TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. Centre amends rules for minorities from three nations C. GS3 Related ENVIRONMENT 1. Bioplastics may not be a viable alternative to plastic D. GS4 Related E. Editorials ENVIRONMENT 1. Death in the air (Air Pollution) POLITY 1. Unimplementable orders (Judiciary) F. Tidbits 1. A modern makeover for the traditional hat 2. Bullet Train G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
News: The Union Home Ministry has notified amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009, to include a separate column in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
- Under the amendments, a separate entry in the form will ask the applicant whether they belong to one of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan as in Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians.
- The changes have been made by the centre under Section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
- The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
- Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
- The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
- Whether differentiating on grounds of religion is a violation of Article 14
- The Bill provides that illegal migrants belonging to specified minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants under the Act, making them eligible for Indian citizenship. These minority communities are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. This implies that illegal migrants from these countries who are Muslims, other minorities who do not belong to the above groups (eg. Jews), or Atheists who do not identify with a religious group will not be eligible for citizenship. The question is whether this provision violates the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution because it provides differential treatment to illegal migrants on the basis of their religion.
- Article 14 guarantees equality to all persons, citizens and foreigners. It only permits laws to differentiate between groups of people if the rationale for doing so serves a reasonable purpose.The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill does not explain the rationale behind differentiating between illegal migrants on the basis of the religion they belong to.
- The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no parking zone).
Definition of illegal migrants
- The Citizenship Act, 1955 prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. The Bill amends the Act to provide that the following minority groups will not be treated as illegal migrants: Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. However, to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.
Citizenship by naturalisation
- The 1955 Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by naturalisation if he meets certain qualifications. One of these is that the person must have resided in India or served the central government for a certain period of time: (i) for the 12 months immediately preceding the application for citizenship, and (ii) for 11 of the 14 years preceding the 12-month period. For people belonging to the same six religions and three countries, the Bill relaxes the 11-year requirement to six years.
Cancellation of registration of Overseas Citizen of India cardholder
- The 1955 Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on certain grounds, including: (i) if the OCI had registered through fraud, or (ii) if within five years of registration, the OCI was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more. The Bill adds one more ground for cancelling registration, that is, if the OCI has violated any law in the country.
C. GS3 Related
News: According to the study by researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters an increased consumption of bioplastics in the following years is likely to generate increased greenhouse gas emissions from cropland expansion on a global scale.
Harmful Impact of plastics:
- Plastics are usually made from petroleum, with the associated impacts in terms of fossil fuel depletion but also climate change.
- It is estimated that by 2050, plastics could already be responsible for 15% of the global CO2 emissions.
- Bioplastics are in principle climate-neutral since they are based on renewable raw materials such as maize, wheat and sugarcane. These plants get the CO2 that they need from the air through their leaves.
- Producing bioplastics therefore consumes CO2, which compensates for the amount that is later released at end-of-life. Overall, their net greenhouse gas balance is assumed to be zero.
Concerns with bioplastics:
- Bioplastics are thus often consumed as an environmentally friendly alternative. However, at least with the current level of technology, this issue is probably not as clear as often assumed.
- The production of bioplastics in large amounts would change land use globally.
- This could potentially lead to an increase in the conversion of forest areas to arable land. However, forests absorb considerably more CO2 than maize or sugar cane annually, if only because of their larger biomass.
Impact of biofuel
- Experience with biofuels has shown that this effect is not a theoretical speculation. The increasing demand for the “green” energy sources has brought massive deforestation to some countries across the tropics.
- They simulated the effects of an increased demand for bioplastics in major producing countries. They used and extended a computer model that had already been used to calculate the impacts of biofuel policies. It is based on a database that depicts the entire world economy.
- The study found that it takes a lot of time for the switch to bioplastics to pay off. The belief that bioplastics will reduce the amount of waste in the oceans may not even come true.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- Experts have pointed out that air pollution should be among the highest policy priorities.
- It is important to note that as an environmental scourge, air pollution has killed an estimated 1.24 million people in India in 2017.
