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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 30 October 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Time and change/ On the three Criminal Codes
  2. Shaping up India-South Korea relationship

Time and Change/On the three Criminal Codes


Context:

The parliamentary committee seems to be nearing the finalization of its report on the three Bills designed to replace the current criminal laws. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has delayed the adoption of the draft report due to requests from Opposition members who want more time to review it.

Relevance:

GS2- Polity

Mains Question:

Examine the suggested transformation of India’s legal system, as presented in the 2023 bills known as the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill, Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill. Assess the possible advantages and apprehensions linked with these planned modifications. (15 marks, 250 words).

More on the report:

  • The report contains at least three dissenting opinions, primarily related to the text of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which will replace the Indian Penal Code, and the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, which will replace the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • There seems to be consensus on the third Bill, the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, which replaces the Indian Evidence Act.
  • The committee’s deliberations began on August 24 and consisted of only 12 meetings, raising questions about the thoroughness of the examination.

Rationale behind the bills:

  • The main objective of introducing these new criminal codes was to modernize a legal system considered to have colonial origins.
  • An effective study of these Bills should have involved extensive consultations with stakeholders across the country.

Working of the panel:

  • Ideally, the panel should have conducted meetings throughout the country, engaging lawyers, activists, and members of the subordinate judiciary who implement the law and procedures outlined in the codes.
  • The request for more time to review the report stems from the fact that the draft report was initially circulated in English just days before the scheduled adoption, with the Hindi version becoming available only on the eve of the meeting.
  • The panel’s next meeting is set for November 6, and it would be wise to view this deferment as an opportunity to extend the committee’s timeline by a few more months, rather than a mere pause for members to review the draft report.
  • The government appears eager to introduce and pass the Bills during the winter session, but there is no compelling reason for such haste.

Conclusion:

It could be argued that many sections of the new laws are essentially reproductions of the old Codes, and one review by the Standing Committee may be sufficient before introducing them in the legislature. However, there are areas that might necessitate more thorough examination, such as the potential for misuse in the new definitions, the desirability of introducing new offenses like ‘hate speech,’ and whether there is room for further procedural reform in the criminal justice system.


Shaping up India-South Korea Relationship


Context:

South Korea, with its innovative spirit, can actively participate in India’s ambitious endeavors to modernize its ports, develop a sustainable blue economy, and promote environmentally friendly green shipping initiatives.

Relevance:

GS2- IR-Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains Question:

South Korea with its pertinent pioneering streak can partake in India’s ambitious port modernisation, blue-economy and decarbonised green-shipping initiatives. Comment. (15 marks, 250 words).

Shift in Global power:

  • It is evident that the global focus has shifted away from the Euro-Atlantic region to the vast Indo-Pacific area, as seen in demographic trends, trade, investment flows, technological developments, and more.
  • This shift is characterized by the numerous major and middle powers, both resident and non-resident, formulating independent Indo-Pacific strategies and adjusting their strategic calculations to align with the changing balance of power.
  • The Republic of Korea (ROK), by unveiling its ‘Strategy for a Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific’ (SFPPIP) in December 2022, has joined this trend.
  • Far from lagging behind, South Korea’s strategy injects a refreshing dynamism into the already diverse geopolitical landscape of the region.

Indo-Pacific vision and South Korea’s foreign policy:

The new Indo-Pacific Vision aims to address three persistent challenges in South Korean foreign policy.

  • Firstly, it seeks to shift the country’s focus away from its obsession with its northern neighbor, which has confined it to a sub-regional role and consumed a significant portion of its diplomatic resources.
  • Secondly, it aims to break free from the dominance of U.S.-China competition, which, while necessary for security and economic reasons, has limited South Korea’s broader ambitions.
  • Thirdly, it aspires to enhance South Korea’s global influence by proclaiming itself a potential ‘Global Pivotal State’ (GPS). This involves establishing economically and technologically robust strategic partnerships, increasing national significance, diversifying sovereign risk through multi-alignment, and providing public goods in various sectors.

Relevance of South Korea’s policy for India:

  • Both countries have moved beyond their traditional fixations (South Korea on North Korea and India on Pakistan) and have sought greater integration into the Indo-Pacific region.
  • India, despite its economic transformation, has struggled to establish itself as a credible provider of public goods, and this is an area where South Korea can collaborate effectively.
  • Both countries share middle-power characteristics, focusing on calibrated deterrence and pragmatic engagement with China while maintaining economic and technological balance.
  • They are also mindful of the need for a balanced approach between the United States and China, given their economic ties with China.

Way Forward:

  • To solidify their partnership, South Korea and India can build on their economic relations, diversify export destinations, and engage in infrastructure development, innovation, and technology-driven cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • South Korea’s strengths, such as expertise in port modernization, island development, blue economy, and green shipping, align with India’s national priorities.
  • This collaboration would not only benefit both countries but also position South Korea as a key stakeholder in India’s growth story.
  • In addition, South Korea can leverage India’s youthful demographic and intellectual capital to foster mobility and address Indian expectations for market access and supply chain development.

Conclusion:

South Korea’s Indo-Pacific orientation can elevate its profile and visibility in the region, and deepening bilateral cooperation with India can become a cornerstone of the rebalancing strategic framework in the Indo-Pacific.


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