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28 December 2020: The Indian Express Editorial Analysis

1) The last straw: Situation of Prisoners

GS 2 Issues relating to the social sector


Recently there were two incidents of prisoners namely Stan Swamy and Gautam Navlakha show up the state of our prisons. In the prisons of India, there are many problems which are against the human rights of a person.



  1. Both of them, mentioned above, are undertrial prisoners in the Bhima-Koregaon case.
  2. There are a few requirements for them. One of them is 80 years old who wants to get a sipper cup and a straw because of Parkinson’s disease. Another wants to get a pair of glasses to replace a broken pair.
  3. Due to this situation, Bombay High Court observes conducting the workshop to sensitise prison staff.
  4. This matter has gone to the courts because there is an indication of the fact that there is little space for ground-level staff to make operational decisions due to political reasons.



  1. In 2018, to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon, there was annual celebratory gathering on 1 January.
  2. There were violence and stone-pelting by anti-social elements on the gathering.
  3. In this incident the death of a 28-year old youth and injury to five others held.
  4. This annual celebration also called Elgar Parishad convention.



  1. It is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.
  2. This disease mainly affects the motor system.



  1. The Nelson Mandela Rules 2015: It issued by the United Nations.
  2. The Model Prison Manual 2016: It issued by the Bureau of Police Research and Development, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  3. Both of them have elaborate provisions regarding the care, treatment and rehabilitation of prisoners.
  4. The judgement of the Supreme Court and high court: These judgments repeat that prisoners are human beings with basic rights.
  5. Other law:  Some other laws take attention to that under trial prisoners enjoy all rights.



  1. There is an example of a high-profile person, Rajan Pillai whose death in Tihar Prison due to lack of medical care. After that the high court award compensation.
  2. Another case related to it is Sheela Barse, who files a PIL, as well as the recent case of ReInhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons”, sees the need for systemic change. Notorious criminals Charles Sobhraj and Sunil Batra, have played their part in prison reforms over the years.



  1. Percentage: Around 70 per cent of prisoners are undertrials and more than 75 per cent come from marginalised sections.
  2. Marginal sections have little knowledge about the laws of prison. even if they have awareness in this regard, they have to face lack of resources challenge. And even if this obstacle tackled by them, they have to face a busy judiciary system.
  3. As well as there is a shortfall of financial, infrastructural, and human resource 20 to 40%.This shortfall adds the staff in stress.
  4. The Apex court issued orders to state governments to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in prisons. As a result of this order more than 68,000 prisoners being released on bail or parole.
  5. But as a comparison to between 2017-2019, shows that overcrowding increased from 116 to 119 %.
  6. Some prisons in India are more than three times crowded than their official capacity.
  7. As well as the shortage of judges and court infrastructure increasing the cases in courts. As between 2019-2020, this number increased from 3.5 crores to 4 crore,  which is over 10%rise.
  8. The India Justice report 2019: According to this report it takes an average of three years for the case to cross the high court and in subordinate courts, this number is six years.



  1. The constitution of Undertrial Review Committees which was mandated by the Supreme Court is working irregularly.
  2. In maximum prisons, Board of Visitors, who is to function as an oversight mechanism are not even constituted.



  1. According to policies, prisons to be places of reform and rehabilitation.
  2. The executive has to ensure prisons act as warehouses for the poor and the marginalised.
  3. The constitutional ordering of this country requires that justice must not wait.
  4. Continuation of the so-called criminal cases is unconscionable because it is forcing vulnerable people into remaining in infection and fatal risk.


2) New Britain-

GS 2- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora


  1. After months of negotiation and deliberation, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK)have agreed upon a post-Brexit trade deal.
  2. The deadline for the deal was by the end of the year and as days went by without any agreement, both the administration and the people of UK were worried about trade with the EUin the future.



The term Brexit, coined by former lawyer Peter Wilding, is a blend of two words - "Britain" and "exit". He wrote about "Brexit" in May 2012. As the name suggests, the United Kingdom’s divorce with the European Union is known as Brexit.



The European Union (EU) is a grouping of 28 countries that trade and allow their citizens to move freely between nations to work and live. Initially, it was built on the ruins of World War II to end centuries of bloodshed and to integrate economic power.


