SECURE SYNOPSIS : 15 AUGUST 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
Topic: Role of women; Social empowerment
1) A 2015 study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and EY suggested that 36% of Indian companies and 25% of multinational corporations in India were not compliant with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Examine the causes of non-compliance. (200 Words)
The legislation passed by the Parliament in December, 2013 is the landmark law in gender protection. Together with the Criminal Law Amendments to Sections 354A, 354B, 354C & 354D of the Indian Penal Code, (treating harassment as criminal offences) Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 constitute a determined response to meet the challenge of Sexual Harassment of women at the workplace.
The law today: Positive sides:
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act retains the essence of the Vishaka Guidelines, and expands on its provisions.
- It widens the definition of ‘aggrieved woman’ to include all women, irrespective of age and employment status, and it covers clients, customers and domestic workers.
- It expands ‘workplace’ beyond traditional offices to include all kinds of organisations across sectors, even non-traditional workplaces (for example those that involve telecommuting) and places visited by employees for work.
- It mandates the constitution of the internal complaint committee (ICC) — and states the action to be taken if an ICC is not formed — and the filing of an audit report of the number of complaints and action taken at the end of the year.
- It lists the duties of the employer, like organising regular workshops and awareness programmes to educate employees about the Act, and conducting orientation programmes for the members of the ICC.
- If the employer fails to constitute an ICC, or does not abide by any other provision, they must pay a fine of up to ₹50,000. If the offender is a repeat offender, the fine gets doubled. If the employer has been previously convicted of an offence under the Act, he shall be convicted for twice the punishment, and the second offence can also lead to cancellation or non-renewal of his license.
- A Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class shall try the offence punishable under the Act.
The reasons for non-compliance of this act can be:
- The Act does not satisfactorily address accountability. Notably, it does not specify who is in charge of ensuring that workplaces comply with the Act, and who can be held responsible if its provisions are not followed.
- The Act and Rules do not contain any provision to address anonymous complaints and, from a strict reading of the Act and the Rules, it appears that a complaint should be made by the victim herself or any other person she authorises. However, employers often find that complaints are made anonymously or that the complainant does not want to be identified.
- It is often difficult to ensure the physical attendance of all members of an ICC for any or all hearings. Employers resort to virtual means, such as videoconferencing, to convene meetings of an ICC. With one or more members of an ICC attending through videoconference, the meetings can be conducted with ease. While the Act is silent on convening of ICC meetings through videoconferencing.
- The employer is under an obligation to submit an annual report on redressal of complaints of sexual harassment to such authorities as may be notified under the Act. Many states have not issued a notification determining the authority.
- There are case laws, including foreign judgments, which emphasise that bringing up the past history or character of a woman is an attempt to leverage on prejudices and to make proceedings uncomfortable for the complainant, to the extent of her abandoning, withdrawing or settling the complaint. Such incidences are also contributory factor in the non-compliance of this law.
- Despite a comprehensive list of categories of acts defined as sexual harassment, women employees often fail to distinguish between whether the unwelcome contact was sexual in nature, or more in the nature of misbehavior bordering on exist remark or rude behavior by an uncouth male colleague.
When dealing with these often practical issues where full compliance with the letter of the legislation may either not be possible or may result in a situation where the intent of the act is not being served, it would be important for each situation to be analysed keeping the intent of the legislature in mind (i.e., a workplace free from sexual harassment) and ensuring that the principles of natural justice are served and no person condemned without giving him a fair hearing.
Topic: Role of women; Social empowerment
The Issue of female literacy, reservation and sex ratio are the various parameters where in the level of woman empowerment can be measured. But there are various other socio political conditions that equally play the critical role in these parameters in various states. As asked in the question, it becomes important to note the background of the issue in Nagaland and Harayana.
- A) In Nagaland:
It’s a conflict between Naga customary laws and the constitutional provisions. Tribal bodies, led by the apex group, Naga Ho, say 33 per cent reservation for women would infringe upon Naga customary laws. According to Article 371 (A), “no Act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland in relation to religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Naga Customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources”.
