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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 23RD JANUARY 2020

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ISSUE: LOWEST RANKING OF INDIA ON DEMOCRACY INDEX

WHY IN NEWS?

India slipped 10 places to 51st position in the latest Democracy Index global rankings published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Its score, down from from 7.23 in 2018 to 6.90 in 2019, is its lowest ever since the Democracy Index was begun in 2006, the report shows. The report ranks 165 independent states and two territories, covering almost the entire population of the world.

WHY SLIP IN RANKING?

“The primary cause of the democratic regression was an erosion of civil liberties in the country,” the report said. It mentioned the stripping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status with the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A, the various security measures that followed the bifurcation of the state including restriction of Internet access, and the exclusion of 1.9 million people from the final NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Assam.

WHAT ARE THE CRITERION? 

“Civil liberties” is one of five categories on which the Democracy Index is based. The other four are electoral process and pluralism; functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. On a scale of 0 to 10, India’s scores were 8.67 in electoral process and pluralism, 6.79 in functioning of government; 6.67 in political participation; 5.63 in political culture; and 6.76 in civil liberties.

Based on the total score, countries are classified as “full democracy” (scores greater than 8); “flawed democracy” (greater than 6 and up to 8); “hybrid regime” (greater than 4 and up to 6); or “authoritarian regime” (less than or equal to 4).

By that yardstick, India’s score of 7.23 places it in the “flawed democracy” category, which also includes Bangladesh (5.88). Pakistan, with a score of 4.25, is categorised as a “hybrid democracy”; China (2.26) and North Korea (bottom-ranked with 1.08) are categorised as “authoritarian regimes”; and Norway (top-ranked with 9.87) is counted as a “full democracy”.

Following Norway at the top of the rankings are Iceland (9.58), Sweden (9.39) and New Zealand (9.26). Other “full democracies” include Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The United States, with a score of 7.96 that is just below the benchmark for a “full democracy”, is a “flawed democracy”, in the same category as India.

In 2019, the average global score fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44, the worst result since 2006.

ISSUE: WHAT IS BLUE CORNER NOTICE?

WHY IN NEWS?

Interpol on Wednesday (January 22) issued a Blue Corner notice to help locate fugitive self-styled godman Nithyananda, weeks after the Gujarat Police sought the agency’s intervention for this, PTI reported. Nithyananda fled India last year amid allegations of rape and sexual abuse.

What is a ‘Blue Corner’ notice?

According to the Interpol website, “Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.”

There are seven types of notices — Red Notice, Yellow Notice, Blue Notice, Black Notice, Green Notice, Orange Notice, and Purple Notice. The Blue Notice is issued to “collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) website refers to Blue Notices as ‘B Series (Blue) Notices’.

ISSUE: WHY JANUARY 26 IS CELEBRATED AS REPUBLIC DAY?

26 January 1950 was the day India’s Constitution came into effect, and the country became a republic. The day- 26 January- was chosen for a particular reason, as it marked a key event in the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule.

Why was 26 January chosen to be India’s Republic Day?

In 1929, Lahore hosted the Indian National Congress session, in which Jawaharlal Nehru was president. At the time, Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose were together working to oppose those in the Congress party who were satisfied with ‘dominion status’, wherein the British monarch would continue to be the head of government.

On December 31, 1929, Nehru hoisted the tricolour on the banks of the Ravi river and demanded “Poorna Swaraj” or complete self-rule, and the date set for independence was January 26, 1930. The day was then celebrated as Poorna Swaraj day for the next 17 years. On January 26, 1930, the Congress passed the Poorna Swaraj resolution or the Declaration of Independence.

Poorna Swaraj Day becomes Republic Day

When India became independent in 1947, the day set by the British was August 15– chosen to coincide with the second anniversary of the day when Japanese forces submitted to allied powers after the Second World War. The historian Ramachandra Guha notes, “freedom finally came on a day that resonated with imperial pride rather than nationalist sentiment.”

Thus, when the Constitution of India was adopted on 26th November, 1949, many considered it necessary to celebrate the document on a day associated with national pride.

The Poorna Swaraj day was the best option– January 26. It has since been celebrated as the country’s Republic Day.

ISSUE: WHY STATES SHOULD NOT IMPLEMENT CAA 2019

Author highlights that if states implement the CAA then they are violating the  a basic principle of jurisprudence — the Nuremberg principle — so named because of the trial at which it was enunciated.

HISTORY OF THE NUREMBERG PRINCIPLE

At the Nuremberg trial, where Nazi officials accused of various war crimes were being tried, the defence plea was that the accused were merely carrying out orders. This argument was rejected, and sentences were handed down on the principle that a person, no matter what the orders were, has to take responsibility for his or her actions. If an order was “illegal” or violated universally-accepted norms of basic humanity (such as not killing innocent people), then a person could not escape culpability simply by claiming that he or she was carrying out an order.

The Nuremberg principle was not enunciated just to punish war criminals of a bygone era. It forms a cornerstone of any democratic jurisprudence, including our own. In its absence, nobody would ever be held culpable for any atrocity: A would say that he or she was acting under orders from B, B would likewise shift the blame to C and so on, until the ultimate source of authority is traced, if at all, to someone who may well be dead by then, as Hitler was at the time of the Nuremberg trial.

The Nuremberg principle has a positive and a normative aspect. The positive aspect ensures that nobody escapes culpability for doing something illegal or inhuman. The normative aspect is that everyone must examine the legal and moral justifiability of any course of action that he or she is asked to follow. This is essential in a democracy if the exercise of “power without responsibility”, by merely pretending that the source of power lies elsewhere, is to be avoided. In fact we get exercised about “corruption”, and rightly so, but the exercise of “power without responsibility” is a massive form of corruption in the deepest sense. This is what the Nuremberg principle seeks to prevent.

Even if the SC eventually holds the Act to be constitutionally valid, but the state governments believe otherwise, the Nuremberg principle would still suggest that the latter not implement the Act, though they would then be going against the “deemed” law of the land and, hence, would have to face the consequences of their refusal. Of course, instead of facing such consequences, such as dismissal under Article 356, they may decide to implement the Act; but then, too, they would be held accountable for such implementation. There is, in short, no question of blind obedience to any law just because it has been passed by Parliament.

 

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