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stylish lining

Why in the News?

The Delhi Police arrested two persons of news portal NewsClick by invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on the charges of

  • Accessing funds from pro-China elements 
  • Coverage of events such as the farmers’ protests in 2020-21, that undermined the internal security of India.

The line set by “basic structure doctrine” has been crossed:

  1. The doctrine was established by the Supreme Court to restrict majoritarianism over fundamental rights.
  2. Recent developments relating to religious minorities, freedom of expression and speech and political financing reflects that the line has been crossed by subverting it from outside the text of the constitution.
  3. Though Court is an unelected institution in a system that has an elected legislature, its legitimacy in striking down laws lies in its act of protecting the democratic process.
    1. The representative body is best to decide on what rules and values should govern a society.
    2. However, the courts have obligation to protect the integrity of the process of democracy, as a faulty democratic process can raise questions over the legitimacy of the representative body itself.
  4. Indian judiciary has more powers than just protecting the integrity of the democratic process. Those include:
    1. strike down laws and constitutional amendments.
    2. Can imply restriction on Parliament in amending the Constitution through the basic structure doctrine.
  5. In spite of the active roles played by the Judiciary to retain the text of the constitution, it can be diminished from the outside.

Democracy undermined:

  1. The constitutional part of “constitutional democracy” says that democracy is not just in the principle of majority decision-making but decisions made in democratic conditions.
  2. Such democratic conditions shall include, “whose structure, composition, and practices treat all members of the community, as individuals, with equal respect and concern”.
  3. Such “democratic conditions” can be attainable only by adopting basic values that contribute to a robust democracy, such as
    1. freedom of speech and expression
    2. freedom of association.
  4. However, these democratic system and fundamental right being still intact in the constitution, can be dent from outside.
    1. For instance, when terrorism laws are invoked against journalists, the fundamental right to speech and expression is textually intact in the Constitution but takes a dent outside.
    2. Similarly, when hate speeches against minorities are left unchecked, secularism remains intact in words but not in experiences.
    3. When electoral funding is opaque, democracy is confined to paper.

The court has enough powers to arrest the decline of such constitutionally protected rights, if it realises the effect of this larger trend. Unchecked violations of democratic conditions outside the text of the Constitution and laws would render both the Constitution and the Court without their identities

Here are the key details on the Supreme Court notice regarding the arrest of NewsClick founder under UAPA:

  • Prabir Purkayastha, one of the founders of NewsClick, was arrested by the Delhi police in February 2021 under the UAPA law.
  • NewsClick filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging his arrest and the use of UAPA charges against him.
  • The petition argues that Purkayastha's arrest violates his fundamental rights and is an attempt to silence the critical media outlet NewsClick.
  • In March 2021, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Delhi police on this petition. It asked the police to respond to NewsClick's claims.
  • The Supreme Court notice is significant because the arrest was made by the police without prior approval from the central government, which is required under UAPA.
  • The court will now examine if there are substantive grounds for the UAPA case and if Purkayastha's arrest followed due process under the law.
  • The Supreme Court's scrutiny on the use of UAPA in this case has wider implications for enforcement of security laws against journalists, activists, etc.
  • The court's decision on the NewsClick petition will determine if the Delhi police misused UAPA powers to suppress critical voices.

In summary, the Supreme Court has intervened to scrutinize the Delhi police's arrest of a NewsClick founder under a strict anti-terror law. Its decision could have bearings on use of such laws against dissent in India.


stylish lining

Why in the News?

recent paper titled “A National Cancer Grid pooled procurement initiative, India”, demonstrates the viability of idea of the centralised procurement of pharmaceuticals.

Need for a Centralised procurement system:

  1. Pooled buyer model for drug procurement can address issues such as
    1. Price efficiency as they can conduct direct negotiations with pharmaceutical companies
    2. Stockouts
    3. Quality concerns
  2. Such a model is being used by corporate hospital chains in drug procurement.
  3. However, these merits are ignored in governmental schemes such as,
    1. Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)
    2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY)
    3. Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (ESI).
  4. The study revealed that:
    1. Group negotiation, uniform contracts and purchases by hospitals associated with the National Cancer Grid for 40 drugs resulted in savings of ₹13.2 billion.
    2. This led to savings ranging from between 23% to 99% compared to without pooled procurement.

