Uniform Civil Code

Source: By Tahir Mahmood: The Indian Express

The founding fathers of the Constitution had “hoped and expected” that the state will act on Article 44 that pertains to Uniform Civil Code but “till date no action has been taken in this regard,” an apex court bench has observed. Though Hindu laws were codified, “there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all” the bench has said, adding rather curiously: “However, Goa is a shining example of an Indian state which has a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all regardless of religion” (Jose Paulo, September 13). With due deference, I find both the obiter dicta and the ruling of the bench inconsistent with the letter and spirit of Article 44.

Placed in the Constitution among the non-justiciable Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 44 charges the state with a duty to “endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”. If this can be seen as a clear-cut injunction for “framing” a new comprehensive code at one go, the bench is right in complaining of the state’s inaction, but does the language of the Article mean this? Is endeavouring to secure a law the same as framing and enforcing it straight away? If not, have any endeavours ever been made in this direction?

Codification of the Hindu law in 1955-56, often cited in the context of Article 44, cannot be seen as an “endeavour to secure” a Uniform Civil Code. A Hindu Code Bill was moved in the central legislature four years before the Constitution came in force. It faced stiff opposition from various quarters. Article 44 was, in fact, meant to answer the objection that the majority community’s personal law was being singled out for modernisation and reform. Notably, the proposed Hindu Code had to be fragmented later and eventually took the form of four separate Acts.

The state’s endeavours to secure a Uniform Civil Code are to be found in the miscellany of laws of general application that were sporadically enacted since 1954. Among these are the Acts facilitating civil marriages, banning marital dowries, protecting women from domestic violence, preventing child marriages, ensuring ancestors’ maintenance and protection, and facilitating adoption of ill-fated children. The process has, of course, been slow-paced. But there is abundant scope for enacting more such laws that are applicable to all regardless of religion and personal laws.

Article 44 demands uniformity of family laws at an all-India level — a local law even if applicable to all cannot be seen as a Uniform Civil Code. The state-level code cited by the bench as an instance — the 152-year old Portuguese civil code in force in Goa and Daman & Diu — is not even applied uniformly. The bench, in fact, admits that it applies to all “except while protecting certain limited rights”. Yet, it calls the code a “shining example” of uniformity.

The Portuguese who ruled Goa and Daman & Diu since the 16th century had separately codified local customs of each of these territories. Article 8 of the Royal Decree of 1869, by which the Portuguese had extended their two-year old civil code to their “Indian possessions”, had pointedly subjected its application to the three pre-existing codes of native customs. After liberating the territories in 1961 and integrating them into a Union Territory, the Indian government ruled that the Portuguese laws would continue until amended or repealed by a competent authority; among these was the Portuguese civil code. In 1987, Goa was separated from the newly formed Union Territory and made a state, but the civil code based on 19th century legal culture of Portugal was not thrown out.

What is the sense in retaining an archaic law of foreign origin in certain national territories, 58 years after their assimilation into the nation? The government seems to have been oblivious of history in this regard, but how about the judiciary? RC Lahoti, former CJI, had once said “where two organs of state fail to perform their duty, the third cannot remain a mute spectator.” Instead of glorifying the archaic Portuguese code, the judiciary should have cared for its ouster.

The court’s view that the supposedly uniform law of Goa cannot be replaced with non-uniform family laws in force in the country ignores the fact that, unlike the former, laws enacted and amended in the post-Constitution era are in keeping with social needs and norms of the time. The majority community along with Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs are predominant in the population of both the state of Goa and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu. It is unfair to keep them deprived of the modern family laws of 1955-56 which are applicable to these communities in the rest of India.

The issue before the bench was if the succession rules under the Portuguese civil code would apply also to properties of Goans located elsewhere in India, and the court answered that in the affirmative. In two earlier cases, the apex court had ruled that Christians of Travancore and Cochin were to be governed by the Indian Succession Act of 1925 in force in Kerala, not by the local laws enacted before the merger of those territories in that state (Mary Roy 1986, CJ Simon 2012). By the same analogy, the Act of 1925, in force in Maharashtra, could have been declared to be applicable to Mumbai-based property of the Goa-domiciled parties to the case before the bench.

Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act repealed local family laws and replaced them with corresponding central laws. It is high time similar action was taken in regard to the Portuguese laws in force in Goa, Daman and Diu and also for the French Civil Code still applicable to a section of Indians in Pondicherry. Till this is done, the judiciary — as a “competent authority” — should suitably restrict application of these archaic laws of foreign origin whenever it gets a chance. This will be its proper role in leading the nation to the constitutional goal of a uniform civil code.

 

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Time to go green

Source: By Anil Kumar G: The Financial Express

The “Earth Summit” of 1992, in Brazil, brought in a paradigm shift in concept of development with increasing recognition that environmental and economic policies must work in tandem to improve the quality of human life. One of the ways to incentivise sustainable development is through low-cost financing for sustainable projects. Developed world has already recognised the need of dedicated funds for greener projects at low-cost.

Indian government is implementing the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) to reduce emissions intensity—GHG emissions per unit of GDP—by 33% to 35% below the 2005 levels by the year 2030. Further, at least 40% of energy in 2030 would be generated from non-fossil fuel sources. Achieving this requires massive investment as green tech is largely capital-intensive. Most of the cases fall under the categories of renewable and sustainable energy that use clean technology.

Responding to environmental problems used to be an unappealing, no-win proposition for managers, and economic forces at work.There are a need for a far-sighted programme and innovative, creative solutions to address environmental challenges. Financing, which is normally considered a passive activity, can contribute a lot towards reducing the cost of doing business in a greener way. Green Bonds have emerged as an innovative way to fund green projects. These can reduce the cost of capital and, thereby, improve returns.

Green Bonds are the same as corporate bonds, but their proceeds are pre-allocated to green activities. Fund raising through green bonds was done first in 2007 when European Investment Bank raised €600 million under the label “Climate Awareness Bond” dedicated for renewable energy projects and energy-efficient projects. The latest success story comes from Russian Railway, whose eight-year green bond raised €500 million, and was priced at 2.2%. The issuance was oversubscribed with an order-book of over €1.8 billion. The capital raised will be used to purchase electric trains as part of a modernisation programme.

Transport, the second largest contributor to global GHG emissions, is responsible for 23% of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions globally, and 14% of total GHG emissions. Road transportation remains the primary source of emissions in the sector, and is responsible for 73% of the carbon dioxide emissions. India’s scenario is no different.

Hence, leveraging debt capital markets towards sustainable transport infrastructure development and services has enormous potential to help achieve climate goals. 71% of the climate-themed bonds issued relate to low-carbon transport. This is largely due to a number of rail issuers, which have a long history of using bonds to raise finance. As per the Climate Bonds Standard and Certification Scheme of “Climate Bonds Initiative”, there are certain areas which are most likely to get acceptance in the green bond market. These include transport infrastructure (all modes of collective/mass transport and its infrastructure, especially urban rail and Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), ropeways and cable cars); alternative (low-carbon) energy refuelling distribution infrastructurevehicle technologies to significantly increase emissions efficiency (including fuel efficiency, fuel type and other vehicle improvements); and new vehicle technologies and hybridisation, autonomous /semi-autonomous vehicles. The electric vehicles industry is one of the thrust areas, and the 2019-20 Budget has announced fiscal incentives and measures to ease regulatory hurdles.

The Railways can play a huge role in combating climate change. Indian Railway Finance Corporation Ltd (IRFC) established a Green Bond Framework for fund raising. The proceeds were proposed to be used for financing the Dedicated Freight Corridor project and electrification of the railways. The IRFC had raised $500 million in 2017 from the 10-year green bond through India INX, GIFT City. Very recently, in June 2019, Adani Green Energy issued green bonds worth $500 million through India INX at a coupon of 6.25%; these were subscribed over three times, when most infrastructure companies struggled to raising funds in India. Given the success of Russia in raising green bonds at a coupon rate of 2.2%, the greener pastures are open for rail transportation in India.

The Economic Survey 2018-19 points out that India needs to almost double its annual spending on infrastructure at $200 billion, which will obviously require harnessing private investment. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech, talked about international debt issuance by the government so that domestic resources would be available to others at comparatively cheaper terms. It will ease the liquidity crisis and give an impetus to the growth momentum.

India is only putting $100-110 billion annually into infrastructure development which requires innovative approaches. Issuing green bonds overseas is one such approach in realising the goal of creating a clean environment. The government can do well by setting up a Green Investment Trust, an agency for green financing, to fund the green infrastructure projects of the country. The trust can tap the green funds abroad and channel the same towards the green projects in India, including clean transportation. The financial incentives in terms of low-cost funds will trigger infrastructure investments in clean transport.

 

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India, Pakistan and £35 million

Source: By Nirupama Subramanian: The Indian Express

The ruling on a dispute over a sum of £35 million in a NatWest Bank account in London, known as the Hyderabad Funds Case, removes one contentious issue from the long list of India-Pakistan problems, but one that was only a minor headache in a bilateral relationship with painful migraines.

On 2 October 2019, the British High Court ruled in favour of India and the heirs of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad in the dispute over the sum, belonging to the Nizam at the time of Partition.

