Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 13th January 2022

Watch the free daily Current affairs video explanation

1.  A quest for social consensus against hate speech

UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Issues in tackling Hate Speech in India | Broad Definition Needed | UPSC

Context: There is absence of any legal or social consensus around what constitutes Hate Speech. The speech at Haridwar on the face of it does not constitute illegal speech. However, the calls to violence against Minorities are not allowed under the Freedom of Speech and Expression in the Indian Constitution.

Impact of Hate Speech

  • The harm caused by hate is not just the direct calls for Violence.
  • Hate Speech creates a climate that strengthens existing prejudices and entrenches already existing discrimination.

European Between First and the Second World War

  • What started as Daily calls for discrimination against Jewish Community, Finally manifested in the form of Holocaust.
  • It happened largely because the discrimination against Jews was normalised in the European Society.
  • The Normalisation took place based on Stereotypes and social prejudice, and justified ongoing discrimination, social and economic boycotts, and ghettoization, on a day-to-day level .

Rwanda Genocide

Why a broad Definition of Hate Speech is required?

  • Takin into account the Impact of Hate Speech most societies define hate speech in terms of both inciting violence, but also, inciting discrimination.
  • Hate speech has not merely set the stage for future violence but has also been weaponised in its own right to further entrench and endorse inequality and subordination.

Issues in India’s approach to tackle Hate Speech

  • Indian laws are unequipped to deal with the challenges of hate speech.
  • The laws commonly invoked in such cases are
    • Section 295A (blasphemy) and Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (creating enmity between classes of people).
  • Hate speech is speech that targets people based on their identity, and calls for violence or discrimination against people because of their identity.
  • Euphemism is used in Hate Speeches to not take the name of a community directly.
  • Rather the Hate Speech is worded with ambiguity and is then defended as calls to self-defence rather than calls to violence.
  • Indirect hate speech  known as a “dog-whistle”: while it may escape the attention of an external observer, both the speaker and the listener know what — and who — is being referred to.

 

What Needs to be Done?

  • A social consensus is required about what kind of speech is unacceptable. Ex- In Europe Holocaust denial is an offence – reflecting a social consensus.
  • Social consensus distinguish cases of hate speech from other forms of confrontational or agitational speech — that often comes from hitherto marginalised classes.
  • Achieving this social consensus will require both consistent legal implementation over time, but also daily conversations that we, as a society (and especially, the socially privileged classes) need to have among ourselves.

 

2.  Act now, recast the selection process of the ECs

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains: GS Paper-II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Legal loopholes in the functioning of Election Commission | UPSC

Context: The attendance of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and his Election Commissioner (EC) colleagues at an “informal” meeting with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister has brought renewed focus on the independence and impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

  • ECI has been ensuring democratic transfer of political power from one set of representatives to other since independence. However, in recent times, it is embroiled in various issues & controversies such as EVM malfunctioning, announcement of election dates to benefit ruling government, money and muscle role in elections etc.
  • In this regard, it is important for us to understand various constitutional and legal loopholes which enable such transgressions to occur.

Starting with the basics:

Constitutional and legal Issues:

  • Appointment of ECs
    • Currently ECs (Including CEC) is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the PM.
    • This is important because the Election Commission is not only responsible for conducting free and fair elections, but it also serves a quasi judicial function between the various political parties including the ruling government and other parties.
    • In such circumstances the Executive cannot be the sole participant in the appointment of members of the Election Commission as it gives unfettered discretion to the ruling party to choose someone whose loyalty to it is ensured and thereby renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulation.
  • Election commissioners do not get the same protection as CEC
    • Article 324(5) of the Constitution protects only CEC from removal, except if the manner and grounds of removal are the same as a judge of the Supreme Court. However, ECs can be removed by the government on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner
  • Lack of legal enactment envisaged under Article 324
    • The appointment of CEC and other ECs according to the Article 324, shall be done as per the law made by the Parliament in this regard. However, no such law has yet been made which leaves a “gap” and leaves the appointment of such a crucial post solely to the executives.
  • Other Flaws in the constitutional mechanisms:
    • The constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative, or judicial) of the members of election commission.
    • The constitution has not debarred the retiring Election commissioner from any further appointment by the government.
    • There is no clarity regarding the power division between the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
  • RP Act empowers the Central Government to make rules after consultation with ECI
    • However, the Central Government is not bound to accept. Thus, impacting various reforms such as power to de-register political parties, insertion of new clause ‘58 B’ be inserted in the RPA Act 1951 to give power to postpone or countermand polls based on evidence that money power was used to influence voters.

Hence:

  • EC should be given the power to make rules under the electoral law, instead of the Centre
  • ECI sought an urgent amendment to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to empower it to punish anyone being disobedient or discourteous towards its authority.
  • Establishing a multi-institutional, bipartisan committee for fair and transparent selection of ECs can enhance the perceived and actual independence of ECI.

 

3.  Reaping India’s demographic dividend

UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-I – Indian Society
Sub Theme: Non-uniform Demographic Transition | Demographic Window of Opportunity | UPSC

Context: As countries pass through various phases of demographic transition from high fertility and high mortality to low mortality and low fertility, the age composition of a country’s population changes. During this demographic transition, all countries have a demographic ‘window of opportunity’ when the growth in the working-age population is greater than the growth in the total population. This bulge in the working-age population, that is, the increase in the share of the working-age population in total population, is referred to as the ‘demographic dividend’.

