TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Govt. unveils centre for data analytics C. GS3 Related HEALTH 1. First human case of rat virus found D. GS4 Related E. Editorials POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Freedom to pray 2. The poor are left to themselves 3. Dumping an archaic law F. Tidbits 1. Facebook says up to 50 mn accounts breached in attack 2. Liquidity remains a critical challenge 3. RBI cracks down on Bandhan Bank for violating norm 4. Centre cuts borrowing target by ₹72,000 cr. 5. Govt. creates high-level group to advise on boosting trade 6. RBI draft warns of action for market abuse 7. Terrorism is largest threat to peace in S. Asia: Sushma 8. Rights panel poses questions on rehab centres in Rajasthan 9. Green learning: language grows on trees in this plot 10. River pollution: NGT directs States to act 11. Assam to introduce methanol as cooking fuel 12. Not a crackdown on dissent, says SC 13. DD, AIR to run warnings against mob lynching G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- National Informatics Centre (NIC), in a joint initiative with National Informatics Centre Services Incorporated (NICSI) has set up CEDA.
- It will aid in fast-tracking the adoption of advanced analytics in government.
- It has been created to support government departments to unlock the hidden potential of the data that they are generating as a part of the governance processes, and use it to improve the overall governance. It will provide world class data analytics services to the Government.
- CEDA proposes to establish strong partnerships with academia and industry to ensure that the cutting edge technologies and quality expertise are brought in to help the Government take advantage of the booming analytic wave.
It aims at providing following services to Government:
- Data Quality Assurance Services –. The centre will provide data profiling tools and techniques and necessary expertise to analyze the data for quality issues.
- CEDA will implement knowledge repository to collect learnings from across projects and share best practices across initiatives and will ensure usage of best practices in across the government.
- CEDA will help ministries in assessing impact from the analytics solutions and help in understanding changes to organizational roles and responsibilities
- It is a premier technology advisor and ICT solution provider to Government at all levels, has always taken the first step to introduce the latest technologies and services in government, be it the introduction of ICT in Government, establishment of NICNET or National Knowledge Network (NKN), development of critical e-Governance solutions and a host of other services required by the Government.
- NICSI is a trusted partner of NIC and has been instrumental in supporting all NIC’s initiatives through provisioning of resources and establishing & managing ICT infrastructure such as National Data Center at Shastri Park, Development Center, Cloud infrastructure etc.
C. GS3 Related
- A man has developed the world’s first ever human case of the rat version of the hepatitis E virus.
- There had previously been no evidence the disease could jump from rats to humans, to cause clinical infection.
- The disease was found in a 56-year-old man who persistently produced abnormal liver function tests following a liver transplant.
- He could have contracted the illness through food infected by rat droppings.
- Rat hepatitis E virus is very distantly related to human hepatitis E virus variants.
- It has a major public health significance.
- Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by infection with a virus known as hepatitis E virus (HEV).
- Every year, there are an estimated 20 million HEV infections worldwide, leading to an estimated 3.3 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E.
- WHO estimates that hepatitis E caused approximately 44 000 deaths in 2015 (accounting for 3.3% of the mortality due to viral hepatitis).
- The virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated water.
- Hepatitis E is found worldwide, but the prevalence is highest in East and South Asia.
- Two different patterns are observed, where hepatitis E is found in: resource-poor areas with frequent water contamination; and areas with safe drinking water supplies.
- A vaccine to prevent hepatitis E virus infection has been developed and is licensed in China, but is not yet available elsewhere.
- Prevention is the most effective approach against the disease. At the population level, transmission of HEV and hepatitis E disease can be reduced by:
- maintaining quality standards for public water supplies;
- establishing proper disposal systems for human feces.
- On an individual level, infection risk can be reduced by:
- maintaining hygienic practices such as hand-washing with safe water, particularly before handling food;
- avoiding consumption of water and/or ice of unknown purity; and
- adhering to WHO safe food practices.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- Recently, the Supreme Court’s ruled, in a 4:1 majority, that the exclusionary practice of women in the 10-50 age group from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, violates the rights of women devotees.
- The apex court was assessing the constitutionality of the Sabarimala custom of excluding women in their ‘menstruating years’. The custom was allowed by Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Act, 1965.
- It is believed that this verdict of the Supreme Court establishes the legal principle that individual freedom prevails over purported group rights, even in matters of religion.
