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1.Reform with caution (The Hindu)

2.A risky recovery (The Hindu)

3.How government can double farmer incomes (Live Mint)

 

1.Reform with caution (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issues of centre’s decision to revisit the Malimath Committee report. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Recently a 2003 report of a ‘Committee on reforms in the criminal justice system’ that recommended admissibility of confessions made before a police officer as evidence in a court of law is being revisited by the Centre, however, it is not a bad idea to revisit old committee reports with a view to considering their possible implementation. However, such an exercise must be pursued with care and caution.

About the report

  • The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, or the Justice Malimath Committee, was constituted by the Home Ministry in 2000 by then Deputy Prime Minister. It was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts.
  • The Committee appointed by the Centre to examine whether there is a need for revamping the criminal justice system will consider suggesting various reforms for amending the Cr.PC, IPC and Evidence Act for speedy disposal of criminal cases.
  • The committee includes controversial recommendations such as making confessions to a senior police officer admissible as evidence, and diluting the standard of proof required for a criminal conviction. The Malimath panel had made 158 recommendations since then some of these have become law.
  • It also contains valuable suggestions to revamp the administration of criminal law, covering the entire gamut of the justice system from investigation to sentencing, from matters of policy to the nuances of criminal procedure and the law of evidence.

The centre’s decision

  • The Centre’s decision to revisit the 2003 report of the Justice V.S. Malimath Committee on reforming the criminal justice system needs to be examined through the prism of civil rights.
  • Its suggestion on permitting videography of statements has been implemented. The definition of rape has been expanded and new offences against women have been added. Its advocacy of substantial witness protection has not been realised, but victim compensation is now part of law.
  • The Centre would do well to ignore the recommendations relating to making confessions to high-ranking officers admissible, and increasing the period of police custody from 15 to 30 days. These provisions were available only in anti-terrorism laws that are now no more in force. There is no need to bring them into general criminal laws.
  • The Malimath report suggests a standard of proof lower than the current ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard. It moots a ‘clear and convincing’ standard, that is, it is enough if the court is convinced that something is true. Such a measure would have adverse implications for suspects, and requires considerable deliberation.

Way ahead

  • Despite all the considerations, any move to make substantive changes in the way criminal justice is administered will have to be done with great circumspection, lest vital constitutional safeguards against abuse of police and judicial powers are violated in the process.
  • In the name of revamping the law, investigation and trial should not be altered in a way that undermines the principles on which the justice system was founded.

Question- The Indian state of criminal justice administration has some understandable disquiet and there is a crying need for a wide range of reforms. Discuss in the context of centre’s decision to revisit the 2003 report of the Justice V.S. Malimath Committee.

 

2.A risky recovery (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the latest IMF’s prediction of global growth rate. 

(GS paper II and III)

Overview

  • According to the IMF’s January update of the World Economic Outlook, the global economy is all set to clock its best growth rate in seven years in 2018 following a pick-up since mid-2016. The IMF estimated that the global economy could accelerate to 3.9% in both 2018 and 2019, an upward revision of 0.2 percentage point over its previous estimates in October for both years, boosted by a cyclical recovery in global growth and the historic tax cuts in the U.S. India’s economy is projected to grow at 7.4% during the financial year 2019, and at an even faster pace of 7.8% the following year.

Assessment

  • If the IMF’s predictions come true, India will be the fastest-growing major economy next year as China’s growth is expected to slow from 6.6% this year to 6.4% in 2019.
  • The upward revision in growth forecasts for many countries in Europe comes due to stronger demand. The IMF, however, was not oblivious to the threats that could severely derail the broad-based economic recovery. In particular, it warned about the “troubling” rise in debt levels across countries, including the U.S., which could pose a huge risk to financial stability and drag down economic growth.
  • Since the 2008 financial crisis the global economy has been propped up mainly by the unprecedented easy money policies adopted by global central banks. In fact, the absence of substantial structural reforms to complement central bank stimulus measures has been another feature of the present global economic recovery.
  • IMF has pointed out, the possible end to the era of abundant liquidity and debt-fuelled economic activity is likely to cause disruption by affecting asset prices. As interest rates reach higher levels, it is likely to also expose the various real economic distortions created by a low interest rate policy, particularly across borders.

Way ahead

  • The IMF is right to urge countries to make use of the current rosy conditions to enact useful structural reforms. It is time countries recognise that monetary policy alone won’t solve all growth problems.

Question – With ongoing global slowdown, explain how countries will need to move beyond monetary stimulus to boost their economies?


3.How government can double farmer incomes (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the Ashok Dalwai committee report on ‘how farmers income can be double’. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Though there has been improvement since independence but Indian agriculture does not show high efficiency or productivity.
  • Indian agriculture has been relatively untouched by the structural reforms that lifted incomes in other parts of the economy. Low farm productivity meant that governments tried to improve the lot of farmers through price policy. The problem is that engineering a shift in the terms of trade through higher support prices usually leads to generalized inflation.

Assessment of Ashok Dalwai committee on doubling farmers’ incomes

  • The NITI Aayog has estimated that real incomes of farmers have come down by 1.36% a year over the past five years. Pushing up prices could endanger the recent macroeconomic stability—but no democratic government can ignore the obvious pain in rural areas. This is why the focus need to shift to reforms that lift farm productivity.
  • A recent report by the Ashok Dalwai committee on doubling farmers’ incomes thus deserves attention. The solutions can be categorized into four broad areas: land, access to markets, increase in productivity and diversification towards high-yield crops and non-farm activities.
  • Land holdings in India are small and fragmented, 86% of them being smaller than 2 hectares. Holdings are too small for the use of modern implements, farmers have to rely on informal sources of lending and are subject to the vagaries of the weather and volatile prices for their produce. Also various studies reveal that 5-10% of the arable land is left fallow because the adverse possession laws discourage leasing.
  • According to the model agricultural land lease law, 2016 and the draft model contract farming law, 2018, the problems can be mitigated by allowing absentee landowners to lease out land without fear of losing title.
  • Similarly, contract farming should help farmers as the sponsoring companies can shield them from their post-harvest anxiety about prices, while farmers can benefit from pooled purchases of inputs at affordable prices and access to machinery and knowledge provided by the sponsoring company.
  • The Ashok Dalwai committee notes that farmers’ share in the market price is low, and generally varies from 15-40%. The Union government has introduced a model agricultural produce and livestock marketing (APLM) law, 2017 that is intended to replace the existing APMC Act, and allow a single market within a state, freeing farmers to trade at private wholesale markets, allowing them to sell directly to bulk buyers, and promoting trading on the electronic national agriculture market (eNAM).
  • Also the committee’s report bats for a stable trade regime, structured on predetermined signals that will allow stakeholders to predict the change in policy with the crop forecasts. The productivity of crops in India is low compared to global standards and there is large variation across states, primarily explained by access to irrigation facilities and adoption of improved technology. For marginal farmers, raising productivity is likely the single most important factor if incomes of this group are to be doubled. This requires public investment in irrigation, seeds, fertilizers and other technology. However, successive governments have preferred to give subsidies rather than invest in rural infrastructure.
  • The NITI Aayog has also argued for bringing agriculture into the concurrent list so that the Union government can ensure a national market for agricultural products.

Question – How can the government double farmers’ incomes by 2022? Suggest measures.