PIB Weekly Analysis

Compilation of PIB News Articles

GS paper 2 

None including the Judiciary is supreme, only the Constitution is; asserts the Vice President 

Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

In news:

  • Vice President of India asserted that none of the three organs of the ‘State’ can claim to be supreme as only the Constitution is supreme and the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are bound to work within the respective domains as defined in the Constitution. 

  • Addressing the inaugural session of the 80thAll India Conference of Presiding Officers at Kevadia, Gujarat, Shri Naidu urged the three organs of State to work in harmony guided by the spirit of mutual respect, responsibility and restraint for the cause of nation buildin. 

  • He expressed concern over the instances of each of the three organs encroaching into the domain of others.

Important points from the Vice president’s speech:

  • He referred to the Presiding Officers as the ‘high priests of temples of democracy’, urged them to ensure the sanctity of these temples. 

  • He Stated that legislatures are the cornerstone of democracy that provide the basis for the actions of both the executive and the judiciary, he referred to the public opinion turning against the law making bodies and the legislators over the years. 

  • Frequent disruptions, conduct of legislators both within and outside the chambers of the Houses, rising number of law makers with criminal background, rising money power in elections, flaunting of power by legislators are some of the reasons for this negative perception.

  • “Caste, Cash and Criminality replacing Conduct, Character and Calibre as the criteria for selection of candidates has been eroding the stature of legislators and their members”. 

  • As the Chairman of Rajya Sabha in particular, he referred to the erosion in the ‘oversight’ (ensuring accountability of the executive to the legislature) function of legislatures due to disruptions. 

  • “Decency, Decorum and Dignity of the temples of democracy will be upheld only through adherence to the other three ‘Ds’ namely, Debate, Discuss and Decide”.

  • Noting that the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees of Parliament, introduced in 1993 have been making a significant contribution by undertaking on behalf of the Parliament, detailed scrutiny of Bills, Demands for Grants and other issues chosen by the Committees.

  • He urged the Presiding Officers to ensure introduction of such committee system in all the legislatures of the States. 

  • On the issue of harmonious working of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, the Vice President referred to instances of each one of them crossing the ‘lakshmanrekha’ in different degree by encroaching into the domain of others in violation of the checks and balances provided in the Constitution. 

  • Quoting some observations of the Supreme Court concerning it’s domain and powers, he stressed that even the principle of ‘first among equals’ does not apply to the apex court and only the Constitution is supreme. 

  • He said that “We consider our ‘State’  to be in its best state when each of the three organs of the ‘State’ perform to the best of its potential in the domains specified for each of them, in pursuit of the mandate defined and  in the manner prescribed in the Constitution”. 

  • It is not desirable for the judiciary to be perceived as acting as ‘super executive’ or ‘super legislature’. 

  • Higher judiciary deciding on Diwali fireworks, banning of use vehicles of certain make after 10 or 15 years, monitoring police investigations, denying the executive any role in the appointment of judges through collegiums, invalidating the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act seeking to enforce accountability and transparency etc were some instances referred to by him as being perceived as instances of judicial overreach.

  • The theory of ‘Separation of Powers’ by Montesquieu in 1748 had its origins in his genuine concern to avoid autocracy and tyranny if the legislative, executive and judicial powers were to be concentrated in one organ or one individual. 

  • Still, the legislative and executive functions continued to be in the same hands till the middle of the 19th century. Ever since separate domains came into being, it has been a saga of frictions and tensions. The case of India since independence is no exception. So, it is appropriate for us to take stock of the harmonious working of the three organs.

  • Harmony lies in each organ doing its job without interfering with that of the others. This warrants a spirit of mutual respect, responsibility and restraint. Unfortunately, there have been several instances of crossing the boundaries.

  • We are familiar with the excesses of the Executive in disregard of their accountability to the Legislature on certain occasions. There have been cases when the Rules framed under the delegated ‘Subordinate Legislation’ violated the provisions of original legislation by the Parliament. Violation of rights and liberties of citizens by the Executive at times is too visible for comfort.

  • At times, the Legislature too has tended to cross the line. The 39th Constitution Amendment placing the election of President, Vice President and Prime Minister beyond the scope of judicial scrutiny in the circumstances in 1975 is one such instance.

  • The moot question is does our Constitution envisage any of these three to be ‘supreme’?

  • As early as in 1955, in Ram Jawaya Versus the State of Punjab case, the Supreme Court held that “Our Constitution does not contemplate assumption, by one organ or part of the State, of functions that essentially belong to another”. By this, it is logical to conclude that even the principle of ‘first among the equals’ does not apply to any of the three organs. 

  • In the case of P.Ramachandra Rao Versus the State of Karnataka in 2002, the apex court observed that “The Supreme Court does not consider itself to be an imperium in imperio (an empire into an empire) or would function as a despotic branch of the State. 

