TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related SOCIAL ISSUES 1. Global Drug Survey: Indians lead world in seeking help to reduce drugs intake GEOGRAPHY 1. Monsoon to reach Kerala on June 6 B. GS2 Related HEALTH 1. Source of Malappuram fever still elusive POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Violence prompts poll panel to pull campaign plug in Bengal C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. RBI envisions fourfold growth in digital transactions by 2021 D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. All out at sea 2. New challenges of global terrorism POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. The need for judicial restraint 2. Morphed freedoms F. Tidbits 1. TRA unveils AI tool to improve tea quality 2. After 29 years of service, Vigraha decommissioned 3. India signs ‘Christchurch Call to Action’ G. Prelims Facts 1. Zero Shadow Day H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
A global survey of recreational drug-use, which for the first time polled respondents from India, has found that Indians — more than from other nationalities — are seeking help to reduce their alcohol intake.
Global Drug Survey:
- The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is an anonymised, online survey that uses a detailed questionnaire to assess trends in drug use and self-reported harms among regular drug users and early adopters of new trends.
- Though the survey is not designed to determine the prevalence of drug behaviour in a population, it throws light on stigmatised behaviours and health outcomes of a hidden population that is otherwise difficult to reach and can be used to inform targeted interventions.
- Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis were the most common stimulants used by Indians.
- Of the nearly 1,00,000 respondents from 30 countries, Indians reported ‘being drunk’ on an average of 41 times in the last 12 months — behind the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia and Denmark in that order but well above the global average of 33 times.
- Indian respondents to the survey appeared more than other nationalities eager for help with reducing their alcohol intake.
- According to the 2019 GDS, 51% of the respondents wanted to ‘drink less’ in the following year and 41% ‘wanted help to do so’ — again the highest percentage among other countries.
- About 6% of the female Indians surveyed reported seeking ‘emergency medical treatment’ in the last 12 months. The global female average was about 13%.
- None of the males in India reported seeking medical treatment, compared to the global average of 12%.
- Alcohol and tobacco apart, the most used drugs globally were cannabis, MDMA (or Ecstacy), cocaine, amphetamines, LSD (or ‘acid’), magic mushrooms, benzodiazepines, prescription opioids, ketamine, nitrous oxide.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the southwest monsoon would be “slightly delayed” over Kerala and arrive on June 6.
India gets southwest monsoon winds in the summers and northeast monsoons during the winters. The former arise because of the formation of intense low-pressure system over the Tibetan Plateau. The latter arise due to the high pressure cells that are formed over the Siberian and Tibetan plateaus.
Causes for Southwest monsoon:
- Intense low-pressure formation over the Tibetan Plateau because of intense heating during the summer season
- Permanent high pressure cell in the South of the Indian Ocean (East to Northeast of Madagascar in summer).
- SW monsoon winds bring heavy rainfall to most parts of the country.
Factors influencing onset of SW monsoons:
- Intense low-pressure formation over the Tibetan Plateau
- Permanent high pressure cell in the South of the Indian Ocean
- Subtropical jet stream
- African Easterly jet (Tropical easterly jet)
- Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
Factors influencing intensity of SW monsoons:
- Strengths of the low pressure over Tibetan plateau and the high pressure over the south Indian Ocean
- Somali Jet
- Somali Current
- Indian Ocean dipole
- Indian Ocean branch of the Walker Cell
- The normal date of onset of southwest monsoon is June 1.
- To forecast the monsoon arrival, the IMD uses a customised weather model which, it stated, had been wrong only once – in 2015 – since 2014.
- This model crunches 6 meteorological parameters:
- The minimum temperatures over northwest India
- The pre-monsoon rainfall peak over south Peninsula
- The outgoing long-wave radiation (OLR) over the South China Sea
- The lower tropospheric zonal wind over southeast Indian Ocean
- The upper tropospheric zonal wind over the east equatorial Indian Ocean
- The outgoing long-wave radiation (OLR) over the southwest Pacific region
- The model has a built-in error margin of four days – a June 6 onset can mean any day from June 2-10.
- Generally, the monsoon reaches Kerala within 10 days of reaching the Andamans.
