1.The dragon at the NSG high table (The Hindu)
2.Clamping down on creativity (The Hindu)- Essay approach
3.Renew the classroom (The Indian Express)
4.BS (Bharat Stage) III, IV, VI Compliance (General)
1.The dragon at the NSG high table (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of India’s entry to NSG group.(GS paper II)
- India wants an entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), in order to play a bigger role in international nuclear arena. A supportive platform will be provided under the aegis of NSG to develop the “atoms for peace”.
- However, India’s entry to group has been vetoed by certain countries (particularly China) and India is eager to break the deadlock and to secure an entry to NSG.
- NSG is a nuclear technology control organisation formed in 1975 in response to India’s maiden nuclear tests.
- NSG seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
- It requires countries to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before applying for membership of the group. However, India remains one of only three countries, along with Israel and Pakistan who had not signed the NPT.
- However, in a meeting in 2008, the NSG participating governments agreed to grant India a “clean waiver” from its existing rules, which forbid nuclear trade with a country which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The approval was based on a formal pledge by India stating that it would not share sensitive nuclear technology or material with others and would uphold its voluntary moratorium on testing nuclear weapons.
Roadblocks for India
- India is not being admitted to NSG due to the problems concerning the criteria for membership.
- Along with China, close to a dozen countries including Mexico, Brazil, Norway, Ireland expressed serious reservations over India not being signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty at NSG plenary session held in Seoul in June 2016.
- Indian and Chinese interlocutors too have held rounds of discussions to resolve mutual issues. Along with forbidding India, China wants to enter Pakistan in NSG.
- However, according to some analysts, even if India were to allow Pakistan to come in, China might still be unwilling because China see this as elevating India to almost ranks of the P5 or Security Council membership.
- With the NSG plenary set to meet again in Bjern in June this year, despite technical preparations, a resolution will be difficult to reach without political will.
- A top diplomat privy to the negotiations stressed that a green light to India’s entry is a political decision that China will have to make.
- China is advocating a two-step “non-discriminatory” approach for admission of countries who have not signed nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the NSG.
- As per the new stand announced by Beijing in November, it first wants to find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions to admit specific non-NPT member.
- China’s stand for a non-discriminatory criterion is regarded significant as Pakistan, a close ally of Beijing too has applied for the NSG membership along with India.
- India would have to use the diplomatic channels to persuade the Chinese. With the Trump administration busy with domestic agendas ranging from health care to the economy and also North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State being the focus areas overseas, the U.S.-China dialogue will hardly centre on Beijing’s position on the NSG tangle for now.
- Moreover, China may not shy away from advocating keeping out all-weather friend Pakistan in order to keep India out. Hence, India had to be pro active in backdoor diplomacy.
Question: Indian diplomacy has not been able to score most potential victories for Renewable energy generation. How the govt. should approach such a situation?
2. Clamping down on creativity (The Hindu)- Essay approach
Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of censoring of movies versus rights of free society.(GS paper I and Essay)
“Movies portray reality yet reality portrays movies”
- Cinema has become a powerful vehicle for culture, education, leisure and propaganda.
- Prime Minister Nehru once stated, “the influence in India of films is greater than newspapers and books combined.”
- However, plenty of thought provoking movies are being censored or banned on account of hurting so called “religious sentiments”. Such a trend is not in sync with spirit of free speech and free society.
- The recent controversies over movies such as Padmavatiand the Prakash Lipstick Under My Burkha have again ignited the debate between the liberals and the conservatives.
- In our society there are many practices and traditions which are based on ignorance and which have withheld the progress of our society. Rigidity of caste system, untouchability, dowry system and purdah system have done enormous harm to our society.
- Cinema films can do a lot to eradicate these evils. They can be used for promoting national integration, Prohibition, inter-caste marriages, family planning, eradication of illiteracy, etc. Such themes can help the transformation of our society.
- The cinema can be used as an instrument to help people get rid of obscurantism and also to guide them along the right path. It can help in removing ignorance from our society. Not only this, several much needed social reforms can be introduced and brought about with the help of the cinema.
- The cinema exercises a great influence on the mind of the people. It has a great educative value. It can achieve splendid results in the field of expansion of education.
- There are certain subjects, such as science and geography, which can be more effectively taught with the help of talkies. Lessons on road sense, rules of hygiene and civic sense can be taught to the students and the ” public as well in a very effective manner with the help of cinema pictures.
- Many successful experiments have been made in various countries on the utility of films as a means of education. Feature films have been produced for school and college students and students are being benefited by them.