  • Former Chief Justice of India Dr.A.S.Anand held that “In saying that the judiciary is the guardian of the Constitution, it is not implied that the legislature and the executive are not equally to guard the Constitution. For the progress of the nation, however, it is imperative that all of the three wings of the State function in complete harmony”.

Many centuries ago, the Indian sages hoped for a harmonious co-existence. In the Rig Veda, they had said,

“Samani va akutih samana hrdayni vah |

Samanamastu vo mano yatha vah susahasati”

(Let us be driven by a common goal, united by a common commitment and inspired by ennobling thoughts. That will ensure we work together with harmony and in a cheerful environment)

Conclusion:

Since independence, the Supreme Court and High Courts have delivered several far reaching verdicts in furtherance of socio-economic objectives besides making correctional interventions. But occasionally, concerns have been raised as to whether they were entering the domains of the legislative and the executive wings. There have been debates as to whether some issues should have been more legitimately left to the other organs of the government. For example, Deepavali fireworks; cess on registration and movement of vehicles from the National Capital

So, there are some concerns about the harmony in the working of the three organs of the State. Our Constitution provides for checks and balances to ensure playing by the rules and harmony among the three organs of the States. It is a settled position that the Constitution is supreme and none of the three organs. 

The Greek philosopher Socrates said that the business of legislatures is serious in nature as they discuss the ways we ought to live. Legislatures are the corner stone of democracy as they provide the basis for the actions of the executive and the judiciary. The judicial review, declared as one of the ‘basic features’ of our Constitution imposes certain restrictions on the legislatures. Law makers have the liberty of defending their territory even by nullifying judicial decisions if so warranted.

In the ‘Rig Veda’, ‘Sabha Adhyaksha’ is required to be a person well versed in the matters of State, experienced, astute, not a novice in politics, impartial, learned, righteous, benevolent and mature by advanced age and learning.  I urge upon all of you to make good use of these attributes to improve the functioning of respective legislatures. As the high priests of democracy, aided and assisted by the Rules, conventions and earlier rulings of the Chair and your own wisdom and experience, you shall do everything required to uphold the sanctity of the temples of democracy. I am particularly distressed over the state of affairs in several state legislatures.

Vice President calls for mass movement to promote digital literacy in the country

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

In news:

  • The Vice President of India, called for a mass movement to promote digital literacy and urged all technological and educational institutions to play a leading role in that endeavor.

  • Virtually launching ‘Adi Shankara Digital Academy’ at Kaladi, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, the Vice President said that information is the main commodity in the present-day knowledge society and whoever has quick access to information has the advantage. He called ‘digitalization’ as the medium of access to such information.

Important points from Vice Presidents speech:

  • Technology provides us an opportunity to transform teaching and learning and the need to constantly update and develop education models that suit the new era's demands in view of the fast-changing technology.

  • Enumerating several benefits of online education, the Vice President said that it can enable access to quality and affordable education in remote areas; it allows for a personalized learning experience and is especially helpful for groups such as working professionals and housewives who might not be able to attend regular courses.

  • Global EdTech sector is attracting billions of dollars of investments and offers a huge opportunity to not only learners but to education entrepreneurs as well. He exhorted the youth to come forward and innovate to tap the potential offered by this sector.

  • “Issues of availability of infrastructure, access to the required tools like computers and smart phones, speed and availability of internet came to the fore for which solutions need to be found out”.

  • The Vice President, however, cautioned to adopt a realistic approach in terms of what online education can deliver and what it cannot. 

  • “Online classes facilitate better teacher-student interaction through chat groups, video meetings, voting and document sharing, but it cannot replace the personal touch and warmth of a classroom”.

  • Referring to a recent study by Azim Premji University, Shri Naidu underlined that a vast majority of the teachers and parents consider the online mode of education inadequate and less effective. 

  • Stressing the importance of face-to-face classes and schools, he said that school provides a socializing space to students and enables them to imbibe values and discipline. Physical fitness, sports and Yoga are important elements of holistic development of the students which cannot be attained by online education alone.

  • Ancient Gurukul system strived to build a direct relationship between the Guru and Shishya, the Vice President said that this ‘nearness’ or ‘closeness’ to an able Guru is very important to impart value-based and holistic education among the children. Therefore, he called for developing a hybrid education model, in which classes are conducted both online and offline for all-round development of the students.

  • He also emphasized the need to put an end to rote learning and promote critical thinking, imagination and innovation among the students.

  • Calling for bridging the digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas, he wanted conscious policy decisions to support online education infrastructure by ensuring internet connectivity.

  • Stating that the evolution of human civilization has been a saga of innovation and use of tools for improving the ease and the comfort of living, Shri Naidu said that science and technology have made a huge difference in the way we live. “Digitalisation is the order of present-day life. E- education, e- health, e-commerce, e-governance etc are the virtual reality now”.

