Current Affairs and News Analysis for UPSC Civil Service Examination and State Civil Service Examinations.

Current Affairs and News analysis for UPSC CSE and State CSE

Indian Polity / Policy

Uniform Civil Code not needed :Law Commission

    Law Commission expressed its views on Uniform Civil Code(UCC) that, Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage and rather recommended religion-wise amendments in Hindu, Muslim and Christian personal laws to end discrimination against women within the communities.

Do You Know?

UCC essentially means unifying personal laws to bring one set of secular laws for all citizens of India. Presently, Constitution allows most religions- including Hindus, Muslims and Christians to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

Apart from being an important issue regarding secularism in India & fundamental right to practice religion contained in Article 25, it became one of the most controversial topics in contemporary politics during the Shah Bano case in 1985 (dealing with Triple Talaq issue).

Although Article 44 of the Indian Constitution guarantees UCC to all citizens,the debate arouse when the question of making certain laws applicable to all citizens without abridging the fundamental right of right to practice religious functions.

Indus Waters Treaty: Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) meeting

India and Pakistan concluded the 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Lahore.

During the meeting, technical discussions were held on implementation of various hydroelectric projects under the provisions of Indus Waters Treaty 1960 including Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Both(India and Pakistan) agreed to undertake the Treaty mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in Indus basin on both sides
  • A debate on Section 124A of Indian Penal Code (IPC)

    Controversial Section 124-A of IPC, regarding sedition, is being hotly debated. Whether such draconian provision deserves a place in the statute of a modern democracy like India?

    • Rulers everywhere tend to treat trenchant criticism as attempts to excite disaffection and disloyalty.
    • That is perhaps the only reason that Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, enacted under colonial rule, remains on the statute book.
    • The foremost objection to the provision on sedition is that its definition remains too wide. ‘Overbroad’ definitions typically cover both what is innocuous and what is harmful.
    • Under the present law, strong criticism against government policies and personalities, slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders and stinging depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime are all likely to be treated as ‘seditious’, and not merely those that overtly threaten public order or constitute actual incitement to violence.

    Misuse of Section 124A

    • There have been repeated instances of its misuse. Regimes at the Centre and the States have often been shown in poor light after they invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonists.
    • Since Independence, many have seen the irony of retaining a provision that was used extensively to suppress the freedom struggle.
    • Despite all this, Section 124-A has tenaciously survived all attempts by successive generations to reconsider it, if not repeal it altogether.
    • In particular, it has raised the pertinent question: how far is it justified for India to retain an offence introduced by the British to suppress the freedom struggle, when Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago?

    IR

    India and the U.S. — it’s complicated : 2+2 dialogue

    The first round of the India-U.S. 2+2 talks at the level of India External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister and their counterparts US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis is scheduled for September 6 in Delhi.

    • It is a significant development but one that appears perfectly logical when seen against the two-decade-old trend line of India-U.S. relations.
    • The trend line has not been smooth but the trajectory definitively reflects a growing strategic engagement.
    • From estranged democracies, India and U.S. can worst be described today as prickly partners.

    Strategic convergence

    Three factors have contributed to the emerging strategic convergence:

    1. The end of the Cold War provided an opportunity to both countries to review their relationship in the light of changing global and regional realities.
    2. Second, with the opening of the Indian economy, the American private sector began to look at India with greater interest. Trade grew and today stands at more than $120 billion a year with an ambitious target of touching $500 billion in five years. If U.S. foreign direct investment in India is more than $20 billion, Indian companies too have invested $15 billion in the U.S., reflecting a sustained mutual interest.
    3. The third factor is the political coming of age of the three-million-strong Indian diaspora. Its influence can be seen in the bipartisan composition of the India Caucus in the U.S. Congress and the Senate Friends of India group.
  • Yet, the engagement has not been smooth sailing.
  • Both countries also consider themselves to be ‘exceptional’, the U.S. as among the oldest democracies and India as the largest!
  • Both have a habit of preaching and problems arise when they preach to each other. Indians become wary of the U.S.’s attempts to drive unequal bargains, and Americans find the Indian approach rigid and sanctimonious.
  • Obligations and challenges

    Acquiring U.S. high technology comes with its own set of obligations in terms of ensuring its security. These take the form of various undertakings often described as foundational agreements.

    • The first of these was GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) which India signed in 2002.
    • The other three related to logistics support, communications compatibility and security, and exchanges of geospatial information.

