TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related SOCIAL ISSUES 1. SC stresses adverse impact of female genital mutilation POLITY 1. Many injured in Kashmir clashes 2. Cong. leads chorus for ballot papers GOVERNANCE 1. Ex-Dal Khalsa duo set free in ’81 Lahore hijacking case INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Indus treaty talks to begin tomorrow 2. Sushma may meet her Pak. counterpart in UN 3. Myanmar Army had ‘genocidal intent’ 4. Iran asks UN to act against ‘economic strangulation’ by U.S. 5. Wuhan spirit should spur India to join Belt and Road initiative: China 6. U.S., Mexico reach deal over NAFTA 7. Oil climbs to $76 as OPEC+ panel sees output rising C. GS3 Related DISASTER MANAGEMENT 1. Kerala to get rice free for now: Paswan 2. 1,200 killed in 8 States this monsoon season INTERNAL SECURITY 1. Online registration of drones must from Dec. 1 2. Red Notice not must for Choksi, says CBI ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Jatropha powers India’s first biofuel flight ECONOMY 1. No relief to power sector on RBI’s stressed assets norms: Allahabad HC 2. Strong fundamentals must for high growth: FM D. GS4 Related E. Editorials GOVERNANCE 1. Restoring dignity DISASTER MANAGEMENT 1. How dams can control floods POLITY 1. Ways to read the Constitution F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the Constitution does not allow a person to cause injury to another.
- “You think in favour of husbands, girls should go through this practice?” Chief Justice Misra asked senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for 70,000 Bohra Muslim women who are in favour of the practice.
- Singhvi argued that the practice was essential to religion and has continued since the 10th century.
- By the Constitution
- Justice Chandrachud responded that the court has to test it in the light of constitutional morality. Just because something is “essential”, does not mean it is above constitutional morality, he said.
- “If we do not go by the Constitution, then morality is left to the mob. The people on the streets will say what is moral and what is immoral,” he added.
- The court is hearing a PIL filed by advocate Sunita Tiwari to ban female genital mutilation practised by some communities as a religious practice.
- Senior advocate Indira Jaising submitted that the practice cannot be considered “essential” in religion as it can be brought under the ambit of the POCSO Act.
- Scores of protesters were injured in clashes in Kashmir on Monday, triggered by rumours that the Supreme Court was hearing petitions challenging Article 35A, which defines the State subject laws.
- The rumours were fuelled by a fresh petition submitted by a right-wing activist, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, before the court on Monday, which was listed for admission in the afternoon. The court adjourned the petition.
- The confusion, however, sparked spontaneous protests and shutdown in large parts of the Valley. Markets were closed, schools shut and public transport halted in all districts, including Srinagar.
- Student participation
- Protesters clashed with security forces in Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Julgam and Baramulla. Students of many colleges joined the protests. Scores of protesters were hit by pellets in the clashes. Protests also erupted on college campuses in south Kashmir.
- The police issued repeated clarifications but failed to control the situation till noon. “We will investigate all these cases of rumour-mongering and deal with the culprits strictly,” Additional Director-General of Police Muneer Khan said.
- “The feeling of the people with regard to the State subject laws is strong. Spontaneous reactions from the masses should be an eye-opener for the authorities. No tampering and mischief with the law will be tolerated,” said Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
- The petitions challenging the Article are listed for August 31.
- State to defend
- Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government, which is yet to file a counter-affidavit before the Supreme Court, said it would defend the special status.
- Without referring to the filing of the counter-affidavit prepared by former Advocate-General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, Abdul Majeed Bhat, Secretary, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, said a detailed report was in the process of being finalised and would be placed before the court.
- “The government will defend the Article fully,” Mr. Bhat said.
- Advocate-General D.C. Raina said that there was no change in the government’s stand on this case.
- The Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference held meetings over the issue.
- PDP president Mehbooba Mufti held a meeting with her party leaders.
- “The meeting detailed discussions over the party’s forthcoming strategy to defend Article 35A and safeguard the State’s unique position,” said PDP spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir. The party has decided that senior party leader and MP Muzaffar Hussain Beigh will defend the case in the Supreme Court.
- Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a carte blanche to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare. The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.
How did it come about?
- Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. The controversial Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954 followed the 1952 Delhi Agreement entered into between Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah, which extended Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Presidential Order was issued under Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution. This provision allows the President to make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
- So Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
Why does it matter?
- The parliamentary route of lawmaking was bypassed when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Constitution. Article 368 (i) of the Constitution empowers only Parliament to amend the Constitution. So did the President act outside his jurisdiction? Is Article 35A void because the Nehru government did not place it before Parliament for discussion?
- A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in its March 1961 judgment in Puranlal Lakhanpal vs. The President of India discusses the President’s powers under Article 370 to ‘modify’ the Constitution. Though the court observes that the President may modify an existing provision in the Constitution under Article 370, the judgment is silent as to whether the President can, without the Parliament’s knowledge, introduce a new Article. This question remains open.