How the funds reached bank

The story is well known: on the orders of the Finance Minister of Nizam Osman Ali Khan, a sum of £1,007,490 and nine shillings was transferred to the account of Pakistan’s High Commissioner Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola on September 20, 1948, a day after the Nizam’s forces surrendered to Indian troops. The troops had been sent in to bring to an end the long standoff over the princely state’s accession to India. In 1954, India sued for the return of the money (and the Nizam himself wanted the money back) but the case went up to the House of Lords, which stayed the case against the bank and granted Pakistan sovereign immunity, which meant that legal proceedings could not be brought against it. The bank said it would keep the funds until an agreement was reached among all three parties — the Nizam, the government of India and the government of Pakistan — on who the money belonged to.

There the matter lay for more than six decades. It was Pakistan that decided to go back to the court in 2013 leading to 2 October 2019 judgment, but it was really not about the money, which even after its 35-times increase due to accumulation of interest is not a meaningful amount for either country, as about the state of ties between them at the time.

Attempts at settlement

In fact, through the years, there were several efforts to arrive at an out-of-court settlement, but “Pakistan always backed off when it came to biting the bullet”, said a former Indian diplomat. Indeed, five years earlier, in April 2008, soon after the first democratically elected government took office after 10 years of military rule — it was a Pakistan People’s Party-Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) coalition — the government of India announced that it would negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Pakistan on the matter.

An April 11, 2008 press release from the Press Information Bureau said the Union cabinet had given its approval for the government to pursue an out-of-court settlement with Pakistan and the heirs of the Nizam. “The Cabinet also gave its approval to the negotiating strategy. This would release funds lying locked up with a British Bank for the last 60 years and also resolution of one long standing item on the India-Pakistan agenda. The negotiations would be conducted over a period of 18 months,” the release said. The negotiations were to decide a three-way division of the money.

But it never took off. Bilateral ties were in crisis management mode by July that year, when the Indian Embassy bombing in Kabul took place. The plan sank along with the rest of the relationship after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai that year. Since then India-Pakistan relations have gone from bad to worse.

Revival and closure

It was against this bilateral background that, just before the elections of 2013, the then Pakistan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom,Wajid Shamsul Hassan, a PPP loyalist and confidant of then President Asif Ali Zardari, revived the Hyderabad Funds Case, waiving Pakistan’s sovereign immunity to sue for the ownership of the money.

“I as Pakistan High Commissioner filed a case in 2013 seeking English High Court ruling as to the rightful ownership of the money as it was lying in the account of Pakistan High Commissioner since 1948. Before filing the case much correspondence was exchanged between me as PHC and the MoFA. Red tape in the MoFA was responsible for delayed action,” Hassan told Pakistan Today in June 2016.

Pakistan applied to withdraw the suit months later, but the court dismissed the plea. Hassan said the new Nawaz Sharif-led PML (N) government had “put pressure” on him to withdraw the case.

“Soon after the transfer of power to the new government of Prime Minister Sharif, I was directed to withdraw the case as MoFA (Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) at that time claimed that it was a ‘bilateral issue’ between India and Pakistan,” said Hassan.

As the case continued, India tried to get Pakistan’s “beneficial claim” dismissed as “hopeless”. The court ruled against India in June 2016, raising hopes in Pakistan about a victory. After this, Pakistan argued in court that there were documents to prove that the Nizam had asked Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah to procure weapons from and send them to him for defending Hyderabad against India, and that a British pilot, Frederick Sidney Cotton, had made 35 trips from Karachi to Hyderabad to drop off the armaments. The money, Pakistan argued, was payment for these arms.

In 2018, the government of India and the Nizam’s grandsons arrived at a settlement to fight the case jointly. 2 October 2019 ruling that pronounced that “the Nizam VIIwas beneficially entitled to the Fund and those claiming right of Nizam VII — the Princes and India —are entitled to have the sum paid out to their order” closed a 70-year-long chapter in the complex India-Pakistan saga.

Why it took so long

Writing about the case in his 2017 book The People Next Door, T C A Raghavan, who was posted in the High Commission at Islamabad twice, first as Deputy High Commissioner and later as High Commissioner, noted that the reason the stalemate could not be broken over decades despite efforts “by prime ministers downward at different levels of government” was certainly not because of the money, but perhaps because both sides saw much more at stake.

“For Pakistan, the issue is of Hyderabad’s forced accession following a military intervention when its ruling Muslim prince wanted independence and a closer relationship with Pakistan. The fund thus represents that symbolic relationship… For India, equally, the issue is of principle — what possible claim can Pakistan have to the funds of the erstwhile Hyderabad state?”

 

 

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Cultural maps needed

Source: By Gautam Choubey: Deccan Herald

In India, antagonistic cultural differences are sharply etched onto our political consciousness. The frequent attacks on the communities from the North-East in Delhi, Biharis in Mumbai and the suspicion with which people of Kashmir are occasionally held, to enumerate a few, offer a massive challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s romantically ambitious quest for sabka vishwas (everyone’s trust).

While it is true that ‘unity in diversity’ has long been the guiding leitmotif in our policies on culture, education and federalism, has it succeeded in mending the fractures which plague our society? As the argument runs, acts of acceptance precede overtures of trust and acceptance is premised upon true recognition.

The prime minister’s project entails, in no small part, a sympathetic appreciation of cultural specificities which animate politics in religious and ethnic minorities. Observing a ‘Kashmir week’ or a month-long focus on Northeastern literature in government-aided institutions across India will reap far greater dividends.

However, although we have a ministry for culture, India lacks a national cultural policy which could create conditions necessary for trans-regional/ethnic empathy. Such a policy, led by the ministries of culture and human resource development in particular, can create an environment for mutual recognition, enhance people to people contact and defuse mistrust.

A national cultural policy implies a planned approach to government-aided cultural activities, keeping in perspective broader goals which have been debated among the citizens, and identified through consensus. The absence of such a policy in India contrasts sharply with global trends. Virtually every country, including the most diverse ones, has a well-defined cultural outlook. To comprehend this absence, we need to understand the general suspicion with which terms such as culture, policy, national and government are held in contemporary India particularly so when they appear together in a sentence.

In Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1943), American–British poet T S Eliot describes culture as constituted by a set of organic ‘basic structures’ which get transmitted hereditarily and cannot be fabricated. Unfortunately, in most intellectual discourses, culture is viewed as a disruptive intervention, which is either fictive or imaginary.

Academic fervour is expended on hyphenated concepts such as sub-cultures, anti-cultures etc. Trends in both social media and universities suggest that many maintain a safe distance from everything ‘cultural’ or ‘national’, except when invited to critique it. It is feared that advocacy of a national cultural policy is anchored to conservatism, parochialism and majoritarianism.

But did India always lack a national cultural outlook? To answer this question, one need not go any further than Sahitya Akademi, India’s cultural avant garde.Established in 1954, the Akademi seeks to celebrate those elements which are organic to India, however variegated their expressions might be.

Indian Literature is one, but written in many languages’, its motto proclaims. Bodies like Indian Council of Cultural Relations (1950), Sangeet Natak Akademi (1953) and National School of Drama (1959), some of which were instituted by parliamentary resolutions, mooted by India’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, reflected the government’s official cultural outlook with aplomb.

To the founding fathers, it was clear that promoting elements ‘organic’ to our national identity has to be an integral part of nation building. Establishment of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) during the regime of Indira Gandhi in 1972 stressed the need to introduce national perspectives in historical research too. The objectives of ICHR, compiled in March 1972 by the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, identify the need to provide “national direction to an objective and rational presentation and interpretation of history” as one of its priorities. It, therefore, strikes me as ironical that in the past few decades, the loudest opposition to a policy framework on culture has come from academicians and scholars who have been at the helm of affairs in the institutions mentioned above.

In 2008, an 18-member committee was constituted to draft a policy for modernisation and coordination among government-aided cultural institutions. As expected, most of the members abstained from the meetings and the proposal was dismissed without a fair trial.

Our experience of whatever modicum of planning which has been made to bear upon cultural activities in India contradicts their oft expressed fear. All the aforementioned bodies, without an exception, have promoted India’s cultural plurality, in all its richness.

Sahitya Akademi, together with its several regional centres, has created a veritable repository of our linguistic and literary diversity. Ever since, its establishment, the National School of Drama has been promoting folk elements on the national stage. It has also commissioned folk professionals to train actors in Delhi. The ICHR too, as stipulated in its memorandum of association, has been striving to promote ‘popular literature’ and support research in “neglected and new” areas.

Modern movements

Still, the apprehension that cultural policy may be a grab for promoting unscientific appropriation of past remains unsubstantiated too. Many of these institutions have triggered modern movements in arts, literature and research. But our cultural institutions are plagued by sheer lack of coordination. This often results in effort-duplication and resource wastage. A national policy on culture would lead to a greater alignment between institutions, funding agencies and cultural goals.

Through concerted institutional efforts and periodic revision of focus areas, retrieval and promotion of diversity will become much more effective. Further, institutional support for local cultural groups to engage with regionally diverse art forms and a body like National Cultural Coordination Committee (NCCC) for greater cultural traffic across regions would be extremely useful.

It is about time that the Ministry of Culture furnishes a policy draft for debate. This will go a long way in securing a truly integrated society; an integration which is not restricted to the coda of tolerance, but based on the ethics of trust.

