18 September, 2019

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Uniform Civil code — the debate, the status

GS-II: Uniform Civil code — the debate, the status


  • Recently while hearing a matter relating to properties of a Goan, the Supreme Court described Goa as a “shining example” with a Uniform Civil Code.
  • The court observed that the founders of the Constitution had “hoped and expected” a UCC for India but there has been no attempt at framing one.

What is a Uniform Civil Code?

  • A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.
  • Article 44, one of the directive principles of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
  • These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.

Greater role for State

  • Fundamental rights are enforceable in a court of law.
  • While Article 44 uses the words “state shall endeavour”, other Articles in the ‘Directive Principles’ chapter use words such as “in particular strive”; “shall in particular direct its policy”; “shall be obligation of the state” etc.
  • Article 43 mentions “state shall endeavour by suitable legislation” while the phrase “by suitable legislation” is absent in Article 44.
  • All this implies that the duty of the state is greater in other directive principles than in Article 44.

What are more important fundamental rights or directive principles?

  • There is no doubt that fundamental rights are more important.
  • The Supreme Court held in Minerva Mills (1980): Indian Constitution is founded on the bed-rock of the balance between Parts III (Fundamental Rights) and IV (Directive Principles).
  • To give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the Constitution.
  • Article 31C inserted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, however, lays down that if a law is made to implement any directive principle, it cannot be challenged on the ground of being violative of the FRs under Articles 14 and 19.

Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?

  • Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc.
  • States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
  • Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.

Is there one common personal law for any religious community governing all its members?

  • All Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians.
  • Not only British legal traditions, even those of the Portuguese and the French remain operative in some parts.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir until August 5, 2019, local Hindu law statutes differed from central enactments.
  • The Shariat Act of 1937 was extended to J&K a few years ago but has now been repealed.

How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?

  • Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion;
  • Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”;
  • Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture.
  • An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to FRs, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights
  • In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting UCC in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote.
  • By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of FRs and therefore the UCC was made less important than freedom of religion.

How did the debate on a common code for Hindus play out?

  • In June 1948, Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, warned Nehru that to introduce “basic changes” in personal law was to impose “progressive ideas” of a “microscopic minority” on the Hindu community as a whole.
  • Others opposed to reforms in Hindu law included Sardar Patel, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, M A Ayyangar, M M Malaviya and Kailash Nath Katju.
  • When the debate on the Hindu Code Bill took place in December 1949, 23 of 28 speakers opposed it.

Source: Indian Express

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National Recruitment Agency

GS-II: National Recruitment Agency


  • The Finance Ministry has approved a proposal to streamline recruitment of some posts in the government along with various equivalent recruitment in public sector banks.
  • A new National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will be set up to conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for all these competitive examinations, in which an estimated 2.5 crore candidates appear annually.

National Recruitment Agency (NRA)

  • The proposed NRA will conduct preliminary examinations for all these recruitment, which are at present conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
  • As per the proposal, the NRA will subsequently forward the list of qualifying candidates to the respective recruiting agencies to conduct the mains examinations.
  • The SSC and IBPS, it is learnt, will not be disbanded for now and will conduct the mains examinations as usual.
  • The basic idea behind this proposal is to shortlist qualifying candidates through a Common Eligibility Test before sending them for the mains examination.

Why a new agency is proposed?

  • The proposal for a new agency is meant to streamline recruitment process on subordinate-rank posts in the government.
  • The proposed NRA is expected to reduce the burden of SSC and the IBPS, among others, from holding preliminary recruitment exams, which is an extensive exercise.
  • Once up and running, NRA will work as a preliminary single-window agency to shortlist qualifying candidates from bulk of applicants and forward the list to SSC, IBPS, etc, to hold the mains.
  • According to an estimate, more than 2.5 crore candidates sit for these prelims, most of them conducted by SSC.
  • Recruitment conducted at present through the SSC and proposed to go to the new agency include the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) examination to enter government departments.

For clerical level

  • Similarly in line with CGL, recruitment tests for clerical-level recruitment in public sector banks are proposed to go to the NRA.
  • The proposed agency, however, will not be in charge of recruitment of Probationary Officers (PO) in banks.

Source: Indian Express

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Fire to fuel

GS-III: Fire to fuel


  • India must brace for the impact of oil supply cuts after the drone attacks in Saudi Arabia.
  • The immedidate impact of last weeks drone attacks on the Saudi Aramco owned Khurais oilfield and Abqaiq oil processing facility has been suspension of more than half of Saudi Arbia’s daily crude oil output thereby affecting contribution to global supply.

Impact of the attack:

Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, had to suspend the production of almost 6 million barrels per day (about 6 per cent of global oil supply).

It had to restrict the use of 2 mbd of spare capacity.

This is the largest-ever disruption in crude oil production in Saudi Arabia.

Potential impact on India:

Current account deficit:

Higher crude oil prices will widen the trade deficit and current account deficit, given that the value of imports goes up with crude oil, and that the quantity imported tends to be sticky in general.


The currency could be impacted if the trade and current account deficits were to widen. An increase in the import bill will tend to put pressure on the rupee.


There could be significant impact on inflation, given how crude oil prices move and the extent to which the government allows the pass-through to the consumer.

