tariff is 9%
World exports as a % of GDP have increased from 22% of GDP in 1995 (when WTO formed to just under 30% in 2015. Indicating importance of trade to global economy.
Disadvantages of WTO
- However, the WTO has often been criticised for trade rules which are still unfavourable towards developing countries. Many developed countries went through a period of tariff protection; this enabled them to protect new, emerging domestic industries. Ha Joon Chang argues WTO trade rules are like 'pulling away the ladder they used themselves to climb up'
- Free trade may prevent developing economies develop their infant industries. For example, if a developing economy was trying to diversify their economy to develop a new manufacturing industry, they may be unable to do it without some tariff protection.
- WTO is being overshadowed by new TIPP trade deals. These deals are negotiated away from WTO and focuses mainly on US and EU. It excludes China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. It threatens to diminish the global importance of WTO
- Difficulty of making progress. WTO trade deals have been quite difficult to form consensus. Various rounds have taken many years to slowly progress. It results in countries seeking alternatives such as TIPP or local bilateral deals.
- WTO trade deals still encompass a lot of protectionism in areas like agriculture. Protectionist tariffs which primarily benefit richer nations, such as the EU and US.
- WTO has implemented strong defense of TRIPs ‘Trade Related Intellectual Property’ rights These allow firms to implement patents and copyrights. In areas, such as life-saving drugs, it has raised the price and made it less affordable for developing countries.
- WTO has rules which favour multinationals. For example, 'most favoured nation' principle means countries should trade without discrimination. This has advantages but can mean developing countires cannot give preference to local contractors, but may have to choose foreign multinationals - whatever their history in repatriation of profit, investment in area.
- In response to this the WTO may say that free trade has been an important engine of growth for developing countries in Asia. Although there may be some short term pain, it is worth it in the long run.
- Also the WTO has sought to give exemptions for developing countries; enabling in principle the idea developing countries should be allowed to limit imports more than developed countries.
UPSC Current Affairs: A protocol of deference that is plainly injurious | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: | Judiciary | Judicial Review | UPSC
The Constitution of India provides for judicial review under Articles 32 (Supreme Court) and 226 (High Court). The courts are empowered to declare a statute ultra vires the constitution and to nullify an executive action as unconstitutional.
These powers of judicial review are given not to make the judiciary superior, but to ensure a system of checks and balances between the legislature and the executive on one hand, and the judiciary on the other. In short, the courts should interpret the law and not intervene in policymaking.
Judicial Activism and Judicial Overreach
Judicial activism means that instead of judicial restraint, the Supreme Court and other lower courts become activists and compel/direct the Parliament or the government to act. The judges use their powers to correct injustices and play an active role in shaping social policy on various issues as civil rights, protection of individual rights, environmental protection, protection of weaker sections etc. Judicial Activism mainly occurs due to the non-activity of the other organs of the government
Judicial Overreach refers to an extreme form of judicial activism where arbitrary, unreasonable and frequent interventions are made by judiciary into the domain of legislature and executive with the intention of disrupting the balance of power. This is a situation where the court encroaches upon the role of the legislature by making laws. The courts also encroach upon the role of the executive by taking executive decisions. It can take four possible forms:
- Terms of Articles of the Constitution can in effect be changed by a Supreme Court decision
- Judiciary can introduce policies which are the domain of the executive.
- Judiciary can lay down regulations which are the domain of the legislature.
- Court decisions can impose a fiscal burden on the state, in the form of expenditure incurred or revenue foregone, which is the domain of both the executive and the legislature.
Instrument: The chief instrument through which judicial activism/Overreach has flourished in India is Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Earlier, an individual could approach the courts only if he has been personally aggrieved. This concept underwent a change in 1979. In 1979, the Court set the trend when it decided to hear a case where the case was filed not by the aggrieved persons but by others on their behalf.
Evolution of Basic Structure of Indian Constitution: In Keshavananda Bharti case (1973), the Supreme Court evolved the concept of “basic structure.” It ruled that the Parliament has wide powers to amend the constitution, but this power could not be used in an unlimited way to abridge, abrogate or destroy the “basic structure” of the constitution.
Introduction of Due process of Law: In Maneka Gandhi v /s Union of India case, the SC introduced the concept of "Due Process of Law" in place of "Procedure established by Law". Under the "Due Process of Law", procedure which is established by the law must be just, fair and reasonable. Further, the court held that the 'Right to life' as embodied in Article 21 is not merely conned to animal existence or survival but it includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity and all those aspects of life which go to make a man's life meaningful, complete and worth living.
