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Daily Category  (Indian Society)

Battle Against Trafficking

CONTEXT:

  • July 30 is United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons. It is also a time to reflect on India’s human trafficking crisis.

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KEY DETAILS:

  • Between April 2020 and June 2021, an estimated 9,000 children have been rescued after being trafficked for labour, according to a child rights non-governmental organisation (NGO).

    • In other words, 21 children have been trafficked every day over nearly 15 months.

    • The Childline India helpline received 44 lakh distress calls over 10 months.

    • Over a year, 2,000 children have arrived at its shelter homes and 800 rescued from hazardous working conditions

PANDEMIC INDUCED VULNERABILITIES:

  • The corona virus has resulted in loss of income and economic crisis, causing families’ reduced capacity to care for children in the long-term.

  • It has also caused, in some instances, loss of parental care due to death, illness or separation, thereby placing children at heightened risk for violence, neglect or exploitation.

  • The increase in Internet access in current times has also led to cyber-trafficking.

  • An August 2020 report by a member of a child rights group in India notes that popular social media platforms and free messaging apps are often used to contact young people.

  • Often, the trafficker or middleman lures the person to a place under the pretext of offering him/her employment.

  • Once removed from their locality, they face challenges of limited resources, unfamiliarity with the area.

  • Threats of violence from the trafficker, and, importantly, the absence of any identifiable authority to approach other than the police — who are often seen as threats themselves — make it nearly impossible for trafficked persons to report the incident.

  • A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on the effects of the pandemic on trafficking echoes these findings.

  • It says, traffickers are taking advantage of the loss of livelihoods and the increasing amount of time spent online to entrap victims, including by advertising false jobs on social media.

  • In addition, there is an increased demand for child sexual exploitation material online due to lockdowns.

ISSUES:

  • The Government admitted in Parliament as recently as March 2021 that it does not maintain any national-level data specific to cyber trafficking cases.

  • The efficacy of certain schemes launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs to improve investigation and prosecution of cyber crimes remains to be seen.

  • India is still classified by the U.S. Department of State as a Tier-2 country in its report on global human trafficking.

    • This means that the Government does not fully meet the minimum standards under U.S. and international law for eliminating trafficking, but is making significant efforts to comply.

    • The lack of implementation is illustrated by the state of the Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs).

  • AHTUs are specialised district task forces comprising police and government officials.

    • In 2010, it was envisioned that 330 AHTUs would be set up.

    • RTI responses in August 2020 showed that about 225 AHTUs had been set up, but only on paper.

  • With focus now shifting to the new draft anti-trafficking Bill the point to be highlighted is that there is no shortage of anti-trafficking policy in India.

  • Where the system is found lacking is in the implementation of the laws.

  • Significant discussion is required on the provisions of the Bill, particularly with respect to bringing in the National Investigation Agency and increasing the punishment for offences, including the death penalty as an option in some cases.

  • It is not proven that more stringent laws, particularly the death penalty, has any greater deterrent effect on crime.

  • The draft Bill also provides for AHTUs/ committees at the national, State and district levels, but as noted, their effective functioning cannot be taken for granted.

SOLUTIONS:

  • If properly staffed and funded, Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) could provide crucial ground-level data on the methods and patterns of traffickers, which in turn can strengthen community-based awareness and vigilance activities.

  • Global practices such as in Nigeria, Africa, should be encouraged in India, in consonance with a larger framework to protect women and children by incentivising education and creating safe employment opportunities.

  • Special attention must also be paid to the challenges prosecutors and judges face in trafficking cases.

    • There were 140 acquittals and only 38 convictions in 2019, according to government data.

    • This points to a failure of investigation and cannot be solved by the draft Bill’s provision that accused traffickers must be presumed guilty unless they can prove the contrary.

  • Further, trials can drag on for years, with victims sometimes withdrawing their complaints after being intimidated by traffickers.

    • Proper case management must be introduced to give meaning to the “fast track” courts.

  • Monetary compensation and psychological counselling should be provided within a time-frame so as to provide support to make their life back on the track.

  • Rehabilitation should be done precisely under the designated authority so as to make sure the safety of victims.

CONCLUSION:

  • As most of the trafficked are children in the age group of 14-16 the most productive years for children to nurture their skills, it is necessary to stop this menace as soon as possible.

  • By stopping trafficking we could harness the human capital and thus make life of children much better.

SOURCE: The Hindu

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

Conjugal Rights

CONTEXT:

  • In the coming week, the Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing a fresh challenge to the provision allowing restitution of conjugal rights under Hindu personal laws.

