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25 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Question Of The Week

Source: 2015 Mains question paper- 4

Note: this answer has been written for the purposes of explanation; Hence, it may not adhere to word limit. For examination purposes, phrases instead of full sentences could be used.

  • The present case illustrates a situation where the community of an area has been debating the pros and cons of girls’ education. They have taken a joint decision not to allow girls to go to school after an incident of molestation. The reasons for the same include concerns over girls safety and high unemployment among male population due to competition over jobs.
  • Further, there is an inter-generational divide between the old and the young as well as a divide across genders over the idea of girl education
  • 1. The following steps may be taken to ensure girls’ safety without disrupting their education
    • Increasing police presence and responsiveness to issues of gender violence and molestation; building an atmosphere of security and trust between police and community.
    • Encouraging girls and parents to come up and report any issues they might face.
    • Trying to involve the community into any manner of community policing, whereby the people can come together to ensure their security.
    • Protecting any good Samaritans who come up and report any incidents
    • Sensitising the village community involving elders to understand the importance of girls’ education. Building a community perception would ensure that elements causing any harm to the girls face strict community action in addition to police action.
  • 2. The following measures could help mould the patriarchal mind-set of the village elders-
    • a. Helping the elders realise the importance of education of girls. Making them realise that when one educates a girl, they educate an entire family. Emphasizing that girls ought to be given a chance to learn and grow.
    • b. Using famous persons or persons with substantial goodwill/respect among the community to propagate the same.
    • c. Highlighting the examples of famous women and their contributions to community life
    • d. Using various innovative techniques like street plays (nukkad nataks), contests like “selfie with daughter” etc
    • e. Delinking the ideas of girl education and male unemployment; if the girls in this area do not study, other females from other areas can also compete for jobs.
    • f. The various initiatives under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme to promote girl education can also be used.
25 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog
  • Understanding freedom of speech and expression
    • Freedom has been viewed as a basic necessity for human beings to live a full and happy life. It is a cardinal virtue in a democratic nation.
    • Freedom in simple words is about the absence of constraints. However, mere absence of external constraints does not help. Freedom is also about expanding the ability of people to freely express themselves and develop their potential.
    • Both these aspects, absence of external constraints as well the existence of conditions for people to freely develop their true potential are equally important.
    • Freedom of Speech and Expression has been explicitly guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Article 19. It is a Fundamental Right which all citizens of the country enjoy.
    • At the same time, the Constitution imposes certain reasonable restrictions on free speech as well. These are in the form of threats to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign state, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
  • Defence of freedom of speech and examination of extent of censorship
    • Many great thinkers and writers have presented detailed arguments justifying the need for freedom in thought and expression
    • Essay on liberty by John Stuart Mill- The author offers reasons why freedom of expression is essential
      • No idea is completely false- if we ban false ideas, we would lose the element of truth in them
      • Only via a conflict of opposing views does the truth emerge.
      • We cannot be sure about truth. Ideas that seem false today, may turn out to be true in future.
    • John Stuart Mills Harm Principle- gives criteria on when freedom could be curtailed.
      • Freedom of speech must only be curtailed to prevent undue harm to others.
      • The harm must be serious in nature. In case of minor harm, only milder tools such as social disapproval must be used and not the force of the law. Eg playing loud music.
      • Only in serious cases of major harm must freedom be restrained. Else society must bear the inconvenience in the spirit of protecting freedom
    • The importance of Freedom of speech and expression is particularly immense in Indian context where various gagging acts were in place under British rule and the freedom to express has been won after a long struggle.
    • Further, the various social reforms of 19th century such as abolition of sati, widow remarriage etc would not be have been possible if we had resorted to hurt cries.
  • Free Expression, Cinema and Censorship
    • Cinema has been a classic means of expression. Therefore, it has been looked at from the same lens of freedom of speech and expression. Ability to make and release films is akin to an expression of creativity, guaranteed by Article 19.
    • However, the very nature of cinema as a mass media, with tremendous outreach, has led to increased responsibility and increased restrictions on the ability to express.
    • The Central Board for Film Certification in India is tasked with certifying films for public viewing. It examines the suitability of movies for public viewing and suggests changes/deletions if it includes threats to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign state, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
  • Shyam Benegal Committee
    • Amidst great dissatisfaction among filmmakers over allegedly excessive censorship by CBFC, Shyam Benegal Committee was set up to lay down a holistic framework for certification of films.
