Daily Editorial Analysis for 6th March 2020

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Disabled and Extremely Poor

Paper: II

For Prelims: About Disability.

For Mains: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Context of News:

  • Of the world’s population, 15% livewith some form of disability. Disabilities in most the cases areassociated with economichardships through loss of employment and consequent impoverishment in rural India?
  • Disability is one the common phenomena that is linked to poor socio Economic Indicators of these vulnerable peoples.
  • As per Census 2011, in India, out of the total population of 121 crore, about 2.68 Cr persons are ‘Disabled’ (2.21% of the total population):
  1. Out of 2.68 crore, 1.5 crore are males and 1.18 crore are females
  2. Majority (69%) of the disabled population resided in rural areas

What is Disability?

  • According to the social model, disability is the outcome of the interaction of a person’s functional status and his / her environment. People are not identified as having a disability based upon a medical condition. Instead, they are disabled by an environment that erects barriers to their participation in the social and economic life of their communities.

Programmes/initiatives for Disabled in India:

  • Accessible India Campaign :
  • A nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
  • The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication ecosystem.
  • DeenDayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: 
  • Under the scheme financial assistance is provided to NGOs for providing various services to Persons with Disabilities, like special schools, vocational training centres, community based rehabilitation, pre-school and early intervention etc
  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP): The Scheme aims at helping the disabled persons by bringing suitable, durable, scientifically-manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances within their reach.
  • National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities (RGMF):
  • The scheme aims to increase opportunities to students with disabilities for pursuing higher education.
  • Under the Scheme, 200 Fellowships per year are granted to students with disability.
  • Schemes of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities
  • Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016:
  • The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • It increases the quantum of reservation for people suffering from disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher education institutes.
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education. Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions will have to provide inclusive education.
  • Stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time frame along with Accessible India Campaign.

How Disability is linked with poor Socio – Economic Indicators:

  • If you have a disability, you’re twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. You’re also far more likely to be unemployed. And that gap has widened in the last one decade. This Situation is most severe in case of Rural and person with lack of education.
  • Disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty. It is a cause because it can lead to job loss and reduced earnings, barriers to education and skills development, significant additional expenses, and many other challenges that can lead to economic hardship.
  • Poverty is also a consequence because poverty can limit access to health care and preventive services, and increases the likelihood that a person lives and works in an environment that may adversely affect health.

Impact of Disability:

  • Risk of Poverty:
  • Disability increases the risk of a person’s slide into poverty. Families or individuals with disability slid into poverty twice as fast as those that had not experienced a disability. Poverty as a social impact of disability is mainly due to a loss of paid employment. Even though there are provisions against discrimination, many disabled people still have difficulty gaining meaningful employment.
  • Social Exclusion:
  • Social exclusion as a result of disability means a lack of belonging in a given social context. A person with disability may face limitations in interacting with colleagues at work, fellow students and also family members. This may be as a result of his pushing these people away or from the stereotypes and societal attitudes toward disability. The impact of exclusion is that a person with disability may lack social support and social skills, such as communication, to cope with the disability.
  • Access:
  • Society still holds biased stereotypes toward people with disability. The social mode of disability indicates that the problem is with society’s attitude toward disability and not with the person with disability. There are increased efforts to ensure that people with disability can easily access education, employment and social amenities. But the impact of this is that it has resulted in the provision of segregated services for those with disability and those without disability. This segregation of services and limitation to access is not helpful for people with disability. It is also not helpful in eradicating stereotypes and discrimination.

Way Forward:

  • Preventive health programs need to be strengthened and all children need to be screened at a young age.
  • People with disabilities need to be better integrated into society by overcoming stigma. There should be awareness campaigns to educate and aware people about different kinds of disability
  • Safety measures like road safety, safety in residential areas, public transport system etc, should be taken up. Further, it should be made legally binding to make buildings disabled-friendly

RBI supersedes Yes Bank board, caps withdrawal limit at Rs 50,000

Paper: III

For Mains: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Context of News:

  • The Reserve Bank of India in first week of March 2020 superseded the board of directors of troubled Yes Bank for a period of 30 days “owing to serious deterioration in the financial position” of the bank and capped deposit withdrawals at Rs 50,000 per depositor till April 3 of 2020.

