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  • Aug 16, 2019
    Health care in prisons is poorly defined and poorly understood in almost every country. There is a lack of skilled education and training on this subject, lack of motivation and, social stigma attached to working in prisons. As the number of crimes is continuously increasing, over-crowding in prisons, poor hygiene conditions, and communicable diseases are on the increase as well, such that prisons become a breeding ground for all manner of related problems. It is a sad reality that where the budget should importantly be implemented it is cut off from and the health is the first casualty. But some way or the other, the management staff is taking the utmost efforts to make the prisoners and the prison stay healthy and well-maintained irrespective of the politics. When a prison enters the prison, a physical and mental health assessment of the prisoner is conducted by the health staff so that the prisoner's health and medication needs are known. Not only this but also qualified doctors, nurses, mental health nurses, and other allied health helpers provide on-site health care in every prison. Disabled prisoners get the access health services provided.  If a prisoner has a health issue that cannot be treated at their prison, they may be transferred to another prison where those services are available. A comprehensive approach to the prevention and management of suicide risk is also implemented. The situation of healthcare differs from prison to prison and country to country. The government has provided many healthcare policies for the prisoners and to help them. Some exceptions are always there but things are changing for good!
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  • Aug 02, 2019
    Hazardous waste is defined as waste material that is dangerous or potentially harmful to public health or environment. While in their simplest forms they are liquids, solids, gases, or sludge, we also think of hazardous waste in terms of its originating waste stream: liquid waste, clinical/medical waste and e-waste. Population growth, economic development, and changing lifestyles have given a rise in the generation of solid waste. Burning in landfills is still one on the most common methods of disposal, resulting in harm to human health and the environment. Waste contractors collecting hazardous waste are mostly untrained, unequipped, poorly paid, and the high temperature treatment in India is inadequate. Hazardous waste is produced by rapid industrial growth in the country. Indeed, industrialized states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh face problems relating to rising quantities of hazardous waste.   Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns/cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites. Solid Waste Management (SWM) is a basic essential servicea provided by municipal authorities to keep urban centres clean. However, haphazardly all municipal authorities deposit solid waste at a dumpyard within or outside the city. Experts tell that India runs a flawed system of waste disposal and management. Energy generated from waste is a crucial element of SWM as it reduces the volume of waste from disposal and also helps in converting the waste into renewable energy and organic manure. Ideally, it falls in the flow chart after segregation, collection, recycling and before getting to the land fill. Installation of waste-to-compost and bio-methanation plants would reduce the load of landfill sites. The biodegradable component of India’s solid waste is currently estimated at a little over 50 per cent. Bio-methanation is a solution for processing biodegradable waste which is also remains underexploited. It is believed that if we segregate biodegradable waste from the rest, it could reduce the challenges by half. E-waste component contains toxic materials which are non-biodegradable and present both occupational and environmental health threats as toxic smoke from recycling processes and leaching from e-waste in landfill into local water tables.  
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  • Jul 05, 2019
    Highlights of the Union Budget for 2019-20 (Apr-Mar), presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha today: DIRECT TAX * Increasing surcharge on income over 20 mln rupees/year * Faceless tax scrutiny case selection to be on random basis * Propose 2% TDS on 10 mln rupee/yr cash withdrawal from banks * Propose to take slew of measures to boost digital payments * Launching automated, faceless assessment of tax * To make pre-filled tax return forms available * To make Aadhaar, PAN interchangeable to file tax returns * Tax proposals aim to stimulate growth, housing * Direct tax mop up 11.37 trln rupees FY19 vs 6.38 trln FY14* Seeing double-digit growth in direct tax revenue annually * Corporate tax now 25% for cos with 4 bln rupees/yr revenue * Corporate tax cut to cover 99.3% of all cos INDIRECT TAX * To raise road, infra cess on petrol, diesel by 1 rupee/ltr * To up special additional excise on diesel by 1 rupee/ltr * To up special additional excise on petrol by 1 rupee/ltr * Proposing certain amendments to Customs Act * Raising customs duty on precious metals to 12.5% * Raising