Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

24 MARCH 2021


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



The surge of geopolitics in South Asia’s power trade.

 The Hindu


Recalibrating India-Taiwan ties.

The Hindu


Prescription for post-pandemic recovery: Atmanirbharta

Indian Express


Why the MTP Bill is not progressive enough

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

India abstains in UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka

Syllabus –

 GS 2- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Analysis: –

  • India recently abstained from a crucial vote on Sri Lanka’s rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
  • The resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was, however, adopted after 22 states of the 47-member Council voted in its favour.
  • Sri Lanka, which had earlier deemed the resolution “politically motivated”, was quick to reject the UN move to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes in the country, committed by the armed forces and the LTTE.
  • Without the consent and acceptance of the country concerned, it cannot be implemented,” Foreign Minister of Sri Lanks said.
  • The statement made clear Sri Lanka’s resistance to the process envisaged in the resolution to prosecute war criminals through an international evidence gathering and investigation mechanism.
  • Sri Lanka extended a “warm thank you” for the “solid support” shown by the 11 countries, including China, Pakistan, Russia and Bangladesh, that voted against the resolution, and in support of the Sri Lankan government.
  • On the other hand, welcoming the Council’s adoption of the resolution, the TNA said India must have decided to abstain after “careful consideration” of various factors.

OTT case: SC stays all pleas in HCs

Syllabus –  

 GS2- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Analysis: –

  • The Supreme Court recently stayed the proceedings in High Courts in cases seeking regulation of content shown on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
  • The hearing was based on a plea by the Centre to transfer the cases in the High Courts to the Supreme Court.
  • The Bench was informed by Solicitor General that despite the apex court’s earlier order issuing notice on the transfer plea filed by the Centre to club all such petitions filed in various High Courts, the Punjab and Haryana High Court is still proceeding in the matter pending there.
  • A counter-affidavit filed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in another case said Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 provides a “comprehensive” mechanism to check content on OTT platforms.

Niti group works on new policy to regulate civil society groups, member says for ‘healthy partnership with govt’

Syllabus –

 GS 2-Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Analysis: –

  • A NITI Aayog group is working on a national policy to regulate civil society organisations following directions from the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • Constituted in September last year, the Working Group for Formulation of New National Policy for Voluntary Sector, chaired by Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar, has begun receiving recommendations, including those from the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau under the Finance Ministry’s Department of Revenue.
  • The working group includes Joint Secretaries of the Financial Action Task Force division of Department of Economic Affairs as well as the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalisation Division/Combating of Funding of Terrorist Cell in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • There is no regulatory mechanism at the national level to regulate the functioning of the civil society.
  • This is one of the initiatives of the Niti Aayog because no ministry focuses on it.
  • NITI Aayog plans to come up with a national-level framework to self-regulate or regulate civil society organisations who violate the government mandate and to bring some standard among them.
  • There are more than 32 lakh civil society organisations registered under different Acts but the actual contributors to societal development are very few. Maybe some 4,000 have any impact on the ground.

Govt PSU ‘fully involved’ in Chabahar project, work halted by US sanctions

Syllabus –

 GS – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Analysis: –

  • Despite the US assuring India that its sanctions do not affect the Chabahar port project in Iran, the work on the railway line to be built by India is still stuck, even as IRCON, a PSU, recently said it is “fully involved” in the project.
  • IRCON’s brass is in regular touch with the Iran embassy in New Delhi and in the post-Donald Trump era expected traction in the project to pick up, but that has not happened yet.
  • The main problem was US sanctions. It expected things to get sorted out after the arrival of the (Joe) Biden administration. That has not happened yet.
  • IRCON’s job is to monitor part of the work funded by the Indian government. Without the funding, there is little it can do despite the MoU.
  • Iranian engineering majors Mapna and Farab have also joined hands with IRCON for projects, cementing the Railway PSU’s presence in Iran.
  • IRCON will build the superstructure of the 600-km line between Chabahar port and Zahedan with India’s assistance worth $1.6 billion.

Mains Analysis

The surge of geopolitics in South Asia’s power trade.

Why in News: –

India has released new rules governing the trade of electricity across its borders.


GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

GS-3: Infrastructure: Energy;
  • The World Bank estimated that between 2015 and 2040, the India savings from regional South Asian electricity trade “facilitated by expanded cross-border transmission interconnections” could be as much as $94 billion.
  • Chinese companies hoping to establish plants in Nepal, Bhutan, or Bangladesh will presumably have a hard time making good on their investments with the Indian market cut off.
  • China soon began to make its presence felt in the region, and India responded by walking back its free-market impulses.

Indian electricity markets:

  • Earlier draft amendment to India’s Electricity Act 2003 was released for public comment. In the 17 intervening years, India has evolved a robust and multi-faceted electricity market: perhaps not perfect, but true to the vision of a liberalized license-free competitive market promoting private participation.
  • Between 2008-09 and 2019-19, the share of private sector generation capacity has increased from 15 percent to 46 percent.
  • Two electricity exchange platforms, Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) and Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL), have emerged and are providing a wide range of energy trading products.
  • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is likely to authorize introduction of forward and derivate contracts for electricity within the next 6-12 months.
  • This would allow power distribution companies to use financial instruments, such as futures, forwards, swaps, and options to hedge risks, reduce costs and better manage long term power purchase contracts

Mega solar project:

  • India’s ambition of anchoring a global super-grid called One Sun One World One Grid, or OSOWOG needs an institutional vision.
  • It aims to begin with connections to West Asia and Southeast Asia and then spread to Africa and beyond.
  • The South Asian lesson, contained in these latest rules, is that political realities will constantly collide with, and damage, expansive visions of borderless trade.
  • Impartial institutions for planning, investments and conflict resolution are crucial to multi-country power pools.
  • Managing the needs of three relatively small neighbouring economies in South Asia has consumed large amounts of time and political capital for the better part of a decade.

Regional Electricity Markets: –

  • Realizing such benefits require regional electricity markets that enable cross border trade.
  • A regional electricity market is governed by a transparent set of rules applied consistently across all participants.
  • A regional Indian electricity market, on the other hand, is the expansion of the Indian electricity market to neighbouring countries where cross-border trade is dependent on the discretionary authority of Governments.

Ownership Issues:

  • In masterful legalese, the rules strongly discourage the participation of plants owned by a company situated in “a third country with whom India shares a land border” and “does not have a bilateral agreement on power sector cooperation with India”.
  • The rules place the same security restrictions on tripartite trade, say from Bhutan to Bangladesh through Indian Territory.
  • To make things even more airtight, the rules establish elaborate surveillance procedures to detect changes in the ownership patterns of entities trading with India.
  • It seems South Asia’s electricity politics has hit a holding pattern after several years of unpredictability.
  • India used the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to make historical moves towards liberalising electricity trade.
  • It imposed stringent restrictions that dissuaded everyone other than Indian and government entities from participating. That threatened to undermine private sector participation and promising joint ventures across the region.
  • Nepal and Bhutan protested for years, leading to new guidelines in 2018 that tried to find a middle ground; these rules formalise that balancing act. They allow private sector participation but exclude Chinese investments.

Indian challenges: –

  • The institutional structure that has emerged through this churn over the last decade is India-centric. The Government of India, through ministries, regulators, planning bodies and utilities, determines the rules of the road.
  • India’s geographic centrality combines with its economic heft to give it a natural advantage in determining the shape of the market; all electrons must pass through it and most electrons will be bought by it.
  • The prospect of an independent regional body governing trade, championed by theorists, is thus unlikely to begin with.
  • It is nearly impossible to fathom in the context of an ailing South Asian project characterised by low levels of trust. 
  • India will thus enjoy pre-eminent rule-setting powers, but continually attract the ire of its smaller neighbours who feel their economic growth is being stunted by decisions in India.

Countering China

  • Nepal has an ambition to develop 15,000 MW within the next ten years, approximately seven times its current capacity, on the premise that that it can export much of it to India and the region.
  • India’s plans will be one among many in a soon-to-be competitive space. China, for example, has its own power pool ambitions.
  • An attractive institutional model can lock countries into the pool by setting standards that investors and utilities plan towards and profit by.
  • The likely first battle will be in Southeast Asia, where China presently holds sway.
  • A considered, stable institutional model will likely surpass anything China has to offer.