Most pressing questions
Most prominent issue involving the banning of films include:
- How does the Constitution of India define freedom of speech and expression?
- What are the limits on the said freedom?
- Why are films banned?
- Are these bans constitutionally valid?
- What views have been expressed by the final interpreter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, about these bans on the films?
- Are we on the right constitutional path when we ban films?
- What consequences would these bans have on our freedom of speech and expression and on the rule of law?
Constitution of Free speech and restrictions
- The preamble of our Constitution, speaks of “freedom of thought and expression”.
- Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. However, the said freedom is not absolute one. In fact, Art. 19 (2) of the Constitution permits the State to impose reasonable restrictions on seven grounds, namely:
- Security of state,
- Sovereignty and integrity of India,
- Friendly relationship with foreign countries,
- Public order,
- Decency and morality,
- Contempt of court
Why films are banned
Generally, films are banned for six reasons:
- The movies which depict the country in a bad light. A movie “Water”(2005) dealt with the plight of the widows in Varanasi. It tackled the issues of ostracism and misogyny. Just the filming of the movie aroused the ire of the people to the extent that the sets of the movie were burned. But the movie went on to win international acclaim.
- The movies which portray the life of our leaders, but in an unfavourable manner. The movie Kissa Kursi Ka (1977), which was a spoof on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son, Sanjay Gandhi, was banned during the Emergency.
- Movies which depict communal violence are prone to be banned. In 2004, Rakesh Sharma’s documentary Final Solution was banned as the Censor Board felt the documentary was highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence.
- The movies which hurt the religious sentiments of the people. The movie The Da Vinci Code (2006) was banned in five States in India as it hurt the sentiments of the Christian community.
- A few movies are censored on the ground of obscenity. Mira Nair’s Kama Sutra — A Tale of Love (1996) dealt with a story of four lovers in 16th century India. Though Kama Sutra, the book, is easily available in India, the Censor Board still found the movie “too explicit”, “unethical” and “immoral”.
- Finally, there are those films which deal with tabooed subjects, such as lesbianism, and transsexuality. Fire(1996) came under fire because it suggested a lesbian relationship between two daughter-in-laws of a family. The movie led to attacks on the movie halls exhibiting the film in Mumbai.
Supreme Court judgments
- In the case of A. Abbas v. Union of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court addressed the issue whether or not pre-censorship can be tolerated under the freedom of speech and expression. The apex court did not find pre-censorship as offending freedom of speech and expression. For according to the apex court, “Pre-censorship is but an aspect of censorship and bears the same relationship in quality to the material as censorship after the motion picture has had a run.
- In the case of Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram and Ors. the Hon’ble Supreme Court proclaimed, “If the film is unobjectionable and cannot constitutionally be restricted under Article 19 (2), freedom of expression cannot be suppressed on account of threat of demonstration and processions or threats of violence.
- In the age of information technology, such bans are farcical. For the proscribed films are readily available on the Internet. They can be downloaded and enjoyed. Such bans thus motivate people to break the law and to dilute the rule of law.
- The ban on films which criticise the nation clearly reveals our immaturity in accepting criticism of ourselves. Perhaps time has come to examine ourselves in the light of what non-Indians have to say about us as people, and as a nation. Even if our national leaders are being criticised, or a part of their personality or character is being questioned, maybe we should be mature enough to take the criticism in our own stride.
- Similarly, bans on films which raise modern issues of the condition of women in India such as Water, or on issues of sexual identity or fluidity such as Gulabi Aaina or Fireshould not be banned especially when the question of the rights of the LGBT community is being debated as a constitutional issue, and as part of human rights.
- Extra-constitutional bans restrict the free flow of thoughts, of imagination, of creativity. Such bans are thus against the constitutional philosophy, against the rule of law, against democracy, and against our national interest.
Benjamin Franklin, the great American statesman and one of the founding fathers of America, once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Question: Write an Essay – “The motion flicks can set society in motion but both ways”
3. Renew the classroom (The Indian Express)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of deteriorating nature of education in India. (GS paper II)
While cheating is a global phenomenon, mass-cheating on the scale we witness in some of our exams, is not.
- There have been several cases of mass cheating in board exams, while many of our examination boards, like CISCE and CBSE, are free from allegations of mass cheating.
- The need of the hour is to frame the policies and ecosystem to deter the practice of mass cheating in educational institutions.
- Increasing population, with standard of living of people are slightly shifting towards higher side and growing trend for better job has lure most of the demographics of India. Various certificates and degrees are mandatory for different jobs; students are going for this with any manner possible.
