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The Hindu Editorial

29-September-2023

1. A milestone in Hindu marriage reform in India.

Topic: GS2 

Introduction

In a legal journey spanning decades, the state of Tamil Nadu has witnessed a transformation in its stance on non-ritualistic Hindu marriages, known as Suyamariyathai. What was once considered invalid and even labeled as illegitimate has now evolved into a legally recognized form of marriage, thanks to persistent efforts by reformists and progressive legislative changes.

Historical Precedents: 1953 Madras High Court Ruling

 Back in 1953, the Madras High Court declared Suyamariyathai marriages null and void, citing Manusmriti and the absence of traditional Hindu marriage rituals. These judgments not only denied conjugal rights to women in such marriages but also stigmatized their children as illegitimate. This stance perpetuated bias against non-Brahminic marriage practices.

The Role of the Self-Respect Movement

The backdrop for this legal evolution was set by the Self-Respect movement, which advocated for non-religious, contractual marriages that prioritized women’s rights and civil registration. However, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 recognized only specific reformed marriages, leaving Suyamariyathai marriages in legal limbo.

Struggle for Legal Recognition

 Several bills were introduced in the Madras legislature to legitimize these marriages and grant property rights to couples who embraced non-religious practices. Still, they faced opposition and were not passed until the Hindu Marriage (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act in 1967.

Challenges to Amendment and Recent Legal Clarifications

         Over the years, both the Union government and the judiciary have, at times, questioned the validity of this amendment. They interpreted it in ways that discouraged non-ritual inter-caste marriages, raising questions about the uniform application of marriage laws.

Recent legal clarifications from the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court have affirmed the validity of Suyamariyathai marriages, emphasizing their consensual nature and societal importance.

Conclusion

         In summary, Tamil Nadu’s journey from invalidating Suyamariyathai marriages to legally recognizing them is a testament to the persistence of reformists and the evolution of legal norms. This transformation underscores the importance of recognizing diverse marriage practices within a society and upholding individual rights, particularly those of women.

2. India must attune its policies to ensure the elderly live a life of dignity

Topic: GS3 – elderly population in India

Context:

  • Population Aging in India: The population aged 60 and above is expected to double from 10.5% (14.9 crore) in 2022 to 20.8% (34.7 crore) by 2050, mirroring a global trend of an aging population.

 Problems faced by elderly people in India:

  • Implications for Society: The increasing elderly population will have profound implications for healthcare, the economy, and society as a whole.
  • Elderly Living Alone: In states like Kerala and West Bengal, there’s a growing trend of elderly individuals living alone as their children migrate for better opportunities.
  • Longer Life Expectancy: Improved healthcare and declining fertility rates have contributed to longer life expectancy. Women, on average, have a higher life expectancy than men in India.
  • Economic Vulnerability of Elderly Women: Women in India, where labor force participation is low, may face economic and social vulnerability in old age if they lack economic and social security.
  • Inter-State Variations: There are significant variations among Indian states in terms of the elderly population. Southern states have a higher proportion of elderly individuals, while states with higher fertility rates like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh still have a lower proportion.
  • Economic Challenges: More than two-fifths of the elderly population falls in the poorest wealth quintile, with variations across states. A significant portion of the elderly, particularly in rural areas, faces economic deprivation, and a substantial percentage has no income.

Possible way forward:

  • Comprehensive Approach Needed: To address the challenges posed by an aging population, a “whole-of-society” approach is necessary. This includes addressing physical and mental health, basic needs like food and shelter, income security, and social care.
  • Geriatric Care: Healthcare services must be tailored to the unique needs of the elderly population, considering their health requirements.
  • Awareness of Supportive Schemes: While there are existing schemes targeting the elderly, many are unaware of them or find it challenging to access these benefits.
  • Policy Reforms: Public and private policies need to create a more supportive environment for senior citizens, ensuring their dignity and well-being.
  • Existing Legislation: The National Policy on Older Persons (1999) and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007) provide a framework for elderly care but require effective implementation and support from various stakeholders.

Mains question: Enumerate the challenges posed by the increasing aging population in India and suggest policy measures to address implications of this demographic shift.

3. Should generative Artificial Intelligence be regulated?

Topic: GS3 – elderly population in India

Context:

  • This article highlights the ongoing global debate surrounding the regulation of generative AI and the need for nuanced approaches to address its diverse risks and legal implications.

Regulating Generative AI: A Global Debate

  • The emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) has raised questions about the legal framework and ownership of content generated by AI.
  • In the United States, the U.S. Copyright Office and courts have maintained that copyright can only be owned by human beings, leaving AI-generated works outside of copyright protection.
  • In contrast, India has faced a lack of clarity on whether AI-generated works are subject to copyright protection, leading to a controversial case where a work generated by AI was granted joint authorship.
  • The European Union’s AI Act introduces transparency requirements for generative AI, including tagging material generated by AI tools and providing summaries of training material used.
  • The EU takes a risk-based approach, prohibiting certain practices and suggesting ex-ante assessments for others, while the U.S. adopts a more relaxed approach.
  • Generative AI raises diverse risks, including its impact on education and potential threats to democracy, which require comprehensive regulatory frameworks and clarity on data protection.
  • The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act in India has faced criticism for weakening individual rights in favor of economic value generation, and a proposed Digital India Act is expected to address some gaps.
  • Companies often argue that explaining their language models would expose trade secrets, but in cases of significant social harm, there may be a need to compel disclosure even against trade secrets claims.

Mains question: What are the legal and ethical considerations surrounding generative artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of copyright ownership and content generation?

 

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