Daily Editorials Analysis for 27th January 2020

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Editorial Analysis January 2020
  4. »
  5. Daily Editorials Analysis for 27th January 2020

Drawing a line between community Faith and Gender Justice

Paper: II

For Prelims:

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

Context of News:

  • In September 2018 the Supreme Court of India ruled that women of all age groups can enter Sabarimala temple. The court ruled thus: The denial of this right to women significantly denudes them of their right to worship. The verdict was passed with a 4-1 majority.
  • Recent turnaround of events in Sabarimala issue in the recent months have the potential to substantially influence the thought process, perspective, and future of Keralites, especially the Hindu population living there.

What is confronting point?

  • The views aired from both sides are extreme, or at least extreme views are the loudest we hear. Those who resist change in age-old tradition are being branded primitive and supportive of inhuman values. Those seeking change in Sabarimala are being accused of a concealed conspiracy to sabotage Hinduism and its beliefs.
  • On the one side of this debate is a group that thinks religious beliefs and customs have no materialistic and divine origins. They do not view the existence of the concept of God and religious customs through history’s lenses.
  • And who is on the other side? These are people who think religions and belief systems originated exclusively from humans and social sources. They argue that all religious beliefs, concept of God, and even spirituality can be historically interpreted and explained.
  • The crucial enquiries that the case throws up are – what kind of judicial scrutiny should be employed in examining the claims of religious denominations? How far can a gender discriminatory custom be allowed under the guise of it being an essential religious custom? Can the individual right to religion (Article 25) be completely overshadowed and abrogated by a denominational right to manage internal affairs [Article 26(b)]? Judicial responses has led to clarity on two vexed questions – the relationship between individual and group rights in matters of religion and the possibilities of understanding ‘morality’ as constitutional morality.

What constitution says?

  • In the context of a religiously plural society like India, where conflicting value systems often compete with each other, the principled approach of the Supreme Court on religious matters is to promote religious freedom that secures human dignity. Therefore, the Court may apply a liberal or a conservative approach towards religion depending on which of the two better promotes religious liberty consistent with a set of values that protect the sanctity of human life and provide a life-affirming space for all to live in dignity.
  • To “profess” a religion means to declare freely and openly ones faith and belief. The constitutional right to profess religion means a right to exhibit one’s religion in such overt acts as teaching, practicing and observing religious precepts and ideals in which there is no explicit intention of propagation involved. Taking out religious processions, worship in public places, putting on specific garments include within the ambit of profession of religion The Constitution of India, for example, provides the wearing and carrying of kirpan as part of the profession of Sikh religion. The phrase ‘profess a religion’ as given in article 25 means according to the Supreme Court “to enter publicly into a religious state.
  • India is a pluralist and diverse nation, where groups and communities — whether religious or cultural — have always played an important role in society. Following up on this impulse, the Constitution recognises both the freedom of religion as an individual right (Article 25), as well as the right of religious denominations to manage their own affairs in matters of religion (Article 26).

Way Forward:

  • How then do we strike a balance between respecting the autonomy of cultural and religious communities and also ensuring that individual rights are not entirely sacrificed at the altar of the community? Over the years, the Supreme Court has attempted to do so by carving out a jurisprudence that virtually allows it to sit in theological judgment over different practices. It has done this by recognising that it is only those practices that are “essential” to religion that enjoy constitutional protection. Any other ritual is seen as secular and amenable to the state’s interference.
  • Sabarimala is confrontation between those who accord perpetuity to customs because of its non-materialistic, divine origin, and those who place historicity above belief because the latter is a social construct. Sabarimala issue and the rift it has created among the people can be addressed only if both points of view are understood and a common ground found. Otherwise, it could remain a smarting pain in many minds for long.

The hype over hypersonics

GS Paper III

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology

Prelims: hypersonic glide vehicle

Mains: Implications of launch of hypersonic glide vehicle

What’s the News?

On December 27, 2019, Russia announced that its new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), Avangard, launched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, had been made operational.

Avangard, hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV):

  • The nuclear-capable missiles can travel more than 20 times the speed of sound and put Russia ahead of other nations.
  • They have a “glide system” that affords great manoeuvrability and could make them impossible to defend against.
  • The Avangard is invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defence means of the potential adversary.
  • Mounted on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Avangard can carry a nuclear weapon of up to two megatons.

Hypersonic missiles:

  • As their name implies, these missiles fly very fast, at above Mach 5 i.e. at least five times the speed of sound.
  • They can be cruise-type missiles, powered throughout their flight. Or, they can be carried aloft on board a ballistic missile from which the hypersonic “glide vehicle” separates and then flies to its target.
  • Such “boost-glide” systems, as they are known (Avangard appears to be one of these), are weapons which are difficult to track, target and defeat.


  • It has extraordinary manoeuvrability as it glides towards its target which poses a huge problem for existing anti-missile defence systems.
  • It has developed a long-range intercontinental missile system that may well be impossible to defend against.
  • Risks of misperception and miscalculation in moments of crisis: Country with small nuclear arsenal would fear that even conventionally armed hypersonic missiles could destroy a portion of its nuclear assets. The tendency could then be to shift to more trigger-ready postures such as launch on warning or launch under attack to ostensibly enhance deterrence.
  • Offence-defence spiral: The U.S. has begun finding ways of either strengthening its BMD or looking for countermeasures to defeat hypersonics, besides having an arsenal of its own of the same kind. The stage appears set for arms race instability given that the three major players in this game have the financial wherewithal and technological capability to play along. This looks particularly imminent in the absence of any strategic dialogue or arms control.
  • Outer space war: Counter-measures to hypersonics have been envisaged through placement of sensors and interceptors in outer space. Weaponisation of outer space would be a distinct possibility once hypersonic inductions become the norm.

The announcement that Avangard is operational heralds a new and dangerous era in the nuclear arms race.


  • Thus induction of this technology would likely prove to be a transitory advantage eventually leading nations into a strategic trap.
  • India needs to make a cool-headed assessment of its own deterrence requirements and choose its pathways wisely.
  • With a whole new generation of nuclear weapons at the threshold of entering service, not just the existing agreements should be bolstered, but the new treaties are needed to manage what could turn into a new nuclear arms race.

Current Affairs

Recent Posts