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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 30 January 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 30 January 2023


Contents

  1. The Pssible Ways to Get Logistics at ease  
  2. The Death Penalty Approach

The Possible Ways to Get Logistics at ease


Context

  • India recently announced its National Logistics Policy (NLP), which aims to streamline shipping, reduce logistics costs, achieve “quick last-mile delivery,” and eliminate transportation-related challenges.
  • It was first announced in Budget 2020 in order to improve last-mile connectivity.

Relevance

GS Paper 3: Infrastructure

Mains Question

Better logistics are required in a modern economy with a complex supply chain. India has one of the least efficient logistics systems in the world. How can the logistics in India be improved? Discuss. (250 Words)


About Logistics

  • Logistics Industry Description: The logistics industry encompasses all supply chain activities such as transportation, customer service, inventory management, information flow, and order processing.
    • Other supply chain activities include warehousing, material handling, purchasing, packaging, and maintenance.
  • Components: Logistics is comprised of five ‘R’s, which are as follows:
    • Getting the right product; o Getting it in the right condition; o Getting it in the right place; o Getting it to the right customer

Logistics policy is required.

  • Global standing: For decades, India has been held back by logistics costs that far outstrip those of its East and Southeast Asian competitors.
    • For example, the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, 2018 ranks India 44th in the world, trailing other Asian competitors such as China (26), Vietnam, and Thailand.
    • Importantly, India’s performance was hampered in two critical areas for growing and attracting export industries: logistics infrastructure and clearance process timeliness.
  • Reduce future risks: The measures outlined in the NLP will significantly improve the dependability of Indian logistics, which has been demonstrated by the global pandemic to be critical in global supply chains.
  • Opportunities to follow: The Indian logistics market is expected to be worth around $250 billion USD in fiscal year 2021.
    • This market is expected to grow to 380 billion dollars by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 to 12 percent.
  • Overcoming obstacles: Previously, exporters had to collect shipping bill numbers, railway consignment numbers, e-way bill numbers, and so on in order to track and trace goods and deal with multiple authorities. However, technology, as the backbone of NLP, aims to simplify this process.

About National Logistics Policy (NLP)

  • Aim: The National Logistics Policy (NLP) aims to reduce logistics costs to 7.5% of GDP in the next five years, down from 13% now, to levels comparable to industrialised countries such as Singapore and the United States.
    • Another major goal is to increase India’s ranking in logistics handling parameters from 44 to 25 by 2025.
    • As the world’s fifth largest economy, India aspires to be among the top ten in the LPI (Logistics Performance Index) by 2030.
  • Sector targets: The NLP aims to reduce transportation costs from 6% to 4%, warehousing costs from 3.5% to 2.5%, inventory costs from 2.5% to 1%, and order processing costs from 1% to 0.5%.
  • Multimodal Transportation Integration: The new policy will emphasise simplification, technology, and a multimodal strategy that combines train, sea, and air travel.
  • Transportation of critical commodities: The proposed programme focuses on the transportation of critical commodities such as coal, steel, iron ore, food grains, steel, cement, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Creating national clusters: Currently, the logistics system is primarily limited to regional clusters.
  • Determining the best logistics: The draught also suggests determining the best route of transportation for each of these goods in order to reduce losses during transportation.
  • Key features: The National Logistics Policy (NLP) aims for a tech-enabled approach to logistics operations. To accomplish this, the Prime Minister is likely to announce the following four major steps:
    • Digital System Integration (IDS) o Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) o Logistics Ease (ELOG) o System Improvement Group (SIG)

The Advantages of a National Logistics Policy

  • Cost savings: A five percentage point savings in a $3 trillion economy equates to $150 billion in efficiency gains, which is the estimated value of India’s entire outsourcing industry.
  • Increase exports: Exporters will benefit greatly from improved logistics because their goods will be more competitive and can be delivered to buyers in a more timely and predictable manner.
  • Promote the MSME sector: This is because transportation costs are much higher for low-value goods than for precious consignments such as gems and jewellery, which can be profitable even when transported by air.
  • Higher prices for farmers: Due to their perishable nature and longer transportation time, small farmers have traditionally sold fruits and vegetables at low prices.
    • Some estimates claim that 16% of Indian agricultural produce is lost at various points along the supply chain.
    • Better logistics allow these commodities to travel longer distances, faster, and to new markets.
  • Lower consumer costs: Because logistics costs are an important component in the price of everything produced, manufactured, or constructed, NLP will result in lower consumer costs.
  • Job Creation: According to the Economic Survey 2017-18, more than 22 million people in India rely on the logistics industry for a living, and NLP has the potential to increase employment.

Previous Logistics Sector Initiatives

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): GST has eliminated checkpoints and has accelerated the formalisation of informal logistical arrangements and freight movement across state lines.
  • New Logistics Division: The Department of Commerce has established a new Logistics Division to manage integrated sector development through policy changes, improved current procedures, identifying bottlenecks and gaps, and implementing technology-based solutions.
  • Integrated Logistic Portal: Its goal is to connect customers, logistics service providers, and government agencies such as customs, port community systems, port terminals, shipping lines, and railways.
  • LEADS Index: The Ministry of Commerce also introduced a new Logistics Ease Across Different States Index, which ranks states based on how supportive they are of improving logistics infrastructure within their borders.
  • Infrastructure Status: The logistics industry is now included on the Infrastructure Sub Sector Harmonized Master List, allowing access to more affordable, longer-term loans.
  • The Multi Modal Logistic Park project involves the construction of cutting-edge large-scale warehousing facilities for various commodities transported via various modes such as rail, road, and inland waterways.

Bringing NLP and infrastructure development together

  • Policy Linking: Because NLP will necessitate massive investments in supporting infrastructure, the PM Gati Shakti master plan will be critical.
  • Importance: By coordinating logistics, multimodal investment, and energy supply, businesses can be more confident that their investments will be supported in the long run.
  • Complement the GST regime: Because the GST reform package encouraged cross-state trade investments, the NLP could help transform the shipping landscape, boosting domestic supply chains and allowing Indian businesses to access global value chains.

Conclusion

Following the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan, the National Logistics Policy would provide a comprehensive roadmap for the growth of the entire logistics ecosystem. It will help to lay the groundwork for decades of economic growth and will assist India in becoming “Atmanirbhar,” or self-sufficient.


The Death Penalty Approach


Context

  • The Supreme Court recently referred to a larger Bench issues concerning procedural norms for imposing the death penalty.
  • The intervention is seen as an important step toward closing gaps in how trial courts award the death penalty.
  • This current judicial thought trajectory will reaffirm the fundamentals of the rarest of rare principles and usher in a new wave of thought in capital punishment jurisprudence.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Mains Question

Some argue that “capital punishment serves neither justice nor deterrence against any crime.” Do you agree? Explain your response. (250 Words)


Background

  • The Supreme Court has initiated a suo motu writ petition (criminal) to delve deeply into the issues surrounding key aspects of death penalty sentencing.
  • The court is also considering developing a uniform policy in the form of sentencing guidelines.

SC’s most recent observations

  • A three-judge Bench comprised of Chief Justice of India (CJI) U U Lalit and two other Justices observed that there are conflicting judgments on when and how the sentencing hearing must take place, and referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
  • This Supreme Court order, which refers the case to a larger bench, also lists social milieu, age, educational levels, trauma earlier in life, family circumstances, psychological evaluation of a convict, and post-conviction behaviour as relevant circumstances that should be considered at the sentencing hearing.

Concerning Capital Punishment

  • Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the execution of an offender sentenced to death by a court of law after being convicted of a criminal offence.
  • It is the most severe penalty that can be imposed on an offender as an effective deterrent for the most heinous crimes.
  • In India, capital punishment has been reserved for the most heinous of offences, such as Section 121 (taking up arms against the state) and Section 302 (murder), among others, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860.