  1. Goods trade: The trade deal does not impose any tariffs or quotas on goods traded between the EU and UK, however, British exporters will have to contend with new regulatory hurdles which will make it costlier to do business with Europe.
  2. Financial services: The trade agreement does not shed much light on the operation of financial firms. It only features standard provisions on financial services, meaning it doesn’t include commitments on market access.
  3. Transparency: The EU and UK have both agreed to uphold their environmental, social, labour and tax transparency standards.
  4. Disputes: Any disputes on the trade between the two parties are subject to negotiation by both but EUcourts will have no say in the matter.
  5. Fishing norms: This was one of the most disputed subjects of the trade deal. The agreement was that the UK would get 25% of the current EUcatch in British waters in a phased manner over a period of five years. A phased transition period of five-and-a-half years will also be present during which time reciprocal access rights to each other’s waters would nit change.
  6. Customs: The EU and UK have agreed to limit customs red tape including through programs for trusted traders called Authorised Economic Operators (AEO).
  7. Aviation: As per the British government, the EU will no longer grant automatic recognition to British aerospace designs and products.
  8. Data flow: There is a temporary provision in the deal that allows the flow of data between the EU and UK until the bloc a data adequacy decision.
  9. Energy: The UK will no longer have access to the EU’s internal energy market. However, there will be new arrangements made on this front in 2022 to ensure smooth trading.
  10. Professional services: There will no longer be automatic mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
  11. Travel for business: Both parties have come to the agreement that people on short-term business trips would not need a work permit or undergo economic needs tests.
  12. Taxes: UK’s domestic tax regimes or tax rates would not be constrained as per the government and both sides were committed to upholding the global standards on tax transparency.
  13. Agriculture: Agricultural products would not be subject to tariffs or quotas, however, shippers would face new challenges and higher costs thanks to new border requirements.
  14. Law: There will be cooperation between the EU and the UK, especially in cases of investigating terrorism and other serious crime. Exchange of DNA, fingerprint and airline passenger information is allowed under the new deal.



  1. The break from Europe will lead to a significant rearrangement of Britain’s foreign economic policy and international relations.
  2. London is actively negotiating multiple bilateral free trade agreements with major economic partners, trying to reinforce the traditional strategic partnerships with the US and Japan and leverage historic connections with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth nations.
  3. Johnson’s visit to India, as the guest at the Republic Day next month, offers an opportunity for Delhi to take a close look at London’s post Brexit plans and make a big push for the transformation of a bilateral relationship that has long performed way below its natural potential.


3) DDC polls show that people of J&K are turning to democratic decentralisation for better governance

GS 2 - Indian Polity and Governance


  1. The successful completion of the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir returns power to the people on the one hand and the resolve of the people of the UT to turn to democratic decentralisation to achieve better governance and development on the other.
  2. Except in the terror hotbeds of Pulwama and Shopian, the voter turnout ranged from 25 per cent to 51 per cent in the other eight districts in the Valley.
  3. These elections were made possible through an amendment to the Panchayat Raj Act 1989 of the erstwhile J&K Constitution, which preceded the national act by six months.



  1. Political freedom: Such a big election was completed peacefully with enthusiastic participation. It shows the extent of political freedom.
  2. People's choice: People preferred credible candidates to work for local development than high-profile party apparatchiks working only on emotional agendas like the restoration of Article 370.


  1. Elections to the local bodies are conducted by the state election commissions independently under state laws.
  2. Article 45 of the manifesto called for people's panchayats at the district, block and village level to represent the state power.
  3. Regional autonomy: After the Indira-Sheikh Accord in 1975, the manifesto was redrafted in 1976 - It promised to provide regional autonomy and further decentralise political power through appropriate institutional arrangements at the district, block and village levels.
  4. Decentralisation: Balraj Puri, the eminent political commentator from J&K, who was involved in the drafting of the manifesto, reasoned eloquently about the need for greater devolution of powers through decentralisation highlighting the diversity in the state.
  5. 1989 Act: Subsequently, the process of devolution of powers happened in the state under the 1989 Act.
  6. DDBs: District Development Boards were constituted to oversee the development plans of the respective districts.
  7. J&K's tragedy has been that it became a prisoner of a few political families and a few dozen legislators. Grass roots leadership was never allowed to rise.
  8. As a result, people remained largely powerless and at the mercy of a few leaders.



  1. Empowering the village panchayats: Started by the UT administration a couple of years ago encouraged the rise of a new-generation leadership at the grass roots.
  2. Empowering DDCs: The welcome change affected now to empower the DDCs with elected representatives is going to further that process and help address developmental needs in a big way.
  3. High voters: People too participated in the elections enthusiastically defying terrorist threats and intimidations.



The elections saw enthusiastic participation of both the people and political parties. However, the party and the government need to take a cautious note of the deepening divisions within the UT along the Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley.