TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. ‘Choosing a partner is a person’s fundamental right’ INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. ‘India a stakeholder in Korean peace’ C. GS3 Related ECOLOGY 1. Fossil of first ‘giant dinosaur’ species found in Argentina 2. Western Ghats fourth best tourist spot in Asia D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council (HRC) POLITY 1. Electoral reforms F. Tidbits 1. Odisha to go plastic-free 2. RS members can use all 22 scheduled languages G. Prelims Fact 1. Eat Right Movement H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
1. ‘Choosing a partner is a person’s fundamental right’
- Choice of a partner is a person’s fundamental right, and it can be a same-sex partner, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said.
- The observation came on the first day of hearing by a Constitution Bench of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era provision that criminalises private consensual sex between adults.
Violation of privacy
- Justice Chandrachud, who is part of the five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, was reacting to a submission by senior advocate Arvind Datar, for hotelier Keshav Suri, that the right to sexual orientation was meaningless without the right to choose a partner.
- Justice Chandrachud drew his observations from the March 2018 judgment in the Hadiya case, which held that neither the state nor one’s parents could influence an adult’s choice of partner. That would be a violation of the fundamental right to privacy.
- Hadiya, a Hindu girl from Kerala, converted to Islam and chose to marry a Muslim man.
- Chief Justice Misra said the test was whether Section 377 stood in conformity with Articles 21 (right to life), 19 (right to liberty) and 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.
- At one point, the judges appeared to differ in their approach to the case.
- Justice Chandrachud said the court should not confine itself merely to a declaration whether Section 377 was constitutional or not. It could examine the wider concept of “sexuality” to include co-habitation etc., he said.
- But Chief Justice Misra observed that the Bench should first decide the constitutionality of Section 377.
- The 172nd Law Commission Report had recommended deletion of Section 377. But nothing had been done all these years.
- Rohatgi submitted that being gay or lesbian was not a matter of choice. It is innate, inborn. Actually, it has something to do with the genes.
- He said Section 377 described such sexual acts as against the order of nature. But this [being LGBT] is also an order of nature because it is nature which gave them this.
- Everything changes with the passage of time. Laws made 50 years ago can become invalid over time.
- He said Section 377 falls under the section of “unnatural offences” in the IPC.
- What is unnatural? It can be between a man and man and also between a man and a woman.
- Sex even between a man and woman, but not in the conventional way, also becomes unnatural under Section 377.
- Justice Nariman said Mr. Rohatgi should focus on the point that the “order of nature” was only a relative concept and whether LGBT itself was an order of nature.
- Justice Malhotra, the woman judge on the Bench, observed that homosexuality was not confined to humans, but extended even to the animal kingdom.
- Datar said Section 377 criminalises a section of people for being a sexual minority.
- The Constitution Bench, also comprising Justices R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, is re-visiting the December 2013 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Suresh Koushal case, which had upheld Section 377.
- Section 377 of IPC – which came into force in 1862 – defines unnatural offences.
- It says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
2009 Judgement (Delhi HC)
- Following a PIL by Delhi-based Naz Foundation, an NGO fighting for gay rights, the Delhi HC on July 3, 2009, struck down Section 377 of the IPC, holding that it violated the fundamental rights of life and liberty and the right to equality as guaranteed in the Constitution.
- The HC held that the Section 377 denied dignity to an individual and criminalised their core identity on the basis of their sexuality adding that it also violated Article 14 by targeting homosexuals as a class.
2013 Judgement (SC)
- The Supreme Court reversed the 2009 HC verdict in December 2013 and upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of IPC, while giving the power to the legislature to formulate a law on homosexuality.
- It observed that only a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders and in last more than 150 years, less than 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377.
2014 order (Transgenders)
- In the April 2014 verdict, hailed by gender rights activists, the apex court directed the government to declare transgenders a ‘third gender’ along with male and female.
- It also asked the Centre to include them in the OBC quota.
- Underlining the need to bring them into the mainstream, the verdict by a bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said transgenders should have all rights under the law, including marriage, adoption, divorce, succession, and inheritance.
