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The Hindu 22 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair






Govt. launches programme to train teachers



State-breaking is not nation making



No plan to curb social media



A politically inconvenient data nugget



The risks of legalizing cannabis



Sacrificing liberty for national security




1. Govt. launches programme to train teachers - (The Hindu, Page 09)


Prelims: Government Schemes and Programmes


Integrated Teachers Training Programme- NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Head’s and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement) by Ministry of Human Resource & Development


Important Points:

  • It is the world’s largest teachers’ training programme

  • National Mission intends to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level

  • The basic objective of this massive training programme ‘NISHTHA’ is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students. 

  • It will cover all teachers and Heads of Schools at the elementary level in all Government schools, faculty members of State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs), District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), Block Resource Coordinators and Cluster Resource Coordinators in all States and UTs.

  • Standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs. However, States and UTs can contextualize the training modules and use their own material and resource persons also, keeping in view the core topics and expected outcomes of NISHTHA.

  • Training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs, who will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, KVS, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, CBSE and several NGOs.

  • A Mobile App and Learning Management System based on MOODLE have been developed by NCERT.



2. State-breaking is not nation making (The Hindu, Page 10)


Mains: GS Paper 2 – Polity & Governance 


Government’s decision on J&K


The author is critiquing the recent decision of the GoI to change the status of J&K, in-particular the decision of the Central Govt. to change the status of J&K State into two UTs.


The power of a Central Govt in-particular the Parliament to demote a State  has always existed, but never used. According to the author, this demotion of a State into a UT is a wrong precedent or trend that has been allowed by the present government in power. Therefore, regional parties should be wary or basically resist such power of the Central Govt.

According to the author, what we see across the world are two kinds of struggle, the struggle for material resources, and the struggle for identity. India has seen strong regional struggles for Statehood based on identity. This was seen in the demand for linguistic states in 1950s or for by ethnic communities such as in Ladakh or Bodoland.

Regional autonomy through federalism has been the best answer to resolve these conflicts in India’s complex society. Federalism provides an ability to resist centralisation of power and ensures responsive governance, fiscal prudence and efficiency as well as popular participation. The best way to protect diversity is through the grant of regional autonomy. 


The author is criticizing the demotion of States into UTs, but supports the idea of federalism in India. The Central Govt has already clarified that the UT of J&K would be changed back into a State in the coming future. Therefore in the future, what we will see is greater regional autonomy for the Ladakh region which they had been demanding for a long while and restoration of Statehood for J&K. And within that context, the recent decision of the GoI to change the status of J&K would not undermine as highlighted by the author, the spirit of federalism within India.



3. No plan to curb social media – (The Hindu, Page 1)


Mains: Polity & Governance


Linking Aadhaar with Social Media Platforms



On linking Aadhaar with social media accounts, there are four different cases registered in different High Courts. Two in Madras High court and one each in Bombay High Court and Madhya Pradesh High Court. Even Supreme Court is hearing the same issue. 


Arguments of Attorney General in Supreme Court

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal appearing for the Tamil Nadu government along with advocate Balaji Srinivasan argued about need to link the social media profiles of registered users with their Aadhaar numbers and if necessary to have platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to share Aadhaar number with law enforcement agencies to help detect crimes. 

They argued that linking of social media profiles of the users with the Aadhaar is needed to check fake news, defamatory articles, pornographic materials, anti-national and terror contents in the online media.     


Arguments of the other side

The lawyers for social media have argued to transfer different petitions in High Courts to Supreme Court to avoid contradictory verdict on the same issue. 


Decision of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in the matter has stressed the need to find a balance between the right to online privacy and the right of the State to detect people who use the web to spread panic and commit crimes.

The Supreme Court will decide the question of transferring these cases to itself; whereas the Madras High Court will continue its hearing.  


Decision of Madras HC

Division Bench of Madras HC did not see any merit in the idea of linking social media accounts with Aadhaar. 

However, the Court expanded the writ petitions scope to examine the adequacy of the legal framework on cybercrimes and the responsibilities of intermediaries who provide telecommunication and online services.  

High Court in its judgment highlighted about the SC judgment on Aadhaar where SC held that Aadhaar can be used only for subsidies and welfare benefits. HC also highlighted the scrapping of section 57 of Aadhaar Act as it enabled body corporate and individual to seek authentication of Aadhaar details.  


New Draft Rules

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology notified new draft rules for intermediaries last year and called for public comments. The proposed rules envisage new obligations for service providers. One of the changes proposed is that intermediaries should help identify originators of offensive content.  

Social media companies have pleaded inability for data as there is end-to-end encryption of data. 

Further any state intervention on data needs to pass “proportionality test” as mentioned in Puttaswamy Judgment on Right to Privacy. 


Proportionality Test

In the context of Article 21 an invasion of privacy must be justified on the basis of a law which stipulates a procedure which is fair, just and reasonable. The law must also be valid with reference to the encroachment on life and personal liberty under Article 21. An invasion of life or personal liberty must meet the three-fold requirement of – 

1. Legality, which postulates the existence of law; 

2. Need, defined in terms of a legitimate state aim; and

3. Proportionality which ensures a rational nexus between the objects and the means adopted to achieve them.


4. A politically inconvenient data nugget – (The Hindu, Page 10)


Mains: GS Paper –III – Indian Economy


Impact of Demonetisation on Indian Economy



  • This article highlights that the Government may not have released the report of the Task Force on Direct Taxes since the report had highlighted about the adverse impact of demonetisation on the Indian Economy. 

  • Prior to this, the Government had delayed releasing the Periodic Labour Force Survey Report which had highlighted that the unemployment in India had increased to 45 year high.



  • A Task Force was constituted by the Government in November, 2017 to review the existing Income-tax Act, 1961. The terms of reference of the Task Force was to draft an appropriate direct tax legislation keeping in view direct tax system prevalent in various countries, International best practices and economic needs for the country.

  • The task force has recently submitted its recommendations to the Government. However, the report has not been released in the public domain.


Highlights of the Article

  • The demonetisation had adversely affected the investments by the companies in the financial year 2016-17. Based upon the analysis of the corporate tax returns, the investments reduced by almost 60% in 2016-17 as compared to the previous year.

  • Only 50% of the companies registered with the Registrar of companies filed their IT returns for the year 2016-17. The share of the loss making companies also increased post demonetisation.

  • Further, the decline in the investment rates by the companies brings into question the GDP growth estimates for the demonetisation year. The Government has recently revised upwards the GDP estimates of 2016-17 from 7.1% to 8.2%.

  • The article argues that the revised estimate defies common sense and runs contrary to the data generated by other private sector agencies.



5. The risks of legalizing Cannabis- (The Hindu, Page 11)


Mains: GS Paper II under Polity & Governance


Legalizing Cannabis



There is a growing movement in the West to legalise cannabis. In this regard, this article argues that India must carefully weigh the risks and benefits of cannabis before blindly following suit with the West.


Cannabis in India

In India, cannabis, also known as bhang, ganja, charas or hashish, is typically eaten (bhang golis, thandai, pakoras, lassi, etc.) or smoked (chillum or cigarette). Its potency depends on the content of its principal active constituent, tetrahydrocannabinol, though cannabis contains more than 500 other chemicals.

In India, there is a tradition of using cannabis in many religious contexts. But although Ayurvedic texts refer to cannabis as a treatment for several maladies, what is often overlooked is that it is categorised as Upavisha Varga (sub poisonous), and its recreational use has been described as toxic.


Misconceptions about Cannabis

First, it is not accurate that cannabis is harmless. Its immediate effects include impairments in memory and in mental processes, including ones that are critical for driving. Long-term use of cannabis may lead to the development of addiction of the substance, persistent cognitive deficits, and of mental health problems like schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. Exposure to cannabis in adolescence can alter brain development.

