Optionals- Public Administration, Political Science
Polity and Governance: Participative Democracy, Recent Trends in Election, Reflections on Karnataka elections
Why in news?
The latest drama in Karnataka manifests well all the problems that are related with the type of democracy we have.
The role of elections in a democracy has come under scrutiny this time.
Where does the significance of Democracy lie?
The significance of democracy lies in how power is exercised by those elected to power.
The defining principle of democracy is the principle of One Person One Vote.
How over emphasis on the principle of One Person One Vote has affected Democracy?
It has reduced the idea of democracy to a ritual of casting votes.
The act of participation in a democracy was conceived as a dynamic and continuous process. But in a few years it has been reduced to merely an act of voting.
The society thus formed is fundamentally undemocratic in character.
The parties which speak for democracy have little democratic ethos within them.
Political parties are dominated by families or friends or business partners.
Nepotism and exclusion are the basic working principles of our political parties.
Today, voting has become a business transaction where the voters are ‘compensated’ for their votes.
What is the significance of voting?
Voting makes sure that those who have power are accountable in some way and that they exercise that power in a democratic manner.
Elections are only a means towards the goal of controlling those who wield power, but instead they have become the end in themselves.
In India, the mere exercise of voting or choosing a representative is being equated with democracy. This results in the election of people who govern undemocratically.
The Principle of trusteeship, Elections, Elected Representatives and Other Institutions:-
It was advocated by Gandhiji and industrialists like J.R.D Tata.
All of us have an equal claim to the public goods in the society we belong to.
Elections help us implement the principle of trusteeship.
Through elections we choose a person to take care of the ‘public wealth’ that belongs equally to all of us.
The elected representatives are merely trustees on our behalf and it is a primary duty of the trustee to make sure that they do not destroy what they are trustees of.
This principle of trusteeship has been completely destroyed by merely viewing democracy as an act of voting.
Good governance implies that these “trustees” take decisions and implement them so as to protect the common public goods.
Instead of protecting the common goods, the elected representatives take our share of the public wealth for their personal gain.
Other institutions are affected due to this watered down notion of democracy:
Very few institutions inculcate democratic values in their functioning.
Private institutions have little commitment to democracy. In an overall set up where democracy is not respected, they lose their little sense of trusteeship.
Political alienation happens because people are a part of the political process only for the few minutes when they cast their votes.
Political alienation leads to cultural alienation which in turn leads to right wing movements.
In order to get rid of most of the problems plaguing India, not only choice, but even power has to be democratised.
Natural Guardian- what & why
G.S. Paper 2
Why in news?
Madras high court ruled an outstanding judgement on natural guardian.
What according to Judiciary is “Natural Guardian”?
The parent with custody of the child is considered the natural guardian in divorce situations.
The opposite of a natural guardian is an appointed guardian or legal guardian.
Legal guardian will be authorized by a court or a will to care for and make decisions on behalf of a minor child.
The natural or legal guardian must authorize the financial and medical decisions of the minor children who do not have legal authority to make such decisions.
In India, on the grounds of Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the “natural guardian” was the father.
What is the case and what is the decision ruled by Madras HC?
Madras high court ruled an unusual paternity case where the petitioner was legally separated from her husband, had subsequently conceived a child through artificial insemination.
The efforts of the petitioner to get authorities to leave the father’s name blank in the child’s birth certificate were repeatedly rejected.
This was because of the bureaucratic cussedness and notions of hard-wired patriarchy in the officialdom.
Given the complexities of the case, name of a male friend of the petitioner had been erroneously entered as the child’s father.
The officials’ unwillingness to accommodate the petitioner’s repeated requests for name deletion and leaving the ‘father’s name’ column blank betrayed an excessive preoccupation with rules and regulations, unmindful of the human dimension.
Thus in this case Madras HC directed authorities to leave the father’s name column as blank by sending out signal against regressive notions centered on paternity.