- A writ petition filed by NGO We the Citizens challenges the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370. It argues that four representatives from Kashmir were part of the Constituent Assembly involved in the drafting of the Constitution and the State of Jammu and Kashmir was never accorded any special status in the Constitution. Article 370 was only a ‘temporary provision’ to help bring normality in Jammu and Kashmir and strengthen democracy in that State, it contends. The Constitution-makers did not intend Article 370 to be a tool to bring permanent amendments, like Article 35A, in the Constitution.
- The petition said Article 35 A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. Restricting citizens from other States from getting employment or buying property within Jammu and Kashmir is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
- A second petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir native Charu Wali Khanna has challenged Article 35A for protecting certain provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, which restrict the basic right to property if a native woman marries a man not holding a permanent resident certificate. “Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate, thereby considering them illegitimate,” the petition said.
- Why does it matter?
- Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal has called for a debate in the Supreme Court on the sensitive subject.
- Recently, a Supreme Court Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, tagged the Khanna petition with the We the Citizens case, which has been referred to a three-judge Bench. The court has indicated that the validity of Articles 35A and 370 may ultimately be decided by a Constitution Bench.
- Representatives of the Congress and some other Opposition parties attending a multi-party meeting of the Election Commission reiterated their demand for reverting to the ballot paper system.
- Seven national parties and 34 State parties attended the meeting. Representatives of the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were among those in favour of going back to the ballot paper system.
- Some representatives recommended an increase in the number of polling stations in every constituency for matching the EVM results with paper trails.
- Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat later told presspersons that the poll panel would provide a “satisfactory solution” to the concerns raised by political parties on the reliability of the EVMs. The BJP, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the AIADMK, the Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti supported the idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. However, the Congress, the Trinamool, the Aam Aadmi Party, the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party, the Left and the Janal Dal(S) opposed it.
- After the meeting, the Congress said more than 70% of the participants asked for going back to ballot papers. The party demanded that even if EVMs were used with VVPAT machines, 25-30% of the votes needed to be matched.
- Fake voters
- The party said the single biggest challenge before the EC was to check “fake and duplicate voters” on the electoral rolls, claiming that in Madhya Pradesh, 60 lakh were suspect duplicate/fake entries and in Rajasthan, it was about 45 lakh.
- The Congress also made a strong pitch for a ceiling on party’s expenditure and offered a formula: multiply the limit of an individual candidate’s ceiling with the number of candidates a party fields. It also suggested a ceiling on advertisements across all platforms. However, the BJP was not in favour of introducing any cap.
- Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there was unanimity among parties on the issue of making the electoral process friendlier for the differently abled.
- The Congress raised the issue of electoral bonds, terming it “simply a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax-haven cash to a political party.”
- It, along with some other parties, also supported inclusion of the print media in Section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, barring publication of election matter within 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of polling.
- However, the BJP — in its written response to an EC questionnaire — said the print media, State as well as national newspapers, should be exempted from silent period proclamations. The EC, through a statement, said the political parties sought linking of Aadhaar numbers with electors’ details; expressed concern on paid news and suggested that it be made an electoral offence.
- A Delhi court has acquitted two members of the erstwhile Dal Khalsa in a case of hijacking of a Delhi-Srinagar Indian Airlines flight to Lahore in 1981. Five persons were accused in the case; three have been declared absconders.
- According to statements by four of the six crew members which became the basis for initiating prosecution, while hijacking the plane with 111 passengers on board, the accused raised pro-Khalistan slogans, such as “Khalistan Zindabad; Bhindranwale Amar Rahe; Khalistan Lekar Rahenge”.
- Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey acquitted Tejinder Pal Singh and Satnam Singh as the prosecution failed to prove the allegations of waging war against the Government of India against them.
- Prosecution in the case was initiated on the basis of discharge applications filed by the accused when they arrived in India after having served life terms in Pakistan after their trial and conviction for the hijacking.
- Tejinder Pal Singh and Satnam Singh returned to India in 1997 and 1999 respectively and filed discharge applications in a court here, submitting they were protected from being tried again under the double jeopardy procedure as they could not be tried second time for the same offence on the same facts.
- The court discharged Satnam saying that “trial of accused Satnam Singh in India would be hit by double jeopardy, because he had already been convicted for the incidence by the competent court of Pakistan.”
- However, the court ordered an inquiry on the application of the second accused, which he filed in 2000, a year after Satnam’s plea, on the ground that the Pakistan court had not framed sedition charges against the two accused. The Delhi Police charged them with sedition after the State government sanctioned their prosecution.
- The prosecution sought their conviction arguing that in their discharge applications, the accused persons had admitted their offences. However, the Judge dismissed this plea.
- “In the case in hand, accused persons were not identified by any witness ( two crew members) produced by the prosecution to have done any such act of waging or attempting or abetting to wage war against Government of India,” the 79-page judgement said.
- India and Pakistan will resume their talks on various aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore on Wednesday, the first bilateral engagement since Imran Khan took office as Prime Minister.
- India’s Indus Water Commissioner P.K. Saxena was expected to reach here on Monday for the discussions with his Pakistani counterpart, Syed Mehr Ali Shah, on August 29 and 30, said the Pakistani daily Dawn, quoting a government official.
- The last meeting of the Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March, during which both sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
- Pak’s objections
- The Pakistani side will reiterate its objections over two water-storage and hydroelectric projects being built by India during the talks.
