CAA rules expected to seek ‘proof of religion’
GS Paper II
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, significant provisions and basic structure.
Mains: Legal rights of the states
What’s the News?
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) rules are expected to seek “proof of religion” that they belong to the six religions exempted under the Act.
- The Assam government had requested the MHA to impose a three-month time limit to apply under the CAA and not keep it “open-ended”.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act:
- With this, the government plans to change the definition of illegal migrants.
- It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction. However, the Act doesn’t have a provision for Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas who also face persecution in Pakistan.
- It also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
India’s secular structure faces a profound crisis. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, must be rejected for three reasons.
- First, it is against the letter and spirit of our Constitution.
- Second, it is divisive, deeply discriminatory and violative of human rights.
- Third, it seeks to impose the politics and philosophy of Hindutva, with its vision of a “Hindu nation”, on our entire people and on the basic structure of our polity.
- Our constitutional values are in peril, and no person who has faith in our democracy can afford to be silent and uninvolved in what is happening around us.
- India has several other refugees that include Tamils from Sri Lanka and Hindu Rohingya from Myanmar. They are not covered under the Act.
- Despite exemption granted to some regions in the Northeastern states, the prospect of citizenship for massive numbers of illegal Bangladeshi migrants has triggered deep anxieties in the states.
- It will be difficult for the government to differentiate between illegal migrants and those persecuted.
- Many Opposition members had raised objection on how it will be proved if an applicant indeed was persecuted on religious grounds in the neighbouring countries.
- States would have no role in implementation of the CAA, as citizenship was the domain of the Centre.
- The only problem will come during the verification stage when the role of local police comes into play even that can be conducted by central agencies.
- Rather than treat it as a controversy over the question whether a State Assembly is competent to question the law on a matter under the Union government’s domain, the Centre should reflect on the core issue: that the CAA may be in violation of the equality norm and secular principles enshrined in the Constitution.
Legal Rights of the States:
- Unlike individuals, State governments cannot complain of fundamental rights being violated.
- Therefore, the Constitution provides that whenever a State feels that its legal rights are under threat or have been violated, it can take the “dispute” to the Supreme Court.
- States have filed such cases under Article 131 against neighbouring States in respect of river water sharing and boundary disputes.
- There have been instances of such cases being filed against the Centre too.
Article 131 states that “subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute
(1) Between the Government of India and one or more States; or
(2) Between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
(3) Between two or more States, if and in so far as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.
Provided that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagements, and or other similar instrument which, having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution, continues in operation after such commencement, or which provides that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.
Importance of Article 131:
Art 32 on enforcement of rights has been cited in other CAA petitions. Only Art 131 gives SC original and exclusive jurisdiction to resolve disputes between the Centre and one or more States; between Centre and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; between two or more States.
- The chief opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is that it discriminates on the basis of religion by identifying only non-Muslims refugees as those who would be eligible for Indian citizenship.
- While any foreigner can still apply for Indian citizenship, he/she has to follow the normal process of naturalisation – which takes 11 or more years.
- The CAB is seen by many as a quick move to change the demographics and voters-profile in favour of the ruling party by selective admission of illegal migrants.
- As per the critics, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution – the fundamental right which guarantees equality to all persons. This is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and hence cannot be reshaped by any Parliament laws.
- It is yet to be seen if the Supreme Court allows the selective fast-tracking for Indian Citizenship. The apex court has power even to declare the bill as unconstitutional.
- The policy towards illegal migrants and refugees needs wider debates and deliberation. However, religion can never be the basis of Indian Citizenship.
Gaps in our knowledge of coronavirus origin need fulfilment: Study
GS Paper: III
Topic: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
Prelims: corona virus.
Mains: condition of Indian Public machinery to tackle health crisis like coronavirus
What’s the News?
China struggles to curtail the deadly new virus-coronavirus that has killed 81 people and spread to four continents, which is flashing warning lights for India.
- Coronavirus is a member of a family of viruses that include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which caused major outbreaks in 2003 and 2012, respectively.
- Corona viruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona.
- The disease only spreads from animals to humans and is not communicable between human beings.
Common signs of infection:
- Fever, cough, gastro-intestinal symptoms, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, death.
- No vaccine or antiviral drugs available for these viruses.
- Symptoms can be treated.
Factors responsible for high vulnerability:
- India ranks high globally in the burden of communicable diseases, a burden which causes approximately 10% of deaths in the country.
- Phase of rapid urbanization the country is going through—raising challenges to an already beleaguered and cash-crunched healthcare system.
- Human resources and healthcare infrastructure are woefully below the WHO standards.
- Major gaps in the public health system.
- Poor surveillance mechanisms and lack of public awareness.
- Existing diagnostic practices are time-consuming and expensive– diagnosis almost always suffers from lack of availability of stock, of pathologists and medical equipment.
- Poor nutritional standards and poor sanitation.
The situation is compounded by healthcare facilities without equipment, doctors and drugs, not to mention the poor nutritional status and poorer sanitation status of the population.
A speedy local response is crucial in infectious disease management.
- Coordination and data-exchange from multiple stakeholders to rapidly detect infected cases treat the patients, and controlling and containing the spread of the disease.
- Safeguarding the front-line health workers who were most at risk.
- Organizing campaigns for information dissemination and education of the public to reduce panic and fear among the people.
- Strict surveillance and monitoring mechanism at its airports- The sensitive border this time is the one we share with China and it is important that a new enemy in the form of a deadly virus doesn’t come in.
- Innovations for diagnostics, detection, testing, notification and treatment have always been significant variables that make a difference. As it is extremely important to identify and track all neglected and communicable diseases.
- Using technology in diagnosis: Technology has helped to some extent. Most diagnostics can now be done using smartphones and simple apps loaded on them.
- Prevention: The huge burden of morbidity that exists in India is related in part to unsanitary conditions and practices, unsafe and unclean drinking water, and lack of awareness and information.
- The healthcare sector needs inputs from the public and the private sectors to conduct research on improved drugs and tests to help make it easier to treat people quickly.
- Vaccinations are among the most efficient and effective instruments for preventing diseases, operating primarily by providing acquired immunity and thereby preventing the easy spread of infectious diseases among large populations.
Coupled with the time and the resources needed for mass production and delivery, vaccines cannot be seen as the only solution during fast-spreading epidemics.
Health workers with very little training can now reach patients in the most remote places.
Health ATMs are Private, walk-in medical kiosks with integrated medical devices for basic vitals, lab testing and emergency facilities, and staffed by a medical attendant.
Instead of large machinery and human resource requirements, most diagnostics now only need a pinprick. To detect deadly diseases like TB, for instance, the person needs to give just some sputum.
Immediate steps needed:
- Protecting Tourist: Very few tourists just about 350,000 come from China every year and double that number visit the country from India.
- This vulnerable million needs to be treated with care and attention. Travel advisories would need to be issued with immediate effect to contain the spread of the infection.
- Evacuation: The Indian diaspora (mostly students) who are stuck in Wuhan due to the travel ban by China need to be evacuated quickly.
Deadly pathogens that could cause a global pandemic have been pinging at humanity’s defence at least for a thousand years.
It is important that India which accounts for approximately 18% of the world’s population steps up to take responsibility, by ensuring that the spread of infectious diseases is contained. This, more than anything else, is the true mark of a superpower in the making.
As fears about coronavirus spread, is India battle-ready to identify, isolate and prevent the spread of this epidemic?