DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 08 APR 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

08 APRIL 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Abortion is a woman’s right to decide

The Hindu

2

An opaque bond

Indian Express

3

River link no one needs

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

IIT Delhi Develops Device For Early, Rapid Diagnosis Of Dengue

Syllabus–GS 3: Science and Technology

Analysis: –

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology here have developed a handheld Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)-based platform for early diagnosis of dengue and also gives dengue test results within one hour (rapid diagnosis).
  • The researchers have tested hundreds of blood samples in collaboration with the ICMR-National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), New Delhi. The research work was funded by the IMPRINT India program of the Ministry of Education.
  • Common diseases like dengue require rapid diagnosis but conventional diagnostic tools like nucleic acid detection using Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) is a time-taking process, which requires expensive equipment and reagents.
  • The SERS platform was capable of distinguishing different tropic strains of HIV-1 suggesting tropism-based detection.

Mains Analysis

Abortion is a woman’s right to decide

Why in News: –

The Rajya Sabha passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in March 2021.

Syllabus: -GS 1, 2: Social Justice, Women Issues

  • The government’s conduct is particularly appalling since it comes after over a decade of procrastination and obstruction where indigent women in difficult circumstances tried to have abortions done and were stonewalled by government officials and prosecutors.
  • The passing of this Act marks a new phase of the struggle to assert the absolute right of a woman over her body.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP)

  • Provisions in the Indian Penal Code regarding termination of pregnancy were enacted over a century ago in keeping with the British law on the subject.
  • Abortions were made a crime and the woman concerned and her doctor would invariably land up in jail.
  • Section 3 put an outer limit of 20 weeks on the length of the pregnancy and required two doctors to certify that the continuation of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the woman or grave injury to her physical or mental health or that there was a substantial risk that the child born would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
  • Account needed to be taken of the pregnant woman’s actual or reasonably foreseeable environment.
  • Section 5 created an exception to the 20-week limit whenever such an abortion wasimmediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.
  • The 1971 Act was based on “The Report of the Shantilal H. Shah Committee to Study the Question of Legislation of Abortion” 1967, which set out the limitations of technology which made it hazardous for women to have abortions done after the 20th week.
  • This limitation disappeared with the phenomenal improvement in technology and processes rendering it possible to carry out abortions safely right up to full term.
  • Thus the excuse of “safety of the woman” was no longer tenable to be used for restricting women’s rights.

The Consequences: –

  • The central government has been criminally negligent in allowing the law to stand as it has for five decades.
  • It has pushed women seeking abortions underground where terminations are carried out in unhygienic and dangerous places and in horrific situations.
  • Even today about 800,000 illegal and unsafe abortions are performed every year in India, many of them resulting in morbidities and death.

The HC and Supreme Court Judgments: 

  • The decision of the Bombay High Court in Nikita Mehta vs the State of Maharashtra, saying that it was not open for the courts to double guess the statutory restrictions, sparked the debate around the right to abortion in India.
  • From 2008 onwards, over 300 petitions were filed in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
  • The Court then routinely allowed abortions way past the 20 week limit. In Murugan Nayakkar vs Union of India & Ors, the abortion was permitted at 31 weeks, very close to full term.

Challenges:

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 fails miserably on the main count while introducing few collateral progressive measures.
  • The Act fails to recognize the absolute right of a woman over her body in taking decisions regarding abortions and reproductive health.
  • It still reserves to the state the right to dictate to the woman that she cannot have an abortion at will.
  • Even though the limit has been pushed back from 20 to 24 weeks, this comes with the same state conditionalities as before.
  • 24 weeks is not rational given today’s technology where abortions can be done safely up to full term.

Issues with Medical boards

  1. By far the biggest failure of the government lies in enacting section 3(2B) which requires the pregnant woman to approach a medical board in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities and where she has crossed the 24-week limit.
  2. These boards impose insurmountable obstacles to the woman seeking late abortions.
  3. This is indicative of complete non-application of mind, the Act provides in section 3(2C) for a single board for a State.
  4. Given the millions of abortions taking place in India past the deadline, it is impossible for one board to handle all cases.
  5. Assuming multiple boards will be established, the records show that no State has the finances or the human resources to maintain the operation and functioning of these boards.
  6. The right to seek termination is restricted to “such category of women as may be prescribed by rules”.
  7. One wonders what categories of women would be permitted termination of pregnancies!

Global Examples: –

  1. In the UK, a pregnancy may be terminated at any time:

(i) to protect the life of the woman,

(ii) to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the woman, or (iii) if the child is at risk of being seriously handicapped. 