 

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Beauty of Science~II

Source: By Bikash Sinha: The Statesman

Einstein’s field equation in General theory is magical, in his own words; an extremely complex equation yet so elegant, beautiful and aesthetically so pleasing. The equation describes quantitatively the interplay between gravity, space and time. Here, he introduced a constant, called the cosmological constant. There is a claim that Einstein thought introducing this constant into his equation was the greatest blunder of his life, although I never could find any reference of that.

That “blunder” has changed our entire perception of the universe in recent times. This constant is responsible for accelerating the expansion of the Universe and this was experimentally verified recently leading to Nobel prizes. So, Einstein’s Nobel Prize was the father of many Nobel prizes.

While writing a book, I got so excited about the sheer mystery and power of this constant that I wrote: “I am the cosmological constant / and nursling of the Universe / I pass through galaxies, I change with time, / and contemplate space and time in its infinity! / I am the cosmological constant / I accelerate the Universe / I am the cosmological constant / But I cannot die / I die with the Universe. The cosmological constant acts against the gravity, thus it accelerates everything”.

This magnificent firework of new revolutionary ideas started at the end of the nineteenth century and went through unabated till the Seventies of the twentieth century. In India at least three persons came into world prominence at that time, Jagadish Chandra BoseSatyendranath BoseMeghnad Saha and of course CV Raman. Jagadish Chandra Bose not only discovered millimetre radio waves sitting in a small laboratory of Presidency College, he went on to perform some very original experiments to demonstrate that plants are not that inert but react to electromagnetic shocks.

An intimate friend of Rabindranath, Jagadish Chandra brought “life to plants” and discovered the power of short range radiowaves. He was the father of modern science in India and the child of the Bengal Renaissance. Two of his students were SN Bose and Meghnad Saha. SN Bose was the discoverer of Bosons, the light particle photons. Bose Einstein statistics revolutionized the newly discovered quantum mechanics ushering in quantum statistics.

Now we know the entire universe is immersed in all pervading Bosons, the cosmic microwave background radiation, the cosmic hiss of the Big Bang! Meghnad Saha discovered Saha’s Ionisation equation. His class mate and lifelong friend SN Bose once quipped: “Meghnad can measure the temperature of the distant star sitting at home”. That thought is just not beautiful but romantically beautiful ~ the twinkle of the stars captured in an equation and observed from a room.

Sir CV Raman, only Nobel Laureate from India in sciencediscovered the Raman Effect in a small laboratory of the Indian Association for Cultivation of Science using an elegant yet simple experimental set-up. To my knowledge he was the only person who bought his passage to Stockholm even before the Nobel Prize was announced. The Raman Effect is so powerful a technique that researchers still use it for a variety of experiments. Another philosophical physicist, the German pioneer Warner Heiseberg, once had an intense conversation with Rabindranath Tagore in Calcutta.

Heisenberg was on his way to Japan via Calcutta. He had the audacity to introduce the famous uncertainty principle ~ one cannot measure the momentum and the position of any particle or the energy and time simultaneously (exactly). Mrs. Heisenberg describes “One moonlit night we walked all over the Heinberg Mountain and he was completely overwhelmed by the vision he had, and trying to explain his newest discovery to me. He talked about the miracle of symmetry as the original archetype of creation, about harmony, about the beauty of simplicity and the inner truth”.

She goes on “with smiling certainty, he once said to me I was lucky enough to look over the good Lord’s shoulder while he was at work”. Now, that is ecstatic and the relationship between the great man and his wife is ethereally beautiful, and infinitely tender. One of the greatest theoretical physicists of the twentieth century is Paul Adrian Maurice Dirac of Cambridge. Now resting at Wesminster Abbey, in London along with Stephen Hawking, Dirac believed very strongly that an equation, if it is very beautiful, must be the right one and went on to say “God must be a mathematician”.

Einstein of course did not quite accept the very statistical nature of quantum mechanics. Which provoked him to say “God does not play dice” reprimanded by another great physicist, Niels Bohr “stop telling Good Lord how to run the world”. Stephen Hawking said, “But all the evidence indicates that God is an inveterate gambler and He throws dice on every possible occasion. Not” ~ Hawking goes on “not only does He play dice but also sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen”.

One can generalise on this idea. The Universe is a very very… very large casino”, almost is resonating with the great French biologist, an existential philosopher to boot Jacques Monod’s “Chance and necessity”. Of course, one of the greatest mathematicians of all times was Srinivasa Ramanujan. He came in touch with another great mathematician GH Hardly of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Ramanujan was a genius and his genius drove him to write down mathematical identities of great elegance and beauty. GN Watson of the Cambridge school while trying to unravel Ramanujan’s identity has this to say: “Gives me a thrill which is indistinguishable from the thrill which I feel when I enter the Sagretia Nuova of Capella Medicee and see before me the austere beauty of “Day”, “Night”, “Evening” and “Down” which Michaelangelo has set over the tombs of Giuliano de’ Medici and Lorenzo de’ Medici.

The austere beauty of Michelangelo’s Medici tomb turned Ramanujan’s identity radiant! It has already been mentioned at least obliquely, that the most fundamental constituents of all matter are the quarks, trapped inside the protons and the neutrons forever, interacting with each other by gluons. Murray Gell Mann, coined the words quarks. James Joyce contemplating in the back lanes of Trieste, going from one tavern to the next, from one nightingale’s nest to another wrote in his most original yet incomprehensible novel, Finnegans Wake.

There quarks for Muster Mark / sure he has’nt got much of a bark / and sure any he has its all beside the mark”. Publican named Humphrey Chimpder Earuicker ~ “There quarts for Mister Mark”. It is the cry of the gull, cry of the trapped quark. A fantastic journey of the quarks, somekind of German Cheese, from the Taverns of Mr. Earwicker to deep inside protons, neutrons, trapped forever, an example of surrealistic beauty. The beauty and the aesthetics are most abundant among the romantic poets of England.

One can readily think of the English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Clouds” ~”I am the daughter of Earth and water / and the nursling of the sky; / …..For after the rain when with never a stain / The pavilion of Heaven is bare, / and the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams / Build up the blue dome of air, / I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, / And out of the caverns of rain, / Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb / I arise and unbuild it again. It is almost spiritually beautiful ~ from the “cenotaph” “I arise and unbuild”. It is the eternal cycle of creation and destruction.

Just as man clamours for the infinite, similarly the infinite wants to reveal himself to man. As Rabindranath wrote: “For meeting me you are coming through endless time. In the morning and evenings / Through the eternity of time / I hear the ring of your footsteps”… The poet wanted to bridge the gap between the finite and the infinite, the microcosmos and the macrocosmos, the personal and the impersonal, the immanent and the transcendent. But, the beauty and the aesthetics are at the heart of all pervading macro and microcosmos. One has to just look for it.

 

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Beauty of Science~I

Source: By Bikash Sinha: The Statesman

Beauty is truth’s smile”, observed Rabindranath Tagore. “Our task must be to free ourselves, to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty”, said Albert Einstein.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius was grander “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it”. Science is not just a rational pursuit of the reality trying to unravel the mystery of nature around us, but at the core of it all, there lies great beauty and aesthetics. Thus, “one of the strongest motives leading to Arts and Science is a flight from everyday life with its painful coarseness and bleak tediousness”, observed Albert Einstein.

During a series of discussions between Einstein and Tagore in the 1930’s the concept of truth and beauty was debated intensely without arriving at a coherent conclusion. The east clashed with the west, the dialogue eventually got horribly entangled with the eternal conflict of the Plurality of the western philosophy with the Singularity of the Eastern philosophy.

Plurality means that there are worlds that are absolutely unrelated to each other, singularity implies that multiplicity of worlds is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind, one world. This is the fundamental doctrine of the Upanishads. Einstein argued, “Truth, then or Beauty is not independent of Man” Tagore replied “No”. Einstein If there be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere will no longer be beautiful!” Tagore “No”. Einstein “I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but with regard to Truth… Tagore “Why not Truth is realized only through man.

Beauty is the ideal of perfect harmony which is the universal being, Truth is the perfect comprehension of the Universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, through our illuminated consciousness. How otherwise, can we know Truth” Einstein “I cannot prove scientifically that Truth must be conceived as a Truth that is valid independent of humanity; but I believe it firmly. I believe, for instance, that the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man.

Anyway, if there is a reality independent of man, there is also a Truth relative to this reality; and in the same way the negation of the first engenders a negation of the existence of the latter”. Tagore “Truth, which is one with the Universal Being, must essentially be human, otherwise we individuals realize as true can never be called Truth ~ at least the Truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic, in other words, by an organ of thoughts.

According to Indian philosophy, there is Brahman, the absolute Truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words but can only be realised by completely merging the individual in its infinity.” Einstein invokes religion, Tagore invokes Brahman, his own religion in a sense, neither could agree with the outlook of the other and the conflict persisted. Truth, existing in abstract has no meaning but Truth perceived by man depends on his religion, if any, his cultural roots, his social norms, indeed his perception of beauty or its absence.

