current-affairs-based-mains-drill-28-january-2021

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Q.1) Govind Ballabh Pant was an Indian freedom fighter and one of the architects of modern India. Comment (15 Marks - 250 Words)

Why this question? - Recently a statue of freedom fighter Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant has been unveiled after shifting it to a new location from the previous location of the Parliament premises. 

Key demands of the question - Highlight his contributions in India’s freedom struggle and in shaping modern India.

Directive - The directive ‘Comment’ usually precedes an unbiased or biased statement. The students are supposed to be neutral and write various facts and viewpoints regarding that particular statement.

Intro - A brief about Govind Ballabh Pant 

Body

  • His contribution in India’s freedom struggle
  • His contribution in shaping modern India

Conclusion - Due to his contribution in shaping modern India, several Indian hospitals, educational institutions and foundations bear his name. Pant received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1957.

 

Q. Failure in constituting the Law Commission handicapped the government’s push for legal reforms and review of the existing laws. Discuss the significance of the Law Commission in light of this statement. (150 words)

Why this question?

  • The Supreme Court asked the Home and Law Ministries to explain the nearly three-year-long lapse in making appointments to the Law Commission.

Key demand of the question: The answer requires the importance and functions of the Law Commission.

Directive:

Discuss: One has to debate the topics and provide a balanced opinion.

Introduction: Briefly explain the context of the question.

Body:

  • About Law Commission
  • Functions and mandate
  • Issues:
    • Non statutory nature
    • Delay in constitution of Law Commission

Conclusion: Conclude by writing on the importance of the Law Commission in carrying out legal reforms.

 

Q)The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has been a landmark policy towards preventing atrocities against children. Discuss.

Why this question:

Recently the Act has been in news due to certain statements by a Bombay HC judge.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the significance of the POCSO Act in preventing atrocities against children.

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:

Write about the POCSO Act, year of its introduction and what it basically deals with.

Body:

In the first part, mention the advantages of the POCSO Act in preventing atrocities against the children.

Also, write about the recent amendments made in 2019, new offences added under the Act and the penalties for such offences. 

In the next part, mention the issues with the act especially related to the death penalty for certain offences and its effectiveness. Also write about the recent statement by a judge of the Bombay HC related to POCSO and atrocities against children

Conclusion:

Conclude with certain measures that should be adopted by the government to strengthen the act and also prevent people from committing such heinous crimes.

Model Answer

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or the POCSO Act, 2012 was established to protect the children from offences such as sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography.

According to Census 2011, India has a population of 472 million children below the age of 18 years and incidents of sexual crimes against children became a growing concern paving the way for the introduction of the Act. As per the NCRB report of 2018, 39,827 cases were reported in India under the POCSO Act. This implies that 109 children faced sexual atrocities every day in the country.

The POCSO Act has been a forward looking step in this area that aims to reduce such incidents and punish those committing them. It provides for a comprehensive coverage of crimes against children, special care and assistance for the victims, special child friendly fast track courts for speedy justice, confidentiality of the identity of the child, etc. 

Recently, the Act was amended in 2019. It seeks to provide more stringent punishment, including death penalty, for sexual crimes against children. It specifically defines what ‘child pornography’ is; ‘using a child for pornographic purposes’ and for ‘possessing or storing pornography involving a child’ is punishable. It has also widened the ambit of ‘aggravated sexual assault’.

However, there have been certain concerns with the Act such as death penalty for certain offences and its efficacy in controlling crimes; issues of consenting activities, child marriage, and mental age of a person are not considered. Recently, a Bombay HC judge has said that holding hands of a victim is not a sexual assault under POCSO Act. The Court held that “skin-to-skin” contact is essential to constitute the offence defined under Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act). These loopholes intend to narrow the ambit of the Act and provide opportunities for offenders to go uncaught. 

Hence, it can be said that though the Act is phenomenal in the area of crimes against children yet changes are needed by the government to strengthen it. Moreover, steps should be taken by both the government and the civil society to reform the society so that such incidents do not take place.

 

Q)Define the role and functions of the Election Commission. What are its discretionary powers during the time of elections?

Why this question:

Constitutional Bodies are an important part of GS Paper II.