- However, meteorologists had indicated that the monsoon — impeded by high temperatures in the seas surrounding India, and an El Nino will advance sluggishly after reaching Kerala.
- The IMD said it expected a “normal monsoon” but pointed to a “significant probability” of below normal rains.
B. GS2 Related
The Kerala Health Department is striving to identify the genesis of a fever outbreak in different parts of Malappuram district that claimed five lives.
- Over 60 people had symptoms of encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, and around 20 had symptoms of meningitis or inflammation of the meninges, the three membranes lining the skull and vertebral canal and enclosing the brain and the spinal cord.
- A few encephalitis cases were reported from Kozhikode district too during the period.
- Headache, fever, muscle pain, disorientation and vomiting were the common symptoms noticed. Some had body fatigue and dizziness.
- The presence of an entero virus, which is transmitted through the intestine, was reportedly confirmed in the cerebrospinal fluid of one of the patients when tested at the virology lab attached to the Government Medical College, Alappuzha.
- Encephalitis and myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscles, are some of its manifestations.
- Sources pointed out that the symptoms of some patients were structurally similar to that of Japanese Encephalitis.
- However, it is yet to be confirmed whether the infection was caused by a virus or a bacteria, or the combined effect of both.
Read more about: Japanese Encephalitis
Election Commission cuts electioneering by a day in West Bengal. Says fear psychosis is widely prevalent in State.
- In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission imposed a blanket ban on political parties’ campaigning activities in the nine parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal in view of the growing incidence of disruption and violence.
- The order bars campaigning activities till the conclusion of elections.
- Article 324 of the Constitution charts out the various powers and responsibilities of the country’s Election Commission for ensuring free-and-fair polling across the country. “The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice President held under this Constitution shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the Election Commission),”
- Exercising its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution:
- The EC directed that no person “shall” convene, hold, attend, join or address any election-related public meeting or procession.
- It stated that no one can display to the public — through movies and television — or propagate any election matter by holding any event, including musical concert, theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement, with a view to attracting people in connection with elections.
- A ban was placed on the sale and distribution of liquor or “other substances of a like nature” within the polling areas.
- The Commission said the decision was taken based on a report from the Deputy Election Commissioner in-charge of the State.
C. GS3 Related
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has envisaged four times growth in digital transaction in two years, in the payment system vision document for 2019-2021.
- Payment Systems Vision 2021, with its 36 specific action points and 12 specific outcomes, aims to achieve a ‘highly digital’ and ‘cash-lite’ society through the goal posts of competition, cost effectiveness, convenience and confidence (4Cs).
- The RBI expects accelerated growth in individual retail electronic payment systems, both in terms of number of transactions and increased availability.
- Payment systems like UPI and IMPS are likely to register average annualised growth of over 100%, and NEFT at 40%, over the vision period.
- A 35% growth has been targeted in use of digital modes of payment for purchase of goods and services through increase in debit card transactions at point-of-sale terminals during the vision period.
- Use of debit cards in PoS transactions is expected to be at least 44% of total debit card transactions.
- Mobile based transactions are projected to increase by 50%.
- While no specific target is considered for cash in circulation, the enhanced availability of PoS infrastructure is expected to reduced demand for cash and thus, over time, achieve reduction in Cash in Circulation (CIC) as a percentage of GDP.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
A Note on the Varuna Exercises:
- The ‘Varuna’ is a bilateral naval exercise initiated in 1983 and christened with its name (Varuna) in 2001.
- It forms a vital part of the Indo-French strategic partnership.
- Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, this exercise exemplifies the strong relations between the two nations, in line with the Joint Strategic Vision of India-French Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region signed by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the former’s State visit to India in March 2018.
- The Varuna exercise aims at developing interoperability between the two navies and fostering mutual cooperation by learning from each other’s best practices to conduct joint operations.
- The exercise underscores the shared interests and commitment of both nations in promoting maritime security.
- The second phase of the Varuna exercises are scheduled to be held at the end of May 2019 in Djibouti.
- Experts opine that India is setting a high tempo of naval operations in Asia.
- As a matter of fact, in recent weeks, a series of bilateral exercises with regional navies in the Indian Ocean have demonstrated the Indian Navy’s resolve to preserve operational leverage in India’s near seas.
