1. States told to implement adoption rules
The instructions come despite concerns over jurisdiction of District Magistrates
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has written to State governments, asking them to immediately implement the revised adoption rules requiring adoption orders to be passed by District Magistrates (DMs) instead of courts with effect from September 1.
The instructions come despite concerns raised over jurisdiction of DMs in civil matters such as inheritance and succession, as well as delays likely to be caused in cases where the court has already passed orders since September 1 or is likely to pass them shortly after having spent several months on the proceedings.
“All the cases pertaining to adoption matters pending before the Courts shall be transferred to the District Magistrates from the date of commencement of the Rules i.e. 01.09.2022,” Indevar Pandey, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, wrote to Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories on Monday.
He urged for “immediate compliance of the same, so that there is no delay in passing the adoption orders.”
“The Centre should have clarified what happens to the orders that have been passed between September 1 and September 12, and how should CARA and DMs deal with such cases. Courts were not informed about the amendments and the Centre has also not yet notified Adoption Regulations, 2022 detailing the process to be followed by the DMs,” said Sindhu Naik, Member, Karnataka State Council For Child Welfare.
The amendment being contested is an amendment to the rules, and not the principal Act and therefore revising it shouldn’t be a difficult task involving Parliament’s nod, she pointed out.
“It transfers cases that are currently being heard in the district and civil courts to the DM, which should be challenged. The rules should not apply retrospectively, and should state that only new cases after September 1 should be brought to DMs for seeking adoption orders,” she added.
Experts have drawn attention to the concern that when a child turns 18 and his or her inheritance rights are contested before a court, a judicial order is more tenable to secure entitlements.
Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021 last year in order to amend the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), 2015. These authorise District Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act by striking out the word “court”.
This was done in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability. The amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016, were notified on September 1 and require all adoption cases to be transferred to the DM with immediate effect.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2021
- The bill was passed in Lok Sabha in March 2021.
Need for Amendment
- As of July 2018, there were 629 adoption cases pending in various courts.
- In order to expedite adoption proceedings, the Bill transfers the power to issue adoption orders to the district magistrate.
- It addresses several concerns that were flagged by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
- NCPCR audit of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in 2020 highlights that many CCIs were not registered , some have no toilets and drinking water.
- Rehabilitation of children is not a priority for childcare homes and children are reportedly kept in such institutions to get funds.
- Therefore the bill aimed at strengthening the Child Welfare Committees and providing support and justice to Children .
- Several difficulties faced in implementation of various provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2015 have also been addressed.
Key Highlights of the Bill
- Empowerment of District Magistrate:
- It authorises District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability.
- The District Magistrates have been further empowered to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions.
- Any Child Care Institutions shall be registered after considering the recommendations of the District Magistrate.
- The DM shall independently evaluate the functioning of District Child Protection Units, Child Welfare Committees (CWC), Juvenile Justice Boards, Specialized Juvenile Police Units, Child care Institutions etc.
- Child Welfare Committees (CWCs): The eligibility parameters for the appointment of CWC members have been redefined.
- Criteria for disqualification of the CWC members have also been introduced to ensure that only the persons capable of rendering quality service with requisite competence and integrity are appointed to CWC.
- Serious offences: Presently there are three categories (petty, serious and heinous) defined under the Act which are referred to while considering the cases of children in conflict with the law.
- However, it was observed that some of the offences do not strictly fall under any of these categories.
- It has been decided that offences where the maximum sentence is more than 7 years imprisonment but no minimum sentence has been prescribed or minimum sentence of fewer than 7 years is provided, shall be treated as serious offences within this Act.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children), Act, 2015:
- Parliament introduced and passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000.
- The Act offered provisions to allow trials of juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years as an adult who were found to be in conflict with the law, especially heinous crimes.
- The Act also offered provisions regarding adoption. The Act replaced the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) and Guardians of the ward Act (1890) with more universally accessible adoption law.
- The Act enabled smooth functioning of adoption procedures for orphans, surrendered, and abandoned children while making the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) the statutory body for adoption-related matters.
2. Centre is trying to curb lumpy skin disease: PM
Modi was inaugurating the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit in Greater Noida
Inaugurating the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit in Greater Noida on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Centre has made all efforts to keep a track of the movement of livestock in the wake of the spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD).
Mr. Modi said there has been a loss of livestock in many States due to the disease in the recent past and assured everyone that the Centre and the State Governments are trying their level best to keep a check on it.
“Our scientists have also prepared indigenous vaccine for lumpy skin disease,” he said.
He added the movement of animals are being monitored to keep the outbreak under control.
“Be it vaccination of animals or any other modern technology, India is always eager to contribute to the field of dairy while striving to learn from its partner nations. India has acted swiftly on its food safety standards,” Mr. Modi said.