So, Ganesh drinking milk is a valid reality for somebut to a scientifically tempered mind, it is merely surface tension. In the poem entitled “I” in Shyamali, Rabindranath put the entire debate in the soulful perception of consciousness, “The colour of my consciousness Turned emerald to green Ruby turned crimson ‘I’ looked up to the sky The light was lit I looked at the roses, said beautiful They become beautiful But truth and beauty cannot be conceived without space where they flourish, at a particular time when they happen. What is then space, what is time”?

Neither space nor time surfaced in the dialogue between Einstein and Tagore. Is truth timeless? Is space irrelevant to beauty,Is truth independent of space Is beauty timeless. The answer to all four questions is a resounding No! What is truth today may not have been the truth at the very beginning of the Universe, the very first moments of the Big Bang. Space is certainly not irrelevant to beauty. A beautiful flower in a desert, alone and wilting, is pathetic but a beautiful flower in full bloom in a garden is enduring.

Then, truth is certainly not independent of space. Truth on the lunar landscape is somewhat different from the truth in an earth’s surface; the only prevailing truth is that gravitational pull on earth is larger than on the moon. It is immediately clear that there are some truths which are fundamental, independent of the beholder and these are certain truths which are determined by the very nature of space. Truth perceived on a much curved space a la Einstein is somewhat different from the flat space on the earth.

The concept of time and its eternal journey was put across in a stark but lyrical perspective by Tagore himself in “Sesher Kobita”, “The poem at the end”. “Have you heard Have you heard The whisper of the eternal journey of time starting the beat of life Heart breaking cry of the stars Crushed in the darkness, by the wheel of time”. Now, that is enchantingly beautiful and aesthetically startling. Space and time are inclusive coordinates of all science, indeed all perception from Newtonian gravitation to Einsteinian gravitation of curved space and time, from millions of neurons in our brain to billions of stars in the cosmos, from the microcosmos to the macrocosmos, from the quarks, forever trapped inside the protons, to the molecules of our DNA, from the electromagnetic waves to gravitational waves, from plurality to singularity, from life unto death, in fact from the very beginning to the end.

But across the entire world of space and time, there is that tranquil all-pervading beauty. How is space createdHow is time created We know from Hawking and Penrose that the singularity of space and time was the point when the Universe was created in a Big Bang. At the point of Big Bang there was no space and no time; so, in a sense it is natural to start counting our moments, time, from that point onwards; similarly three dimensional space could also have started from that point.

In short, space and time are emergent concepts. Our friend Roger Penrose of course has as an even more dramatic picture of time. He argues in his latest theory that before the Big Bang in another “aeon”, the last universe existed. At the end of its tenure, the other universe turned very very cold with the expansion in space and time, all the billions of black holes in the old universe had a temperature, somewhat larger then the ambient temperature of the universe. Result, all the billions of black holes started popping, creating an awesome energy. Well, Roger claims that is the energy of our Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. So, from one aeon the Universe goes on to another aeon, another Big Bang and on and on. Time has no beginning or end only “Cycles of time”.

The idea is so utterly beautiful, aesthetically so very pleasing! Curiously enough, before Einstein’s theory of relativity, special and general surfaced in the world, space and time were considered as sort of “inert”, these coordinates were there for convenience but nobody took any notice of them. The year 1905 saw the birth of the special theory, connecting a link between space and time, each one changed with the other.

With the rise of the general theory in 1915-16, Einstein pointed out that under gravity, space and time got curved. The famous experiment of Eddington from Trinity College, Cambridge carried out during the total solar eclipse made Einstein a legend overnight. He became a world figure, slightly dreamy and gloomy, with a mane of hair, up to almost his shoulder.

 

 

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Mid-day Energiser

Source: By Anupriyo Mallick: The Statesman

The 86th amendment of the Constitution has made free and compulsory education a fundamental right for children in the age group of 6-14 years. India is also a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals that were set during the UN Millennium summit on 8 September 2000. Going by the target, India was scheduled to achieve the goal of universal elementary education by the year 2015. Several schemes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), National Literacy Mission and Operation Black Board have been started to achieve this objective. The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, which is generally known as the “Mid-day Meal Scheme” was launched by the Government of India on 15 August 1995 to boost universalization of primary education and to improve the nutritional status of children.

The objective of the scheme is to increase enrolment, retention and the learning abilities of the beneficiaries, especially of children belonging to the poor and downtrodden sections of society and to provide a proper meal to school children. This, it was hoped, would promote friendship and a feeling of brotherhood among children belonging of different castes, colour and creed. So, the goals of social equity and gender equity are being realized with help of MDMs. Mid- Day Meal Scheme aims at overcoming the problem of classroom “hunger” which impedes an effective and efficient education system.

In a relatively short span of time, the mid-day meal has become integral to the daily school routine across the country. According to the government report, 10.44 crore children benefit from the cooked meal in 12.12 lakh schools. There are 8.77 lakh kitchen-cum-stores, 24 lakh cooks-cum-helpers inducted from the Scheduled Castes, Tribes and OBCs. It is said to be the largest school feeding programme in the world. Towards achieving “Millennium Development Goals-India 2013”, a report states that the country in now well set to achieve cent per cent primary education for children in the age group of 6-10 years. DISE (District Information System on Education) 2010-11 reports that the Net Enrolment Ratio at the primary level is 99.89; it was 87.4 in 2004.

The Apparent Survival Rate (Ratio of enrolment in grade V to grade 1) is 82 for 2010-11. Gender party (ratio of girls to boys) in primary education reached the target value of 1 in 2008-09; it was 1.01 in 2010-11.MDM has been successful in inculcating hygienic habits like washing hands before and after meals and in educating them about the importance of clean water, proper environment and other related matters. By breaking the shackles of caste, creed and class among the children, the MDM has fostered the feeling of cooperation, coordination and fraternity, thereby leading to the development of a child’s personality. Psychological development of children is also ensured. Despite these achievements, there are many problems, in the implementation of this scheme.

A major drawback found in this scheme is that the teachers have to spend 2 or 3 hours for the implementation of this scheme. Because of the involvement of teachers, the study time of students and the quality of education suffer. The number of students in most of the government primary schools in rural areas is meagre. So the effectiveness of this scheme is also is stake. The avaibility of easy and good transportation system managed by the primary schools has adversely affected the number of students in government schools. The report of the Planning Commission on performance evaluation of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme suggests that the majority of states do not follow the guidelines of the Government of India to deliver foodgrain to the school via the PDS dealer.

This has resulted in leakage of the supply chain and adulteration and pilferage of foodgrain. Surveys have revealed that in most schools, the basic infrastructure for preparing meals was not available as per requirements. Some schools lack a proper kitchen, store rooms and clean water, adversely affecting the quality of the meal. To make MDM more effective and successful, it is imperative to ensure timely transfer of foodgrains to schools. Foodgrain record cards similar to the ration card can also be considered. FCI should be given the responsibility of colouring the foodgrain bags as mere stamping of the MDM logo is not a foolpoof arrangement. The time taken to transport foodgrain from the FCI godown should also be monitored and recorded. There is needed to take very strict action against the official concerned as well as elected representatives who violate the guidelines.

More vegetables can be provided to improve the nutritional status of children. Kitchen gardens may be developed, including the plantation of fruit bearing trees like banana, guava, mango, papaya. The HRD ministry of HRD has also issued guidelines to ensure quality, safety and hygiene. This presupposes a management structure at various levels and the tasting of the meal by at least one teacher. It is the responsibility of the Headmaster to inform the District Education Officer/District Health Officer/ District Magistrate about shortcomings. The states should issue instructions for linkage with primary health centres or district hospitals to ensure early treatment of children.

Supreme Court commissions, 2010-11 have recommended that the provision for cooking costs under the mid-day meal should be increased. This should be based on the price index developed for the MDM to counter the effect of inflation. Priority should be given to disadvantaged communities, especially Dalits and Adivasis, in the appointment of cooks and helpers. All cooks and helpers should be paid not less than the statutory minimum wage. The role of NGOs has been commendable. Stern action should be taken in the event of any form of social discrimination in the mid-day meal scheme, notably discrimination against Dalit children or Dalit cooks.

For effective implementation of MDMs, all the functionaries involved in the scheme, need to be aware about nutrition, health hygiene and safety of food. Non-governmental organization, local youth and active social workers can also play a significant role in this scheme. Hence, quality of education and time span of teaching should not suffer. Adequate staff does not mean the provision of just one cook. The mid-day meal scheme of the country is the biggest such programme of the world and every effort must be done to make this scheme successful. Eventually, the success of the programme will depend on continued public participation and vigilance as well as sustained political interest. By educating every child, it becomes possible to rule out the difference between rural and urban India and to realize also the concept of “inclusive growth”.

 

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Urbanisation key to driving growth engines

Source: By TV Mohandas Pai: The Financial Express

Development and urbanisation are two sides of the same coin. No society in recent history remained agrarian while adequately providing for its population. Urbanisation aggregates human activity—aggregation leads to specialisation, specialisation to increased productivity; enabling greater availability of goods, delivery of services, increased wages, and job opportunities. Urban areas are engines of growth in any modern economy.

