Daily Editorial Analysis: 15 March 2024

Can a justice system without women bring justice to women?

Source: IE

Relevance: GS2: Issues Related to Women

Prelims: International Women’s Day, India Justice Report, NHRC

Mains: What are the continued challenges for Women in India against time and space? (2019)

Why in News

  • Diversity plays a vital role in the functionality of institutions globally, with gender inclusion serving as a significant measure of dedication to this principle. On International Women’s Day, it’s imperative to examine the level of gender diversity within India’s justice delivery system, as emphasized in the recent India Justice Report (IJR). 

  • The data underscores a noticeable gender disparity across different subsystems, prompting inquiries into the dedication of justice institutions to promoting inclusiveness.

Diversity in Justice Institutions: A Global Imperative

Significance of Gender Inclusion:

  • In institutions worldwide, diversity stands as a hallmark of effectiveness, with gender inclusion serving as a critical indicator of this value.

  • On International Women’s Day, assessing the state of gender diversity within India’s justice delivery system becomes imperative, as underscored by the latest India Justice Report (IJR).

Gender Disparities Highlighted by IJR:

  • The IJR identifies a substantial gender gap across all subsystems of the justice delivery system, encompassing the police, judiciary, prisons, legal aid, and human rights commissions.

  • This report emphasizes the pervasive nature of the issue, suggesting systemic challenges in fostering inclusivity.

Numerical Underrepresentation:

  • Despite the inclusion of women facilitated by quotas, their presence remains largely confined to lower echelons of the justice system.

  • For instance, while subordinate judges see a 35% female representation, this drastically drops to 13% in high courts, with only three women judges in the Supreme Court.

  • The dearth of women in key positions, including Chief Justice of India, reflects entrenched barriers inhibiting their advancement.

NHRC’s Gender Imbalance and Limited Representation:

  • The NHRC, envisioned as a beacon of fairness and gender justice, has never had a woman commissioner throughout its existence.

  • State commissions mirror this imbalance, with only six having women as members or secretaries as of 2022.

  • Despite targets to increase women’s representation, the percentage of women in police remains around 12%, primarily at lower ranks.

  • Individual success stories of women reaching top positions often serve as exceptions rather than indicative of institutional openness.

Institutional Reluctance and Deflection:

  • Institutions often deflect responsibility, citing difficulties in accommodating more women, instead of addressing structural barriers hindering their inclusion.

  • The reluctance to prepare institutions for gender inclusion perpetuates embedded institutional bias and inhibits progress.

Advantages of Promoting Diversity in the Justice Delivery System

  • International Validation: Studies globally consistently emphasize the positive outcomes of fostering diversity and inclusivity in workplaces.

  • IJR Corroboration: The India Justice Report (IJR) echoes this sentiment, stressing that incorporating women and other diversities can revolutionize the institutional culture within the justice system.

  • Enhanced Understanding: By introducing fresh perspectives, experiences, and methodologies, diversity enhances the comprehension of intricate issues.

  • Norm Disruption: Integrating women into traditionally male-dominated institutions disrupts entrenched norms and cultivates an environment of openness.

  • Beyond Numbers: This transformation surpasses mere numerical representation, incorporating diverse viewpoints, communication styles, and problem-solving approaches.

  • Decision-Making Evolution: Women’s inclusion fosters collaborative, empathetic, and innovative decision-making processes.

  • Trust and Credibility: Inclusive institutions not only benefit internally but also bolster public trust and perception.

  • Reflective Representation: When the justice system mirrors the diversity of the populace it serves, it becomes more responsive, credible, and reflective of societal values.

  • Enhanced Legitimacy: This alignment enhances the legitimacy and efficacy of the justice system, fostering a sense of trust and inclusivity among the public.

Way Forward

  • Proactive Measures: Initiating institutional change necessitates proactive measures to address systemic obstacles impeding women’s inclusion.

  • Structural Evaluation: This entails a thorough evaluation of existing structures, policies, and practices to identify and dismantle barriers hindering women’s equitable participation at all levels of the justice system.