- The official said Pakistan would raise its concerns over the 1000-MW Pakal Dul and the 48-MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on the Chenab river.
- The session is also expected to discuss ways and means for the timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.
- The official said the two sides would finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners.
- He said the water commissioners of Pakistan and India were required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to project sites and critical river head works, but Pakistan had been facing a lot of problems in timely meetings and visits.
- The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by the World Bank and signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and former Pakistan President Ayub Khan, administers how the waters of the Indus River and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilised.
- A meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her new Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, is “possible” in the U.S. on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) session next month, a media report said on Monday.
- “Such a meeting is possible but no decision (has been taken) yet,” the Dawn news, quoting a senior Pakistani diplomat in the U.S., said.
- The External Affairs Ministry has not announced any such meeting yet.
- The 73rd United Nations General Assembly opens in New York on September 18. Ms. Swaraj will address the annual high-level UNGA session on September 29, according to the provisional list of speakers released by the UN
- Pakistan is reluctant to confirm its agenda for the meeting as it is still undecided who will represent the country.
- Media reports in Islamabad has indicated that Prime Minister Imran Khan may skip the UNGA as part of his efforts to cut down on government expenses.
- Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent” and the Commander-in-Chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under international law, UN investigators said.
- In a report, they called for the UN Security Council to set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The Security Council should also impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted sanctions against individuals most responsible for crimes.
- They blamed the country’s de facto civilian leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, for failing to use her ”moral authority” to protect civilians.
- Human rights abuses
- The report also criticised Facebook for allowing the world’s biggest social media network to be used to incite violence and hatred. Facebook responded on Monday by announcing that it was blocking 20 Myanmar officials and organisations found by the UN panel to have “committed or enabled serious human rights abuses”.
- A year ago, government troops led a brutal crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 Myanmar police posts and a military base. Some 7,00,000 Rohingya fled the crackdown and most are now living in refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.
- The UN report said the military action, which included the torching of villages, was “grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”.
- Suu Kyi’s government has rejected most allegations of atrocities made against the security forces by refugees. It has built transit centres for refugees to return, but UN aid agencies say it is not yet safe for them to do so.
- In the final 20-page report, the panel said: “There is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw (army) chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine state.”
- Marzuki Darusman, chair of the panel, said Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing should step down pending investigation.
- The UN panel, set up last year, interviewed 875 victims and witnesses in Bangladesh and other countries, and analysed documents, videos, photographs and satellite images. Decades of state-sponsored stigmatisation against Rohingya had resulted in “institutionalised oppression from birth to death”, the report said.
- The Islamic Republic launched a suit at the International Court of Justice over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose the sanctions that had been lifted in a 2015 accord.
- Iran says Mr. Trump’s move breaches a 1955 treaty.
- Trump says the sanctions are needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb. But Iran’s representative Mohsen Mohebi branded them “naked economic aggression”. His team of lawyers told the court in The Hague the measures were already devastating Iran’s economy and threatening the welfare of its citizens.
- “The United States is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian nationals and companies,” said Mr. Mohebi. “Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the U.S. economic strangulation, by all peaceful means.”
- The sanctions target financial transactions and imports of raw materials, cars and aircraft among other things. A second wave of punitive measures is due to hit Iran in early November, targeting its vital energy sector including oil exports.
- Iran’s lawyers said the sanctions would cause it “irreparable prejudice”. They urged the court to order the suspension of the sanctions pending a definitive ruling.
- China on Monday called India its “natural partner” in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and advocated better ties between New Delhi and Islamabad within the Eurasian framework.
- At a media conference on the BRI, Zhang Jun, China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, threaded India and China’s deep bonds established during their far history with recent diplomatic initiatives, including the Wuhan summit in April between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- Asked to respond to India’s objections to the China-Pakistan Economic Project (CPEC) on grounds of sovereignty, Mr. Zhang focused on the big picture. He signalled that differences between New Delhi and Beijing on the project were overridden by the rapid turnaround in their ties after the Wuhan summit.
- The Chinese official stressed that, “CPEC is an economic initiative. Implementing CPEC does not jeopardise China’s position on Kashmir.”
- Zhang spotlighted that India-China ties, had “entered a new phase of development” since the Wuhan informal summit.
- Xi-Modi meetings
- Citing the summit and the follow up meetings between Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi, as benchmarks of the shift in the relationship, Mr. Zhang said: “I think we can all recall that since April, it has been only three months, President Xi and Prime Minister Modi met in Wuhan, in Qingdao, and in Johannesburg in South Africa.”
- “(These are) three important meetings of the two leaders and they have reached important understandings which (have) added fresh and strong impetus to our bilateral ties.”
- Refusing to accept India’s permanent exclusion from the BRI in the post-Wuhan scenario, Mr. Zhang said that “historically India was an important country on the ancient Silk Road, and it is fair to say that India was a natural partner [then] and [is one now] in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
- Separately, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday welcomed India and Pakistan’s joint participation in a Eurasian counterterrorism military exercise under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
- The United States and Mexico reached a deal on Monday to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and talks with Canada were expected to begin immediately in the hopes of reaching a final pact by Friday, a senior U.S. trade official said.
