Controlling women’s sexual autonomy
Context: The Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, 2023, introduces Clause 69 which seeks to criminalise sexual activity based on the promise of marriage that is not intended to be fulfilled.
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 Issues Related to Women
- The focus of the clause is primarily on cases where a promise to marry is involved, even though it also covers cases of deceit-based sexual encounters beyond such promises.
Questions and Concerns Raised by Clause 69
- The introduction of criminal law into sexual relationships involving false marriage promises raises fundamental questions.
- Debate arises on whether criminal law should intervene in such matters and how this impacts the understanding of women’s sexual autonomy.
- While seemingly women-centric, Clause 69 is rooted in misogynistic notions about women’s sexuality and portrays women as perpetual victims who can be easily deceived into having sex.
Shift in Perspective on Consent
- Historically, Indian courts have interpreted promise-based sexual encounters as rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- These cases involve a woman’s consent to sex based on a man’s promise to marry her. If this promise is broken, it leads to rape charges.
- The courts, despite 2013 amendments that define consent, still refer to Section 90 of the IPC, which defines consent given under misconception, in such cases.
Critique of Clause 69
- Clause 69 departs from the existing framework by proposing a separate offense apart from rape, disregarding the knowledge element on the part of both men and women.
- Regardless of whether a woman’s consent is actually based on a marriage promise, if such a promise is found to be false, consensual sex can be criminalized.
- Concerns emerge regarding potential misuse, especially by parents discovering premarital sex, which may lead to unjust arrests and detention.
Judicial Interpretations and Inherent Biases
- Judicial interpretations of promise-to-marry cases as rape offer insights into how such cases are viewed by the legal system.
- Convictions often hinge on whether the promise was false from the start, with legitimate reasons for breaking the promise sometimes absolving the accused.
- Social hierarchies and norms also influence the legal perspective. For instance, inter-caste relationships based on a promise to marry are not given the same protection.
Impact on Sexual Autonomy and Rape Myths
- The introduction of Clause 69 raises concerns about its impact on women’s sexual autonomy.
- The proposal may contribute to diluting the seriousness of sexual violence, strengthening rape myths, and portraying women as potential misusers of the rape law.
- The focus of Clause 69 on regulating socially prohibited sex rather than addressing sexual violence calls into question its alignment with promoting women’s sexual autonomy.
Reframing the Dialogue on Sexual Autonomy
- Clause 69’s intent to regulate sex based on promise-to-marry raises complex issues.
- While its objective may not align with empowering women’s sexual autonomy, it brings to light the broader conversation on the intersection of law, consent, and societal norms in matters of sexual relationships.
In India, 74% can’t afford a healthy diet: UN agency report
Context: The report, ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ (SOFI) 2023, published last month, shows that while the cost of a healthy diet has increased in recent years in India, it is still the lowest among the BRICS nations (including the newly added six countries) and India’s neighbours.
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 Human Resource Issues Related to Women
Cost of Healthy Diet:
- Comparison Among BRICS Nations: The report indicates that while the cost of a healthy diet has risen in India, it remains the lowest among BRICS nations and neighboring countries.
- Increase in Meal Cost: A specific example from Mumbai is provided, where meal costs escalated by 65% in five years, outpacing salary/wage growth of 28%-37%.
- Methodology: The cost of a healthy diet is calculated using the cheapest local foods that fulfill dietary guidelines, averaged from national data. A diet is considered unaffordable if it exceeds 52% of a country’s average income.
- Global Comparison: The cost of a healthy diet is expressed as PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) dollars per person per day in 2021. India’s healthy diet cost is the lowest at 3.066 PPP dollars per person per day.
Affordability and Income:
- Population Unable to Afford Healthy Diet: In India, 74% of the population couldn’t afford a healthy diet, placing it fourth highest among the nations considered.
- Income Impact: While India’s healthy diet cost is relatively lower, the majority still can’t afford it due to stagnant or declining income levels.
- Increase in Diet Cost by Region: Between 2019 and 2021, Asia experienced the highest rise (almost 9%) in the cost of maintaining a healthy diet.
- Rise in Unaffordable Diets by Region: Asia and Africa collectively accounted for 92% of the global increase in the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet. In Asia, South Asia had the highest number and share of people facing this issue.
- Specific Regions Affected: Eastern and Western Africa recorded the highest growth in the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet, with the two continents combined making up the majority of the increase.
Despite the relatively lower cost of a healthy diet in India compared to other economies, the report highlights that the inability to afford such a diet is a significant issue due to income disparities. Additionally, the report outlines the increasing costs and challenges related to healthy diets across different regions.
What to do with spent nuclear fuel?
Context: The release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean has brought attention to the complex issue of managing nuclear waste.
Relevance: GS -3 Energy
- Spent Fuel Storage: One temporary solution involves storing spent nuclear fuel in pools until they cool down. Another method is placing them in dry casks, which are then stored in near-surface disposal facilities at ground level or below. These facilities have protective layers and are used for low-level and intermediate-level waste from operating plants.
- Burying Waste: This method involves placing waste in vaults and backfilling them with soil and clay. The volume is covered with an impermeable material and topsoil. This method is suitable for waste with lower levels of radioactivity.
Permanent Solution for High-Level Waste:
- Deep Geological Disposal: High-level nuclear waste, which contains highly radioactive isotopes, requires a more secure solution. The most feasible option is deep geological disposal, where waste is stored deep underground in stable geological formations.
- Onkalo Repository: Finland is at the forefront of deep geological disposal. The Onkalo repository, set to open in 2025, will be the first facility to implement this method. The project started in 2000 and is built on the Swedish KBS-3 concept.
