It is digital media which needs regulations: Centre tells Supreme Court

Agencies
September 17, 2020

New Delhi, Sept 17: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has informed the Supreme Court that if it is keen to begin an exercise to regulate media, then it should be the digital media instead of mainstream media, as it has wider viewership and also has the potential to turn viral.

The Ministry in an affidavit in the Supreme Court said while in a mainstream media (whether electronic or print), the publication or telecast is a one-time act, the digital media has faster reach to a wider range of readership and has the potential to become viral because of several electronic applications like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook.

"Considering the serious impact and the potential, it is desirable that if this Court decides to undertake the exercise, it should first be undertaken with regard to digital media as there already exist sufficient framework and judicial pronouncements with regard to electronic media and print media," said the affidavit filed in connection with the Sudarshan TV case.

"The media includes mainstream electronic media, mainstream print media as well as a parallel media namely digital print media and digital web-based news portal and YouTube channels as well as 'Over The Top' platforms (OTTs)," said the Ministry in an affidavit.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, K.M. Joseph and Indu Malhotra has stayed the broadcast of Sudarshan TV programme UPSC Jihad, until further orders.

The apex court has also indicated the setting up of a five-member committee, including people of commendable stature without having any politically divisive orientation, to provide standards for electronic media.

On this aspect, the Ministry in the affidavit said the present petition is concerned with balancing between the journalist's freedom and responsible journalism, which is a field already occupied either by the statutory provisions made by Parliament or by the judgments of the Supreme Court.

"...In view of the issue having already received attention of the Parliament, as well as, of this Court, the present petition be confined to only one channel namely Sudarshan T.V. and this Court may not undertake the exercise of laying down any further guidelines with or without appointment of an Amicus or a Committee of persons as Amicus," said the affidavit.

The top court will continue hearing the matter on Thursday.

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Agencies
October 31,2020

Allahabad, Oct 31: The Allahabad High Court has said in a case that conversion just for the sake of marriage is not valid.

The court made the remark while dismissing a plea by a newly married couple.

The couple had approached the court to direct police and the woman's father not to disturb their marital life.

Justice MC Tripathi passed the order last month in a petition filed by Priyanshi alias Samreen and her partner.

In the petition, it was stated that the couple got married in July this year, but family members of the woman were interfering in their marital life.

Dismissing the petition, the court observed, "The first petitioner has converted her religion on June 29, 2020 and just after one month, they have solemnised their marriage on July 31, 2020, which clearly reveals to this court that the said conversion has taken place only for the purpose of marriage."

The court referred to the case of Noor Jahan Begum in which the high court in 2014 held that conversion just for the purpose of marriage was unacceptable.

The petition was rejected by the Allahabad High Court in the case of Noor Jahan Begum praying to provide protection to the married couple as the girl was a Hindu in the case and married after converting to Islam.

In that case, the court had asked, "Whether conversion of religion of a Hindu girl at the instance of a Muslim boy, without any knowledge of Islam or faith and belief in Islam and merely for the purpose of Marriage (Nikah) is valid?"

The court at that time answered the question in negative while relying on teachings of the Quran.

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News Network
October 25,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 25: Industry body PHDCCI expects India’s GDP to contract by 7.9 per cent in the current financial year and grow by 7.7 per cent in 2021-22, assessing that the worst is over and the economy is on the verge of a slow recovery.

The chamber, however, stated that unemployment remains a key challenge to be addressed by the government.

The PHDCCI drew the conclusions based on its analysis of 25 high-frequency economic indicators which point out that there has been a pickup in business normalisation.

However, the unemployment rate still remains a worry as it worsened to 8.3 per cent in August from 7.4 per cent in July, it said in a report.

"Going ahead, India should focus on moving away from imports from China, divert trade towards friendly economies, build domestic capacities and significantly scale-up indigenous production with a thrust to become self-reliant," PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) said.

It said also that efforts should be made to diversify the portfolio of export products in terms of more countries and also in terms of more products, where India has a core competence.

PHDCCI President Sanjay Aggarwal said on the back of various reforms undertaken by the government during the last six months, economic recovery has become visible in the high-frequency indicators.

“At this juncture, on the basis of PHDCCI Economic and Business Momentum (EBM) Index, we estimate that the GDP growth will be at around (-) 7.9 per cent for the current financial year 2020-21 and 7.7 per cent for the next financial year 2021-22,” Aggarwal told PTI.

The chamber suggests that the government should prioritise demand creation measures to attain a positive growth trajectory in the third and fourth quarters of the current financial year ending March 2021.

“Demand creation will have a significant effect on the enhanced production sentiments of producers, increased investments and employment creation. Investments in the infrastructure will refuel the growth trajectory with increased demand for commodities such as steel, cement and power which in turn will rejuvenate private investments and create new employment opportunities in the country,” said Aggarwal.

The chamber observed that while several sectors of the economy will continue to have the after-effects of the pandemic, recent economic data shows that the worst is over and India is on the verge of a slow recovery.

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News Network
October 17,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 17: India ranked 94 among 107 nations in the Global Hunger Index 2020 and is in the 'serious' hunger category with experts blaming poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring, siloed approach in tackling malnutrition and poor performance by large states behind the low ranking.

Last year, India's rank was 102 out of 117 countries.

The neighbouring Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan too are in the 'serious' category but ranked higher than India in this year's hunger index. While Bangladesh ranked 75, Myanmar and Pakistan are in the 78th and 88th position.

Nepal in 73rd and Sri Lanka in 64th position are in 'moderate' hunger category, the report showed.

Seventeen nations, including China, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index, that tracks hunger and malnutrition, said on Friday.

According to the report, 14 per cent of India's population is undernourished.

It also showed the country recorded a 37.4 per cent stunting rate among children under five and a wasting rate of 17.3 per cent. The under-five mortality rate stood at 3.7 per cent.

Wasting is children who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition. Stunting is children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.

Data from 1991 through 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed that stunting is concentrated among children from households facing multiple forms of deprivation, including poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal education, and household poverty.

During this period, India experienced a decline in under-five mortality, driven largely by a decrease in deaths from birth asphyxia or trauma, neonatal infections, pneumonia, and diarrhoea, the report stated.

"However, child mortality, caused by prematurity and low birth weight, increased particularly in poorer states and rural areas. Prevention of prematurity and low birthweight is identified as a key factor with the potential to reduce under-five mortality in India, through actions such as better antenatal care, education, and nutrition as well as reductions in anaemia and oral tobacco use," it said.

Experts think that poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring and siloed approaches to tackling malnutrition often result in poor nutrition indices.

Purnima Menon, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, said the performance of large states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh need to be improved to see an overall change of India's ranking.

"The national average is affected a lot by the states like UP and Bihar... the states which actually have a combination of high levels of malnutrition and they contribute a lot to the population of the country.

"Every fifth child born in India is in Uttar Pradesh. So if you have a high level of malnutrition in a state that has a high population, it contributes a lot to India's average. Obviously, then, India's average will be slow to move," she said.

Ms Menon said big states with large population and a high burden of malnutrition are those which are actually affecting India's average.

"So, if we want a change in India then we would also need a change in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar," she said.

Shweta Khandelwal, the head of Nutrition Research and Additional Professor at Public Health Foundation of India, said the country has one of the most impressive portfolios of programmes and policies in nutrition in the books.

"However, the ground realities are quite dismal."

"Research shows that our top-down approach, poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring and siloed approaches in tackling malnutrition (missing convergence) often result in poor nutrition indices. We must integrate actions to make public health and nutrition a priority across each sector," she said.

Ms Khandelwal suggested five measures to prevent exacerbation of hunger because of the pandemic.

"Safeguard and promote access to nutritious, safe and affordable diets; invest in improving maternal and child nutrition through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood; re-activate and scale-up services for the early detection and treatment of child wasting; maintain the provision of nutritious and safe school meals for vulnerable children and expand social protection to safeguard access to nutritious diets and essential service," she said.

She said it is important to aim at curbing multiple forms of malnutrition holistically in a concerted manner rather than single short-sighted fixes.

"Hunger and undernutrition cannot and should not be fixed by mere calorie provision. All stakeholders steered by robust leadership must pay attention to making balanced healthy diets which are climate-friendly, affordable and accessible to all," she added.

GHI score is calculated on four indicators - undernourishment; child wasting, the share of children under the age of five who are wasted-- who have low weight for their height reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, children under the age of five who have low height for their age reflecting chronic undernutrition; and child mortality - the mortality rate of children under the age of five.

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