TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related CULTURE 1. Sadmridangam SOCIAL ISSUES 1. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) questioned by SC B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. Live streaming of court proceedings can be undertaken Center to SC EDUCATION 1. IISc, IIT-D chosen for special grants C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. World’s largest mobile manufacturing plant in Noida D. GS4 Related E. Editorials POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. In need of a practical plan: on judicial appointments INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Living in uncertain times F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact 1. Baiga H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
- Sadmridangam is made using steel and fiber. It weighs lesser than the traditional wooden mridangam.
- It was developed by percussion maestro Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan
- He is the winner of Layaratna title, Ramakrishnan holds the world record for the longest performance on a hand drum for his 301-hour non-stop mridangam playing.
- The interior is hollow and one can dismantle and reassemble.
- The patent office of Union government awarded the patent for the design to the innovative product.
- The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks has given the patent under ‘drum’ category.
- The improvised instrument with all the features of mridangam ensures more mobility for artistes.
- The Supreme Court has said no one can violate the integrity and the bodily privacy of a woman in the name of religion after the Centre condemned the practice of female genital mutilation performed by some communities on children as a religious practice.
- It is a ritual performed on every girl child within the Dawoodi Bohra religious community.
- The FGM is performed “illegally upon girls (between five years and before she attains puberty)” and
- The practice of ‘khatna’ or ‘FGM’ or ‘Khafd’ also amounts to causing inequality between the sexes and constitutes discrimination against women.
- Since it is carried out on minors, it amounts to serious violation of the rights of children as even minors have a right of security of person, right to privacy, bodily integrity and the freedom from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.
- This is happening without any medical reason and does not have any reference in the Quran.
- It violates the rights of the child and human rights.
- Such practices on children would be an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
- The practice violated various fundamental rights of the girl child and moreover, such kind of genital mutilation has serious repercussions on their health.
Current Status in India
- There is no law in India banning FGM or Khatna.
- Countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and around 27 African countries have banned this practice.
- It violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- It is a crime in the United States of America under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
B. GS2 Related
- The Supreme Court said that it is ready to go live on camera while the government mooted a separate TV channel for live-streaming court proceedings.
- Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal proposed a dedicated channel like the Rajya Sabha TV and the Lok Sabha TV for the Supreme Court.
- Agreements entered with broadcasters should be on a non-commercial basis.
- No one should profit from the arrangement. There should be no unauthorized reproduction.
- Due concern should be taken care for cases involving national security concerns, matrimonial disputes and rape cases.
- A public viewing of marital dispute and rape case proceedings would seriously affect justice and amount to a violation of the fundamental right to privacy. So an alternative mechanism should be present.
- Livestream is an extension of the ‘open court’ system, where the public can walk in and watch court proceedings.
- With court proceedings beamed live on air, litigants, law students and the public can watch them as they happen.
- Would keep a check on lawyers’ conduct inside the courtrooms.
- With the entire country watching them, there would be fewer interruptions, raised voices and adjournments from the lawyers.
- Six higher education institutions have been named Institutions of Eminence (IoE) by the Centre.
- This will create an enabling architecture for 10 public and 10 private.
- Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, the Indian Institutes of Technology at Mumbai and Delhi,in the Govt sector.
- Manipal Academy of Higher Education and BITS Pilani under Private.
- Jio Institute of the Reliance Foundation, in the Greenfield sector.
Institution of Eminence
The plan for selecting Institutions of Eminence was first announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech in 2016.
- Should offer interdisciplinary courses.
- Conduct research in “areas of emerging technology”.
- It must have a mix of foreign and Indian students and faculty, with “student amenities comparable with that of globally reputed institutions”.
- The aim of the Institutions of Eminence scheme is to bring selected higher educational institutions in the top 500 of world ranking in the next 10 years and in top 100 eventually over time.
- The scheme has been launched with an objective to provide world-class teaching and research facilities to Indian students within the country and enhance general level of education of the country.
The parameters for setting up Greenfield institutions, as issued by HRD, are:
- Availability of land for construction of the institution.
- Putting in place a core team with very high qualification and wide experience.
- Making available funding for setting up the institution.
- A strategic vision plan with clear annual milestones and action plan.