  1. In South Africa, a pregnancy may be terminated up to 12 weeks at the request of the woman, and between 12 to 20 weeks if: (i) it poses a risk to the mental or physical health of the woman,

(ii) there is a risk of foetal abnormalities, (iii) it was caused due to rape, or

(iv) continuing the pregnancy would affect the socio-economic circumstances of the woman. 

It is also permitted beyond 20 weeks if there is a risk to the life of the woman or the foetus, or if there is a risk of foetal abnormalities.

Way Forward: –

  • In India, voluntarily terminating a pregnancy is considered a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 was enacted as an exception to the IPC, to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners.
  • The Bill amends the Act to increase the upper limit for termination from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women, and removes this limit in the case of substantial foetal abnormalities.
  • The main objection remains; that boards are totally unnecessary and an invasion of privacy, and pregnant women like they used to do, should be left alone to consult their gynaecologist in late-term pregnancies and carry out their abortion under the certificate of their own gynaecologist that the abortion can be performed safely.
  • Indian government needs to wake up and educate itself on women’s emancipation worldwide.

Questions: –

Explain the merits and demerits of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021.

An opaque bond

Why in News: –

SC refused to stay fled by ADR against the sale of electoral bonds announced by the finance ministry last week.
Syllabus: – GS2: Election Reforms & Funding (Electoral Bond).
  • Announced in the 2017 budget, electoral bonds are interest-free bearer instruments used to donate money anonymously by individuals, companies, NGOs, and trusts to political parties.
  • They sold in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh & 1 crore and SBI is the only bank authorized to sell them.
  • Political parties are needed to encash the bonds within 15 days, failed to do so, will result in the transfer of bonds to the PM Relief Fund.
  • There is no limit on the number of bonds an individual/company can purchase.

Challenge of ADR plea:

  • In 2017, ADR & Common Cause also filed a plea challenging the constitutionality of the electoral bonds scheme and asked the court to declare all political parties as public offices under the ambit of the RTI Act and also compel political parties to disclose their income & expenditure. But the plea is under sub-judice.
  • The main issue is with the anonymity of electoral bonds donor that has been brought by an amendment in 2017 exempting political parties disclosing donors’ details.
  • According to transparency activists, the change infringes the citizen’s “Right to Know” & makes the political class even more unaccountable.
  • Though citizens can’t get access to the details of the bond but govt of the day can always access the donor details which amounts to abuse of power.
  • It also pointed out that printing of electoral bonds & SBI commission for sale & purchase is paid from taxpayer’s money by union govt.
  • SC flagged the possibility of misuse of money received by political parties for activities like terror or violent protest funding.
  • Issue of dubious expenditure in buying MLAs/MPs after the elections to overturn the public mandate.
  • EC in past has warned that electoral bonds, combined with the preceding legislative amendments, would encourage large sums of illegal donations.
  • That in turn leads to mushrooming of shell companies to funnel black money into the political system through these bonds.
  • The most serious concerns are related to following changes that undermine the electoral process.

Other Provisions: –

  • Amended section 182 of the companies act 2013 that removed the provision of donating 7.5% profit limit.
  • Now with 100% profits donations will make a way for legitimizing & legalizing crony capitalism.
  • Amending Section 29B of RPA 1951 & Section 3 of the FCRA 2010, together removed the prohibition on candidate’s & parties from receiving foreign donations.
  • This will affect the country’s sovereignty due to foreign interference in the democratic electoral system.

Way Forward:

  • There is a need to ensure transparency on both the source of income & its expenditure.
  • The best way is not to abolish electoral bonds but to disclose the donor and the recipient.
  • A law has to be passed to make political parties liable to get their accounts by an auditor as per EC/CAG suggestion.
  • An alternate way is of doing away with private fund collection & replacing it with the public funding of political parties.
  • A feasible solution in the future is to establish a National Election Fund to which all donations are directed & will be distributed to parties based on their electoral performance.
  • As EC rightly said, “Transparency in political funding is to ensure free & fair elections which are very essential for a democracy like India”.
  • The need is to bring more transparency in the electoral bonds mechanism by accommodating the concerns of all the stakeholders.
  • The current period provides a stable environment to bring longstanding reform demands in elections, Govt should start reforms by bringing more transparency & accountability in electoral bonds.

Question: –

Electoral bonds are means to stop black money-funded elections. Discuss.

