ISSUE: DECLINE IN EQUITY INFLOW
WHY IN NEWS?
Equity inflows plummeted to Rs 1,312 crore in November — the lowest levels since June 2016 — according to latest data from the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI).
WHAT DOES THIS INDICATE?
That this fall has taken place despite the Sensex hitting a record high, and foreign investors pumping around Rs 20,000 crore into the stock market during this period, seems to reinforce the view that sentiment in India has been badly hit.
It suggests that investors are voting with their feet, and is in line with the findings of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) consumer confidence survey which reveals that sentiment on the general economic situation and the employment scenario in the country weakened further in November.
The fall in inflows in November could be indicative of a reassessment by market participants of the growth trajectory. India’s economic growth has fallen from 8 per cent in the first quarter of 2018-19 to 4.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2019-20.
With growth prospects likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future, cuts in earnings per share are likely to continue, further depressing sentiment.
WHAT COULD BE DONE?
The finance minister cannot afford to ignore the great expectations. A comprehensive reform package is needed to revive both business and consumer confidence.
ISSUE: PROBLEMS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
In the celebrations and furore following the recent encounter in Telangana, the Uttar Pradesh police announced that in the last two years they have killed 103 criminals (extra-judicially perhaps) and injured 1,859 in 5,178 engagements.
Over this period, instead of remaining on bail, as many as 17,745 criminals have voluntarily had their bail cancelled or have surrendered, apparently fearing death in an engagement, echoing the words of a former CJI suggesting to an accused that he would be safer in jail.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?
HUGE PENDENCY: As per the National Judicial Data Grid, more than 20 lakh criminal cases are pending for more than 10 years in the district courts and high courts. The report of the National Crime Records Bureau (2017) informs us that 1.27 lakh cases of rape are pending in the courts at various stages, with 1,840 of them pending for more than 10 years.
NON AVAILABILITY OF INFRASTRUCTURE FOR COURTS: In 2012, the then CJI was deeply concerned about the non-availability of infrastructure for the courts and had expressed his unhappiness at the slow progress.
VACANCY IN JUDICIARY
WHAT DO ENCOUNTERS ACHIEVE?
Rather than instant justice many time these encounter end up killing the innocent persons as highlighted by the report of Justice V K Agarwal on the Sarkeguda massacre of June 2012 in Chhattisgarh
Sarkeguda is a shocking example of innocents being slaughtered on an extra-judicial assessment of guilt for a crime not even committed.
WHY ENCOUNTERS SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED?
Encounters undermine the basic constitutional principles. We need to recognise this dividing line and must also not forget that our society is governed by the rule of law and a progressive Constitution where everyone is presumed innocent (not is innocent) until proven guilty through a fair trial. This was the basis of Ajmal Kasab’s trial, who could also have been despatched in an encounter without any furore and amidst celebrations, but our Constitution did not allow that to happen.
ISSUE: CRITICISM OF THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2019
PREVIOUS AMENDMENTS IN THE CITIZENSHIP ACT 1955
The citizenship law was amended in 1986 due to the Assam Accord and in 2003, because of the BJP’s opposition to illegal migrants.
Unlike the original Citizenship Act that gave citizenship on the principle of jus soli (everyone born in India), the 1986 amendment was less inclusive as it added the condition that in addition to one’s own birth in India, one can get citizenship only if either of the applicant’s parents happened to be an Indian citizen at the time of birth.
The 2003 amendment by the Vajpayee government made the law even more stringent. Now, the law requires that in addition to the fact of birth, either both the parents should be Indian citizens or one parent has to be an Indian citizen and the other not an illegal migrant.
WHY PRESENT BILL IS BEING CRITICIZED?
CREATING DIVISIONS WITHIN SOCIETY: Shared identity is at the core of citizenship. The framers of our Constitution and those who enacted the Citizenship Act in 1955 believed in citizenship as a unifying idea. Today, citizenship is being used to divide people and treat people of certain religious persuasion as inferior.
through the CAB, we are creating divisions between Abrahamic religions by including Christians in the Bill but excluding Jews and Muslims. The Bill also ignores atheists.