- The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 was a result of this order.
2017 verdict (SC)
- In August 2017, the Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict, declared right to privacy a fundamental right, ushering in hope for the gay and LGBT community.
- The apex court had concluded that privacy included at its core the preservation of personal intimacies and that sexual orientation was an essential attribute of privacy.
- Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.
- Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.
- The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
Have a look at the BYJU’S infographic on Section 377
1. ‘India a stakeholder in Korean peace’
- Praising South Korean President Moon Jae-in for his role in talks with North Korea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is also a stakeholder and beneficiary of the Korean peninsula peace process.
- During President Moon’s four-day state visit to India, the two sides signed 11 MoUs and agreements between them.
- The proliferation linkages between North-East Asia and South Asia is a matter of concern to India. Therefore, India is also a stakeholder in the peace process.
- India has been worried about its trade deficit with South Korea that stood at $12 billion last year, while Korean businessmen have complained about problems in the “ease of doing business”.
- In the last meeting held in 2017, three deliverables were identified: early harvest package of CEPA, forming futures strategy group to jointly harness fourth generation technology and innovative products and a trade remedies MOU.
- India and South Korea signed a joint statement agreeing to discuss an ‘early harvest’ package for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) aimed at identifying key areas for enhanced trade between the two countries.
- They agreed to expand bilateral trade, including through the early conclusion of ongoing negotiations to upgrade the ROK-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
- The two countries also agreed to try to increase their bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030, up from current levels of $20 billion.
- The signing of the early harvest package was in keeping with the ongoing discussions with South Korea and was one of many objectives the two countries wanted to achieve.
- In addition to the agreements on upgrading their economic partnership CEPA, trade remedies, railway safety research, cyber strategy, and cultural exchanges, India and South Korea signed a joint vision statement on strategic ties in the region.
- RoK and India will enhance military exchanges, training and experience-sharing, and research and development including innovative technologies for mutual benefit.
- They also agreed to encourage defence industries to intensify cooperation in this regard.
- The bilateral vision document also committed to building a peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based region, incorporating President Moon slogan of “3Ps: People, Prosperity and Peace”.
C. GS3 Related
1. Fossil of first ‘giant dinosaur’ species found in Argentina
- Giant dinosaurs lived on the earth much earlier than previously thought, according to a team of excavators in Argentina, who discovered the remains of a 200-million-year old species.
- The species, baptised Ingentia prima, was about three times the size of the largest Triassic dinosaurs from its era.
- It was discovered in the Balde de Leyes dig site in San Juan province, 1,100 km west of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.
- The species exhibits a growth strategy that was unknown until now and indicates that gigantism originated much earlier than was thought.
- According to scientists, Ingenia prima was the first dinosaur species to reach gigantism.
- The dinosaur’s bone fragments displayed cyclical and seasonal growth, with a different kind of tissue to other sauropods, which allowed it to grow very quickly.
- It’s believed that the species grew to eight to 10 meters tall and weighed around 10 tonnes, equal to two or three African elephants.
- These were herbivore dinosaurs, quadrupeds, easily recognisable by their very long neck and tail, and from the sauropod group.
- Before this discovery, it was thought that gigantism developed during the Jurassic period, around 180 million years ago.
- The Triassic period extended from around 250-200 million years ago and the Jurassic from 200-145 million years ago.
2. Western Ghats fourth best tourist spot in Asia
- Western Ghats supports the life of 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1,814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insects species and 290 freshwater fish species.
- Older than the Himalayas and well known for its rich and unique flora and fauna, the Western Ghats has figured in Lonely Planet’s top five “2018 Best in Asia” list, a collection of 10 of the best destinations to visit in the continent for the year.
- One of the Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Western Ghats has come fourth in the list of the Lonely Planet, considered a Bible by travellers worldwide.
- Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which has started blooming after 12 years in the famed hill station of Munnar has found mention in report.