customs duty on gold * Customs duty being exempted on some parts of e-vehicles * 5% customs duty being imposed on imported books * To implement fully-automated GST refund module * GST led to lower rates on almost all commodities * Tax deduction of 150,000 rupees on e-vehicle loan interest * Extra 150,000-rupee tax deduction on some small home loans * RBI, banks to absorb merchant discount rate at small shops * No merchant discount rate on e-transaction at small shops 10 POINTS OF VISION * Building social infrastructure among 10 points of vision * Building pollution-free environment among 10 points of vision * Digital India in every sector among 10 points of vision * Make in India with stress on MSME in 10 points of vision * Water management, clean rivers among 10 points of vision * Export of food grain in 10 points of vision * Ayushman Bharat, clean India among 10 points of vision * Space programmes, safety of citizen in 10 points of vision GROWTH, INFLATION* Well within capacity to reach $5-trln economy in few years * India to become $3-trln economy in FY20 * India now 6th largest economy vs 11th five years ago REFORMS* Need to continue undertaking structural reforms * Need to continue structural reforms to reach $5-trln aim * Need to invest in job creation in MSMEs * Need to invest heavily in digital India, job creation * $5-trln economy target is imminently achievable * "Gone are the days of policy paralysis" * Wish to propose many initiatives to kick-start growth * Reforms needed in power tariffs * To soon announce policy package for power tariffs * Model tenancy law to soon be finalised * Propose several reform measures for rental housing * PPP to fast develop track, rolling stock, freight svcs * To have blueprint for water grids, gas grids, airways * Examining performance of UDAY scheme * One nation, one grid to ensure power connectivity * 2 more terminals at Sahibganj, Haldia to be functional soon * Movement of cargo in river Ganga to rise 4 times in 4 yrs FINANCIAL SECTOR, MARKETS * STT to be limited to gap between settlement, strike price * Propose some leeway in Securities Transactions Tax * Propose to implement steps to make tax compliance easier * Bad loan tax norms for most NBFCs at par with banks * Need for greater parity in tax treatment of NBFCs vs banks * CBDT to make provisions for pending assessment of startups * Start-ups not to face scrutiny in terms of share premium * Taking steps to resolve angel tax issue for startups * To start scheme for foreign cos in advanced technology sector * To start scheme to invite foreign cos in sunrise sectors To give PSU banks 700 bln rupees capital * Banks' NPAs reduced by more than 1 trln rupees last year * Domestic credit growth risen to 13.8%* To let all NBFC to participate in trade receivable platform * Propose to return regulation over housing fin cos to RBI * Propose more power to RBI over NBFCs in Finance Bill * One-time, six-month guarantee to PSU banks to buy some NBFC loans * Fundamentally sound NBFCs should get funding from banks, MFs * To undertake steps to improve governance in PSU banks * Provision coverage ratio of banks highest in 7 years * Six PSU banks enabled to come out of prompt corrective action * To start raising part of borrowing from external market in FX * To boost retail participation in CPSE ETFs * India's sovereign external debt to GDP ratio less than 5% * To offer ETF participation via ELSS-like system * Setting divestment target of 1.05 trln rupees for FY20 * Govt to reinitiate process of Air India divestment * Onshore insurers' net owned funds need cut to 10 bln rupees * Strategic divestment of PSUs to remain a priority * Mulling below 51% stake in PSUs on case-to-case basis * To raise cap on foreign shareholding in some PSUs * Steps to separate NPS Trust from PFRDA * Financial gains from cleaning banking sector now visible * FDI inflows remain robust despite global headwinds * Important to increase retail invest in T-bills * Propose to create platform for listing social enterprises * To work with regulators for AA bonds as collateral for repo * Asked SEBI to mull hiking minimum public shareholding to 35% * Propose to rationalise existing KYC norms for FPIs * India needs 20-trln-rupee estimated investment every year * To put in place action plan to deepen long-term bond mkt * Action plan to deepen market for long-term bonds * Invest driven growth requires access to low-cost capital * To create payment platform for MSMEs * Large infrastructure can be built on land owned by CPSEs * To allow FPIs to subscribe to listed debt papers of REITs * Propose to merge NRI, FPI investment scheme routes * To mull hiking FDI limit in media, insurance, animation cos * Contemplating an annual global investors meet in India * Propose 100% FDI in insurance intermediaries * To examine suggestions to further open up FDI in aviation * FDI flows rose 6% to $64.37 bln in FY19 * Propose to make India a more attractive FDI destination * To take steps for RBI, SEBI depositories' inter-operability * To allow FPIs to subscribe to listed debt papers of REITs * Propose to merge NRI, FPI investment scheme routes * To mull hiking FDI limit in media, insurance, animation cos * Contemplating an annual global investors meet in India * Propose 100% FDI