Mitras Analysis of News : 17-03-2017

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1.Missing the spirit of the body (The Hindu)

2.Shooting the EVM (Indian Express)

3.Leaving no one behind (The Hindu)

 

1.Missing the spirit of the body (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the functioning of CBFC and issues associated with it.(GS paper II)

Overview

  • CBFC, commonly known as censor board was again in news to disallow one more film to be screened due to notion of “unsuitability” for audiences.
  • With it, again it has become evident to fix the limits for Censor Board.

What is CBFC?

  • CBFC is a statutory body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The main function of the body is to regulate the exhibition of films under the Cinematograph Act 1952.
  • Any film can be exhibited in the country publicly only after they have been duly certified by this organisation.
  • The government at the centre appoints the non-official members and a Chairman who constitute the Board which is headquartered at Mumbai.
  • The advisory panels help the regional offices in the examination of the films. The advisory panels consist of members from different walks of life, who are nominated by the Central government for a term of two years.

The body’s primary function is to assign each film to one of the four categories –

  • U – Unrestricted public exhibition
  • A- Restricted to adults
  • UA- Unrestricted public exhibition (with a word of caution that Parental discretion required for children below 12 years)
  • S -Restricted to any special class of persons (for example: doctors)

Any film, be it foreign or Indian, must get certified by the CBFC before being screened in India.

Present Issue                                                                                    

  • CBFC has again turned down a film i.e. “Ka Bodyscapes” directed by Jayan Cherian.
  • According to the CBFC, the film is glorifying the subject of gay and homosexual relationship, nudity accentuating vital parts of male body. The film is explicit of scene offending Hindu sensibilities depicting vulgarity and obscenity through the movie.
  • However, according to directors, the film is about societal attitudes towards individual freedom and is not a critique of religion.
  • The reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) have been routinely invoked to choke free speech and expression. These restrictions were never meant to include such things as whether people, in power or otherwise, if found something in poor taste or offensive then they may ban the publication.

Way ahead

  • There have been many instances where the censors have been sitting over decisions, resulting in mounting losses for directors and producers alike. Supreme Court’s ruling in the KA Abbas casethat a film must be seen as a whole before deciding upon censoring it should be followed in letter and spirit.
  • Censors must provide both ample and concrete reasons to justify their decision to refuse a certificate or order cuts, and that, for this, the maker must be given a fair opportunity to present his point of view.
  • Recently, Shyam Benegal committee was appointed to reform the CBFC, however the mandate of committee has not been clear.
  • Moreover, the Mudgal committee also submitted its report and proposed a model Cinematograph Bill. Thus, implementation of these committees should be steadfast to keep the cinema out of any prejudice.

Question:  Cinema is also a form of expression as it reflects the ongoing crisis and changes in the socio-cultural aspects of society. How can Cinema be a device for social change?

 

2.Shooting the EVM (Indian Express)

 Synoptic line: it throws light on the issue on ono-temperability of EVM(s) that are used in the general elections. (GS II)

Overview

  • A great havoc has been made lately about the reliability of EVM in electoral processes.
  • It is being alleged by several parties that EVM(s) are prone to hacking and might have been tampered in recent state assembly elections. However, EVM are followed up by a rigorous safety mechanism to ensure the fair and transparent polling.

Safety features of EVM

  • Controversies about EVMs have been raised time and again. Every political party has questioned the EVMs at one point or another.

Technical safety

  • The task of making the machines has been given exclusively to two central public sector undertakings, BEL and ECIL, which are entrusted with developing high security defence equipment.
  • The software used is burnt into a one-time programmable/masked chip, so that it cannot be altered or tampered with. The machines are not networked either by wire or by wireless with any other machine or system. Therefore, there is no possibility of data corruption by hacking.
  • The software for this chip is developed in-house by BEL and ECIL independently.

Administrative Security

  • EVM are ensured with fool-proof protective custody at all stages from storing the machines in the strong room (the warehouse) to moving them to the polling stations, through three levels of checks and three mock polls.
  • Political party representatives are always present to witness and certify the entire process.
  • The last-minute check is a mock poll (the third in a series) on the polling day before the actual poll of at least 100 votes in the presence of candidates or their authorised agents to demonstrate that the EVM is working properly. Any defective machine is immediately replaced.

