News & Events
In this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition
1.Sober 75th birthday: Prosperity and harmony remain works in progress
The women and men who won our country its independence were driven by a dream. India still needs to dream. The country’s 75th Independence Day tomorrow will necessarily be a sober anniversary – it is the second I-Day we will mark amidst the Covid pandemic. But it should also be an occasion to honestly take stock of difficult, unfinished tasks and an occasion to hope we will find new resolve to undertake those tasks.
More than 70% of Indians were poor in 1947. What’s been the best antidote for that pervasive distress? That we have grown into the world’s sixth-largest economy. This upliftment is thanks to post-1991 reforms – the mistaken socialist direction of our early decades served us cruelly ill. But with two years of income growth lost and indicators from poverty to malnutrition trending up, a second major reboot of the Indian engine is now critical. Tinkering at the margins is a poor substitute.
As great an achievement has been the deepening of Indian democracy, including among communities oppressed for centuries. With education and urbanisation, a harshly hierarchical and ghettoised society has become less so. But we cannot take for granted today’s liberties that allow us to freely choose who we marry and what we eat or wear or watch on our screens. The regressive pushback is strong. The governing infrastructure of India, from its executive, to its Parliament and political parties, and most crucially, its courts, has to stand up for individual freedoms even more strongly.
India’s greatest resource is its people. Through innovation, economies of scale, network effects, they can deliver miracles – if they are given the tools. But if the overall pie doesn’t grow the danger is that social conflicts to divvy it up will grow instead. Political leaders should stop walking us down this dangerous road. As much as India’s power as a nation-state is a work in progress, so is its quest for domestic harmony and prosperity.
2.It’s complicated: No glib answers for breach of promise to marry
We need a specific law to address cases on the false promise of marriage, said the Allahabad high court recently. The breach of promise to marry can, in some situations, be judicially deemed as rape in India, accounting for roughly 20-30% of reported cases. This provision has caused great friction – many rightly argue that the natural end of a relationship is not a crime against a woman, that a man changing his mind does not make him a rapist. Of course, courts also recognise this. The Supreme Court has recently reiterated that every broken promise to marry does not amount to rape.
But a rape charge hinges on lack of consent, and consent given under a misconception of fact is tainted. While there are some islands of progressive social mores and greater gender equality, in much of India, sexuality is yoked to marriage. While rape law should not be used vindictively by women against their exes, empirical surveys of such cases show a different picture of young vulnerable women, for whom this clause is the only stab at justice.
Our criminal and civil laws do not currently offer remedies for this. The court is right to say that it is time to classify such deception as a separate offence, one without a mandatory minimum punishment as rape cases have, but with civil remedies like damages and maintenance. Until then, there are no glib answers to these knotty situations.
3.Slanting posts: On social media and level playing field
Social media platforms should have the same standards for the rulers and the Opposition
Several Twitter handles associated with the Congress and its leaders including its former president Rahul Gandhi were blocked by Twitter in the last few days, for violating its user policy and the law of the land. The violation pertains to posts shared by these handles that identified the family of a child who was allegedly raped and murdered in Delhi. The platform has since revealed that the NCPCR brought the violation to its notice. A petition in the Delhi HC seeking legal action against Mr. Gandhi has pointed out that his post was in violation of Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and Section 23(2) of the POCSO Act 2012, both of which mandate that any material that might reveal (directly or indirectly) the identity of a child victim of a crime shall not be published. Additionally, the post also violated Twitter’s own rules. The Congress has not addressed the substantive question raised by the platform regarding these violations. It has alleged double standards by the platform, and questioned its impartiality. That is not a mature response. The party transgressed the norms of discussion in a sensitive case in its campaign. It must, without qualifiers, accept that mistake, and commit to better standards in social media campaigns.