It’s is a direct confrontation between articles 243 (D) — which gives 33 per cent reservation for women — and 371 (A), which gives special status to the Nagaland State based on distinct political and cultural structure.
Interestingly, Article 243 (M) gives exception to the reservation policy (spelt out under article 243 (D).
The State amended the State Panchayat Raj Act, even including criteria such as educational qualifications and standards for candidates to meet while seeking election to panchayat bodies. Academically, men from the general category had to be matriculates, women and Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates had to have passed out of middle school, while SC women should have passed standard five. This raised criticism as it disqualified 68% of SC women and 41% of SC men.
- The above said issue shows that irrespective of patriarchal setup and orthodox institutions such as Khap panchayat in Harayana, the political will power can lead the way for egalitarian society through legal measures.
- As in case of Nagaland, the protest by woman for political representation indicates towards the rising awareness about the political rights in distanced sections of the society.
- The comparison between two states though not totally rational to do, shows that the political and social development should go hand in hand in order to maintain balance in the society. The upsurge of protest in Nagaland is clear indication of such possible imbalance that escalates into violence.
- The variation in two cases highlights the need of society oriented policy for woman empowerment at state level. The minute aspects of plans and programs must take into consideration the state level variations in social and political conditions.
The Haryana and Nagaland state are good examples to understand the existing diversity among the various states in India in terms of socio economic aspects that creates remarkable impact on woman empowerment.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
The Securities and Exchange Board of India’s unprecedently moves to tag 331 firms as shell companies and restrict trading in them takes liquidity out of these companies in one go and also close the exit option for investors, leaving them saddled with stocks of these companies.
These functions are performed by SEBI to regulate the business in stock exchange. To regulate the activities of stock exchange following functions are performed:
Regulatory functions of SEBI:
(i) SEBI has framed rules and regulations and a code of conduct to regulate the intermediaries such as merchant bankers, brokers, underwriters, etc.
(ii) These intermediaries have been brought under the regulatory purview and private placement has been made more restrictive.
(iii) SEBI registers and regulates the working of stock brokers, sub-brokers, share transfer agents, trustees, merchant bankers and all those who are associated with stock exchange in any manner.
(iv) SEBI registers and regulates the working of mutual funds etc.
(v) SEBI regulates takeover of the companies.
(vi) SEBI conducts inquiries and audit of stock exchanges.
The SEBI’s decision has come under criticism due to following reasons:
- The regulatory body had acted on a list of suspect companies that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had forwarded after consultation with the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Income Tax department.
- Instead of conducting an independent investigation into these suspect companies, SEBI passed the buck to the exchanges and asked them to impose immediate trading restrictions on the companies.
- Before a proper investigation by SEBI or the exchanges, the companies were put under stage four of the Graded Surveillance Measure, whereby trading is limited to one day a month, the trading price is capped, and buyers are required to deposit money.
- Handing out extremely harsh punishment on suspect companies without giving them an adequate chance to explain their positions has been highly criticised.
- SEBI’s action will give a blow to its credibility among investors as being an effective and unbiased regulatory body.
- While retail investors seem to have been punished as of now for investments in such companies, the head of another leading financial services firm asked if the regulator will also punish the merchant bankers for bringing out such issues in the market in the first place.
This step taken by one of the highest regulatory body in country must be critically analysed and rationally discussed in public forum in order to avoid such kind of hasty decisions in future.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
4) Critically comment on the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) and the marital rape exception under the IPC that deal with sexual violence against children. (200 Words)
Recently, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court heard a petition on the constitutionality of the marital rape exception in the IPC (Exception 2 to Section 375). The petitioners pointed to the contradictions between the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), which defines “child” as a person below 18 years, and the marital rape exception in the IPC, which states that sexual intercourse between a man and his wife (who is not under 15 years) is not rape. The Bench apparently inquired whether the court must intervene to provide protection to married girls between 15 and 18 years from sexual exploitation by their spouse, given the legislative intention to exempt marital rape from prosecution.
