The Arena Current Issues
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.