Key demand of the question:

Role, functions and powers of the EC

Introduction:

Give a brief introduction about the Election Commission and its constitutional status.

Body:

In the first part, mention the role and functions of the Election Commission of India.

In the next part, write about the discretionary powers of the EC during elections like imposing the Model Code of Conduct, cancelling of polls, etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to strengthen the role of EC as an independent body conducting and managing free and fair elections in the country.

Model Answer

Under Article 324, the Constitution of India establishes a permanent and independent body called Election Commission (EC) to ensure free and fair elections in the country. It has the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to the Parliament of India, state legislatures, office of the President and the Vice President of India.

The role and functions of the EC are:

  1. Determine the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
  2. Prepare and periodically revise electoral rolls and to register all eligible voters. 
  3. Notify the dates and schedules of elections and to scrutinize nomination papers. 
  4. Grant recognition to political parties and allot election symbols to them. 
  5. Act as a court for settling disputes related to granting of recognition to political parties and allotment of election symbols to them. 
  6. Appoint officers for inquiring into disputes relating to electoral arrangements.
  7. Register political parties for the purpose of elections and grant them the status of national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance.
  8. Supervise the machinery of elections throughout the country to ensure free and fair elections.

The discretionary powers of the EC are:

  1. Determine the code of conduct to be observed by the parties and the candidates at the time of elections. 
  2. Advise the president on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of Parliament.
  3. Advise the governor on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of the state legislature. 
  4. Cancel polls in the event of rigging, booth capturing, violence and other irregularities.

However, over the years the credibility of EC has been under question due to issues such as criminalization of politics, rampant abuse of power by the state government, allegations of EVM malfunctioning, etc. These challenges tend to undermine the faith of the citizens in democracy.

Free and fair elections are one of the foundational principles of a smooth functioning democracy and to ensure this more independence and autonomy has to be given to the EC w.r.t. issues like criminalization of politics, disqualification of MPs on certain grounds, etc.

 

Q)The Western Ghats is an important biosphere hotspot which requires conservation efforts. Critically analyze with respect to the Gadgil Committee report on conservation of Western Ghats.

Why this question:

Western Ghats was recently in news due to the construction of a long tunnel in Kerala and it is also an important part of GS paper III.

Key demand of the question:

Conservation efforts for an ecologically sensitive area like the Western Ghats and the report of the Gadgil committee in relation to it.

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:

Mention about the Western Ghats and its geographical location in India and the states it runs through. 

Body:

In the first part, highlight the importance of Western Ghats for India’s ecosystem and the significance it carries for the biodiversity, flora and fauna, and also for the people living around it including the tribals. Also, mention the threats that the area faces due to constructions, global warming, ecological disturbance, deforestation, etc.

In the next part, give a brief introduction about the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil and its report on the conservation of Western Ghats and why they need to be implemented.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of Indian peninsula, located entirely in India. It runs across six states- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

The hill ranges of the Western Ghats are a global biodiversity hotspot. It is home to many endangered plants and animals and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots'' of biological diversity in the world. Though covering an area of 180,000 km2, or just under 6 per cent of the land area of India, they contain more than 30 per cent of all plant, fish, fauna, bird, and mammal species found in India. Many of them among them are endemic to India. 

During the recent years, this ecologically sensitive area has been under threat due to several reasons such as construction activities, deforestation, ecological disturbance and global warming. This has led to degradation of the Western Ghats.

The government appointed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil in 2010 to prepare a report on the conservation efforts for Western Ghats.

Important recommendations of the panel are:

  1. It designated the entire hill range as an Ecologically Sensitive Area.
  2. It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management.
  3. Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.
  4. It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or national parks.
  5. The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.

The growing change in climatic conditions across the world makes it important for the conservation of an area as important as Western Ghats. Hence, the government should take steps to implement the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee and also other committees like the Kasturirangan Committee in 2012.

 

Q)The Indian judiciary is overburdened with numerous pending cases. Critically examine the delay in judicial appointments which can further increase the number of pending cases.

Why this Question:

It is an important part of GS Paper II.

Key demand of the Question:

Issues arising in the Indian judicial system due to delay in judicial appointments.

Introduction:

Give an introduction of the huge amount of pending cases over the Indian judiciary using statistics.