POCSO Act does not carve out any exception in favour of marriage. The legislative intention is also evident from Section 42A of the POCSO Act, which provides that in case of inconsistency with the provisions of any other law, the POCSO Act will override.
POCSO Act’s criticism:-
- It criminalizes the consensual sexual act among individuals below 18 years. It doesn’t consider the normal sexual exploration among children in changing environment.
- It considers every sexual contact as rape.
- Strict punishment under POCSO is interference in the autonomy of children and their freedom to live.
IPC’s marital exception’s criticism:-
- Exemption has resulted in blind acquittal of husbands by court and it can encourage more abuse of young girls by husbands.
- The provision of wife’s age of 15 years is inconsistent with Prohibition of child marriage act -2006, according to which marriage’s minimum age has to be 18.
- It doesn’t check whether marriage was forced on girl or there is sexual violence within marriage and hence doesn’t respect the opinion of girl.
Previous court judgements –
The higher judiciary has largely taken a lenient approach in such cases.
- The Gujarat High Court in Yunusbhai Shaikh v. State of Gujarat (2015) quashed the FIR against the accused under the IPC and POCSO holding, “[the victim] is admitting… that she had accompanied the applicant on her own free will and… since she was in love with the applicant and the applicant also loved her, they decided to get married.” It added, however, that proceedings under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA) should be initiated against the person(s) who performed the nikah , since the PCMA being ‘special law’ would override ‘general’ personal laws.
- The Gauhati High Court in Jahirul Maulanav. State of Assam (2016) quashed the chargesheet against a man who had allegedly raped a minor. Since the victim was his wife and had borne his child, the court felt that to continue criminal proceedings would defeat the ends of justice.
- However, the Karnataka High Court faced a case ( Soni Nihal v. Sri. Sandeep Patel,2017) with nearly identical facts and observed that the “criminal proceedings initiated for the alleged offence [rape] cannot be quashed.”
Way forward –
The POCSO’s approach fails to recognise the autonomy and evolving capacity of children, particularly adolescents. Parliament and the Supreme Court need to consider the South African Constitutional Court’s conclusions in Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children v. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development(2013), in which provisions that criminalised consensual sexual conduct of adolescents between 12 and 16 years were held unconstitutional. At the same time, the government and courts cannot be oblivious to sexual violence within personal relationships.
Demands for strict construction of all sexual contact with children as rape and the blind exemption accorded to sexual violence within marriage are both incompatible with the constitutional guarantee of a right to life of dignity and protection against violence. An acceptable exception would only be one that is premised on respect for adolescent children’s right to physical integrity and freedom of expression with safeguards against grooming, force, coercion, and exploitation.
Topic: Indian economy; Security issues
India became independent after disaster of Second World War and amid wave of anti colonialism. But that independence was questioned by many political pundits who were skeptical over efficacy of democracy in India amid such huge diversity and differences perceived during independence movement among various groups of society. But after 70 years, India as a country not only is intact but have strengthened.
In this journey India’s achievement in economy have been-
- Self sufficiency in food production.
- Big infrastructure projects to ensure electricity and irrigation needs.
- Growth of banking sector with robustness.
- Private sector well amalgamated after 1991 reforms.
- India – 6th largest economy (nominal) and 3rd largest (PPP).
- farmer crisis – suicides, lack of infrastructure.
- Job less growth, as service sector led growth.
- double balance sheet problem,
- manufacturing sector did not grow with requisite pace .
- Growing poverty and rich-poor divide.
- India is now a responsible nuclear-state to ward off any serious security threat; space research has collaborated well with defence and military efforts to protect India.
- Solved border issues with Bangladesh -land swapping agreement.
- Porous borders problem- more deployment of forces and ICT with neighbours like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
- Internal issues like Naxalism, secessionist tendencies were handled quite efficiently, e.g. SAMADHAN strategy.
- Communal violence was handled well with harmony.
- Whether in organising appropriate weapons supply, developing our internal infrastructure or in ensuring effective management, our defence situation suffers from cumulative amateurishness and neglect.
- Lack of technological advancements, slow pace of modernization as well as indigenization of war equipments , weaponry.
