Recently, the Supreme Court of India was moved by the plight of the chained mentally ill patients in a “faith-healing asylum” at Badaun, Uttar Pradesh and ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to take urgent measures to address the horrible situation. Chaining of such patients amounts to violation of the Mental Health Care Act of 2017 and the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Notably, 14% of India is in need of active mental health interventions. This issue calls for a relook at the status of mental health and healthcare in India.
There are two interesting reactions related to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) controversy in India. First, since its inception, every major political party has questioned the authenticity and efficacy of the machine. Secondly, the instrument often works as the bone of contention between the winning and the losing party, with the winning party always defending the indispensability of the machine to the democratic process and the losing alleging that the EVMs were tampered with.
However, this time, unlike the earlier developments, a US-based hacker or so-called cyber expert has claimed that EVMs in India can be easily manipulated. This has added fuel to the already existing fire of controversy on the issue.
According to the data from the International Labour Organization (ILO), India’s female labour force participation rate (FLPR) is at 27% which is among the lowest in the world and has declined considerably over the last 2 decades. This decline in female labour force participation is despite robust economic growth, rising incomes, falling fertility rates and improvements in female literacy.
Recently, the Supreme Court gave the Lokpal search committee time till February-end for shortlisting a panel of names of chairperson and members of the Lokpal. The court has for the past several months been constantly urging the government to complete the Lokpal appointment. However, the complicated and legal technicalities led to the delay in the appointment of Lokpal.
Recently, the Supreme Court Collegium has arbitrarily withdrawn its own decision on appointing two judges and has recommended names of two other judges to the government for elevation to the Supreme Court by superseding 3 judges senior to them. It highlights issues regarding the appointment of judges and the need to understand the system of judicial appointments in India.
Recently, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry reviewed and amended the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy in e-commerce in order to ensure a level playing field between offline and online sectors. E-commerce firms are needed to comply with the new guidelines by February 1, 2019.
Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to ease norms for religious minorities from neighbouring nations (non-muslims) to get Indian citizenship by amending age-old Citizenship Act, 1955. However, it has polarised regions in border states such as Assam since the locals fear that it will result in demographic change due to immigration.
Sikkim is set to become the first state in India to launch Universal Basic Income (UBI). The idea of universal basic income has gained popularity in the western nations due to the threat of automation-induced job losses. In India, the idea gained ground due to the chronic poverty & inequality and the government’s failure to provide subsidies effectively to poor people. Moreover, the persistent farm distress and poor wage growth across occupations also highlight the need for an income support scheme in India.