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The Hindu Editorial

23-November-2023

1. The time has come for the Governor’s role to be reconsidered

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity.

Context:

  • Ongoing proceedings in the Supreme Court have raised apprehensions regarding the behavior of some Governors, particularly in their handling of Bills presented for assent.
  • State governments have approached the court, expressing concerns about the deliberate delay tactics used by incumbents in Raj Bhavan.

Governors’ Conduct and Court Intervention:

  • The core issue revolves around the misuse of the absence of a defined time-frame for granting assent to Bills, causing frustration for elected regimes.
  • The court questioned the delay in the case of the Tamil Nadu Governor, R.N. Ravi, emphasizing that he acted only after the court highlighted the delay in a prior hearing.
  • The court’s preliminary observations suggest a closer examination of Article 200 of the Constitution, dealing with the presentation of Bills to the Governor for assent.

Legislative Impasse and Court’s Observations:

  • The court indicated that Governors cannot refuse assent to re-enacted Bills, potentially providing a swift resolution to the current legislative impasse.
  • However, the larger issue demands a clear enunciation of the law to prevent uncooperative Governors from exploiting ambiguities.

Constitutional Ambiguities and Role of Governors:

  • The proceedings have underscored constitutional ambiguities regarding the role of Governors.
  • While the ‘aid and advice’ clause, fundamental to parliamentary democracy, is compromised by clauses allowing Governors discretionary powers, a comprehensive reconsideration of such provisions is needed.

Call for Authoritative Decision:

  • The Supreme Court must deliver a decisive and authoritative decision to clarify whether ‘withholding assent’ is a final act of rejection or requires follow-up action.
  • This will prevent Governors from using gray areas to their advantage and ensure a more transparent and accountable governance process.

Question: Critically analyze the constitutional ambiguities surrounding the role of Governors and the need for a comprehensive reconsideration of relevant provisions to ensure transparent and accountable governance.

2. Listen to the people, not the numbers

Topic: GS3 –  Indian Economy

Challenges in Indian Economy:

  • The Indian economy faces an incomes problem rather than a growth problem, with debates arising on job creation and skepticism about government data despite overall GDP growth.
  • Calls for job reservations for economically weaker sections further complicate the issue.

Debates on Job Creation:

  • Economists are engaged in debates on job creation, with some attributing the problem to current government policies and others considering it a systemic issue.
  • The focus on visible data is criticized as inadequate for addressing the root causes.

Structural Challenges in India:

  • India faces a structural problem as it struggles to transition from agriculture to manufacturing.
  • The direct shift from agriculture to services, particularly IT, has resulted in limited opportunities, especially for the rural population lacking necessary education.

Job Quality Concerns:

  • Despite people moving out of agriculture, available jobs often lack good wages, security, and opportunities for skill development.
  • The prevalence of temporary and contract jobs exacerbates the issue, even in large enterprises.

Paradigm Shift in Economic Thinking:

  • A paradigm shift in economic thinking is suggested, emphasizing the need for new concepts of work, redesigned enterprises, and revised evaluations of social and economic relationships.
  • The growing focus on green, local, and socially impactful enterprises is seen as a key aspect of this shift.

Valuing Caregiving and Social Enterprises:

  • The article calls for a reevaluation of caregiving, highlighting the undervaluation of informal work, especially by women.
  • It advocates for a departure from the existing economic paradigm, which prioritizes formal enterprises over social caregiving.

Conclusion:

To address the evolving economic landscape, a recommendation is made for policy shifts based on listening to the perspectives of workers, small farmers, entrepreneurs, and women, rather than relying solely on historical statistics and expert opinions.

Question: Critically analyze the dual challenge faced by the Indian economy, distinguishing between overall GDP growth and the persisting income problem.

3. Reporting animal cruelty makes children safer

Topic: GS3 – climate change

Child Abuse in India:

  • A 2007 study by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development revealed alarming rates of child abuse in India.
  • Two-thirds of children experienced physical abuse, over half faced sexual abuse, and every second child reported emotional abuse.
  • Despite these statistics, factors contributing to child abuse, such as family structure, law enforcement, poverty, illiteracy, and cultural aspects, remain unaddressed.

Link Between Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty:

  • Historical studies, including William Hogarth’s 1751 work, highlighted the connection between animal cruelty and human violence.
  • Studies in England and the U.S. found a significant co-occurrence of animal abuse and child abuse, suggesting a strong link.

Threats and Violence Toward Animals:

  • A 2019 U.S. study revealed that threats and violence toward animals are used to coerce children into compliance, hindering reporting.
  • Children, fearing harm to animals or themselves, often remain reluctant to discuss animal abuse.

Detection and Reporting:

  • Animal abuse is often easier to detect than child abuse, offering early identification of abusive households.
  • Reporting and prosecuting animal abuse serve as a deterrent to further violence against both animals and humans.

Enforcing Anti-Cruelty Laws in India:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau in India does not collect data on offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • Poor enforcement of anti-cruelty laws harms not only animals but also human victims of violence.
  • Reporting and prosecuting animal abuse can help law enforcement understand crime overlaps and prevent further occurrences.

Collaboration Between Movements:

  • Collaboration between child protection and animal protection movements is essential to reduce abuse.
  • Recognizing the shared perpetrator of crimes against both humans and animals presents an opportunity for collective efforts.

Conclusion:

  • Understanding the link between animal cruelty and child abuse is crucial for breaking the cycle of violence and creating a safer environment for children.

4. Same-sex couples: A judge to the rescue

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court issued a groundbreaking order in Sushma vs Commissioner of Police on November 17, 2023.
  • The order introduces the concept of a “Deed of Familial Association” to provide legal status to relationships among same-sex couples and other LGBTQIA+ couples.

Contrast with Supreme Court Decision:

  • Contrary to the recent Supreme Court decision in Supriyo vs Union of India, which refused to recognize the right to marry or civil unions for same-sex couples, Justice Venkatesh’s order stands as a beacon of progress.

Innovation in Legal Approach:

  • Justice Venkatesh creatively shifts from the limitations imposed by the Constitution and marriage laws to the concept of a contractual Deed of Familial Association.
  • This Deed includes rights and protections against harassment, violence, and discrimination, addressing gaps left by the Supreme Court decision.

Football Analogy:

  • The order is likened to a determined half-back scoring a goal from midfield, seizing possession of the ball of contract law.

Recognition of Civil Unions:

  • Justice Venkatesh’s order aligns with the recognition of civil unions in various countries, providing legal and social validity to relationships and protecting couples from societal interference.

State’s Responsibilities:

  • The Tamil Nadu Government is tasked with establishing a framework for recognizing relationships through Deeds and could consider enacting legislation for civil unions.
  • The potential role of the Governor, R.N. Ravi, in impeding progress is highlighted, with optimism for Supreme Court intervention.

Tamil Nadu’s Progressive Stance:

  • The order reflects Tamil Nadu’s progressive values, positioning the state as a trendsetter that upholds principles of self-respect, equality, and social justice.

Hope Amidst Supreme Court’s Setback:

  • Issued in the aftermath of a disappointing Supreme Court judgment, Justice Venkatesh’s order brings hope by introducing change into legal procedures and offering a principled and enforceable solution.

High Courts’ Historical Role:

  • The order underscores the historical role of High Courts in addressing challenges, particularly during times of crisis or legal setbacks, contrasting with the Supreme Court’s decisions.

Conclusion:

  • Justice Venkatesh’s order is lauded for its innovative legal approach, providing hope and progress for the LGBTQIA+ community in the face of legal challenges.

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