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1.How privacy stacks up (The Hindu)

2.No silver bullet (The Indian Express, Live Mint)

3.Quota policies and career advancement in politics  (Live Mint)

1.How privacy stacks up (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on how right to privacy will affect other cluster of rights. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court (only the tenth such instance in India’s history) delivered a historic judgment and affirmed the existence of a constitutional right to privacy. Right to Privacy is fundamental right; the judges overruled the decision from the Emergency era.
  • This can result into significant developments and the decision can be expected to have sweeping implications for constitutional law in India. There is need to pay little attention on what this decision entails for the future of the right to privacy in India.

Concerns

  1. Inclusion of rights
  • In the Indian jurisprudence privacy is best conceptualised as consisting of clusters of rights. Privacy in India has raised issues ranging from surveillance, search and seizure, and telephone tapping to abortion, transgender rights and narco-analysis. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that these cases raise distinct issues and demand different analyses.
  • During the decision there was near unanimity among the judges that privacy operates through different variants but there was no clear consensus on what these variants are. Some judge suggested methods of classifying privacy, some referred specifically to ‘physical privacy’, ‘informational privacy’ and the ‘privacy of choice’.
  • However in reaching the conclusion their reasoning was reminiscent of the privacy jurisprudence in the U.S., where distinct variants of privacy derive support from different constitutional safeguards. Finally, Justice J. Chelameswar discussed the privacy of ‘repose, sanctuary, and intimate decision’. However the judges did not agree on what the constitutive variants of privacy are.
  1. Judicial review 
  • Second concern is ‘Judicial review’, when is it permissible for the state to restrict individuals’ privacy? As privacy is an aspect of the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, the question should be- Is the impugned restriction of privacy is just, fair and reasonable?
  • On this issue one judge adopted the classic three-step analysis-
  • Is the restriction supported by ‘law’?
  • Does the law pursue a legitimate objective?
  • Is there a rational nexus between the objects sought to be achieved and the means used to achieve them?
  • Two judges noted the distinct standards of ‘reasonableness’ and ‘compelling state interest’.  Unfortunately the judgment offered no majority view on this point, but it seemed clear that restrictions on the right to privacy must at the very minimum be ‘just, fair and reasonable’.
  1. The final theme asks whom privacy is a guarantee against. Do infractions by private entities as well as the state fall within the ambit of constitutional privacy? As a general rule, Indian courts have refrained from applying fundamental rights against private persons unless required by the express words of the Constitution. However in the context of privacy, court has blurred the conceptual distinction between the private law infringement of privacy and the constitutional infraction

Way ahead

  • Right to privacy is a remarkable contribution to the privacy jurisprudence in India. However, there is need of an opportunity where court will provide definitive guidance on these issues; the specificities of the right to privacy await final resolution.

Question– Explain the implications of making privacy as a fundamental right?

 

2.No silver bullet (The Indian Express, Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on how the mergers of state-owned banks are not the whole solution. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Recently the government decided to take consolidation in the banking sector to the next level by setting up a ministerial panel led by finance minister to consider and oversee mergers among the country’s 21 state-run banks.  The decision comes after bank employees’ unions’ strike and at a time when state-owned banks are reeling under losses and stressed loans, has raised questions about the timing and purpose of such a large-scale consolidation.

Proposed attempt

  • The idea of bank mergers has been around since at least 1991, when former Reserve Bank of India governor M. Narasimham recommended the government merge banks into a three-tiered structure with three large banks with an international presence at the top. In 2014, the P.J. Nayak panel had suggested that the government either merge or privatize state-owned banks.
  • According to the Finance minister the objective of merger is to create strong banks and the experience of bank mergers has so far been positive.  The decision comes at a time when bad loans as a ratio of total loans are already close to 10 per cent with indications that the ratio could worsen given the current economic conditions and the twin balance-sheet problem of over-leveraged corporate balance-sheets and banks weighed down by bad loans.
  • That’s why the so-called Alternative Mechanism to oversee mergers of PSU banks could be seen as an attempt to skirt the challenge of infusing capital for banks which the government controls or divesting some of these weak banks.
  • According to the RBI’s latest Financial Stability Report- The gross bad loan ratio of PSU banks could be as high as 14.2 per cent by March 2018, if there is no economic rebound. The credit rating agency, Moody’s mentioned that the government which has budgeted Rs 10,000crore this fiscal for capitalising banks will have to set aside close to Rs 95,000crore for 11 state-run banks over the next two years.
  • The government hopes that state-owned banks will achieve economies of scale and operational efficiency while managing risks in a better way after merging, it will also likely to help them deal better with their credit portfolio, including stressed assets. Consolidation prevents multiplicity of resources being spent in the same area and strengthens banks to deal with shocks,

