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Daily Category  (Ethics)

Is Democracy Dying

CONTEXT:

  • When democratically elected governments cease to be held accountable by a society weakened by poor health, low morale and joblessness, demagogues are prone to blindness and ineptitude.

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KEY DETAILS:

  • The old question has a new urgency because global surveys are everywhere reporting dipping confidence in democracy and marked jumps in citizens’ frustrations with government corruption and incompetence.

  • Young people are the least satisfied with democracy — much more disaffected than previous generations at the same age.

  • Most worrying are the survey findings for India, which is fast developing a reputation as the world’s largest failing democracy.

    • In its Democracy Report 2020, Sweden’s V-Dem Institute noted that India “has almost lost its status as a democracy”.

    • It ranked India below Sierra Leone, Guatemala and Hungary.

DEMOCIDE:

  • Democide is the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.

    • Democide is not necessarily the elimination of entire cultural groups but rather groups within the country that the government feels need to be eradicated for political reasons and due to claimed future threats.

  • Democide is usually a slow-motion and messy process.

    • Wild rumours and talk of conspiracies flourish.

    • Street protests and outbreaks of uncontrolled violence happen.

    • Fears of civil unrest spread.

    • The armed forces grow agitated.

    • Emergency rule is declared but things eventually come to the boil.

    • As the government totters, the army moves from its barracks onto the streets to quell unrest and take control.

    • Democracy is finally buried in a grave it slowly dug for itself. As the government totters, the army moves from its barracks onto the streets to quell unrest and take control.

  • During the past generation, around three-quarters of democracies met their end in these ways.

    • The military coup d’états against the elected governments of Egypt (2013), Thailand (2014), Myanmar and Tunisia (2021) are obvious examples.

DARK SIDE OF DEMOCRACY:

  • When a constitution promises its citizens justice, liberty and equality, the splintering and shattering of social life induce a sense of legal powerlessness among citizens.

  • The judiciary becomes vulnerable to

    • cynicism

    • political meddling

    •  state capture

  • Massive imbalances of wealth, chronic violence, famine and unevenly distributed life chances also make a mockery of the ethical principle that in a democracy people can live as citizen partners of equal social worth.

  • If democracy is the self-government of social equals who freely choose their representatives, then large-scale social suffering renders the democratic principle utterly utopian. Or it turns into a grotesque farce.

  • People’s dignity is destroyed by

    • Domestic violence

    • rotten health care

    • widespread feelings of social unhappiness

    • daily shortages of food and housing

  • When famished children cry themselves to sleep at night, when millions of women feel unsafe and multitudes of migrant workers living on slave wages are forced to flee for their lives in a medical emergency,

    • The victims are unlikely to believe themselves worthy of rights, or capable as citizens of fighting for their own entitlements, or for the rights of others. 

  • The brute fact is social indignity undermines citizens’ capacity to take an active interest in public affairs, and to check and humble and wallop the powerful.

    • Citizens are forced to put up with state and corporate restrictions on basic public freedoms.

    • They must get used to big money, surveillance, baton charges, preventive detentions, and police killings.

CITIZEN DISEMPOWERMENT:

  • Citizen disempowerment encourages boasting and bluster among powerful leaders who stop caring about the niceties of public integrity and power-sharing.

    • They grow convinced they can turn lead into gold. But their hubris has costs.

  • When democratically elected governments cease to be held accountable by a society weakened by poor health, low morale, and joblessness, demagogues are prone to blindness and ineptitude.

    • They make careless, foolish, and incompetent decisions that reinforce social inequities.

    • They license big market and government players — poligarchs — to decide things.

    • Those who exercise power in government ministries, corporations, and public/private projects aren’t subject to democratic rules of public accountability.

    • Like weeds in an untended garden, corruption flourishes.

    • Almost everybody must pay bribes to access basic public services.

    • The powerful stop caring about the niceties of public integrity. Institutional democracy failure happens.

WHAT REALLY DEMOCRACY IS?

  • Democracy is much more than pressing a button or marking a box on a ballot paper.

    • It goes beyond the mathematical certitude of election results and majority rule.

    • It’s not reducible to lawful rule through independent courts or attending local public meetings and watching breaking news stories scrawled across a screen.

    • Democracy is a whole way of life.

    • It is freedom from

      • hunger

      • humiliation

      • violence

    • Democracy is public disgust for callous employers who mistreat workers paid a pittance for unblocking stinking sewers and scraping faeces from latrines.

    • Democracy is saying no to every form of human and non-human indignity.

    • It is respect for women, tenderness with children, and access to jobs that bring satisfaction and sufficient reward to live comfortably.