An opaque bond

Why in News: –

  Ken-Betwa project is based on a faulty premise, has not cleared legal challenges & will damage Bundelkhand.

Syllabus: – GS3: Interlinking of projects (Environmental pollution & Conservation).

  • On the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, a memorandum of agreement was signed between Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to implement the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) on Monday.
  • It is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers, where water from the Ken river will be transferred to the Betwa river.
  • Construction of Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project & Kotha barrage.
  • It is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, drinking water supply to 62 lakh people & also generates 103 MW of hydropower.
  • According to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, the project is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, drinking water supply to about 62 lakh people and also generate 103 MW of hydropower.

Need of the river linking:

  • According to few experts, the project will rejuvenate the water-scarce areas of the Panna tiger reserve which in turn led the way for Rich biodiversity in the region.
  • It lies in the drought-prone region of Bundelkhand that spread across UP & MP & immensely benefits this water-starved region.
  • This project will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of water does not become an inhibitor for development in the country.
  • It gives boosts to inland water transportation.
  • It acts as an enhancer of water & food security with the supply of drinking water & irrigation facilities.
  • it plays a important role in disaster mitigation by harmoniously balancing drought-prone region & flood-prone region.
  • It will not only accelerate the water conservation but also generate 103 MW of hydropower.

Which region will get the benefits of the KBLP?

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project lies in Bundelkhand, a drought-prone region, which spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, the project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand, especially in the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.
  • “It will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of water does not become an inhibitor for development in the country,

Recent developments on interlinking of rivers in India

  • In the 1970s, the idea of transferring surplus water from a river to water-deficit area was mooted by the then Union Irrigation Minister (earlier the Jal Shakti Ministry was known as Ministry of Irrigation) Dr K L Rao.
  • Rao, who himself was an engineer, suggested construction of a National Water Grid for transferring water from water-rich areas to water-deficit areas. Similarly, Captain Dinshaw J Dastur proposed the Garland Canal to redistribute water from one area to another.
  • However, the government did not pursue these two ideas further. It was in August, 1980 that the Ministry of Irrigation prepared a National Perspective Plan (NNP) for water resources development envisaging inter basin water transfer in the country.
  • The NPP comprised two components:

(i) Himalayan Rivers Development; and (ii) Peninsular Rivers Development.

  • Based on the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 river links—16 under Peninsular component and 14 under Himalayan Component.
  • Later, the river linking idea was revived under the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government.
  • Ken Betwa Link Project is one of the 16 river linking projects under the Peninsular component.

Challenges with the Project:

  • It will lead to a loss of “10,500 hectares of wildlife habitat” in the Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • Least irrigated Panna district, suffers maximum destruction while getting very little benefits from the project.
  • It neglects the water needs of the Upper Ken basin (a tribal area) that will further aggravate its backwardness.
  • Implementation of projects involves social costs due to reconstruction & rehabilitation of displaced vulnerable sections.
  • The project lacks final forest clearance & wildlife clearance.
  • The cost of ecosystem services lost due to the diversion of forests makes the project unviable.

Value Addition: –

Impact on the Panna tiger reserve: –

  • According to a written reply given by Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria, out of the 6,017 ha of forest area coming under submergence of Daudhan dam of Ken Betwa Link Project, 4,206 ha of area lies within the core tiger habitat of Panna Tiger Reserve.

 

Previous examples of river-linking in India: –

  • In the past, several river linking projects have been taken up. For instance, under the Periyar Project, transfer of water from Periyar basin to Vaigai basin was envisaged.

 

  • It was commissioned in 1895. Similarly, other projects such as Parambikulam Aliyar, Kurnool Cudappah Canal, Telugu Ganga Project, and Ravi-Beas-Sutlej were undertaken.

Which are the clearances required for a river-linking project?

  1. Generally, 4-5 types of clearances are required for the interlinking of river projects.
  2. These are: Techno-economic (given by the Central Water Commission); Forest Clearance and Environmental clearance (Ministry of Environment & Forests); Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Plan of Tribal Population (Ministry of Tribal Affairs) and Wildlife clearance (Central Empowered Committee).

Way Forward: –

  • The construction of the dam in site within Panna Tiger Reserve is not the best possible option due to less benefit/cost ratio making the project economically unviable.
  • In an ideal situation, it would be better to reassess the efficacy of the Ken-Betwa Link Project by considering the interests of wildlife & the overall well-being of the society in the long term.

Question: –

Why river linking projects has assumed greater significance in recent times. Discuss recent developments on interlinking of rivers in India. Explain its consequences.

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