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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Clamour For Death

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The Hindu Editorial: Clamour For Death

Title: Clamour for death 

(The anger is justified, but not the proposal to grant capital punishment for rape of minors) 

Each time a horrific sexual crime hits the headlines, there is a clamour for prescribing the death penalty for such offences. Given this, it is perhaps no surprise that the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir has evoked a similar response. 

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has said her ministry will seek an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, to provide for death as the maximum punishment for the rape of those below 12. The anger is understandable but legislation ought to be a well-considered exercise and not a response based on a sense of outrage over particular incidents. 

The last time a ghastly crime(Nirbhaya) led to legislative change was in 2013, following a national outcry over the gang rape and murder of a woman in Delhi in December 2012. 

That set of amendments to criminal law was a structured response, largely based on the recommendations of a committee of eminent jurists. 

However, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, set the death penalty for rape in the event of it causing the victim’s death or a persistent vegetative state, and for repeat offenders. 

In recent months, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh have sought to amend the law to prescribe the death penalty for the rape of a minor below the age of 12. 

Further, there is a legitimate concern that the country’s judicial system has not been consistent in awarding the death penalty. The Law Commission, while recommending abolition of the death penalty, except in terrorism-related cases, observed that it is difficult to operate the ‘rarest of rare cases’ principle without a hint of arbitrariness. 

It will be especially wrong to force judges to compare the relative ‘merits’ of rape victims based on their age and choose between death sentence and life. Lengthy prison sentences, constituting both well-deserved consequences for grave crimes and a life-long opportunity for penitence, will adequately meet the ends of justice. 

Title: Chasing the monsoon 

(The forecast has enhanced the economic outlook, but India must conduct a water audit) 

The forecast of a normal monsoon has brought relief all around. For farmers, the India Meteorological Department’s estimate that rainfall during the summer, between June and September, will be 97% of the 50-year average of 89 cm, is bound to raise fresh expectations. 

This is the third year in a row that they can look forward to a high output for a variety of crops, although fiscal realities have come in the way of realising higher farm incomes. The Centre has been supportive of higher returns through the Minimum Support Price mechanism and additional bonuses have been announced by States such as Madhya Pradesh for procurement, but these have helped mainly rice and wheat. 

From a water management perspective, though, this trend has led to a skew towards these crops, which are heavily dependent on groundwater. 

Now that another year of good cropping is expected, and unremunerative prices will depress public sentiment, it is vital for the Centre to arrive at a policy that gives constructive advice to farmers on the ideal cropping mix and help them get the cost-plus-50% margin that it has promised them. 

The long-term challenge is to make the most of the rainfall that India gets, ranging from a few hundred millimetres or less in the northwest to more than a few thousand millimetres elsewhere. 

The Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water drawn up by the Centre should be pursued scientifically, to help States with the most water-stressed blocks get adequate funds to build artificial recharge structures. 

An estimate of water used to grow rice and wheat, measured in cubic metres per tonne, shows that India uses more than what, say, China does. In the case of cotton, the figures present an even more staggering contrast: 8,264 cubic metres for India, against 1,419 for China. Combined with distortions in procurement subsidies, water stress due to such use is inevitable (mandatory). 

On the monsoon as a whole, studies indicate a change in the pattern since 1950. 

Final Words: 

What is well known is that a good monsoon raises agriculture’s contribution to GDP growth, while a drought year depresses it. Clearly, governments need to invest consistently to harvest the monsoon, both on the surface and underground, with community participation. 

Vocabulary words: 

Meteorological (adj) = Relating to the branch of science especially as a means of forecasting the weather (मौसम विज्ञान) 

Procurement (noun) = The action of obtaining something (खरीद) 

Skew (noun) = A bias towards one particular direction, slant 

Unremunerative (adj) = Bringing little or no profit or income (अलाभकारी) 

Sentiment (noun) = Price, point of view (भाव) 

Vital (adj) = Absolutely necessary, essential (महत्वपूर्ण) 

Distortion (noun) = Misrepresentation, perversion (तोड़-मरोड़) 

Clamour (noun) = A loud and confused noise (कोलाहल) 

Penitence (noun) = Repentance, sorrow (पछतावा) 

Remission (noun) = The cancellation of a charge or penalty (क्षमा) 

Aggravated (adj) = Made more serious by attendant circumstances (गंभीरता बढ़ाना) 

Abolition (noun) = Ending, stopping (समाप्ति) 

Dichotomy (noun) = Division or contrast, separation (विरोधाभास) 

Vengeful (adj) = Revengeful (प्रतिहिंसक) 

Brutality (noun) = Great cruelty (निर्दयता) 

Empirical (adj) = Based on observation or experience (प्रयोगसिद्ध) 

Arbitrariness (noun) = Autocracy (मनमानी करना) 

Grave (adj) = Serious (संगीन)


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