A Note on recent exercises:
(a) An account of events:
- In April 2019, in their biggest and most complex exercise, Indian and Australian warships held drills in the Bay of Bengal.
- This was followed by a much-publicised anti-submarine exercise with the U.S. Navy near Diego Garcia.
- Moreover, recently, the Indian Navy held a joint exercise ‘Varuna’ with the French Navy off the coast of Goa and Karwar.
- Two Indian warships participated in a ‘group sail’ with warships from Japan, the Philippines and the United States on return from a fleet review in Qingdao.
(b) The possible trigger?
- For many, the trigger for India’s newfound zeal at sea is the rapid expansion of China’s naval footprint in the Indian Ocean.
- It is important to note that beyond commercial investments in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, China has established a military outpost in Djibouti, which is a key link in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- Furthermore, reports suggest that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is planning an expansion of its logistics base for non-peacekeeping missions, raising the possibility of an operational overlap with the Indian Navy’s areas of interest.
- As some see it, Djibouti portends a future where China would control key nodes skirting important shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, allowing the PLA’s Navy (PLAN) to dominate the security dynamic.
(c) Growing Presence of South Asian Navies:
- Meanwhile, South Asian navies have been making their presence felt in the seas of the subcontinent.
- In a quest for regional prominence, Sri Lanka has positioned itself as a facilitator of joint regional endeavours, expanding engagement with Pacific powers which includes the Royal Australian Navy and the U.S. Navy.
- With China’s assistance, Pakistan too is becoming an increasingly potent actor in the northern Indian Ocean, a key region of Indian interest.
- Beijing has also been instrumental in strengthening the navies of Bangladesh and Myanmar, both increasingly active participants in regional security initiatives.
- In these circumstances, India has had little option but to intensify its own naval engagements in South Asia.
The Importance of Partnerships:
- The Indian Navy is widely acknowledged as the most capable regional maritime force in the Indian Ocean Region.
- Furthermore, the Indian Navy has played a prominent role in the fight against non-traditional challenges in the Indian Ocean.
- While its contribution to the counter-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (including in cyclone-hit Mozambique) has been substantial, a paucity of assets and capacity has forced the Navy to seek partners willing to invest resources in joint security endeavours.
- Partnerships are vital to the Indian Navy’s other key undertaking: deterring Chinese undersea deployments in South Asia.
- For New Delhi, China’s expanding submarine forays in the Indian Ocean indicate Beijing’s strategic ambitions in India’s neighbourhood.
- Experts reckon that the PLAN has been studying the operating environment in the Indian Ocean in a larger endeavour to develop capabilities for sustained operations in the littorals.
- As a result, the Indian Navy’s recent bilateral exercises have focussed on under-sea surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.
Reduced Visibility of Chinese Submarines:
- Sightings of Chinese submarines have decreased, which has led some to conclude that Beijing is moving to scale down its maritime operations in the Indian Ocean.
- After a ‘reset’ of sorts in ties following the Wuhan summit last year (2018), some observers believe that India and China are on a collaborative path.
- As a matter of fact, New Delhi’s silence on China’s continuing aggression in the South China Sea, and Indian warships being sent for the Chinese fleet review in Qingdao (in April, 2019) do suggest a conciliatory stance.
- Yet, reduced visibility of Chinese submarines does not necessarily prove absence.
- The truth, as some point out, is that PLAN is on a quest to master undersea ‘quieting’ technologies and its new submarines are stealthier than ever.
- The reason they are not being frequently sighted is because Chinese submarines are quieter and craftier than earlier.
- For its part, China has been downplaying its strategic interests in South Asia. It is concerned that too much talk about its growing naval power could prove detrimental to the cause of promoting the BRI.
- As a matter of fact, alarm at the recent BRI summit over Chinese ‘debt traps’ has led Beijing to revise some infrastructure projects.
- Further, India’s refusal to participate in the BRI may have also prompted China to rethink its economic and military strategies in the Indian Ocean.
A Focus on Africa:
- It is important to note that Beijing hasn’t indicated any change of plan in West Asia and the east coast of Africa, where most of China’s energy and resource shipments originate.