- “We are now inviting the Canadians in as well and hope that we can reach a fair and successful conclusion with them as well,” the official told Reuters. “There are still issues with Canada but I think they could be resolved very quickly,” the official added.
- The U.S.-Mexico deal would require 75% of auto content to be made in the U.S. and Mexico, up from the current level of 62.5%.
- The North American Free Trade Agreement, which eliminated most tariffs on trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States, went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994.
- NAFTA’s purpose is to encourage economic activity between North America’s three major economic powers. Numerous tariffs, particularly those related to agriculture, textiles and automobiles, were gradually phased out between Jan. 1, 1994 and Jan. 1, 2008.
- President Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal NAFTA and other trade agreements he deemed unfair to the United States, and on August 27, 2018, announced a new trade deal with Mexico to replace it.
- The U.S. – Mexico Trade Agreement, as it is called, will maintain duty-free access for agricultural goods on both sides of the border, and eliminate non-tariff barriers while encouraging more agriculture trade between Mexico and the U.S. Congress needs to vote to approve the trade agreement which would effectively replace NAFTA. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canada continue to work on a revised trade agreement of their own.
- Brent oil prices rose to near $76 a barrel on Monday as a committee monitoring a deal on oil output curbs between OPEC and non-OPEC producers saw production rising while a U.S.-China trade dispute capped gains.
- International Brent crude oil futures were at $76.04 per barrel at 1326 GMT, up 22 cents from their last close.
- Members of an OPEC and non-OPEC monitoring committee found producers in a supply-reduction agreement cut their July output by 9% more than called for in their pact, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers led by Russia agreed in June to return to 100% compliance with oil output cuts that began in January 2017.
- Venezuela, Iran
- This follows months of underproduction by Venezuela and other producers which cut output by 160% of the agreed target.
- The July findings compare with a compliance level of 120% for June and 147% for May, meaning participants have been steadily increasing production.
- The committee groups Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Algeria, Venezuela and Oman.
- The oil market is expected to tighten when U.S. sanctions targeting OPEC member Iran’s oil exports kick in in November.
- Iran has exported around 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil so far this year. Most analysts expect this figure to fall by at least 1 million bpd.
C. GS3 Related
The Centre is still considering whether flood-hit Kerala will have to pay ₹26/kg for the rice supplied as part of relief efforts, according to Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
- Paswan told The Hindu that the food is being provided free for now and any decision on payment will be taken later.
- His Ministry’s directive, on the other hand, instructs the Food Corporation of India to provide the grains free but makes it clear that the bill — at a rate derived from the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy — will come due later.
- The amount will be adjusted against what the State is receiving from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) or under the Food Security Act, says the August 21 order.
- “There are reports that the relief will be charged as per the MSP rates. But let me clarify that we have not asked the State government for any money right now. We will mull over it once the situation comes under control. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said already that Kerala has never faced such a situation,” Mr. Paswan said.
- According to the August 21 order by the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD), “It has been decided to make additional allocation of 89,540 metric tonnes of rice at MSP derived rate to Kerala for flood relief.”
- As the MSP for paddy this year is ₹17,500 per tonne, and the common variety yields about 67 kg of rice for every 100 kg of paddy, the MSP derived price of rice is ₹26,110 per tonne or about ₹26 per kg.
- In a footnote marking a copy to the Chairman of the Food Corporation of India, the DFPD order cites a Home Ministry memo dated August 20 regarding the National Crisis Management Committee’s August 19 meeting where the issue of supplying rice to Kerala was discussed.
- It was agreed that since rice is required for immediate relief to people residing in the relief camps, DFPD may provide the required quantities to Kerala without insisting on payment,” says the note.
- Subsequently, this may be adjusted from their eligible entitlement of Kerala from NDRF or other schemes including Food Security Act, etc.
- The order is in line with government policy from the last months of the previous UPA government. In 2013, food grains had been supplied to flood-hit Uttarakhand at economic cost, a higher rate than MSP.
- In January 2014, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs retrospectively reduced the price that Uttarakhand was charged to MSP rates.
- It also decided that henceforth, MSP-derived prices would be the rate for allocation of food grains to States for natural calamities and festivals, while States would be charged at economic cost for all other purposes.
- Accordingly, food relief for the August 2016 Bihar floods and the March-April 2017 Manipur floods were supplied at MSP-derived prices.
- More aid likely for State, PM tells Governor
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to clear the air on the quantum of assistance available for flood-ravaged Kerala, telling Governor P. Sathasivam during a meeting that the amount announced so far was only an advance.
- The State could expect more money once it submits an additional memorandum, Mr. Modi said.
- According to a Raj Bhavan press release, Mr. Modi told Mr. Sathasivam, who called on him in New Delhi on Saturday, that the Centre had sanctioned ₹600 crore considering the likely delay in assessing the extent of damage suffered by the State.
- This was in addition to the ₹562.45 crore sanctioned for the State Disaster Management Fund.
- The Centre had also made available medicines, water, food and foodgrains to meet urgent needs. All this was done waiving all normal procedures, the Prime Minister pointed out.