China is a shining example of how urbanisation drives economic growth. China rapidly urbanised from 26.4% in 1990 to 59.2% today. The impact is evident in China, where the quality of life and life expectancy have improved dramatically. We can also trace the feedforward effect in China’s specialised workforce and productivity improvements—making China a Top 2 economy with nominal GDP of $14.1 trillion. In contrast, India is at $2.7 trillion, moving towards the target of $5 trillion by 2025.

The world, on average, is at 55.3% urbanisation, whereas India lags at 34%. India has been slow to urbanise because of the fixation on being a village-based society. Most planners still look to Gandhiji’s sentiments on this topic—‘The future of India lies in its villages’, he said in 1947. This is no longer true—complexity has increased, people’s economic needs and aspirations have grown, and it is impossible to supply adequate resources to India’s six lakh villages. Keep in India’s population in villages while being unable to meet their economic needs has resulted in high inequity.

Rural employment is mostly in agriculture. 42.7% of India’s workforce in 2016-17 was engaged in the agriculture sector, crawling at a 3.4% growth rate and contributing only 17.3% to the GDP. Meanwhile, 57.3% of the workforce was engaged in industry and services, growing at 5.5% and 7.6%, respectively. The income differential is very high, the ratio being 1:3:4 for the average wages of dependents on agriculture to industry to services. Left unaddressed, this large group of agricultural dependents will always be condemned to a sub-aspirational existence—with increasing distress and perpetual dependence on subsidies from the government.

Lack of opportunities is also accelerating large-scale internal migration towards India’s few urban growth engines—such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and others. 2011 Census indicates 43,324 uninhabited villages, presumably abandoned due to migration. People are voting for urban areas with their feet while the government sings the same old romanticised song about India in villages.

Large cities are reeling under the strain of overpopulation, with problems like inadequate infrastructure and rocketing living costs. Employment is unable to keep up with the inflow. Due to high costs, it is uncompetitive to set up industries in cities. Without industries to absorb the incoming rural population, they are mostly making low wages as contract labour. Even if they earn higher wages than in their hometowns, they can’t keep up with living costs—resulting in a growing urban population with unfavourable living conditions. Moreover, because of the policymakers’ fixation on villages, cities aren’t allocated enough to develop infrastructure to handle their rapidly expanding populations. A lose-lose situation all around.

A compelling solution to this unstable situation is the systematic shift of people from rural to urban areas. The 2011 census indicates there are 7,933 towns/cities housing 31.16% of the population, with an average population of 47,536. Of these, 465 towns have a population over one lakh and 53 cities, over ten lakh. On subtracting these, the remaining 7,468 towns must have significantly lesser populations than the 47,536 average. The upcoming 2021 census will inform us of the current situation.

Census data must be used to suitably identify 4,000-5,000 smaller towns all over India and develop them to absorb the rural-to-urban shift sustainably. GoI’s smart Cities initiative has identified 100 cities so far, focusing on roads, solar, water, and control centres. While expanding to 5,000 towns, four critical aspects must be incorporated:

  1. Infrastructure and connectivity:From the planning stage, it is essential to prioritise providing infrastructurelike roads and airport accessinternet connectivity and other amenities. Not only is state-of-the-art infrastructure crucial for quality of life, it also provides the logistical backbone for a productive industrial environment. Moreover, commissioning large-scale infrastructure development will also boost the construction sector—another means of mass employment. We need strategic investments from both the central and state governments in these towns for parallelised infrastructure development.
  2. Labour-intensive industry (LII) clusters:Creating many LIIs in and around the 5,000 towns is the best way to provide gainful employmentto the transitioning population. By focusing on the right type of industries—garments, fabrication, electronics assembly, automobiles, so on—this move will also boost India’s export capabilities. With focused skilling programs, LIIs will offer excellent income opportunities to the incoming population. Even a lower wage than cities will go a long way towards quality of life, especially since living costs are lower in towns. Women, who are not as mobile as men, can also now find employment near their villages and towns, commute and earn a living. Governments, apart from focusing investment here, must also provide incentives for the private sector to create LIIs.
  3. New sustainable technologies:While urbanisation improves delivery of services, it poses several challenges like congestionrestricted mobilityhigh waste production, and pollution. These are solved problems, however, in many parts of the world. India must invest in understanding state-of-the-art technologies and implement them. The newly developed towns will have the advantage of getting sustainable infrastructure—renewables like solar panels and wind turbines, planned tree cover to offset urban spread, water treatment facilities based on phytoremediation and other plant-based technologies, integrated recycling, EV infrastructure, and public transportation with last-mile connectivity—integrated from the planning stage itself. Older cities will need careful planning to incorporate new technologiesinto unwieldy city plans.
  4. Planning for capacity: Indian policymaking has a jaded tradition of planning projects based on latest available data—usually outdated—like the previous census. By the time projects are completed 5-10 years later, they are operationally overloaded. Instead, it is necessary to plan projects for sewage treatment, airports, roads, water supply, and so on with at least a 20-30-year forecast with provisions for future expansion. Again, China paves the way—many major airports have received the go-ahead to build a third runway and increase seating capacity by forecasting the demand to 2030. In parallel, new airports are being commissioned all over the country to provide additional capacity using forecasting beyond 2030.

Rapid urbanisation is essential to sustain India’s impressive 10-year growth trajectory and meet PM Modi’s 2025 economic target of $5 trillion. The proposed network of small towns and industry clusters can become India’s engine of growth and provide jobs at scale, thus improving overall economic prosperity. Sustainable urbanisation can be the force multiplier to mobilise India’s potential.

 

 

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Deforestation, desertification and climate solutions

Source: By Chandra Bhushan: The Financial Express

The one thing that worries climate scientists the most is the positive feedback loop. This is a process where changing one quantity changes the second one, and the change in the second quantity, in turn, changes the first. Scientists fear that a positive feedback loop will lead to a tipping point, beyond which the climate crisis may spiral out of control.

Desertification, melting of the Arctic ice caps, and thawing of the Siberian permafrost are some examples of the positive feedback loop. For instance, global warming is speeding up desertification by increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts, floods and forest fires. Desertification, in turn, is releasing large quantities of soil carbon into the atmosphere, further exacerbating warming. Similarly, global warming has started to thaw the Siberian permafrost. This could potentially release billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, warming the earth further and causing more permafrost to thaw. These are nightmarish scenarios, but they may slowly be becoming a reality. The fires raging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are a vivid manifestation of this.

The Amazon Basinmost of which is in Brazil, is the world’s largest rainforest, spanning four million km2. In the last 50 years, about 0.8 million km2 of the Amazon, equal to the entire forest and tree cover of India, has been lost to logging, farming, mining and other infrastructure developments. Scientists believe that if the Amazon loses another 3-8% of its forestdeforestation will start to feed on itself. Beyond this tipping point, forest cover would keep shrinking despite efforts to stop it. Eventually, much of the Amazon would become dry grassland, known as cerrado. When this happens, the Amazon will release billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, worsening global warming. Illegal logging, forest fires and climate change bring the tipping point closer every year.

It is important to understand that what is happening in the Amazon rainforest is not new. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been taking place at an industrial scale since the 1970s, peaking in 1995, when about 29,000 km2 forests was razed. From 2004 to 2012, the rate of deforestation slowed because of domestic and international pressure. In 2008, an international Amazon Fund was created to help pay for protection. The result of all these was that deforestation reached its record low level of 4,500 km2 in 2012. Since then, deforestation has been on the rise again. Under President Jair Bolsonaro, an environment sceptic, the rate of deforestation has further accelerated.

Bolsonaro has told the world that what happens in the Brazilian Amazon is Brazil’s business. But, is it? Amazon produces about 20% of earth’s oxygen and regulates the water cycle in the whole of South America. It is a net carbon sink; in normal years, it absorbs more than two billion tonnes of CO2. The destruction of the Amazon, therefore, has global ramifications and requires global attention. But, global attention is also required for deforestation and land degradation in other parts of the world. The Amazon fire only exemplifies what is a global problem.

It is estimated that the world lost more than 1.29 million km2 of forests during 1990–2015, at a rate of more than 50,000 km2 per year. Brazil accounted for about 30% of this loss. Large-scale deforestation is also happening is Southeast Asia and Africa. At the existing pace of deforestation, the world is likely to lose another 2.89 million km2 of forests by the 2040s. Similarly, the world is losing 120,000 km2 of land every year due to land degradation.

Land degradation and deforestation are responsible for more than 20% of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C clearly states that we will not only have to stop these emissions but also deploy large-scale ‘carbon removal’ from the atmosphere to meet the target of keeping the global temperature increase within 1.5°C. The best way to remove carbon is by sequestering it in its natural sinksforestsgrasslands and soil. This also has the added benefit of halting desertification and land degradation, which is threatening the world’s food and water security. So, how do we get these solutions implemented?

Ricardo Salles, the environment minister of Brazil has reportedly said, “The international community can’t give Brazil the onus of being the world’s lungs without any benefits.” He is right. Developed countries, responsible for the bulk of emissions, should support Brazil in protecting the Amazon. In 2007, a global mechanism called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) was started to incentivise forest conservation in developing countries by providing them with funds and allowing them to sell carbon credits to developed countries. A decade later, the carbon market has collapsed and the developed countries’ funding commitments for REDD+ have also been much lower than expected.

