Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (26th November to 2nd December, 2019)

Industrial Relations Code Bill

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (26th November to 2nd December, 2019)

(Info-graphic Summary at the end)

Topic: Industrial Relations Code Bill

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

Industrial Relations Code Bill

Context:

In light of various steps taken by government to facilitate Ease of Doing Business, Labour reforms and revised labour codes are a step forward. They not only seek to streamline formal processes but also incentivise investments.

Industrial relations code (IRC) Bill:

Restrictive labor regulations in India is associated with a 35% increase in firms’ labor costs, according to a study. India ranks 103 out of 141 countries on the competitiveness of its labor market, according to the World Economic Forum. 

Under these circumstances, IRC is one of the four labour codes which is pushed through to reform India’s archaic labour laws and amalgamate 44 central laws into four broad legislations.

The draft code on IR has been prepared after amalgamating the relevant provisions of following three Central Labour Acts:

  • The Trade Unions Act, 1926
  • The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946
  • The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

The bill has the following provisions:

  • Setting up of two-member tribunal so that important cases will be adjudicated jointly and the rest by a single member resulting in speedier disposal of cases.
  • To impart flexibility to the employee exit provisions,the threshold for prior approval of appropriate Government has been kept unchanged at 100 employees.
  • A provision for changing ‘such number of employees’ through notification has been added.
  • Terminating a worker at the end of the fixed term would not be retrenchment.
  • The re-skilling fund is to be utilised for crediting to workers in a manner to be prescribed.
  • Vesting of powers with the government officers for adjudication of disputes involving penalty as fines thereby lessening the burden on tribunal.
  • The definition of a strike is being amended to include ‘mass casual leave’ in case of a sudden protest and makes it mandatory for a notice of 14 days for strikes and lockouts in any establishment.
  • The bill includes fixed-term employment as a category of employment in classification of workers.
  • It introduces a feature of ‘recognition of negotiating union’under which a trade union will be recognized as sole ‘negotiating union’ if it has the support of 75% or more of the workers on the rolls of an establishment.
  • If it will be tough for any one group to manage 75% support, a negotiating council will be constituted.
  • The fixed-term employees will get all statutory benefits on a par with the regular employees who are doing the work of similar nature.
  • The amendments to the labor law would be limited to new hires in order to defuse opposition from the unions.

Rajasthan model of labour reforms:

  • In 2014, Rajasthan was the first state that introduced labour reforms in the major Acts. 
  • The major reforms undertaken by Rajasthan included the amendments to the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, the Factories Act, 1948, the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970 and the Apprentices Act, 1961.
  • To reduce trade union influence, the state has amended laws to increase the minimum membership requirement to form a union as 30% of total workmen at an establishment from 15% earlier.
  • No prior government nod is required for companies employing up to 300 people for firing and laying off workers or shutting down units (earlier limit was 100 workers).
  • A worker can raise an objection about wrongful termination only within three years (there was no deadline earlier).

As per 2014-15 Economic Survey, Rajasthan performed much better in terms of factory output, growth in the number of large factories and jobs creation than the rest of India.

At present, the growth rate in Rajasthan is a little less than double for the rest of India. 

Sample Question:

According to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the word ‘strike’ throws light on which of the following factors?
a) It is referred to as stoppage of work by a group of workers employed in a particular industry
b) It includes die refusal of a number of employees to continue work under their employer
c) Neither of them
d) Both of them
Ans. D


Topic: Aerosol Optical Depth

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

Aerosol Optical Depth

Context:

The Imager payload onboard ISRO’s INSAT-3D & 3DR satellites is used to monitor Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD), which is an indicator of particles and smoke from biomass burning affecting visibility and increase of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration in the atmosphere.

Findings 

It is found that AOD, PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations are higher over Indo-Gangetic Plain covering parts of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during October and November. High concentration of these pollutants is seen originating from parts of Punjab and Haryana during stubble burning. 

What is Aerosol?

  • Tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere are called aerosols.
  • Examples of aerosols include windblown dust, sea salts, volcanic ash, smoke from fires, and pollution from factories. 
  • These particles are important to scientists because they can affect climate, weather, and people’s health. 
  • Aerosols affect climate by scattering sunlight back into space and cooling the surface. 
  • Aerosols also help cool Earth in another way – they act like “seeds” to help form clouds. 