in insurance intermediaries * To examine suggestions to further open up FDI in aviation * FDI flows rose 6% to $64.37 bln in FY19 * Propose to make India a more attractive FDI destination * To take steps for RBI, SEBI depositories' inter-operability * To allow FPI invest in listed debt securities of InvITs * Will take steps to meet 25% public holding in listed PSUs * Need to encourage continued growth of startups INFRASTRUCTURE, INDUSTRY * To invest 100 trln rupees in infrastructure over next 5 years * To set up panel on long-term funding for infrastructure Need to invest heavily in infrastructure * Rail infra may need investment of 50 trln rupees 2018-2030 * 2nd stage of Bharatmala to help develop state roads * To incentivise advanced vehicle battery manufacturing * Need to develop inland waterways for cargo movement * To comprehensively restructure national highway programme * To comprehensively restructure national highway programme * 210 km of new metro lines operationalised in 2019 * Launching national common mobility card * To leverage engineering skill for project maintenance work * Public infra, affordable housing to be taken up in FY20 * To aid cluster-based development of traditional industries * To use more PPP mode for metro rail network * Railways to be encouraged to use SPVs for suburban projects* To use USOF, PPP mode for speeding up BharatNet * To deal with tax issues of start-ups later in speech * To start TV programme exclusively for startups FARM SECTOR* Every rural family to have gas, power connectivity by 2022 * All rural families to have electricity connection by 2022 * Govt keeps Antyodaya at core of all its policies * Villages, poor, farmers at centre of every govt plan * Gaon, garib, kisan at centre of every govt plan * To invest widely in agriculture infrastructure * Bamboo, khadi, honey to be focus for cluster development * To invest 802.5 bln rupees to upgrade rural roads in 5 years * To upgrade 125,000 km of rural roads in 5 years * 30,000 km roads under PM Sadak Yojana built with green technology * All-weather roads provided to 97% of habitation * To have robust framework for fisheries mgmt network * 19.5 mln homes to be given till 2022 in PM rural house plan * 15 mln homes completed under PM rural house plan * APMCs shouldn't hamper farmers from getting fair price * Zero-budget farming to be promoted * Hope to form 10,000 farmer producer organisations * Aiming oilseed self sufficiency, to help cut import bill * Ease of doing business, living should apply to farmers too * To create infrastructure for cattle feed manufacturing * Will support private companies to add value for farm producers * Zero-budget farming can help double farmers' income SOCIAL SECTOR, EDUCATION * See rapid urbanisation as an opportunity, not challenge * Constructed 96 mln toilets since Oct 2, 2014 * To expand Swachh Bharat plan to undertake solid waste mgmt * India to be open-defecation-free by Oct 2 * Over 95% cities have become open-defecation free Identified 1,592 blocks for Jal Shakti Abhiyan * To use CAMPA funds for Jal Shakti plan * Aim water connection to every household by 2024 * To set up national research foundation to assimilate all grants * To bring new national education policy * Will bring in new national educational policy * 3 mln workers joined govt pension plan so far * Banks to provide assistance under Stand-Up India scheme * Stand-Up India scheme to continue till 2025 * Expect less labour disputes as laws get streamlined * Propose to develop 17 iconic tourism sites * Propose digital repository for tribal heritage * Propose to revamp India Development Assistance Scheme * Opened 5 new embassies in Africa FY19, to open 4 more * Propose to launch mission to integrate traditional artisans MISCELLANEOUS * Election 2019 mandate was full of hope for new India * Voters stamped their approval on a performing government * People of India voted for national security, economic growth * Have set the ball rolling for new India * Govt provided fiscal discipline during 2014-2019 * Average food security amount almost doubled during 2014-19 * Our last-mile delivery stood out, reached everywhere * Will further simplify procedure, reduce red tape * Mega programmes initiated in 1st term will continue * We don't look down upon legitimate profit-earning * To take step for virtuous cycle of domestic, foreign investment * Time right for India to enter aircraft financing, leasing * Launched co to tap ISRO's capabilities commercially
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  • Jun 17, 2019