- Layered Protection: The KBS-3 concept involves placing waste in copper canisters wrapped in bentonite clay. These canisters are buried more than 400 meters below ancient bedrock. Additional protective measures called “release barriers” will isolate the waste from its surroundings.
- Long-Term Approach: Finland’s plan is to leave the waste undisturbed for an exceptionally long period—100 millennia. The facility will study the site’s changes and evolving safety measures over time. The repository has undergone testing to ensure its resilience against geological changes like ice ages and earthquakes.
- Full Operation: The Finnish company Posiva, responsible for the Onkalo repository, estimates that the facility will need 100-120 years to become full.
Understanding curbs on rice exports
Context: In a move to check domestic rice prices and ensure domestic food security, the Indian government has prohibited the export of white rice, levied a 20% export duty on par-boiled rice till October 15, and permitted the export of Basmati rice for contracts with value of $1,200 a tonne or above.
Relevance: GS 3 Economy
Government Measures and Rice Production:
- Export Restrictions: The Indian government has taken measures to control domestic rice prices and ensure food security by banning the export of white rice. A 20% export duty has been imposed on par-boiled rice until October 15. Basmati rice can be exported if contracts are valued at $1,200 per tonne or above.
- Production Estimate: The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare’s third Advanced Estimate states that rice production during the Rabi season 2022-2023 decreased by 13.8%, amounting to 158.95 lakh tonnes compared to 184.71 lakh tonnes in Rabi 2021-2022.
- Kharif Sowing Data: Kharif sowing data reveals that rice was sown on 384.05 lakh hectares as of August 25, 2023, up from 367.83 lakh hectares during the same period last year.
- Regional Discrepancies: Farmers in Tamil Nadu anticipate delayed sowing due to monsoon shortfalls. The South West monsoon’s El Niño effects could impact crop arrivals.
- Global Export Leadership: India is the world’s largest rice exporter, holding a 45% share in the global rice market.
- Export Performance: Rice exports from April to May 2023 increased by 21.1% compared to the same period the previous financial year. Basmati rice exports in May alone grew by 10.86% year-on-year, while non-Basmati rice shipments increased by 7.5%, despite the export duty on white rice and the prohibition of broken rice exports.
- Trends: Non-Basmati rice exports have been rising for three consecutive years, and Basmati rice exports for 2022-2023 surpassed the previous year.
- Current Export Data: Until August 17, 2023, total rice exports (excluding broken rice) reached 7.3 million tonnes, a 15% increase from the 6.3 million tonnes during the same period the prior year.
- Global Rice Market Trends: Thailand foresees a significant drop in production for 2023-2024, Myanmar has halted raw rice exports, and rice crops in Iraq and Iran have been affected.
Impact on Farmers and Consumers:
- Minimum Support Price (MSP): The Indian government increased the MSP for rice, and current paddy procurement by rice millers exceeds the MSP, ensuring stable prices for farmers.
- Price Stability: Export restrictions are expected to prevent drastic rice price increases. Trade sources suggest that when the government sets a high benchmark price, farmers can expect better prices.
- Consumer Perspective: While there’s a slight present increase in rice prices for consumers, long-term availability and price stability are expected. A clearer picture of arrivals and government policy will emerge by mid-September.
- Competitive Market: Despite the 20% export duty, Indian par-boiled rice remains competitively priced in the international market.
- Global Demand: Countries like Indonesia, which are rice exporters, are considering rice imports due to high international demand.
- Export Classification: Exporters suggest classifying rice as common and specialty varieties for export policy decisions rather than just Basmati and non-Basmati categories.
- Geographical Indication (GI) Recognition: Trade policy consultant S. Chandrasekaran suggests that the GI-recognized rice varieties should be exempted from general market interventions.
- Basmati Rice Exports: Exporters propose allowing Basmati rice exports to continue or setting a minimum export value of $900 per tonne to ensure demand. They highlight that Indian rice quality and consistent supply drive export demand.
WCS-India report flags illegal trade of red sand boa
Context: A report published by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)India highlights the concerning issue of illegal trade in red sand boas (Eryx johnii) in India between 2016 and 2021.
- Conservation Status: The red sand boa is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is facing a decreasing population trend across most of its habitat ranges.
- Reasons for Trade: The red sand boa is highly sought after due to its demand in the pet trade and its use in black magic practices. These factors contribute to its prevalence in illegal wildlife trade.
Implications and Recommendations:
The report emphasizes the need to address the illegal trade in red sand boas and highlights the role of social media platforms in facilitating this trade. It suggests that both local and international conservation organizations should conduct formative research to better understand the dynamics of the illegal reptile trade, its demand, and ways to combat it. The report aims to shed light on the issue and contribute to preventing the illegal collection and sale of red sand boas.
IMSc to pay homage to founder Alladi Ramakrishnan
Context: The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Chennai, India, is commemorating the birth centenary of its visionary founder-director, Alladi Ramakrishnan, with a conference in his honor.
Legacy of Alladi Ramakrishnan:
- Theoretical Physics Seminar: After returning to Madras, Alladi Ramakrishnan started a theoretical physics seminar at his family home, Ekamra Nivas. This seminar attracted physicists, mathematicians, and students from around the world.
- Niels Bohr’s Impression: When Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr visited India in 1960, he praised the small group of students trained by Alladi Ramakrishnan in Madras, along with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’s setup in Bombay. This recognition led to further support for Ramakrishnan’s work.
- Founding of IMSc: With the support of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Alladi Ramakrishnan founded the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in 1962. He served as its director until his retirement in 1983. IMSc has since evolved into a prominent research institution in mathematics and related fields.