- The release said Mr. Modi had told the Governor that he had kept a close watch on the emerging situation in Kerala during the calamity.
- The National Crisis Management Committee had also met on all days from August 16 to 21 to oversee and coordinate the rescue effort. Senior civil and military officials had attended these meetings, as well as the Kerala Chief Secretary via video conferencing.
- The massive deployment of Central forces was carried out based on the assessments made at these meetings, the press note quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
- Another press note from the Raj Bhavan on Monday said Chief Secretary Tom Jose had briefed the Governor on steps being taken by the State to rehabilitate the flood-affected people.
- The Chief Secretary also requested the Governor to persuade the Centre to accept the assistance, if any, being offered by foreign nations, including the UAE, the press note said.
- More than 1,200 people have so far lost their lives due to rains, floods and landslips across eight States this monsoon season.
- While 443 people died, over 1.72 crore poultry and 46,867 animals perished in Kerala. Over 22,000 houses were damaged and crops on 43,727 hectares destroyed.
- In Uttar Pradesh, 218 people have died, 198 in West Bengal, 166 in Karnataka and 49 in Assam. According to government data, 139 people died in Maharashtra, 52 in Gujarat and 11 in Nagaland. The Central forces have rescued over 60,000 people from flood-hit areas across the country.
- Drones, their operators and pilots will have to be mandatorily registered on aviation regulator DGCA’s online portal, effective December 1.
- The use of remotely piloted aircraft, a kind of drone, is allowed for taking photographs, conducting surveys such as for laying of pipelines and agricultural purposes and surveillance, as per the regulations on remotely piloted aircraft system unveiled by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Monday.
- The rules bar use of drones for delivery of items. They can be deployed for spraying of pesticides and delivery of relief material during a natural disaster only on a case-by-case basis.
- Remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) have been divided into five categories – nano (less than 250gm), micro (between 250 gm and 2kg), small (between 2 and 25 kg) and large (more than 150 kg).
- Users will have to go online to seek a unique identification number for each drone as well as an operator’s permit licence.
- They will have to provide details of flight path to be undertaken for every flight. However, nano drones are exempt from all these pre-requisites.
Operations are allowed in daylight and within the visual range or a range of 450 m. Wedding photographers are allowed to use micro drones during night, if they are taking pictures in an enclosed premises which is also well-lit.
Drones are barred from being flown near airports, international border, coastline, Parliament, Secretariat complex in State capitals, military installations and eco sensitive zones.
Small and large drones can fly up to a maximum height of 400 feet. Nano drones must not fly beyond 50 feet and micro drones must be within 200 feet from ground level.
“The DGCA will also be connected to district police officers and will inform them about drone flights cleared by it,” Secretary, Civil Aviation Ministry, R.N. Choubey told a press conference. Drone users are also advised to keep the local police informed of flights planned by them.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation, through the External Affairs Ministry, has informed Antigua that an Interpol Red Notice is not a mandatory requirement for initiating extradition proceedings against Mehul Choksi, a “mastermind” of the Punjab National Bank fraud.
- In response to Antigua’s assertion that no Red Notice had been issued against Choksi and therefore, action could not be initiated against him, the agency said the notice’s primary purpose was to locate the wanted person and detain him. “In Choksi’s case, his whereabouts are known,” said an official.
- Antigua has confirmed to have granted citizenship to Choksi in November last year. He was also issued an Antiguan passport, despite the fact that he already carried an Indian passport and was an Indian citizen.
- The fugitive diamond merchant has petitioned the Interpol urging that the Red Notice not be issued against him as the charges against him were “politically motivated”. He also raised the issue of conditions of Indian prisons, saying they violated human rights.
- The Interpol sought a response from the CBI on Choksi’s plea, to which the agency has sent the denials. The businessman had flown out of the country in the first week of January, days before the scam was unearthed.
- A Red Notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition. It is issued by the General Secretariat at the request of a member country or an international tribunal based on a valid national arrest warrant.
- It is not an international arrest warrant.
- INTERPOL cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice.
- Each member country decides for itself what legal value to give a Red Notice within their borders.
- When INTERPOL publishes a Red Notice this is simply to inform all member countries that the person is wanted based on an arrest warrant or equivalent judicial decision issued by a country or an international tribunal. INTERPOL does not issue arrest warrants.
- Red Notices are issued for individuals sought for prosecution or to serve a sentence. When the individual is sought for prosecution it means they are suspected of committing a crime but have not yet been prosecuted and so should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
How is a Red Notice issued?
- Police in one of our member countries request a Red Notice via their National Central Bureau and provide information on the case.
- The INTERPOL General Secretariat publishes the Notice after a compliance check is completed.
- Police all around the world are alerted.
Why is the Red Notice important?
- It gives high, international visibility to cases
- Criminals and suspects are flagged to border officials, making travel difficult
- Countries can request and share critical information linked to an investigation.
- A blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel propelled the country’s first ever bio jet fuel-powered flight on Monday between Dehradun and Delhi.
- 25-75 mix
- The 43-minute flight was operated by SpiceJet’s Bombardier Q-400 aircraft, with 20 officials and five crew members on board.