About Aerosol optical depth

  • Aerosol optical depth is a measure of the extinction of the solar beam by dust and haze. In other words, particles in the atmosphere (dust, smoke, pollution) can block sunlight by absorbing or by scattering light.
  • AOD tells us how much direct sunlight is prevented from reaching the ground by these aerosol

Sample Question:

When a given gas has a temperature gradient, the aerosol particles move from higher temperature regions to low temperature regions. This effect is known as __________
a) Photophoresis
b) Diffusiophoresis
c) Thermophoresis
d) Diffusiophoresis or Thermophoresis

Answer: c


Topic: Tiger Corridors

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

Tiger Corridors

Context:

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India has mapped out 32 major tiger corridors across the country.
  • The management interventions in these corridors will be operationalised through a Tiger Conservation Plan, mandated under section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • The tiger corridors are,

Shivalik Hills & Gangetic Plains

  1.  Rajaji-Corbett – Uttarakhand
  2. Corbett-Dudhwa – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal
  3. Dudhwa-Kishanpur-Katerniaghat – Uttar Pradesh, Nepal

Central India & Eastern Ghats

  1. Ranthambhore-Kuno-Madhav – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan
  2. Bandhavgarh-Achanakmar – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
  3. Bandhavgarh-Sanjay Dubri-Guru Ghasidas – Madhya Pradesh
  4. Guru Ghasidas-Palamau-Lawalong – Chhattisgarh & Jharkhand
  5. Kanha-Achanakmar – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
  6. Kanha-Pench – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
  7. Pench-Satpura-Melghat – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
  8. Kanha-Navegaon Nagzira-Tadoba-Indravati – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh
  9. Indravati-Udanti Sitanadi-Sunabeda – Chhattisgarh, Odisha
  10. Similipal-Satkosia – Odisha
  11. Nagarjunasagar-Sri Venkateshwara National Park – Andhra Pradesh

Western Ghats

  1. Sahyadri-Radhanagari-Goa – Maharashtra, Goa
  2. Dandeli Anshi-Shravathi Valley – Karnataka
  3. Kudremukh-Bhadra – Karnataka
  4. Nagarahole-Pusphagiri-Talakavery – Karnataka
  5. Nagarahole-Bandipur-Mudumalai-Wayanad – Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
  6. Nagarahole-Mudumalai-Wayanad – Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
  7. Parambikulam-Eranikulam-Indira Gandhi – Kerala, Tamil Nadu
  8. Kalakad Mundanthurai-Periyar – Kerala, Tamil Nadu

North East

  1. Kaziranga-Itanagar WLS – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong – Assam
  3. Kaziranga-Nameri – Assam
  4. Kaziranga-Orang – Assam
  5. Kaziranga-Papum Pane – Assam
  6. Manas-Buxa – Assam, West Bengal, Bhutan
  7. Pakke-Nameri-Sonai Rupai-Manas – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam
  8. Dibru Saikhowa-D’Ering-Mehaong – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
  9. Kamlang-Kane-Tale Valley – Arunachal Pradesh
  10. Buxa-Jaldapara – West Bengal

Sample Question:

In which of the following forests of India, world’s first tiger census was carried out in 1932 ? [A] Kaziranga Forests

[B] Sariska Forests

[C] Ranthambore Forests

[D] Palamu Forests

Answer: d


Topic: Operation Clean Art

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

Operation Clean Art

Context:

  • Operation Clean Art was the first pan India operation to crack down on the smuggling of mongoose hair in the country.
  • Operation Clean Art was conceived by WCCB with the singular aim of ensuring that the mongoose hair brush trade is closed down across the country.
  • The mongoose is listed in Schedule II Part 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Any smuggling or possession of its body part is a non-bailable offence.

Sample Question:

Operation Clean Art was the first pan India operation to crack down on the smuggling of Which animal in the country?

  1. Peacock
  2. Mangoose
  3. Turtle
  4. None

Answer: b


Topic: Power of Siberia

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

Power of Siberia

Context:

The Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on remotely inaugurated the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline.

