Editorial Notes

Editorial Notes 11th October 2016

Triple Talaq; BRICS Summit; Right to Information (RTI) Act; The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC); BBIN Initiative.
By IT's Editorial Notes Team
October 11, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Unclog the RTI process by making basic information

Social Issues

  • Triple talaq: Keep gender justice as the main focus

Bilateral & International Relations

  • A New Framework
  • Bay of Bengal’s glad tidings


Polity & Governance

GS (M) Paper-2: “Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential”

Unclog the RTI process by making basic information


  • The first decadal study conducted after the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that over 1.75 crore applications have been filed with one-fourth being requests to the Centre.
  • The study, conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, reveals that 27.2% (47.66 lakh) of the total RTIs filed between 2005 and 2015 were to the different ministries and departments under the Centre.
  • This is a conservative estimate because many departments don’t file their compliance report. Earlier this year, the Lok Sabha was informed that over 350 government departments defaulted in following norms for mandatory public disclosure of information.


Importance of RTI:

The data is important since there is no official record of the number of RTI applications received in India even though the law was passed 12 years ago.

  • RTI helps allowing people to seek and receive public documents which serves as a tool for fighting corruption, enabling citizens to participate in public life, making governments more efficient, encouraging investment, and exercising their fundamental human rights.
  • For the government, an access to information law helps them to establish record keeping and archiving systems, which in turn makes them more efficient, checking their discretionary powers and making more constructive decisions based on information.
  • More important, greater transparency can help re-establish trust between the government and its citizens.


  • The study correctly points out that the number of RTIs also needs to come down.
  • Due to continuous flow of RTI, PM Office recently put out a primer on what it is obliged to do and not to do under the law keeping in view that all kinds of applications seeking information on everything “under the Sun and on the earth” were being made.
  • Along with fixing the processes, government departments must identify frequently asked questions that usually come from citizens and proactively disclose that basic information.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]


Social Issues

GS (M) Paper-1: “Role of women and women’s organization; their problems and their remedies”
GS (M) Paper-2: “Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections”

Triple talaq: Keep gender justice as the main focus


  • Muslim women have become more vocal in recent times against the practice of triple talaq and polygamy and now the government has weighed in on their side.



  • Its arguments in the Supreme Court that these are unreasonable and discriminatory, and deny the gender justice enshrined in the Constitution.

Law Commission report:

  • All these arguments are likely to figure in the Law Commission report on a uniform civil code for all Indians.
  • The report is to be submitted only in 2018, the government’s stand will strengthen the case against these practices that have worked against Muslim women, especially those who are poor.
  • The Law Commission, however, is studying the Constitution to see what practices can be adopted to create a better framework for gender justice and is also studying previous judgments in the run-up to preparing its report.

 Arguments by All India Muslim Personal Law Board

  • It had earlier said that polygamy is a blessing for women as, without this option, men may indulge in illicit affairs.
  • It has also spoken about how the personal laws of a community cannot be rewritten in the name of social reform.

Government’s stands:

  • The ruling party has long been an advocate of a common civil code and the Supreme Court has expressed itself in favour of it on several occasions.
  • In 2014, the government had made a uniform civil code a poll plank but backed off, thanks to the compulsions of politics.

Muslim personal law or gender injustice:

  • It’s not about Muslim, Hindu, Christian or any other religion it’s is for all. Personal laws could be amended from time to time to keep up with the changing times and demands, especially from women.
  • Hindu law has been reformed right from the fifties.
  • However, Christian marriage, divorce, maintenance and succession laws are discriminatory against women — a historic case on this was fought by Mary Roy.
  • But unfortunately they are often treated as being cast in stone and in many cases given some sort of religious sanctity.


  • If reform had come from within communities, it would have been easier to evolve a civil code. But in the absence of that, the best option is to arrive at a workable model based on widespread consultations and always keeping gender justice as the main focus.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]


Bilateral & International Relations

GS (M) Paper-2: “Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests”

A New Framework


  • As India prepares to host the BRICS Summit, its role as a key leader in international relations and South-South cooperation will be in the spotlight.
  • India is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world and a key player in the G-20, BRICS and other global formations.
  • The upcoming BRICS summit has acquired a new significance not only in terms of the new initiatives like the BRICS bank, but also in relation to the future of development cooperation of India in the context of its responsibility as an emerging leader of the global South.

India in Present Century:

A donor to other developing countries:

  • From a predominantly aid-receiving country, India has transformed itself to a donor to other developing countries.
  • India still receiving aids but the share of grants (as against loans) in the overall assistance has drastically declined. For instance, the share of grants was just 7% in 2010-11 unlike 19% in 1981-82.
  • The reason for this is a high-growth economy and the accumulation of huge foreign exchange reserves.

Development cooperation framework:

  • India’s development cooperation framework has changed significantly since 2003.
  • India has increased the allocation for international development cooperation every year, which includes grants, technical training and capacity development and lines of credit involving soft loans.
  • In the last six years, India has allocated almost $7 billion for development assistance and since 2011, there has been an average increase of 32 per cent.
  • The largest recipient are countries in South Asia, also the share has increased for African countries as well.