 

Growing share of working age population will have following benefits:

  • Labour supply: Increase in the labour supply simply because of a greater working-age population, and also because women may enter the work force because of decline in family size
  • Savings: A population with a greater share of the 0–14 age group will spend a greater share of income on the upbringing of the young and will therefore save less. Similarly, a population with a greater share of the elderly population, that is, 65 and up, will see greater spending on health care and pensions. On the other hand, a working-age population in general tends to be more productive, supplies labour, saves more than their consumption, and provides capital for investment.
  • Increase in the stock of Human capital: With fewer children and a longer expected working life over which to recover those investments, parents are more likely to invest in their children’s health and education.

According to NFHS-5, India has recorded a decline in the total fertility rate from 2.2 in the previous survey (2015-16) to 2.0 in the latest one (2019-20). According to Census, the share of working age population has been increasing whereas share of dependency age group has been decreasing. This shows that, at present, India is going through this phase of demographic transition and can reap the potential benefits of Demographic dividend.

 

However, In India, the benefit to the GDP from demographic transition has been lower than its peers in Asia (China, South Korea, Singapore etc.) and is already tapering. Hence, there is an urgency to take appropriate policy measures.

  • Nutrition: Around 60 million children, which is roughly about half, of all children in India are underweightabout 45% are stunted, 21% are wasted and 75% are anaemic. Malnutrition has been a major contributor to the under-5 mortality rate in India. This shows the urgent need to Improve the nutritional outcomes.
  • Health: Health spending has not kept pace with India’s economic growth. The public spending on health has remained flat at around 1% of GDP. Evidence suggests that better health facilitates improved economic production. Hence, it is important to draft policies to promote health during the demographic dividend.
  • Education:
  • Multiple reports from ASER surveys shows the poor state of Foundational literacy and Numeracy in India.
  • Gender differences in literacy- according to 2011 census, literacy rate of male is around 84% whereas for female it is around 65%.

India can’t reap the befits of Demographic dividend as long as the poor learning outcomes perpetuate at primary level of education and around half of the population(females) can’t participate in the labour force because of low educational levels.

  • Skill development & Re-skilling:
  • At present, the country is experiencing a massive skill gap where 65-75% of the 15 million youngsters entering the workforce every year, are either found unemployable or are still not ready for jobs.
  • The advent of 4th Industrial revolution is going to disrupt the conventional methods of employment, thereby drastically reducing the number of jobs available in the eco-system and increasing the urgency to re-skilling people globally.
  • Increasing Female labour force participation: Provision of education, access to Institutional credit, equal ownership of property and safe working conditions are necessary to reap the benefits of Demographic dividend.

However, the demographic transition has not been uniformed across the country. States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Delhi achieved low TFR levels. whereas states like UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan are still experiencing TFR levels way above the replacement level (2.1). As a result of variation in their TFR levels, southern states will age faster and Northern states like UP, Bihar and MP will have longer window of demographic dividend. This will have following policy implications:

  • Expanding mass transportation infrastructure for smoother Inter-state labour migration driven by Variations in the working age population demands efficient mass transportation
  • Strict implementation of 3-language formula for smooth integration of migrant workforce in the destination state
  • Removing caps on local quotas for jobs in certain states
  • Adoption of Artificial intelligence, especially in southern states to overcome the challenge of labour shortage in future.
  • Delimitation of constituencies according to the changing demographics.

 

4.  Trust deficit – Google Vs CCI

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Governance | Mains: GS Paper-II – Governance

Sub Theme: Anti-trust probe by Competition Commission of India | Google’s Dominance | UPSC  

Context: The Competition Commission of India has recently decided to launch anti-trust probe against Google based upon the complaint filed by Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA).

The DNPA is an organisation of leading Indian digital media companies that promotes and protects the interest of digital news publishers. The DNPA has argued that the Google company has misused its market dominance and forced unfair terms on digital news publishers.

How Google’s dominance affects Digital News publishers?

Dominant Search Engine platform: Google enjoys dominance as a search engine platform across the globe. As a search engine platform, it acts as a gatekeeper and choses which news websites to display. Around 50% of the traffic on the websites of the digital news publishers comes through Google search. Hence, the digital news publishers have come to be dependant more on Google to display their curated news.

Advertisement Revenue:  Normally, the digital news publishers provide for advertisement options on their own websites. However, several problems have been arisen over revenues from such digital advertisements:

  1. Google company enjoys dominance even in the digital ads business as well.
  2. Google company does not inform the Digital news publishers about the amount of advertisement revenue earned.
  3. Google shares only a small chunk of advertisement revenue with the digital news publishers.

Thus, as seen, it is the digital news publishers which provide for quality and highly curated content on their websites, but it is the Google company which ends up getting maximum benefits in terms of higher advertisement revenue.

Global Example: The Australian government has passed a new law requiring companies such as Google and Facebook to negotiate with news outlets to pay for their content. Hence, such a law has sought to level the playing field between big tech platforms and news publishers.

0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *