Q.1) The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to India’s plans and timelines of achieving SDGs and there is every reason to double or triple efforts for achieving the targets of the Agenda 2030. Examine (15 marks - 250 words)
Why this question? - Recently, NITI Aayog presented India’s second Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the United Nations High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, 2020.
Intro - A brief about SDGs.
- India and SDGs - India’s progress report.
- Challenges faced by India in meeting SDGs with main focus on COVID-19.
Way ahead - How to overcome these challenges.
Conclusion - Opportune time for India to work towards implementing SDGs at a fast pace, this will be like a shock absorber against ill effects of COVID.
Q.2) Criminal Law reforms are required with the changing intellect and thinking of society. Considering this, tell the domains which need to be reformed in India. Comment. 15 marks (250 words).
Why this question:
The Ministry of Home affairs has constituted a 5 member committee headed by Dr. Ranbir Singh for reforming the provisions of Indian Penal Code and other procedural laws.
Start with the recent committee formation
- The idea of Democracy
- Modern Education
- Gender Equality
- Globalisation (Learning from other countries Laws)
- Emphasizing on Due process of Law
Domains which require change:
- Scrapping of Laws that promote and protect patriarchy: like under Section 498 of IPC, “Enticing” of a married woman who is “in the care of” a man is an offence.
- Colonial Hangovers: Sedition also requires a relook as this offence is currently punishable with imprisonment for life and is often misused by the state to curb freedom of speech and expression in spite of guidelines given by court in Kedarnath Singh Case.
- The issue of Criminalisation of Marital Rape is long demanded as non consensual sex can’t be allowed in a modern state.
- In 2017, the SC in a landmark ruling (Independent Thought V. Union of India) had said that although marital rape is not a criminal offence, sexual intercourse of a man with his minor wife will be considered rape.
- Further, there is a need to view Sexual offenses from the lens of Gender Neutrality and not solely from a female perspective.
- Under Section 375 of IPC which deals with Rape, only a woman can file a case of rape against a man.
- A cautious thought over the Death Penalty needs to be taken as majority of developed countries have abolished or are the path of abolishing it. In India also, it is to be given in rarest of rare cases as per the Bachan Singh Judgement.
- Minimum age to commit an offence also needs a relook as Juvenile law was recently amended to treat a child above 16 years as an adult if he conducts a heinous crime.
- Passive Euthanasia is already allowed in India after Common Cause Case of 2018 but the committe needs to examine whether active euthanasia should also be given a go ahead or not.
- With growing sexual and reproductive rights of women can the offence of miscarriage can be decriminalised.
- Subjects new to the legal landscape in India such as corporate homicide must also be thought of.
- In the United Kingdom, a law was enacted in 2007 to criminalise activities of a corporation, including employers, if such activities lead to the death of any person.
- Further can additional types of punishment — based on objectives of deterrence, rehabilitation, restoration etc — be inserted” in the Indian Penal Code.
- On procedural aspects of criminal law, there is a need to harmonise the statute books with court rulings.
- Despite “landmark rulings” reading down provisions and inserting safeguards through guidelines, processes of the state are often weaponised against citizens.
- From raids to arrests and the holding of accused in state custody — criminal law needs to be updated to meet the demands of the democratic temper of the 21st-century.
- There is a need to revamp laws owing to the digital advancement in the country and growing importance of privacy but the same shouldn’t lead to excessive policing and over criminalisation.
If at all criminal law is to be reformed, there should be a genuine attempt to reach a wide consensus on ways to speed up trials, protect witnesses, address the travails of victims, improve investigative mechanisms and, most importantly, eliminate torture.
Q.3) The RBI chief has cautioned about the upcoming stress in the financial sector owing to the COVID-19 outbreak. Comment. 10 marks (150 words).
Why this question:
RBI chief has cautioned about the approaching stress in the financial sector owing to the pandemic.
One of the key functions of RBI is to maintain a regulatory oversight over the financial sector and predict the impending challenges.
Impact of Pandemic:
- It has brought banks under severe stress as they are hit on both demand as well as supply fronts.
- On the demand side the slowdown in the economy is leading to business closures and job losses which is decreasing the demand for credit.
- On the supply front they are facing redemption pressures as masses are withdrawing their deposits in fear of bank failure or for meeting emergency expenditure.
- The banks will be facing an increase in NPAs (Non Performing assets) in coming future.
- It is now imperative to draw a recapitalisation plan for banks. It involves infusing new capital into banks by altering the debt to equity ratio.
- The minimum capital requirements of banks needs a revamp as intensity of Global Recessionary/Unprecedented events is on the rise.
- As situation returns to normalcy banks as well as NBFCs must do periodic stress tests so as to ascertain their stability and risk exposure, thereby avoiding a crisis like situation like Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank.
- Lending by Banks to NBFCs and Mutual Funds must be enhanced as both the segments are facing tremendous redemption pressures.
- A legislative backed Resolution Corporation must be established as mooted by the withdrawn Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill.
- The corporation will deal with resolution and revival of stressed financial firms, thereby avoiding a panic-like situation as in the case of Yes Bank.
Q.4) COVID-19 pandemic highlights that environmental, economic, and social issues cannot be separated from each other. Elucidate(250 words)
Why this question?
With the COVID-19 pandemic showing up flaws in governance institutions, this is a better way for humanity to face new challenges.
Mention that governance systems at all levels, i.e. global, national, and local, have experienced stress as a fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Interconnectivity of environmental, economic, and social issues
- Fundamental flaws in the institutions at the global level
- Mention need of Building a local specific model
- Condition-specific problem solving
- Inclusive decision making
- Changing the functioning of schemes etc
Mention that the global challenges listed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) need to be addressed by mankind on an urgent basis.
Q.5) Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own of a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan. In the line of this move discuss the relevance and geo-political implications on India.
Why this question?
Four years after India and Iran signed an agreement to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, the Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project.
Mention China has finalized a massive 25-year, $400 billion strategic partnership deal with Iran
- Trilateral Project
- Earlier MoU:
- Fear of US sanctions and no beginning of the actual work
- Growing nexus between Iran and China
- Strategic Partnership
- Tie-up between the Pakistani port at Gwadar and Chabahar
- Implications on India
- Impinges on India’s “strategic ties” with Iran
- Mention that Bandar-e-Jask port lies to the west of Chabahar & right before the Straits of Hormuz. China would thus extend its control along the Pakistan-Iran coast.
Mention need of proactive foreign policy