- Chinese investments in port infrastructure in Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Mozambique have grown at a steady pace, even as PLAN has sought to expand its presence in the western Indian Ocean.
- In response, India has moved to deepen its own regional engagement, seeking naval logistical access to French bases in Reunion and Djibouti, where the second phase of ‘Varuna’ will be held later in the month of May, 2019.
- India’s Indian Ocean focus makes for an essentially defensive posture.
- Notwithstanding improvements in bilateral and trilateral naval engagements, it hasn’t succeeded in leveraging partnerships for strategic gains.
- Lastly, with India’s political leadership reluctant to militarise the Quadrilateral grouping or to expand naval operations in the Western Pacific, the power-equation with China remains skewed in favour of the latter.
- Critics point out that for all its rhetoric surrounding the ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’, New Delhi is yet to take a stand on a ‘rules-based order’ in littoral-Asia.
- Critics also point out that wariness for sustained operations in China’s Pacific backyard has rendered the Indian Navy’s regional strategy a mere ‘risk management’ tactic, with limited approach to shape events in littoral-Asia.
Note to the Students:
- This topic also falls under the realm of GS-3 (Internal Security).
- This analysis is taken from the Hindu Business Line published on the 16th of May, 2019.
The Spectre of ethnic violence in Sri Lanka:
- The people of Sri Lanka have shown courage, wisdom and resilience in recovering from the traumatic effects of the country’s brutal ethnic conflict between 1983 and 2010.
- As a matter of fact, an estimated 47,000 Tamil civilians, 27,000 LTTE members, 50,000 Sinhala civilians, 23,790 Sri Lankan soldiers and 1,500 members of the Indian Peace Keeping Force laid down their lives, during the conflict.
- The Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, however, did not affect the lives of “Indian Tamils” in Southern Sri Lanka, whose ancestors had migrated, as plantation workers, during British rule.
- There have, however, been recent incidents of religious tensions between the Sinhala Buddhist clergy and radicalised elements in the Muslim minority.
- Sri Lanka’s relatively small Christian minority, which is peaceful and relatively affluent, had steered clear of getting drawn into any ethnic conflict.
- In these circumstances, the world was shocked to learn that in the midst of holy Easter Sunday church services on April 21st, 2019, churches in Colombo, Negombo and even the eastern port of Tamil dominated Batticaloa, were hit by bomb explosions.
- Three hotels housing a large number of western tourists in Colombo were also targeted. As many as 253 innocent people perished in the carnage.
- The “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) soon claimed responsibility for the attack, contradicting President Trump’s claims that the terrorist outfit had been “100 per cent” crushed in Syria.
- It soon emerged that the mastermind behind the blasts was a rabidly fundamentalist Sri Lankan Tamil, Maulvi Mohammad Zahran Hashim, who was from the town of Kathankudy, in Sri Lanka’s Tamil dominated eastern province.
Intelligence Provided by India:
- Indian intelligence agencies had provided timely warnings to the Sri Lankan Government about an impending terrorist strike by the ISIS.
- Unfortunately, these warnings were not seriously taken note of by the Sri Lanka Government.
- It is, however, imperative that India keeps in touch discreetly with the Sri Lankan Government.
- Experts opine that we are evidently seeing the beginnings of long-term internal and regional problems and challenges, as ISIS members disperse and regroup, after being ousted from Iraq and Syria, like Al Qaeda and the Taliban did, after American militarily intervention in Afghanistan.
- As the ISIS targets in Sri Lanka were the country’s peaceful Christian community and western (Christian) tourists, the bomb attacks sent ripples across the West, as the attacks came soon after the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand, during their Sunday prayers.
The Radicalisation drive in Sri Lanka:
- Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, which has done well economically in the Island, has lived in peace with both Buddhist Sinhalas and Hindu Tamils.
- Recent studies, however, indicate that some years before the bombings, sections of Tamil Muslims from the eastern province were getting radicalised in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries.
- Zahran Hashim was one of those so influenced by radical Islamist practices and beliefs. Cutting across ethnic differences, Hashim made common cause with Sinhala Muslims, including two sons of a Muslim business tycoon in Colombo, who had been deeply influenced by the ISIS.