- It is important to note that the state of Kerala had supported the entry of women into the temple, arguing that the “custom” of excluding women violated their rights.
- However, on the other hand, the Travancore Devaswom Board had supported the custom of not allowing women into the temple, saying that temples across the country do not allow women who are menstruating. The Ayyappa Seva Sangham had argued that the court has to find a way to uphold this custom so that other “similar customs” are not disturbed.
A look at the majority view:
- The majority held that devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that the prohibition on women is not an essential part of Hindu religion.
A look at the dissenting view:
- Justice Indu Malhotra was the lone dissenting voice.
- Justice Indu Malhotra chose not to review the religious practice on the touchstone of gender equality or individual freedom.
- Her view that the court “cannot impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship of a deity” accorded greater importance to the idea of religious freedom as being mainly the preserve of an institution rather than an individual’s right.
- She asserted that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the court.
- Further, she went on to add that the court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion. What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court.
- In conclusion, the Court has attempted to grapple with the stigmatisation of women devotees that is largely based on a medieval view of menstruation as symbolising impurity and pollution.
- To Chief Justice Dipak Misra, any rule based on segregation of women pertaining to biological characteristics is indefensible and unconstitutional.
- Further, devotion cannot be subjected to the stereotypes of gender.
- Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asserted that stigma built around traditional notions of impurity has no place in the constitutional order, and exclusion based on the notion of impurity is a form of untouchability.
- CJI Misra also went on to add that the devotees of Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination.
- Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said the fundamental rights claimed by worshippers based on ‘custom and usage’ must yield to the fundamental right of women to practise religion. The decision reaffirms the Constitution’s transformative character and derives strength from the centrality it accords to fundamental rights.
Note to Students:
Note to the Students: This is part of a continuing series of editorials on the Aadhar. We have had editorials that have looked into various aspects of the recent Supreme Court judgement which upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhar. This particular editorial looks at another dimension which hasn’t been touched upon in detail in the previous editorial releases. This dimension is that of inclusion and exclusion.
The issue surrounding the constitutional validity of the Aadhar has been an important topic over the past few days.
From a UPSC point of view there are a few important areas to cover in this article. These are: 1) The idea of Aadhar 2) The concept of a Money Bill (Article 110)
3) The issues concerning data privacy of an individual
4) The operational challenges faced during the implementation of the scheme
Here we have suitably signposted the Editorial Analysis into multiple headings.
“The News”: This covers the central idea/news which is the subject of our study. This can be the occurrence of a certain event such as the launch of a new Government Scheme, the passage of a particular Act of Parliament, the commencement of an international dialogue, observations made by the Courts of our country, etc.
“Larger Background”: The talks about the broader context of the issue, taking into consideration specific points that may have been featured in previous editions of The Hindu. The thought process behind including this section is to give a ‘storyline’ approach to an aspirant when he/she goes through this topic.
“Editorial Analysis”: This particular section gives an insight towards the specific points covered in the specific editorial/opinion section that is the subject of our study.
“The Way Forward/Concluding Remarks”: This sections gives aspirants concluding points that are taken from the article in question as well as some forwarding looking points taken from other articles, as and when required.
The important aspect to note here is that the issue being discussed in the news assumes priority over just the article. Thus, such a coverage of an editorial would give aspirants a broader, more comprehensive view of the topic.
- The News:
- In a recent judgement by the Supreme Court of India, four out of five judges on a Constitution Bench ruled that the law enabling the implementation of the unique identification programme (Aadhar) does not violate the right to privacy of citizens.
- The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and clarified areas in which it cannot be made mandatory.
- The court is of the view that the project empowers marginalised sections and procures dignity for them along with services, benefits and subsidies by leveraging the power of technology.
- Larger Background:
- It is important to note that the Aadhaar Act was passed as a money bill.
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha had classified this bill as a money bill.
What is a Money Bill?
- A Bill is said to be a Money Bill if it only contains provisions related to
- borrowing of money by the government,
- expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India. Bills that only contain provisions that are incidental to these matters would also be regarded as Money Bills.
- A Money Bill may only be introduced in Lok Sabha. This is done so on the recommendation of the President.
- It must be passed in Lok Sabha by a simple majority of all members present and voting. Following this, it may be sent to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendations, which Lok Sabha may reject if it chooses to.