    • The committee was tasked to
      • lay down norms for film certification that take note of best practices in various parts of the world and give sufficient and adequate space for artistic and creative expression
      • lay down procedures and guidelines for the benefit of the CBFC Board to follow and
      • examine staffing patterns with a view to recommending a framework that would provide efficient and transparent user friendly services
    • The recommendations of the committee are:
      • Film certification process
        • CBFC should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity except in the following instances to refuse certification –
        • The applicant must specify the category of certification being sought and the target audience.
        • More specific categorisation: the committee recommends that categorisation should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories – UA12+ & UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.
      • Regarding CBFC
        • the Board, including Chairman, should only play the role of a guiding mechanism for the CBFC, and not be involved in the day-to-day affairs of certification of films.
        • The functions of the Board shall be confined to the duties defined in the existing CBFC rules
        • Given these limited functions, the size of the Board should be compact with one member representing each Regional Office. Therefore, the total composition of the Board should not be more than nine members and one Chairman.
      • Other recommendations:
        • Online submission of applications as well as simplification of forms and accompanying documentation.
        • Recertification of a film for purposes of telecast on television or for any other purpose should be permitted.
  • Recent incidences of censorship/restrictions/violation of rights of media
    • A number of incidences have occurred in India and world over sparking a debate about a balance between free expression and reasonable restraints on the same, especially in the context of media. Each case presents different intricacies and a one size fits all approach is not valid.
      • Charlie Hebdo Case- attack on office of Charlie Hebdo magazine by radical islamists for publication of objectionable cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
      • Perumal Murugan Case- Novelist Perumal Murugan’s work Madhurobhagan offended the sensibilities of many sections in Tamil Nadu. He had to give up writing altogether amidst threats to his life and safety of his family.
      • The killings of bloggers in Bangladesh to curb the new ideas put forward by these bloggers challenging religion and faith.
      • BBC Documentary- India’s Daughter- documentary over Delhi rape case was banned by Government of India as it allegedly incited violence against women and showed India in poor light
      • numerous arrests under Section 66 of IT Act
        • 12th class boy arrested over comments made on social media against politician Azam Khan
        • 2 girls in Maharashtra arrested for comments made over holiday due to Bal Thakeray’s death
      • Controversies over censorship of movies- PK Movie controversy, Udta Punjab Controversy
  • Udta Punjab Controversy and legal opinions over censorship
    • The film Udta Punjab has been the new scene of a controversy. The case is clearly drawn between the need to censor movies vs the manner in which excessive censorship stifles creativity and freedom of expression.
    • The movie had been under the censor’s scrutiny due to use of cuss words, references to drug trafficking and state of Punjab etc. The review committee of the CBFC had passed the movie with 13 deletions. However, the film-makers challenged the same in Bombay High court.
    • The Bombay High Court ordered that Udta Punjab be granted a certificate in the ‘Adult’ category and allowed to be screened with one cut and a disclaimer.
      • The court has passed a landmark judgement, clearing clarifying the role of CBFC. The court served a reminder that certification, and not censorship, is the real job of the CBFC.
      • The power to order changes and cuts must be exercised only in line with provisions of the Constitution and Supreme Court orders
      • CBFCs mandate is not to interfere with the film-maker’s creative process and freedom of expression; Clearly, suggesting that all references to Punjab be removed was an overreach of its mandate
      • The CBFC has been advised to move with the time and view cinema in the context of the age represented and the maturity of the current audience
      • It has reminded the Board that a film should be seen as one whole and its scenes and dialogues be not taken out of context.
      • The reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) were never meant to be invoked when people, in power or otherwise, found something in poor taste, offensive or against the grain of social or political opinion.
  • Way ahead
    • Clearly, cinema is a wonderful tool of expression with an immense outreach. Hence, regulating/certification is a necessary evil. The need here is to strike a balance and draw the line between regulation and over-regulation
    • Excessive censorship must clearly be checked. Using the rationale of hurt sentiments to curb creative freedom is must be avoided in our country, where tolerance and accommodation have been cardinal virtues.
    • The Shyam Benegal Committee had recommended that the CBFC should be nothing more than a certification body. It has suggested that films be classified on the basis of their suitability to different age groups. This could be a reform in the right direction.
    • The other side of the coin, the film-makers must also exhibit a level of self-regulation and refrain from unwanted elements such as excessive violence, objectification of women etc.
    • Together, the film-makers and the CBFC must work to create a fabric of a free, open and creative society.
25 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Introduction : The article traces the evolution of European Union after the second World War.

  • The idea of a “United States of Europe” was first proposed by Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1946. However, the move towards a supranational European organisation began on May 9, 1950 with the Schuman Declaration.
  • Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, set in motion the formation of a pan-European union by proposing a joint “High Authority” that would control coal and steel production in France and Germany.
  • He proposed that the organisation would be open to other European countries as well.
  • The Schuman Declaration was built upon the idea of Franco-German reconciliation to prevent the two nations from starting another World War.
  • European Coal and Steel Community
    • The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1951, set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the forerunner to the modern European Union.
    • It consisted of the six nations: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
    • The idea behind this economic union was that war would be far less likely between countries that are economically interdependent. The ECSC eventually led to the creation of the European Economic Community in 1957.
  • European Economic Community
    • The Treaties of Rome set up the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) that led to the creation of a ‘Common Market.’
    • The six member-nations of the EEC promised to reduce trade barriers and come out with common policies in areas such as transportation and agriculture.
    • This eventually created a system that allowed labour and goods to move freely between the member-nations. In 1957, Great Britain declined an invitation to join the EEC. In 1963, Great Britain tried to join the Common Market, but the then French President vetoed its application believing that the Britain “was not serious about European integration,”.
  • Merger Treaty
    • The Merger Treaty streamlined the European organisations (ECSC, EEC AND EURATOM) as the European Communities with the creation of a single Commission and a single Council to serve the three communities.
  • First Enlargement
    • In 1973, the European Communities, which consisted of the original six members, was finally expanded to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
    • In 1979, the European Parliament conducted the first pan-European elections, where its citizens elected the Members of the European Parliament directly.
    • Greece joined the European Communities in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.
  • The Single European Act
    • The Single European Act came into force on July 1, 1987. It created a single European market and reformed its institutions to prepare for the accession of the Spain and Portugal to the European Communities.
    • The Act also helped set into motion a vast six-year programme to reduce the restrictions on trade flow for European nations, setting up the single market. It allows for the free movement of people, goods, and money.
  • The Treaty of Maastricht
    • Treaty of Maastricht or the Treaty on European Union came into force on November 1, 1993. This treaty gave more decision-making power to the European Parliament and created the European Union.
    • It also created new avenues for European cooperation in fields such as Justice and Home Affairs and a Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also set the framework for a common currency policy, which in 1995, was renamed as the Euro.
  • The Schengen Agreement
    • Beginning in 1995, the Schengen Agreement came into force, allowing for a Europe without border controls for its member states.
  • The Treaty of Amsterdam
    • It came into force in 1999 and consolidated the numerous treaties which made up the EEC and EU. It also created room for greater transparency within the Union.
  • The Euro
    • In 2002, the Euro came into force for member countries of the Eurozone. Today, 19 members of the European Union have adopted the Euro as their official currency.
  • Treaty of Nice
    • In 2003, the Treaty of Nice came into force which streamlined the numerous mechanisms of EU governance as well as increased the number of seats in the European Parliament to 732, in the hope of an Eastern expansion.
  • Enlargement of the European Union
    • The largest enlargement of the European Union occurred on May 1, 2004. Ten countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia became its members taking the member-nations count to 25.
    • Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on January 1, 2007, followed by Croatia, which became its 28 member on July 1, 2013.
  • Treaty of Lisbon
    • The Treaty of Lisbon came into force on December 1, 2009 and created a permanent President of the European Council and increased the legislative powers of the European Parliament.
    • This treaty amended the Treaty of Maastricht and the Treaty of Amsterdam that formed the constitutional basis for the EU. The
    • Treaty of Lisbon made the European Central Bank and the European Council official institutions of the EU.
  • Nobel Peace Prize
    • On December 10, 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to stabilise Europe and to turn the continent into one of peace.

Question: The idea behind the creation of united states of Europe and economic union was that war would be far less likely between countries that are economically interdependent. In the light of this statement, highlight the evolution of this supra national institution and analyse how far it has been successful in achieving its targets..

Suggested approach:

  • Timeline and events that led to present European Union.
  • Analyses of its work with respect to its stated objectives.
  • The future of this community after present exit of Britain.

Link: http://www.thehindu.com/specials/history-of-eu/article8765088.ece

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