What all precautionary Measures are taken by RBI?

  • In its gazette notification, the government stayed the “commencement or continuance of all actions and proceedings against that banking company during the period of the moratorium”.
  • The notification said if a depositor had multiple accounts with the bank, his withdrawals from all the accounts would be capped at Rs 50,000.
  • If a depositor had any dues payable to the bank, either as a borrower or surety, the bank would make any payments to him only after “adjusting the relevant borrowal accounts”.
  • The government has cut some slack to the bank’s customers who may need to meet certain unforeseen expenses. It said the Rs 50,000 cap on withdrawals would not apply in the case of medical treatment for the depositor or anyone dependent on him.
  • Payments needed to meet expenses related to marriage, children’s higher education in India or abroad would also be exempt from the cap.
  • However, the gazette notification added that any payment in excess of the limit shall be reckoned from the payment due to the depositor “under any scheme of reconstruction or amalgamation as may be sanctioned by any competent authority in relation to the said banking company”.
  • In any case, the total payment to meet the cost of emergencies would not exceed Rs 5 lakh or the actual balance lying to the credit of the account of such depositor, whichever is less.

Reasons for Superseding by RBI:

  • According to RBI, this move has been done to quickly restore depositors’ confidence in the bank, including by putting in place a scheme for reconstruction or amalgamation.
  • The financial position of Yes Bank, the fifth largest private bank, has undergone a steady decline largely due to the bank’s inability to raise capital to address potential loan losses and resultant downgrades, triggering invocation of bond covenants by investors and withdrawal of deposits.
  • The financial position of Yes Bank has undergone a steady decline largely due to the inability of the bank to raise capital to address potential loan losses and resultant downgrades, triggering invocation of bond covenants by investors, and withdrawal of deposits. The bank has also experienced serious governance issues in recent years.
  • The RBI said it came to the conclusion that in the absence of a credible revival plan, and in public interest and the interest of the bank’s depositors, it had no alternative but to apply to the Central Government for imposing a moratorium under Section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. “Accordingly, the Central government has imposed moratorium effective from 05/03/2020.
  • Problems of Yes Bank:
  • Yes Bank has been struggling to raise capital from a bunch of strategic overseas investors, came after a day of intense rumour mongering about a rescue plan being mounted by the State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation under which the two giant state-owned institutions would pick up 24.5 per cent each through a preferential issue of shares.
  • Yes Bank has a net worth of around Rs 25,000 crore. Its below investment grade book (BB and below) is around Rs 30,000 crore and the BBB book is at around Rs 50,000 crore. If we assume substantial portion of BB and below is wiped out and say 10-15 per cent of BBB book is to be written off, it implies the current net worth of the bank is zero (after factoring in 25 per cent tax benefits). Ideally, SBI and other PSU banks need to buy the bank at Re 1

What all options RBI have on the card now?

  • Merger With Another Bank One Possibility:
  • Yes Bank is quite a large bank with a balance sheet size of more than Rs 4 lakh crore so the RBI has acted despite taking several measures over the last few months to get it back on track. Probably, in the next one month they will see what the scheme of reconstitution of the bank could be keeping the public’s and depositor’s interest in mind.
  • Going by Short term Measures:
  • It is also possibility that RBI go by short term measures to overhaul working procedure of the bank or to go for cleaning balance sheet in sector wise for revving the capital demand of Yeas Bank.
  • In India if you look at most cases there has been a regulatory push, But some banks might find that though the bank [Yes Bank] has some problems, it has a good franchise and technology platform so some assets would be good, adding that potential investors in the bank could recoup their investments over time, but next month.

Way forward:

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to take control of Yes Bank Ltd. is seen as a temporary but necessary measure to safeguard depositors and imbibe confidence in the financial system.This is a precursor to a larger capitalisation transaction, because unlike other institutions which were fraud-ridden, Yes Bank is a situation of bad credit decisions. It’s not as much change in management as it’s about a change in capital structure.”
  • The next progressive step would be to put in some capital, a better board or a government-administered board with the intent of restarting operations. That would be positive solution.
  • For the banking sector, when a country is facing such a grave non-performing asset situation and lack of growth, banking failures are bound to happen. The problem is that we don’t have a designed way to deal with stressed banks. There is a larger need to come up with a comprehensive and a slightly more different strategy around how to revive distressed banks.