The Prime Minister highlighted the centrality of Pashu Dhan and milk-related business in the cultural landscape of India.
He said the driving force of the dairy sector in India is small farmers and added that the country’s dairy sector is characterised by “production by masses” more than “mass production”.
“India is the largest milk-producing country on the basis of the efforts of these small farmers who have one or two cattle. The dairy sector provides employment to more than eight crore families in the country,” he said.
He said the huge network of dairy cooperatives in India is a unique example and these dairy cooperatives collect milk twice a day from about two crore farmers in more than two lakh villages in the country and deliver it to the customers.
Pointing out the importance of indigenous breeds, he said such varieties of cattle can withstand many adverse circumstances.
He said women have a 70% representation in the workforce in India’s dairy sector.
“Women are the real leaders of India’s dairy sector. Not only this, more than a third of the members of dairy cooperatives in India are women,” he said, adding that with a value of ₹8.5 lakh crore, the dairy sector is more than the combined value of wheat and rice.
Lumpy Skin Disease
- It is caused by a virus called the Capripoxvirus and is “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide”.
- It is genetically related to the goatpox and sheeppox virus family.
- It infects cattle and water buffalo mainly through vectors such as blood-feeding insects.
- LSD is caused by infection of cattle or water buffalo with the poxvirus Lumpy Skin Disease Virus (LSDV).
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), The mortality rate is less than 10%.
- Lumpy skin disease was first seen as an epidemic in Zambia in 1929. Initially, it was thought to be the result of either poisoning or hypersensitivity to insect bites.
- Lumpy skin disease is primarily spread between animals by biting insects (vectors), such as mosquitoes and biting flies.
- It primarily consists of fever, fluid excretion from eyes and nose, dribbling of saliva from the mouth and blisters on the body.
- The animal stops eating and faces problems while chewing or eating, resulting in reduced milk production.
- Prevention and Treatment:
- Vaccination against these diseases is covered under the Livestock Health and Disease Control Programme of India.
- There are no specific antiviral drugs available for the treatment of lumpy skin disease. The only treatment available is supportive care of cattle. This can include treatment of skin lesions using wound care sprays and the use of antibiotics to prevent secondary skin infections and pneumonia.
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers can be used to keep up the appetite of affected animals.
3. Editorial-1: India has lost its way in the use of international law
Unlike in the West, its generalist diplomats and policy-makers rarely employ the international law vocabulary extensively
Seventy-five years of India’s Independence is an occasion to not just rejoice in our accomplishments but also to introspect on our failings. While a wide variety of issues have been discussed from this vantage point, an analysis of India’s tryst with international law has not been undertaken.
Despite international law being ruler’s law and its euro-centric character, India did not jettison it at the time of its independence. India’s Constitution makers saw the value of international law and thus provided in Article 51 that the state shall foster respect for international law. At the same time, under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, India made it abundantly clear that the emergence of post-colonial States has transmuted the ‘geography’ of international law. India asserted its sovereignty and championed the principle of self-determination in international law including by playing a key role in organising the first Asian-African Conference at Bandung in 1955, proclaiming that colonialism should “speedily be brought to an end”.
Since those days, India has remained steadfastly committed to the UN Charter and has always advocated the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Over the years, India’s engagement with international law norms in multiple fields such as human rights, trade, investment, environment, ocean, space, etc. has expanded vastly. India has played an active role in shaping international law on terrorism by proposing a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), and recently initiated the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a bold attempt to influence international environmental law.
Absence of lawfare
Notwithstanding these achievements, India’s engagement with international law has been marginal, especially in articulating its national interests internationally. Unlike their western counterparts who justify the conduct of international relations by embedding it in the language of international law to gain legitimacy for their actions, India’s generalist diplomats and policy-makers rarely employ the international law vocabulary extensively. The most obvious example of this is India’s failure to use the international law vocabulary to call out Chinese transgressions of India’s sovereignty.
A similar pattern emerges in India’s dealing with Pakistan. An important example is India’s statement as part of the right of reply in September 2021 in the United Nations. In this statement, India rightly rubbished Pakistan’s falsehoods against India on the issue of Kashmir and made a case of Pakistan sponsoring terrorism. Strangely, the Indian statement did not once mention ‘international law’, forget citing Pakistan’s specific breaches of the treaty and customary international law. Barring a few instances such as suing Pakistan at the International Court of Justice in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, India has not used international courts to hold Pakistan accountable for its breach of international law. The most striking example is India’s failure to legally challenge Pakistan’s denial of most favoured nation status to India at the World Trade Organization.
This failure to mainstream the lexicon of international law in the diplomatic toolkit has resulted in India’s failure to develop and contribute new international law doctrines, interpretations, and principles that suit its national interests, barring a few initiatives such as the CCIT and ISA.