  • ‘Digital India’ initiative for preparing the nation for Industrial Revolution 4.0 and empowering the citizens with technological entitlements. “The main objective is to improve the quality of life in all possible ways”.

  • Referring to the World Bank estimate that improved access to internet adds to GDP growth, he said that this indicates the scope and potential of technology and process improvement through innovation.

  • Calling for putting in place ‘an equitable digital eco-system’ in the country, the Vice President said the Governments and private sector need to work on appropriate models for collective effort to enable a ‘digital India’ which gives every citizen her or his due.

  • To fully realize the benefits of the digital technology, the Vice President called for bridging the gap between ‘digital haves’ and ‘digital have nots’.

  • Appreciating a number of digital initiatives by the Government for promoting digital education, he said that the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 proposes integration of technology in a big way for enhancing learning outcomes. He hoped that this push for digital education will play a key role in making India a global hub of education and innovation.

About the advantages and disadvantages:

  • Firstly, this switch to online has several benefits. However, it has to be accessible and affordable to all.  In a country like India, there are vast disparities between rural and urban areas. Online courses can help bridge the difference and enable students even in the remotest parts of the country to have access to quality education at an affordable cost. Thus virtual classroom will available to anyone with an internet connection.

  • Secondly, online classes will immensely help those not able to attend classes in person such as working professionals and housewives. 

  • Third important benefit of online education is its flexibility. It offers a wide selection of programs and allows for a personalized learning experience. Online study material such as videos, photos, and eBooks enable students to set their own pace and adopt a schedule that suits them best.

  • These advantages clearly make online education a preferred choice and it appears that the adoption of online learning will continue to persist post-pandemic period as well.

  • The course of evolution of human civilization has been a saga of innovation in the making and use of tools for improving the ease and the comfort of living.

  • From living by hunting to depending on the ‘click of a button’ for all the needs of life is the synopsis of this huge transformation. Science and technology have made a huge difference in the way we live.

  • This is an ongoing quest that never ends. Interconnectedness through ‘internet’ is the order of the present day life. Artificial intelligence is set to further change the scheme of things. These are exciting times brimming with opportunities but challenges accompanying.

  • Despite immense possibilities and scope of online education, we must also be realistic in terms of what it can deliver and what it can't. It is true that online classes facilitate better teacher-student interaction through chat groups, video meetings, voting and document sharing, but it cannot replace the personal touch and warmth of a classroom.

  • Face-to-face classes and schools are important for various other reasons too. School is a great place for socializing for the students. It enables students to imbibe values and discipline.

  • In the famed Gurukul system in ancient India, there stress was upon a direct relationship between the Guru and Shishya. The Sanskrit word used for a Gurukul teacher was ‘Upadhyay’ which literally means ‘near whom the students go for learning’.

  • Education does not mean mere accumulation of knowledge. Education means enlightenment and empowerment of an individual, who evolves into a better human being. It is important for students to be mentally agile and physically fit through sports and Yoga. Apparently, this cannot be attained by online education alone.

Government’s initiatives:

  • To enable the inevitable course of ‘digitalization’ to be more equal, the Government of India has launched several programmes aimed at improving infrastructure, literacy, access etc.

  • Bharat Net project strives to build broadband connectivity in villages

  • Digital Saksharata Abhiyan aims to increase digital literacy. 

  • Online study portals such as Swayam, Swayam-Prabha and National Digital Library are helping students as well as teachers in up-skilling as well as providing quality resources.

  • The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 proposes integration of technology in a big way for enhancing learning outcomes.

  • The Governments and private sector need to work on appropriate models for collective effort to enable a ‘digital India’ which gives every citizen her or his due. Time is the essence.

 

Conclusion:

The need of the hour is to develop a hybrid education model, in which classes are conducted both online and offline for all-round development of the students. Technology provides us an opportunity to transform teaching and learning. It is time to put an end to rote learning and promote critical thinking, imagination and innovation among the students. In view of the fast changing technology, we need to constantly update and develop education models that suit the new era's demands.

This again draws our attention to the wide digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas. Not only are there gaps in the digital infrastructure of rural India, digital literacy is also low, especially among the parents.

Therefore, conscious policy decisions are required to support online education infrastructure by ensuring internet connectivity.

Points to be noted down for prelims 

Indian Navy Completes Refit of Maldivian Ship Cgs Huravee

  • Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam completed the refit of Maldivian Coast Guard Ship MNDF CGS Huravee

  • MNDF CGS Huravee (originally INS Tillanchang) is an indigenously built Trinkat class patrol vessel constructed at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata in 2001. 

  • It was gifted to Maldives by the Government of India in 2006 to strengthen the partnership between the two nations and to cooperate further for the maritime safety of the Indian Ocean Region.