Imposition of Patriotism: In Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India, the Supreme Court made it mandatory for all the cinema halls to play National Anthem before the start of movie. This direction of the SC goes beyond the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. The act provides that no film, drama or show of any sort can have the National Anthem as part of the show.
Ban on Liquor: On the basis of PIL, the SC banned the sale of liquor at retail outlets, hotels, and bars that are within 500m of any national or state highway. It was an administrative matter where the decision should rest with Executive. The court was not the appropriate authority for such decisions.
Cancellation of 2G Licenses: The Supreme Court ordered to cancel 122 telecom licenses and spectrum allocated to eight companies. The Supreme Court held that the process of allocation was flawed. It further directed the government to allocate national resources through auction only. The economic decisions of a country are the sole domain of the legislative and executive bodies. This is a clear case of Judicial overreach wherein the SC took decision without taking into account the adverse impact of its decision.
Prevention of Sexual Offences against Women at workplace: In the case of Vishakha v/s State of Rajasthan, the court laid down guidelines for protection of women from sexual harassment at workplace.
Appointment of Judges: Art 124 provides for the appointment of Judges by the President after consultation with such judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary. Three Supreme Court judgements have, in effect, rewritten Article 124. It now means, in practice, that every judge of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President solely on the basis of the recommendation by a collegium.
Advantages of Judicial Activism:
- Addresses inaction on part of Legislature and Executive
- Makes the judiciary vibrant and pro-people.
- Helps in the protection of the spirit of the constitution by giving a wider definition to various articles of the constitution such as: Article 14, article 19, article 21 and article 32 etc.
- Promotes transparency and accountability in Governance
- Prevents arbitrary state action
- Checks and Balances on the Executive (2G Allocation, Coal Scam etc.)
Problems with Judicial Overreach
It destroys the spirit of the constitution as the democracy stands on the separation of powers between the organs.
It creates a conflict between the legislative and the judicial system.
‘Tyranny of unelected’. Can turn democracy into Juristocracy.
It reduces the trust of the people in public institutions which can be dangerous for democracy.
Over-burdens the Judiciary, which can otherwise be utilized for clearing the pending cases before courts.
In the recent times, the judiciary is overreaching and intruding more and more in the exclusive space of the legislature and the executive. It has a tendency to create unhealthy asymmetry in the delicate balance among institutions in the country. Judiciary, like all institutions in a democracy, should be accountable and know its own limits. It should not become a super parliament that frames laws and a super executive that seeks to implement them.
UPSC Current Affairs: Discouraging Numbers | Page – 06
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: | National Family health Survey| UPSC
- The main objective of successive rounds of the NFHS is to provide reliable and comparable datasets on health, family welfare and other emerging issues.
- Four rounds of NFHS (1992–93, 1998–99, 2005–06 and 2015–16) have been successfully completed in India.
- All the rounds of NFHS have been conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, as the national nodal agency.
- The NFHS-5 is being conducted in around 6.1 lakh sample households to provide disaggregated data up to district levels. And this data so generated when completed would be comparable with NFHS-4 without any loss of information.
- The state factsheet released include information on 131 key indicators. The district level factsheets constituting 342 districts of theses Phase I States/UTs that have been uploaded on 14th December, 2020 on the website of the Ministry and has information on 104 key indicators. These important indicators on population, health and family welfare, nutrition and others will help track progress of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.
Difference between NFHS 4 and 5
- Many indicators of NFHS-5 are similar to those of NFHS-4, carried out in 2015-16 to make possible comparisons over time.
- However, NFHS-5 that includes new focal areas such as expanded domains of child immunization, components of micro-nutrients to children, menstrual hygiene, frequency of alcohol and tobacco use, additional components of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), expanded age ranges for measuring hypertension and diabetes among all, aged 15 years and above, will give requisite input for strengthening existing programmes and evolving new strategies for policy intervention.
The key results from the State/UT factsheets are as follows:
- The Total Fertility Rates (TFR) has further declined since NFHS-4 in almost all the Phase-1 States and UTs. The replacement level of fertility (2.1) has been achieved in 19 out of the 22 States/UTs and only 3 states viz. Manipur (2.2), Meghalaya (2.9) and Bihar (3.0) have TFR above replacement levels now.
- Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially in most States/UTs and it is the highest in HP and WB (74%). Use of modern methods of contraception has also increased in almost all States/UTs.
- Unmet needs of family planning have witnessed a declining trend in most of the Phase-1 States/UTs. The unmet need for spacing which remained a major issue in India in the past has come down to less than 10 per cent in all the States except Meghalaya and Mizoram.
- Full immunization drive among children aged 12-23 months has recorded substantial improvement across States/UTs/districts. More than two-third of children are fully immunized in all the States and UTs except Nagaland, Meghalaya and Assam. In almost three-fourths of districts, 70% or more children aged 12-23 months are fully immunized against childhood diseases.
- On comparing NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 data, the increase in full immunization coverage is observed to be expeditious in many states and UTs; in 11 out of the 22 states/UTs, the increase was to the tune of over 10 percentage point and in another 4 states/UTs between 5 to 9 percentage point over the short span of 4 years. This can be attributed to the flagship initiative of Mission Indradhanush launched by the government since 2015.
- There is increase in the per cent of women receiving the recommended four or more ANC visits by health providers in many States/UTs. This percentage has increased in 13 States/UTs between 2015-16 to 2019-20.
- Institutional births have increased substantially with over four-fifth of the women delivering in institutions in 19 States and UTs. Institutional delivery is over 90 per cent in 14 out of the total 22 Sates and UTs. Almost 91% of districts recorded over 70% institutional deliveries of births in the 5 years preceding the survey.
- Along with an increase in institutional births, there has also been a substantial increase in C-section deliveries in many States/UTs especially in private health facilities.Sex ratio at birth has remained unchanged or increased in most States/UTs. Majority of the states are in normal sex ratio of 952 or above. SRB is below 900 in Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, DNH & DD.
- Child nutrition indicators show a mixed pattern across states. While the situation improved in many States/UTs, there has been minor deterioration in others. Drastic changes in respect of stunting and wasting are unlikely in a short period.
- Anaemia among women and children continues to be a cause of concern. More than half of the children and women are anaemic in 13 of the 22 States/UTs. It has also been observed that aanaemia among pregnant women has increased in half of the States/UTs compared to NFHS-4, in spite of substantial increase in the consumption of IFA tablets by pregnant women for 180 days or more.
- For both women and men, there is a lot of variation in the high or very high random blood glucose levels across States/UTs. Men are more likely to have slightly higher blood glucose levels in the range of high or very high compared to women. The percentage of men with high or very high blood glucose is highest in Kerala (27%) followed by Goa (24%). Prevalence of elevated blood pressure (hypertension) among men is somewhat higher than in women.
- The percentage of households with improved sanitation facility and clean fuel for cooking has increased in almost all the 22 States/UTs over the last four years (from 2015-16 to 2019-20). The Government of India has made concerted efforts to provide toilet facilities to maximum households through Swachh Bharat Mission, and improved household environment through Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in the country. For instance, the use of cooking fuel has increased more than 10 percentage point in all the States and UTs during the last 4 years with over 25 percentage point increase in states of Karnataka and Telangana.
- Women’s empowerment indicators portray considerable improvement across all the States/UTs included in Phase 1. Considerable progress has been recorded between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 in regard to women operating bank accounts. For instance, in the case of Bihar the increase was to the tune of 51 percentage point from 26 per cent to 77 per cent. More than 60 per cent of women in every state and UTs in the first phase have operational bank accounts.
It may also be stated that recurrent floods in Kerala during the time of survey as well as the previous year may have affected the utilization of maternal care services and hence, it may have some unusual/unexpected trend in some of maternal care indicators for some of the districts. In Tripura from the 4 districts which were previously existing at the time of NFHS-4, 8 new districts were formed which were covered in NFHS-5. This could have led to compositional changes of the population thereby, being one of the factors impacting negatively the levels of some of the indicators of the state. It should also be noted that while interpreting and comparing the trends for smaller States/UTs where sample sizes are small proper caution needs to be taken.
UPSC Current Affairs: Privacy a fundamental right the state must protect | Page - 6
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Right to Privacy as a Fundamental right | UPSC
Context: This article is in reference to an older Article (Date: 1st December, 2020) which discussed whether address of RTI Applicant should be disclosed considering address to be personal details and protected as part of private information as per Right to Privacy Judgment.