Body:

In the first part, write about the reasons for the huge pendency of cases on the Indian judiciary. Mention the issues arising out of it like delay in justice delivery, overcrowding of prisons, loss of confidence of citizens in an institution as important as judiciary, etc.

In the next part, write the issue of delay in judicial appointments being an important reason for the pending cases. Substantiate by giving statistics from various reports like according to the Economic Survey of 2018-19 about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system, especially in district and subordinate courts.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving measures to reform the system of judicial appointments and speedy justice delivery.

Model Answer

The Indian judiciary is the third pillar of the smooth functioning Indian democracy. However, there have been questions on the judiciary due to the increasing number of cases in the courts. There are about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system, especially in district and subordinate courts. About 87.54 per cent of the total pendency of cases is in the district and subordinate courts. The Ease of Doing Business Report of the World Bank for 2018 and 2019 shows that the time taken to decide a case has remained static at 1,445 days.

Causes for high pendency

  1. Delay in judicial appointments: Around 6000 posts are lying empty in the subordinate courts. It leads to poor Judges to Population Ratio. 
  2. Frequent adjournments: The laid down procedure of allowing a maximum of three adjournments per case is not followed in over 50 per cent of the matters being heard by courts.
  3. Large increase in the number of public interest litigations in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is also occupied due to frequent appeals from the lower courts.
  4. The special leave petition (SLP) which the Constituent Assembly hoped would be used sparingly, now dwarfs the work of the Supreme Court.
  5. Ineffective investigation by the police leading to a lot of trials going on for a long time.

The high pendency of cases with the Indian judiciary causes other problems like overcrowding of prisons, delay in justice delivery which is sometimes too late, violation of human rights, loss of faith of citizens in judiciary and ultimately in democracy.

Faster judicial appointments can be a key in reducing the number of pending cases. The existing vacancies should be filled on a regular basis and also new vacancies should be created to improve the Judge to Population ratio and ensure a faster and smoother justice delivery across India.

 

Q)The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 has been criticized on the grounds that it does not take into account the concerns of privacy. Discuss.

Why this question:

It is an important part of GS Paper III.

Key demand of the Question: 

Key concerns related to the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 and measures to address the concerns.

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 a brief introduction about the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 and what it deals with.

Body:

In the first part, mention the key provisions of the bill and why was there a need for such a bill.

In the next part, mention the issues associated with the bill w.r.t. grounds of privacy and also other concerns.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to overcome the concerns and enhance its efficiency.

Model Answer

DNA is one of the few things that remain unregulated in many parts of the world. Therefore, the Indian Government introduced the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill in 2019. The bill which is also known as the DNA Profiling Bill, tries to check the use of DNA technology to establish the identity of a person. It aims to establish the identity of missing persons, victims, offenders, under trials and unknown deceased persons.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

  1. Establishment of a national data bank and regional data banks containing information about DNA of victims and offenders.
  2. Every databank will maintain indices like the crime scene index, suspects' or undertrials' index, offenders' index, missing persons' index and unknown deceased persons' index.
  3. Establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board to analyze DNA samples.
  4. Requirement of consent for DNA profiling of persons held under a crime with punishment less than 7 years.
  5. Removal of DNA profiles of suspects on the filing of a police report or court order, and of undertrials on the basis of a court order. Profiles in the crime scene and missing persons' index will be removed on a written request.

Unfortunately, there have been major concerns regarding the way the bill addresses core issues such as privacy and fundamental rights.

These include:

  1. It could compromise with the privacy of the individuals because all the details of the person’s body and his DNA profile will be with the state. 
  2. Non- requirement of consent for DNA profiling in case of crimes with punishment more than 7 years or death penalty.
  3. The bill goes well beyond the criminal matters and regulates civilian and medical uses of DNA.

Globally, DNA samples are collected in very serious offences and not for suspects of just any crime. This should also be the case in India. Moreover, India first needs laws to protect privacy and personal data of individuals, especially after the Supreme Court recognizing the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right. Lack of such laws, coupled with lack of ethics can make India very vulnerable to misuse of DNA samples and profiles. Hence, it becomes mandatory for the government to address these issues and then move ahead with the Bill.