A major reason for India’s failure to effectively employ the international law vocabulary is that its foreign service is heavily populated by generalist diplomats who are wedded to the theories of international relations. The only section in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that looks at international law is the legal and treaties (L&T) division. But this division is grossly understaffed. As in a 2021 report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, the L&T division has a strength of 13 offices as opposed to an approved strength of 23. Furthermore, one is unsure of the quality of talent that the L&T division is able to attract because there are far greater incentives for an international lawyer to join the government as a generalist diplomat than as a technocrat. Adding insult to injury is the fragmentation of decision-making in international law with the involvement of several Ministries such as finance, commerce, law, environment, etc. dealing with different facets of international law. To overcome the fragmentation-related problems, a parliamentary committee report in 2016 recommended the creation of a ‘department of international law’ under the Law Ministry. But precious little has been done so far.
Academically, international law has largely remained a neglected discipline in the last 75 years, which explains poor state-capacity in this area. Notwithstanding the presence of a few outstanding international law professors, our universities have not invested much in the development of the discipline. The Government has failed to fund research in international law. Realising India’s abysmal capacity in international law, the report of the parliamentary committee in 2021 recommended that the MEA establish chairs for research in international law in universities. The MEA funds research centres such as the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). But the ICWA focuses largely on the study of international relations, not international law. China, on the other hand, has poured in massive resources to build the capacity of its universities in international law, which has benefited the Chinese government as well.
The Indian Society of International Law (ISIL), established in 1959, was supposed to become a centre of excellence for research in international law. However, ISIL has failed in producing worthwhile research in international law. Its flagship journal, the Indian Journal of International Law (IJIL), is nowhere close to the top international law journals in the world despite being over 60 years old. In contrast, the Chinese Journal of International Law launched just two decades back, is one of the top-ranked journals in the world. While ISIL organises events on international law, there is a conspicuous drop in quality and rigour.
Unlike in other countries, there is hardly any truck between the international law professors and the Government on pressing international law challenges. International law academicians, on their part, have failed to popularise international law. This is in stark contrast to academicians in international relations and social sciences who write for the masses, not just for specialised audiences.
India’s ambition of punching above its weight in international affairs cannot be accomplished without its investing in international law. Let us hope that those who sit in South Block act expeditiously.
4. Editorial-2: Three to tangle
The Pakistan factor should not undermine India’s close security ties with the U.S.
India is understandably upset with the U.S.’s decision to refurbish the F-16 fighter fleet of Pakistan. The fleet has been the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force since the early 1980s, upgraded, and replenished periodically. As the partnership between the two countries grew over the years, including and particularly in the defence sector, India continuously raised its concerns on this account with U.S. interlocutors. Successive U.S. administrations have maintained that the defence partnership with Pakistan, which is a major non-NATO ally, is a critical component of its global war on terror — a point contested by India. In 2016, the U.S. Congress stalled the Obama administration’s move to give more F-16 fighters to Pakistan. New Delhi’s apprehensions came true in February 2019, a day after the Balakot air strike by the Indian Air Force, when Pakistan deployed its F-16s to target Indian military bases close to the Line of Control. The Indian Army recovered debris of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile fired by the F-16s. On September 7, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified a possible Foreign Military Sales worth $450 million for engine, electronic warfare and other hardware and software upgrades and spares for Pakistan’s F-16s. Though it said that the proposed sale does not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions, the move clearly marks a thaw in the U.S.’s attitude towards Pakistan.
The External Affairs Ministry has chosen to maintain its silence on the issue, unlike its public expression of summoning the U.S. Ambassador in 2016. The U.S. move strains its relationship with India which has been making great strides, though it is not without obstacles. New Delhi and Washington have been skilfully managing their differences over Afghanistan, the crisis in Ukraine, and the lingering threat of U.S. sanctions under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Washington’s new warmth with Islamabad also comes amid a flurry of India-U.S. diplomatic and military engagements. India and the U.S. have committed to deepening defence and security cooperation, but the indulgence of Pakistan dampens that spirit. The Trump administration had tried to hold Pakistan accountable for duplicity in its approach towards terrorist groups operating from its territory, which amounts to running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. To stay in Afghanistan, the U.S. needed Pakistan; now to stay away from Afghanistan it needs Pakistan even more. While the U.S. may have its reasons to keep Pakistan humoured and incentivised, India’s concerns are immediate and real. Terrorism against India has been Pakistan’s state policy for decades. Far from seeking accountability, the U.S. is rewarding Pakistan, and more on the same lines may in the offing. India and the U.S. need to work to ensure that the spectacular gains made in bilateral ties are preserved and nourished.