Issue at Hand:
- UP Government had put up posters containing personal details of such people who were accused of allegedly destroying public property during the widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. These personal details included their photographs, names, and addresses.
- Following Puttaswamy Judgment, the Allahabad High Court found State action ‘nothing but an unwarranted interference in the privacy of people’.
- The High Court observed: neither was there a law which empowered the state to put up such posters with personal details nor was there any legitimate aim that a democratic state could pursue for which such action could be deemed necessary and proportionate.
In the above backdrop, let us go through Section 8 (1)(j) of RTI Act, 2005 and the important points highlighted in K.S. Puttaswamy Judgment on Right to Privacy.
Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act
- Prohibits disclosure of such information which causes unwarranted invasion of privacy and has no relation to any public activity or interest.
- But it also allows disclosure of such private information if CPIO/SPIO or Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.
K.S. Puttaswamy Judgment – Right to Privacy
Aspects of freedom & Liberty
- Right to Privacy as an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Privacy is the constitutional core of human dignity.
- Privacy has both a normative and descriptive function.
- At a normative level privacy sub-serves those eternal values upon which the guarantees of life, liberty and freedom are founded.
- At a descriptive level, privacy postulates a bundle of entitlements and interests which lie at the foundation of ordered liberty.
- Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation.
- Privacy also connotes a right to be left alone.
- Privacy protects heterogeneity and recognizes the plurality and diversity of our culture.
Aspects of Restrictions
- Right to Privacy is not an absolute right like other fundamental rights.
- A law which encroaches upon privacy will have to withstand the touchstone of permissible restrictions on fundamental rights. The law must also be valid with reference to the encroachment on life and personal liberty under Article 21.
- In the context of Article 21, an invasion of privacy must be justified on the basis of a law which stipulates a procedure which is fair, just and reasonable.
- An invasion of life or personal liberty must meet the three-fold requirement of
- Legality, which postulates the existence of law;
Need, defined in terms of a legitimate state aim; and
Proportionality which ensures a rational nexus between the objects and the means adopted to achieve them
- Positive Aspects of Privacy - imposes an obligation on the state to take all necessary measures to protect the privacy of the individual.
- Negative Aspects of Privacy - restrains the state from committing an intrusion upon the life and personal liberty of a citizen.
UPSC Current Affairs: Excellence in Diversity | Page - 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Reservation | UPSC
Since the expansion of the IIT system with the introduction of OBC reservation in educational institutions, these institutes have not been able to fill vacancies for faculty members, which also have to meet the quota requirements mandated by the CEI Act, 2019.
The Central Education Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019 aimed at ensuring that a new quota system is in place in such institutions.
The system envisaged reservations not only for SCs and STs, but also members of Other Backward Communities (OBCs) and the economically weaker sections (EWS).
- While the CEI Act 2019 is an enabling legislation, there is a severe mismatch in the demand and availability of technology graduates.
- IIT Delhi had a staggering deficit of 30% in its teacher ranks, and there are 23 such institutes in India now
In this regard a committee was appointed by the government for suggesting measures for effective implementation of reservation in students’ admissions and faculty recruitment in IITs
- IITs should be added to the list of “Institutions of Excellence” mentioned in the Schedule to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act 2019.
- Section 4 of the Act exempts “institutions of excellence, research institutions, institutions of national and strategic importance” mentioned in the Schedule and minority institutions from providing reservation.
- The matter of reservations in these institutions may be vested with their respective Board of Governors to deal with as per the Board resolutions, statues, and bylaws.
What needs to be done?
- The issue highlights that merely providing reservation will not lead to the correction of the historical problem of caste based privilege and discrimination.
- Besides reservation there is a need for massive investments in the education system at all levels, which can raise the capability of students.
- Providing opportunity and a conducive environment for growth ensures justice for those who were deprived.
- The committee in this regard recommends a government-sponsored preparatory programme at the IITs which can help candidates eligible for reservation to get acquainted with high quality academic work, and optionally prepare for a PhD if they aspire to be teachers.
- This is the imperative, considering that such graduates will help fill not just vacancies in the IITs, but also aid the large number of other technical education institutions that aspire to research excellence.
- Governments must aim for progressive redistribution, for which policy should actively expand equal opportunity, starting with a strong, liberal public school system.
- This will strengthen diversity, and lay the foundation for the kind of scholarship that institutions of excellence need.