National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams – 26th September 2018
Criminalisation of politics
Why in news?
The Supreme Court directed political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases of their candidates and urged Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes.
- Parliament should frame a law that makes it obligatory for political parties to remove leaders charged with “heinous and grievous” crimes, such as rape, murder and kidnapping, to name only a few, and refuse ticket to offenders in both parliamentary and Assembly polls.
- Candidates should divulge their criminal past to the Election Commission in “block letters.”
- Candidates should make a full disclosure of the criminal cases pending against them to the political parties under whose banner they intend to contest the polls.
- The parties, in turn, should put up the complete details of their candidates on their websites for public consumption.
- Further, both the candidate and the political party should declare the criminal antecedents of the former in widely-circulated newspapers.
- Finally, both the candidate and the political party should give “wide publicity” to the criminal record of the former by airing it on TV channels, not once, but thrice after the filing of nomination papers.
Impact of judgement
- It ensures that ordinary voters can have an “informed choice” about who he or she has to vote for in a country which already “feels agonised when money and muscle power become the supreme power”.
- Disclosure of antecedents makes the election a fair one and the exercise of the right of voting by the electorate also gets sanctified.
Observation of court
- Criminals in power are nothing but a liability to this country. Their presence in power strikes at the roots of democracy.
- The best available people, as is expected by the democratic system, should not have criminal antecedents and the voters have a right to know about their antecedents, assets and other aspects.
- Citizens in a democracy cannot be compelled to stand as silent, deaf and mute spectators to corruption.
- Criminalisation of politics and corruption, especially at the entry level of elections, has become a national and economic terror. It is a disease which is self-destructive and becoming immune to antibiotics.
Why in news?
Museum enthusiasts can now admire the rare collections of jewels, antiques, fossils, and biological specimens in India’s oldest and biggest museum without stirring out of their homes. The National Museum in Kolkata, established in 1814, has made some of its prized possessions accessible online.
What it contains?
- The initiative, titled ‘Online Exhibition: Rare & Precious Antiques from Indian Museum Kolkata Collection’, has over 40 artefacts, with photographs and captions explaining their significance.
- These include, among others, an emerald bow ring of Shah Jahan, a golden goblet studded with precious stones that belonged to Jehangir, a terracotta vase from Baluchistan dating back to 4,000-3,000 BCE, and a third century crystal casket that is said to have contained the relics of the Buddha.
- It is located in Chowringhee in the heart of Kolkata, is able to display only about 10% of its exhibits physically. “The Museum has about 1.08 lakh objects.
- The Indian Museum is the eighth oldest museum in the world and the oldest in South Asia.
- It has exhibits ranging from geology and natural heritage to archaeology and art.
- It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in 1814. The founder curator was Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist.
- This is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, Government of India
- The museum Directorate has eight co-ordinating service units: Education, Preservation, publication, presentation, photography, medical, modelling and library. This multipurpose Institution with multidisciplinary activities is being included as an Institute of national importance in the seventh schedule of the Constitution of India.
Unemployment among educated youth at 16%: study
Why in news?
With higher growth rates not having translated into more jobs and increases in productivity failing to spur a commensurate rise in wages, the government ought to formulate a National Employment Policy that takes these trends into account, the State of Working India 2018, a new study released by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment, recommends.
- Confirming the spectre of jobless growth, the study contends that this divergence between growth and jobs had increased over time. “If you look back at the 1970s and 80s, when GDP growth was around 3-4%, employment growth was about 2%,” “Currently, the ratio of GDP growth to employment growth is less than 0.1.” That means that a 10% increase in GDP results in a less than 1% increase in employment.
- The study uses government data to show that total employment actually shrank by seven million between 2013 and 2015, and cites private data to posit that an absolute decline has continued in the years since.
- Unemployment has risen to more than 5% overall, and the study slices the data to show that in geographic terms, north Indian States are the most severely affected, while in demographic terms, young people with higher education levels suffer an unemployment rate as high as 16%.
- While wages are rising in almost all sectors, hidden within the positive data is the worrying fact that rural wage growth collapsed in 2014, and has not risen since
- In the organised manufacturing sector, though the number of jobs has grown, there has also been an increase in the share of contract work, which offers lower wages and less job security, according to the study.