About the “Power of Siberia”

  •  A massive cross-border undertaking not only central to China’s energy security but also for bolstering special ties between Beijing and Moscow
  • The 30-year project is anchored by a $400 billion gas deal.
  • Moscow will supply around 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas, but the volume will gradually rise to 38 billion cubic meters per year. 

russia

  • From Siberia to China’s Yangtze River delta in Shanghai, the massive pipeline will cover 8,000 km, with 5,111 km inside China, passing through nine provinces and municipalities.
  • Gas is being sourced from Chayandinskoye and Kovykta fields in eastern Siberia and is then piped to Blagoveshchensk — the last town on the Russian side of the border.
  •  From there, it is tunneled under the Amur River, before entering Heihe on the Chinese side.

Importance of the “Power of Siberia”

  • Till now Russia has been a primary gas supplier to Europe
  • The Power of Siberia is the first cross-border gas pipeline between Russia and China.
  • Amid sanctions from the west, it will add a prominent eastern dimension to Moscow’s energy blueprint. 

India’ traditional advantage over China

  • From a geopolitical standpoint, India had certain advantages over Europe and China as an energy partner for Russia. 
  • New Delhi, unlike many European countries, has no political objections to Russian entities buying shares in their oil companies. 
  • While China has a warm relationship with Russia, it carries more long-term geopolitical risks than India does.
  • India’s good political relationship and Russia want to cement that with a good economic relationship.

 Strategy to counter the Russia-Chinese closeness.

  • Moscow and New Delhi adopted a five-year road map to establish a “Far Eastern Energy Corridor” that would boost Russian oil, gas and coal exports to India.
  • Indian to expand investments in Russian oil refining projects, amid political tension in the Middle East that is affecting energy supplies.
  • Indian companies have invested more than $10 billion in major Russian oil projects.

At the Eastern economic forum, china has not shown a keen interest in the far east. India, on the other hand, can leverage the long-lasting friendship in exploring new resources to fuel its economy at the same time maintain the balancing act.

Sample Question:

The main area of production of icebergs is found in?
A) the West Coast of Greenland

B) the West Coast of Africa
C) the North Coast of Siberia
D) the East Coast of Japan

Ans: A


Topic: G.I. Tagged Handloom Products

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Goegraphy

G.I. Tagged Handloom Products

Context:

The Ministry of Textiles provides financial assistance for registration of handloom products under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods Act, 1999.

So far, 65 handloom products and 6 product logos are registered under GI Act. State- wise list of handloom products is as under:

[Note: It’s neither necessary nor possible to memorize all these GIs. But a simple overlook is advised.]