- A blend of 25% of bio jet fuel and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was carried in one of the two engines of the plane, while the other carried only ATF. International standards permit a blend rate of up to 50% biofuel with ATF.
- Reduction in cost
- “Today’s flight was a technological demonstration that bio jet fuel can be used in flights. It has the potential to reduce fuel costs by 15-20%,” SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director, Ajay Singh said after the flight landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport.
- Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said, “A policy will soon be framed on bio jet fuel for aviation industry and placed before the Cabinet.”
- The indigenously developed fuel has been nearly eight years in the making by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research lab based in Dehradun along with the Indian Institute of Petroleum.
- The institute started its experiment on biofuel soon after Virgin Atlantic carried out the first test flight globally in 2008.
- The Allahabad High Court on Monday refused to grant any relief on Reserve Bank of India’s revised framework on the resolution of stressed assets, a large part of which is in the power sector.
- The deadline for the resolution of these stressed assets lapsed on Monday and they now have to face insolvency proceedings.
- The RBI, on February 12, issued a circular scrapping all previous restructuring mechanisms such as strategic debt restructuring (SDR). The new rules said that if a borrower delays even by a day the repayment of a loan, the debt would be classified as stressed and the lenders should begin the resolution process. The rules also said that the lenders had to do this within 180 days of the first default, failing which they had to initiate proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in 15 days.
- Delicate issue
- “This is a very delicate issue right now,” said Kameswara Rao, partner, PwC. “The sector is dealing with a cumulative backlog of problems of economic and legal nature such as the cancellation of coal blocks, PPAs not signed or disallowed costs, and land and environmental issues. As none of the underlying issues are properly resolved, a sale process now could see some assets get no suitors, while others may deliver undeserved windfall gains.
- “Also, given the uncertainty, lenders will end up taking substantial haircuts on their outstanding debt,” he added. “In all, it does not lead to an efficient resolution.”
- The power sector accounts for the highest share of banks’ NPAs.
- According to the RBI, the total outstanding loans of scheduled commercial banks to the sector stood at ₹5.65 lakh crore as on March 2018. About 80% of this is accounted for by public sector banks with stressed assets in the sector making up a fifth of this exposure.
- The power sector maintains that the reasons for this are extraneous and so it approached the court seeking special dispensation.
- The desire to achieve a high growth rate must be accompanied by strong macroeconomic fundamentals, said Arun Jaitley, finance minister, on Monday.
- Addressing bankers during the annual general meeting of the Indian Banks’ Association, Mr. Jaitley said that sacrificing the fundamentals for temporary spurt in growth was not desirable, adding that growth with fiscal prudence was necessary.
- ‘Indiscriminate lending’
- In this context, he pointed out to the ‘indiscriminate lending’ by banks in the past that funded projects which were not able to service those debts.
- The Finance Minister, who expressed the hope that the country could be the fifth largest economy by next year (from the sixth at present), said the challenges that the country was facing were mostly from the external front like volatile oil prices and trade wars.
- Given the kind of economic activity happening in India, Mr.Jaitley said that the role of the banking industry was going to be vital in strengthening the economy itself.
- In the context of tackling the bad loans, he said that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) had redefined the creditor-lender relationship in India. The need now was to expedite the process, he said.
- Jaitley said that the amendment to Section 29A of Prevention of Corruption Act would prevent defaulting promoters from bidding.
- Stating that a pre-liberalisation Prevention of Corruption Act could not attract penal provisions for corruption, the Finance Minister said that the new law empowered the civil servants, bankers and other decision makers.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Though it has been a while that complete cure for Leprosy is discovered, the social stigma attached to it still remains.
- Leprosy is a long-term infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis.
- Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to 20 years.
- Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.
- This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain, which can lead to the loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries or infection due to unnoticed wounds. Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.
- Leprosy is one of the World’s oldest diseases with India accounting to 60% of the annual new cases.
- In 2005, it was officially declared eliminated as a public health concern in India. This was when the new cases fell to less than 1 per 10,000. Yet India accounts for the largest number of leprosy affected people in the world.
- Problems like lack of awareness, social stigma, myths and socio-cultural problems in the society.
- The colonial laws that predate leprosy eradication programmes and medical advancements remain on the statute book.
- These were unconscionably discriminatory from the beginning, but even in independent India, where the law has been an instrument for social change, the process of removing them has been bafflingly slow.
- The Lepers Act of 1898 was repealed two years ago.
- The time has come to end the stigma and discrimination against the leprosy-affected.
What actions have been taken so far?
- Two recent developments hold out hope.
- The introduction of a Bill in Parliament to remove leprosy as a ground for seeking divorce or legal separation from one’s spouse.
- The Supreme Court asking the Centre whether it would bring in a positive law conferring rights and benefits on persons with leprosy and deeming as repealed all Acts and rules that perpetuated the stigma associated with it.
- The Supreme Court has been hearing a writ petition by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy seeking to uphold the fundamental rights of people with leprosy and the repeal of discriminatory laws against them.
- The court is seeking to find legal means to ensure a life of dignity for them.