  • Paradigm Shift: The absence of a woman Chief Justice of India and the scarcity of women in leadership roles underscore the imperative for a paradigm shift.

  • Active Endorsement: Institutions should actively endorse and facilitate the ascension of women to leadership positions, challenging preconceived notions and breaking down the historical glass ceiling limiting their advancement.

  • Critical Evaluation: Critical reassessment of recruitment and retention practices within the justice delivery system is imperative.

  • Equity Promotion: This involves scrutinizing hiring procedures, promotion criteria, and measures to ensure gender-equitable treatment throughout professionals’ careers.

Conclusion

  • Barrier Dismantling: Achieving justice mandates dismantling barriers, ensuring equal opportunities, and acknowledging that gender imbalance perpetuates substandard institutional cultures.

  • Systemic Addressal: To uphold core values of equality and equity, justice institutions must transcend surface-level initiatives and address systemic challenges impeding women’s inclusion.

  • Leadership Accountability: Decision-makers bear the responsibility to lead by example, reassess prevailing practices, and implement measures fostering gender balance and inclusivity within the justice system.

 

In issuing AI advisory, MEITY becomes a deity

Source: TH

Relevance: GS2 & GS3: Government Policies, Artificial Intelligence

Prelims: Artificial Intelligence,Digital India Act, Deepfakes, Right to be Forgotten, Information Technology Act, 2000, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

Mains: AI: Significance, Challenges and Way Forward

The Evolution from DEITY to MEITY

  • Origins: Until recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY/MeitY) was known as the Department of Electronics and IT (DEITY), a title often mocked for its resemblance to “deity,” reflecting early attempts at internet censorship and technology regulation.

  • Rebranding: On March 1, 2024, MEITY issued an advisory concerning generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), drawing swift criticism from experts and startup founders, indicative of its ambiguous legal standing and implications.

Ambiguity Surrounding Legal Status

  • Legal Basis: The term “advisory” lacks a clear definition under the principal legislation empowering MEITY, the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act), leading to uncertainties about its regulatory authority.

  • Residual Powers: Unlike regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India, MEITY lacks residual powers, yet it frequently issues advisories, demanding vague censorship without clear legal authority.

  • Compliance Pressure: Despite their ambiguous legal status, these advisories imply compliance without specifying penalties, prompting a compliance charade rather than questioning their validity.

Escalation of AI Regulation

  • Sequence of Events: The recent advisory on AI, issued on March 1, 2024, marks an escalation following earlier advisories in November and December 2023, spurred by viral incidents and media cycles rather than thorough assessments.

  • Selective Transparency: MEITY’s selective transparency, withholding full advisory texts and relying on press releases and social media posts, suggests coercive efforts to enforce proactive censorship on social media platforms.

Undefined Terms and Ministerial Responses

  • Vague Directives: The AI advisory lacks clarity on terms like bias prevention and licensing for “under testing” or “unreliable” AI, exacerbating uncertainty surrounding its implementation.

  • Ministerial Clarifications: Ministerial responses on social media platforms further contribute to confusion, with undefined terms and abrupt exemptions, highlighting the lack of clear guidance.

Challenges in Technology Regulation

  • Questionable Legality: MEITY’s advisory regulation reflects the broader challenges in technology regulation in India, expanding beyond the intended scope of the IT Rules, 2021, and operating in a murky legal landscape.

  • Influencer Culture: Technology policy decisions increasingly cater to short-term ministerial visibility and social media metrics, sidelining traditional deliberative processes and stakeholder consultations.

Shift in Environment

  • Diminished Critique: The current landscape lacks the vibrant critique seen in the past, with less room for challenges against digital authoritarianism and increasing administrative arrogance in response to criticism.

  • Limited Options: In the face of an illegal and embarrassing AI advisory, citizens are left with limited options, signaling a shift where MEITY, despite its flaws, appears akin to a deity, beyond reproach.

 

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