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- The Union Cabinet has approved three crucial amendments to the triple talaq Bill, including a provision for bail to an accused before the start of trial.
- These three provisions to the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, which makes instant triple talaq illegal and imposes a jail term of up to three years, provide additional safeguards from the Act being misused.
- The triple talaq bill has been cleared by Lok Sabha and is pending Rajya Sabha for approval.
- While the proposed law will remain non-bailable — the police cannot grant bail at the police station — the accused can approach a magistrate for bail even before trial.
- A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail after hearing the wife. But the offence of instant triple talaq under the proposed law remains non-bailable.
- The magistrate would ensure bail only after the husband agrees to pay compensation to the wife as provided in the bill.
- Another provision is with regard to making the process of registering FIRs more stringent.
- Any husband giving triple talaq instantaneously and breaking the marriage, the FIR will become cognisable if and only if when FIR is filed by victim wife, or the blood relations or relations by marriage. Therefore, any outside agency or neighbour initiating this is ruled out.
- The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq compoundable.
- Now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife.
- Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case.
- The Indian economy is gaining momentum
- The annual assessment recently released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed that it expects the Indian economy to grow at 7.3% in the current, and 7.5% in the next, fiscal
- India is contributing 15% to global growth
- Some of the recent structural reforms, such as the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), along with liberalization of foreign direct investment and improvement in the ease of doing business, will help improve economic activity
Risks being faced by the economy
1. External Sector
- On the external front, there are risks such as high crude prices and the tightening of global financial conditions
- India’s current account deficit widened to 1.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017-18 and is expected to go up to 2.6% of GDP in the current year
- The widening of the current account deficit is getting reflected in the depreciation of the rupee, which has fallen over 7% since the beginning of the year
- External sector risks are getting amplified by the tightening of financial conditions in global markets
2. Domestic front
- On the domestic front, there are risks such as the delay in addressing the twin balance sheet issue and possible revenue shortfall owing to GST implementation issues
- The resolution of the twin balance sheet problem is a real challenge
- Resolution or liquidation of distressed assets could result in large haircuts for banks
- This will possibly increase the capital requirement of public sector banks and the government, with fiscal constraints, may find it difficult to spare resources
- While the collection from GST is improving, it is still running below the desired rate of ₹1 trillion per month
- Any compression in capital expenditure as a result of revenue shortfall will affect growth
Further measures required
- Even as important reforms have been implemented, more will be needed in areas like land and labour
- Labour market reforms could complement the GST in terms of promoting the formal economy and creating fiscal space for needed social and infrastructure spending
- Factor market reforms and greater formalization of the economy will push growth and generate higher tax revenue
- For now, the government should work on smoothening the IBC and GST and not allow electoral compulsions to affect fiscal management
- According to the Global Slavery Index, India has more than seven million victims of modern slavery
- It is an alarmingly high number, even for a large country like India
Why increase in trafficking?
