17TH OCTOBER CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Domestic Violence against Women

News: The Supreme Court recently delivered a judgement in which it held that the relief granting right to residence to a married woman under the domestic violence law by a criminal court is “relevant” and can be considered even in civil proceedings seeking her eviction from the matrimonial home. Alongside, the Court termed the 2005 law on protection of women from domestic violence as a “milestone”. Also the Supreme Court has said that crimes against women continued in a “never-ending cycle” in India.

About the Judgement:

  • The judgement dealt with the statutory scheme of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.It has allowed women fighting domestic violence cases the right to reside in the ‘shared household’ even if her husband had no legal right to the house and the same was owned by the father-in-law or mother-in-law.
  • The court observed that the relief granting right to residence to a married woman under the domestic violence law by a criminal court is relevant and could be considered even in civil proceedings seeking her eviction from the matrimonial home (the residence in which a husband and wife have lived together).
  • The wife would have the right to claim the “shared household” of the joint family under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Section 2(s) of the domestic violence act defines “shared property”, as the property owned by a woman’s husband, or by the joint family of which the husband is a member.
  • The court reversed the law held by a previous decision of the Supreme Court in December 2006 in SR Batra v Taruna Batra where on similar facts, it refused permission to the wife to continue staying in her husband’s house as it was owned by her mother-in-law. This part of the ruling was held wrong in law as it did not give full meaning to the 2005 act.
  • The court noted that the domestic violence in India is rampant yet underreported. Women in India faced violence and discrimination in one form or the other in their various roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother, partner or single woman.
  • The National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) (NFHS-4)suggests that 30% women in India in the age group of 15-49 have experienced physical violence.
  • As per the UN Women, globally in 2019-20, 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) across the world have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • Less than 40% of women who experience violence seeking help of any sort or reporting the crime. Less than 10% of those women seeking help go to the police.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005:

  • It is an act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of Women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • It is the first significant attempt in India to recognise domestic abuse as a punishable offence, to extend its provisions to those in live-in relationships, and to provide for emergency relief for the victims, in addition to legal recourse.

Way Forward

  • The progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights of its women. Guaranteeing equal rights and privileges to women by the Constitution of India had marked the step towards the transformation of the status of the women in this Country.

2. Comparing GDP per capita with Bangladesh

News: In IMF’s latest Economic Outlook, Bangladesh has overtaken India in GDP per capita. This has caught everyone’s attention.

India & Bangladesh: Comparison

  • Typically, countries are compared on the basis of GDP growth rate, or on absolute GDP.
  • For the most part since Independence, on both these counts, India’s economy has been better than Bangladesh’s.
  • This can be seen from Charts 1 and 2 that map GDP growth rates and absolute GDP — India’s economy has mostly been over 10 times the size of Bangladesh, and grown faster every year.
  • However, per capita income also involves another variable — the overall population — and is arrived at by dividing the total GDP by the total population.

Why India performed worse than Bangladesh?

  • Growth rate: Both countries have been growing faster in 2004. But, since 2017 onwards, India’s growth rate has decelerated sharply while Bangladesh’s has become even faster.
  • Population growth: In the last 15 years, India’s population grew faster (around 21%) than Bangladesh’s population (just under 18%).
  • The most immediate factor was the relative impact of Covid-19 on the two economies in 2020. While India’s GDP is set to reduce by 10%, Bangladesh’s is expected to grow by almost 4%.

What pushed Bangladesh ahead of India?

  • A key driver of growth has been the garment industry where women workers gave Bangladesh the edge to corner the global export markets from which China retreated.
  • The structure of Bangladesh’s economy is such that its GDP is led by the industrial sector, followed by the services sector. Both these sectors create a lot of jobs and are more remunerative than agriculture.
  • Over the past two decades, Bangladesh improved on several social and political metrics such as health, sanitation, financial inclusion, and women’s political representation.
  • On financial inclusion, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex database, while a smaller proportion of its population has bank accounts, the proportion of dormant bank accounts is quite small when compared to India.
  • Bangladesh is also far ahead of India in the latest gender parity rankings. It has performed well in the Global Hunger Index too.

Way Forward

  • The IMF’s projections show that India is likely to grow faster next year and in all likelihood again surge ahead. But, given Bangladesh’s lower population growth and faster economic growth, India and Bangladesh are likely to be neck and neck for the foreseeable future in terms of per capita income.

3. Right of Passage of the Animals

News: Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.

Madras HC Judgement:

  • In 2011, the Madras HC upheld the validity of the Tamil Nadu government’s notification (of 2010) declaring an ‘Elephant Corridor’ in the Sigur Plateau of Nilgiris District.
  • It said that the government is fully empowered under the ‘Project Elephant’ of the Union government as well as Article 51 A(g) of the Constitution to notify the elephant corridor in the state’s Nilgiris district.
  • Article 51 A(g):It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.
  • Further, it upheld directions to the resort owners and other private landowners to vacate lands falling within the notified elephant corridor.

Judgement of SC:

  • It’s the State’s duty to protect a “keystone species” like elephants, which are immensely important to the environment. Keystone species, in ecology, a species that has a disproportionately large effect on the communities in which it lives.
  • Elephant corridors allow elephants to continue their nomadic mode of survival, despite shrinking forest cover, by facilitating travel between distinct forest habitats. These corridors play a crucial role in sustaining wildlife by reducing the impact of habitat isolation.
  • The court also allowed the formation of a committee led by a retired HC judge and two other persons to hear the individual objections of resort owners and private landowners within the corridor space.
  • However, during the hearings, the SC opined that the area is a fragile ecosystem, where the will of men must give way to elephants.

Nilgiris Elephant Corridor:

  • The corridor is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau, which connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats and sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity. It is situated near the Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiris district.
  • It has the Nilgiri hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar river valley on its northeastern side.
  • There are about 100 elephant corridors in India of which almost 70% are used regularly.
  • 75% of the corridors are in the southern, central and north-eastern forests.
  • There are an estimated 6,500 elephants in just the Brahmagiri – Nilgiris-Eastern Ghats ranges.

Challenges for Elephant Corridors:

  • ‘Right of Passage’, an 800-page study released in August 2017, authored by experts and published by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) identifies and records details pertaining to 101 elephant corridors across India.
  • Narrowing Passage Width: Only 22% corridors are of a width of one to three kilometres in 2017, compared with 41% in 2005, pointing to how constricted corridors have become in the past 12 years.
  • Human Encroachment of Corridors:8% of corridors were free of human settlements in 2017 compared with 22.8% in 2005, and 45.5% have 1-3 settlements in 2017 compared with 42% in 2005.
  • Intercepted Corridors: About 36.4% of the elephant corridors in northwestern India, 32% in central India, 35.7% in northern West Bengal and 13% of the elephant corridors in northeastern India have a railway line passing through Almost two-thirds of the corridors have a National or State Highway passing through them, fragmenting habitats and hindering elephant movement further.
  • 11% of corridors have canals passing through them. 12% are affected by mining and the extraction of boulders. Land-use Along Corridors: In terms of land use, only 12.9% of the corridors are totally under forest cover in 2017 compared with 24% in 2005.
  • Two in every three elephant corridors in the country are now affected by agricultural activities.
  • All the corridors in northern West Bengal (100%) and almost all in central India (96%) and northeastern India (52.2% under settled cultivation and 43.4% under slash and burn cultivation) have agricultural land.

Asian Elephant

  • There are three subspecies of Asian elephant – the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
  • The Indian has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
  • Escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are some common threats to both African and Asian elephants. African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “endangered” in IUCN Red List of threatened species.

CITES status:

  • Appendix I for Asian Elephants.
  • Appendix II for African elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Conservation Efforts:

  • Project Elephant launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Elephant census is conducted once in 5 years under the aegis of Project elephant.
  • Establishment of elephant reserves and adoption of the “World Elephant Day” (August 12)to help conserve and protect elephants in India. ‘Gaj Yatra’ a nationwide awareness campaign to celebrate elephants and highlight the necessity of securing elephant corridors.
  • The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003,is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor effectiveness of field conservation efforts.

4. Taiwan Strait

News: A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what the American military described as a “routine” passage on but enraging China, which claims sovereignty over the island and surrounding seas.

Taiwan Strait

  • The Taiwan Strait is a 110-mile-wide channel that separates mainland China from the island of Taiwan. It is also known as the Formosa Strait or the Tai-hai (the Tai Sea).
  • The Taiwan Strait makes up part of the South China Sea, and its northern portion is linked to the East China Sea. The strait borders the south eastern part of China and runs along the eastern part of China’s Fujian Province.