The HINDU Notes – 10th March 2018 - VISION

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

The HINDU Notes – 10th March 2018






📰 Trade goes on

The revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, sans U.S., must buttress the free trade debate

•The United States under Donald Trump may not be a huge fan of free trade across borders, but that’s not stopping other countries from embracing it. On Thursday, 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, Australia and Canada, signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in Chile. The CPTPP is, in effect, the original Trans-Pacific Partnership struck during the Barack Obama presidency minus the U.S. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump had promised to pull the U.S. out of the TPP, and went on to do precisely that within weeks of assuming office. Interestingly, the CPTPP comes soon after the U.S. had made clear its plan to impose tariffs on the import of aluminium and steel in an attempt to protect domestic manufacturers. The countries signing the agreement, which account for more than 13% of the world economy, have agreed to bring down tariffs on cross-border trade by as much as 98% after domestic ratification. More countries are expected to sign the CPTPP in the future, and there is hope that a post-Trump U.S. may join the bloc. But even in the absence of the world’s largest economy, countries that are currently part of the deal will only gain from any reduction in the costs imposed on trade. This will leave the world, which has largely been moving towards increasing free trade even as the U.S. has turned inwards, better off than without the deal.

•The CPTPP, as it looks to expand influence by adding other countries into its fold, will need to address other problems as well. One of the points of criticism of the TPP, even in its original form as a 12-member agreement, was the alleged influence of special interests in dictating its broad framework. Mr. Trump, in fact, smartly capitalised on these sentiments to attack and then pull out of the agreement last year. The TPP text, which has in large part been incorporated into the new deal, had also been flayed for mandating labour and other regulations that increase the bureaucratic burden on businesses. Many have cited the size of the agreement, which runs into several chapters and thousands of pages, to contend that the benefits from tariff reductions may be cancelled out by the massive increase in regulatory requirements. While there may be no hard and fast rule to gauge the net benefit of the agreement, addressing these concerns will only strengthen the chances of more countries joining it. A simpler trade agreement can also help the cause of transparency and lower the chances of lobbying by special interests in the future. Last but not least, amid palpable fears of a global trade war, the survival of a free trade agreement despite the sudden pullout of the U.S. offers some respite to the supporters of free trade.

📰 Trump hails ‘great progress’ on Korean nuclear crisis

South Korean official saysKim Jong-un is committed to denuclearisation

•U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed “great progress” in attempts to resolve the Korean nuclear crisis after the White House said the President accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a face to face meeting.

•“Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!,” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter.

•Earlier a visiting South Korean delegation conveyed the invitation for talks from Pyongyang to the Trump administration.

•South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong told Mr. Trump that Mr. Kim was committed to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and no longer objected to joint military exercises by South Korea and the U.S. North Korea will also refrain from further nuclear and missile testing, Mr. Chung told reporters at the White House.

•He said the President agreed to meet Mr. Kim in May.

Maximum pressure

•The White House portrayed the breakthrough as a success of Mr. Trump’s policy of maximum pressure on North Korea, declaring that there will be no let up in pressure and denuclearisaiton remained the objective of the U.S.

•Mr. Trump had called Mr. Kim “Little Rocket Man” and Mr. Kim had called the American President a “dotard” and a “lunatic” in the recent past.

•American war preparations have also progressed simultaneously, bringing to the forefront the huge risks associated with a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.

•A significant section of American strategic thinkers have already concluded that America must learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.

•A senior administration official said Mr. Trump’s approach has been different from his predecessors who authorised several rounds of talks with the North. “If we look at the history of these negotiations that took place under prior administrations, they have often led to the relinquishing of pressure. They have often led to concessions being made to North Korea in return for talks. President Trump has been very clear from the beginning that he is not prepared to reward North Korea in exchange for talks,” said the official.

•The White House official said the terms of a settlement is not on the agenda right now, but as and when that stage is reached, inspection and verification of North Korea’s nuclear programme would be part of it.

Acceptable deal

•“Obviously, verification goes hand in hand with any kind of acceptable deal for the permanent denuclearisation of North Korea, and we will settle for nothing less than that outcome. It’s the outcome that the entire world expects, as exemplified under all those UN Security Council resolutions — the four of them that have passed in the time that President Trump has been in office and under his leadership,” said the official.

•North Korea’s willingness to ignore the U.S-South Korean joint military exercises is a climbdown for Pyongyang, and encouraging for Washington. China has been proposing ‘freeze for freeze,’ i.e discontinuation of tests by the North and exercises by the South and the U.S., as an initial step towards a diplomatic breakthrough.

•Pyongyang’s apparent willingness to act outside of this framework might allow Mr. Trump to work independently of China on the crisis. Joint exercises are now due, thought dates have not been announced. China welcomed the decision for talks, saying the nuclear issue is moving in the right direction.

•Explaining the rationale of a summit meeting in such complicated circumstance and at such high risks, the official said: “President Trump made his reputation on making deals. Kim Jong-un is the one person who is able to make decisions under their authoritarian — uniquely authoritarian — or totalitarian system. And so it made sense to accept an invitation to meet with the one person who can actually make decisions instead of repeating the, sort of, long slog of the past.”

