The strength of civil society is its spontaneity, collective mobilisation
Civil Society –
- The concept of civil society is normative as it specifies that associational life in a metaphorical space between the market based on profit, and the state that embodies power.
- Associational life neutralises the individualism, the atomism, and the anomie of modern life.
- Social associations enable the pursuit of multiple projects and engender solidarity.
- Democracy has to be realised through sustained engagement with the holders of power. Citizen activism, public vigilance, informed public opinion, a free media, and a multiplicity of social associations are indispensable for this task.
Objective of civil society –
- Notably, the objective of civil society is not to takeover the state. That is left to political parties. Vibrant civil societies are born out of complete disenchantment with the party system. They are, and remain, the public conscience of society.
- The projects can range from developing awareness about climate change, to discussing and dissecting popular culture, supporting needy children, organising neighbourhood activities, and safeguarding human rights. Above all, the concept recognises that even democratic states are imperfect.
Way ahead –
- The task of civil society is not to wage a revolutionary war. Its task is to awaken people to the fact that they have a right to hold governments responsible for acts of omission and commission.
- When it takes on authoritarian states, the strength of civil society is its spontaneity and collective mobilisation.
- Its weapon is the Constitution; its demand is respect for constitutional morality.
- Finally, civil society is not an institution; it is a space, the site for many projects that restore democracy.
A joint military training exercise SAMPRITI-IX is being conducted at Umroi, Meghalaya between India and Bangladesh.
It is the ninth edition of such exercise which is hosted alternately by both countries.
President’s address to the Parliament
The President has addressed the first session of Parliament for the year 2020.
Constitutional Provisions –
- Article 86 and 87 of the Constitution deals with the Address by the President. Article 86 confers a right on the President to address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members.
- Article 87 deals with Special Address by the President and provides that the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons
The Constitution gives the President and the Governor the power to address a sitting of the legislature. The special power is with regard to two occasions.
- The first is to address the opening session of a new legislature after a general election.
- The second is to address the first sitting of the legislature each year.
Commonly referred to as the President’s or Governor’s Address, they are a constitutional requirement. A session of a new or a continuing legislature cannot begin without fulfilling this requirement.
When the Constitution came into force, the President was required to address each session of Parliament. So during the provisional Parliament in 1950, the President gave an address for all three sessions. At the suggestion of Speaker G V Mavalankar, the first Constitutional Amendment in 1951 changed this position.
Content of the speech –
The President’s speech follows the convention of the British system, where it contains legislative and policy proposals that the government intends to initiate. The speech also recaps the government’s accomplishment in the previous years. The contents of the speech are put together by aggregating inputs from various ministries of the government.
Should restrictions on free speech be reviewed?
What is free speech?
- Looking at the judgement in the Shreya Singhal case (2015), it is a really interesting judgment where Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman says we have to adopt the test that was used by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Brandenburg case (1969), where the distinction between advocacy and incitement was really highlighted.
- The difference between advocating a certain point of view and inciting somebody to take up arms against the government or something like that — that’s when your speech isn’t really afforded any protection.
Arguments against barrier to free speech –
The Constitution was enacted at a time of great insecurity in the country. It is a document of nation-building at a time when we were insecure about whether or not this project, this experiment of ours as a nation, would succeed; whether we would come together as a nation state. So, to be relying on those insecurities today, does a disservice to the intention that the framers of the Constitution had.