- The cases of trafficking that enter the criminal justice system are just the tip of the iceberg
- The number of victims is increasing each year, while the conviction rate of perpetrators continues to be abysmally low
- Traffickers are not scared of being penalized for the brutality and violence they subject their victims to
- The natural outcome of all this is that trafficking is one of the lowest risk crimes, not just in India, but all over the world
India’s steps towards curbing trafficking
- The Lok Sabha has recently passed a new Bill for countering human trafficking
- Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code defines trafficking and penalizes offenders
- There exists the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1956, which deals with cases of sex trafficking, and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, which deals with offences of forced labour
Problems with current provisions
- Except for certain provisions of the ITPA, no law has provided any relief or rehabilitation to the victims of the offence
- With no witness/victim protection mechanism and no rehabilitation schemes, prosecutions suffer for lack of evidence
- This handicaps the criminal justice system’s efforts to secure convictions
Changes in the new bill
- The new Bill has been drafted with a victim-centric approach
- The new law focuses solely on the trafficked persons
- The focus is on the protection and rehabilitation of the victims
- It does not encourage the institutionalization of victims. Rather, it encourages reintegration, with provisions to ensure the protection of vulnerable survivors and that they are not re-trafficked
- The new Bill has a robust framework in place to ensure the human agency of trafficking survivors is not snatched away; their dignity has been given prime importance
- The Bill also calls for the creation of specialized units within the criminal justice system
- This is a proven method worldwide when it comes to increasing the efficiency of efforts to combat crimes like human trafficking
Socioeconomic causes behind crimes
- Most crimes have their roots in socioeconomic problems
- Poverty and unemployment make people vulnerable to being trafficked
- Human trafficking is an extremely serious offence
- Its enormity calls for a stringent mechanism to counter it
- New Anti-trafficking law is not a perfect law, but it certainly is a better law than before
- The controversial Article 35A of the Constitution is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court
- Its critics have argued that the Article affords Jammu and Kashmir undue powers, particularly by preventing non-State residents to own land in the State
- In reality, the fundamental purpose of Article 35A was the exact opposite: instead of giving the state a “special status”, it was designed to take autonomy away from it
History of Article 35A
- The Article was introduced in May 1954 as part of a larger Presidential Order package, which made several additions to the Constitution (not just Article 35A)
- The overall gist of this Order was to give the Government of India enormously more powers over the State than it had enjoyed before
- For the first time, India’s fundamental rights and directive principles were applicable to Jammu and Kashmir and the State’s finances were integrated with India
- The Order also extended the Indian Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over certain aspects of Jammu and Kashmir
- In 1952, after the international clamour for an immediate plebiscite had somewhat subsided, Jawaharlal Nehru invited Sheikh Abdullah (then PM of Kashmir) to discuss how India and Jammu and Kashmir could be more closely integrated
- The result was the 1952 Delhi Agreement but it could not come into force
J&K is less autonomous than before
- It took 70 years for successive governments to steadily chip away at Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy to bring it to today when the only meaningful “special status” that it enjoys is Article 35A
- Almost all of State’s other autonomous powers have been subsumed by New Delhi
- Abolition of Article 35A should be seen as part of this larger decades-long process of the State’s integration into India, sometimes through legal means and sometimes through outright fiat
- The whole project of federal nation-building requires constant negotiation between the nation-state and its components
- Such efforts need to have an underpinning of at least some kind of transparent democratic process
- If Article 35A is to be removed, it must be removed as an expression of the will of the people, through a political process which includes the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the discussion
- Mine workers in Rajasthan suffering from silicosis as an occupational disease have demanded steps for relief, while pointing out that they were not getting silicosis confirmation certificates from the Pneumoconiosis Board mandatory for getting compensation from the State government.
- About 1,000 silicosis patients from the State’s nine districts gathered at a public hearing and narrated their experiences while trying to obtain certificates for the non-curable disease.
- The mine workers said they should be included in the national and State lists of disabilities and given disability pension, besides the health insurance benefits under the Bhamashah Scheme.
- More than 15,000 labourers working in various mines across 16 districts in State have been diagnosed with silicosis. Over 200 of them have lost their lives during the last three years.
- The infrastructure development in the State was being carried out at the cost of people’s lives.
- The silicosis patients, who were losing their lives in the work, were struggling to get their basic statutory rights.
- The State government at present offers the relief of Rs.1 lakh to the people diagnosed with silicosis and Rs.3 lakh to the next of kin of those who succumb to the disease.
- The Pneumoconiosis Board issues certificates to the patients, making them eligible for the government’s financial assistance.
- It is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, and is marked by inflammation and scarring in the form of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs.
- It is a type of pneumoconiosis.
- It is also known as miner’s phthisis, grinder’s asthma, potter’s rot etc.
- Silicosis is characterized by shortness of breath, cough, fever, and cyanosis (bluish skin).
- Silicosis is a permanent disease with no cure.
- The best way to prevent silicosis is to identify work-place activities that produce respirable crystalline silica dust and then to eliminate or control the dust
- Water spray is often used where dust emanates. Dust can also be controlled through dry air filtering.
- Jaggery (a traditional sugar) has a preventive action against silicosis.
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