IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th November, 2019


Can court ask a secular state to construct a temple?

Whether the Supreme Court’s direction to the Central government to formulate a scheme and set up a trust to facilitate the construction of a temple on the disputed land would amount to a breach of the secular character of the state. Will it not amount to a secular state fostering a particular religion?


-       State is neither pro-particular religion nor anti-particular religion.

-       It maintains neutrality towards every religion.

-       It provides equal protection to all religion.

-       Why the court directed central government to formulate a scheme for the land. It should have directed local civil court to settle the land scheme.

What judiciary and centre has to say:

-       Supreme Court Moto “yato dharma tatojaya” [where there is dharma there is victory] is taken from Bhagvad Gita. However, Supreme Court cannot be held as religious institution.

-       Centre was already empowered under Section 6 of the “Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993” to vest the disputed land in a trust or authority.

Secularism and Ayodya Verdict:

Arguments in breach of secularism:

-       It has allowed majoritarian appropriation of a minority place of worship. It accords priority to sentiments of religious majority thus marginalize the minority groups.

-       It will further push the divisive agenda through action against inter-faith marriages and cow slaughter.

-       It is seen victory by the majoritarian groups not a justice.

-       This verdict will re-establish the Old styled secularism in politics.

Not breach of secularism:

-       Supreme Court held demolition of mosque as an illegal act.

-       It also held the denial of Muslims’ right to pray at the Babri mosque since December of 1949 as illegal and unjust.

-       Affirmative action demands for remeding the historical wrong. It doesn’t mean that every ravaged Hindu temple needs to be reclaimed but few does qualify based on merit.

-       Indian secularism is about living together, adjusting, allowing a little more room for each other, allowing each other to simply, and still belong on terms of equal respect and dignity.

-       Each side got all the opportunity they required for presenting evidence and for arguing their side. The judicial process in this case needs to be celebrated as a victory of the secular process.

Secularism in India:

-       It is the triumph of rationality over unthinking fear.

-       It calls for upliftment of the oppressed.

-       It means social justice.

Need of Secularism:

-       It fosters Unity in Diversity.

-       It allows understanding of hypersensitiveness to different religions. Wars have been fought for the sake of religions because religion is a sensitive and emotive issue that can trigger strong reactions in people.

-       Democracy is all about protecting the minority rights. It ensures protection of human rights of last member.

-       It fosters communal harmony, religious tolerance and an inclusive socio-economic path of development.

-       It is a matter of humanism, a longing for justice and equity. As religion has potential to destroy peace without secularism.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/can-court-ask-a-secular-state-to-construct-a-temple/article29949254.ece

Centre forms committee to draft new water policy

The Union Water Resources Ministry has finalised a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP). It will be chaired by Mihir Shah, who is a former Planning Commission member and a water expert.

Objectives of the Committee:

-       Update the National Water Policy

-       Make key changes in water governance structure and regulatory framework.

-       Bring National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency

Current National Water Policy:

-       It brought concept of an Integrated Water Resources Management approach that took the “river basin/ sub-basin” as a unit for planning, development and management of water resources.

-       It proposed that a portion of river flows ought to be kept aside to meet ecological needs.

-       It stressed on making potable water available to all its citizens within easy reach of households.

-       Private sector participation should be encouraged in planning, development and management of water resources projects for diverse uses.

-       The exploitation of groundwater should be regulated and special focus should be given to water recharging possibilities.

-       While allocating water, first priority should be given for drinking water, followed by irrigation, hydro-power, ecology, agro-industries and non-agricultural industries, navigation and other uses, in that order.

-       Water should be made available to water short areas by transfer from other areas including transfer from one river basin to another, after taking into account the requirements of the areas/basins.

-       Water utilization efficiency should be improved and conservation consciousness should be promoted through education, regulation, incentives and disincentives.

-       Economic principles need to guide pricing of water.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/committee-to-draft-new-water-policy/article29949236.ece


‘Suranga Bawadi’ enters World Monument Watch list

Suranga Bawadi, an integral part of the ancient Karez system of supplying water through tunnels built during Adil Shah Era in Vijayapura, is now set to get funding for restoration.

A New York-based non-governmental organisation has included it in the World Monument Watch list for 2020 along with 24 other monuments from across the world.

World Monument fund:

-       It monitors restoration of ancient monuments across the globe.

-       It is a NGO.

-       It provides fund for restoration.

-       It would coordinate with the authorities concerned for restoration and create public awareness on its importance.

-       It works in collaboration with the local stakeholders, including the district administration, the Archaeological Survey of India, and local explorers of ancient monuments.

About Karez:

-       It is one of the best ancient water system in the world.

-       It was built in the 16th century by Ali Adil Shah–I.

-       He built the magnificent underground system to supply water to the city.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/suranga-bawadi-enters-world-monument-watch-list/article29949269.ece


IIP shrinks by 4.3% to lowest in 8 years

Industrial activities in September contracted sharply by 4.3%, driven by major slowdowns in the capital goods, mining and manufacturing sectors, according to official data.


-       It is the first time after November 2012 that all three broad-based sectors have contracted.

-       It is the lowest monthly growth in the 2011-12 base year series.

Performance of different sectors:

-       Capital goods sector saw a contraction of 20.7%.

-       Mining sector contracted by 8.5%.

-       The manufacturing sector contracted 3.9%.

-       Electricity sector contracted by 2.6%.

-       Consumer durable sector contracted by 9.9%

About IIP:

-       The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) maps the changes in the volume of production in Indian industries.

-       It chooses a basket of industrial products — ranging from the manufacturing sector to mining to energy, creates an index by giving different weight to each sector and then tracks the production every month. 

-       Finally, the index value is compared to the value it had in the same month last year to figure out the economy’s industrial health.

-       It is released by Ministry of Statistics.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/iip-shrinks-by-43-to-lowest-in-8-years/article29949293.ece


The fast-evolving ethical conundrums of biotechnology

Recently, Chinese experiments on interfering with child’s DNA to create “Super Human” created ethical questions on usage of biotechnology.

Ethical conundrum:

-       Respect: How can we prioritize the rights of humans, animals and ecosystems? How can we attune our ways so that our practices do not harm other living beings?

-       Credit: How do we make sure our work serves as a resource for the community and the broader public while still valuing those who do the work?

-       Community: How do we make decisions collectively? How do we identify and engage non-bio stakeholders?

-       Autonomy: How do we decide what forms of self-determination we value? How do we identify relationships of power that impact autonomy?

-       Education: How can we create space to learn and the confidence to teach?

-       Open science: How can we encourage replicability and collaboratively share results? How do we stay open while being mindful of the risks posed by openness?

-       Transparency: How do we stay open about our failures? How can we acknowledge ethical conflicts? How do we decide what acceptable funding sources are?

-       Data privacy: How do we respect the sovereignty of data, treat stakeholders as peers, and agree on terms of use through informed consent?

-       Safety: How do we embrace safe practices in unconventional contexts? How do we protect each other and create resources for communities to experiment safely?

-       Justice and Fairness: How do we engender justice and fairness in our practices? How can we avoid perpetuating systems of winners and losers? How do we account for the varied impact of our work?

-       Diversity and Inclusion: How do we make sure our organizations respect vulnerabilities and acknowledge privilege? How do we make our spaces valuable and accessible to communities whose interests are historically under-represented in the sciences?

-       Accountability: Is there an active commitment to consider these questions? How will we be accountable to these ethics? How do we hold each other accountable and make ourselves accountable to those outside this community?

Reference: https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/the-fast-evolving-ethical-conundrums-of-biotechnology-11573495246351.html