- When the working of examining agencies like Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh or the Public Service Commissions in various states start losing their credibility, both the educational institutions and the exam system start losing their value and sanctity.
- Cheating has gone beyond the technique of copying from slips or books and now it has been institutionalized itself in many places. In this scenario of poor quality teaching combined with the importance of board exam results, students take recourse to unfair means. Examination centers itself providing various services for a price (even dictation to the examinees) are not uncommon.
- The use of unfair means in the board exams undermines integrity and fairness at all levels. Each successive generation of examinees becomes weaker, resulting in the making of poor professionals.
Reasons for mass cheating
- There is no secret that teaching in most of our elementary schools is of poor quality both in rural and urban areas.
- The reasons for mass cheating in board exams present a convoluted mass of interlinked issues, from pedagogy to the selection process for jobs. The secondary and higher-secondary schools have also seen a massive lowering in quality due to various reasons of their own. Students enroll in these schools but prefer to go to coaching institutes for studies, turning these schools into mere registering bodies for board exams.
- The lure for jobs involving large-scale recruitments like various posts as elementary school teachers and police personnel, recruit on the basis of marks obtained in the board exams, make our students and their parents strive to get the highest marks possible by any means.
- There is need to improve academic supervision at all levels of school education. If the teachers are made to teach, there would be no reason to use coercive action against examinees during exams.
- There is need of structural change in our board exams that it should test understanding, not rote learning of students. Objective tests make examining easier but make cheating easier as well.
- With reducing the burden on students and boards and ensuring continuous evaluation and teaching, will reduce the dependence on coaching and guide-books that will be helpful for better understanding.
Question: How mass cheating can be an issue which pertains more to morality than illegality.
4.BS (Bharat Stage) III, IV, VI Compliance(General)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of Bharat Stage compliances.(GS III)
- Supreme Court banned the sale of Bharat Stage III vehicles with effect from April 1.The verdict came on pleas seeking a ban on sale and registration of BS III-compliant vehicles from April 1, when BS IV emission norms will come into force.
- BS IV emission norms will come into effect from April 1, 2017.
- While most passenger vehicle makers have shifted to producing BS IV-compliant vehicles, two-wheeler, three-wheeler and commercial vehicle manufacturers were producing BS III vehicles with government notifying March 31, 2017 as the last date for manufacturing of such vehicles.
- The ‘BS’ in BS IV stands for ‘Bharat Stage’ which signifies the emission regulation standards set by Indian regulatory bodies. The ‘IV’ is a roman numeric representation for four (4). The higher the number gets, the stricter the Bharat Stage emission norms get which eventually means it becomes trickier (and costlier) for automakers to meet them.
- Bharat Stage norms are based on European regulations which, for example, are referred to in a similar manner like ‘Euro 4’ and ‘Euro 6’. These norms are followed largely by all automakers across the globe and act as a good reference point as to how much does a vehicle pollute.
- These emission standards were set by the central government to keep a check on the pollutant levels emitted by vehicles that use combustion engines. To bring them into force, the Central Pollution Control Board sets timelines and standards which have to be followed by automakers.
- They have been aimed to normalize the productivity of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment.
Implications of the decision
- It takes years for automakers to develop a new kind of an engine or to tweak around with the current ones used in their vehicles. Once the research and development is over, the task of setting up full scale production comes up. All of this comes at a cost which eventually makes the vehicle more expensive for the end customer of the product and that can be a cause of concern for automakers.
- Automakers were supposed to make their models BS IV compliant by April 1, 2017. While some automakers have met the targets and updated their products, there is a huge stock of vehicles left to be sold into the market that are BS-III compliant and as per the latest SC decision, they won’t be able to do so.
- There is also the requirement of cleaner fuel to run these vehicles that comply with a stricter emission regulation as it is not feasible to make internal combustion engines pollute less while using poor quality of fuel. As per a report, the Centre has spent around Rs 18,000 to 20,000 crore for producing cleaner fuel.
Way Ahead: BS IV
- Larger aim for the automotive sector as a whole is to implement BS VI emission regulation by the year 2020 in India. BS VI will be implemented and BS V will be skipped.
- This will require a huge amount of investments to make the oil refineries capable of producing a better quality of fuel and also investments in the infrastructure to make that fuel available across the country.
- Then, the automakers will have to make investments on their end too in order to speed up the research and development process and improve their own infrastructure – like the manufacturing plants – to make their offering BS VI compliant.
- This, eventually, will make owning an internal combustion engine powered car more expensive to own, and maintain.
Question: What can be the possible implications of court’s order on BS III ruling? How it can tame the nuisance of PM 2.5 ?