- Both the sons died in suicide bomb blasts, even as the wife of another bomber detonated explosives in a suicide bombing the same day, resulting in the deaths of three police personnel.
- The Sri Lanka bomb blasts were thus executed by young radicals, cutting across the ethnic divide.
The ‘spreading-out’ of radicalized elements:
- Moreover, there are now signs that an estimated 75-100 Indian Muslims, who were with the ISIS in Syria, have dispersed and chosen escape routes, including through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Hashim has also reportedly established close institutional links with a counterpart group in Coimbatore and with people in other parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- There are now indications that after being forced out of Iraq and Syria, ISIS fighters have now dispersed across Asia, Africa and even to parts of Europe.
- While the Osama bin Laden-led Al Qaeda made it clear that its struggle was against “Jews and Crusaders,” the ISIS targets all non-Muslims, as was evident from its brutal killings of Indians in Iraq.
- Moreover, the Al Qaeda operated primarily out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, apart from select Arab countries. Al Qaeda’s leadership was predominantly Arab. It had very few members from other parts of the world.
- Experts opine that the ISIS poses a much more serious challenge to India than the Al Qaeda ever did, primarily because it has recruited its fighters from countries across Europe, Asia and Africa.
- It is important to note that President George Bush praised India because not a single Indian joined or backed Al Qaeda. However, things are different with ISIS, which regards India as a part of the “Islamic State of Khorasan”.
- Over 100 Indians are estimated to have joined the ISIS.
Extending its reach to India?
- The reach of ISIS across India is evident from its links with extremists in Kashmir, apart from those established in the recent past, in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- Radicalisation in our southern States poses new and serious security challenges.
- ISIS also acknowledges its links with associates, across India’s maritime frontiers in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It also has a growing presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- India will also have to take note of the distinct possibility of ISIS attempting to take advantage of tensions arising out of the Rohingya refugee crisis.
- A senior Myanmar official recently revealed that even as ISIS was losing influence in Iraq and Syria, its supporters were moving into Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where Rohingyas reside.
- Many Rohingya refugees, now in Bangladesh, could well make common cause with ISIS and with members of Pakistani backed militant outfits like the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen, to destabilise the situation along the common borders of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- It is important to also note here that Pakistan has had an abiding interest in destabilising the Sheikh Hasina-led Government in Bangladesh.
- Apart from having to deal with continuing Pakistan sponsored terrorism, India will now also have to keep a watch on challenges that would likely arise from the ISIS, with its emerging presence in the southern States.
- Like in Sri Lanka, ISIS activities could target selected sections of the population in India, while seeking to radicalise them.
- They will pose a challenge to internal security in India.
- Lastly, Pakistan could be expected to use the challenges posed by ISIS, to absolve itself of responsibility on actions of its trained jihadis, on Indian soil and in Bangladesh.
- Experts opine that the recent trend in the Honourable Supreme Court of India is to rely more on the sociological school of jurisprudence and less on the positivist school.
- In other words, the Honourable Supreme Court is resorting more to judicial activism rather than judicial restraint, which appear to be problematic.
- This is seen in its recent judgments:
- on ordering time limits to burst firecrackers on Diwali, which is a function of the legislature;
- its judgment on linking rivers, for which there is no parliamentary legislation; and
- in its unpredictable decisions in cases relating to freedom of speech and expression, such as the recent one in which a BJP Yuva Morcha leader was asked in the bail order to apologise for sharing a meme, despite the guarantee in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
Types of jurisprudence:
a. Positivist Theory:
- According to the positivist theory laid down by jurists such as Jeremy Bentham and John Austin in the 18th and 19th centuries, and continued by H.L.A Hart, Hans Kelsen and others in the 20th century, law is to be distinguished from morality and religion.
- However bad a particular legislation is, it is law at the end of the day, provided it emanated from a competent legislature (according to the earlier natural law theory, bad law was not law at all).
- In positivist jurisprudence, the centre of gravity of the legal system is statutory law, i.e., law made by the legislature.
- It holds that lawmaking is not the job of the judges, but of the legislature.
- Hence, judges should be restrained and not activist in their approach.