My colleagues and I studied in detail the implementation of REDD+ in India and a few African countries, and concluded that lessons from REDD+ can be used to design a new global mechanism to enhance natural carbon sinks in land and forests. We call this the Sink Mechanism. Our proposal, which we discussed at the UN Climate Convention, last year, has the following elements:

First, the sink mechanism must be owned by communities. REDD+ was captured by forest departments and large-forest owners, with little benefits to communities. But, studies show that indigenous people and local communities are capable of achieving excellent forest conservation outcomes at a much lower cost. The sink mechanism will work if millions of forest dwellers and farmers are incentivised to reverse land- and forest-degradation.

Second, the mechanism must be to promote sustainable forest and farm management practices, which lead to social, economic and ecological benefits. Scaling of carbon sequestration would be one of its co-benefits.

Third, land- and forest-based mechanisms cannot be sustained on carbon credits. They cannot be left to the mercy of markets. A non-market approach is needed to finance the sink mechanism. We, therefore, need to design a non-market mechanism where funds are mobilised to build the capacities of communities and local governments. Based on their performance, they can be rewarded for achieving emissions reduction and carbon stock enhancement.

Last, any global mechanism cannot depend solely on funding from developed countries. The REDD+ experience showed that once foreign funding ceases, projects become unsustainable. So, the funds for the sink mechanism have be a combination of domestic and international resources. But, even in this cooperative framework, developed countries will have to make far greater funding commitments than what they have done so far.

Halting forest loss along with reforesting could provide 150–200 billion tonnes of carbon mitigation between 2020 and 2050. Farmlands in dryland areas can sequester an additional 30–60 billion tonnes of carbon during the same period. Together, a sink mechanism that addresses both forests and farmlands can mitigate more than one-third of the climate crisis. What we need is to urgently bring countries together and agree on this collaborative framework to fight the climate crisis.

 

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The ‘criminalisation’ test

Source: By G S Bajpai: Deccan Herald

The government claimed the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill, 2019to be a win for gender justice. But concerns continue to be raised with respect to the law in several quarters. The first is that the law is inappropriate, given that it applies criminal sanction in a matter of Muslim marriage, which is a civil contract, and that it violates the fundamental rights and freedoms granted under Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution. Secondly, it is also claimed that the amended law violates the fundamental principles of criminal law, especially on the account of the ‘criminalisation’ test. 

It must be understood that criminal law is a public law and any wrongdoing having the potential to adversely affect the social order, in general, will attract penal sanctions irrespective of the nature and extent of harm caused to the victim of the crime. The triple talaq law, when considered in terms of the consequences of the conduct upon the social and moral fabric of society, would withstand the scrutiny of the first test of intervention by criminal law.

Secondly, the choices of sanction depend on the type of behaviour requiring intervention. The persistence of the menace of triple talaq as a behaviour is intended to be reacted to and, therefore, deterrence appears to be imperative in this case.

Thirdly, it is not for the first time that criminal law has been invoked for socio-cultural issues. In fact, depending upon their ramifications, issues related to marital discordSatidowryenvironment etc., regularly invite criminal sanctions under local and special laws in India.

Fourthly, it is hard to fathom that this law would be hit by unconstitutionality on grounds of violation of the rights to equality, life and personal liberty, or religious freedom. To be in violation of the right to equality or life, the provisions, once enacted, would have to suffer from the vice of arbitrariness or un-reasonableness. However, any criminalization, in and of itself, cannot be deemed to be arbitrary if the same creates an intelligible differentia and the intelligible differentia has a nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the Act. Even if one were to look beyond such doctrinal tests for arbitrariness, one would find that the law is protected by Article 15(3), allowing for the State to enact laws discriminating in favour of women. Further, the issue of religious freedom has been settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Shayara Bano vs Union of India, which held that triple talaq does not qualify as an essential religious practice and therefore cannot find protection under Article 25 of the Constitution.

The term ‘criminalisation’ is being invoked frequently in regard to this law. But, many do not understand the term without the present contextual reference. So, it is necessary to look at the issue in the context of established principles of criminalisation. As Nicola Lacey asks, “What are the facts, beliefs and principles which should underpin a political body’s choice to proscribe certain sorts of behaviour by means of the criminal justice system?”

Lacey states that “criminalisation charts human freedom, determining what people are not allowed to do, it affects justice, equality, legitimacy and monetary resources.” Similarly, Antony Duff, too, proffers, “criminalization is an account of the principles and values that should guide decisions about what to criminalize and about how to define offenses.”

It has also been suggested that criminalization should not be invoked without valid reasons. For instance, the function of criminalization is to declare an act as a “morally wrongful activity.” Applying this reasoning to the criminalization of triple talaq can help us understand the proposition. In the context of criminalization, the validity of the law needs to be tested on the touchstone of the following principles.

 

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Leaders are laggards

Source: By Chandra Bhushan: The Financial Express

On September 20, the biggest-ever demonstration over global warming was held worldwide. The demonstrations were more pronounced in big cities of developed countries; in most developing countries, the response was muted. There was a token demonstration in India, for instance. The biggest demonstration was in New York, where the teenage activist Greta Thunberg spoke passionately about climate justice, and the need for world leaders to take leadership. But, alas, no such leadership was visible at the UN Climate Action Summit held on September 23 at the UN headquarters in New York.

To say that the summit was a great disappointment would be an understatement. The US, the world’s greatest carbon polluter, didn’t participate in the summit, though US President Donald Trump did make an inexplicable appearance, and left quickly. China, the world’s largest current polluter, made ambiguous statements, and put the responsibility on the developed countries to lead. The European Union came with no concrete proposal. India made an ambitious announcement of increasing its renewable energy target from 175 gigawatts (GW) to 450 GW. But, overall, none of the large polluters met the UN chief António Guterres’ call to raise their climate pledges. And, this is the crux of the issue—the G20 countries, who are the biggest polluters, are lagging far behind in climate action.

A day after the climate demonstrations, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released an advance chapter of the 2019 Emissions Gap Report to let the world know how G20 countries are failing the planet. The Emissions Gap Reports are released every year to take stock of the gap between the emissions reductions required to meet 1.5°C/2°C target, and the reductions actually made, or pledged by countries collectively.

The 2019 Report shows that G20 nations, who account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, are collectively not on track to meet their Paris Agreement commitments. Around half of these 20 countries are falling short of achieving their own target, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), under the Paris Agreement. These countries are not yet taking on transformative climate commitments at the necessary breadth and scale to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. For instance:

  1. Too few countries have committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissiontargets;
  2. Country commitments to fully decarbonise electricity supplies cover less than 1% of global CO2 emissions from electricity generation;
  3. Countries are not setting ambitious targets for industry;
  4. Very few countries have committed to phasing out coal-fired power plants;
  5. Commitment to decarbonise the transportation sector is lacking;
  6. Commitments to zero net deforestation targetsare not being backed with action on the ground.

What is evident from the report, which it does not spell out, is the laggardly actions in the US. While Europe, India, and China are making some efforts (though inadequate), the US is doing everything possible to increase its emissions.

First of all, the US is not likely to meet its measly Paris Commitments set under the Obama administration. Under Donald Trump, energy-related CO2 emissions of the country have grown in 2018, at a rate that is the highest since 2010, and is likely to be the second-highest in nearly two decades. In fact, the US, today, is more dependent on fossil fuels in absolute terms than it was 25 years ago, when the climate treaty was signed. With the anti-climate policies put in place by Trump, such as the reversal of the emissions and efficiency standards in the power, transport, and industry sectors, the emission scenario in the US is likely to worsen further.

The problem is that if the US doesn’t take strong actions to reduce emissions, China will not move and even if the whole world sets the most ambitious emissions-reduction targets, the emissions from the US, and China will be sufficient to burn the world. This is the key challenge facing the world—its top two economic leaders are the laggards on climate change.

The 2019 Emissions Gap Report concludes that countries must at least triple the level of ambition of their current NDCs to have a chance of keeping the global temperature rise under 2°C; to keep temperature rise to 1.5°C, they must increase their ambitions five-fold. These ambitions cannot be achieved without real decarbonisation efforts by the US, and China. How do we move these two behemoths? We need to quickly find the answer to this problem if we want to save the planet for future generations. 

 

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UPI is world-class and it’s time to take it international

Source: By Rahul Matthan: Mint

Cryptocurrencies are peer-to-peer electronic cash systems that are governed not by the authority of a central bank, but by digital code. Transactions are only added to the common distributed ledger if they can be validated in accordance with the rules stipulated by the code, ensuring that digital currency once spent cannot be re-spent. For everyone who uses the same blockchain, its distributed ledger becomes a common source of truth that allows them to carry out peer-to-peer transactions without the need for validation by a central entity.

Bitcoin is one such cryptocurrency. It uses a decentralized, permissionless system that allows anyone to validate a transaction, so long as they meet the technical requirements for operating a node. However, Bitcoin prioritizes decentralization over speed and scalability. As a result, it is incapable of processing transactions at the velocity or volume that modern financial systems demand. As there is a finite limit to the total number of Bitcoins that will ever be minted, its value fluctuates wildly, resulting in the sort of volatility that is undesirable in a currency.

