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.Paralympic success: A rich 19-medal haul this time means India should aim for 38 next time, at Paris
Even as the felicitations continue for the Tokyo Olympics, Indian para-athletes have delivered a great round of fresh cheer. Their 19-medal haul has not only bettered the sum total of 12 medals won until the Tokyo Paralympics, it has also placed the country at a respectable 24th rank. Our 5 golds, 8 silvers and 6 bronzes are spread across shooting, badminton, javelin, table tennis, high jump, discus throw and archery. This performance has outstripped most pre-competition projections. The critical next step is to build on this momentum, with the very achievable aim of winning 38 medals at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
The International Paralympic Committee estimates about 15% of the world’s population to be disabled and the Games are intended to motivate societies to step up disability infrastructure and social inclusion. One part of this process is physical but the other is psychological, where the Paralympic Committee of India and other stakeholders must spread the stories of the Tokyo para-champions all across the country, their struggles as much as their successes, so that they can truly be role models, breaking stereotypes with their journeys of “ability beyond disability”.
While the 19 medals do reflect increased support, important gaps remain. For example, India’s first table-tennis para-medallist Bhavina Patel, who was diagnosed with polio in infancy, has spoken of how often she has had to dig into her family’s bank account for training and equipment. Cutting-edge tech can have like costs. But new-age wheelchairs and other assistive technology can enhance speed and mobility dramatically. With a prosthetic leg, Germany’s Markus Rehm has set a world record that would have won him long-jump gold at the able-bodied Olympics. Today there is no shortage of solutions to help Indians with disabilities to live more fully. It’s access that must be ramped up.
2.Good call by EC: Bengal bypoll decision shows the commission is a neutral arbiter. UP will be another test
The Election Commission allowing Bhowanipore and other bypolls in Bengal helps avert a needless constitutional crisis. Facing a 6-month deadline, chief minister Mamata Banerjee should have had the chance to be a poll candidate. Now she has. Any other decision would not have met the test of pragmatism. The decision, which EC termed a “special request” from the state government besides acknowledging the “constitutional exigency”, is all the more remarkable because EC has deferred three parliamentary and 31 assembly polls considering the Covid pandemic.
The commission’s decision also considerably blunts opposition leaders’ accusation that EC has often played favourites. Calculated attempts were made to diminish EC’s stature with doubts being cast upon its independence and on its dependable fleet of EVMs, without a shred of hard evidence. Despite this extremely polarised political climate and through all the messiness of a democratic exercise involving several hundred million voters, EC has ensured free and fair elections where losers accept outcomes and governance continues without a hitch.
But on a larger scale, separating politics from governance remains an unmastered art and India keeps facing huge costs on this score. EC can do even better with all institutions including political executives, parties, police, judiciary, bureaucracy and civil society acting in its aid. Cops and babus are too often fearful of netas. SC’s order indefinitely relaxing the 45-day limitation period for losing candidates to challenge election results prevents EC from repurposing EVMs used in recent assembly polls for the 2022 multi-state elections. SC must quickly take a sensible decision, given that populous UP is in the fray.
Covid must figure in EC’s 2022 plans as well. Even in February-March, when elections are due, the virus could pose threats. Lessons from the eight-phase Bengal polls mustn’t be forgotten either. The long winding election schedule, involving large rallies and encouraging political violence, made Bengal polls look frightening compared to Tamil Nadu’s one-phase poll. UP polls therefore mustn’t be dragged out too long either, if only because political temperatures run high in that state, and the stakes are even bigger than they were in Bengal.
Also, currently lagging in vaccinations, UP must complete vaccination of adults before polls. Elections were an undeniable super-spreader event in the second wave. But democracy also demands timely elections. The new social contract for elections requires EC to show no quarter to netas and parties whose rallies violate masking and social distancing norms. Use the high-stakes Bhowanipore bypoll as a template for safe political and electoral conduct.