📰 SC upholds passive euthanasia

Constitution Bench allows ‘living wills’ with safeguardsHolds that right to die with dignity is a part of the basic right to lifeSays that quality of life is as important as prolonging it

•The Supreme Court has upheld passive euthanasia and the right to give advance medical directives or ‘Living Wills’ to smoothen the dying process as part of the fundamental right to live with dignity.

•Passive euthanasia is the act of withdrawing or withholding medical support to a dying patient who has no hope for revival or cure.

‘Unwarranted support’

•A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in four separate and concurring opinions, ruled on Friday that the fundamental right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the “right to die with dignity.” Dignity is lost if a man is allowed or forced to undergo pain and suffering because of “unwarranted medical support.”

•“The right of a dying man to die with dignity when life is ebbing out and in the case of a terminally ill patient or a person in permanent vegetative state, where there is no hope of recovery, accelerating the process of death for reducing the period of suffering constitutes a right to live with dignity,” Chief Justice Misra held in his opinion, shared by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar.

•In his separate opinion, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed that “to deprive a person of dignity at the end of life is to deprive him of a meaningful existence.”

•“Meaningful existence” includes a person’s right to self-determination and autonomy to decide his medical treatment, the court held. Justice Ashok Bhushan agreed that right to a dignified life includes a “dignified procedure of death.”

•Justice A.K. Sikri, in his separate opinion, said though religion, morality, philosophy, law and society have conflicting opinions about whether right to life includes the right to die, they all agree that a person should die with dignity.

•The court described the exact stage at which suffering robs a dying person of his dignity.

•“A state where the treating physicians and the family members know fully well that the treatment is administered only to procrastinate the continuum of breath and the patient is not even aware that he is breathing,” Chief Justice Misra wrote.

Quest to prolong life

•Justice Chandrachud said modern medical science should balance its quest to prolong life with the task of ensuring “quality of life.” One is meaningless without the other, he added.

•The court distinguished passive euthanasia from suicide and active euthanasia. It called passive euthanasia as a “mere acceleration of the inevitable conclusion.” Active euthanasia, the court concluded, is unlawful. Suicide involves “overt acts” which culminates in an unnatural death. A valid ‘Living Will’ facilitates passive euthanasia. A failure to legally recognise an advance medical directive inconveniences the “right to smoothen the dying process”, the court reasoned. In cases of terminally ill or permanently vegetative state patients, where there is no hope for revival, priority should be given to the Living Wills and the right of self-determination.

•The court referred to how societal pressure and fear of criminal liability by relatives and medical doctors had led to suffering and undignified deaths.

📰 Rajasthan passes Bill to give death penalty for child rape

Home Minister Kataria terms it progressive legislation

•Rajasthan on Friday became the second State, after Madhya Pradesh, to pass a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below. The State Assembly passed the Bill seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code with the insertion of new provision by voice vote.

A deterrent

•Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, who introduced the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the House, said it was a “progressive legislation” aimed at protecting the girl child by laying down a deterrent punishment, including death sentence, to the offenders.

•“The Bill will become a law after it gets the Presidential assent. The Rajasthan Assembly has conveyed its feelings to the President. We hope that a similar initiative will be taken by other States and even by the Centre,” Mr. Kataria said after the House rejected a motion moved by some Congress members to circulate the Bill for eliciting public opinion.

•According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2016 report, the cases of crimes against children have seen a steady increase in Rajasthan. The State recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which was 3.8% of the crimes against children registered across the country. In 2015, the State had registered 3,689 cases of crimes against children.

•Mr. Kataria said the Bill had inserted two new sections, 376-AA and 376-DD, in the IPC.

•Section 376-AA provides for capital punishment or rigorous imprisonment ranging between 14 years and lifelong incarceration. Section 376-DD makes a similar provision for gang-rape of a girl child, while laying down death penalty or imprisonment from 20 years to lifelong incarceration for those convicted of the offence. Each of the persons constituting the gang will be deemed to be guilty of the offence.

📰 Judges draw on philosophy

•The Supreme Court’s landmark verdict upholding passive euthanasia is replete with philosophical quotes drawn from the judges’ own collective experiences of life and ancient texts.

•Justice A.K. Sikri, before reading his separate opinion, pays homage to the judgments of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud for transcending the statute books to derive the strength and philosophy which became the foundation for their final opinions that dying with dignity is as much a part of a man’s “meaningful existence” as his years of life is.

•“The Chief Justice has dealt with the philosophy in his inimitable style. Justice Chandrachud has also delved into it,” Justice Sikri said.

•The Chief Justice began his reading of the opinion with the inevitability of death. “For one to have life, one has to die every moment for it.”

•At one point he declared that “I do not fear death” as he quotes Epicurus’ “Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.”

•Chief Justice Misra said the fundamental question that puzzled the court was “whether the Hippocratic oath should prevent us from entering the dark tunnel of death with dignity.”

‘To be is to die’

•Answering the vexatious question whether the “right to life includes the right to die”, Justice Chandrachud concluded that “life and death are inseparable.”