Technical Advisory Committee(TAC)

  • It is a committee of 5 professors of top IIT(s). The EC does not take a single technology decision without their scrutiny and approval.

Judicial Scrutiny

  • The functioning of the ECI-EVMs has been challenged before several high courts. All the courts were satisfied about the non-tamper ability of the ECI-EVMs. The Karnataka High Court went to the extent of commenting that “this (ECI-EVM) invention is undoubtedly a great achievement in the electronic and computer technology and a national pride”. The Kerala High Court also recorded its appreciation of the efficiency of the mechanism of the ECI-EVMs.

Certain limitations

  • A candidate can know how many people from a polling station voted for him. This is a significant issue particularly if lopsided votes for/against a candidate are cast in individual polling stations and the winning candidate might show favouritism or hold grudge on specific areas.
  • The Election Commission of India has stated that the manufacturers of the EVMs have developed a Totalizer unit which can connect several balloting units and would display only the overall results from an Assembly or a Lok Sabha constituency instead of votes from individual polling stations.

Way Ahead

  • Just as EVMs were used in every state election after 1998 till the 2004 general election, the EC must start using VVPATs in the entire elections to the state assemblies.
  • Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters. It’s completely an independent verification system. VVPAT is a printer-like machine attached to every EVM that allows voters to verify that their vote has been cast correctly. Once a voter presses button of his choice in the EVM, a printed paper appears containing the name of the candidate and poll symbol so that he can verify it. After the voter views the receipt it goes inside a container linked to the EVM, which can be accessed only by the polling officers. This latest system is one step further towards prevention of electoral fraud.
  • The EC’s biggest challenge is to conduct the 2019 general election with VVPAT. It must speed up the production of the requisite number of machines. Funds must not be a constraint.
  • Public faith and trust in the electoral system is of paramount importance. It must not be allowed to be shaken. The EC should also counter the propaganda, which seems to be spreading like wildfire, more aggressively and proactively.

Question:  EVM(s) have been questioned at various events regarding its reliability and predictability. What reforms can be initiated to make the working of EVM more reliable and efficient?

 

3.Leaving no one behind (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: it throws light on the Vision Document 2030 and how it can unfold to cater the welfare of disabled. (GS II)

Overview

  • The data collected by World Health Organisation (WHO) in a report in 2011 reveals that 15.3% of the world’s population deals with disability of one kind or the other. The 2011 census puts India’s disabled at 2.21% of the population
  • Still policy framework dealing with disabled are either weak or not optimum enough to accommodate all the concerns and to enable holistic development.
  • Vision 2030 can be a model framework to deal with emancipation of disabled people.

Vision 2030

  • It is a framework document being propounded by NITI Aayog. it is a wide document concerned with multi-sectorial development and tries to be in sync with Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved till 2030.
  • Moreover, Vision Document could also have wide positive implications for the upliftment of Disabled population as India has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007.

Key takeaways and Way Ahead for Vision Document

  1. The document must insist that data for persons with disabilities are appropriately collected, maintained and disaggregated. This must include all government initiatives that capture any data related to population or human resources or human development, including employment, education, poverty and hunger.
  1. Disabled are seen as a part of just social responsibility of State, rather than seeing them as a partners in growth and development. Persons with disabilities must be seen as integral to the decision-making process and not as an afterthought.
  1. The NITI Aayog must invest effort in building awareness for NGOs, academics, civil society, the private sector, etc., in order to articulate a disability-inclusive development agenda.
  1. The NITI Aayog should call for a national-level consultation with cross-disability groups and arrive at a consensus to have the addition of a universally accepted disability question(s) on all existing data instruments. A standard question needs to be developed, taking into account the socio-cultural sensitivities of people with disabilities and their families because families and people often gets stigmatised when question related to disability are asked. Moreover, the information thus achieved should be unified across all data instruments of all sources of demographic information, including the impending Unique Disability ID, the population census, civil registration, sample surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation, Sample Registration System and for all social schemes.
  1. Disability is an issue that cuts across several ministries; it is not just a subject for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Our analysis indicates that there are 26 ministries where there needs to be a dedicated focus towards persons with disabilities and a specific cell to address their concerns. Specific budgets need to be allocated across initiatives and ministries to address the needs of persons with disabilities.

Question: India’s disability regime often ignores the harsh ground realities associated with disabled people. How the policy framework can be molded to make it more accommodative for disabled?

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