Twitter had flagged posts on several handles associated with the BJP in May, which were intended to target the Congress, as ‘manipulated media’. The BJP and the Centre took umbrage over the decision, claiming that only a police investigation could establish whether the content was altered. Twitter insisted that it had its own mechanism to check whether files uploaded on the platform were tinkered with. Herein lies the core conflict between the state and private companies over controlling the information flow in a democratic society. Both the state and the companies invoke public order and interest to justify their control over information, but the protocol for exercising that enormous power over lives remains open to question. Additionally, private companies also claim a right to unilaterally decide their user policy. This raises the pertinent question of whether a private company that is providing a service that is essential — connectivity in this instance — can set the terms of usage arbitrarily. The state has often shown itself unable to control speech in a fair and even-handed manner. It does even wilfully misuse such powers, going by experience. The age of acceleration has thrown up many such complicated moral and governance questions that society needs to resolve. In the meantime, state agencies must exercise control over speech only in the rarest instances, for the briefest periods, and in the most transparent manner. Private companies must be more transparent in enforcing their guidelines and reassure users that their standards for those in power and those in the Opposition are one.
4. Afghan tragedy: On the second coming of the Taliban
The Taliban are on the verge of re-establishing their murderous regime
With the fall of Kandahar and Herat, Afghanistan’s second and third largest cities, to the Taliban, the war in the country appears to have entered an irreversible phase. They already seized Ghazni, a strategically important city on the Kabul-Kandahar highway. The speed with which the Islamist insurgents captured the cities — 17 in eight days — is a surprise. Troops from the U.S. and the U.K. are to go back to Afghanistan to evacuate their citizens. The latest U.S. intelligence assessment predicts that Kabul could fall within 90 days. The Afghan government has reportedly offered a power sharing proposal to the Taliban. But neither the offer nor the warning from the U.S. and other countries that they would not recognise a Taliban regime that takes power by force has stopped the militants. In his Id message, Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said the Taliban are on the verge of establishing a “pure Islamic system” in Afghanistan. It is clear from his words and the military campaigns that the Taliban want the whole of Afghanistan under their command. Also, why should they make concessions when their offensives are cutting through the government defences at break-neck speed?
What altered the balance of power in the battlefield was the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international forces. While the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 legitimised the jihadists, the American withdrawal gave them a sense of victory. At no point in talks with the Taliban did the U.S. manage to extract concessions towards a political settlement in Afghanistan. The American focus was on taking its troops out unharmed, and the Taliban stayed away from targeting Americans even when they continued an assassination campaign inside the country. On the other side, the U.S. withdrawal has left the Afghan government, internally divided and lacking support in rural areas, devoid of its most critical advantage in the war — air support. Overstretched across the cities that were under siege for weeks, their defences crumbled like a sandcastle when the Taliban pressed on. The government of President Ashraf Ghani has long tried to ignore the former warlords in an attempt to shore up the national army. But when the national forces failed to defend the cities, Mr. Ghani turned to the ethnic leaders, but it is now too late as the Taliban are already at the gates of Kabul. The Taliban, like in the 1990s, promise stability and security. But the tragedy is that if they take Kabul, Afghanistan’s nearly 40 million population would be subjected, once again, to one of the most barbaric forms of religious totalitarianism. Whatever limited progress and freedoms the Afghans earned over the last 20 years are now at risk of being surrendered to a murderous militia with scant regard for human rights.
5. When companies exercise control
To understand the controversy around Twitter’s decision to lock Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s account — he had posted a picture which revealed the identity of relatives of a minor rape victim, an offence under Indian law — it is important to go back to first principles
To understand the controversy around Twitter’s decision to lock Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s account — he had posted a picture which revealed the identity of relatives of a minor rape victim, an offence under Indian law — it is important to go back to first principles. As this newspaper has consistently argued, Twitter is not an intermediary. It is a media company. Like other social media companies such as Facebook, by projecting itself as an intermediary, Twitter sought to distance itself from any content posted on the platform. But this was never a tenable position, for it sought to monopolise the benefits of being a media company while seeking to escape the legal obligations that came with it. In recent times, Twitter — using a range of tools — began exercising control over tweets. This made it even clearer that the platform was not just a platform; it was a media company which exercised judgment over what was legally allowed and what was not, what was manipulated and factually incorrect information and what was not, what constitutes hate speech and what does not. There were some who applauded Twitter’s editorial decisions and some who critiqued it, but the bottomline was this — the pretence of being an intermediary was over.