•He said the only constant is change, the slow process of dying as we live. “We are in a state of flux, change being the norm. To be is to die,” he read out in the courtroom.





•“There is no antithesis between life and death. Death represents the culmination, dying is the process,” Justice Chandrachud reasoned.

•“As we age, simple tasks become less simple,” he said. The right to decide for ourselves to die without suffering is the last vestige of dignity we can afford ourselves, he said.

📰 Right to avoid protracted pain

Poser on survival urge addressed

•The Supreme Court judgment upholding a person’s advance directive to refuse medical treatment attempts to answer the government’s poser whether the concept of ‘Living Will’ acts against a person’s “instinctive urge to survive.”

•Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha, for the government, had illustrated how it is unknown whether the struggle to survive is still going on within a dying or a comatose patient, even at the point of time when doctors and relatives resolve to act upon his own advance directive.

•Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who headed the five-judge Constitution Bench, addressed this argument by observing that “a patient in a terminally ill or persistent vegetative state exercising the right to refuse treatment may ardently wish to live but, at the same time, he may wish to be free from any medical surgery, drugs or treatment of any kind so as to avoid protracted physical suffering. Any such person who has come of age and is of sound mind has a right to refuse medical treatment.”

•“Suffering is a state of mind and a perception, which varies from individual to individual and depends on various environmental and social factors. Continuous advancement in medical science has made possible good pain management in patients of cancer and other terminal illness,” the government had argued. To this, the court said “there is a presumption of capacity whereby an adult is presumed to have the capacity to consent to or to refuse medical treatment.”

📰 Death with dignity

The court has laid down a much-neededlegal framework for enforcing living wills

•The core philosophy underlying the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing passive euthanasia and giving legal status to ‘advance directives’ is that the right to a dignified life extends up to the point of having a dignified death. In four concurring opinions, the five-member Constitution Bench grappled with a question that involved, in the words of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, “finding substance and balance in the relationship between life, morality and the experience of dying”. The outcome of the exercise is a progressive and humane verdict that lays down a broad legal framework for protecting the dignity of a terminally ill patient or one in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) with no hope of cure or recovery. For, in such circumstances, “accelerating the process of death for reducing the period of suffering constitutes a right to live with dignity”. The core message is that all adults with the capacity to give consent “have the right of self determination and autonomy”, and the right to refuse medical treatment is also encompassed in it. Passive euthanasia was recognised by a two-judge Bench in Aruna Shanbaug in 2011; now the Constitution Bench has expanded the jurisprudence on the subject by adding to it the principle of a ‘living will’, or an advance directive, a practice whereby a person, while in a competent state of mind, leaves written instructions on the sort of medical treatment that may or may not be administered in the event of her reaching a stage of terminal illness.

•Passive euthanasia essentially involves withdrawal of life support or discontinuation of life-preserving medical treatment so that a person with a terminal illness is allowed to die in the natural course. The court’s reasoning is unexceptionable when it says burdening a dying patient with life-prolonging treatment and equipment merely because medical technology has advanced would be destructive of her dignity. In such a situation, “individual interest has to be given priority over the state interest”. The court has invoked its inherent power under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant legal status to advance directives, and its directives will hold good until Parliament enacts legislation on the matter. The government submitted that it was in the process of introducing a law to regulate passive euthanasia, but opposed the concept of advance directive on the ground that it was liable to be misused. The stringent conditions imposed by the court regarding advance directives are intended to serve as a set of robust safeguards and allay any apprehensions about misuse. The court is justified in concluding that advance directives will strengthen the will of the treating doctors by assuring them that they are acting lawfully in respecting the patient’s wishes. An advance directive, after all, only reflects the patient’s autonomy and does not amount to a recognition of a wish to die.

📰 ‘Only about 50% of PAN cards linked to Aadhaar’

The deadline to link PAN with Aadhaar is March 31

•With less than a month to go for the expiry of deadline for linking Aadhaar numbers to PAN, the government on Friday said that it had so far been able to link only about 50% of the PAN cards issued to Aadhaar numbers.

•“As per the latest available information as on March 5... the number of Aadhaar cards linked with PAN is 16,65,82,421,” Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla informed the Lok Sabha. “Further, as on March 2... 8,779.65 lakh current accounts and savings accounts have been linked with Aadhaar.”

•An August 2017 answer in the Lok Sabha shows that 32,68,25,653 PAN cards have been issued in the country as of that month. This means that, with about 20 days to go for the deadline to link PAN with Aadhaar, only about half of the PAN cards issued so far have been linked. According to another answer in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Ministry said that as of April 2017, there were 92,45,06,506 savings and current accounts in public sector banks (PSBs) although there is no ready data on the number of accounts in private sector banks.

Share of private banks

•However, given that private sector banks have about 20% market share in India, the actual proportion of accounts linked across the banking sector is likely to be less. “The economy has just about come out of the impact of vast structural jerks of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax and is not ready for another challenge by way of any bank account becoming inoperative after March 31,” Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said in a statement.

•“As of now, even those having submitted Aadhaar details are getting KYC reminders. There is a lot of confusion which may lead to further problems as we approach the deadline.”



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