- Traversing Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, these rugged hills are UNESCO listed as one of the top spots for biodiversity in the world, protecting everything from wild elephants and tigers to the neelakurinji flower, which blooms only once every 12 years and will be painting the hills in purple livery from August to October 2018.
- Kurinji or Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India.
- Besides the Western Ghats, Neelakurinji is also seen in the Shevroys in the Eastern Ghats, Annamalai hills Idukki district and Agali hills in Palakkad in Kerala and Sandur hills of Bellary district in Karnataka.
- Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish-blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.
- Some Kurinji flowers bloom once every seven years, and then die.
- Plants that bloom at long intervals like Strobilanthes kunthianus are known as plietesials.
- The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age.
Read about the Western And Eastern Ghats Of India
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
1. The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council (HRC)
- The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations in June this year sent shock waves through the international community, foreign-policy think-tanks and human rights non-governmental organisations.
- However, some feel this was the right decision and are now advocating withdrawal by other countries; this includes those in India.
Member states of HRC
- Current members include Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom — a few of the 47 states elected by the General Assembly, based on geographic quotas.
- The main criticism against it is that it is made up of states not known for their human rights records; that many are in fact egregious violators of human rights
Why is the HRC still important?
- The HRC was established in 2006, as part of the UN’s reform process, replacing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
- Council members are elected by the General Assembly with three-year terms, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
- It was to serve as a forum for all states to examine and ‘peer review’ the record on human rights.
- The ‘Universal Periodic Review’ process, where all states are scrutinised, is currently in its third cycle (2017-2021).
- No state is exempt from this process, including Security Council members.
- The HRC is also a forum to monitor international obligations of a state based on international law that states themselves have undertaken.
- Engagement on their track record, in defence of rights is critical. This forum for advocacy and scrutiny, with its pitfalls, is an important component of the UN rights system.
Rhetoric and reality
- What gets lost in all the rhetoric regarding the HRC is the actual track record — the overt manner in which a human rights agenda and the evolution of human rights norms are facilitated — and also less tangible gains from having such a body composed of states and actually engaging with them.
- Resolutions adopted have highlighted egregious violations despite efforts to the contrary by some members of the HRC.
- The situation in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, and North Korea are but a few. Subject areas that have been the source of much controversy have been addressed at the HRC, including LGBTIQ rights and discrimination on the basis of religion.
Multiple strands of HRC
- Another aspect overseen by the HRC is the appointment of special rapporteurs-independent mandate holders — on issues including
- Internal displacement
- Racial discrimination
- Country specific mandates.
- In addition, there are distinct international commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions into particular violations.
The role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is often confused with the HRC.
- It is a separate institution which presents reports independent of the HRC, the recent report on Kashmir being an example.
- The conflation of the HRC and the OHCHR is incorrect and confuses their separate mandate and functions. Hence, there are multiple strands in the monitoring functions of human rights by UN institutions, one of which is the HRC. In the promotion of human rights, all these play a critical role.
- Coming back to the U.S., the factor that precipitated its withdrawal is the alleged targeting of Israel by the HRC. However, the background to this is also one of impatience and a failure to stay the course on an important multilateral process — that of HRC reform.
- Discussions and reform proposals are already in the works, with engagement by states and human rights organisations indicating a consensus building approach.
- However, while ostensibly committing to reform, the impatience of the current U.S. administration and its disdain for multilateralism has resulted in the impetuous decision to withdraw.
- By ceding a role at the HRC, a state reduces its ability to influence the agenda, and if it is so inclined, a genuine engagement in the monitoring of human rights. Invoking sovereignty as the basis to disengage is specious at best and malafide at worst.
- Ultimately, not just states but also individuals who are in need of a more robust defence of their rights stand to lose much.
- It is worth instead contemplating the need to reduce rhetoric and, rather, increase substantive engagement with issues concerning the rights of individuals.
- There are meaningful electoral reforms beyond simultaneous elections
- It is perhaps no surprise that political parties are deeply divided over the idea of holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies.
Law Commission of India
- During consultations initiated by the Law Commission of India, nine parties opposed it, arguing that it went against the constitutional fabric and that it would be impractical.
