newspaper Editorials with vocab 2/2/2016

THE HINDU: Towards a law on euthanasia

The time for legislation to deal with euthanasia has come. The Union government has now informed a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that its experts are examining a draft Bill proposed by the Law Commission in its 241st report. However, it has been advised by the Law Ministry to hold back its enactment now, as the matter is pending before the court. Over a decade ago, the government felt that legislation on euthanasia would amount to doctors violating the Hippocratic Oath and that they should not yield to a patient’s “fleeting desire out of transient depression” to die. The government’s latest stand represents forward movement in the quest for a legislative framework to deal with the question whether patients who are terminally ill and possibly beyond the scope of medical revival can be allowed to die with dignity. The question was raised with a great deal of passion in the case of Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who lay in a vegetative state in a Mumbai hospital between 1973 and 2015. In a landmark 2011 verdict that was notable for its progressive, humane and sensitive treatment of the complex interplay of individual dignity and social ethics, the Supreme Court laid down a broad legal framework. It ruled out any backing for active euthanasia, or the taking of a specific step such as injecting the patient with a lethal substance, to put an end to a patient’s suffering, as that would be clearly illegal. It allowed ‘passive euthanasia’, or the withdrawal of life support, subject to safeguards and fair procedure. It made it mandatory that every instance should get the approval of a High Court Bench, based on consultation with a panel of medical experts.
The question now before a Constitution Bench on a petition by the NGO Common Cause is whether the right to live with dignity under Article 21 includes the right to die with dignity, and whether it is time to allow ‘living wills’, or written authorisations containing instructions given by persons in a healthy state of mind to doctors that they need not be put on life-support systems or ventilators in the event of their going into a persistent vegetative state or state of terminal illness. The government’s reply shows that the Directorate-General of Health Services has proposed legislation based on the recommendations of an Experts’ Committee. The experts have not agreed to active euthanasia because of its potential for misuse and have proposed changes to a draft Bill suggested by the Law Commission. However, there seems to be no support for the idea of a ‘living will’, as the draft says any such document will be ‘void’ and not binding on any medical practitioner. It is logical that it should be so, as the law will be designed specifically to deal with patients not competent to decide for themselves because of their medical condition. This has to be tested against the argument that giving those likely to drift into terminal illness an advance opportunity to make an informed choice will help them avoid “cruel and unwanted treatment” to prolong their lifespan. To resolve this conflict between pain and death, the sooner that a comprehensive law on the subject is enacted, the better it will be for society.
The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. The practice is illegal in most countries.

The process of passing legislation.

Of or relating to Hippocrates or the school of medicine that took his name

Lasting for a very short time.

Lasting only for a short time; impermanent.

A long or arduous search for something.

Sufficient to cause death.

Of, relating to, or denoting reproduction or propagation achieved by asexual means, either naturally (budding, rhizomes, runners, bulbs, etc.) or artificially (grafting, layering, or taking cuttings).

Of, forming, or situated at the end or extremity of something.

Not valid or legally binding.

THE HINDU: Djokovic’s dominance

For a sport reeling from allegations of fixing, tennis needed the restoration of a semblance of normalcy. And few things have been as normal these last few years as Novak Djokovic holding a trophy aloft. So the Australian Open received the finish it so desperately wanted after its start was hit by the BBC and BuzzFeed exposé. Djokovic never let his focus waver in sweeping to his sixth title in Melbourne, tying Roy Emerson’s record for the most Australian Open crowns. The win was further evidence of the 28-year-old Serb’s dominance. He has won four of the last five Grand Slams, including the three most recent. In 10 of his 11 career Major victories, he has defeated Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray, the other members of the Big Four. He has mastered each of these great men in 6-1 first sets this year and won 17 of his last 18 matches against Top 10 opposition. On current form, Djokovic has no peer; indeed, the rest of the field will need a significant step up if they are to even begin to stretch him. He doesn’t merely enjoy a considerable athletic edge over everyone else — the consistent depth and penetration of his ball-striking from the baseline has never been surpassed in the game’s history. Consider that he has continued to make technical and tactical improvements to his play, becoming more ruthless and clinical in the process, and it is clear his ambition continues to burn bright. Indeed, he spoke after his win of getting back to work after a short celebration.
Sport advances in iteration, but perhaps never before in men’s tennis have three of the finest, most dominant champions succeeded each other so quickly. Djokovic now stands where only a few, Federer and Nadal among them, have stood before. A sense of how difficult it is to maintain such superiority may be had from the women’s game. Serena Williams has appeared just as peerless over a similar period, but one match in which anxiety reduced her level and a brave, inspired opponent elevated hers proved the difference between a Major won and one lost. Angelique Kerber’s triumph will conveniently be classed as a fairy-tale run. But 28-year-olds who have never before reached Slam finals don’t do it on a wing and a prayer. They do it because they finally realise failure’s transformative potential; because they are willing then to stake every last bit of their being on what looks to others a long shot. In defeating Serena — still one short of Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 Majors, but with at least as strong a case for being considered the greatest ever — and the formidable Victoria Azarenka, Kerber pulled off an extraordinary coup under severe pressure. Another variation of the theme of dominance came in the women’s doubles. Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis claimed their third successive Grand Slam title together, extending their winning streak on tour to 36 matches. Like Djokovic and Serena, they will look at the remainder of 2016 covetously — as an opportunity to enhance their legacy.
Wind a line onto a reel by turning the reel.

The outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different.

In a way that shows despair.

A member of the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the ranks of duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron.

The action or process of making a way through or into something.

Exceed; be greater than.

The repetition of a process or utterance.

A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.