    The U.S. proposed its standard logistics support agreement text in 2003 which was finally concluded in 2016, after it was made into an India-specific text. It facilitates logistics supplies during port visits and joint exercises and does not contain any obligations for joint activity or any basing arrangements. Realising Indian reservations, the U.S. was more flexible, and now the India-specific Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is likely to be signed.

    It makes it possible to install high-end secure communication equipment on U.S. platforms that we have been acquiring. With the possibility of acquiring armed Sea Guardian drones, COMCASA was necessary to ensure optimal use. The lessons learnt should help in expediting negotiations on the third.

    Nevertheless, two difficult issues loom large and the 2+2 offers an opportunity for addressing these. The first is the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) enacted last year which enables the U.S. government to sanction countries that engage in ‘significant transactions’ with Russian military and intelligence entities. The proposed purchase of the S-400 missile defence system would attract CAATSA sanctions.

  • The second relates to U.S. sanctions on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Iranian crude imports have grown significantly in recent years and India also stepped up its involvement in developing Chabahar port. The port provides connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act (2012) contains a waiver provision in case of activities for reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan, which is a U.S. priority too.
  • Finally we conclued that

    • Creative thinking will be needed in the 2+2 dialogue to overcome these challenges, which should also ensure that there are no nasty surprises and difficult issues are settled through quiet diplomacy.
    • In order to realise the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region (2015), both countries will have to nurture the habit of talking and working together to diminish some of the prickliness in the partnership.

    Ethics

    Deep sociability: is humanity alive, mob-lytching, hate, violence news everyday ?

    Now a days, In newspapers, TV - most of news are of hate, violence and mob-killing news are reported. It seems that we live in dark times, perhaps among the darkest in living memory. Not a single day passes without news of rape or lynchings, not to speak of treacherous lies, vitriolic rumours, venomous threats, fearmongering, hatred and violence. And then, apart from these human misdemeanours, there is the devastation caused by nature’s fury. But amidst this gloom and destruction, one is also blessed to witness acts of exemplary courage, care and compassion.

    Act of Religious Kindness

    • Two groups of fasting Muslim youths reportedly spent the second day of the Haj pilgrimage removing post-flood slush and silt from temples in Wayanad and Malappuram
    • In Mannarkad, the Sunni Students’ Federation washed clean the Ayyappa temple
    • In Thrissur, where masjids were inundated with water, the Purappillikavu Rakteshwari temple hall was thrown open to Muslims to offer Eid namaz.
    • The Sri Krishna Mutt of Udupi held an Iftar party in its premises
    • In 2017 when the ground in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath was submerged under rainwater, the local Sikhs offered their gurudwara to Muslims for Eid prayers
    • The religious organisations funded the Sikh-run Khalsa Aid to hold langars on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border for Rohingya refugees.

    The magic of empathy

    • We as humans are restricted to a state of self, body or expansion of self that encompasses our children, parents, best friends, coworkers, linguistic, religious or cultural community
    • But when faced with an unprecedented, superlative achievement by other humans or the most intense human suffering, we are propelled to completely identify with them.
    • When that happens, we virtually become the other, seeing no difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Boundaries collapse and we begin to feel each other’s pain and joy as our own
    • Empathy is a fundamental human attribute and only someone who has gone through psychopathic training or sociopathic misfortune is left without any trace of it.

    Deep Sociability

    • People value good relationships with others not only for instrumental reasons, but also for intrinsic ones.
    • They do not merely wish to cooperate with others for mutual benefit. They wish to be with others, to do things together because they find it enjoyable, fulfilling, uplifting. This is why they also wish to be recognised and accepted by others.
    • If so, disagreement on some issues, even some important ones, motivates people to look for agreement in other domains. People have a capacity for unconditional sociability that compels them to set aside disagreement or minimise the significance of radical difference.
    • Put generally, because we are born radically incomplete, we achieve completion only with and by others. So, all our lives we strive for this other-dependent completion.
    • Deep sociability is the motor driving us towards fulfilment.

    Conclusion

    • The humanitarian ethics — a deeply compassionate response to extreme human suffering — is alive and kicking among ordinary Indians despite the violence and hate-mongering reported every day. And that every act of anger and animosity that is reported has its counterpart in an act of care and compassion that goes unreported.
    • For, these are not instances of religious tolerance or religious acceptance; they are symptomatic of a deep respect for humanity. Sometimes, in moments of unspeakable tragedy, we get a glimpse of our own humanity, or, perhaps, our own divinity is revealed to us.