Mitras Analysis of News : 07-04-2017

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1. Suicide isn’t a criminal act  (The Hindu) 

2.Is there racism in India?  (The Hindu) 

3.UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons  (The Hindu and The guardian) 

4.RBI monetary policy: Growth, with caveats  (The Hindu) 

5.Indo-Bangladesh (The Hindu) (already discussed in last two issues)

 

1.Suicide isn’t a criminal act (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the tendency of suicide and its decriminalisation. (GS paper I and II)

Overview

  • Life has been considered as a gift from god and can be given only by him. Hence, taking away life and that too one’s own, has always been forbidden. Suicide has, since times immemorial, been a sensitive topic of constant controversy and unending debate.
  • The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, that decriminalises suicide and provides for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness, was passed in the Lok Sabha recently.

The Bill 

  • Mental Healthcare Bill 2016 is already passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2016, it ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card.
  • One of the clauses in the bill decriminalises suicide, stating that a person who attempts suicide should be presumed to have severe stress, and shall not be punished.
  • As per the bill, it will be government’s duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of any attempt.

History of Indian law on suicide

  • The Indian penal code drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 came into force in British-ruled India in 1862. It has substantially survived for over 150 years without major amendments
  • As per the Indian penal code, 1860, section 309 deals with Attempt to commit suicide. It states that “whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act toward the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 1-year.

International responses towards suicide

  • Internationally, Germany, in 1751, was the first country to decriminalize attempted suicide. After the French revolution, all countries of Europe and North America subsequently decriminalized suicide.
  • All of these developments have been instrumental in shifting attitudes about suicide in modern society. Some countries like Scotland never considered suicide a crime and had no law for the same

Major judgments regarding suicide

  • The first signs of a change in perception towards attempt to suicide in India appeared in 1981, when the Delhi High Court first condemned section 309 of the Indian penal code as “unworthy of society.
  • The Supreme Court in 1994 even went on to call it “irrational and cruel and hence void.” It held that the right to life and liberty, under article 21 of the constitution, must also be interpreted to include the right to die. But this was overruled a couple of years later by a five-judge constitutional bench of the apex court subsequently, who then reinstated the law in the 1996 (Gian Kaur vs. state of Punjab case)
  • The law commission had also recommended repeal of section 309 in its 42ndreport submitted in 1971.

Implications of the bill 

  • The new Bill reinvents the state in the role of a caregiver to the survivor of the suicide attempt. The goal is to prevent the person from trying the act again.
  • The bill also provides that a person with mental illness will have the right to make an advance directive that states how he she wants to be treated for the illness and nominate a representative.
  • Moreover, with the passage of bill, India has been aligned in the group of countries with more humble and humane approach towards psychological problems.

Way ahead

  • There are various challenges in the implementation of the new law including the lack of infrastructure and manpower in dealing with the mental health, being the least of them. Social stigma against the mentally ill that forces them within homes and often at the hands of illiterate witch doctors is a far bigger hurdle to cross. Hence, along with the legislative action, even more sensitization of the society is required.

Question: Suicide is not a criminal act rather a psychological dimension which needs to be cured. Government’s effort to decriminalise suicide on this front is appreciable. What more is needed in this regard?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

2.Is there racism in India? (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of racism in India, whether it is racism or mere clash of culture. (GS paper III)

Overview 

  • Racism is a kind of discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. Racism is a negative value of life. Modern society is considered to be melting pot, but these societies are also witnessing some kind of prejudice against certain people.
  • With recent attacks on Africans have raised concerns about the safety of foreigners in India and an alarming trend of hate crimes and racism in the country. Whether these attack is form of racism on the basis of their colour or just a mere clash of culture.

Recent incidents in India

  • On March 27, hundreds of people in New Delhi went on a mob rampage and attacked several African students. The violence was sparked by allegations that five African students were involved in the drug trade and the overdose death of a young Indian boy. According to Experts, these incidents reflect on the growing xenophobia and a deep-rooted racism in Indian society against “dark-skinned” people.
  • The attack has been based on prejudice and caste system. While many people in India condemned the violence, many social media users justified the attacks and hurled racist slurs against the Africans. Some even accused them of “cannibalism” and “drug racketeering.”

Left views

  • According to the leftist, In India racism is practised in some quarters and by some Indians. Mainly against Africans based on their colour, this is evident in the manner in which they are treated when they seek for their visa extension, the problems they face in getting accommodation in the country, and in the general treatment of viewing them with suspicion.
  • They face blatant discriminatory attitude; according to president of the Association of African Students in India, this racism is linked to the prevalent caste system which is very hierarchical. Black people, Dalits and untouchables somehow seem to be linked to this caste system which is discriminatory and excludes people.
  • Indians also smoke, they take drugs, play loud music, but why Africans playing loud music be an excuse to beat them up and complain to the police when Indians do the same? Punjab State is reeling under a drug crisis affecting many young men, that problem is not because of Africans are drug traffickers.
  • The impression we have against Africans is that they hail from a backward continent, which is simply not true. Some African countries have better human development indicators than India and have a robust democracy. Indians also went as indentured labour to the African continent and elsewhere, and were treated like slaves, so there is a common history of discrimination that binds the two.
  • The Government of India need to condemned the attacks against them. The government need to say this is wrong and that it will deal with it in an appropriate manner. The government has to acknowledge there is a deep-rooted prejudice first.