- Four parties backed the concept. The BJP has sought time for a detailed response, though it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been advocating the idea. The Congress has now spoken out against the proposal.
- In principle, there are obvious advantages to the ‘one nation, one election’ idea — election expenditure will be drastically cut and ruling dispensations will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever.
- However, as many of the naysayers have pointed out, the idea is fraught with practical difficulties. Also, some parties fear that a simultaneous poll, particularly in this era where news is easily and widely disseminated, will privilege national issues over regional ones even if, arguably, the reverse may happen too.
- The issue is that synchronisation would involve curtailment or extension of the tenure of a House — the legal propriety of which is questionable.
The key proposal
- Assemblies be bunched into two categories based on whether their terms end close to the 2019 or the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
- Elections could be held for one group in 2019, and for another in 2024 so that subsequent elections could be synchronised. Or, polls could be held for one group along with the 2019 election, and for the rest 30 months later, so that there is a round of elections every two and a half years.
- An attempt at solving the problem of regimes falling due to lack of majority is the proposal for a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’.
- This means that when passing a motion expressing lack of trust in a regime, legislators must necessarily propose an alternative. If a mid-term election has to be held, the term of such a House would only be for the remainder of its tenure.
- These two recommendations may partially address the question raised by the DMK on whether all Assemblies would be dissolved too if the Lok Sabha has to be prematurely dissolved. However, it is unclear if it will be palatable for all parties to invest their time and resources in an election that would win them only a curtailed term.
- Another proposal is allowing a one-time waiver of the anti-defection law to enable the House to elect a leader in the event of a hung House is. However, these reforms can be adopted even without simultaneous elections.
- Also, there are many pressing reforms needed in the electoral space including curbing the use of black money to fund elections and tackling the staggered manner in which elections are held in many States.
- In a bid to beat plastic pollution, the Odisha government has ordered a ban on the use of plastic bags, polythene and single-use plastic in the State starting from Gandhi Jayanti in October.
- The ban will come into force in major urban centres and in the entire State in phases over the next two years.
- Rajya Sabha members can speak in any of the 22 scheduled languages from the monsoon session of Parliament beginning on July 18, with the Secretariat arranging simultaneous interpretation for five more languages: Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Santhali and Sindhi.
- Of the 22 languages, the RS already has interpretation for Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.
G. Prelims Fact
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has unveiled ‘The Eat Right Movement’, built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’.
- The programme aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and well-being by making the right food choices.
- The opening event saw the food industry, public health professionals, civil society and consumer organisations, and influencers and celebrities coming together to pledge concrete steps to create ‘The Eat Right Movement’ in the country.
- The movement can grow organically as a self-perpetuating movement, co-owned and co-led by various partners using the broad framework and resources put together by professionals and experts in the field of food and nutrition.
- Its aim is to cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years and 15 major food manufacturers have already joined the programme.
- The FSSAI is looking at robust food labelling and cleaning up the claims space.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Three of the following criteria have contributed to the recognition of Western Ghats – Sri Lanka and Indo-Burma regions as hotspots of bio-diversity.
- Species richness
- Vegetation density
- Ethno-botanical importance
- Threat Perception
- Adaptation of flora and fauna to warm and humid conditions
Which three of the above are correct criteria in this context?
- Only 1, 2 and 6
- Only 2, 4 and 6
- Only 1, 3 and 5
- Only 3, 4 and 6
Question 2. Man & Biosphere programme is affiliated with:
Question 3. Which of the following Directive Principles enjoys primacy over all the Fundamental Rights?
- Art 39 (b) and 39 (c)
- Art 38
- Art 44
Question 4. Which of the following is not an extra-constitutional body?
- Delimitation Commission.
- Zonal Commission
- National Commission for Women
- Cabinet Committees
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- The guardian of the Constitution should first Guard the interests of its functions. Explain.
- The scope of Right to Life is virtually limitless, embodying everything that a human being requires to live a quality life. Discuss.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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