    Hindu Women’s Inheritance Rights Women and their rights have always been problematic issues almost everywhere in the world. The main cause of the same is the fact that there exists an obvious divide between the genders. This we can say chronologically that it started during the primitive times. During those times what was important was muscle power, for one needed it for besting the prey for sustenance. Obviously, women did not have brute physical power as compared to that of a man. This led to women participating in other equally important activities such as cooking and maintaining the household. The critical point to note here is that although there was an obvious difference that existed, it did not pave way to creation of any complex between the genders. Both the sexes recognised their roles in the society and went about performing their activities peacefully. It was in the ancient period that there was any position attached to the roles of the genders. This is what contributed to the downfall of the women, for not only was their identity and position compromised in the society, it even went to the extent of affecting their rights. This is the major reason as to why such movements exist, that seek to put the women in the position that they are supposed to be in. In the Indian context and regarding Hindus, the Britishers had legislated on certain matters with the ultimate objective of achieving equality between the genders. The British came up with the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856. This act had a twofold use – one to seemingly promote equality between the genders and two, to boost the economy with the money of the rich widows. This act was not helpful because only a few widows remarried, whose contribution to the economy was also negligible. Moreover, it granted the widow only partial rights over her deceased husband’s property. There was also the fact that she got the right to the property only in cases where the couple had no sons. Then, in 1868, came the Proclamation of the Queen that sought for reforms in the legal sphere in India. This caused the Britishers to take an active role in enacting legislations, which also extended to the sphere of personal law. Then in 1925, came the secular act for succession – Indian Succession Act. This act had special provisions for every sect (dependant on religion) of the population. This act was actually quite ahead of its time, for it did not discriminate between the genders. But it did not have much to with Hindus at all which rendered the equality that it so established useless for Hindus. In 1928 came the Hindu Law of Inheritance that sought to bring changes to the pattern of inheritance as per Hinduism. This act had certain provisions by virtue of which the son’s daughter, daughter’s daughter and the sister of the deceased could inherit the property of the deceased by making them class I heirs. This position was established in the Madras and Bombay High Courts, but not in the rest of the country. This act was amended in 1929. The amendment bill sought to position the female heirs between the paternal grandfather and the uncles. This bill was deeply opposed because the changes that the act brought about were of a huge magnitude. At this stage it is worth mentioning that although the next act came in 1937 , the women were already expressing their wishes that they wanted laws that supported their inheritance, which lead to the 1937 Women’s Right to Property Act, being welcomed well. It conferred rights on three widows to inherit property – widow of the deceased, widow of the pre-deceased son and the widow of the pre-deceased son’s son along with the other existing heirs. But the widows were only given a limited interest in the property. Upon the death of these afore-mentioned widows, the property would go back to the reversioners (the people to whom the property would have gone to, if not for the act). Also, this act was applicable only when the deceased died intestate, which was not the case most of the time. The widow was allowed to alienate the property when she was alive with the consent of the reversioners. This alienation was also for special purposes only such as benefit of estate, indispensable duty and fulfilment of legal duty. The famous case of Renka and Anr. And Bhola Nath Vs. Nannhu Mal and Ors. in 1915, established that the alienation cannot be for wasteful purposes. The share of the widow of the deceased was equivalent to that of her son, which meant that the son should not be alive for this act to be applicable to any of the afore-mentioned widows as well. While the act had good intentions, it clearly did not do much to improve the condition of widows or women. Post-Independence in 1947, there was a flurry of activity regarding codification of Hindu Laws, especially after the enactment of the Constitution in 1950. This involved the creation of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955 and in 1956, the Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act as well as the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act by the Parliament, more so because the matters of family law were all consolidated to be matters of importance of both the Centre as well as the States. This meant that the same found its place in the Concurrent List . The Hindu Succession Act is the act that deals with inheritance rights, as the name suggests. This act concerns itself with the property that is susceptible to intestate division, while the testamentary succession is taken care of by the Indian Succession Act, 1925. It is noteworthy to mention that Hinduism allows for exclusion of people through wills and so does the Indian Succession Act. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 initially was not particularly helpful to improve the situation of women. One of the reasons how this could be substantiated is the fact that daughters could not be coparceners. A coparcenary is considered to be constituted by the male members of a family for four generations, that is, a man, his sons, his grandsons, and his great grandsons constitute a coparcenary. Initially, these generations were considered because it was believed that these were the four generations who were capable of performing the religious ceremonies for the deceased. The wives of these men (who constituted the coparcenary) were never coparceners – even now. Only if the wife becomes a widow, that too because of the Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937 is she allowed to inherit the property. 2005 saw the Supreme Court asserting that daughters are of same status as sons, and hence are eligible to be coparceners. All the advantages as well as the disadvantages that come with being a coparcener are what the daughters inherit as well. This amendment meant that grandsons and granddaughters were treated equally, as well as great grandsons and great granddaughters being treated equally. But such a change was visible in 1986, 1989, 1990 and 1994 by Andhra Pradesh , Tamil Nadu , Karnataka and Maharashtrarespectively. In a landmark judgement, the Delhi Court allowed for women to become Karta in 2015 , prior to which the thought itself was considered to be prohibited. Sec 14 of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 declared that the property held by women were all of absolute nature, that is, she was the owner of the property and she could do whatever she chose to do with the property as she chose. Here, property refers to both movable as well as immovable property and the property was irrespective of from who she got the property from. Whereas, the previous position was that she would have limited ownership of the property, which meant that she could use the property during her lifetime and she was not given the power of disposal of the property as well. There are two conditions that ought to be fulfilled for the application of Sec 14 – one, the ownership of the property in question must vest in her and two, when the act did come to force, the widow ought to have had possession of the property. The Hindu Succession Act has also differentiated between the property of the deceased, that is, the inheritance pattern changes when a male dies as well when a female dies. This difference is unique to Hindu law alone. Sec 15 is about the devolution of the property of a woman who dies intestate. It specifies the order by which the heirs inherit the property, that is – first, husband and children; second, heirs of the husband; third, mother and father of the deceased; fourth, heirs of the father and finally fifth, heirs of the mother. This is obviously dissimilar to how the property of an intestate male is split. The constitutionality of the same was challenged in the case of Sonabhai Yeshwant Jadhav Vs. BalaGovinda Yadav , but the court upheld the same. The problem here is to with the thought process of the legislators, who deemed that, for a woman, her marital status is particularly important as compared to that of a man, which should not be the case . This has been observed by the Law Commission Report as well . The fairness of this provision was questioned in the case of Omprakash Vs. RadhaChandran , to no avail. There is a clear violation of Article 14 here, in terms of how the sections are drafted, and the implications are also disastrous. While the Parliament has shown the Hindu Succession Act as being progressive, by allowing daughters to be coparceners in Sec 6, it has also shown the same to be regressive as well, for it enforces the concept of women being second to men in Sec 15 . To cure the act of its regressive mentality, the Law Commission Report has proposed changes, which are highly relevant in the current context as well. The Parliament must enforce these changes to enforce equality as well as empower women. By Aparna Venkataraman Reference from - law corner  
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  • Jun 12, 2019
    The main role of international law is to promote global peace and prosperity. Ideally, international law and its accompanying institutions act as a balm to smooth over opposing interests that nations may have. Both international law and its institutional setting are clearly embedded with ideology, a cause for serious concern for many nations that feel their own national identities are under attack by growing economic interdependence and encroaching “Western” values. The aim of this article is to show how international law, together with its institutions, must explicitly state its ideological assumptions then develop a coherent and consistent institutional framework around this ideology. The values underlying international law today are the values of liberalism—the rule of law, capitalism, democracy and an emphasis on human rights. This essay briefly reviews how these liberal legal institutions were created and discuss how a stricter following of the principles of liberalism could contribute to a more secure and prosperous global community. (edited) There was once a great empire that ruled vast swaths of land, spreading its economic power and culture throughout the known world. The empire tolerated diversity and encouraged pursuits in the arts and sciences, producing the greatest