Right view

  • According to the rightist, this is the conflict of cultures which is a law and order problem, not racism. Some sporadic incidents cannot, and should not, lead one to brand any society as racist. The reasons are sex, drug trafficking and behavioural patterns which unsettle the structured values cherished by locals.
  • Historically, India has welcomed people of different races and creeds. It is this credo of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (the whole universe is one family) which led Indians to embrace victims of religious or racist persecutions. Some examples such as, The INC participated in the anti-apartheid conference in 1927 in Brussels.
  • There have been clashes between Dalits and upper castes and some violent incidents against students from the Northeast in India. But drawing a parallel with racism would not be correct.
  • Racism is based on hatred which makes conciliation between people of different groups virtually impossible. Spiritual democracy is the basis of our secularism and our multi-culturalism negates perpetuation of conflicts. These have little to do with race.

Centre view

  • Centre view claim that, Historians speak of intermingling between Indians and people of African origin, with Indian noblewomen taking African men as lovers, and slaves being raised to the status of rulers.
  • History has convinced us that we were, in fact, good and tolerant in the past and hence that goodness must lie somewhere submerged among us, only needing minor prodding to emerge as joyful guiding light of the present. Our attitudes need to be shape in the domestic sphere, early education is an important field for providing the basis for independent and critical thought.

Way ahead

  • India is emerging economy, there is need of change in people’s mentality. Society needs to be more tolerant, with basic education pre-maintained notion and prejudice against races need to be eliminated so that India emerge as melting pot society.

Question: Racism is an offence towards humanism. Discuss how the adequate sensitization of society can cure the racist behaviour?

 

3.UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons (The Hindu and The guardian) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the scheduled visit of Bangladesh PM to India. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • United Nations member states have been negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.
  • The resolution aims to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

A brief background

  • Nuclear disarmament has been high on the UN agenda since the organization’s formation in 1945. Efforts to advance this goal have stalled in recent years, with nuclear-armed nations investing heavily in the modernization of their nuclear forces.
  • Twenty years have passed since a multilateral nuclear disarmament instrument was last negotiated i.e. the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which has yet to enter into legal force due to the opposition of a handful of nations.
  • In the discourse of nuclear disarmament, greater emphasis is being placed on the humanitarian consequences of the testing and detonation of nuclear weapons.
  • In fact, current happenings towards a comprehensive pact are a result of many building blocks towards total abolition, beginning with the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice which ruled that the use of nuclear weapons had to be compatible with humanitarian law. However, the judges also ruled that it could not pronounce definitively on the legality or otherwise of their use in circumstances of extreme self-defence.
  • The landmark outcome was seized upon by many governments and activist groups to lobby the UN with innumerable draft conventions and resolutions in the General Assembly calling for complete prohibition of nuclear weapons.
  • The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was the result of a decisive development within the nuclear disarmament regime.

Way ahead

  • Nuclear weapons remain the only weapons of mass destruction not yet outlawed in a comprehensive and universal manner, despite their well-documented catastrophic humanitarian and environmental impacts.
  • Biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions are all explicitly prohibited under international law. Hence, a more regulated approach towards nuclear weapons is also required.

Question: How banning of nuclear weapons can bring the ethical justice to those (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) who have faced nuclear attack?

 

4.RBI monetary policy: Growth, with caveats (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the first monetary policy review of 2017-18. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The Monetary Policy Committee chaired by Reserve Bank of India Governor has decided to raise the rate at which the central bank borrows funds from banks (the reverse repo rate) by 25 basis points, from 5.75% to 6%, while leaving other policy rates untouched in the first bimonthly policy review of 2017-18.
  • With the objective of achieving the medium-term target for retail inflation, which is 4%, the policy decision taken by the central bank is consistent.

Why decision to narrow down 

  • Despite demonetisation, excess liquidity remains a lingering concern, this marginal change is aimed at sucking out liquidity from the system.
  • RBI said the path to achieving 4% inflation would be challenging. The central bank has set its inflation projection to an average of 4.5% in the first half of 2017-18 and 5% in the second half, while keeping its GVA growth projection unchanged at 7.4% for FY18 as compared with 6.7% in FY17.
  • In the “pace of remonetisation” and with the investment demand on account of lowered interest rates there has been improved prospects for the world economy.
  • RBI’ s governor has pointed out 4 important key issues in which government attention is needed. These are
  1. There is need to urgently resolve the surge of bad loans on bank books, for which the RBI will unveil a new Prompt Corrective Action framework by the middle of this month. Step is important for healthy credit growth necessary for investment and job creation.
  1. The RBI has reminded the government there will be “clearly more demand for capital” in the coming days. The government’s allocation of Rs. 10,000crore to recapitalise public sector banks will be inadequate.
  1. While banks have reduced lending rates but with unchanged policy rates, there is room for more cuts if rates on small savings schemes are corrected. The RBI has pointed out that a formula-based rate was adopted to set these rates last April, but still small savings schemes deliver 61-95 basis points higher returns than what they should if the formula is followed, as per the RBI.
  1. The government must not ignore governor’s categorical call to eschew loan waivers of the kind as announced in Uttar Pradesh. This would crowd out private investments and will dent the nation’s balance sheet.

Way ahead

  • The policy rate has a huge potential to drive the economic growth in the country. Hence a balanced view is required which neither triggers the inflation nor sacrifices the growth for want of liquidity.
  • Moreover, the crunch of liquidity can have a repercussion for informal sector as well as budding enterprises. Hence such a consideration should also be kept in mind.

Question: What should be the policy consideration for driving the economy which can cater growth along with taming inflation?

5.Indo-Bangladesh (The Hindu)

Already discussed in last two editions( 5th and 6th April issue)

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