Contents

  1. Rights Duties and the Constitution
  2. More Psychological than an Empowering Voter Option
  3. Counting Birds Together

RIGHTS, DUTIES AND THE CONSTITUTION

Why in news?

  • At an International Judicial Conference 2020 this weekend, the Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, drew attention to the Constitution’s Fundamental Duties chapter.
  • He then went further, and citing Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj, observed that “real rights are a result of performance of duty
  • The first role of the fundamental rights chapter, therefore, was to stand as a bulwark against dehumanization.  
  • Every human being no matter who they were or what they did had a claim to basic dignity and equality that no state could take away, no matter what the provocation.
  • One did not have to successfully perform any duty, or meet a threshold of worthiness, to qualify as a rights bearer.
  • It was simply what it meant to be human.
  • Framers were also aware that they were inheriting a deeply stratified and riven society.
  • The colonial regime had not been the only oppressor; the axes of gender, caste and religion had all served to keep masses of individuals in permanent conditions of subordination and degradation.

MORE PSYCHOLOGICAL THAN AN EMPOWERING VOTER OPTION 

Why in news?

  • In recent Delhi polls, 96% of the constituencies had a reduced percentage of NOTA votes in 2015 than 2013, the NOTA percentage has increased in 71% constituencies this year
  • In 2013, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting through NOTA. However, it is not a “right to reject”. NOTA in India is a toothless option;, former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi, had observed in an article: “Even if there are 99 NOTA votes out of a total of 100, and candidate X gets just one vote, X is the winner
  • There have been pleas to extend the scope of NOTA.
  • In 2018, a former CEC, T.S. Krishnamurthy, has recommended holding elections again in those constituencies where the victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA.
  • In June 2018, the Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) issued an order that said: “If it is noticed while counting that NOTA has received the highest number of valid votes, the said election for that particular seat shall be countermanded and a fresh election shall be held for such a post.”
  • In November 2018, the SEC of Haryana went a step further and issued an order where NOTA is treated like a “fictional candidate” in municipal polls from December 2018.
  • If NOTA gets maximum vote, none of the “real” candidates will be declared elected, and the elections will be cancelled and held afresh.
  • While introducing NOTA, the Supreme Court anticipated that “there will be a systemic change and the political parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and field candidates who are known for their integrity.”
  • Thus, its percentage should either increase to enforce the political parties to field candidates with “integrity”, or NOTA percentage should consistently decrease if the electorates feel that the system has achieved the desired level of cleansing.
  • In contrast, the share of NOTA votes in India remained around a meagre level of 1% on an average; 1.11% in the 2014 Lok Sabha, and 1.08% in 2019

COUNTING BIRDS TOGETHER 

The State of India’s Birds Report 2020 represents the first collective attempt in India to understand and assess how the avifauna are doing

Details of the report

  • During the last two decades, over half the species assessed have declined.
  • This trend is even more pronounced in recent times, with nearly 80% of the species assessed showing declines over the last five years.
  • These declines are particularly acute for certain groups of birds, including birds of prey, migrant shorebirds, birds of forests and grasslands, and endemic birds of the Western Ghats.
  • The report further suggests that more bird species deserve immediate conservation attention than previously thought
  • To the list of 67 globally threatened Indian bird species previously identified by the IUCN (as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable), the report adds 34 more species. The number of species of high conservation concern in India is now 101
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