In the emerging narrative of BRICS, G-20 and South-South development cooperation, India should look to its role and relevance.

  • It must develop a vision based on sustainable development goals.
  • Need to focus on development effectiveness of assistance in recipient countries with more transparency and accountability.
  • India’s development assistance has been more demand-driven, with relatively less emphasis on aid-conditionality.
  • A larger ethical perspective of shared responsibility requires all countries to eradicate poverty, injustice and violence. For that, resource-rich countries need to share a part of their resources.
  • India could draw lessons from their own development experience and offer solutions more appropriate to the requirements of other developing countries through the BRICS/IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) platforms.
  • India needs to revamp its development cooperation programme in order to enhance aid-effectiveness.
  • A specialised agency for India’s development cooperation. Earlier in 2007, the government had proposed for the same, but not implemented.


  • At present, India’s development cooperation is coordinated by Department of Development Partnership within the external affairs ministry.
  • The time has come for India to rise to international expectations and establish a specialised agency such as India International Development Agency with a minister in charge.
  • This will ensure greater aid effectiveness and bring about greater clout and visibility to India’s development cooperation initiatives.
[Ref: Indian Express]


GS (M) Paper-2: “Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests”

Bay of Bengal’s glad tidings


  • As India looks beyond the SAARC for a productive regional forum that is not constrained by Pakistan’s veto, the Bay of Bengal is a good option.
  • The moment for turning the Bay of Bengal into a zone of regional cooperation may finally be with us.


India’s changing foreign policy:

PM Narendra Modi’s special interest in linking South and South East Asia and Bangladesh traditional commitment to regionalism have now aligned the stars.

  • In a series of recent speeches in Tokyo, Jakarta, Singapore and Delhi, Sri Lanka PM has laid out an agenda for both sub-regional — between Sri Lanka and south Indian states — and trans-regional economic integration among the South and South East Asian nations bordering the Bay of Bengal littoral.
  • India points to the fact that Sri Lanka and India’s five southern states together have a population of 272 million people and a combined GDP of over $500 billion.
  • India insists this economic zone can emerge as one of the world’s most dynamic.
  • Last week in Delhi, PM Narendra Modi also called for a tripartite trade liberalisation agreement between Lanka, India and Singapore.
  • India wants India and Singapore to collaborate in the development of a port in Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s eastern seaboard with Japan as catalyst in rapid economic transformation of the Bay of Bengal littoral.
  • India reminds the region of the rich history of maritime commerce across the Bay of Bengal and believes the Bay of Bengal could rival the Caribbean as a high-end tourist destination.
  • India sees enormous possibilities for regional economic cooperation among the members of the BIMSTEC forum that brings five nations from South Asia — Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka — and two from South East Asia — Burma and Thailand — under one umbrella.
  • India also suggested inviting Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore into the BIMSTEC forum.

Focussing new Regionalism- BIMSTEC

  • The BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation has been on top of India’s mind for some time now.
  • Well before the SAARC crisis, Modi had decided to invite the leaders of the BIMSTEC to the outreach segment of the coming BRICS summit and is eager to breathe some new life into it.
  • The formation of the BBIN grouping after Pakistan’s reluctance to sign on to the South Asian connectivity agreements at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu 2014, hinted the prospect of the Bay of Bengal emerging as a vehicle for regional cooperation.

What is BBIN?

The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative is a sub-regional architecture of countries in South Asia particularly Eastern side.

  • Besides shared land borders, they all have a big stake in the Bay of Bengal.
  • For the two landlocked Himalayan states, Bhutan and Nepal, the shortest sea access is to the Bay of Bengal.

Engaging China on Eastern Corridor:

  • For parts of southwestern China too, the Bay of Bengal is the nearest sea, reaching through Burma. China has also promoted the idea of sub-regional collaboration among China, Burma, Bangladesh and India.
  • A corridor through the four countries is now part of President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.
  • Although India is wary of China’s OBOR, especially the western corridor through Pakistan and the central corridor through Nepal, it is a wee bit more open to engage China on the eastern corridor.

Hopes and support for New Regionalism:

  • In the 1960s and early 1970s, when Delhi was smug about its self-imposed economic isolation, Lanka was eager to join the ASEAN institutions.
  • In the 1980s, it was Bangladesh that took the lead in promoting the idea of SAARC. It also now hosts the secretariat for the BIMSTEC.


  • The extraordinary enthusiasm of Sri Lanka for Bay of Bengal regionalism is showing us a way forward.
  • Pakistan’s reluctance to allow progress under the SAARC framework, India now has the opportunity to demonstrate that it can do a lot better in the Bay of Bengal.
  • The PM’s meetings with the leaders of Bay of Bengal in Goa this week provides a big opportunity to set a new agenda for regional cooperation under the BIMSTEC forum.
[Ref: Indian Express]


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