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The Arena Current Issues

  • Nurses of KEM hospital, Mumbai, gather to pay their last respects to Aruna Shanbaug, who died on May 18, 2015, after living comatose for 42 years as a victim of brutal assault and rape. PHOTO: Vivek Bhendre

    How India Failed Aruna Shanbaug

    Vasundhara Sirnate

    The life and death of Aruna Shanbaug, comatose for over four decades after she was raped, calls for a reexamination of India's policies towards victims of rape and violence against women. In this article, Vasundhara Sirnate, throws the spotlight on state inadequacies, which, along with systemic apathy, trample upon any fight for justice for victims of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. Unless there is improved forensic capacity to prosecute sex offenders, and an efficient apparatus to fight sexual assault, the new laws may continue to be ineffective in deterring violence and delivering justice to the victims.

  • This combination photo made from file images provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows cigarette warning labels from the FDA. India's attempts to implement a law that mandates larger health warnings on tobacco products are thwarted by vested interests. File photo: AP

    Public Health Policy and the Tobacco Industry

    Smoking out the Elephant in the Room

    Aparna Ravi

    A law making it mandatory for health warnings to cover 85 per cent of the total display area on packages of tobacco products was put on hold in March, five days before it was to take effect. In this article, Aparna Ravi calls for the implementation of internationally accepted guidelines to protect public health policies from being influenced by the vested interests of the tobacco industry by taking proactive measures to address conflicts of interest.

  • While Internet users fired away over thousands of emails to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in support of net neutrality, NSUI workers took out a march in its support in New Delhi on April 16, 2015. Photo: PTI

    The Internet and Public Policy

    Net Neutrality for a Web of Equals

    Smarika Kumar

    Why should we be worried about the impending legal assault on net neutrality? In this piece, Smarika Kumar contextualises the net neutrality issue by foregrounding a number of related issues linked to the Right to Freedom of Information and equal access to the Internet for all users without prejudice. She draws attention to the scarcity of newsprint in the 1970s in India that made the government want to unsuccessfully regulate bigger newspapers and limit their pages. She argues that limited bandwidth availability is akin to that situation. However, there need to be measures to make Internet access more equal, not less equal.

  • Hyderabad Mayor T. Krishna Reddy and the Mayor of Suwon City, Korea, Kim Yong Seo, exchange documents after signing International Sister City Relationship agreement in Hyderabad in March 2005 - File Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

    States and Foreign Policy

    Infusing a New Dynamic to Sister Cities

    Tridivesh Singh Maini

    The Narendra Modi-led government in India has taken a rather unconventional approach to diplomacy evincing interest in granting a more meaningful role to provinces and cities in building ties with the outside world, says Tridivesh Singh Maini. Such bonds, which have paved the way for sister provinces and sister cities, have the potential to promote India's 'soft power' to the world by looking beyond mere economics and ensuring greater people-to-people exchanges.

  • Barring a few cosmetic measures the Union Budget 2015-16 has done little to change the perception that the Indian state is withdrawing itself from the vital role of providing quality healthcare to all through increased public investments. PHOTO: AP

    Union Budget 2015-16

    Placing Wealth over Health

    Sumanth C. Raman

    The Union Budget 2015-16 continues to place healthcare at the periphery of the state's activities. Sumanth C. Raman calls for greater public allocation to healthcare by the central government and makes the case for improving quality in government hospitals. The creation of a new tier of healthcare providers, one rung below the doctors, he says, is possibly the best step that can be taken to solve India’s healthcare crisis.

Cattle protection laws that selectively criminalise the possession and consumption of one among the several key products derived from cattle as reason for the slaughter ban is based on a flawed policy heavily influenced by human identity politics. PHOTO: Yamini Narayanan

Law and Animal Rights

Criminalising Beef, Not Dairy

Yamini Narayanan

Is the beef ban really about protecting animals? By challenging conventional notions of animal welfare that are deeply couched in a lop-sided religious understanding, Yamini Narayanan holds the dairy industry more culpable for cruelty to cattle than the beef industry. To be effective and meaningful, animal protection laws, she says, should make a departure from an anthropocentric framework.
The Budget presented by the Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, on Feb. 28, 2015, makes a case for inclusive growth within the framework of "business-like development". Though addressing supply-side challenges are important, the uptake of services and the long term success of programmes also depend on building individual capabilities, says Jayshree Venkatesan, emphasising that the outcome of this vision for growth will depend on the manner in which the policies outlined are implemented.

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