What makes Madras HC’s decision significant/ landmark?
The directive of the Madras High Court in an unusual paternity case advances the progressive spirit of earlier rulings in related matters of gender justice.
The Madras High Court directive advances the spirit of other similar rulings including the famous 1999 case taken by the Supreme Court.
That case, in which author the petitioner challenged the RBI’s rejection of an application for investments in her son’s name (with her as the “natural guardian”).
In this case the petitioner argued that the provision discriminated against women in the matter of guardianship rights over their own children.
In its ruling, the Court asserted the pre-eminence of the child’s welfare in all considerations, and held that in this instance the mother was the “natural guardian”.
Thus Madras High court’s decision have steered bureaucratic rules away from the rigidities of a patriarchal system.
Indo- Australian Relationship
Why in News?
Ms Julie Bishop, Australian foreign affair minister, talked about the deepening economic and strategic relation between India and Australia.
She insisted to achieve an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region in which the rights of all states are respected.
Indo-Pacific embraces India and the nations of the Asia Pacific not just geographic description but the strategic and economic dynamics of our broader region.
What is Quadrilateral Security Dialogue?
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by talks between member countries.
It is a natural extension of these mini-lateral relationships and one of the important sub-groupings in the Indo-Pacific.
How will this security dialogue benefit the four nations?
It will allow the four nations (Japan, Australia, India and US) to discuss all matters of common interest.
Australia already has a trilateral strategic dialogue with the U.S. and Japan.
Australia will engage with partners to shape region at a time of geostrategic and technological and economic change.
Australia pulled out of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue years ago. The Labour government that pulled out because of apprehensions over how this might play out with Australia’s economic relationship with China.
Australian government said that they undermine the importance of India and said that India has significant strategic partner for Australia and share converging interests, particularly in the Indian Ocean.
Australian government has pointed out that relationship with India is at stronger pace based on these key pillars:
Indian and Australian government has expanded greatly in the field of security and defense relationship.
Australia government has joint exercises across all three services and we’ve most certainly got a shared interest in maritime security, upholding international law, regional stability and countering violent extremism.
India is becoming increasingly integrated with the economies of East Asia and North Asia.
Which are the various exercises going on at present?
Malabar naval exercises
Malabar is a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S., and Japan where Australia wasn’t invited to join the exercise.
Austria minister said that they possess interest in joining Exercise Malabar but was not giving priority to the deepening of our bilateral exercises.
She said Australia and India are natural defense partners. Both the country conducted the second iteration of the bilateral navy exercise AUSINDEX in June 2017.
AUSINDEX is a bilateral exercise aims to enhance interoperability and professional interaction between Australia and India for strengthening defense cooperation between both countries.
Australia and India also maintain a regular programme of dialogue and reciprocal ship visits.
Australia has envisaged its engagement with Asia as ASEAN’s which is central to regional architecture.
The U.S. has been the dominant power in Australia but in current scenario the relative strategic weight of China and other regional powers, including India, is growing in the region.
The national security statement of recent times speaks about the Indo-Pacific as an area of significant priority for U.S. foreign policy.
India Economic Strategy
India is already seventh largest trading partner in terms of two-way trade.
Australia has focused on ensuring India as a priority economic partner.
The Strategy of India Economic Strategy includes:-
Identifying practical measures
Deepening trade and investment ties
Building on similarities between our economies
Providing a roadmap to cement Australia as a priority economic partner for India out to 2035.
India Economic Strategy will have a discussion between prime minister and the National Security Committee to give it a final shape.
Australia has emerged as a major destination for Indian students. But majority of Indian students who arrive have opted to getting employed there as they finish their course.
This reflects the employment opportunities that Australia has offer.
Australia has provided a flagship programme called New Colombo Plan to supporting more Australian students to study abroad this is much more two-way exchange than there has been in the past.
The New Colombo Plan is providing opportunities for Australian undergraduates to undertake part of their study in a country in our region.