Way Forward: –

  • The “regional electricity market” and “regional Indian electricity market” remains the single most important impediment to achieving genuine integration of power markets across the region.
  • Indian electricity markets have become robust enough to integrate cross-border transactions. Governments must now step out of the way.
  • They must let power sectors from across the region integrate, collaborate, compete, and trade within an open market free from the risk of discretionary Government intervention.
  • India has ramifications for the electricity markets of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, which, to varying degrees, have aligned their energy futures with the Indian market.
  • It attempts to balance China’s growing influence in the region with developmental aims, both its own and the region’s.
  • It is worth considering releasing the vice-like grip on South Asia, aimed at countering China, by creating a rule-based regional institution that can counter Chinese offerings in other theatres.

Questions: –

Describe the significance of regional electricity markets for India. Discuss how the India can use the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to make historical moves towards liberalising electricity trade.

Recalibrating India-Taiwan ties.

Why in News: –

India and Taiwan are celebrating 25 years of their partnership.


GS-2: IR/ Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

The growing relationship between India- Taiwan has been a low-key affair as India has been hesitant to acknowledge the improving ties in public.

The mutual efforts between India and Taiwan have enabled a range of bilateral agreements covering agriculture, investment, customs cooperation, civil aviation, industrial cooperation and other areas, the time has come to recalibrate India-Taiwan relations.

Background of India and Taiwan Trade:

  • In 2007, bilateral trade between the two sides had risen 80% to reach US$4.8 billion. In 2019, India – Taiwan trade volume was US$7 billion, growing at a rate of 20% year after year.
  • Major Taiwanese exports to India include integrated circuits, machinery and other electronic products.
  • Notably, with already US$7 billion in bilateral trade and over US$350 million worth of Taiwanese investment in India, Foxconn is reportedly considering a US$1 billion push to expand its iPhone assembly operations in the country.
  • Taiwan’s relations with India have increased in breadth spanning trade, research and academia as well depth trade ties amounted to $7.5 billion in 2019, up from $1 billion in 2000.

Political will is the key for India and Taiwan:

  • Creating a political framework is a prerequisite to doing this.
  • Both partners have increasingly deepened mutual respect underpinned by openness, with democracy and diversity as the key principles for collective growth.
  • The shared faith in freedom, human rights, justice, and rule of law continues to embolden their partnership.
  • To make this relationship more meaningful, both sides can create a group of empowered persons or a task force to chart out a road map in a given time frame.

Multi-sectoral alliance:

  • India’s has been in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.
  • Likewise, Taiwan’s handling of the pandemic and its support to many other countries underlines the need to deepen healthcare cooperation.
  • India and Taiwan already collaborate in the area of traditional medicine.
  • The time is ripe to expand cooperation in the field of healthcare.
  • Maintaining air quality has become a mammoth challenge for the Indian government and stubble burning is an important reason for severe air pollution.
  • Taiwan could be a valuable partner in dealing with this challenge through its bio-friendly technologies.
  • Such methods are applied to convert agricultural waste into value-added and environmentally beneficial renewable energy or biochemicals.
  • This will be a win-win situation as it will help in dealing with air pollution and also enhance farmers’ income.
  • Further, New Delhi and Taipei can also undertake joint research and development initiatives in the field of organic farming.

 Cultural Connect: –

  • India and Taiwan need to deepen people-to-people connect.
  • Cultural exchange is the cornerstone of any civilisational exchange.
  • It not only helps one appreciate another culture but also helps in overcoming prejudices and cultural misunderstanding. Tourism is the key tool in this exchange.
  • However, Taiwanese tourists in India are a very small number.
  • The Buddhist pilgrimage tour needs better connectivity and visibility, in addition to showcasing incredible India’s diversity.
  • This will accelerate the flow of Taiwanese tourists.
  • With the Taiwan Tourism Bureau partnering with Mumbai Metro, Taiwan is trying to raise awareness about the country and increase the inflow of Indian tourists.

Economic ties:

  • Trade relations have grown. India’s huge market provides Taiwan with investment opportunities.
  • Taiwan’s reputation as the world leader in semiconductor and electronics complements India’s leadership in ITES (Information Technology-Enabled Services).
  • This convergence of interests will help create new opportunities.
  • India’s recent strides in the ease of business ranking not only provide Taiwan with lucrative business opportunities but also help it mitigate its over-dependence on one country for investment opportunities.
  • The signing of a bilateral trade agreement in 2018 was an important milestone.
  • There are around 200 Taiwanese companies in the field of electronics, construction, petrochemicals, machine, Information and Communications Technology and auto parts operating in India.
  • Despite the huge potential, Taiwan investments have been paltry in India.
  • Taiwanese firms find the regulatory and labour regime daunting with stray incidents such as the incident in the Wistron plant last year creating confusion and mistrust.