Facebook recently announced the launch of a new cryptocurrency called Libra, which, it claims, will address the many failings of Bitcoin. Libra has been designed to operate on a bespoke blockchain running on at least 29 nodes and backed by a basket of bank deposits and government securities to ensure low-volatility. For the foreseeable future, Libra will function as a permissioned cryptocurrency to achieve the high transaction throughput and low latency functionality expected of a global payment system.

Libra will be most useful for underdeveloped countries that lack a digital financial infrastructure. It will offer them a safe and cost-effective mechanism for making payments that will scale effortlessly in places where the use of Facebook and WhatsApp is already widespread. When combined with social media data, it will allow developers to come up with innovative new products that incumbent financial sector players will be hard-pressed to match. As the value of a Libra today is designed to always be close to its value tomorrow and in the future, it will operate as a currency hedge in countries where exchange fluctuations are high.

I read the Libra White Paper with interest, keen to understand how this new cryptocurrency would change things for us in India. We are Facebook’s second largest market outside the US and any financial product it launches is bound to have an impact on us. However, the more I read, the less convinced I was that Libra was going to give India anything that it did not already have.

In Unified Payments Interface (UPI), India has a robust digital payments infrastructure that, within just three years of its launch, already effortlessly processes more than 750 million transactions a month. We have a network of business correspondents throughout the country who integrate our online and offline payment systems by converting digital payments into cash and vice versa. While we may not yet have the data advantage that Libra promises to bring, once the Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture is fully implemented, it will give us an entirely new way to build financial products using its digital consent infrastructure. Admittedly, UPI isn’t decentralized, but given how difficult it is going to be to migrate away from a permissioned architecture, it’s not as if Libra really offers much better.

That said, there is at least one thing Libra has going for it that UPI does not—the ability to radically transform how cross-border transfers are effected. India receives more inward remittances from its diaspora than any other country in the world ($79 billion in 2018). At present, all the mechanisms for international transfer of funds are costly, cumbersome and highly inefficient. A digital currency like Libra, pegged as it is to a basket of stable currencies, and transferable anywhere in the world, will offer overseas Indians a cheap, digital way to move money to relatives back home at a fraction of the cost that they currently spend.

In its report on deepening digital payments, the Nandan Nilekani Committee has recommended that it is time to take UPI global. Several different options have been proposed, including amending UPI protocols to include currency conversion support and directly connecting UPI to global payments systems to allow immediate, low-cost remittances to take place over the UPI system. There was also a suggestion that UPI specifications and technologies should be licensed to operators around the world to allow the protocol to spread outside India. This must be accompanied by amendments in Indian regulations, so that Indians can use UPI from abroad in much the same way as Chinese citizens use WeChat from wherever they are in the world.

Cryptocurrency-based payment systems are slow and computationally intensive. While the technology can be optimized, we will keep running up against its inherent limitations that make it hard to scale to population size. UPI may not be decentralized, but we know it works well at scale even over the sometimes patchy mobile networks in India.

There is no need to optimize blockchain technologies to meet the needs of developing markets when we already have a proven, world-class digital payments protocol in India that can easily be internationalized. Let’s back ourselves and just do it.

 

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Mission Kashmir~I

Source: By JP Gupta: The Statesman

The bold decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A, with the approval of both Houses of Parliament with 2/3rds majority, has been a groundbreaking event in the history of India. In times to come, this revolutionary move will change the geopolitics of the region, establishing all-encompassing gains for all the concerned parties including Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

For decades, Pakistan’s government has been channelizing its precious economic resources towards Kashmir, with the single-point agenda of its geo-political-economic landscape being annexation of Kashmir. After Pakistan’s loss in three open wars with India, it changed its policy from direct to indirect confrontation, in the form of passively sending jihadi terrorists to create unrest and internal strife in Kashmir. Amidst the uncertainty and unrest in Pakistan, Mr Modi played the masterstroke of abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, which has left Pakistan’s shadow government completely immobilised with their army surrendering and unable to showcase any credible move of strength against India.

This historic revocation has been instrumental in creating massive political turmoil in Pakistan, leaving its civil-military leadership completely rattled. Furthermore, Pakistan’s shadow government has failed to mobilize international support against abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, leaving it with little room. The international community has accepted India’s view that scrapping of key provisions is an internal matter. The landmark move has resulted in Pakistan’s leadership finding itself flummoxed.

While Pakistan’s agenda has been entirely Kashmir-centric at the cost of its own economic development for the last 70 years, the current inefficacy of Pakistan’s leadership upon revocation of Article 370 has left it utterly embarrassed. It is expected to be the stepping-stone for citizens of Pakistan to recognize that they have been bearing the cost of the misadventures of their entire military establishment and its shadow government.

Further, the government in collusion with Pakistan’s army has rendered the country a feudal and a regressive state. A report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) highlighted that in 2018 Pakistan was the 20th biggest military spender in the world with an expenditure of $ 11.4 bn, accounting for 4 per cent of its GDP, which is its highest level since 2004. In this backdrop, Pakistan’s leadership will be unable to convince its citizens about its complacency and inability to act post revocation of Article 370.

This year, Pakistan’s Economic Survey displays a dismal picture of the economy with annual growth rate declining from 6.2 per cent to 3.3 per cent (close to a 50 per cent decline) and further expected to plummet to 2.4 per cent the next year, a ten-year low. Further, inflation is expected to peak to 13 per cent in the next fiscal; a ten year high. Pakistan is currently under a huge burden of international debt amounting to about 30 per cent of its annual budget every year. When looking at macroeconomic indicators, even neighbouring Bangladesh’s economy has far surpassed Pakistan. In times to come, a revolution in Pakistan to overthrow the corrupt shadow government can be expected. Separatist movements in Pakistan will gain momentum, which the central government may find virtually impossible to contain at gun point.

The only option available to the discontented and deprived masses will be to resort to an internal civil war in order to pave the way for real democracy, for shifting the focus of governance in Pakistan from Kashmir to its own macroeconomic growth. Pakistan will have no option left but to take a complete U-turn in its economic policy from an India-centric one to that of growth and poverty eradication. Going forward, it would mark the commencement of successful dialogue between India and Pakistan, since for Pakistan’s economy to prosper, it is imperative to have its next-door neighbour as a strategic ally.

Not only in recent conversations with Trump, but in 2016 Mr Modi directly addressed the youth of Pakistan from a public platform, seeking their support to join forces to fight poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. He truly believes that war on poverty and unemployment is better than any other war. Mr Modi has both the capacity and the drive to transform lives. Should Pakistan choose to adopt growth and poverty eradication as its objectives, it can expect to get his complete support.

Turning our attention to J&K, we see three options which could be theoretically considered for discussion. J&K can either be made an independent region or can be merged with either India or Pakistan. Jammu has historic roots with India. For Kashmir to be an independent region, landlocked between three nuclear powers, is politically and economically unsustainable and potentially dangerous. Kashmir faces the danger of being converted to a hub of terror training camps like the current state of Afghanistan.

Further, Kashmir’s citizens wouldn’t agree to merge with Pakistan where citizens are severely hamstrung by limited opportunities for growth. For decades, Pakistan has been shedding crocodile tears in order to stir the local Kashmiris in their favour, amidst the self-created jihadi terror and unrest in the region. While Pakistan’s propaganda has led to some ideological confusion and internal insurgency in Kashmir, most of the armed fighters are infiltrators from Pakistan. Local support is limited to a small group of ideologically confused Kashmiris incited on the basis of religious bigotry. Additionally, Pakistan follows a radical Wahhabi sect of Islam which is divergent from the prominent faith in J&K. People of Kashmir are desperately seeking peace after a long spell of mayhem in the region and any amalgamation with Pakistan would not be harmonious.

At this juncture, it is natural for J&K to merge with India as the most viable and promising option. Kashmiris and Indians are inseparably inter-related in many areas. India is the largest democracy in the world with a federal structure in the Constitution, encompassing the ability to embrace diversity with ease. There are more than 29 states in India integrated together, but with each retaining its own identity. India offers respect, dignity and protection of identity; juxtaposed with tremendous opportunities for rapid growth in J&K.

Thus, on account of union with a secular nation like India, J&K faces no danger of losing its identity and cultural ethnicity. J&K is primarily an agrarian economy. Opening of J&K to the rest of the country will create opportunities to mobilize growth of industrial sector which would be mandatory to pave the way for employment, growth and development. Within the matter of a year, the people of J&K will recognize that the current revocation has been solely with the purpose of growth and development in the region.

Further, abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A has made the regional and political leaders of J&K powerless and irrelevant. Separatist Hurriyat leaders and local organizations were the true catalysts of terrorism acting on Pakistan’s funding. They were the ones instrumental in creating internal unrest by inciting youth to demand azadi and providing local support to jihadis, serving as accomplices of Pakistan.

This landmark decision has resulted in the governance of J&K falling under direct control of the central government of India, which will ensure noninterference of anti-social elements, illegal traders and perpetrators of terrorism. Abrogation of Article 370 will be the turning point for J&K towards unprecedented growth and socio-economic development of the entire region. Going forward, Ladakh too will get its due share after becoming a separate Union Territory. At present, the major share of the budget is being spent on Jammu and Kashmir, depriving Ladakh of funds for its development. Mr Modi’s landmark decision will ensure economic growth in Ladakh, in addition to J&K; and further ensure that the citizens there have the same rights and privileges as those in the other parts of the country.