- An empowered committee, under former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami, recommended these institutions.
- The Greenfield category institutions will be issued letters of intent for three years within which they have to commence academic operations for the notification declaring them IoE to be issued. If they fail the committee can recommend cancellation of the IoE status.
- These institutions will have full flexibility in fixing their curricula and syllabi.
- Can admit 30% foreign students with no restrictions on fees.
- Will be free from the regulations of the NCTE, the IJGC, or the HEC.
- The 10 government institutions, in addition to the autonomy, will also get Rs.1,000 crore each from the HRD Ministry to achieve world-class status.
- The government has also made it clear that will offer no financial assistance to the private institutions under this scheme, though they will get autonomy to pursue academic excellence.
C. GS3 Related
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in inaugurated Samsung’s mobile manufacturing plant, touted as the biggest in the world, in Noida.
- The South Korean electronics major plans to make India an export hub, with 50% of its overall production coming in the next three years from the present 10%.
- 30% of the phones made at the Noida plant would be exported.
- Commitment of better ties with friendly nations such as South Korea as part of Make in India.
- It will increase the employment opportunities.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Why in news?
- The stage-wise and uniform timeline for lower judicial appointments is problematic
- Recruitment to the lower judiciary has been under public scrutiny due to its failure to fill almost a quarter (23%) of vacancies that persist.
- The recruitment process of district judges is now the subject matter of a public interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court. The matter has now come to a standstill given opposition by States to a centralised selection mechanism for judges.
Highlights of the issues?
- This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has tried to streamline the examination process for the lower judiciary.
- In Malik Mazhar v. U.P. Public Service Commission (2008), it highlighted the importance of a prescribed time-schedule for judicial service examinations and laid down stage-wise time lines for lower judicial appointments — for civil judges (junior division) and district judges (direct recruitment) in 321 days and 183 days, respectively. An examination cycle is calculated from the date of notification to the last date for joining.
However, such a benchmark has three problems.
- The rationale behind arriving at this timeline is unclear.
- It is an inaccurate benchmark to measure performance as it does not consider different sanctioned strengths and State resources in conducting such exams.
- Strict adherence to such timelines affects aspirants.
No coherent rationale
- A clear timeline does ensure greater accountability. However, the Supreme Court offers no substantial justification for determining these timelines. From the order, it appears that these were based on suggestions from States and the amicus curiae in the case.
- With no clear, scientific principle or methodology offered, it ends up being a ‘one-size-fit-all’ timeline, which forces a comparison of States that are not similarly placed. This leads to the second issue.
- A report by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy on ‘Ranking Lower Court Appointments’ collated publicly available data on recruitment cycles undertaken by States (2007-2017).
- The study covered direct recruitment of district judges and civil judges (junior division) and measured the performance of States in terms of the number of days taken (‘timeliness’) to complete a cycle, and the percentage of vacancies potentially filled.
- But this timeline applies uniformly to States, regardless of sanctioned strengths. The timeliness measure in the report, when compared with data on sanctioned strengths in the lower judiciary, illustrates why this benchmark is inappropriate in measuring State performance.
- To elaborate, States with lesser sanctioned strengths also see lower numbers of applicants and have a natural advantage in adhering to the timeline.
- Take the case of Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra for example. For civil judges, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra have a sanctioned strength of 62 and 1,118, respectively.
- Both must finish their recruitment cycles within 321 days. The study found that while Himachal could complete its cycle within an average of 178 days, it took 443 days for Maharashtra. When benchmarked against the prescribed timeline, Himachal performs better than Maharashtra, but the comparison is unfair, given the wide variance in sanctioned strengths, and, therefore, the number of applicants.
- The study also showed that of the top five jurisdictions on the timeliness metric for civil judges, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh (States) and Puducherry (Union Territory) have a sanctioned strength below 70.
- These States are quickest in completing recruitment cycles. Evidently, the sanctioned strength influences the timeliness of the recruitment process.
- Clearly, this court-stipulated timeline does not account for the structural and functional capacities of States.
- While one assumes there is greater capacity in the larger States, there is no reason to persist with this assumption without empirical verification. More importantly, there is no methodological justification in prescribing a uniform timeline without accounting for different capacities in States.