- In view of the well-established principle of separation of powers of the three organs of the state, judges should not perform legislative or executive functions, and each organ of the state should remain within its own domain, in order to avoid chaos.
- Furthermore, it is important to note that the positivist jurisprudence places heavy reliance on the literal rule of construction, because departing from it would give a free handle to each judge to declare the law according to his own notions, and this would result in legal anarchy.
- For example, the Second Judges Case (1993) and Third Judges Case (1998), which created the collegium system of appointment of judges, were not based on any provision in the Constitution.
- It is important to note that Article 124, which prescribes how Supreme Court judges are to be appointed, does not talk of any collegium system.
- Yet, it is the collegium which decides the appointment of judges, despite the founding fathers of the Constitution not envisaging the same anywhere.
- In fact, despite the unanimous will of Parliament in favour of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), the Supreme Court declared the NJAC Act to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it would affect the judiciary’s independence.
b. Sociological Jurisprudence
- On the other hand, sociological jurisprudence, as developed in Europe and the U.S. by jurists such as Rudolph Ritter von Jhering, Eugen Ehrlich, Léon Duguit, François Geny, Roscoe Pound and Jerome New Frank, shifts the centre of gravity of the legal system from statute to laws made by judges. It gives wide discretionary powers to judges to make laws.
- Sociological jurisprudence and natural law have the same problem. Kelsen argued that with natural law, one can prove everything and nothing, and Bentham regarded natural law as metaphysical nonsense. Similar criticisms can be made of sociological jurisprudence, which the Supreme Court seems to be relying on. In other words, the court can lay down anything as law according to its own subjective notions.
- Experts point out that in recent times, the Supreme Court has increasingly adopted the sociological school of jurisprudence in an aggressive manner.
- It is important to note that in a parliamentary democracy, the buck ultimately stops with the citizens, who are represented by Members of Parliament.
- The Supreme Court was never envisaged to perform the role of an unelected, third legislative chamber.
- Experts point out that the Supreme Court is performing this role not in exceptional circumstances, but in its everyday functioning.
- Of all the three organs of the state, it is only the judiciary that can define the limits of all the three organs. This great power must therefore be exercised with humility and self-restraint.
Usage of Sociological Jurisprudence: Rare circumstances
- The usage of sociological jurisprudence can be justified in very rare circumstances, such as in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
- In Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice Hugo Black of the U.S. Supreme Court warned that “unbounded judicial creativity would make this Court into a day-to-day Constitutional Convention”.
- In his book, Nature of the Judicial Process, Justice Cardozo of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, “The Judge is not a knight errant roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness”.
- Further, Chief Justice Neely of the West Virginia State Supreme Court observed: “I have very few illusions about my own limitations as a Judge. I am not an accountant, electrical engineer, financier, banker, stock broker, or systems management analyst. It is the height of folly to expect judges to intelligently review a 5000 page record addressing the intricacies of a public utility operation. It is not the function of a judge to sit as a super board or with the zeal of a pedantic schoolmaster substituting his own judgment for that of an administrator.”
- In conclusion, the Supreme Court should limit its usage of the sociological school of jurisprudence to only the most exceptional situations, and employ the positivist school as far as possible.
What’s in the news?
- The recent case concerning a BJP Yuva Morcha functionary being arrested in West Bengal for sharing a morphed image of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demonstrates how wrong and needlessly oppressive legal processes can turn out to be.
Narration of events: A Critic’s Perspective
- The police in Howrah registered a case and arrested Priyanka Sharma under irrelevant and non-existent provisions.
- A magistrate showed little application of mind while remanding her to judicial custody, and even the Supreme Court, while ordering her immediate release, did not recognise sufficiently the perverse manner in which the law was being used.
- Experts opine that it is a matter of some consolation that the apex court observed a day later that the arrest was arbitrary and pulled up the West Bengal government for delaying Ms. Sharma’s release for technical reasons.
- The police, apparently realising that there was no offence in the first place, has filed a closure report terming the complaint a ‘mistake of fact’.
- Critics opine that this is a reflection of the level of acrimony between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP in the midst of a violence-marred, multi-phase election that the police entertained a complaint from a Trinamool Congress activist and booked Ms. Sharma for criminal defamation and offences under the provisions of the Information Technology Act.