The religious basis of citizenship would be a negation not only of secularism but also of liberalism, equality and justice. Interestingly, neither the Constitution nor the Citizenship Act define the term “citizen”.
The CAB will put even non-Muslim citizens under severe hardship as those who were till now asserting that they are Indian citizens will now have to prove that they, in fact, came from these three countries.
The Bill is an instance of class legislation, as classification on the ground of religion is not permissible. Neither is religious persecution the monopoly of three countries nor is such persecution confined to non-Muslims. Religious persecution is rampant in China and Myanmar. Several Muslim groups such as Hazaras in Afghanistan and Shias in Pakistan too face persecution.
This Bill, in effect, endorses the two-nation theory by creating a hierarchy of citizenship based on religious faith, excluding Muslims from this hierarchy.
ISSUE: RISING THREAT TO MUMBAI
BACKGROUND: On October 29, 2019, the journal Nature published an important paper identifying the dangers climate change poses specifically to Mumbai and other coastal cities.
The research, carried by many newspapers including The Indian Express, indicates that anthropogenic climate change will inundate significant sections of Mumbai by 2050.
As the cyclones battering coastlines near Mumbai and unseasonal, heavy rains indicate, climate change is not some event in the distant future. It is present. It is here.
Recent studies, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and in Nature by Lu and Flavelle in October 2019 indicate that its effects are more intensive than earlier models predicted.
For example, sea levels are rising significantly faster than were previously estimated. The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, published last month by the IPCC, indicates that sea levels are significantly higher than were originally anticipated, and as such will have significant impacts on cities like Mumbai.
The IPCC report warns Mumbai’s planners and administrators and states that “in the absence of adaptation, more intense and frequent extreme sea level events, together with trends in coastal development will increase expected annual flood damages by 2-3 orders of magnitude by 2100.”
The report points out, however, that “well-designed coastal protection” could both “reduce expected damages” and “be cost efficient for urban and densely populated… areas”.
The rate of sea level rise has more than doubled in India in just over a decade in line with global rates. Research conducted by Dr A S Unnikrishnan and his team at the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa has shown that sea level rise has increased to 3.2 mm/year in the period 1993-2012
Climate change is not just an environmental issue. It is a human issue and an urban issue that will dramatically affect every resident of Mumbai, particularly its urban poor. Mumbai’s current priorities are misplaced. It is currently spending a large part of the city’s ‘rainy day’ corpus to construct a coastal road that few will use. Wouldn’t it be wiser for the city to instead spend this money on mitigating the effects of actual rainier days, floods, and rising seas that already are a new normal in the city’s climate changed future?
ISSUE: RISING NUMBER OF MP’S AND MLA’S WHO FACE CHARGES OF CRIME AGAINST WOMEN
Between 2009 and 2019, there has been an increase of 231% in the number of candidates with declared cases of crime against women contesting Lok Sabha elections.
The number elected as MPs has increased 9 times, according to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch.
For current MPs and MLAs, the ADR analysed 4,822 election affidavits (759 MPs and 4,063 MLAs) out of a total of 4,896 (776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs). It found that 76 MPs/MLAs had declared cases of crime against women.
Of these, 18 are MPs and 58 are MLAs. Among candidates in MLA, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections in the last five years, 572 were found to have declared such cases; none of them has been convicted.
Among them, 410 were given tickets by recognised political parties while the remaining 162 were independent candidates.
The BJP has 21 MPs/MLAs with cases relating to crimes against women, at 21, the ADR said. The BJP is followed by the Congress at 16, YSRCP at 7, BJD at 6 and Trinamool Congress at 5. In terms of candidates who declared such cases, the BJP fielded 66, followed by the Congress at 46, BSP at 40, CPI(M) at 15, and Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party at 13 each.
In the last five years, recognised political parties have given tickets to 41 candidates with declared cases of rape against them. Out of these, nine were elected, three of them as MPs and the other six as MLAs. In addition, 14 independent candidates had declared cases of rape against them.