current-affairs-based-mains-drill-20-february-2021

*Click on each question to Post/upload your answer in the comment section & get it EVALUATED. 

Q.1) “A criminal prosecution is quicker and less expensive, making it a handy tool to silence one’s critics and detractors.” In this context, critically examine the validity of the laws on criminal defamation.

Why this Question:

Recently, the Court has granted acquittal to Priya Ramani in M.J. Akbar defamation case.

Key Demand of the Question:

Relevance of the laws on criminal defamation in India in modern times. 

Directive:

Critically examine- Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding the topic. Try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues identified are most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

Introduction:

Give a brief overview of defamation and its type- civil and criminal and their purpose. 

Body:

In the first part, highlight the advantages of laws related to criminal defamation.

In the next part, highlight the concerns associated with these laws especially w.r.t. the chilling effect it produces on fundamental rights of citizens

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

Defamation is defined as the oral or written communication of false statements about someone that unjustly harms their reputation when observed through the perspective of an ordinary man. In India, it is governed both under civil as well as criminal cases:

  1. Civil Defamation- defamation falls under the Law of Torts, which imposes punishment in the form of damages awarded to the claimant (person filing the claim).
  2. Criminal Defamation- It seeks to punish a wrongdoer and send a message to others not to commit such acts. 

It is defined as an offence under Sec 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which states that criminal defamation could be through words, spoken or intended to be read, through signs and also through visible representations. The punishment for such cases is given under Sec 500 of IPC that may include imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.

Arguments for Criminal Defamation 

  1. Fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions and cannot be misused for tarnishing someone’s reputation. 
  2. It is necessary in order to sustain and protect the reputation of any individual which cannot be jeopardized in the name of freedom of speech and expression of someone else.
  3. It is necessary to keep a balance between Right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 and Right to upholding one’s Reputation under Article 21.

Arguments against Criminal Defamation 

  1. The law allows the people with money to use defamation to intimidate critics.
  2. Free speech is necessary as it enables the media to hold governments and individuals accountable. 
  3. Having both civil and criminal remedy for same injury burdens an already overburdened Indian judiciary.
  4. It fails the “proportionality test" i.e. whether the punishment fits the crime. This is because it uses criminal law to prosecute a wrong that is purely private in nature.
  5. It doesn’t provide any scope for even honest mistakes.
  6. It comes as a hindrance in cases where something wrong is done by influential people and action is to be taken against them.

Way Forward 

  1. Decriminalization of defamation cases. 
  2. Limits should also be set around civil defamation- not only must the loss to reputation be serious, the proof also has to be substantial. 

If the ability to legitimately criticize is not protected, voices throwing light on critical issues will continue to be silenced by those who are rich, powerful and influential. And without such voices, the Indian state could be dramatically altered while Indians are kept in the dark.

 

Q.2) The emerging digital world has given rise to challenges and threats like increase in cybercrimes. Discuss.

Why this Question:

According to Delhi Police, cases of cybercrimes increased during the lockdown.

Key Demand of the Question:

Types of cybercrimes and the threats they pose to India and the world; and measures to deal with them.

Directive:

Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.

Introduction:

Give an introduction about cybercrimes and how they are regulated in India.

Body:

In the first part, explain the types of cybercrimes like cyber-fraud, cyber-bullying, online harassment, etc. and the threats they pose on the security and integrity of India and also the world.

In the next part, highlight the measures that should be taken by the government to deal with these threats.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

Over the years, Information Technology has transformed the global economy and connected people and markets in ways beyond imagination. An increasing proportion of the world’s population is migrating to cyberspace to communicate, enjoy, learn, and conduct commerce. It has also created new vulnerabilities and opportunities for disruption. This has also led to an increase to threats related to cyberspace i.e. cybercrimes. These are crimes that involve computers and networks. They may threaten a person or nation’s security, integrity and financial health. In India, these are governed under the Information Technology Act, 2000. These include:

  1. Cyber terrorism- the premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives, or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives.
  1. Cyber Spying- Cyber-attacks aimed at gaining information from the perpetrators. It can be vulnerable to information critical to national security.
  2. Cyber-radicalism- extremist groups using the web to spread propaganda, incite violence, and plan and carry out potentially catastrophic attacks.
  3. Cyber-vandalism- when an individual or group takes control of a website and defaces it. It can be detrimental to official websites of various ministries and departments and can be used to spread false information.
  4. Fake news- social media is an integral part of the internet and at the same time a very easy platform for the spread of fake news.
  5. Identity theft – theft of personal information of an individual to avail financial services or steal the financial assets themselves.
  6. Hacking – Access of information through fraud or unethical ways. It is the most common form of cybercrime known to the general public.
  7. Cyber- bullying- intimidating, harassment, defaming, or any other form of mental degradation through the use of electronic means or modes such as social media.

Measures that should be taken

  1. Building capabilities and capacity for application, equipment and infrastructure testing.
  2. Human resource development to increase the number of experts to effectively manage the cyber security of the country.
  3. Investments in Research & Development to develop innovative technologies to address increasing cyber security threats.
  4. A robust policy where duties and responsibilities are clearly defined.
  5. A periodic awareness campaign by the government and big private organizations should be conducted to make people aware about cyber security threats.
  6. Strengthening the Public Private partnerships to build frameworks to strengthen cyber security infrastructure.

Cyber-security is needed in the present era of increasing connectivity. Although the government has taken some major and proactive steps regarding it, a lot more needs to be done to enhance the country’s cyber-security. It is important to bring a robust policy and effectively implement the same.

 

Q.3) “Although varying in their demands and methods, there is a common thread running through the insurgency infested north-east, that is of identity and development.” Critically analyze.

Why this question:

Recently, ULFA has warned of extreme steps against abducted oil company employees. ULFA is an armed separatist organisation of Assam.

Key demand of the question:

Causes of insurgency in the north eastern states of India, and measures to deal with the problem.

Directive:

Critically analyze- The key to tackling this question is providing ample evidence to support the claims. Ensure that the analysis is balanced by shedding light on, and presenting a critique of, and alternative perspectives. Present extensive evidence taken from a varying range of sources.

Introduction:

Briefly give an overview of the insurgency in the North Eastern region. Give some examples.

Body:

In the first part, explain the causes of insurgency in these states – migration, lack of development, low connectivity, etc.

In the next part, suggest measures to be adopted by the Government.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The North Eastern region of India is the eastern-most part of the country. It is connected to East India or the mainland India via a narrow corridor, the Siliguri corridor squeezed between independent nations of Bhutan and Bangladesh. But this region has been in turmoil since independence due to insurgency even after repeated attempts to contain it. The basic causes for insurgency that are common to these states are:

  1. Historical- there was a historical absence of pre-British and British colonial policies to integrate the hill areas of then Assam to the rest of British India. The absence of historical linkages has created a space for later day feelings of cultural and political differences amongst ethnic communities with the rest of India.
  2. Most of the ethnic communities view ‘the use of force’ as more effective than non-violent dissent in getting New Delhi's attention which is physically so far away.
  3. Economic- the continuous lack of economic opportunities creates incentives for unemployed youths to join armed movements where they earn a salary.
  4. Migration- Large scale migration has created a fear in the minds of people that they will be reduced to a minority in their own states or regions. Migrants threaten their culture and traditions and also occupy already limited employment opportunities.
  5. Porous Border- it makes it easier for insurgents to easily procure arms, counterfeit currency and also get a safe haven for themselves.

Measures to be taken:

  1. Economic development of the region with better connectivity to the mainland India.
  2. Robust policy to deal with the issue of migration from neighbouring countries.
  3. Stricter checking at the border to deal with procurement of arms, smuggling, counterfeit currency.
  4. Building a sense of confidence among the local people of the region about their belonging to India.

Hence, it is clear that the problems of these regions are more or less similar and can be dealt with similar policy measures. Therefore, the government should take adequate measures to tackle the problem of insurgency in these states and facilitate their integration with mainland India. The Northeast has immense potential- strategic, economic as well as ecological. It can be a key towards maintaining relations with the ASEAN giving a boost to India’s Act East Policy.

 

Q.4) The recent Court verdict in Priya Ramani Case is a powerful vindication for women, but sexual harassment at workplace remains a problem of institutions, rather than individuals. Comment.

Why this question:

It is in the news due to the Priya Ramani Case.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the depth of the problem of sexual harassment at workplace as an institutional problem that needs concerted efforts.

Directive:

Comment- Pick out the main points on a subject and give your opinion, reinforcing your point of view using logic and reference to relevant evidence, including any wider reading you have done.

Introduction:

Briefly write about the problem of sexual harassment at workplaces and laws dealing with them.

Body:

In the first part, explain the gravity of the problem and how it is an institutional problem.

In the next part, highlight the measures that are needed on the institutional basis like stricter laws and the steps to be taken by the government.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The Delhi High Court recently gave a remarkable judgement in the MJ Akbar vs Priya Ramani case that would go a long way in India’s fight against sexual harassment at workplace. It acquitted Priya Ramani in a criminal defamation case brought against her by the former Union Minister MJ Akbar. The judgement will definitely serve as a catalyst to those women who were till now silent about sexual harassment against them due to several reasons including fear of ridicule, shaming, etc.

The sexual harassment at workplaces in India is governed under the law Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which is applicable to government offices, private sector, NGOs and the unorganised sector. But the problem still remains unaddressed as it is considered more of an individual problem and not an institutional one. 

How is Sexual Harassment at Workplace an institutional problem?

  • The world over, employers deploy sexual harassment as a means to discipline and control women workers. 
  • In India and Bangladesh, at least 60 percent of garment factory workers experience harassment at work. 
  • Studies have established that a highly sexualised regime of verbal discipline as well as more overt forms of sexual harassment also serves to keep women in their place.
  • The cases of sexual harassment at workplace is not limited to a single organisation or sector, rather it is spread across all sectors and organisations whether major or minor. 

Institutional Measures required:

  1. In any organisation, a strong culture of fairness and justice is an important foundation for success and appropriate reaction against harassment. 
  2. Leaders at all levels must be empowered to take action to deal with harassment. 
  3. A robust policy against sexual harassment and investigatory process related to it should be developed. 
  4. Women workers’ unions should be formed so that they can collectively raise their voice which can’t be suppressed by the senior authorities. 
  5. Strict action should be taken against the perpetrators without giving them any considerations.
  6. Workshops should be conducted for women as well as men to make them realise the gravity of the problem and its consequences. 
  7. Creating a strong value driven culture with inherent psychological safety to speak up against any wrongdoing.

Sexual harassment can have long lasting impact on victims, impair work relationships, damage the cultural environment, increase costs and ultimately threaten the mission of any organisation. By developing an effective proactive institutional structure for avoiding sexual harassment, and combining it with procedures that can effectively intervene when sexual harassment has occurred, the problem can be effectively dealt with.

 

Q.5) What do you understand by Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How do you think it acts as a safety net for the farmers in India?

Why this Question:

Farmers have been protesting against farm laws demanding MSP.

Key Demand of the Question:

Importance of MSP for Indian farmers.

Introduction:

Explain what MSP is and its purpose.

Body:

In the first part, highlight the importance of MSP.

In the next part, highlight the steps that should be taken by the Government to help farmers and improve their conditions.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The minimum support price or MSP refers to the minimum price at which the government procures the agricultural produce of the farmers. It is decided on the basis of recommendations made by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The farmers always have the option to sell to the government if they cannot get remunerative prices in the market.

SIGNIFICANCE OF MSP

  1. Prevents Distress Sale- farmers rarely have surplus savings which they can use for next cropping season. This can force them to sell their produce at lower price to at least recover their investments and can also lead to their exploitation. MSP prevents distress sale and gives a fair and remunerative price to the farmers of their produce.
  2. Helps in Informed Decisions- the government announces MSP before the start of the sowing season. This helps farmers to make informed decisions about which crops to sow to maximize their benefits as per the inputs they have.
  3. Benchmark for Private Players- MSP sends a price signal to the private players in the market that the prices offered by them for the farmers produce should be higher than the MSP.
  4. Price Fluctuations- the MSP saves the farmers from price fluctuations in the market as it ensures a minimum guaranteed price for their produce.

However, there are still a few challenges that undermine the objective of the MSP like non uniformity across crops, no uniformity across states, procurement issues, storage problems, ecological problems, etc. Hence, the need of the hour is to reform the Minimum Support Price system to ensure the achievement of the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022