- The Malik Mazhar guidelines could have easily ensured this by prescribing a standard which could be subject to State modifications rather than making them fixed. Currently, States can deviate from this timeline only by making an application to the Supreme Court.
- The prescribed timeline does not register potential problems for candidates. If the timeline is strictly implemented, aspiring candidates will find it impossible to appear for examinations in multiple States, potentially harming the career opportunities of candidates who are otherwise eligible for judicial service in multiple States.
- While the idea of a definite timeline is undisputedly a good one, it should be flexible to suit the administrative and resource capacities of different States.
- This curbs their flexibility. Further, and more importantly, the court needs to adopt a more data-driven, methodological basis for such a timeline.
- India needs strategic cohesion, and Government-Opposition dialogue is vital for this.
- Given the uncertain times we live in, nothing can be taken for granted. Much of the world seems to be in a state of bewildering confusion.
- Across the spectrum, people appear euphoric, angry, fearful or confused. Not wanting to understand what is taking place has its own perils.
Age of disruption
- Disruption is the dominant sentiment today. It is leading to major political upheavals. It has resulted in escalating levels of violence.
- Technology is the biggest disruptor of all. Many large firms are being challenged by start-ups. Artificial Intelligence is threatening everything that we are aware of. This breeds uncertainty, apart from confusion.
- How else can anyone explain the extraordinary spectacle of a U.S. President effecting a meeting with a North Korean leader.
- North Korea was seen by the U.S., and much of the West, as the principal part of the “axis of evil”. Not only has this been exploded with the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea meeting in Singapore in June, but the U.S. has announced that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat, nor is it the “biggest and the most dangerous problem” for the U.S.
- No diplomatic rigmarole, no joint communiqué on the details and guarantees, just a simple endorsement that North Korea would eschew the use of nuclear weapons and dismantle its nuclear arsenal is considered enough.
The rest of the world
- Russia’s Vladimir Putin is pitted against almost the entire Western world and is being blamed for an array of human rights violations.
- Several regions of Asia are akin to powder kegs waiting to blow up.
- Afghanistan is rocked almost daily by terror attacks by the Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Islamic State.
- West Asia is embroiled in several wars.
- Syria is the worst-affected and has almost ceased to be a state.
- Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have intensified.
- Tensions between Israel and the Muslim world have peaked.
- The war launched by the Saudi Arabia-led alliance of Arab States against Yemen is turning into a war without end.
- In South Asia, even tiny countries like the Maldives are challenging bigger neighbours like India.
- Europe may not be convulsed with the same degree of violence, but political uncertainty is the prevailing order.
- Germany, which appeared the most stable of European countries till recently, is in deep crisis politically.
- In France, despite President Emmanuel Macron’s reassuring presence, strong undercurrents of political disruption are evident. A fluid political situation prevails across much of southern Europe.
- In a topsy-turvy world, it would appear that autocracies or dictatorships remain more stable, while democracies seem increasingly dysfunctional.
- China is making steady progress, despite the occasional dip in economic forecasts. Mr. Xi and the Chinese Communist Party have on their radar milestones such as ‘wiping out poverty and becoming a moderately prosperous society by 2021’ (100th anniversary of the founding of the party); a ‘Made in China target to be completed by 2025’; and turning ‘China into a fully developed nation by 2049’ (100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China).
- Russia is, again, not constrained by contrarian pulls and pressures. It has entered into a strategic relationship with China, is seeking to consolidate its influence in Eurasia, and has been able to stand up to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the West. Its economy is also on the mend.
- Other dictatorial regimes, such as Turkey, are proving more resilient than democratic regimes across the world, and better able to manage turmoil within and outside their borders.
Other democratic countries
- Most democracies, on the other hand, reveal a far from homogeneous state of affairs, with ruling and opposition parties increasingly working at cross purposes.
- Germany’s plight today is largely due to Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and coalition partner, the Christian Social Union, pulling in different directions. Such trends are a common occurrence today.
- Equally disconcerting is the plight of political parties themselves in many democracies. Many act in a manner that appears like an indictment of democratic politics.