Way Forward: –

  • The Taiwanese government has a representative office, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (TECC), responsible for facilitating collaboration on education, tourism, culture, the media, and economic development.
  • Taiwan’s increased investments have occurred in the face of cultural challenges, bureaucratic hurdles, and pressure on India from domestic producers.
  • Enhancing Taiwan-India relations is consistent with the Taiwanese government’s efforts to decrease economic reliance on China and with President Tsai Ing- wen’s New Southbound Policy (NSP), which improves upon the efforts of several of her predecessors.
  • India and Taiwan policy and policymakers need to coordinate better with the business community to help them navigate the regulatory and cultural landscape for better ties.

Question: –

Creating a political framework is a prerequisite to increase the breadth spanning trade, research and academia as well multi-sectoral growth in ties between India and Taiwan. Discuss.

Prescription for post-pandemic recovery: Atmanirbharta

Why in News: –

India suffered serious economic contraction due to the COVID lockdown. However, Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat policies in the health sector can check a possible second wave and fuel a robust recovery.


GS 3: Government Policies & Interventions; Mobilization of Resources

Background: –

  • The Asian Development Bank identifies India as an outlier, with the country’s GDP growth likely to range between eight and 10 per cent — as against 7.7 per cent for China and seven per cent for the Asian region.
  • The convergence between the rich and poor countries in the 1990s and 2000s was founded on high relative growth rates driven by globalisation and export-led growth.
  • The World Bank and many international think tanks are now projecting a process of de-globalisation, reduction in the demand for exports, and reduced service exports from the tourism, travel and hospitality sector in response to COVID.
  • So, the phenomenon of trade-led catch-up growth is petering out.

Indian growth Strategy: –

  • India’s import substituting growth strategy of the 1960s did not succeed because the high protective customs barriers led to the growth of non-competitive industries that were locked into older technologies — the Ambassador car, for example.

Atmanirbhar Bharat project

  • The current Atmanirbhar Bharat project is different because tariffs are low and public investment is focused on non-tradable infrastructure rather than commodity production.
  • Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat is a domestic non-trade dependent initiative which will invest over Rs 64,000 crore in setting up 17,800 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres and 602 critical care hospitals in the country’s districts.

Covid-19 and Indian Efforts: –

  • The Pune-based Serum Institute’s collaboration with Oxford University and AstraZeneca enabled India to book two billion doses of Covishield, even as Europe, Canada and Brazil are struggling to meet their vaccine needs.
  • In the first 18 days of March, India could vaccinate one million people per day.
  • This can be stepped up to three million vaccinations a day on a consistent basis — three million shots were actually administered on March 15.
  • A division of responsibilities between public health facilities and the private sector is essential.
  • Government hospitals and primary health centres can concentrate on free vaccination of rural populations.
  • Private hospitals can vaccinate all above 40 who can afford to pay.
  • The spike in COVID numbers across India is driven by the movement of professionals and workers above 40 years old.
  • However, this category is currently not prioritised – only people above 45 with comorbidities, senior citizens and healthcare and frontline workers are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Corporate’s role: –

  • Corporates — in fact, a large number of offices — can purchase the vaccine and get it administered to their staff without burdening the already-stretched state and municipal health services.
  • The chain of rural sub-district hospitals, small hospitals and primary health centres could focus on the entire rural population above 40 years on a walk-in basis provided they are residents within the PHC’s area of operation.

India’s Health sector: –

  • Today India has 29 health workers per 10,000 population, while we need 60 such professionals per 10,000 people, as per WHO norms.
  • Creating such a cadre will mean nearly four million new jobs, which can be self-paying as many of the services like laboratory checks, screening for NCDs, X-rays, physiotherapy and drug protocol monitoring can be provided on a cost recovery basis.
  • These professionals can be employed on fixed-term contracts as per the newly-reformed labour legislation.