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KEY DETAILS:

  • The petitioner in its plea has contended that the court-mandated restitution of conjugal rights amounted to a “coercive act” on the part of the state.

  • Petitioner claimed that it violates

    • One’s sexual and decisional autonomy,

    • Right to privacy and dignity, all of which come within the purview of

    • Right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.

CONJUGAL RIGHTS:

  • Conjugal rights are rights created by marriage, i.e. right of the husband or the wife to the society of the other spouse. 

    • The law recognises these rights— both in personal laws dealing with marriage, divorce etc, and in criminal law requiring payment of maintenance and alimony to a spouse.

  • Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act recognises one aspect of conjugal rights — the right to consortium and protects it by allowing a spouse to move court to enforce the right.

  • The concept of restitution of conjugal rights is codified in Hindu personal law now, but has colonial origins and has genesis in ecclesiastical law. 

  •  Similar provisions exist in Muslim personal law as well as the Divorce Act, 1869, which governs Christian family law.

  • Incidentally, in 1970, the United Kingdom repealed the law on restitution of conjugal rights.

CONJUGAL RIGHTS OF PRISONERS:

  • A conjugal visit is a scheduled visit where an inmate is allowed to spend time with their legal spouse wherein the meeting parties may engage sexually.

  • The duration of the visit under conjugal rights may stretch from several hours to several days.

SECTION 9 OF THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955:

  • Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which deals with restitution of conjugal rights, reads: “When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly.

COHABITATION AND CONJUGAL RIGHTS:

  • If a spouse refuses cohabitation, the other spouse can move the family court seeking a decree for cohabitation.

    • If the order of the court is not complied with, the court can attach property.

    • However, the decision can be appealed before a High Court and the Supreme Court.

  • Normally, when a spouse files for divorce unilaterally, the other spouse files for restitution of conjugal rights if he or she is not in agreement with the divorce. 

    • The provision is seen to be an intervention through legislation to strike a conciliatory note between sparring spouses.

REASON FOR CHALLENGING LAW

  • The law is being challenged now on the main grounds that it violative of the fundamental right to privacy. 

    • The plea by two law students argues that a court-mandated restitution of conjugal rights amounted to a “coercive act” on the part of the state, which violates one’s sexual and decisional autonomy, and right to privacy and dignity.

    • In 2019, a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right

  • Although the provision of restitution of conjugal rights has been upheld by the Supreme Court earlier.

  • But legal experts have pointed out that the nine-judge Bench’s landmark verdict in the privacy case set the stage for potential challenges to several laws such as

    • Criminalisation of homosexuality,

    • Marital rape,

    • Restitution of conjugal rights,  

    • Two-finger test in rape investigations.

  • Although the law is ex-facie (‘on the face if it’) gender-neutral since it allows both wife and husband to seek restitution of conjugal rights, the provision disproportionately affects women.

    • Women are often called back to marital homes under the provision, and given that marital rape is not a crime, leaves them susceptible to such coerced cohabitation.

COURT’S EARLIER STAND:

  • Saroj Rani v Sudarshan Kumar Chadha case: In 1984, the Supreme Court had upheld Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, holding that the provision “serves a social purpose as an aid to the prevention of break-up of marriage”.

    • Leading up to the Supreme Court intervention, two High Courts — those of Andhra Pradesh and Delhi — had ruled differently on the issue.

    • A single-judge Supreme Court Bench of Justice Sabyasachi Mukherjee settled the law.

  • T Sareetha case: In 1983, Andhra Pradesh High Court had for the first time struck down the provisio and declared it null and void.

    • Justice P Choudhary cited the right to privacy among other reasons.

    • The court also held that in “a matter so intimately concerned the wife or the husband the parties are better left alone without state interference”.

    • The court had, most importantly, also recognised that compelling “sexual cohabitation” would be of “grave consequences for women”.

  • Delhi High Court, while critiquing the Andhra Pradesh High Court judgment, added that “it is in the interests of the State that family life should be maintained, and that homes should not be broken up by the dissolution of the marriage of parents.

    • Even in the absence of children, it is in the interest of the State that if possible the marriage tie should remain stable and be maintained”.

ARTICLE 21

  • Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”

  • Article 21 is a fundamental right and is included in Part-III of Indian Constitution. 

  • This right is available to all citizens as well as non-citizens alike. 

  • Supreme Court has described this right as the “heart of fundamental rights”

  • Article 21 cannot be suspended during an emergency. 

SOURCE: Indian Express

New Population Policy in Uttar Pradesh

CONTEXT:

  • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister launched the State’s population policy for 2021-2030.