S.No.Geographical IndicationsGoodsState
1Uppada Jamdani SareesHandloomAndhra Pradesh
2Venkatagiri SareesHandloomAndhra Pradesh
3Mangalagiri Sarees And FabricsHandloomAndhra Pradesh
4Dharmavaram Handloom Pattu Sarres And PaavadasHandloomAndhra Pradesh
5Muga Silk of AssamHandloomAssam
6Bhagalpur SilkHandloomBihar
7Champa Silk Saree And FabricsHandloomChhattisgarh
8Tangaliya ShawlHandloomGujarat
9Kachchh ShawlsHandloomGujarat
10Patan PatolaHandloomGujarat
11Kullu ShawlHandloomHimachal Pradesh
12Kinnauri ShawlHandloomHimachal Pradesh
13Kashmir PashminaHandloomJammu & Kashmir
14Kani ShawlHandloomJammu & Kashmir
15Navalgund DurriesHandloomKarnataka
16Ilkal SareesHandloomKarnataka
17Molakalmuru SareesHandloomKarnataka
18Udupi SareesHandloomKarnataka
19Cannanore Home FurnishingsHandloomKerala
20Balaramapuram Sarees And Fine Cotton FabricsHandloomKerala
21Kasaragod SareesHandloomKerala
22Kuthampully SareesHandloomKerala
23Chendamangalam Dhoties & Set MunduHandloomKerala
24Kuthampully Dhoties & Set MunduHandloomKerala
25Chanderi SareesHandloomMadhya Pradesh
26Maheshwar Sarees & FabricsHandloomMadhya Pradesh
27Solapur ChaddarHandloomMaharashtra
28Paithani Sarees And FabricsHandloomMaharashtra
29Shaphee LanpheeHandloomManipur
30Wangkhei PheeHandloomManipur
31 Moirang PheeHandloomManipur
32Kotpad Handloom FabricHandloomOdisha
33Orissa IkatHandloomOdisha
34Khandua Saree And FabricsHandloomOdisha
35Gopalpur Tussar FabricsHandloomOdisha
36Dhalapathar Parda & FabricsHandloomOdisha
37Sambalpuri Bandha Saree & FabricsHandloomOdisha
38Bomkai Saree & FabricsHandloomOdisha
39Habaspuri Saree & FabricsHandloomOdisha
40Berhampur Patta (Phoda Kumbha) Saree & JodaHandloomOdisha
41Kota DoriaHandloomRajasthan
42Kancheepuram SilkHandloomTamil Nadu
43Bhavani JamakkalamHandloomTamil Nadu
44Madurai SungudiHandloomTamil Nadu
45Arani SilkHandloomTamil Nadu
46Kovai Kora Cotton SareesHandloomTamil Nadu
47Salem Silk know as Salem VenpattuHandloomTamil Nadu
48Pochampally IkatHandloomTelangana
49Gadwal SareesHandloomTelangana
50Siddipet GollabamaHandloomTelangana
51Narayanpet Handloom SareesHandloomTelangana
52Agra DurrieHandloomUttar Pradesh
53Banaras Brocades And SareesHandloomUttar Pradesh
54Mirzapur Handmade DariHandloomUttar Pradesh
55Santipore SareeHandloomWest Bengal
56Baluchari SareeHandloomWest Bengal
57Dhaniakhali SareeHandloomWest Bengal
58RajKot PatolaHandloomGujarat
59Mysore SilkHandloomKarnataka
60Guledgudd KhanaHandloomKarnataka
61Solapur Terry TowelHandloomMaharashtra
62Karvath Kati Tussar Sarees And FabricsHandloomMaharashtra
63Chakhesang ShawlsHandloomNagaland
64Salem FabricHandloomTamil Nadu
65Warangal DurriesHandloomTelangana

 

Details of GI Registered Handloom Products Logos
1Mysore Silk (Logo)HandloomKarnataka
2Muga Silk of Assam (Logo)HandloomAssam
3Kullu Shawl (Logo)HandloomHimachal Pradesh
4Navalgund Durries (Logo)HandloomKarnataka
5Kota Doria (Logo)HandloomRajasthan
6Banaras Brocades and Sarees (Logo)HandloomUttar Pradesh

 

Sample Question:

GI tag is governed which international organization ?
1.World Bank
2.WTO
3.WHO
4.APEDA

Answer: b


Topic: Direct Tax Code

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

Direct Tax Code

Context:

Recently, a draft legislation on new direct tax code has been submitted by the task force to the Finance Minister. The task force headed by Akhilesh Ranjan, was constituted in Nov 2017 to review the existing Income Tax Act 1961.

The draft legislation submitted proposes far-reaching changes and significant relief to taxpayers. It also proposes incentives to start-ups and a new concept of settling disputes through mediation between taxpayer and tax collector.

Why new tax code?

  • Income Tax Act, 1961, was constituted and enacted considering the need and state of the economy at that time, taking into account the mindset and thought process of the people about how income could be taxed.
  • Over the last 58 years, the economy has become more integrated, globalized, liberalized and new models of business have arisen. Therefore, the act needs to be redrafted and be made accommodative of the needs of the present as well as of the next few decades.

Challenges in Direct Tax System

  • Tax Rate:The tax rate in India is quite high for both individuals as well as corporate.
    • The reduction in corporate tax rate by Trump administration has led to the shifting of investment from other regions to the USA.
    • However, the government had reduced the corporate tax rate to 25% but treating domestic and foreign companies at par is an issue that needs to be resolved.
    • The individual tax rates also need to be rationalized in order to increase the tax base.
  • Tax Assessment:In India, the assessment process is physical which leads to the allegation of harassment by tax officials often referred to as tax terrorism.
    • This is a major roadblock in compliance and increasing the tax base.
  • Tax Dispute:In the Indian taxation system, there has been a huge number of tax litigations, which makes the whole tax dispute resolving mechanism unviable.
    • This is a major cause of concern in ease of doing business and enforcing contracts.
  • Exemptions:There are a plethora of exemptions in direct tax code which makes the filling process more complex and reduce the effective tax rate.

Relevance of New Direct Code

  • Complexities:The six-decade old tax code consists of around 700 sections of a very complex nature. It has evolved over time taking into account many amendments. Now the whole tax code has assumed a very haphazard form.
    • Therefore, the simplification of tax laws would enable more people to become part of the direct tax regime.
  • Demographics:In the country of more than 2 billion, there are only 74 million effective taxpayers which is a very shallow figure.
    • Considering the scale of Indian population and demographics, tax administration needs to take proactive steps in bringing more people within the tax-fold.
  • Tax Administration:The present tax administration has evolved taking into account the experience it has gained in the past 6 decades.
    • Therefore, the new tax code provides an opportunity to remove procedural loopholes and make the tax administration user-friendly, which is presently infamous for harassment.
  • Use of Technology:In 1961, the taxation process was completely physical. Now the use of new technology, social media, artificial intelligence has to be accommodated to make the process simpler and transparent.
    • Recently, the Income Tax department started the faceless assessment scheme on a pilot basis.
  • Changing Form of Business:In the past 6 decades, the nature of business has evolved a lot. The social media and internet marketing has become a new commodity which needs to be appropriately taxed.
    • Therefore, the new tax code should involve provisions for taxing stakeholders beyond geographical boundaries.

Faceless Assessment: It is a randomized and anonymized assessment, aims to eliminate physical interface between taxpayer and tax assessee.

  • In this system, one need not appear before a tax officer and there is no physical movement of papers or person.
  • It will reduce a lot of pressure and address issues faced by tax administration during an assessment.
  • The need is to make the faceless or e-assessment widespread and mandatory.

Expectation from New Tax Code

  • Abolition of Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) and Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT).
  • Abolition of cess and surcharges.
  • Minimization of exemptions.
  • Simplification of tax laws.
  • Tax-payer friendly administration.

What New Direct Tax Code means for Stakeholders?

  • Individuals:The difference between the cost of tax evasion and tax compliance is not very much. People due to fear of harassment do not enroll into tax system but they pay the cost illegally in form of bribe.
    • Therefore, they can be easily moved towards tax compliance by simplifying tax laws and making administration taxpayers friendly
  • Corporate:Uniform tax rate for both local and foriegn companies propel ease of doing business in India thus increasing business activity in the country.
    • Therefore, the new direct tax code provides an opportunity to overhaul the whole investment scenario in the country.
  • Economy:The macro dimension added in the past few decades has made our economy more integrated with the rest of the world in terms of trade and investment.
    • The mobility of capital across the geographical boundaries has increased immensely and tax competition among countries has also become intense. There is also an international context to our tax policy.
    • Therefore, the DTC has the potential to boost the entire macro-cycle in the economy by boosting the tax base and collection, thereby increasing the tax-to-gdp ratio.

Way Forward

  • For the sake of administrative convenience, we have focussed on the ability to pay, the tax law seldom tries to differentiate between high risk income and low risk income, legal income or illegal income, recurring income or non-recurring income . These nuances are difficult to administer but will bring more equity to the system.
    • For Example:Income from government-securities and government job is highly secured while income from business is very risky, therefore, they must be taxed differently.
  • The very effort of the planners should be to boost income i.e to be taxed, to boost the base of wealth that creates income. Therefore, special consideration should be given to wealth creators.
  • The new tax code provides an opportunity to build a predictable tax regime which will attract long-term investment and lead to job creation.
  • Indian taxation system is plagued by ligitations in courts, therefore the new tax code must aims at reforming the dispute resolution mechanism by introducing a system of mediation or settlement.

It is believed that whenever the country goes for a new tax code, it basically means to rationalise the tax rate and exemptions, therefore the risk of tax forgone in short term is quite high. Before implementing the new tax code, the country needs to stabilize the GST regime and ensure that the economy is in good state to absorb short term disruptions.