  • In a healthy democracy, citizens are not forced to travel in buses and trains like livestock, wade through dirty water from overrunning sewers, or breathe poisonous air.

    • Democracy is public and private respect for different ways of living.

    • It is humility: The willingness to admit that impermanence renders all life vulnerable, that in the end nobody is invincible, and that ordinary live are never ordinary.

    • Democracy is equal access to decent medical care and sympathy for those who have fallen behind.

    • It’s the rejection of the dogma that things can’t be changed because they’re “naturally” fixed in stone.

    • Democracy is thus insubordination: The refusal to put up with everyday forms of snobbery and toad-eating, idolatry and lying.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Until and unless we don’t realise the real sense of Democracy we can’t live with dignity. It is the need of hour to strengthen the voice of public against Democide which takes away the rights of the people. Only with people’s participation it can be achieved.

SOURCE: Indian Express

India-A Potential Sporting Nation or Not

CONTEXT:

  • A study in a paper in The Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2004) tried to establish that “total GDP is the best predictor of the national Olympic performance”.

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KEY DETAILS:

  • Study also claimed that host countries are “likely to win an additional 1.8% of the medals beyond what would be predicted by their GDP alone”.

  • Since then, many studies have attempted to understand the factors that influence most the ability of a nation to win medals at the Olympics.

    • One such work after the Rio Olympics showed that medals per hundred billion of dollars (based on purchasing power parity data of 2015) are highest in some Caribbean nations and lowest in some Asian and African nations.

    • These results negate to a considerable extent the hypothesis that total GDP is the best predictor of the performance of a nation at the Olympics.

FACTORS INFLUENCING PERFORMANCE:

  • Beyond a threshold level, the average standard of living in a nation and the country’s population size may be important determinants for its performance at the Olympics.

  • The size of total GDP is hardly important in countries like India where a sizable segment is fighting hunger.

    • A person of poor health can never be a good sportsperson.

    • In countries where there are high levels of stunted growth, malnutrition and anaemia, we cannot expect good athletes.

    • Thus, South Asian countries and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t fit in the econometric models built on total GDP.

  • Genetic factors are also no less important:

    • The U.S., Australia and the Netherlands are powerhouses in swimming, but not China.

    • Taller people have an advantage in swimming or basketball but height is not important in shooting or gymnastics.

    • China excels in shooting along with the U.S. and Germany.

    • East Asian nations do better at table tennis than Western nations.

    • Russia, East European nations and Central Asian countries do well in amateur boxing whereas China and Central Asians countries do better in weightlifting and wrestling.

  • Mobilising resources in world-class training provides an edge to sportspersons. Such infrastructure makes

    • U.S. the superpower in athletics and gymnastics

    • Germany in equestrian

    • U.K. in diving, sailing and cycling

SCENARIO OF INDIA IN SPORTS:

  • During colonial rule, India got some exposure to international sporting events earlier than many Asian and African nations:

    • The Calcutta Football League, for example, is the oldest football league in Asia.

    • Durand Cup is the oldest existing football tournament in Asia.

    • This exposure gave India an edge over other ‘Third World’ nations in the 1950s and early 1960s.

  • Resources in India were spread thinly across sports disciplines.

  • As more and more nations started coming into the international sports arena, India’s relative position started declining from the 1970s.

    • Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Singapore and Malaysia may stand below India in the medal’s tally at the Asian Games, but are ahead of it at the Olympics.

    • This is primarily because India is moderately good at many sports but not good enough to be the best at any of them.

    • In contrast, Jamaica does well at the Olympics in sprinting and Kenya gets medals in long-distance running. They perform better than India though they are not great sporting nations

  • In recent years, India has shown promise in shooting, amateur boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and badminton.

  • India’s best performance at the Olympics was in London (2012) where it won two silver medals and four bronzes and ranked 56th in the medal’s tally.

  • At the Rio Olympics (2016), with one silver and one bronze, India’s rank came down to 67.

REASONS BEHIND INDIA'S POOR PERFORMANCE

  1. Lack of Infrastructure Facilities.

  2. Patriarchal Mindset of Society that restricts Women Participation in Sports.

  3. Parents Forcing Kids to Opt for a stable Career Option Such as Engineering and Doctors.

  4. Most Families are below Poverty Line and it makes them difficult to pick Sports as Career.

NATIONAL SPORTS UNIVERSITY BILL AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE

  1. Establishment of National Sports University in Manipur with Power to Grant Degrees and Diplomas in Sports would Boost Indian Athletes Knowledge related to Sports such as Sports Sciences, Sports Technology Etc.

  2. The Central Government would inspect the Functioning of University and the University's Executive Council has to comply with Government's Suggestions in Inspection report.