- The 256th Report of the Law Commission
- The report came up with a number of suggestions, including the repeal of discriminatory legal provisions.
- It listed for abolition personal laws and Acts on beggary.
- The report cited the UN General Assembly resolution of 2010 on the elimination of discrimination against persons with leprosy.
- The resolution sought the abolition of laws, rules, regulations, customs and practices that amounted to discrimination, and wanted countries to promote the understanding that leprosy is not easily communicable and is curable.
- It is time for concerted action to end the firmly established discrimination in law and society against those afflicted by it.
- The Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, is only a small step. An affirmative action law that recognises the rights of those affected and promotes their social inclusion will serve a larger purpose.
- The culture of exclusion that most of them face has to be ended.
- Misconceptions about the disease need to be removed and the belief that physical segregation of patients is necessary has to be dispelled.
The campaign to end discrimination against those afflicted, and combating the stigma associated with it, is decades old. While governments may have to handle the legislative part, society has an even larger role to play. It is possible to end discrimination by law, but stigma requires more than legal efforts to eliminate.
Across the world, the role of dams in flood control has been ignored.
In the aftermath of any Kerala tragedy, people are struggling to comprehend what happened and how to cope. A number of experts and politicians have stated various possible reasons for the tragedy.
- Some have cited ill-thought-out development plans that have affected the sustainability of the Western Ghats, arguing that without thoughtful conservation, this was a tragedy waiting to happen.
- Some have said that the rainfall was unprecedented.
- Some others have said that Kochi airport was bound to flood given that it has been built on fields and wetlands adjacent to the Periyar river which swelled to dangerous levels during the floods.
- Some have blamed dams, which were all opened when they were nearly full, causing heavy floods downstream and greatly affecting the lives of the people there.
- While criticism and suggestions are natural after a tragedy of this magnitude, we should learn lessons from the experience. The question is, how do we avoid or minimise destruction after such an event?
The purpose of dams
- The world over, dams are constructed mainly for the purposes of irrigation, power generation, and flood control.
- While the first two roles are acknowledged, the role of dams in flood control has always been underestimated.
- It is unfortunate that in both irrigation and hydel projects, flood control is completely ignored.
- Authorities always look to store the maximum amount of water in reservoirs during the monsoon season, which is then used for irrigation and generation of electricity during the summer months.
- It is an internationally accepted practice that the water level of a reservoir should be kept below a certain level before the onset of the monsoon season. This is so that when the monsoon rains come, there is space to store the excess rainwater and also so that water can be released in a regulated manner, thus preventing floods downstream when there is heavy inflow to the dams.
- For instance, in May, Thailand wisely brought down the water level in the dams in the country to below 60% of the storing capacity before the rainy season.
Space in reservoirs:
- In view of all these problems and to ensure that the flood control purpose of dams is met, it is important that at least 30% of the storage capacity of dams be kept free before the monsoon.
- While simultaneously allowing discharge of water, it is possible to increase storage slowly as the monsoon progresses.
- If the monsoons fail and dams fall short of water and there is a shortfall in electricity generation, this is not a loss compared to the possible loss of lives in the event of a flood of this magnitude.
- In Kerala too, the dams were not managed well.
- While earlier too there was no practice of keeping space for greater storage of water, rainfall has never been as torrential as it was this year. Hence, there were no floods.
- It is difficult to predict what will happen during the ensuing northeast monsoon in Kerala in case of heavy inflow.
- Whatever is the extra quantity of electricity produced and area of land irrigated because of the risky storage of water the dams, that cannot compensate for the loss of human lives, infrastructure and agricultural land.
- The estimated loss to the State runs into thousands of crores. It will take years to rebuild Kerala.
- Kerala receives rainfall mainly during the southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon.
- These rains are controlled by winds that carry clouds from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Atmospheric depression that controls wind movement cannot be predicted months in advance.
- The meteorological department can predict rains or cyclones only a few days in advance. Therefore, keeping space in reservoirs before the monsoon begins must be done whether or not there are heavy rains, as no State can afford to take risks in the manner that Kerala did.
Ensuring thoughtful policies:
- It is time for the government and the public to formulate water management policies for reservoirs in such a manner that dams are used to control floods, not cause them.
- There should be space for greater storage of water in reservoirs before the onset of monsoon.
- There is over-dependence on hydel projects to produce electricity. It is time to think of non-conventional sources for electricity generation such as solar, wind and tidal power.
- The practice of solar power generation in Kochi airport can be copied in similar large-scale projects by other government agencies.
- The public too should be encouraged to adopt the practice of solar power generation. This will greatly reduce our dependence on dams for power generation.
- The State Dam Security Authority, if competent, should be entrusted with the task of water management in reservoirs and with taking decisions in emergency situations.
- The State government, the State Dam Security Authority and the National Water Commission should all be prepared to take bold decisions together on water management so that there are no such devastating floods in the future.
The arguments with respect to the Sabarimala case in the Supreme Court case have triggered interesting thoughts on the Constitutional Interpretation. The argument that prohibition of entry of women into the temple is violation of Article 17 was resisted on the contention that the prohibition of untouchability was historically intended only to protect the interests of the backward classes. The claim is that the makers of the Constitution never envisioned including women within the ambit of untouchability.