- Unfortunately, the Centre and State governments have tended to treat it as a chronic malaise that defies a solution.
A Note on the Global Burden of Disease 2017 report:
- The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) is the most comprehensive worldwide observational epidemiological study to date. It describes mortality and morbidity from major diseases, injuries and risk factors to health at global, national and regional levels. Examining trends from 1990 to the present and making comparisons across populations enables understanding of the changing health challenges facing people across the world in the 21st century.
- In the Global Burden of Disease 2017 report, the deadly results of official apathy are outlined. It focuses on the impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy across the states of India.
- This report is published by The Lancet.
- It is important to note that millions of people are forced to lead morbid lives or face premature death due to bad air quality.
A Look at some important metrics:
- India’s national standard for ambient fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, is notoriously lax at 40 micrograms per cubic metre, but even so, 77% of the population was exposed to higher levels on average.
- Also, no State met the annual average exposure norm for PM2.5 of 10 micrograms per cubic metre set by the World Health Organisation.
- Experts point out that if India paid greater attention to ambient air quality and household air pollution, people living in the worst-affected States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand could add more than 1.7 years to their life expectancy.
- Similar gains would accrue nationwide, however, it is regions with low social development, reflected partly in reliance on solid fuels for cooking, and those with ambient air pollution caused by stubble-burning, construction dust and unbridled motorisation such as Delhi that would benefit the most.
The Way Forward:
- In conclusion, experts point out that sustainable solutions must be found for:
- stubble-burning and
- the use of solid fuels in households,
- These two are the major sources of pollution, and State governments must be made accountable for this.
- Further, the Centre should work with Punjab and Haryana to ensure that the machinery already distributed to farmers and cooperatives to handle agricultural waste is in place and working.
- Also, a mechanism for rapid collection of farm residues has to be instituted.
- As a matter of fact, new approaches to recovering value from biomass could be the way forward.
- Experts also believe that the proposal from a furniture-maker to convert straw into useful products will be keenly watched for its outcomes.
- Further, The Lancet study says, A shift away from solid fuels to LPG in millions of low-income homes has provided health benefits. This underscores the value of clean alternatives.
- The potential of domestic biogas units, solar cookers and improved biomass cookstoves has to be explored, since they impose no additional expenditure on rural and less affluent households.
- It is important to note that such measures should, of course, be complemented by strong control over urban sources of pollution.
- Finally, India’s commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change require a sharp reduction in particulates from fossil fuel. Fuels may be relatively cleaner today and vehicles better engineered to cut emissions, but traffic densities in cities have led to a rise in pollution. Real-time measurement of pollution is also lacking.
- There are not enough ground-level monitoring stations for PM2.5, and studies primarily use satellite imagery and modelling to project health impacts.
- Experts believe that rapid progress on clean air now depends on citizens making it a front-line political issue.
- Recently, the Honourable Supreme Court of India passed two orders which some experts fear, will remain on paper.
- In the first, the court had asked each High Court to designate as many sessions and magistrate courts in the concerned States to try criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs.
- The government informed the court that there are 4,122 criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs in 440 districts across the country.
A Critical Perspective:
- It is important to note that a case takes time to decide. For example: The cumbersome Code of Criminal Procedure must be followed. Charges must be framed, witnesses must be examined and cross-examined, documents must be adduced in evidence, and arguments must be heard. Only then can a well-considered judgment be delivered. Moreover, the witnesses and even the investigating authorities may turn hostile.
- Experts also suggest that the existing number of courts in India are already overburdened with 33 million pending cases.
- Questions arise: Should a section of them give up dealing with the cases before them and only deal with these cases relating to MPs and MLAs? Then their cases will have to be handed over to other judges, who are similarly overburdened.
Views on the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018:
- The second order in question is for implementing the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018.
- It is well known that nowadays it is nearly impossible to get independent witnesses in criminal cases.
- For example, if someone sees a crime, the tendency is to avoid getting into trouble by deposing about it to the police or the court, which may invite reprisal by the party against whom the witness gives evidence.
- Consequently, a judge is rarely sure that the witness is being truthful.
- To mitigate this outcome the government has framed a Witness Protection Scheme, but how practicable is it?
- The scheme proposes giving witnesses a new identity. There are over 28.4 million cases pending in subordinate courts in India, of which perhaps 70% are criminal cases. If on an average there are half a dozen witnesses in each case, this may require change of identity for millions of people. Is this feasible, financially or logistically?
- Finally, other proposals also appear unrealistic. The scheme mentions providing police escort to the courtroom, temporary safe houses and relocation of the witness. But how simple is it to relocate an individual whose job requires him to be at a fixed location? For how long and to how many will the police provide protection?
A Note on the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018:
- Recently, The Honourable Supreme Court of India, approved the “Witness Protection Scheme, 2018” prepared by the Union of India, and has directed it and all states and union territories to enforce the same in letter and spirit.
- The bench noted that the essential features of the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018, include identifying categories of threat perceptions, preparation of a “Threat Analysis Report” by the head of the police, types of protection measures like ensuring that the witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation etc. protection of identity, change of identity, relocation of witness, witnesses to be apprised of the scheme, confidentiality and and preservation of records, recovery of expenses etc.
The scheme formulated by the Home Ministry categorizes witnesses into three types:
- Where the threat extends to life of witness or his family members, during investigation/trial or thereafter.
- Where the threat extends to safety, reputation or property of the witness or his family members, during the investigation/trial or thereafter.
- Where the threat is moderate and extends to harassment or intimidation of the witness or his family member’s, reputation or property, during the investigation/trial or thereafter.
- It is important to note that these witnesses can file application for seeking protection order before the competent authority of the concerned district where the offence is committed.
- This competent authority will be chaired by District and Sessions Judge, with head of the police in the district as member and head of the prosecution in the district as its member secretary.
News: Babula Gouda, in Odisha’s Ganjam district, has improvised the traditional ‘Talari’ hat used by farmers with some modern technology to ‘smart-Talari’.
- ‘Talari’ is a large hat made of bamboo or cane that protects agricultural labourers from the sun and rain when they work in the fields.
- The ‘smart-Talari’ generates solar power to run gadgets added to it.
- Using less than ₹500 and only locally available materials and gadgets were the traditional ‘Talari’ is transformed to ‘smart-Talari’.
2. Bullet Train
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements about Citizenship:
- Part II of the Constitution of India (Articles 5-11) deals with the Citizenship of India.
- Article 11 gives powers to the Parliament of India to regulate the right of citizenship by law.
- Article 7 deals with the citizenship rights of certain migrants to Pakistan.
- Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country can retain Indian citizenship.
Which of the following is/are correct?
1 and 2 only
1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3 only
Question 2. Consider the following about bioplastics:
Bioplastics are in principle climate-neutral since they are based on renewable raw materials such as maize, wheat and sugarcane.
The production of bioplastics in large amounts would change land use globally.
Producing bioplastics consumes CO2.
Could potentially lead to an increase in the conversion of forest areas to arable land.
Which of the following is/are correct?
1 and 2 only
1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3 only
Question 3. Consider the following tiger reserves are
Which of the following tiger reserves are included under the Tiger Project?
- Only 1
- 1 and 2 only
- 1, 2, 3, 4
- 1, 2, 3 only
Question 4. Consider the following about Qatar:
- Saudi Arabia
Which of the following countries do not share a boundary with Qatar?
- Only 1
- 1 and 2 only
- 2, 3, 4 only
- 1, 2, 3 only
Question 5. Consider the following about NBFC’s:
- NBFC’s do not have a banking license.
- These institutions are not allowed to take deposits from the public.
- They are outside the scope of banking regulations.
- NBFCs can offer banking services such as loans and credit facilities, retirement planning, money markets, underwriting and merger activities.
Which of these is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 3 only
- 3 and 4
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- Bioplastics are often consumed as an environmental friendly alternative. Examine the relevance of this statement. (250 words)
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 violates the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution. Critically analyse. (250 words)
See previous CNA