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24th January – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. The condemned can’t fight endlessly, says CJI 
  3. Budgeting for jobs, skilling and economic revival 
  4. BRICS 
  5. FRBM ACT 
  6. Frame rules to govern how devices identify us


Why in news?

Union Government decided to file a petition in SC, to form guidelines to Fastrack death sentences after the rejection of mercy petition by president 

Death sentences in India:

  • There have been around 720 executions since independence in India
  • India allows, hanging till death and shoot to death
  • Death by shooting is done under army act, navy act and air force act 

Pardoning power of president:

  • In Kehar Singh case, SC ruled that, pardoning powers of president is not a discretionary power and should be used on advice of Council of ministers
  • There is no provision for oral hearing in front of president for mercy powers

Government opinion:

  • Government is of the view that, delay in executions fail to create deterrence
  • While activists argue that, it’s the constitutional right of accused to use all the provisions in the constitution
  • Unexplained delay in carrying out an execution would lead to commutation of the death penalty to life imprisonment

What is Curative petition?

The concept of Curative petition was evolved by the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and Anr. where the question was whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition.



  • Since December 2019, Chinese City of Wuhan has seen an increase in the number of patients who are showing pneumonia like symptoms due to unknown causes. Subsequently, Chinese researchers began an assessment to identify the microbe causing the outbreak.
  • Upon such an assessment, the researchers identified the microbe to be a novel or new coronavirus.
  • A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
  • However, the public health experts are yet to identify the source of the new virus.

Details about Coronavirus

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).


  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
  • Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans.
  • Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
  • As surveillance improves around the world, more coronaviruses are likely to be identified.

Is Human-Human Transmission Possible?

Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household, workplace, or health care Centre


  • It depends on the virus, but common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
  • In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Availability of Vaccine and Treatment:

  • When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed
  • There is no specific treatment for disease caused by a novel coronavirus.
  • However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment based on the patient’s clinical condition.
  • Supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.


  • Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses include maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
  • WHO restriction on  movement can prevent the spread of virus outside china, but not inside.



The Budget needs to provide direction to India’s tottering economy and a boost to aggregate demand and investment

State of employment in India:

  • The unemployment rate at 6.1% (Financial Year 2017­2018) is the highest in 45 years
  • The unemployment rate for urban youth in the 15­ – 29 years category is alarmingly high at 22.5%
  • These figures, however, are just one of the many problems, as pointed out by the Periodic Labour Force Survey
  • The Labour Force Participation Rate has come down to 46.5% for the ‘15 years and above’ age category
  • It is down to 37.7% for the urban youth. Even among those employed, a large fraction get low wages and are stuck with ‘employment poverty’ 

Government efforts:

Schemes like PM­KISAN and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) are good instruments to boost rural demand

Boosting urban employment:

  • In urban areas, construction and related activities are a source of employment for more than five crore people across the country, the sector’s employment figures are second only to those of the agriculture sector
  • These projects, along with infrastructure, support 200­odd sectors, including core sectors like cement and steel


What is BRICS?

BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres

Contribution to global growth 

  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.

Achievements of BRICS

  • The main achievement of BRICS is the New Development Bank, with each country contributing equally to its equity
  • The bank has so far financed over 40 projects at a cost of $12 billion
  • The BRICS countries are also developing a joint payments mechanism to reduce foreign trade settlements in U.S. dollars
  • An offshoot of the group, dealing with climate change, is BASIC (BRICS without Russia), which met at the Spain conference in December 2019 and reiterated its support to the Paris Agreement  


  • FRBM amendments that were part of the Finance Bill 2018 are very different from the original FRBM Act of 2003.
  • The original FRBM Act had said that you have to bring down the fiscal deficit to 3% and the revenue deficit to 0%. 
  • The 2018 Finance Bill actually did away with the revenue deficit target. So, there is no revenue deficit target any more. Rather, we have the target of bringing down the fiscal deficit to 3% and at the same time, we expect that that will bring down the public debt to 40% at the Central level

In principle, the FRBM is basically an expenditure switching mechanism, where you try to switch the expenditure from consumption to capital.

That would lead to higher GDP growth and then lead to reduction in the public debt­ to­ GDP ratio.

What we are seeing is not expenditure switching from consumption to capital, but we are actually seeing a switch from capital to consumption

Escape clause in FRBM act 

The initial FRBM said you need to achieve 3% by 2018; now we are in 2020. That itself shows that the Act has some kind of flexibility



Facial recognition technology is set to become an integral part of the law enforcement toolkit, but we should regulate this technology before it pervades our public spaces


  • Facial recognition opens enormous possibilities for law enforcement
  • An image captured at the scene of a crime can now be screened against photographs of entire populations for a match within a matter of hours
  • Civil liberty activists in the West consider it an invasion of privacy that is simply unacceptable as large populace is not involved in any kind of crime and the imagination of their image being scanned for any crime can make them uncomfortable
  • Today, very few of our public spaces are hidden from cameras, some of which hover over us in the air which breach our privacy

Some concerns:

  • How accurately faces are identified by machines is a major point of concern
  • Deployed in law enforcement, false matches could possibly result in miscarriage of justice
  • Even a low rate of error could mean such evidence faces judicial rejection
  • The algorithms being used to identify individuals may have moved beyond geometric and photometric approaches to three-dimensional recognition, skin texture analysis and thermal imaging, but further advances are needed for the technology to gain reliability
    Another concern is  that facial recognition is still not smart enough to read emotions or work equally well for all racial groups
  • Since such tools can be put to mala fide use as well, it is imperative that we frame rules for it well in time.
  • For example Rogue drones equipped with the technology, for example, should never be in a position to carry out an assassination

Way forward

  • We need regulations that restrict its use to the minimum required to serve justice and ease commercial operations.
  • For the latter, customer consent should be mandatory.
  • Its use at an aerobridge to board an aircraft, for example, could serve the interests of both state security and the airline, but data-sharing could risk leakage
February 2024