Forty locations have partnered with Australia on the New Colombo Plan and so Australian students have this opportunity to live, study and undertake internships.
It will give them an unparalleled opportunity to understand the region in which we live, become more aware of the culture, political, economic, social side of the countries in the Indo-Pacific and enable them to create networks and lifetime connections
India-Australia nuclear agreement
Australia is an important partner to supply uranium to India. The first sample for testing took place in July 2017.
Australia has a framework for uranium producers to engage with Indian uranium customers.
Australian government remains prepared to support commercial shipment to India.
When U.S. pull out deal from the Iran, Australia has recognized that it’s by no means a perfect agreement but in the absence of a viable alternative, they have supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
France has called for the creation of a new strategic alliance among France, India and Australia to respond to challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and the growing assertiveness of China.
France had talked about a Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis, as a regional structure. In regards to this the Australian government forecasted a positive response to it.
France has interests in both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
Australia and India have complementary interests in the Indian Ocean.
Australia is considered its cooperation through the Indian Ocean Rim Association, where Australia and India are members and France is a dialogue partner
France have mooted for the idea of a three-way partnership which include Australia, India and France in relation to the Indian Ocean.
Nipah Virus- What, Why, & How
GS Paper-1 & 3 (Urbanization & Science and Technology)
Why in news?
The recent outbreak of Nipah Virus infection in Kerala.
The lethal Virus has been spreading in northern Kerala, creating a health emergency and widespread panic.
The Zoonotic virus is suspected to have spread to humans from infected bats, and actions to curtail the spread of infections are currently underway.
The outbreak has already cost the lives of 10 people out of 12 confirmed cases in Kozhikode and Malappuram of Kerala.
What is Nipah Virus?
It is a contagious and deadly virus which was first identified in Malaysia in 1999.
The virus figures in the WHO’s list of 10 priority pathogens needing urgent research.
The virus is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus and mutates very fast.
The death rate from the Nipah virus is estimated to be about 70%.
During 2007 outbreak in Nadia, West Bengal, after the first patient got infected, the virus generally spread among close contacts and caregivers. A similar pattern is observed in the current outbreak.
How does the virus spread?
Nipah spreads from fruit bats to humans and other animals, mainly through bat dropping or bodily remains and then spreads laterally within a species.
But less than 1% of the fruit bats are estimated be infected with Nipah virus and it is even rarer for it to infect humans.
It is indeed highly contagious within humans, and the current episode in Kerala even killed a nurse who was treating another Nipah patient.
The disease has a high mortality rate, but experts stress that there is no reason to panic because Nipah outbreaks have always been generally localised.
What are the symptoms?
The classical symptom is acute and rapidly progressive encephalitis (brain inflammation and pain) with or without respiratory involvement.
Other more noticeable symptoms include non-productive cough during the early part of the disease.
Nipah encephalitis comes with 3-14 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion.
Acute encephalitis progresses to coma within 24-48 hours.
What are the major causes of the outbreak?
According to a WHO report, a major cause of the outbreak of bat-related viral infections is the loss of bat’s natural habitats due to increasing urbanization.
Loss of natural habitats forces bats to move near urban areas.
According to a study in Malaysia, rapid urbanization leading to the destruction of bat-rich rainforests contributed to the outbreak of Nipah virus.
Nipah virus infection generally has a stuttering chain of transmission.
Once the virus moves from bats to humans it generally spreads to people in close contact with the patients.
How can the spread of Nipah virus be contained?
Virologists working on the ground have asserted that early diagnosis has helped in containing the spread in the current case.
Timely laboratory confirmation and aggressive tracing of those who came in contact with patient can contain spread of the virus.
This is very important because there is no effective specific treatment for the infection and hospitalization is only to support our bodily immune systems.
Standard infection control practices (like washing and sanitizing) and proper barrier nursing techniques are also critical for curtailing spread.