- In the U.K., for instance, the Conservative and Labour parties face serious internal divisions. In the U.S., both Republicans and Democrats appear in poor shape. Political parties in France are hardly better situated. What all this presages for the future of democracies is a matter of conjecture.
- Indian democracy, unfortunately, is not an exception. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) currently projects an image of a strong centralised party. More unfortunate, it has resulted in a paralysis of informed discussion and debate. Absence of a debate of this nature in Parliament has a direct impact on the conduct of affairs of state. The nation, however, has the right to know the correct state of affairs, which is possible only through a detailed discussion in Parliament.
Friction in ties
- Without this, it will be difficult for the nation at large to discern why India-U.S. relations, after more than a decade and half of steady improvement, seem to be slowing down.
- It was only early this year that U.S. President Donald Trump had announced suspension of military aid to Pakistan, and pointed an accusing finger at it for backing terror.
- All of a sudden, whether due to U.S. imperatives in Afghanistan, or some other reason, there are signs of renewed engagement between Pakistan and the U.S. This cannot but adversely impact India’s position in the region.
- Simultaneously, the U.S. has of late taken to upbraiding India on trade issues, lecturing it on reducing military ties with Russia, and insisting that it abide by U.S. sanctions on Iran.
- It also peremptorily postponed the 2+2 dialogue. Without a serious debate in Parliament, it would be difficult for the government to reach a consensus on how to deal with this situation.
- This applies in equal measure to the state of India’s relations with China. Despite the Wuhan summit, our relations with China remain equivocal. There has been no give by China on contentious issues such as the border.
- The Doklam stand-off has yet to be resolved.
- Further, China continues to aggressively cultivate countries in India’s neighbourhood to India’s detriment. Nepal and the Maldives are conspicuous examples. It is little understood, again, why many of our neighbours seem to be drifting away from India.
- A debate in Parliament would be even more critical to understand where our relations with Russia stand today. On the surface, India-Russia relations remain unaffected, but there are enough signs that the nature of the relationship has undergone a change, even though defence ties may be unaffected.
- If the U.S. continues to insist that India resile from its commitment to buy the Triumf missile defence systems from Russia, we will have a first-rate crisis on our hands. India needs a national consensus to tide over the crisis and withstand U.S. pressure, since succumbing to it would be detrimental to our claims to ‘strategic autonomy’.
The way forward
- Some of the policy imperatives of recent years, including possibly the current transactional nature of India’s foreign policy, may well need to be reformulated, given the present state of affairs.
- This cannot happen without a detailed debate in Parliament. The time has, hence, come for the government to seek out the Opposition to debate some of these issues inside Parliament, so that foreign policy, at least, remains on an even keel and is not buffeted by the cross-winds of adversarial party politics in the country.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Fact
- They are an ethnic group found in central India, primarily in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The largest number of Baigas is found in Baiga-chuk in Mandla district and Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh.
- The Baiga tribes practice shifting cultivation in the forest areas.
- These techniques are also known as ‘swidden’ agriculture.
- They say they never ploughed the Earth, because it would be a sin to scratch the breast of their Mother, and they could never ask their Mother to produce food from the same patch of earth time and time again – she would have become weakened.
- One of the tribes for whom tattooing is an integral part of their lifestyle is the Baiga tribe.
- Baigas interact with outsiders in Hindi and they have also picked up few local languages. Among them, they talk in a language called ‘Baigani’. It takes its style from Chattisgarhi and is also influenced by Gondi language.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements regarding Mission Indradhanush:
- The campaign is part of the Universal Immunization Programme by 2020 and aims to cover all those children by 2020 that are either unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine preventable diseases.
- It includes diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.
Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
Question 2. Mahamastakaabhisheka is a grand festival of
Question 3. The self-regulating capacity of Eco-system is known as
- Ecological Niche
- Ecological Succession
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
- An ordinance can be issued when only one House is in session.
- If Parliament takes no action at all, an ordinance ceases to operate on the expiry of 6 months from the reassembly of Parliament.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
- Accountability and Transparency are not only the responsibilities of Legislature and executive but also of Judiciary. Illustrate with examples.
Live streaming of cases should be fundamental but with suitable exception. Critically Analyze.
Bodily freedom and Right to Privacy takes precedence over Right to practice of Religion. Explain.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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