Loopholes in Infrastructure: –

  • Like the country’s medical sector, its infrastructure, too, is poised to feel the effects of the government’s emphasis on atmanirbharta.
  • China and emerging markets like Russia and Brazil have a fairly advanced transport and energy infrastructure.
  • The resolution of financial problems of blocked PPP projects and smooth land acquisition process has increased the pace of construction of national highways from 3,330 km per year during 2009-20014 to nearly 9,450 km in 2020-21.

Indian Potential: –

  • India has a huge potential to renew its railways and highways and shift to solar energy from its current dependence on coal. In fact, the country’s long-neglected fourth largest rail network in the world is undergoing rapid transformation.
  • While rail track coverage expanded by 5,000 km during 2010 to 2014-15, nearly 7,000 km of tracks were added between 2015 and 2020.
  • The Railways now aim to lay 9.5 km of track daily and have raised adequate capital for the same by leveraging domestic insurance funds.
  • Railways are also aiming for 100 per cent electrification and zero carbon footprint by 2024. Electrified track has doubled from 20,000 km in 2012/13 to nearly 40,000 km in 2020.
  • The Centre’s decision to invest heavily in urban mass transit systems since 2014 has led to the rapid expansion of such services.
  • Starting from an estimated length of 380 km in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai in 2014-15, over 500 km of metro rail systems are under construction in 40 large cities of India.

Efforts in Power sector: –

  • Today over 55 per cent of India’s energy comes from coal.
  • The country is a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement and has agreed to reduce the carbon intensity of its GDP.
  • Starting with only 10 MW of solar power in 2010, India has installed nearly 35 GW of solar power by 2020.
  • This has been propelled by economic reforms which drove solar power prices down from Rs 17 per unit in 2010 to Rs 2.44 per unit in 2020.
  • The strategy of reverse bidding, as opposed to the administered price regime of the past, has paid off. The target of reaching 100 GW by 2022 can drive growth further.

Agriculture and farmers’ distress: –

  • Currently nearly 25 per cent of India’s electricity is used for pumping underground water for irrigation. Providing irrigation energy from decentralised solar grids — solar power can be generated at the points on consumption will reduce huge transmission losses and the associated carbon footprint of non-renewable energy sources.
  • Incentivising farmers to install their solar-powered pumps or providing state support to PPP projects to establish small local solar grids for local farmer groups and supplying the surplus power to the grid will cut losses of electricity utilities that are forced to supply free power to farmers.
  • Maharashtra and a few other states have piloted this approach since 2018.

Public sector reforms: –

  • The Centre’s shift towards privatising public sector outfits including banks, insurance companies and other PSUs can fund the growth of rail, road and energy infrastructure.
  • This will also foster efficiency in India’s credit system.
  • China’s supernormal growth in infrastructure without access to international financing in the initial decades was seen as an economic mystery.
  • Recent studies have revealed that financial decentralisation and commercial exploitation of state-owned lands was critical to the project.
  • In India, too, regional development authorities like the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation have financed the metro, trans-harbour links and industrial infrastructure through a similar commercial land allocation model.
  • This model can be extended throughout the country to finance infrastructure expansion — large parcels of idle land under loss-making public sector undertakings can be monetised for public infrastructure and health facilities.

Question: –

Can India maintain its high growth rate beyond the statistical bounce-back from a low base in 2021-22 in the coming decade? How the Atmanirbhar Bharat will contribute in the growth of Indian economy?

Why the MTP Bill is not progressive enough

Why in News: –

Passed by the Lok Sabha on March 17, 2020, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 now stands blessed by the Rajya Sabha.


GS 3: Government Policies &Interventions; Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies; Issues Related to Women

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

  • The bill is being hailed as a much-needed departure from the existing legal regime under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 for two reasons —
    • first, the bill replaces “any married woman or her husband” with “any woman or her partner” while contemplating termination of pregnancies resulting from contraception failures, thus ostensibly destigmatising pregnancies outside marriage; and
    • second, the time limit within which pregnancies are legally terminable is increased.


  • The 1971 Act reeks of moral biases against sexual relationships outside marriage, adopts an ableist approach and carries a strong eugenic emphasis.
  • The very Statement of Objects and Reasons of the 1971 Act noted the fact that “most of these mothers are married women, and are under no particular necessity to conceal their pregnancy” as a logical basis for legalisation of termination of pregnancies.
  • Further, in addition to preventing danger to the life or risk to physical or mental health of the woman, “eugenic grounds” were recognised as a specific category for legally permissible abortions.
  • In this backdrop, the bill’s capacity to fulfil its professed aim of ensuring “dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy” merits close examination.