Concerns for India:

  • Saudi supplies 10 per cent of global world supply and is the world’s largest crude oil exporter.
  • India imports 80% of the oil it consumes, which means there are multiple ways in which the country will be impacted by this disruption. With this attack, Oil prices may go up
  • India is already trying to make up for the loss of supply from Iran after US-imposed sanctions. After Iraq, Saudi Arabia is India’s second-largest supplier of crude oil.
  • Besides, the global supply has been volatile because of disruptions in some of the other big suppliers such as Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria.
  • Supply constraints and rising oil prices would mean that the rupee will weaken further against the dollar that’s because, as the dollar prices of crude oil rise, India would need to buy more dollars for the same amount of oil, thus depreciating the value of the rupee vis-à-vis the dollar.
  • Rising oil prices will worsen the Indian government’s fiscal balance.
  • Higher crude oil prices would also lead to higher domestic oil prices, which, in turn, will further depress the demand for all things, especially those that use oil as the primary input say, cars.
  • This dip in consumption demand, which is already under strain as the recent growth slowdown has shown, would likely mean lower economic activity and consequently lower revenues for the government.


International energy markets are critically dependent on reliable transport.

Over 60% of the world’s petroleum and other liquids production moves on maritime routes.

Blocking the maritime choke points can lead to huge increases in energy costs and world energy prices.

Choke points are also the places where tankers are most vulnerable to pirates, terrorist attacks, political unrest, war, and shipping accidents.

For India, If India is to protect its interests in the ever-volatile global oil market, the government will need to take steps to diversify its supplier base and also work towards increasing domestic sources of energy supplies.

Opening up the renewable energy sector for more investments will also help avoid over-dependence on oil from the global market to meet the country’s ever-increasing energy needs.


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Deadly Spread

GS-II: Deadly Spread


Overcoming vaccine hesitancy can reduce the global spread of measles infection.

With 30% increase in measles cases worldwide in 2018 the World Health Organization, in January 2019 included vaccine hesitancy as one of the 10 threats to global health this year.

Report Says

In 2018, there have been around 3,65,000 measles cases reported from 182 countries in the first six months of 2019. The biggest increase, of 900% in the first six months this year compared with the same period last year, has been from the WHO African region, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Nigeria accounting for most cases. There has been a sharp increase in the WHO European region too with 90,000 cases recorded

in the first six months more than the numbers recorded for the whole of 2018. The infection spread in the European region has been unprecedented in recent years 1,74,000 cases from 49 of the 53 countries between January 2018 and June 2019. Last month the U.K., Greece, the Czech Republic and Albania lost their measles elimination status.

A 2018 report on vaccine confidence among the European Union member states shows why vaccine coverage has not been increasing in the European region to reach over 90% to offer protection even to those not vaccinated.

It found younger people (18-34 years) and those with less education are less likely to agree that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe. According to a March 2019 report, only 52% respondents from 28 EU member states agree that vaccines are definitely effective in preventing diseases, while 33% felt they were probably effective.

More alarming is that 48% of the respondents believed that vaccines cause serious side effects and 38% think vaccines actually cause the disease that they are supposed to protect against.

A striking similarity was seen in India too. A 2018 study found low awareness to be the main reason why 45% of children missed different vaccinations in 121 Indian districts that have higher rates of unimmunised children.

While 24% did not get vaccinated due to apprehension about adverse effects, 11% were reluctant to get immunised for reasons other than fear of adverse effects. Thus, much work remains to be done to address misinformation.

With social media playing a crucial role in spreading vaccine disinformation, the commitment by Facebook to “reduce distribution” of vaccine misinformation will be helpful in winning the war against vaccine deniers.

Measles vaccine not only provides lifelong protection against the virus but also reduces mortality from other childhood infections. This is because measles viruses kill immune cells, leaving the child vulnerable to infectious diseases for two to three years.

What is vaccine hesitancy?

  • The WHO defines ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines and it threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.”
  • Vaccines are effective preventive tools in a government’s public health kit and it is accepted as among the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease.
  • Calling out vaccine hesitancy as public health threat, the WHO pointed out that measles had seen a 30 per cent increase in cases globally.
  • The reasons for this rise are complex and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy. However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.


The WHO expects 2019 to see transmission of wild polio virus being stopped in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well. Less than 30 cases were reported last year in both countries, the WHO says, casting its might behind their vaccination programme.

“Trust in the vaccine, trust in Government, trust in the system and trust in the manufacturer.”

Parents should raise questions on vaccines, its necessity and safety. But it is up to the Government and doctors to keep this communication with parents ongoing, transparent and scientific so that benefits to the child and larger community are not lost in misinformation.

Empower paediatricians to project the value of vaccines and equip them to respond to concerns effectively and accurately. Sensitise media to an evidence based rather than sensational approach.


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Government-funded NGOs come under RTI ambit: SC

GS-II: Government-funded NGOs come under RTI ambit: SC


Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government fall within the ambit of the Right to Information Act, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.

About the judgment

NGOs which receive considerable finances from the government or are essentially dependent on the government fall under the category of “public authority” defined in Section 2(h) of the RTI Act of 2005.

This means that they have to disclose vital information, ranging from finances to hierarchy to decisions to functioning, to citizens who apply under RTI.

An NGO, the court said, may also include societies which are neither owned or controlled by the government, but if they are significantly funded by the government, directly or indirectly, they come under the RTI Act.

Why such move?

RTI Act was enacted with the purpose of bringing transparency in public dealings and probity in public life.

If NGOs or other bodies get substantial finance from the government we find no reason why any citizen cannot ask for information.

With the judgment citizens can find out whether his/her money which has been given to an NGO is being used for the requisite purpose.

‘Substantial’ means how much?

The court defined “substantial” as a “large portion.”

It does not necessarily have to mean a major portion or more than 50%.

No hard and fast rule can be laid down in this regard. Substantial financing can be both direct or indirect.

If government gives land in a city free of cost or on heavy discount to hospitals, educational institutions or any such body, this in itself could also be substantial financing, the judgment explained.


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