 

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Why ‘final NRC’ is not final

Source: By Abhishek Saha: The Indian Express

WHEN THE National Register of Citizens (NRC) authorities in Assam published a consolidated family-wise list of applicants recently, they appended a note that those included may also be excluded later, and that no position in the list is permanent. As of now, the NRC has included 3.11 crore applicants as citizens, and excluded 19 lakh.

Under what circumstances can an included person’s name are deleted?

The note described three circumstances:

  1. Any fact of misrepresentation of particulars/documents discovered by the authorities;
  2. Discovery of a person being a Declared Foreigner (or a migrant of 1966-71 who is unregistered with a Foreigners Regional Registration Office [FRRO]); a person with a case pending at a Foreigners Tribunal, or a person being a D (Doubtful) voter or a descendant of such a person;
  3. Receipt of an opinion by any Foreigners Tribunal declaring a person as a foreigner.

Who is a D-voter or a Declared Foreigner?

D-Voter is a category introduced in Assam in 1997 to mark people unable to prove their citizenship during verification. A Declared Foreigner is one identified as such by one of the 100 Foreigners Tribunals (FTs), which are quasi-judicial bodies that opine whether or not a person is a foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

Under Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, people who entered Assam between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 need to register with an FRRO. They would have all rights of a citizen except the right to vote, which would be granted after 10 years. In the NRC note, those who entered Assam within this 1966-71 window but did not register themselves, too, are liable to be excluded.

How could such persons have been included in the NRC in the first place?

There have been allegations that Declared Foreigners have entered the final NRC.Parallel citizenship determination processes intersect in Assam, and the NRC process worked without any synchronised database that would have reflected the real-time case status of a suspected foreigner. A centralised database is in the making, as a part of an e-FT programme, which will streamline databases of people declared or suspected to be foreigners by parallel processes (such as Foreigners Tribunals, Border Police reference, and NRC) and also store the biometrics of such people.

Another possible explanation is that a person declared to be a foreigner, having failed to produce papers to convince a Foreigners Tribunal, might have convinced the NRC with the same documents. In fact, many Declared Foreigners from the Foreigners Tribunal process have later been declared “Indian” in higher courts. Also, a large proportion of Tribunal cases are decided by ex parte rulings, so that the person has not argued his defence. These same persons could have presented documents to NRC officials.

An NRC official said that the Foreigners Tribunal is a superior authority to the NRC, as ruled by the Supreme Court — “it is of no consequence whether or not a Declared Foreigner is in the NRC”.

Are there other circumstances in which a person listed in NRC can get removed?

State officials say it is “legally possible” for the Border Police to make a reference against a person in the NRC. There is, however, no clarity whether the state will use that option. “If there is solid and genuine ground, then a reference can be made”.

This option with the Border Police was also highlighted by Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in an interview with the Assamese channel NewsLive recently. He said that the Border Police should investigate those they suspect of having “manipulated” legacy data for inclusion in the NRC.

Is it possible to go for re-verification of the NRC, as demanded by some?

In the interview, Sarma suggested that the government should approach the Supreme Court for re-verification, jointly with the All Assam Students’ Union and the NGO Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the NRC case. APW president Aabhijeet Sharma told that they will move the Supreme Court demanding 100% re-verification.

Upamanyu Hazarika, Supreme Court advocate and convener of the anti-immigration platform Prabajan Virodhi Mancha, said in a recent press statement: “In case of the NRC after its final publication Rule 10 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Card) Rule 2003 vests power in the Registrar General or his nominee to remove any names from the citizens list if it is found to be on the basis of incorrect particulars.. … The statutory position being that the executive has the authority to re-verify entries in the NRC, a fact-finding investigation in this regard will enable the Registrar General to undertake re-verification.”

Rule 10 lists circumstances in which a person’s name can be deleted from the final NRC — “by an order of the Registrar General of Citizen Registration or any officer authorised by him”. These include (i) death; (ii) the person ceasing to be an Indian citizen under Section 8 of the Citizenship Act; (iii) revocation of Indian citizenship under Section 9; or (iv) Particulars provided by the individual or the family found to be incorrect.” The NRC note, too, cites Rule 10 as a provision under which names can be deleted, but it does not mention re-verification.

What happens to the over 19 lakh who are already excluded?

They will have the chance to appeal at the Foreigners Tribunals. The first step is obtaining an “exclusion or rejection” order from the NRC authorities, but there is no clarity on how long this will take. As per amended rules, a person has 120 days (understood to be counted from the day of the issuance of the rejection order) to appeal. If no appeal is filed in 120 days, the Deputy Commissioner of that district will make a “reference” to the Tribunal.

The state government has announced that those excluded will get legal aid through the District Legal Services Authorities.The real challenge is before FTs where extensive documentation is required. Getting certified copies of documents from appropriate authorities is the first big hurdle. The poor and the illiterate are baffled,” said Gauhati High Court advocate Aman Wadud who is among a group of lawyers who have decided to offer pro bono services to the poor.

The BJP and its’ lawyers’ body, the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, are formulating ways to provide legal aid to “genuine Indian citizens”. Several NGOs are also training volunteers to work as para-legals, while activists across the state have formed groups and are holding awareness meetings.

 

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Give it serious thought

Source: By Abhishek Verma: Deccan Herald

Expressing its dissatisfaction, the Supreme Court recently observed that no attempt has been made yet to frame a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) applicable to all citizens. It highlighted the example of Goa, which has a UCC applicable to all regardless of religion, except while protecting certain limited rights. The observations came while the Supreme Court was considering the validity of the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867, to govern the rights of succession and inheritance even in respect of properties of a Goan domicile situated outside Goa, anywhere in India.

This is not the first time the judiciary has brought up the matter of the UCC. In several previous instances, such as Mohd Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano and Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India, the Supreme Court has urged Parliament to consider bringing in a UCC. In the words of former Chief Justice of India Y V Chandrachud, “A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies.”

The UCC is enshrined as one of the ultimate goals of the Constitution under Article 44. It is pertinent to note the historical background on UCC to understand the ongoing debate, often met with vociferous opposition and equally vociferous support.

Reforms to personal laws were attempted by the British in the form of abolition of Satiwidow remarriage, etc. A committee was constituted which submitted the Lex Loci Report of October 1840, which emphasised the importance and necessity of uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence and contract, but it recommended that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims should be kept outside such codification. The personal laws involved inheritance, succession, marriage and religious ceremonies.

Given the British policy of ‘divide and rule’, they had no interest in a common civil code for the Hindu and Muslim communities that might unite them. Further, a common civil code was also opposed on grounds of administrative complications.

The UCC was pushed for again in 1937. The passing of the Hindu Women's Right to Property Act of 1937, also known as the Deshmukh Bill, led to the formation of the BN Rau Committee, which was set up to determine the necessity of common Hindu laws. The committee concluded that it was time for a UCC that would give equal rights to women in keeping with the modern trends in society, but its focus was primarily on reforming the Hindu law in accordance with the scriptures. This was again pushed for after Independence, but Jawaharlal Nehru rejected it on the ground that the country was not ready for it. Babasaheb Ambedkar also recommended a UCC. 

The judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, has raised the need for a UCC many times, but its recommendation to parliament to enact one has never been taken seriously. 

The underlying concept of a UCC is to end discrimination in law based on religion. Nearly all personal laws act as tools of oppression against women using religious and social grounds. Such personal codes are against the very idea of gender equality promised by the Constitution as one of the cherished fundamental rights. In a country like India, where the principle of equality of all citizens before the law is enshrined in the Constitution, different sets of personal laws for different religious communities go against this very principle of the Constitution.

Different rules of civil law go against the secular credentials of the republic and challenge the concept of ‘unity in diversity’. In a diverse society like India, the laws to deal with disputes related to marriage, divorce, custody, adoption and inheritance need to be the same for all irrespective of religion, caste or sect. At a time when reforms for strengthening the position of women in society are being given the utmost significance and attention, there is an urgent need for a new civil code to eliminate discrimination against women.

A UCC administers the same set of secular civil laws to govern people belonging to different religions and regions. This does away with the right of citizens to be governed under different personal laws based on their religion or ethnicity. A UCC will, in the long run, ensure equality.

It is necessary that law be divorced from religion. With the enactment of a uniform code, secularism will be strengthened, much of the present-day separation and divisiveness between various religious groups in the country will disappear, and India will emerge as a much more cohesive and integrated nation.

The implementation of a UCC should get the support of all progressive and right-thinking citizens of the country. It is the need of the hour. There is also a need for a political consensus to implement such a code. In a nutshell, a uniform civil code is necessary to effect the integration of a country as diverse as India by bringing all the communities on to a common platform which does not form the essence of a single religion. A uniform civil code will also reinforce the idea of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. Therefore, serious thought should be given to enacting and implementing such a code.

In the words of former CJI Y V Chandrachud again, “We understand the difficulties involved in bringing persons of different faiths and persuasions on a common platform…But, a beginning has to be made if the Constitution is to have any meaning…it is beyond the endurance of sensitive minds to allow injustice to be suffered when it is so palpable.”

 

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