- Also, of concern is the divergence of productivity and wages in the organised manufacturing sector.
- Labour productivity in the sector is six times higher than it was 30 years ago; however, managerial and supervisory salaries have only tripled in the same period, while production workers’ wages have grown a measly 1.5 times.
- Women’s participation in the paid workforce is still low, but the situation is unequal across States.
- In Uttar Pradesh, only 20 women are in paid employment for every 100 men, while that figure jumps to 50 in Tamil Nadu and 70 in Mizoram and Nagaland.
Dalits and adivasis status
- With regard to earnings, the caste gap is actually larger than the gender gap.
- Dalits and Adivasis are over-represented in low-paying occupations, and severely under-represented in higher-paying ones, the study reveals.
- They earn only 55-56% of upper caste workers’ earnings, the data shows.
Prison reforms panel
Why in news?
The Supreme Court formed a Committee on Prison Reforms chaired by former apex court judge, Justice Amitava Roy, to examine the various problems plaguing prisons in the country, from overcrowding to lack of legal advice to convicts to issues of remission and parole.
What is the reason behind judgement?
Highlighting the overcrowding in prisons, unnatural deaths of prisoners, gross inadequacy of staff and the lack of trained staff.
What the committee will do?
- Examine the extent of overcrowding in prisons and correctional homes and recommend remedial measures, including an examination of the functioning of Under Trial Review Committees, availability of legal aid and advice, grant of remission, parole and furlough.
- The panel would also probe the reasons for violence in prisons and correctional homes and recommend preventive measures.
India ranks 158th in ‘human capital’ score, behind Sudan
Why in news?
India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of investment in human capital.
- The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list. The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
- South Asian countries ranking below India in this report include Pakistan (164), Bangladesh (161) and Afghanistan (188). Countries in the region that have fared better than India in terms of human capital include Sri Lanka (102), Nepal (156), Bhutan (133) and Maldives (116).
- The study, published in journal The Lancet, says that India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries in 2016, an improvement from its position of 162 in 1990.
- It shows that India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative effects on the economy. The study is based on analysis of data from sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems.
- “Learning is based on average student scores on internationally comparable tests. Components measured in the functional health score include stunting, wasting, anaemia, cognitive impairments, hearing and vision loss, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis,” the study said
- The study places Finland at the top. Turkey showed the most dramatic increase in human capital between 1990 and 2016; Asian countries with notable improvement include China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Within Latin America, Brazil stands out for improvement. All these countries have had faster economic growth over this period than peer countries with lower levels of human capital improvement.
- In addition, the greatest increase among sub-Saharan African countries was in Equatorial Guinea.
Who conducted the study?
- The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the request of the World Bank, is the first of its kind to measure and compare the strength of countries’ “human capital”.
- The study underscores that when a country’s human capital score increases, its economy grows.
Legislators can practice law, says SC
Why in news?
The Supreme Court has held that there was no bar on legislators doubling up as lawyers.
- The writ petition, filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, had argued that legislators donning the lawyers’ robes is a matter of serious concern to the judiciary.
- Upadhyay had argued that lawmakers drew their salaries and pensions from the public exchequer and hence could be classified as employees.
- The Bench dismissed the arguments made in the petition that such legal practice by lawmakers was in violation of Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India Act, which forbade an advocate to be full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as he continues to practise.
- More importantly, the Supreme Court said there is no conflict of interest if the MPs are allowed to practise law in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts before the very judges they have power to impeach.
- The conferment of power on the legislators (MPs) to move an impeachment motion against the judge(s) of constitutional courts does not per se result in conflict of interest or a case of impacting constitutional morality or for that matter institutional integrity.
- The judgment said lawmakers could not be described as full-time salaried employees of the State. They were elected representatives and occupied a unique position in our democracy.
Parakram Parv: The armed forces will observe ‘Parakram Parv’ from September 28 to 30 to mark the second anniversary of the surgical strikes against terror camps across the Line of Control (LoC) and to showcase the courage, valour and sacrifice of armed forces.