5. Editorial-3: Great G20 power, great responsibility
India will have the opportunity to assume centre stage in setting the global agenda
September is a hectic month in India’s diplomatic calendar. On September 5-6 in New Delhi, a ‘Senior Officers Meeting’ was held of the Quad, which comprises India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. On September 8, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and their Japanese counterparts held the second India-Japan ‘2+2’ Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo to take forward strategic cooperation in areas such as joint exercises, defence manufacturing and emerging technologies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 15-16. This will be the first in-person summit of the SCO since the COVID-19 pandemic. This visit will be watched closely by the West and by India’s Quad partners for India’s engagement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the Russian war in Ukraine has completed more than six months. This will also be the first time that Mr. Modi will be meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping face to face, since the transgressions of the People’s Liberation Army at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) began in April 2020. The Indian government has said India and China will take up remaining issues along the LAC when the disengagement at Patrolling Point 15 in Gogra-Hot Springs is completed; therefore, any contact with the Chinese leader will be significant. India will be assuming rotational presidency of the SCO at the end of the Samarkand summit and will hold it for a year until September 2023. It will host the SCO summit next year.
It will also preside as President of the United Nations Security Council for December 2022.
Presidency of G20
But before that, in November, the 17th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit will take place in Bali. After Indonesia, India will assume the presidency of the G20 from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023. It is slated to host several ministerial meetings, working groups, and events before the G20 Head of State summit next year.
By hosting the summit of the G20, the world’s most influential economic multilateral forum, India will have the opportunity to assume centre stage in proposing and setting the global agenda and discourse. The G20 holds a strategic role in securing global economic growth and prosperity. Together, its members represent more than 80% of the world’s GDP, 75% of international trade and 60% of the world’s population. It will arguably be the most high-profile event ever hosted by India. The country’s leadership potential and diplomatic foresight in organising such a big-ticket event and in arriving at meaningful outcomes will be tested.
In a world affected by the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, the rise of an assertive China, economic challenges such as stagflation, terrorism, and climate change, to name a few, it needs to be seen what role India can play under its watch as President of the G20. To begin with, India can take cues from Indonesia’s presidency and observe how it is managing the group which is deeply divided on various issues. Indonesia has focused on three key pillars: global health architecture, sustainable energy transition, and digital transformation. This template could be useful for India in forging a comprehensive agenda.
India can assert its political, economic and intellectual leadership while hosting the G20 presidency. But it will have to perform a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, we have the West, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and G7 partner nations setting the agenda. And on the other, we have an emerging nexus between China and Russia, which are taking divergent views from the first group. India might be caught in the middle as it is part of both the Quad and the SCO which somewhat lie on the opposing sides of the geopolitical spectrum. So, India might have to address issues that help in bridging the emerging divide in the world order.
Notwithstanding the noise and opposing views at this forum, India can find a common ground for setting its G20 agenda by addressing issues of global concern. Simultaneously, it needs to promote its specific priorities related to domestic and regional issues such as economic recovery, trade and investment, unemployment, patent waivers on diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines to tackle COVID-19 and terrorism. More specifically, India could forge greater cooperation with many G20 members such as the European Union, the U.K., and Canada, thereby accelerating their coordination on realising free trade agreements. The overarching issues could be related to charting a road map for quick global economic recovery, focusing on the supply chain resilience mechanism and stressing on green and digital transformations in the economy and its impact on societal well-being. This would ensure a sustainable and inclusive growth for the global economy.
G20 is a unique global institution, where developed and developing countries have equal stature. It offers India an opportunity to also champion the causes of developing and least developed countries so as to ensure that this summit does not turn out to be a western-dominated high table gathering or one where large economies impose their aspirations on the world. India could invite and engage countries from Africa and South America to ensure better and more balanced representation at the G20. Areas such as technology transfer, assistance towards green economy, greater access to trade for developing countries, addressing debt distress of countries by offering sustainable aid and loan programmes, tackling food and energy prices/security for vulnerable economies etc. could be relevant. As Harsh V. Shringla, India’s chief G20 coordinator and former Foreign Secretary, recently said, “Our G20 Presidency would place India on the global stage, and provide an opportunity for India to place its priorities and narratives on the global agenda.”
A testing time
The coming months will be a testing time for Indian foreign policy and diplomacy as the country prepares to host the G20 and SCO summits next year. India will be central in outlining key priority areas and in ensuring that the forum does not remain just a ‘talk shop’ but translates into a ‘walk shop’ in terms of meaningful actions and outcomes. Only this will give credibility to India’s pivotal role in the international community.
On its 75th year of independence, India could start charting a meaningful agenda and contribute towards the international community. Its role towards either brokering or breaking deals could define the coming years and decades of global discourse and avenues of cooperation.