Sample Question:

Income by way of rent of agricultural land is

  1. A revenue receipt
  2. A casual receipt
  3. A capital receipt
  4. None of these.

Answer: b


Topic: Rape in India

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society

Rape in India

Context:

The gang-rape of a veterinary doctor whose body was set ablaze and dumped under a bridge has sent shockwaves through India, with hundreds of women taking to the street in protest. Less than 24 hours of this incident, another charred body of a 35-year old woman was found in the same area. The gruesome nature of this crime has brought back the chilling memories of the Nirbhaya incident that took place in Delhi in December 2012. People from all walks of life have come together to demand capital punishment for the accused.

What is rape as per the Indian Penal Code?

A “rape” charge under Section 375 of IPC has two parts:

  • Non-consensual penetration of any orifice in women by a man, or,
  • Non-consensual touching of any orifice with the mouth. This is not restricted to having sex. Forcing a woman to this herself, or with someone else, is also rape.

The court will decide that these acts are rape if:

  • It happens without her consent, or
  • She agrees, but only because she or someone she knows is in danger, or
  • She agrees, but because she thinks the accused person is her husband, or
  • She agrees, but she is drugged, or drunk, or mentally ill, or
  • She is under 18 – then it does not matter if she agreed or not, or
  • She is in no position to indicate whether she agreed or not – for example if she is unconscious.

Consent is defined as a clear, voluntary communication that the woman agrees, leaving no room for debate. It also makes it clear that the absence of physical injuries is immaterial for deciding consent.

What does the latest NCRB report reveal about rape in India?

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has released the annual Crime in India Report 2017 on October this year, after a delay of two years.
  • A total of 32,559 rapes were reported in 2017.
  • Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest number of rape cases at 5,562 cases being reported in 2017.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the second-highest after MP with the number of cases of rape reported during the same year.
  • Delhi, on the other hand, saw a decline in reporting of rape cases. In 2017, 13,076 cases were reported, the lowest in the last three years.
  • Rape by known persons still holds a large percentage of all the cases reported.
  • Out of the 32,559 reported cases, 93.1% of the accused were known to the victims.
  • The report highlights that 16,581 rape cases were reported against family friends, employers, neighbours or other known persons and in 10,553 cases, the accused were friends, online friends, live-in partners or separated husbands of the victims.
  • Out of the 5,562 cases reported in Madhya Pradesh, 97.5% were committed by known persons.
  • In Rajasthan, of the 3,305 cases, 87.9% were also committed by the known persons.
  • In Maharashtra, 98.1% of the rape cases were reported against friends, associates or relatives.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura is seen to be moderately safer than other states as they have the lowest recorded number cases.

Is Marital Rape a crime in India?

  • Marital rape is not a crime within India’s legal framework, except during the time of judicial separation of the married couple.
  • The marital rape exception under Section 375 of the IPC states that the sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape.
  • It was argued by the government that the contract of marriage presupposed the consent and that the criminalisation of marital rape, in turn, would degrade India’s family values.
  • Forced sex by husbands upon wives does have legal consequence in India’s matrimonial law, in which it can be treated as a matrimonial fault, resulting in the ending of the marriage contract.
  • All religious personal laws and secular law governing marriage and divorce deem “cruelty” by one spouse against the other to be ground for divorce.
  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 stated that marital rape is also a “sexual abuse”.
  • Under this Act, the aggrieved wives or female live-in partners can claim civil remedies.
  • This law focuses on marital rape only in cases when it is accompanied by extreme physical injury or when the health and safety of the wife are in danger.
  • The Verma Committee was constituted to strengthen India’s anti-rape laws.
  • This committee had strongly recommended that the exception for the marital rape should be removed.
  • It had also highlighted the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee pertaining to India in 2007, asking for the “widening of the definition of rape to reflect the realities of sexual abuse experienced by women and to remove the exception of marital rape from the definition of rape”.
  • Though most of the recommendations made by the Verma Committee were incorporated, the suggestion to criminalise marital rape is not a part of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013.
  • Until 2017, there was a clash between two sub-clauses of Section 375 of IPC.
  • Exception 2 stated that “sexual intercourse between a man with his own wife not being under 15 years of age, is not a rape”.
  • However, the same provision stated that a man is said to have committed rape if his sexual intercourse is with a women with or without her consent when she is under 18 years of age.
  • In 2017, the Supreme Court held that the age of consent as 18 years.
  • The apex court had also held that it is illogical to differentiate between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child as it is against the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
  • It also stated that such a distinction is a violation against a child’s liberty and dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Juvenile Justice Act also undermines the original IPC section as both of them define a child as someone who is below the age of 18.
  • Irrespective of her marital status, sex with a minor girl is a crime that leads to a minimum rigorous imprisonment of 10 years.
  • However, until now, the apex court has refrained from making any observation regarding the marital rape of a woman who is above 18 years.