- It is possible that some considered the morphed image — in which Ms. Banerjee’s face was appended to an actor’s photograph at a museum event in New York — defamatory. However, it is unclear how the police could arrest someone for defamation based on a third party’s complaint.
- A cyber-crime police station handled the case, apparently because it involved Section 66-A of the IT Act, a provision declared unconstitutional in 2015, and Section 67-A, which can be used only when sexually explicit material is transmitted in electronic form.
- Thus, experts opine that what was at best a case of defamation, a non-cognisable and bailable offence, was projected as a cyber-crime with the sole aim of getting the accused remanded.
- While magistrates are often known to act mechanically — although that is no excuse for remanding the accused in this case — it is disconcerting that a Bench of the Supreme Court ventured to advise her to apologise for sharing the image on Facebook.
Tendering an apology in writing:
- Critics assert that the court included a gratuitous sentence in its order that “the detenu shall, however, at the time of release, tender an apology in writing”.
- Experts opine that the inclusion of an apology requirement gives the impression that the court was more concerned about cooling frayed tempers than about the blatant misuse of the law.
Continued invocation of Section 66-A:
- Another disconcerting aspect is that the police continue to invoke Section 66-A.
- In January, 2019 the apex court sought the Centre’s response on a petition that claimed that police officials were unaware that the section is no more on the statute book.
- In conclusion, as the main issue of freedom of expression thrown up by this case is going to be heard in detail later, it is hoped the aberrant developments so far will give way to a reasoned verdict.
- Tea Research Association (TRA) has introduced artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology aimed at improving quality.
- The objective is to improve accuracy and reduce time.
- Fine leaf count (FLC) determines the presence of the two (or three) leaves and a bud in a batch, which go towards enhancing quality.
- The technology has been developed through collaboration between TRA and Agnext, a start-up which was incubated by IIT Kharagpur.
- The machine, called TRA Agnext QualiteaProfiler (QTP), developed through this technology would help determine the ‘fine leaf’ of a tea batch ‘without human intervention.’
- Indian Coast Guard Ship Vigraha, which has been the frontline offshore patrol vessel of the Indian Coast Guard, is decommissioned from service.
- ICGS Vigraha was the seventh Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) built by Mazagaon Docks Ltd in Mumbai.
- It was commissioned on April 12, 1990.
- The ‘Christchurch Call to Action’ agreement came in the backdrop of the attacks on mosques on March 15 and is aimed at stopping abuse of the Internet by extremists.
- The meeting held in Paris was attended by representatives of online giants like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.
- “The dissemination of such content online has adverse impacts on the human rights of the victims, on our collective security and on people all over the world,” declared a statement issued by the 17 signatory countries including India.
G. Prelims Facts
- On a Zero Shadow Day, there will be almost no visible shadow seen. This is because the sun will be at its zenith or the highest point in the arc it describes over Earth.
- The phenomenon occurs twice a year as the sun traces its path to the Tropic of Cancer and then retraces its path towards the south.
- Usually, the sun transits by small margins towards the north or south around noon. But on Zero Shadow Day, it will be exactly overhead.
- For every point on Earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, there are two ZSDs a year.
- The ZSD is restricted to locations between the tropics; places north of Ranchi in India are out of it.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Q1) Which of the following pairs are incorrectly matched?
a. Lipulekh Pass – Uttarakhand
b. Nathu La – Sikkim
c. Shipki La – Himachal Prades
d. Zoji La – Arunachal Pradesh
Q2) Which of the following was the first princely state to enter into a subsidiary alliance with the British?
Q3) Consider the following statements:
- Gender Inequality Index is released by United Nations Development Program.
- It is based on reproductive health, empowerment, and economic status.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q4) The Jain philosophy holds that the world is created and maintained by
a. Universal truth
b. Universal law
c. Universal faith
d. Universal love
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Though the number of cyclones is more in the Bay of Bengal, why is the share of tropical cyclones increasing in the Arabian Sea? (15 Marks, 250 Words)
- What is Pacific Decadal Oscillation? Explain its relevance to India. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
Read previous CNA.