artists and scientistsInternational law has its roots in antiquity as ancient tribes struggled to come to an agreement concerning the division of territory and resources. For our purposes, modern international legal structures arose to confront the creation of sovereign nations, developments that are often traced to a treaty created in 1648 among warring European nations. From 1618 to 1648, the Thirty Years War ravaged most of Europe, resulting in the death of an estimated twenty percent of the population of Europe. During this time, many modern nation-states were born: Russia, France, Great Britain, Sweden, and Spain, among others. In 1648, these warring states achieved a temporary peace under the Treaty of Westphalia, offering the chance of greater collective security and prosperity. One of the central tenets of the Treaty was that international law should disregard the internal conflicts of a state and that foreign states should only intercede when territorial boundaries had been crossed by invading armies: in other words, state sovereignty was considered to be an almost absolute and international intervention into domestic matters was not acceptable. For the next three centuries, domestic matters not warrantingintervention would include what today we call human rights abuses. The rise of the nation-state was accompanied by a Western philosophy of natural law that asserted that men (or, somewhat later, all people) could only truly be free under the protection of their sovereign. Political philosophers such as Grotius, Pufendorf, Hobbes, and Rousseau asserted that the state was an independent entity charged with protecting its citizens and only answerable to international political institutions if the state expressly consented to do so. The state hence began to take on a life of its own. In particular, the philosophy of John Locke, a father of modern liberalism, articulated avision of a state where individuals renounced their natural right to perfect freedom in order to enter into a social contract to enjoy even greater prosperity and security: The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community, for their comfortable, safe and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that are not of it … And thus every man, by consenting with others to make one body politic under one government, puts himself under an obligation to every one of that society, to submit to the determination of the majority, and to be concluded by it; or else this original compact, whereby he with others incorporates into one society, would signify nothing, and be no compact, if he be left free, and under no other ties, then he was in before in the state of nature (Second Treatise on Civil Government, 1690 ¶¶ 95-97).
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  • Jun 11, 2019
    HOW A BILL BECOMES AN ACT? The Lawmaking process: A Bill undergoes three readings in each House of Parliament. The First Reading consists of the Introduction of a Bill. The Bill is introduced after adoption of a motion for leave to introduce a Bill in either of the House. With the setting up of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees, invariably all Bills, barring Ordinance replacing Bills; Bills of innocuous nature and Money Bills, are referred to the these Committees for examination and report within three months. The next stage on a Bill i.e., second reading start only after the Committee submits its report on the Bill to the Houses. The Second Reading consists of two stages: the ‘first stage’ consists of discussion on the principles of the Bill and its provisions generally on any of the following motions: that the Bill be taken into consideration; that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha ; that the Bill be referred to a Joint Committee of the Houses with the concurrence of the Lok Sabha; that it be circulated for the purpose of eliciting opinion thereon; and the ‘second stage’ signifies the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill as introduced or as reported by the Select/Joint Committee. Amendments given by members to various clauses are moved at this stage. The Third Reading refers to the discussion on the motion that the Bill (or the Bill as amended) be passed or returned (to the Lok Sabha, in the case of a Money Bill) wherein the arguments are biased against or in favor of the Bill. After a Bill has been passed by one House, it is sent to the other House where it goes through the same procedure. However the Bill is not again introduced in the other House, it is laid on the Table of the other House which constitutes its first reading there. (ii) After a Bill has been passed by both Houses, it is presented to the President for his assent. The President can assent or withhold his assent to a Bill or he can return a Bill, other than a Money Bill, for reconsideration. If the Bill is again passed by the Houses, with or without amendment made by the President, he shall not withhold assent therefrom. But, when a Bill amending the Constitution passed by each House with the requisite majority is presented to the President, he shall give his assent thereto.A Bill becomes an Act of Parliament after being passed by both the Houses of Parliament and assented to by the President.