    • It would result in Annual Assessment of University Functioning that would help in Achieving desired results.

  3. The University has to Maintain Fund out of Funds received from Union Government, State Government and from Grants/Gifts. The Funds will be invested as decided by Finance Committee.

    • This would result in Proper Utilisation of Funds in Tasks that are in Benefit of University's Performance.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

  • We need to concentrate more on sports where the physical build of an average Indian will not stand as a disadvantage.

  • People of different States have different food habits and build.

    • We need to establish infrastructure as per their habits so that they can perform better in a particular sport.

  • In Schools, one sport as per choice and ability should be made compulsory.

  • At college level, start sport events two times a year- one in summer season and one in winter season to adapt different environment to play.

WAY FORWARD

  • To make India an emerging sporting nation, the policy of “One State, One Sport” can be a game-changer in India. This will cater the need as per the habits of sportsperson to achieve a good position in a tournament.

  • Athletes represent India at Global Levels of Sport. The need of Hour is implementation of the Bill to ensure Timely Establishments of University to cater the need of Athletes at International Levels.

SOURCE: The Hindu

Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation

Context:

  • A study by Pew Research Center has found that most Indians respect religious diversity. Yet they prefer to live in separate spheres, and frown on interfaith marriages.

Key Details:

  • Survey of: early 30,000 individuals

  • Study by: The Pew Research Center

  • Report Name: ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’

  • It suggests that most Indians respect religious diversity, and yet draw clear lines between communities when it comes to marriage.

Segregated spheres:

  • More Indians see diversity as a benefit (53%) than view it as a liability (24%) for their country; the rest do not take a clear position.

  • Again, 84% of Indians believe that respecting all religions is very important to being truly Indian, and 80% believe respecting other religions is a very important part of their religious identity.

  • And yet, about two in every three Indians put a high priority on stopping interfaith and inter-caste marriages.

  • “Indians do simultaneously express commitment to religious tolerance and a consistent preference for keeping their religious communities in segregated spheres — they live together separately.

  • While people in some countries may aspire to create a ‘melting pot’ of different religious identities, our data suggest that many Indians prefer a country more like a patchwork fabric or thali, with clear lines between groups,” Jonathan Evans, primary project manager on the study, said in an email.

  • For all the new laws aimed at stopping inter-community marriages, the survey found very little change caused by conversion to the size of various religious groups among the respondents.

  • When it comes to neighbours, large sections among the minority communities say they would be willing to live near a Hindu.

  • Most Hindus, too, say they would be willing to live near a Muslim, a Christian or a Jain. But many Hindus also have reservations: for example, 36% would not be willing to live near a Muslim.

Triple talaq:

  • A majority of Muslims say they are against triple talaq, with women more opposed to it than men.

  • The survey also found three-quarters of Muslims in favour of having access to their own religious courts for family disputes.

  • “Muslim opinions of triple talaq also differ based on several other factors. For example, Muslims with college degrees are more supportive of triple talaq than are Muslims with less education (46% vs 37%).

  • And Muslims who say religion is very important in their lives are more likely to support triple talaq than those who say religion is less important (39% vs 26%).”

Being Hindu or Muslim:

  • For most Hindus and Muslims, avoiding beef and pork respectively is central to their idea of who is truly Hindu or Muslim.

  • 72% of Hindus say a person who eats beef cannot be Hindu; 77% of Muslims say a person cannot be Muslim if he or she eats pork.

  • A majority of both groups also says a person cannot be Hindu or Muslim, respectively, if they celebrate each other’s festivals.

  • The two groups diverge to an extent on religiosity as a marker on identity.

  • The shares of Muslims who say namaz and visiting mosques are essential to being Muslim (67% and 61% respectively) are higher than the shares of Hindus who say a person cannot be Hindu if they don’t say their prayers or don’t visit temples (48% each).

Survey and backdrop:

  • The survey was conducted between November 17, 2019 and March 23, 2020 among 29,999 adults (22,975 Hindus, 3,336 Muslims), interviewed face-to-face in 26 states and three UTs. Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep (remoteness), Kashmir (shutdown), and Manipur and Sikkim (Covid-19) were excluded.

  • Six groups were targeted for oversampling: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and those living in the Northeast. Sampling was conducted through a design that sought to increase diversity in religious representation.

  • When protests broke against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in December-January, the survey was in progress.

Source: Indian Express

The power of an apology

Context:

  • In May, Germany officially apologised to Namibia for the massacre of the Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 and called it a genocide for the first time.

  • Around the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron said in Rwanda that he recognised his country’s role in the Rwandan genocide and hoped for forgiveness.