- ‘Sabarimala’ is a test case for freedom of religion, women’s rights and also constitutional interpretation
- It raises issues about religious freedom, gender equality and the right of women to worship.
- The petitioners have argued that discrimination based on biological reasons is not permissible going by the constitutional scheme. They maintain that due to the current exclusion, the right of women to worship the deity is violated.
- It was also argued that the exclusion is a form of ‘untouchability’ – which is against Article 17, since the exclusion is solely based on notions of purity and impurity.
- The Temple Board in support of the ban have cited it as an age-old custom. It forms a part of ‘essential religious practice’ of worshippers under Article 25 of the Constitution.
- It was also urged that matters such as who can or cannot enter the temple are covered under the rights to administer and manage religious institutions, under Article 26.
A specific acknowledgment:
Certain observations about the abolition clause are important.
- Article 17 is emphatic in its wording: “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.”
- It is peculiar since it abolishes a social practice in any form. All the other provisions in the same chapter lay down substantive fundamental rights.
- In spite of the specific equality and anti-discrimination guarantees in the Constitution, Article 17 is inserted to specifically acknowledge and remove the social stigma associated with certain castes. It was enacted in an attempt to eradicate historical inequality.
- I. Muniswamy Pillai said in the Constituent Assembly that “the great thing that this Constitution brings to notice, not only to this country but to the whole world is the abolition of untouchability.”
The two arguments reflect the two approaches to reading the Constitution.
- The original intent approach: Based on the intent of the framers of the Constitution when they drafted the text.
For example, an originalist will adopt a certain understanding of a constitutional right — say, the right to same-sex relationships under the right to liberty promised under Article 21 only if she is convinced that the drafters intended that. She may argue that the framers never thought of such a situation and, therefore, a same-sex couple cannot have a constitutional right under Article 21. In fact, a similar argument has been made in the debates in India on homosexuality. Article 15 urges the state from discriminating on grounds such as religion, caste and sex. By relying on the originalist approach, it was asserted that the makers of the Constitution meant the word ‘sex’ under Article 15 only in the binary sense of ‘male and female’.
- The Living Tree Doctrine: It involves understanding the Constitution to be an evolving and organic instrument. For the living tree theorists, it matters little what the intentions were at the time of Constitution making. What matters the most is how the Constitution can be interpreted to contain rights in their broadest realm.
- Over time, originalism (original intent approach) as a method of constitutional interpretation has been subject to serious criticism for being too rigid and inflexible.
- In B.C Motor Vehicle Reference (1985), the Canadian Supreme Court, while rejecting originalism, said that such a method would mean that “…the rights, freedoms and values embodied in the Charter in effect become frozen in time to the moment of adoption with little or no possibility of growth, development and adjustment to changing societal needs.”
- The Living Tree Doctrine is very prominent in Canadian jurisprudence. The moral reading of the Constitution, propounded by Ronald Dworkin, also complements the living tree approach.
- Dworkin says in Freedom’s Law that “according to the moral reading, these clauses must be understood in the way their language most naturally suggests: they refer to abstract moral principles and incorporate these by reference, as limits on government’s power.”
Following the living tree approach:
- The ‘living tree’ approach being an alternative and a finer reading of the Constitution supports a broader interpretation of Article 17.
- It is opined that, even if the framers of the Constitution intended this provision to address a specific category of discrimination, the constitutional court must adopt an interpretation to include women under Article 17.
- Women have been kept out of Sabarimala because of menstruation. As a distinct class, they are being discriminated against.
- If certain castes are considered ‘impure’ because of their social status, menstruating women are considered to be so because of their gender.
- The criteria are different but the effect of exclusion is common. It seems that such an interpretation does not do any violence to the language and content of Article 17, but only liberates it.
- In Living Originalism in India: Our Law and Comparative Constitutional Law (2013), Sujit Choudhry argues that untouchability and the exclusion of the homosexuals are comparable.
- He says that “the treatment which homosexuals experience today is similar in kind to that which ‘untouchables’ experienced and which prompted the adoption of Article 17, in that the treatment of homosexuals likewise flows from their social status.” This is a case where discrimination is based solely on sexual orientation.
Therefore, in essence, the Sabarimala case is a test case not only for freedom of religion and women’s rights but also for constitutional interpretation. It presents to the court an exemplary opportunity for an alternative reading of the Constitution. If the court indeed reads Article 17 to have a wider meaning, it will signal a new era of transformative constitutionalism in Indian jurisprudence.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements :
- India’s first biofuel-powered flight was successfully tested by SpiceJet .
- The Fuel was developed by Indian Institute of Petroleum(IIP)
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
- Rudrasagar Lake Annual boat racing festival is held in Tripura.
- Local fishermen community participates in the event every year.
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- None of these
Question 3.The Bagwal festival is a festival for
- RakshaBandhan festival
- Kites festival
- Holi festival
- Boat festival
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- Although complete cure for Leprosy is discovered, the social stigma attached to it still remains.Discuss. .
The world over, dams are constructed mainly for the purposes of irrigation, power generation, and flood control.Discuss the role of dams in flood control.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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