Central government’s central procurement in male contraceptives’ purchase:

  1. The centre through the National Aids Control Organization, invites tenders from private manufacturers for procuring male contraceptives.
  2. In the tender call, the govt. offers to buy from all those who are willing to match the lowest price.
  3. The government ensure that the suppliers are not colluding to keep the price high by allowing HLL Lifecare Ltd., a public sector unit (PSU) to provide a benchmark price.
  4. The highest manufacturing capacity PSU- HLL’s benchmark price will compel all the bidders to be competitive on price.
  5. Else, the government will procure all its requirements from HLL and the bidders will be left with unused manufacturing capacity that may lead to huge fixed costs and overheads.
  6. This model can be replicated for most of the drugs procured by the govt. given many pharma PSUs that can provide benchmark prices and also ensure that the government has leverage.
  7. The leverage shall ensure that the govt is not forced to buy from private manufacturers, given that there is competition from PSUs which can make supplies at a competitive price.

The issue of better quality

  1. The buyers’ clubs can ensure better quality, in addition to cost savings.
  2. Better quality can be ensured by having the supplies tested independently rather than having to rely on the drug regulator to ensure quality. This is the standard operating procedure for buyers in many developed nations.
  3. Pooled procurement can also offer other benefits such as,
    1. Ensure better deployment of funds in other areas related to health care
    2. Ensure availability of life-saving drugs across the country


stylish lining


Why in the News?

Israel issued a new warning to Palestinians to leave northern Gaza and offered a three-hour window for evacuation to southern Gaza, ahead of a launch of ground invasion against the Palestinian militant group Hamas.



What will be the implications of an Israeli ground invasion for Gaza and Israel?

  1. The Gaza Strip is a very narrow strip of land and among the mostly densely populated areas in the world shall pay the highest price with innocent lives.
  2. Hamas military men will be hard to find, and yet the civilians will be easy targets.
  3. An Israeli reoccupation of the Strip directly means more loss of lives on both sides.
  4. It shall also lead to encouraging more resistance of smaller groups that would be splinters of Hamas.

Even if there is no ground invasion, what will be the situation as Israel is cutting off essential supplies to Gaza?

  1. It may lead to ethnic cleansing of more than 1 million Palestinian as
    1. Israelis are pushing for a new expulsion of the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and the Sinai desert.
    2. Israel’s focus on northern part of the Gaza Strip, maybe to reoccupy it and make it some sort of a buffer zone.
    3. Egypt rejects the Israeli plan, and says that it won’t open its borders for mass immigration. 
  2. The unconditional support from the West, the US and Europe, to the brutality of the Israeli operation that amounts to war crimes is a surprising aspect.
  3. The 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will be trapped between a slow death and a quick death.

Role of Hamas in the life of Palestinians apart from a religious movement and a political party

  1. Hamas is, and is seen by the Palestinians, as a multifaceted social, religious, political, and military organisation.
  2. Its mother organisation is the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, that was founded in Palestine during the British Mandate in the 1940s. 
  3.  It continued to exist under Israeli occupation after the creation of Israel in 1948, but it didn’t engage in resistance or confrontation against Israel, as other nationalist or Marxist Palestinian organisations.
  4. In 1987, they changed their strategy and adopted resistance as their goal for helping their community.
  5. The multi-dimensional and deep integration of the movement in Palestinian society differentiates it from other extremist groups that exist on the fringes.
  6. After 2000, when peace talks between Israel and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) became fruitless, Hamas and its strategy of resistance gained more support with the Palestinians, leading to it winning the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
  7. After 2000, when peace talks between Israel and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) became fruitless, Hamas and its strategy of resistance gained more support with the Palestinians, leading to it winning the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
  8. Hamas has been internally evolved, and people see their sons, brothers, and friends part of it. 
  9. If Hamas is eliminated, the alternative is most likely more extreme splinter groups.

The divide and Conquer strategy of Israel:

  1. Since 2005, the Israeli strategy intended to create splits within the Palestinians and secure the environment that will sustain a deep Palestinian divide between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 
  2. Their strategy succeeded and was indirectly helped by the rivalry politics among the Palestinian factions.
  3. Israel planned that when balance of power tilting is to one side, it would ease some restrictions on the other side to keep both strong enough to compete with each other, and direct their energy away from resisting the root cause — the Israeli occupation.


stylish lining

Why in the News?

The number of species included in the new schedules of the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Act, 2022 has been increased, recently.

  • Schedule 1 confers the highest protection and contains about 600 species of vertebrates and hundreds of invertebrates.
  • Schedule 2 contains about 2,000 species (with 1,134 species of birds alone)

The Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Act, 2022:

  1. The act amended the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 that deals with the protection of wild animals, birds and plants.
  2. The act has increased the species protected under the law.
  3. Also, it seeks to implement the provisions of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), that include:
    1. Ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
    2. Countries have to regulate the trade of all listed specimens through permits.
    3. Possession of live animal specimens have to be regulated.
    4. The act provides for the central government to designate a:
      1. Management Authority to grant export or import permits for trade of specimens
      2. Scientific Authority to gives advice on aspects related to impact on the survival of the specimens being traded. 
  4. Rationalising schedules:
    1. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 had 6 schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one). 
    2. The new act reduces the total number of schedules to four by:
      1. Reducing the no. of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level)
      2. Removes the schedule for vermin species
      3. Inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens)
  5. The act empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
  6. The act empowers the central government to also notify a conservation reserve besides the state governments, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.
  7. The act provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals or animal products to the Chief Wild Life Warden, which shall then become property of the state government.  

Issues for conservation:

  1. The inclusion of several species in the new schedules has been criticised for no consultation, process or logic. The issues are as follows:
  2. There is no clear connection between endangerment and conservation given in the act.
    1. The WLP act, 1972 intended to only regulate the use of various species (including hunting), restrict trade, and police the trafficking of species, while research was only an exception under the hunting clause. 
    2. The new act aligns itself with CITES, including the CITES appendices as well.
  3. No prioritising of species in the act:
    1. It is unclear where resources should be allocated on the basis of this list as hundreds of species of mammals and over 1,000 species of birds and innumerable other taxa are listed.
    2. The same level of protection is offered to many important and least concern species. For instance, same level of protection is offered to tigers and jackals, to the great Indian bustard and common barn owls, to the king cobra and rat snakes.
  4. Various Schedule 1 species pose enormous physical, mental and economic harm to people such as Crocodiles in the Andamans, leopards and elephants destroying lives and livelihoods.
    1. The new act pushes the point of ‘co-existence’, without considering the plight of impact on people.
    2. Few States that allowed limited culling of problematic animals such as wild pigs and nilgai, will have to shun the policy due to their inclusion in Schedule I. this shows disregard for plight of farmers and marginal cultivators.
  5. Restrictive view on hunting and the use of animals:
    1. While restrictions on use of declining species have been imposed, regulated use has not been considered for animals that are abundant.
  6. Other issues:
    1. The act instead of promoting conservation, disincentivise plantation owners from planting native trees, and promote exotics such as Silver Oak, which goes against acts such as Tree Preservation Acts of Kerala and Karnataka which prohibits felling of native trees. 
    2. The listing of spotted deer (chital) in Schedule 1, which is common throughout India and invasive in the Andaman Islands causing harm to the vegetation and herpetofauna, cannot be legally culled or removed because of the WLPA.
  7. Tedious and time-consuming process for research approval due to listing of such a large number of species.


stylish lining

Why in the News?

The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme court, which decided on the same-sex marriage case, in a 3:2 majority, held that non-heterosexual couples cannot claim an unqualified right to marry.

Why is there a demand for legalising same-sex marriages?

  1. Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India, 2018- decriminalised homosexuality by striking off Section 377 IPC
  2. Puttaswamy and Anr. vs. Union of India’ (2017), upheld the fundamental right to privacy.
  3. Right to marry for non-heterosexual couples is implicit in
    1. Article 14 (Equality)
    2. Article 15 (Non-Discrimination)
    3. Article 16 (Equality of Opportunity in Public Employment)
    4. Article 19 (Freedom of Speech)
    5. Article 21 (Right to Life)
  4. Special Marriage Act, 1954:
  1. Section 4 of SMA, refers to a marriage in gender-neutral terms, between ‘any two persons.’
  2. ‘Atypical marriages’, recognised by the Mental Health Act 2017 has to be included within the SMA.
  1. Demand for equal rights, not just of marriage, but of horizontal reservation and protection from natal families. 
  2. Though laws relating to marriage have a religious genesis, in India it is a mixture of common law and religion and currently it has become a status conferred by law.
  3. State cannot not deny marriage equality on grounds of “impracticality” as the discriminatory laws were created by it.
  4. Quoting that queer persons’ right to marry has already been recognised by the Transgender Persons Protection Act, 2019, flowing from the 2014 NALSA judgement, all queer identities are part of this term.
    1. NALSA vs Union of India case (2014) gave legal recognition to persons outside the purview of the male-female gender binary, falling under the category of “third gender”. 
  5. Exclusion of heterosexual couples from the institution of marriage will provide legitimate grounds to differentiate between the commitments of heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples.

Arguments against legalising same-sex marriages:

  1. The Centre held that marriage between a biological man and woman is a “holy union, a sacrament and sanskar (culture)” in India. 
  2. More than 20 retired judges said that legalisation of same-sex marriage will strike at the very root of the “family system”, the fundamental building block of society.
  3. Same-sex marriages is a sensitive issue concerning the society at large and has to be debated in the Parliament and State Legislature as well.
  4. 160 laws would be impacted in the process of bringing marriage equality and hence, Parliament is the only forum to make such laws.
  5. Under the Special Marriage Act 1954, the court cannot give rights to non-heterosexual couples that heterosexual couples don’t have.
    1. For instance, under the Act, a wife could seek divorce on the ground that her husband has been guilty of rape, sodomy, or bestiality. In the case of gay marriage, who would get this right becomes a question.
  6. The State is justified in treating heterosexuals and homosexuals differently as the welfare of children is paramount as concepts of mother and motherhood are adhere to children naturally born to heterosexual persons.

How Special Marriage Act 1954 poses some hurdles for legalizing same-sex marriage in India?

  • The Act legalizes civil marriages for heterosexual couples from different religions or castes. However, it defines marriage as between a "male and a female". This effectively bars same-sex unions.
  • Amending the Act would require parliamentary approval. Given the current government's stand against same-sex marriage, passing an amendment to recognize same-sex marriage appears unlikely. 
  • The Act also requires extensive public notice of an intended civil marriage. This is meant to allow for objections. Requiring same-sex couples to disclose their intent could lead to social stigma or harassment.
  • The Act delegates power to state governments to make rules on marriages. More conservative states could obstruct same-sex civil unions even if the Act is amended at the federal level.
  • Anti-same-sex marriage advocates argue the Act protects religious customs and personal laws that define marriage as heterosexual. They oppose amending it to suit a "western concept" of marriage.
  • However, proponents argue the Act was meant to provide marriage rights beyond religious customs. And the definition of marriage cannot remain static forever.
  • Some experts suggest a way around is to legally recognize same-sex relationships through a civil unions or domestic partnership act while keeping the marriage act limited to heterosexual couples. 

In summary, the current language and provisions of the Special Marriage Act pose procedural and social hurdles for legalizing same-sex marriages. Overcoming the legislative and political challenges to amend the Act will likely be difficult. Advocates may need to explore alternative legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Obstacles the laws governing marriage and recognition of foreign marriages pose for same-sex marriage in India:

Some key hurdles in this regard are:

  • The Indian legal system does not recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad. Under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, India recognizes foreign marriages as valid only if they were legally performed as per the law of the country where the marriage was solemnized. Since same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in India, same-sex marriages from abroad are also not valid under Indian law.
  • The Special Marriage Act, which governs civil marriages in India, does not recognize same-sex marriages as it defines marriage as between a biological man and woman. The Foreign Marriage Act relies on the definition of marriage as per Indian domestic law.
  • Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code had criminalized homosexual relations until 2018. This prohibited same-sex couples from legally solemnizing marriage even in foreign countries where it is legal. Though decriminalized now, same-sex marriages are still not legally valid.
  • Legalization of same-sex marriage would require amendment in domestic Indian laws on marriage. The foreign marriage laws cannot independently recognize same-sex marriages without broader domestic legal changes.
  • Diplomatic challenges can also emerge if marriage laws are not consistent between India and countries that recognize same-sex marriages. Issues of certificates, visas for spouses, etc. may arise.