A second myth is that if cannabis is legalised and regulated, its harms can be minimised. With legalisation comes commercialisation. This comes at a cost which we have seen with tobacco and alcohol over the last century. 


What are the alternatives?

It’s important to make a distinction between legalisation, decriminalisation and commercialisation.

One, India could decriminalise cannabis but forbid commercialisation. Two, if India were to liberalise its policy on cannabis, it should ensure that there are enough protections for children, the young, and those with severe mental illnesses, who are most vulnerable to its effects. Finally, treatments for those who become addicted to cannabis should be offered.




6. Sacrificing liberty for National Security- (The Hindu, Page 11)


Mains: GS Paper II under Polity & Governance


Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act


Proposed changes through Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019

  • Chapter VI of UAPA 1967 is about “Terrorist Organisation”. 2019 Bill has changed the chapter to “Terrorists Organisations and Individuals”.                        

  • Section 36 of the original Act provides for “Denotification of terrorist organisation”. The 2019 Amendment adds the word “Individual” along with terrorist organisation.                 

  • The 2019 Bill adds a new schedule namely Fourth Schedule providing names of individual terrorists.    

  • Section 25 of UAPA 1967 provides for “Powers of investigating officer and designated authority and appeal against order of designated authority”. The 2019 Bill adds about “Investigation to be conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency, with the prior approval of the Director General of National Investigation Agency”    

  • Empowering an officer of the rank of Inspector of National Investigation Agency to investigate the offences under terrorist activities. 

  • In the Second Schedule, International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has been added.  

Things which remained unchanged        

  • There are no changes proposed in the arrest or bail provision in the original law. This means that there will be no violation of fundamental rights of any person.

  • Further, the burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused. This provision also remained unchanged.   


Backdrop to UAPA, 1967 legislation

It was passed during the tenure of Mrs. Indira Gandhi to deal with unlawful activities of people and organisation. The political justification was to deal with the secessionist utterances of the Dravidian movement as well as to deal with Sadhus protesting against cow slaughter before the Parliament in 1966. In this backdrop, unlawful activity was defined as any action taken - 

  1. which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession; or 

  2. which disclaims, questions, disrupts or is intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India; or 

  3. which causes or is intended to cause disaffection against India. 

Now, UAPA has been extended beyond secessionist organisations to terrorism and terrorist activities. 2004 amendment to UAPA,1967 added terrorist activities along with unlawful associations. After Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act were repealed due to repeated misuse by law enforcement agencies, the UAPA was amended in 2004 to bring into its fold cases of terrorism.    

Discretion to the government   

  • This article questions the intention of the government to bring amendments to Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 by allowing individuals to be designated as terrorists. 

  • It also questions amendment in section 35 of the UAPA 1967 whereby it gives sole authority to the central government to label a person or an organisation as terrorists if the government so believes. 

  • Thus, on mere belief of the government an individual can be arrested and no link to any banned organisation needs to be proved. 

  • Further, even people having any contact with the individual (including friends and families) can be arrested by the government. The government assumes draconian power to arrest a person on mere belief without any official FIR, charge sheet or investigation report. 

  • This impacts the fundamental right of an individual. Any utterance on social media can be construed as one causing disaffection against the country and can be used as a valid ground for arrest by the government.   

Impact of the Amendment

  • Thus, the article highlights that the amendment provides no safeguard against its misuse at an individual level. The amendment proposes to designate individual as terrorist but the government has not set any procedure to do so. Thus, designating a person terrorist prior to completion of court trial becomes a point of concern as it not only impacts the basic and fundamental rights of an individual but also gives discretionary powers to the central government to the extent of even misusing such power. 

  • Individuals may be subjected to arrest and detention even after obtaining bail from the courts. This may restrict their travel and movements along with carrying the taint on the person.   

  • In case, an individual designated as terrorists, is cleared by the Court, then the process to get the individual’s name removed from the terrorists list (Fourth Schedule) becomes another procedural hurdle.    

  • There is a risk of sacrificing individual liberties at the altar of national security. Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”