Use and misuse of Sedition law: Section 124A of IPC

Paper: II

For Prelims:  Sedition Law.

For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context of News:

  • In recent times, there has been an increase in the instances in which sedition charges were pressed against intellectuals, human rights activists, filmmakers, university teachers, students, and journalists.
  • Different section of society have different opinion about sedition law ;some are in favour saying it is need of the hour to have some regulatory mechanism on the other some are against this sedition law ,saying they are blunt on functioning of Democracy.

About Sedition Law:

  • Section 124 A states:
  • “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
  1. The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
  2. Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
  3. Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.”

Arguments in support of Section 124A:

  • Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements
  • It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means. The continued existence of the government established by law is an essential condition of the stability of the State
  • If contempt of court invites penal action, contempt of government should also attract punishment
  • Many districts in different states face a Maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution
  • Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases

Why sedition Law should be scrapped?

  • Draconian laws such as the Section 124-A only serve to give a legal veneer to the regime’s persecution of voices and movements against oppression by casting them as anti-national.
  • Sedition leads to a sort of unauthorised self-censorship, for it produces a chilling effect on free speech.
  • It suppresses what every citizen ought to do in a democracy — raise questions, debate, disagree and challenge the government’s decisions.
  • Sedition systematically destroys the soul of Gandhi’s philosophy that is, right to dissent.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, in Parliament, clarified that the related penal provision of Section 124A was “highly objectionable and obnoxious and the sooner we get rid of it the better”.

Punishment for the offence of sedition:

  • Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.
  • A person charged under this law is barred from a government job. They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in the court at all times as and when required.

What is the viewpoint of the Law Commission of India?

  • In August 2018, the Law Commission of India published a consultation paper recommending that it is time to re-think or repeal the Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code that deals with sedition.
  • In its 39th Report (1968), the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section.
  • In its 42nd Report (1971), the panel wanted the scope of the section to be expanded to cover the Constitution, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition to the government to be established by law, as institutions against which ‘disaffection’ should not be tolerated.
  • In the recent consultation paper on the sedition, the Law Commission has suggested invoking 124A to only criminalize acts committed with the intention to disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means.

What is stand of Supreme Court of India on Sedition?

  • The constitutionality of sedition was challenged in the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Vs State of Bihar (1962). The Court upheld the law on the basis that this power was required by the state to protect itself. However, it had added a vital caveat that “a person could be prosecuted for sedition only if his acts caused incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace”.
  • The court held that “a citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder”.
  • In September 2016, the Supreme Court had reiterated these necessary safeguards and held that they should be followed by all authorities.
  • Aalling dissent a “safety valve” of democracy, Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud on recently said “blanket labelling” of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the “heart” of the country’s commitment to protect Constitutional values and promote deliberative democracy.
  • Justice Chandrachud also said that use of state machinery to curb dissent instils fear, which violates the rule of law.
  • The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy.
  • Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while a democratically elected government offers us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society, Justice Chandrachud said.

Way Forward:

  • India is the largest democracy of the world and the right to free speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy. The expression or thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the government of the day should not be considered as sedition. The Law Commission has rightly said, “an expression of frustration over the state of affairs cannot be treated as sedition”. If the country is not open to positive criticism, there would be no difference between the pre- and post-Independence eras.
  • Of course, it is essential to protect national integrity. Given the legal opinion and the views of the government in favour of the law, it is unlikely that Section 124A will be scrapped soon. However, the section should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech. The SC caveat, given in Kedar Nath case, on prosecution under the law can check its misuse.

Delhi burned; the police, courts and media failed to stand up for rule of law

Paper: II

For Mains: Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges therein.

Context of News:

  • It really has been a bleak winter for the Delhi Police starting with the clashes with lawyers in November, then the clashes with students in Jamia in December, which contributed a great deal to the ongoing protests in Shaheen Bagh, the allegations of inaction during campus violence in JNU in January, finally culminating in the communal violence in February that has left at least 47 dead and several hundred injured.
  • Culminating to this incidence lot of questions were asked pertaining to the role and capability of Delhi Police in these fragile and delicate situation in Delhi.