Enviously: with jealousy; in an envious manner; "he looked at his friend's new car jealously

INDIAN EXPRESS: Clean up the books

The Union finance ministry and the Niti Aayog have recommended that the government set up an asset reconstruction company (ARC) and transfer troubled assets of the banking sector to its books. This will clean up the balance sheets of banks — a majority of them in the public sector — and prepare them to lend to the corporate sector as and when economic activity picks up speed. It’s been at least eight months since the proposal was first floated by the finance ministry. Subsequently, the Niti Aayog, too, independently suggested such a plan. Understandably, the prime minister’s office has held back on a decision, given the political fallout of bailing out banks. Banks lent recklessly in the past to the corporate sector, and some industrialists amassed immense personal wealth by putting in less of their own capital but borrowing big on their companies’ books. Even as his government fends off the Congress’s “suit boot ki sarkar” jibe, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not want to open another front.
But the government must realise that the banking sector is in the midst of a crisis. The non-performing assets (NPAs) and restructured loans of scheduled commercial banks have only increased over the last two years. They stood at over 11 per cent of total advances in September 2015. During 2014-15, the Reserve Bank of India took several steps, which Governor Raghuram Rajan thinks will help clean up banks’ books by 2017. Some of the schemes have provoked scepticism. For instance, banks have taken majority control in about 15 companies under the RBI’s Strategic Debt Restructuring scheme but nobody is enthused because promoters have left little in these companies for banks to recover. Rajan has expressed discomfort with the idea of dipping into taxpayer money for the ARC’s equity because he sees a “moral hazard”. Why, after all, should the taxpayer pay for the wrongdoing of the private sector, and the negligence of the banks? But if banks and corporates are forced to pay for the mess, a state-backed ARC would bring credibility to the asset recovery programme.
In the US, the Troubled Assets Relief Programme (Tarp), which got Congress approval in October 2008, forced several restrictions on recipients, which included Citigroup, General Motors, AIG and Chrysler. The average compensation of the top 25 executives in the original seven recipients was slashed by more than 50 per cent. In fact, in the US, the cumulative collections under Tarp, as on December 2015, exceeded total disbursements ($475 billion) by $12 billion. Of course, in the US, movement of private-sector professionals in and out of government is seamless. A Tarp-like programme makes sense in India too, but the government has to give its managers a free hand, and a compensation package that attracts global talent

Rest or move on or near the surface of a liquid without sinking.

Radioactive particles that are carried into the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion or accident and gradually fall back as dust or in precipitation

Gather together or accumulate (a large amount or number of valuable material or things) over a period of time.

Extremely large or great, especially in scale or degree.

Stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone.

A skeptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something.

Lack of physical comfort.

Illegal or dishonest behavior

Cut (something) with a violent sweeping movement, typically using a knife or sword.

(of a fabric or surface) smooth and without seams or obvious joins.

BUSINESS STANDARD: Long-delayed right

India took a great leap across the gender divide after the Delhi High Court passed a landmark judgement enabling the eldest female member of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) to be a karta, the term used to describe the family member who has full authority to manage the clan's property and other affairs. This judgement builds on a significant amendment to the Hindu Succession Act by Parliament in 2005, introducing Section 6, which gave women equal rights of inheritance - in legal terms, making them "co-parcenors" - in HUF property. That was a progressive move that signalled independent India's readiness to move further away from the 12th-century Mitakshara School of law that excluded women from inheritance and, like other ancient religious statutes, had long outlived its utility in modern society. The karta judgement, the result of a court case between the oldest surviving child of a Delhi business family and a younger male cousin, was based on the strictly logical extension of the provisions of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act. Before the amendment, the judge pointed out, the main reason a female member was precluded from becoming a karta was that she did not possess the necessary qualification of co-parcenorship; once Section 6 had removed that impediment, there was no further reason to exclude her.

To this legalistic approach it could be added that excluding women from managing HUFs is decidedly archaic - after all, the private sector is rife with examples of successful women entrepreneurs, or women CEOs of banks and corporations. Even promoters of hitherto conservative family-owned enterprises have become more willing to pass the baton to their daughters. Establishing the rights of Hindu women to manage HUF estates could have other, important indirect ramifications too: for instance, it could strengthen the foundations for the transfer of cash subsidies to the woman of the family under the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, a critical step in enhancing the currently unenviable status of women in poorer sections of society.

This judgement follows an earlier, equally enlightened, judgement in 2014 by a full bench of the Bombay High Court. The court ruled that even daughters born before September 2005, when Section 6 came into effect, would be entitled to be co-parcenors in HUF property - provided they were alive - thus avoiding the kind of iniquitous interpretation that could have hobbled this progressive legislation. It is heartening to see the steady improvement in the inheritance rights of Hindu women in the 21st century, especially when Christian and Muslim women had come to enjoy stronger rights earlier. But it also raises a broader question. India continues to have disparate personal laws based on religious scriptures shaped in very different social circumstances, few of them progressive by today's standards. This is scarcely a desirable situation in a diverse country that aspires to modernity. On the 66th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution and just one year ahead of the 70th year of independence, lawmakers may want to remember the Directive Principle of State Policy that advises "the endeavour to secure a uniform civil code". For India's women, in particular, a single progressive code could be the best guarantee of equality.

A thing that is inherited.

Willingness to do something.

Deny (someone) access to or bar (someone) from a place, group, or privilege

(of a person) live longer than (another person).

Prevent from happening; make impossible

A hindrance or obstruction in doing something.

(legalism) strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

Until now or until the point in time under discussion.

A consequence of an action or event, especially when complex or unwelcome.

Difficult, undesirable, or unpleasant

Having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.

Grossly unfair and morally wrong.

Walk in an awkward way, typically because of pain from an injury.

Essentially different in kind; not allowing comparison.

Only just; almost not.

Direct one's hopes or ambitions toward achieving something.

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