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The Hindu Editorial

16-November-2023

1. The Nobel in economics as a need to course correct.

Topic: GS3 – economy

Why Did It Take So Long to Recognize Economic Research on Gender Inequities?

  • Dropping Androcentric Biases:Feminist economists argue for the need to revisit economic theory to overcome the limitations posed by its masculine nature.
  • Economic Man’s Detachment:The economic man is a rational being, who is both all-knowing and detached from his emotional self.
  • Invisibilization of Women’s Labor:Economic models of the labour market fail to account for the contributions of women as unpaid workers.
  • Social Meanings and Economic Theory:Feminist economists argue that the direction of causality runs opposite, that is, there is something well within the nature of economics as a discipline that excludes individuals with lived experiences that fail to fit into its theories.

Effects of Biases in Economic Theory

  • Misinterpreting Empirical Findings:Biases inherent in economic theory can affect even the most sophisticated statistical methods.
  • Overlooking Social Mechanisms:The primacy of economic rationality, in theory, overlooks social mechanisms that may drive certain empirical findings.
  • Misinterpreting Correlation and Causation:Economic theories regarding households suggest a negative correlation between women’s employment and spousal violence.

Rethinking Economics as a Discipline

  • Contextualizing Economic Theory:Economics needs to contextualise economic theory to make it truly reflective of reality.
  • Balancing Causal and Empirical Methods:Economists can adopt a mixed methods approach, by finding a balance between different ways of doing research and giving due attention to findings of other disciplines.
  • Accommodating Diverse Perspectives:Economics needs to pave the path for accommodation, be it among economists, their methods, and, most importantly, in economic theories.

Question: Examine the influence of androcentric biases in economic theories on addressing gender inequalities in labor markets. How can rethinking economic theory contribute to a more inclusive understanding of diverse lived experiences?

2. Abolition of death penalty should form the core of any reform in justice system

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Parliamentary Committee’s Stand on Death Penalty:

  • Disappointing that the parliamentary committee examining the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) did not recommend abolishing the death penalty.
  • Instead, committee suggested leaving the matter for the government to consider.

Expert Submissions Ignored:

  • Despite expert and jurist submissions advocating for abolition, committee’s observation remains limited.
  • Experts highlighted the potential fallibility of the judicial system and the lack of deterrence associated with the death penalty.

Statistical Trends and Supreme Court’s Position:

  • Rise in trial courts awarding death penalty contrasted with statistical trends showing the Supreme Court leaning away from capital punishment.
  • Only seven death penalties awarded by the Supreme Court from 2007 to 2022; all death sentences in 2023 set aside or commuted to life.

Arguments Against Death Penalty:

  • Capital punishment shown to be ineffective as a deterrent.
  • Life imprisonment considered a more rigorous punishment with potential for reform.
  • Majority of those on death row come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Similarity of Bills and Need for Reconsideration:

  • Three Bills proposing new criminal laws are substantially similar to existing IPC, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Evidence Act.
  • Calls for reconsideration of the need to retain the death penalty if Parliament enacts the draft Bills with panel-recommended changes.

Alternative to Death Penalty:

  • BNS defines ‘life imprisonment’ as a term for the remainder of one’s natural life.
  • Proposal for life imprisonment as the default alternative to death sentences.

Call for Substantive Justice System Reform:

  • Need to address the trend of seeking premature release of life convicts for political reasons.
  • Advocacy for life terms without remission becoming more common.
  • Proposal to introduce a rational and universal remission policy, removing capital punishment from the statute book.

Question: Evaluate the parliamentary committee’s stance on the death penalty during the examination of the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS). Discuss the key arguments for and against the death penalty.

3. A grave error in the law

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Supreme Court’s Judgment Disappointing

  • The Supreme Court held in Supriyo that same-sex couples do not have the right to marry under the Special Marriage Act.
  • The court laid down a fundamentally wrong interpretation of the Constitution and overlooked its own precedents.

Arguments in Favour of Same-Sex Marriage

  • Petitioners argued that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the Special Marriage Act violates the right to equality under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution.
  • The doctrine of indirect discrimination,which means that the discriminator cannot escape the constitutional obligation by relying on the intent or object, has been well established in Indian jurisprudence.
  • The court should look at the impact of the law on a particular group.
  • The mere absence of a law is not sufficient to claim discrimination.

Separation of Powers

  • The minority judgment held that the Supreme Court cannot strike down the constitutional validity of the Special Marriage Act or read words into the Special Marriage Act because of its institutional limitations.
  • This position is dangerous since it might simply mean the Parliament can avoid constitutional scrutiny by drafting laws in a way that requires the court to undertake a complex interpretive exercise.

Court’s Abdication of Its Role

  • The court abdicates its role by directing the Union government to form a committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary to decide the entitlements of queer persons.
  • When a complaint of fundamental rights violation is brought before the judiciary,referring the question back to the alleged discriminator is simply irrational.

India Needs Its Obergefell Moment

  • The Supreme Court got it wrong in Supriyo v. Union of India (2023).
  • India now needs to wait for its Obergefell moment,in which the Supreme Court will recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Question: Critically examine the Supreme Court’s decision in Supriyo v. Union of India (2023) with respect to the right of same-sex couples to marry.

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