QUESTION: Justify “extensive practice of sex-selective abortion has created demographic costs in the country” and examine the implications of a declining sex ratio and meta son preference.
Topic- ERRING ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION
- Sex-selective Abortions in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Last week, the Supreme Court deferred a pronouncement on the legality of the Centre’s now-lapsed controversial notification relating to the rules of the law banning sex-selective abortions.
ABOUT THE ISSUE :
- On April 4 the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a notification to put on hold the implementation of certain rules of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Selection Rules) of 1996 till June 30, 2020.
- The advocate of petitioner raised the question of how the government could temporarily freeze rules framed under a parliamentary law through a mere notification.
- The petition mentioned that the Central government has arbitrarily and selectively weakened legislation aimed at curbing the pernicious activity of sex-selection and sex-determination.
- The Supreme Court stayed the Delhi High Court judgment in 2018 as an interference in legislative policy intended to further the objectives of the law in the face of grave misuse of pre-natal diagnostic procedures.
- The Court last year ruled that the non-maintenance of medical records as per Section 23 of the PCPNDT Act could serve as a conduit in the grave offence of foeticide.
- The Bench hence dismissed the plea of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India to treat inaccuracies in paperwork as clerical errors.
- In its 2016 judgment, in response to the petition, the Court authorised the seizure of illegal equipment from clinics and the suspension of their registration as well as speedy disposal of relevant cases by the States.
- Crucially, the alarming decline witnessed in recent decades in India’s sex ratio at birth calls for an uncompromising adherence to public policy, more than is evident from evolving case law.
STATUS OF “GENDER – PARITY” IN INDIA:
- There are 63 million ‘Missing Women’ (not alive due to foeticide/infanticide) and 21 million ‘Unwanted Girls’ (explained below) in India.
- Economic Survey 2017-18 acknowledges that “Missing Women” is one of the most pressing problems faced by our country.
- Although the Survey finds improvement in a number of women empowerment indicators, it also shows how the skewed sex ratio has led to gender inequality.
- Not surprisingly, India ranks a poor 87th in the “Global Gender Parity Report”, which is published by “World Economic Forum” (WEF).
- On “Women’s Day”, PM Modi had proclaimed female foeticide shameful and announced the expansion of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme.
- In this context, it is important to reflect on the experience of the past 30 years of women centric policies and the progress made.
SEX-SELECTIVE ABORTION :
- Sex-selective abortion is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based upon the predicted sex of the infant.
- The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common where male children are valued over female children, especially in parts of East Asia and South Asia.
- Sex-selective abortion affects the human sex ratio—the relative number of males to females in a given age group, China and India, the two most populous countries of the world, are having unbalanced gender ratios.
REASONS ATTRIBUTED TO SEX-SELECTIVE ABORTIONS AND FEMALE INFANTICIDE :
- Preference for Boys: In a Patriarchal society girls are generally considered liability until they are married off.
- Availability of latest technology
- Lack of effective implementation of existing laws designed against such crimes
- Absence of family planning tools
- Absence of Women in decision making
IMPACT OF FEMALE INFANTICIDE :
- Decline in Sex ratio
- Early marriages of women often at the cost of their educational empowerment
- Trafficking of women for sexual work and marriage.
- Increased crimes against women like sexual harassment, lewd remarks against women, and instances of eve teasing.
- Increased fragmentation of land due to increase in male members in household
- Decline in moral & ethical standards of the society as a whole
- Perpetuation of Patriarchy and gender inequality
PRE-CONCEPTION AND PRE-NATAL DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES (PCPNDT) ACT, 1994 :
- It is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.
- The act banned prenatal sex determination.
- The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.
- Offences under this act include conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic technique in the unregistered units, sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PND test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act, sale, distribution, supply, renting etc. of any ultra sound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the foetus.
INITIATIVES TO PREVENT SEX-SELECTIVE ABORTIONS :
- Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act was enacted and amended to arm the state to wage a war against this pernicious practice.
o Objectives – The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective abortion.
o Salient features – Offences under this act include conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic techniques in the unregistered units. Sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PNDT test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act. Sale, distribution, supply, renting, etc. of an ultrasound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the fetus.
- Cradle Baby Scheme: It is Tamilnadu Government’s Scheme that provides for cradles at government hospitals and Primary Health Centres to receive unwanted newborns, and put them up for legal adoptions.
- Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign
o Launched in 2015, the scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
o The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio
WAY AHEAD :
- Ramp up awareness building exercises: It is time again for the government to ramp up awareness building exercises.
- Use technology to monitor: Every single pregnant woman right down to taluk levels until at least one year after birth.
- Change in attitude: While punitive aspects might offer a measure of deterrence, true change can only be brought about by a change in attitude.
- Stricter enforcement of the PCNDT act
- Reservation for women in State Legislative Assemblies and Parliament
The need of the hour for the government is to eliminate the distortion of son preference from people’s minds as in the early year’s girl child has stronger immunity than a male child in turn survival rate.
QUESTION : The impact of Turkey-EU maritime dispute is leaving a ripple effect across the world including India. Elucidate.
Topic- TROUBLED WATERS
European Union(EU) And Turkey relations and India’s Interest
WHY IN NEWS ?
Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean soared last week, with Turkey sending an exploration vessel, accompanied by a Navy fleet, to the disputed waters and France despatching warships to assist Greece
CLASH OF THE EEZ :
- Greece claimed the Turkish zone violated its maritime sovereignty. Later, Greece announced its EEZ with Egypt, which clashes with Turkey’s zone.
- Immediately thereafter, Turkey sent its survey ship over.
- The highly complicated issue now has the potential to involve Europe, West Asia and North Africa.
- It is difficult to demarcate the maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, which is dotted with Turkish and Greek islands.
- Turkey’s survey ship plans exploration activities around Greece’s Crete Island, which lies just outside the Turkish-Libya economic zone, and Greece and Cyprus call it a violation of their sovereignty.
ISOLATED TURKEY :
- France, the EU’s most powerful military force, has thrown its weight behind Greece and Cyprus.
- Now, an alliance is emerging among Greece, Cyprus, Italy and France, which is backed by Egypt, Israel and the UAE.
Turkey stands almost isolated, but remains a key power in the Mediterranean, which requires the EU to tread cautiously.
- Turkey and Greece have overlapping maritime claims.
- The maritime dispute is with respect to the Aegean Sea. The dispute is related to the maritime jurisdiction areas, including the territorial waters and the continental shelf and their delimitation.
TURKEY-CYPRUS ISSUE :
- Cyprus is physically divided with the southern part ruled by the internationally-recognised government and the northern part controlled by Turkey.
- Turkey is the only member state of the United Nations that does not recognise Cyprus.
The Republic of Cyprus (Cyprus) and Turkey have been engaged in a dispute over the extent of their exclusive economic zones. Turkey objects to Cypriot drilling in waters that Cyprus has asserted a claim to under international maritime law.
DISCOVERY OF GAS :
- New gas reserves have been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean Sea offshore Egypt. This is in addition to the gas reserves discovered in the Leviathan gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea offshore Israel.
- The EU plans to transport the gas from this region to its mainland to help it reduce its dependency on Russia.
- This development has raised the Eastern Mediterranean region’s geopolitical profile.
UNCLOS MARITIME ZONES :
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, also known as Law of the Sea divides marine areas into five main zones namely- Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the High Seas.
- UNCLOS is the only international convention which stipulates a framework for state jurisdiction in maritime spaces. It provides a different legal status to different maritime zones.
EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE (EEZ) :
- The EEZ is an area that is adjacent to and beyond the territorial sea.
- It can extend to a maximum of 200 nautical miles from the baseline. The baseline is normally measured is the low-water line along the coast as indicated on large-scale charts officially approved by the coastal state
- The EEZ does not include the territorial sea and also does not include the continental shelf beyond
200 nautical miles.
- The EEZ includes the contiguous zone.
- Within the EEZ, the country has rights over natural resources. The country has jurisdiction over some activities for the reasons of environmental protection, among others.
- It also has to respect the rights of other countries in the EEZ such as the freedom of navigation.
- The difference between territorial sea and the EEZ is that the former confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the latter is me rely a “sovereign right” which refers to the coastal nation’s rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters are international waters.
RIGHTS OF COUNTRY IN EEZ:
The coastal state has the rights to:
- Explore and exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources (living or non-living).
- Produce energy from wind, currents and water.
- Establish and use artificial islands, structures and installations.
- Conduct marine scientific research.
- Protect and preserve the marine environment.
FOCUS AREAS BETWEEN EU AND INDIA :
- India and EU to restart free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations – Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)
- To conclude several agreements including – a roadmap for cooperation, an agreement on research sharing for civil nuclear cooperation and launch a maritime security dialogue as well as negotiations between Europol and the CBI.
- Medical developments on vaccines and treatment.
What is India’s economic relationship with the EU?
- The EU is India’s largest trading partner, while India is the EU’s 9th largest trading partner.
- The EU is the second-largest destination for Indian exports after the United States. The 27-nation EU, as a whole, was India’s largest trading partner in 2018. The bilateral trade in 2018-19 stood at $115.6 billion – exports were valued at $57.17 billion and imports at $58.42 billion.
- With regards to climate change, both sides welcomed the efforts under the Climate Energy and Climate Partnership and agreed to cooperate on its implementation They agreed to launch a dialogue to reinforce maritime security, especially in the Indian Ocean, where 40% of the bilateral trade passes
WAY FORWARD :
- The maritime dispute which happens to fuel tensions in the region must be resolved in line with the established related jurisprudence, while taking into consideration the equity and security requirements of the stakeholders.
- An urgent need to bring down tensions and find a diplomatic and mutually acceptable solution to the gas contest.
- The EU and Turkey should strike a balance in maritime relations so that a sustainable development can be seen.