- Terrorism still a major threat, with unresolved disputes with Pak and China.
- Issues such as naxalite movement, hatred, currency trafficking have created rift in the social integrity.
Thus, though India has been successful to be largest democracy in the world and emerging economy , she needs to achieve much more to establish herself as a strong security and economy nation. Inclusive growth with motto of “ Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” is the key to build a strong India.
Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
Introduction :- Epicurus is considered a major figure in the history of science as well as philosophy. In ethics he is famous for propounding the theory of hedonism, which holds that pleasure is the only intrinsic value. As we shall see, however, his view of pleasure is far from the stereotypical one. For Epicurus, the most pleasant life is one where we abstain from unnecessary desires and achieve an inner tranquility (ataraxia) by being content with simple things, and by choosing the pleasure of philosophical conversation with friends over the pursuit of physical pleasures like food, drink, and sex
THOUGHT ON HAPPINESS :-
“Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we always come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.”
His basic ideas are very clearly outlined in his justly famous Letter to Menoeceus. He begins with a claim familiar from Plato and Aristotle: that we all desire happiness as an end in itself, and all other things are desired as a means for producing happiness.
Epicurus notes further that we need wisdom to see which pleasures are really pleasurable, and which pains are necessary to produce pleasure. Some pleasures lead to greater pain, like imbibing copious amounts of alcohol, and so the wise person will shun them. On the other hand, certain pains, like sadness, can lead to an appreciation for life or compassion, which are highly pleasurable states. We should not therefore get rid of all negative emotions but only those that lead to unnecessary pains.
THOUGHT ON JUSTICE :-
Epicurus is one of the first philosophers to give a well-developed contractarian theory of justice. Epicurus says that justice is an agreement “neither to harm nor be harmed,” and that we have a preconception of justice as “what is useful in mutual associations.” People enter into communities in order to gain protection from the dangers of the wild, and agreements concerning the behaviour of the members of the community are needed in order for these communities to function, e.g., prohibitions of murder, regulations concerning the killing and eating of animals, and so on. Justice exists only where there are such agreements.
Like the virtues, justice is valued entirely on instrumental grounds, because of its utility for each of the members of society. Epicurus says that the main reason not to be unjust is that one will be punished if one gets caught, and that even if one does not get caught, the fear of being caught will still cause pain. However, he adds that the fear of punishment is needed mainly to keep fools in line, who otherwise would kill, steal, etc. The Epicurean wise man recognizes the usefulness of the laws, and since he does not desire great wealth, luxury goods, political power, or the like, he sees that he has no reason to engage in the conduct prohibited by the laws in any case.
Although justice only exists where there is an agreement about how to behave, that does not make justice entirely ‘conventional,’ if by ‘conventional’ we mean that any behaviour dictated by the laws of a particular society is thereby just, and that the laws of a particular society are just for that society. Since the ‘justice contract’ is entered into for the purpose of securing what is useful for the members of the society, only laws that are actually useful are just. Thus, a prohibition of murder would be just, but anti miscegenation laws would not. Since what is useful can vary from place to place and time to time, what laws are just can likewise vary.
Topic: Ethics in human actions
Introduction :- Power is considered to be one of the main thing to be craved for in society. It can be seen that the race may be for power in politics. Many elected leaders face criminal charges against them. Bihar assembly has enormous proportion of MLA with cases of murder, violence against them. In historical context examples like Aurangzeb shows that good people have to meet bad end in race of power.
The reasons for this can be it is the race for power which makes a person to bend, mend and change the normal ways. The race many a times turn out to be unethical, corrupt as winning at any cost is the moto. Good men seek to use power for the benefit of others and people at large but bad people seek to use it for their personal gains. Good men believes in deontological ethics but it doesn’t matter for bad men what means they are using to achieve the stated objective. Hence it is argued that good men are likely to lose out in the race for power.
However it is not true always. In many cases one can see good men win the race to power ultimately. Nelson Mandela, Aan San Syu Ki are the exemplary examples of patience, faith and tolerance towards bad people, circumstances and they win the power ultimately.