3.The aftermath of floods in Bihar
A six-member central team will reach Bihar on Monday to assess the damage caused by floods since June this year. Besides affecting 1.99 million people in 15 districts (September 3), this year’s flooding is emerging as a flashpoint between the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the backdrop of enhanced tensions within the ruling alliance in Bihar. The maximum affected was on August 30 (17 districts and 3.1 million people).
On the floods, Bihar has asked the Centre to frame a national silting policy and revisit the design of the Farakka barrage. Others pin the blame on river embankments for restricting the river during the monsoons and obstructing water from retreating into an embanked river, resulting in prolonging of floods and water-logging.
While the state and Centre discuss flood-related damages and measures to contain it, both also need to consider another aspect. Floods are becoming a recurring danger to the sustainability of the state’s efforts for open defecation-free status. They threaten toilet structures (built under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Lohiya Swachh Bihar Abhiyan) and prevent user-access during difficult times. The lack of sanitation facilities can also lead to contamination of soil, surface water or ground water and create major public health risks.
In a flood-prone state, it is important that governments take into account ecological and hydro-geological variations, flood typologies, location of habitations and floodscapes, to ensure that development funds are not wasted. There are solutions available.
The Phaydemand Shauchalaya (beneficial toilets) are elevated, ensure ecological sanitation by treating excreta as a valuable and manageable resource, protect and conserve water, and sanitise faecal material. This is just one example. But in a climate crisis-hit world, when extreme rainfall events and flooding are becoming the norm, it is crucial to work towards building flood-resilient habitat, which is convergence of different aspects of life – drinking water, sanitation, livelihood, housing, education and health, and infrastructure) to save costs and human lives. India must not fall behind on indicators where it has made progress.
4.The debate on representation
CJI Ramana recently said that he would prefer at least 50% representation of women in the judiciary at all levels. Higher numbers and greater visibility of women in courts can reduce inherent systemic blindness to questions of gender. It can open the door for alternative, inclusive legal perspectives and interpretations.
Lamenting the inadequate number of women judges in courts across India, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), NV Ramana, on Saturday, said that he would prefer at least 50% representation of women in the judiciary at all levels. The CJI acknowledged that it was only with “great difficulty” that the Supreme Court (SC) had achieved a “mere” 11% representation of women on the bench, and said that the issue of representation of women must be “highlighted and deliberated” upon. Justice Ramana’s comments have highlighted a serious, structural lacunae in India’s legal system — the under-representation of women on the bench. Out of the sanctioned strength of 34 judges, the SC has four women judges — Justices Indira Banerjee, Hima Kohli, BV Nagarathna and Bela M Trivedi, three of whom were elevated only last week. This is the highest-ever number of women judges in the SC’s history, with Justice Nagarathna in line to become the first woman CJI in 2027. But the story of incremental inclusion itself is a testimony to the history and reality of exclusion. According to government data, out of 677 sitting judges in both the SC and high courts, only 81 are women, a disappointing 12%. While there is greater gender representation at the lower levels of the judiciary, there is a near uniform trend of the proportion of women judges decreasing as one moves up the tiers of the court, says a 2020 report by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. This is due to a range of reasons. Women have to negotiate multiple obligations; it is harder to meet the minimum criteria of seven years of continuous practice to be eligible to be a district judge; fewer women are in litigation, reducing the pool from which women judges can be selected; and, perhaps most import-antly, the collegium system suffers from inherent biases, for progression in the legal profession is as much a product of old, often all-male, networks, as in other areas.
To be sure, there is no evidence to suggest that only women judges are likely to give gender-sensitive judgments. But higher numbers and greater visibility of women in courts can reduce inherent systemic blindness to questions of gender. It can give women the necessary confidence to seek justice and enforce their rights through the courts. It can open the door for alternative, inclusive legal perspectives and interpretations. And it will enhance the legitimacy of the judiciary, for inclusion creates a wider sense of ownership in the wider community. Beyond gender, this holds true in the case of other marginalised segments too, whose representation must increase. CJI Ramana has kicked off an important debate.