Significance of the Bill:

  • The bill most significantly raises the upper gestational limits for the two categories of permissible abortions envisioned in Section 3(2) of the 1971 Act.
  • While the limit for the first category is raised from 12 weeks to 20 weeks, the limit for the second category is raised to include those exceeding 20 but not exceeding 24 weeks, instead of the present category of cases exceeding 12 but not exceeding 20 weeks.
  • However, the second category is left ambiguous and open to potential executive overreach insofar as it may be further narrowed down by rules made by the executive.
  • Further, pregnancies are allowed to be terminated only where continuance of the pregnancy would “prejudice the life of the pregnant woman or cause grave injury to her mental or physical health” or “if the child were born it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.”
  • Section 3(2B), however, makes the upper gestational limits inapplicable to abortions necessitated, in the opinion of the Medical Board, by any “substantial foetal abnormalities”.

Woman’s right to abortion: –

  • The fact that a woman’s right to abortion is exercisable only in the face of such compelling circumstances renders motherhood the norm, and abortion the exception.
  • As such, the bill seeks to cater to women “who need to terminate pregnancy” as against “women who want to terminate pregnancy.”
  • By not accounting for the right to abortion at will, the bill effectively forces women to feign “grave injury to physical or mental health” to terminate a pregnancy, thus unequivocally crippling their bodily autonomy.
  • Importantly, even while the act requires the woman’s consent to abort in the above-mentioned situations, absent a medical practitioner’s opinion validating her choice, her consent is insufficient.

Physical or mental anomalies

  • The special classifications of “serious physical or mental abnormalities” and “substantial foetal abnormalities” also reek of societal prejudices against persons with special needs.
  • Undoubtedly, a woman’s right to terminate the pregnancy of a child likely to suffer from physical or mental anomalies or one diagnosed with foetal abnormalities, on socio-economic grounds or otherwise, merits recognition.
  • However, in treating “physical or mental disability” or “foetal abnormalities” as separate categories amounting to heightened circumstances for termination of pregnancies, the bill reveals its ableist approach.
  • This evidences a presumption that certain people are by default societally unproductive, undesirable and somehow more justifiably eliminable than others.
  • This ableism becomes stark when the said 24-week limit, which is purportedly dictated by scientific and legislative wisdom, is completely lifted where the termination of a pregnancy involves “substantial foetal abnormalities”.

Arguments in favour: –

  • While the revised upper gestational limit is by itself laudable, when read together with Section 3(2B) of the bill, a strange dichotomy emerges — it is either the case that medical advancement is such that a safe abortion is possible at any point in the term of pregnancy, and hence, the bill permits termination at any stage when “substantial foetal abnormalities” are involved; or that, a 24-week ceiling is scientifically essential and abortions beyond the said limit would pose risks to the health of the pregnant woman or the foetus.
  • If it is the former, then allowing termination only in cases of “substantial foetal abnormalities” is a fictitious and moralistic classification.
  • If it is the latter, then the secondary status of women’s safety and the dominant eugenic tenor of the bill once again becomes evident.

Way Forward: –

  • The move from “married woman” and “her husband” to “woman” and “her partner” is appreciable.
  • However, access to abortion facilities is limited not just by legislative barriers but also the fear of judgment from medical practitioners.
  • It is imperative that healthcare providers be sensitised towards being scientific, objective and compassionate in their approach to abortions notwithstanding the woman’s marital status. Absent such steps, progressive legislative amends won’t create meaningful change on the ground.
  • The bill is at best a tight-fisted grant of fettered autonomy.
  • In the landmark judgment in KS Puttaswamy v Union of India, the Supreme Court recognised women’s constitutional right to make reproductive choices and the right to “abstain from procreating” was read into the right to privacy, dignity and bodily autonomy.
  • The MTPA Bill, which now awaits the President’s assent to become law, falls short of meeting this constitutional standard and its own stated objectives.

 Question: –

Critically examine the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Started From 14 Mar 2021

RaghukulCS Test Series

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