In summary, the interplay between Indian domestic laws that define marriage as heterosexual and the laws governing recognition of foreign marriages creates legal hurdles for same-sex couples married abroad seeking recognition in India. Progress on the domestic front regarding marriage laws and LGBTQ rights would be needed first.


stylish lining

Why in the News?

At the SDG Summit in New York, which was held on September 18 and 19, the world leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to eradicate poverty and end hunger.

  • It was observed that only 15% of the 169 SDG targets that make up the 17 goals can be met by the world.
  • The investment gap in SDGs in developing countries stands greater than $4 trillion, out of which nearly $2 trillion will be needed towards energy transition alone. 

Lack of synergistic action:

  1. The Agenda 2030 document detailing the SDGs, recognises the indivisible and integrated nature of the 17 SDGs and contribution to the three pillars of sustainable development.
  2. There are 5 types of (dis)synergies observed in the value chain of an SDG intervention:
    1. resource allocations
    2. creation of enabling environments
    3. co-benefits
    4. cost-effectiveness
    5. saturation limits.

Way forward:

  1. Multi-stakeholder approaches by recognising interlinks is required in policymaking.
    1. For instance, India, the push for renewable energy started with both energy security and air pollution but eventually received an impetus with climate commitments. However, it failed to leverage the health benefits arising from lower air pollution to strengthen arguments for greater incentives for renewables.
    2. Also, ambitious renewable energy targets themselves became a barrier for small scale applications. For instance, energy departments had targets in gigawatts while primary health centres had needs in kilowatts, which led to the latter’s neglect.
  2. Analysing and understanding of institutional barriers is important to strengthen the environment for synergistic action for achieving SDG goals.
  3. Investing in clean energy options can lead to a significant synergistic impact on air pollution and human health, increasing the attractiveness of such interventions.


stylish lining



Why in the News?

Recently, 50 people boarded a ferry, Cheriyapani, from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu to cross the Palk Strait and travel to Kankesanthurai in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

The ferry from Tamil Nadu to Jaffna:

  1. The maritime service which was begun in the early 1900s, was discontinued in the 1980s due to ethnic strife in Sri Lanka.
  2. Both the countries planned for reactivating the sea route for more than 12 years. 
  3. India and Sri Lanka signed an MoU for sea connectivity in 2011 and a ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo began the same year, however, it was discontinued because of logistical reasons in less than 6 months.
  4. The new ferry service shall take about 3.5 hours to travel 110 km from Cheriyapani to Jaffna.
  5. The sea-route rejuvenation shall also provide robust commerce between India and Sri Lanka, and encourage people-to-people contact between the two neighbours.
  6. India’s Neighbourhood First policy has located India-Sri Lanka ties that emphasised maritime connectivity, including the development of ports at Colombo, Kankesanthurai and Trincomalee and the revival of sea routes.
  7. Cheriyapani is also likely to bring pilgrims to religious centres in southern Sri Lanka and temple towns in south India.
  8. The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will operate the ferry service

Combating China’s influence:

  1. China is Sri Lanka’s biggest bilateral creditor and has roped in the country in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 
  2. Delhi has sought to counter Beijing’s influence in the island natio through initiatives such as:
    1. Providing $4-billion aid package
    2. Enhancing civilisational aspects of its ties with Colombo in terms of movement of people and ideas over centuries.
    3. Launch of ferry services between Nagapattinam and SrilLanka’s Kankesanthurai.
    4. Direct flights between Delhi and Colombo were launched in 2015.
    5. The direct flight between Chennai and Jaffna began in 2019