Decisions Concerning Capital Punishment

  • Section 235 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC): It requires a judge to hear the accused on the question of sentence after conviction, known as a “sentencing hearing,” and then pass sentence on him in accordance with the law.
    • As stated below, this position was upheld in the Bachan Singh case and restated in the Mithu case.
  • Bachan Singh Case v State of Punjab’: In 1980, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty on the condition that it be applied only in the “rarest of the rare” cases.
    • Most importantly, the ruling stated that a separate sentencing hearing would be held in order to persuade a judge that the death penalty was not necessary.
    • “Rarest of the Rare Cases”: When a murder is committed in such a brutal, ridiculous, diabolical, revolting, or reprehensible manner that it arouses the community’s intense and extreme indignation (anger).
  • Mithu case: This position was reiterated in several subsequent rulings, including ‘Mithu v State of Punjab,’ a 1982 ruling that struck down mandatory death sentences as infringing on an accused’s right to be heard before sentencing.
  • Mofil Khan vs. State of Jharkhand (2021): In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that “the State is under a duty to procure evidence to establish that the accused has no possibility of reformation and rehabilitation.”
  • Dattaraya case: In the 2020 ruling ‘Dattaraya v State of Maharashtra,’ a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds that an adequate sentencing hearing was not held.
    • The court also stated that for a constructive hearing under Section 235(2) of the CrPC, the accused should be specifically informed that the court intends to impose the death penalty.
    • By presenting mitigating circumstances to the Court, the accused will be able to make an effective representation against the death penalty. This, however, has not occurred.
    • The bench also noted that the trial court made no attempt to elicit relevant facts and did not provide the petitioner with an opportunity to file an affidavit putting on record mitigating factors, denying the petitioner an effective hearing.

Different points of view

  • Conflicting rulings on separate hearings: At least three smaller Bench decisions have held that, while a separate sentencing hearing is unconstitutional, it can be held on the same day as the conviction.
    • On the other hand, recent three-judge decisions have ruled that same-day sentencing in capital cases violates natural justice principles.
  • Data from the same-day sentencing hearing: According to a 2020 study by Project 39A, a criminal reforms advocacy group at the National Law University in Delhi, sentencing hearings occurred on the same day as the pronouncement of guilt in 44% of the cases studied in Delhi, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.

What should an adequate sentencing hearing look like?

  • The following are noted in the chain of judgments on sentencing hearings:
    • Before passing the death penalty, the accused should be given a “meaningful, real, and effective hearing” in which they can “adduce (cite) material relevant to the question of sentencing.”
  • However, this cannot occur on the same day as the conviction. This is because the judge must consider not only the factors that necessitate the harshest sentence, but also the mitigating circumstances.

What are mitigating factors?

  • Definition: Mitigating circumstances are arguments that accused people can use to avoid death sentences.
    • These circumstances could include mental health issues, childhood trauma, and a lack of a prior criminal record, among other factors that could lead to a reduced sentence.
    • These are intended to mitigate the severity or culpability of a criminal act.
  • In May 2022, while hearing appeals against the confirmation of the death sentence, the Supreme Court examined sentencing methodology more closely from the standpoint of mitigating circumstances.
  • ‘Manoj & others v. State of Madhya Pradesh’: The Supreme Court recognised the arbitrariness and subjective patterns in death penalty awarding.
    • Studies also show that the death penalty is mostly given to the poor, minorities, and scheduled castes and tribes.
  • ‘Machhi Singh and Others vs. State of Punjab’: This 1983 decision introduced the concept of “collective conscience” into the capital sentencing framework and established five categories in which the community would “expect the holders of judicial power to impose death sentence, because collective conscience was sufficiently outraged.”
    • It was noted in the background that the death penalty sentence is largely determined by the crime in question, rather than the circumstances of the accused.
  • Statistics citing collective conscience: According to Project 39A’s 2020 study, 72% of all cases in which Delhi trial courts handed down the death penalty between 2000 and 2015 cited “collective conscience of the society” as an influencing factor.
    • The study also discovered that in 63 of the 112 cases where collective conscience was a factor influencing court decisions, no other mitigating factor was considered.

What comes next?

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench will effectively settle the debate over whether trial courts’ fast-tracked hearings, which award death sentences in some cases in a matter of days, are legally justifiable.
  • The ruling could also be a significant step toward raising the bar for death sentences even higher.

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