What are the legal provisions of government measures against rape?

Rape and Murder:

  • During a rape, if the accused injured the women so badly that she either dies or goes a vegetative state, he can be given death sentence or imprisonment for up to 20 years.
  • This provision, however, does not define what “persistent vegetative state” means.
  • The SC clarified that a person who is alive but does not show any evidence of being aware of one’s environment is in a permanent vegetative state.

Gang rape:

  • If a woman is raped by a group of people at the same time, each of them will be punished under Section 376D of IPC.
  • The punishment is imprisonment of between 20 years and life imprisonment.

Repeat Offenders:

  • The Section 376E of IPC allows for the death sentence to the person convicted for the second time for rape, rape causing death or result in a permanent vegetative state, or gang rape.

National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO):

  • The government launched NDSO on September 20, 2018.
  • It contains entries of the offenders convicted under the charges of rape, gang rape, and eve-teasing.
  • It contains entries of cases that were reported since 2008.
  • It is managed by NCRB.
  • It is accessible to only the law enforcement agencies for the investigation and monitoring purposes.

Fast Track Courts:

  • In response to the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape Case, the Indian government established the fast-track courts for the speedy disposal of the rape cases.

What are the drawbacks of the anti-rape laws in India?

  • There is a growing concern over the potential abuse of the anti-rape laws.
  • Indian anti-rape laws only protect women from rape and sexual assault. They don’t provide security to men and transgender people.
  • These laws are limited and don’t have violence or coercion at their core.
  • Marital rape is still legal – unless the married couple is separated.
  • The politicians accused of the crime may remain in office and benefit from the slow justice system until convicted.

Way forward:

  • Every individual must decide and affirmatively agree that all have the right to be safe.
  • Everyone is equal before the law. Therefore, all women and girls must be given access to education, healthcare, and choice of career, choice of a marriage partner or the right to stay single.
  • They shouldn’t be chastised for their choice of clothes, friends or leisure activities.
  • In short, they should be given respect and be allowed to exercise their rights and their life must not be defined by the social norms.
  • Awareness must be made at the grass-root level to both men and women about women’s rights.
  • The men in Indian society must be educated so that they understand respect, boundaries and consent in a way that will prevent them from violating women’s rights.
  • The government must ensure that the laws are strictly enforced.
  • It must improve the infrastructure to protect women’s rights.
  • It must also make marital rape illegal.
  • Half of the Nirbhaya fund is unutilized despite the desperate need for helplines, fast-track courts, one-stop crisis centres and shelter homes.
  • Funding also must be provided for programmes to support and advocate women’s rights.
  • The police must play a pro-active role in making the police stations welcoming places for women so that they can file complaints with ease.
  • Under-reporting of such crimes does not help in solving this problem.
  • Steps must be taken so that it is not tabooed in society.
  • Private companies can play a role in protecting their women employees from such heinous crimes.
  • Providing cabs for those who are working in night shifts is one of the many measures that can be taken by the private companies in protecting their female employees.
  • Representation of women on screen must change.
  • The TV shows must cease the culture of objectifying women and ban those contents that may be harmful to women.
  • Instead, women on screens must be given strong lead roles. They must be portrayed as the one with equal and independent powers as that of their male counterparts.
  • The film industry has far more power in changing society’s mindset than laws.
  • They must make sure India’s patriarchal society becomes the one that cherishes equality and coexistence of all.
  • Thus, united efforts of people from all walks of life along with active enforcement of laws can bring wonders to the society.

Sample Question:

In India, which is a comprehensive anti-discrimination law addressing all aspects of direct and indirect discrimination against women?

 a)Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act

b)There is no such law

c)National Commission for Women Act

d)Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

Answer: b


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