Concerns Associated with Delhi Violence:

  • The Delhi Police is the best resourced police in the country. It is looked upon as a model by state police forces across the country. However, it has not covered itself with glory while dealing with recent agitations. Its response, in fact, shows a disturbing pattern. There have been extremes of action and inaction.  Police response invariably reflects the bias of the ruling party. The partisan police response to situations, which were strikingly similar, has caused dismay and consternation among the people.
  • Protest in Delhi which started as Pro and Against of CAA turned to communal tension of Hindu against Muslim with blink of eyes. Following which army has to come on the street. This protest lead to communal flaring in minority community’s area.
  • Question is also raised against late wake up of both central and state governments, if situation was going out of the control from last 2 days and this street fight was on the paper, why enough force was not deployed as precautionary measures.

Connecting Dots:

  • Partisan Policing:
  • In any democratic system, there are basic institutional mechanisms to ensure police accountability. The police leadership, of course, bears the primary responsibility for the front end of day-to-day functioning. The political executive is meant to be responsible for the back end of policy-making and allocation of adequate resources. The police leadership is guided primarily by loyalty to the party in office and faces an incentive structure that rewards obedience over professional competence and integrity. Regardless of the party in office, this is the political consensus on how the police ought to function.
  • Court not Performing Duty:
  • Coming to the courts, despite the regular output of high-minded judgments, they too have failed miserably in ensuring police accountability. Our courts are prompt in passing sweeping judgements about certain aspects of police functioning such as arrests and encounters. But they are extremely ineffective in doing their basic job of dispensing justice in a time-bound manner, or in ensuring that the police receive proper backing in ensuring the rule of law. One example is the frequent misuse of Section 321 CrPC by all governments to withdraw riot-related cases with the consent of the court.
  • Anesthetic Media:
  • The media too has not played its role of ensuring police accountability. Like our police leaders, too few editors and owners of media houses have the guts to say no to the party in power. This has disastrous consequences for democratic accountability in general, and police accountability in particular. Unless the media sets its own house in order, we will continue to miss a crucial piece in this puzzle.
  • Can the media escape its responsibility for treating the police as a convenient punching bag from time to time and not taking up the cause of police reforms as aggressively as it should be doing? And, are the people of the country also not to blame for not being vocal enough about police reforms? The Supreme Court would also need to introspect as to why the implementation of its directions has been so ineffective.

Way Forward:

  • Relief and rehabilitation:
  • We need to focus on the relief and rehabilitation of the victims and their families. This must be accompanied by proactive measures to initiate dialogue and restore trust between community leaders at the grass roots. It requires administrative resolve and political consensus to step back from the blame game and make a concerted effort to douse inflamed passions on all sides.
  • Registration of all Riot Related Complaints:
  • Delhi Police must register and investigate all riot-related complaints without fear or favour in a time-bound manner. It is widely believed that inflammatory speeches by various leaders led to this violence. That aspect must also be investigated. However, to primarily blame hate speech for this kind for violence is mere posturing. The actual perpetrators of specific acts of violence need to be identified and prosecuted. All too often we are content to justify our descent into mob violence on hate speech. It is necessary, but not sufficient to do so.
  • Thorough inquiry:
  • A thorough inquiry must also identify those police officers who committed specific lapses that led to the riot and suitable action should be taken against them. Violence on this scale simmers for a while before erupting. There must have been plenty of warning signs that were missed or worse, not responded to. The Delhi Police themselves have lost one head constable and many others, including a DCP, have been injured. But their sacrifice and bravery cannot take away from the failure of the force to prevent the riot in the first place.
  • Correcting systematic Failures:
  • This is probably the hardest part, care must be taken to correct the systemic failures that allow such riots to take place. Without doing so, we cannot prevent further outbreak of mob violence. This requires a host of measures, most urgent of which is to seriously rethink the professional autonomy and accountability of our police officials.
  • The police are, no doubt, to blame for not being able to function in an objective and impartial manner. There is definitely a failure of leadership also. But can political parties across the spectrum escape the blame for continuing to use the police as an instrument to further their political agenda?

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