Way ahead

  • Pursuing the mergers of the banks without strengthening their balance-sheets and raising governance standards poses the risk of compounding the problems being faced by the lenders.
  • The global experience of such mergers in the financial sector has shown that they are bound to fail if they don’t meet the test of efficiency, synergy and cultural fit. It may be early to judge but the latest results show deterioration in earnings of India’s largest bank, State Bank of India, after the merger of its associate banks with the parent. So the proposed decision is debatable whether this planned consolidation will lead to rationalisation, both at the branch level and in terms of staff, and a more efficient banking system.

Question–  Indian banking Industry is reeling under a huge crisis but need of the hour is rather more progressive approach. What should be govt.’s approach?

 

3.Quota policies and career advancement in politics (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue that whether quotas in local government can generate an increase in representation by women in higher levels of government. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India has one of the most expansive and long-standing systems of political quotas in the world, which has provided fertile ground for learning about the short and long-term effects of political empowerment of women and ethnic minorities. Quotas were responsible for a majority of the increase in women candidates in state legislature and parliamentary elections since the policy went into effect.
  • With the advocacy of quotas there is an argument that it will increase the representation of targeted groups in a way that can eventually render the policy obsolete through institutional change. Whether such institutional change is possible has long been debated in the many contexts in which quotas or affirmative action policies. Now it is an open question as to whether quotas can have broader effects in areas in which they are not directly applied.

What is Quota?

  • Quotas are an increasingly common tool to improve the economic and social participation of historically underrepresented groups in education, business and politics.
  • These policies have been the focus of a number of studies to date, improving our understanding of the benefits of more diverse political representation on the provision of public goods, and trust in the government, and attitudes towards female leaders, or girls in general.

Background analysis

  • India first introduced nationwide seat quotas for women in government in 1993 with the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution. Importantly, the amendments provided for one-third of all seats at the level of Panchayats and Municipalities to be filled by women.
  • After several election cycles there is considerable variation across areas in the cumulative number of years exposed to a woman in the leadership position. By the late 2000s, some districts had seen the chairperson’s seat reserved for three election cycles, while others had only just seen their first cycle of reservation or had not yet been reserved at all.
  • The quota policy in local government increases female candidacy in both state and national legislature elections. An additional election cycle (five years) of quotas increases the number of female candidates for state assembly elections by .075 candidates. In Parliament, this candidacy effect is larger, with an average of 0.25 additional female candidates per reserved cycle.
  • It has been found that per district, the effect on aggregate state assembly candidacy is between one and two additional female candidates for an additional two election cycles of exposure. That the effect is stronger at the state legislature level when comparing similar areas, it also suggests that the state legislature may be seen as a logical intermediate career step for politicians from previously reserved areas.
  • This effect magnitude also very closely mirrors the number of district chairpersons that would have been available for higher office- two cycles yield between one and two new politicians created by the chairperson quota. There are mixed results as to whether quotas in local government can increase the representation of women in higher offices.  The new female candidates who appear after quota exposure do not win the elections they contest, and the majority run as independents lacking access to the resources and support of established political parties.
  • This suggests that both the supply and demand channels may be at work in increasing female candidacy for higher office. The quota policy for women in local government increases candidacy for, but not representation in, state and national political offices. This suggests there are longer-term effects of quotas on political dynamics and effects outside the particular level of government in which the quotas were active.
  • Though the quotas were responsible for a majority of the increase in female candidates in state legislature and parliamentary elections since the policy went into effect, however female representation in higher offices remains low and does not appear to be changed by the policy.

Question–  Representation of women in politics can emancipate whole lot of problems associated with women empowerment. Comment.