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  • May 31, 2019
    IntroductionWhen it comes to human rights, the issue of cultural relativism is widely discussed. Majority of the human rights literature encompasses the western and non-western argument on what best illustrates what human rights should be. As a result of these debates, comes the discussion of cultural relativism. Cultural relativism, at first glance, seems like quite a reasonable argument towards safeguarding different cultural groups. However when we begin to analyse the cultural relativism theory, we come to know that it is not quite as reasonable or even as practical as it seems to be.  Cultural relativism seems to not only ignore human rights violations, but actually seems to approve them. Furthermore, it hardly disapproves any cultural or religious practices. Cultural relativism ignores the necessity to oppose violations and other human rights, and also ignores the freedom of choice to do so.[1]   AnalysisCultural relativism is the principle by which a human being’s beliefs should be perceived in accordance with his or her own culture. This concept of cultural relativism came about during discussions about the origin of human rights. There are quite a few ideas and claims that have led to the concept of cultural relativism, one of them being Kant’s argument that human beings are incapable of gaining unmediated knowledge of the world, and that the human mind interferes with all our experiences of the world, thus structuring our perceptions universally. However Herder disagreed with Kant’s argument saying that human experiences were mediated by cultural structures as well. As a result of this debate between Kant and Herder, came the belief of ethnocentrism.[2] Contemporary society is often referred to as a multicultural world, with people from various cultures increasingly becoming accustomed to interacting with people from other cultures. As a result of this, the ability to learn to respect and tolerate different cultural practices and beliefs has developed. In today’s society, people have shown an increased reluctance to criticise other cultures for various reasons. One of these reasons could be the fear of history repeating itself. An example of this is the European invasion of different parts of the world, including Africa, Asia and America, in the name of spreading Christianity and education. The aftermath of this resulted in slavery, apartheid and many other violations. The reluctance to criticise other cultures in this case arises from the fear of making the same violations as in the past. Another reason why there is the reluctance to criticise other cultures is that people feel the need to be tolerant of other cultures. Truth be told, tolerance is indeed essential for the sake of living in this multicultural world of ours peacefully. However, one should not feel obligated to tolerate particular cultural beliefs, especially if it involves some form of human rights violation.   It is true that people from different cultures have different ideas of what is right and what is wrong. Warburton describes moral relativism as “values held by a particular society at a particular time. However, moral relativism, just like cultural relativism can also be perceived in different ways by different cultures. In other words, relativists see that moral values are valid only within some cultural boundaries. Some examples illustrated by anthropologists as morally acceptable in some cultures and condemned by others are polygamy, genocide and sexism. Consequently, the moral difference in these cultures brings about the issue of ethics. Ethical relativism also promotes the belief that morality is, and cannot be universal. Moral relativism is therefore justified by relativist through various examples. For instance, practices regarding clothing and decency. This can be justified by one culture in that it is their moral obligation and duty to have women dress in a decent manner so as not to compromise their ethics. Some cultures would therefore agree with these practises under the moral principle that it is the duty of society to protect the women of their society.   Theories of different scholarsWe live in a world where cultural relativism is constantly questioned and debated. As earlier stated, relativism came about as a result of arguments on ethical issues. In support of cultural relativism, Benedict explains that “cultures are coexisting and equally valid patterns of life, which mankind has created for itself from the raw materials of existence. “According to Benedict, all cultures are equally valid as they embrace different views on morality and ethics.[3]However, Kluckhohn disagreed with Benedict’s doctrine on cultural relativism saying that this excluded any kind of moral criticism, his argument being that if one accepted Benedict’s theory, then they could not, complain about any kind of evil against humanity including slavery, communism, terrorism and many other forms of evil. The perception of cultural relativism is that people’s rights depend on their nationality, culture, and religion. Therefore, according to relativist, the rights of people in Nigeria are different from those in China or anywhere in the world.   Further AnalysisCultural relativism also promotes minoritism, as different cultures embrace the classification of people in their societies. For example, the caste system of Hinduism which rejects equal treatment of different caste members in Hindu society. As stated earlier, these individuals are denied various rights such as education, healthcare and jobs. Cultural relativism, in turn, denies the victims of these situations any access to universal standards. Furthermore, since cultural relativism supports groups of cultures, it is logical to say that individual rights in these cultures are disregarded. This means that individuals have no say in anything as society speaks for them and decides what is right or wrong for the individual. Moreover, Universalists believe that cultural relativism has caused more harm than good towards cultures. An example of this is the war in between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli culture claims that they are fighting to get their holy land, Jerusalem, back. However, this war has killed thousands of Muslims in the name of doing what is culturally “right” in accordance with the relativist theory. In the past, anthropologists were not afraid to show their discontentment about various unjust practises such as Apartheid against South Africans and the acts of genocide performed by the Nazi. Today, however, they have not spoken against similar practises that endanger human life such as female circumcision and even genocide in Rwanda and Sudan. How, then is it possible for one to rely on a theory that contradicts itself in this manner? If we therefore reflect on these relativist theories, cultural relativism just seems very unrealistic and impractical. ConclusionAll in all, although we learn about the virtue of tolerance from the cultural relativism theory, it is safe to say that the reason why we believe it is so important to be tolerant of other cultures is because we are also want to experience our own freedom, thus we do not want other cultures to criticize our own. Nobody wants to have their freedom restricted, and therefore if we want to enjoy the freedom to enjoy our beliefs we would not dare to limit the freedom of the beliefs of cultures we do not agree with.   [1]Jack Donelly; Defining “Cultural Relativism” [2]Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights by Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban https://anthropology.si.edu/outreach/anthnote/Winter98/anthnote.html [3]The John Hopkins University Press; Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rightshttp://fs2.american.edu/dfagel/www/class%20readings/donnelly/cultual%20relativism.pdf  
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  • May 30, 2019
    Introduction Since a very long time, the LGBTQ community has been facing injustice, torture, inequality, taunts, physical and sexual abuse. Being homosexual is not a disease but is natural. There have been a lot of legal development in protecting the rights of LGBTQ and in terms of a legal standpoint, India is now doing very well in maintaining the rights of the LGBTQ community. However, when it comes to societal development, there is a still a lot of work that has to be done. Though the trans-genders are given the legal status of third gender and have same fundamental rights as other citizens, they still face a lot of discrimination and criticism by the society. They are still seen as a social outcast. However, a lot of communities see hijras as spiritual and consider their blessings as an important part of marriages and when children are born in the family. Homosexual teenagers still are victims of bullying and teasing in schools. The are not only taunted by friends but even by their own family. They are also considered as mentally ill people. LGBTQ community are not given jobs or housing facilities because of which they cannot maintain a basic livelihood. Moreover, they are sexually abused by friends, relatives and sometimes even law enforcement authorities. They are also discriminated against in multiple occasions which is against their right to equality which Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees.  A lot of members of the LGBTQ community are made to undergo shock therapy for forceful sexuality conversion which is a grave violation of their basic human rights. Just like anybody else, the LGBTQ community has the right to decide what should be and should not be done to their bodies and nobody can force that upon them.   Judicial Approach As per Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, “Unnatural Sexual Offences” is a crime. But, it does not define what “unnatural” actually is in the penal code because of which, a lot of members of the LGBTQ community have faced humiliation, violence including violence from police, blackmailing, sexual abuse, etc.  Section 377 of IPC was a major obstacle between LGBTQ community and their human rights.   National Legal Services Authority v Union of India (2014) is a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court of India. It declared “trans-genders” as third gender and affirmed that fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people, and gave them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or third-gender. This judgement is a major step towards gender equality in India. Moreover, the court also held that because transgender people were treated as socially and economically backward classes, they will be granted reservations in admissions to educational institutions and jobs.  In 2009, Delhi High Court decriminalized section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 in the famous Naz Foundation v Govt. of NCT of Delhi case. However, this judgement was later waived off by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court considered the LGBTQ community as a minuscule minority which does not need any protection of rights.  In 2018 September, the Supreme Court of India pronounced Section 377 as unconstitutional and decriminalized homosexuality. The five-judge bench- comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R.F Nariman, A.M Khanwilkar, D.Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra were unanimous in its decision. They said that section 377 is irrational arbitrary and incomprehensible as it fetters the right to equality for LGBT community. LGBT possess same rights as other citizens. What society thinks has no say to when it comes to people’s freedoms. They further said that social morality cannot violate the rights of even one single individual and society owes an apology to the LGBTQ community. “Members of LGBT community and their family members are owed an apology from society for being denied equal rights over the years,” said Justice Malhotra.   Conclusion In conclusion, though the law has accepted the LGBTQ community as one among us, the society has not and still considers them as an outcast. Though they are equal in law, they are unequal in eyes of society. I propose the following suggestions: Creation of more NGOs that will work towards the rights of LGBTQ community. Promoting and Spreading awareness about homosexuality and how it is not a disease but is natural. Creation of adequate and proper housing and healthcare facilities for trans-genders. Unemployment needs to be minimized in the LGBTQ community so that they can promote and support a proper livelihood. Hijras should not have to be forced to become sex workers.  Physical, mental and sexual abuse against the LGBTQ should not be made fun of but should be taken seriously. Police should not abuse, but protect the LGBTQ just like how they would for other citizens. More and more people should be encouraged to accept the LGBTQ as a part of our society and not as an outcast. LGBTQ community should be taken care of through love, understanding and support. Just because their sexuality is different, we do not have the right to be unfair to them and ill-treat them. It is important to promote the idea that the homosexuals are also as normal as heterosexuals.
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