- If such recommendations are not given within 14 days, it will deemed to be passed by Parliament.
What is a Financial Bill?
- A Bill that contains some provisions related to taxation and expenditure, and additionally contains provisions related to any other matter is called a Financial Bill. Therefore, if a Bill merely involves expenditure by the government, and addresses other issues, it will be a financial bill.
- A Financial Bill may only be introduced in Lok Sabha, on the recommendation of the President. The Bill must be passed by both Houses of Parliament, after the President has recommended that it be taken up for consideration in each House.
- It is important to note that the Rajya Sabha has no power to reject or amend a Money Bill. However, a Financial Bill must be passed by both Houses of Parliament.
- The Speaker certifies a Bill as a Money Bill, and the Speaker’s decision is final.
- In recent times, the unique identification programme was projected by sceptics, detractors and activists as an intrusion on citizens’ privacy.
- Many sceptics were of the opinion that the Aadhar was a grand project to appropriate personal data for commercial exploitation by private parties and profiling by the state.
- Last year, 2017, a nine-judge Bench had unanimously ruled that privacy is a fundamental right.
- Ever since this decision by the Supreme Court, opinion began to spread that the unique identification programme was vulnerable in the face of judicial scrutiny.
- On studying this judgement, one draws the conclusion that the Supreme Court has restored the original intent of the programme, which is to plug leakages in subsidy schemes and to have better targeting of welfare benefits.
- Over the past few years, the Aadhaar came to play a large role in the lives of ordinary people.
- The Aadhaar has acquired the shape of a basic identity document that was required to access services, such as:
a) birth and death certificates,
- b) SIM cards,
- c) school admissions,
- d) property registrations and
e) vehicle purchases.
- The recent judgment of the Supreme Court narrows the scope of Aadhaar but provides a framework within which it can work.
- This judgement has two views,
a) The majority opinion
- b) The dissenting opinion/judgement
The majority opinion:
- The majority opinion has sought to limit the import of the scheme to aspects directly related to welfare benefits, subsidies and money spent from the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Relying on official statistics, the majority favoured the scheme’s continuance for the sake of the 99.76% of people included under the scheme, rather than show anxiety over the 0.24% who were excluded because of authentication failure.
- The Bench made an important statement by saying that “The remedy is to plug the loopholes rather than axe the project,”.
A few implications of the majority opinion:
- The various controversial circulars and rules making it mandatory to
link mobile phone numbers and bank accounts to Aadhaar numbers have been declared unconstitutional.
- Further, Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016, has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporates and individuals to use the Aadhaar number to establish someone’s identity.
- Schools have been barred from making the submission of the Aadhaar number mandatory to enrol children.
- A few other provisions have also been read down or clarified.
- Justice DY Chandrachud in his dissenting judgement said that the “Aadhaar allows constructing profiles of individuals, which is against the right to privacy and enables potential surveillance,”.
- Justice Chandrachud said: “Bypassing Rajya Sabha to pass Aadhaar Act amounts to subterfuge and the law can be struck down.”
- He further observed that the Aadhaar cannot be treated as money bill and passing a bill as money bill which is not a money bill is a fraud on the Constitution,”.
- Justice Chandrachud said if Aadhaar is seeded with every database then there is chance of infringement of right to privacy. He said there was absence of regulatory mechanism to provide robust data protection.
- He went on to add that allowing private players to use Aadhaar will lead to profiling which could be used to ascertain political views of citizens.
- Having said this, he agreed with the majority decision that mobile companies cannot insist on Aadhaar.
- He also highlighted that biometric authentication failures have led to denial of rights and legal entitlements. He sighted the reason for such failures in the project’s inability to account for and remedy flaws in its network and design.
- It is important to note that while a dissenting judgement has no force of law, it leaves open the possibility of being referred to a larger bench at a later stage.
- He further ruled that the denial of benefits arising out of any social security rights is “violative of human dignity and impermissible under our constitutional scheme”.
- He also observed that there was no institutional responsibility of the UIDAI to protect the data of citizens.
Constitutional grounds for “reasonable restrictions”
- Although the Honourable Supreme Court of India had observed that the Right to Privacy would be now recognized as a Fundamental Right under Part III of the Constitution of India.
- This was observed under the K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) case.
- But the nine-judge Bench had left open the question of Aadhaar.
- Crucially, the point before the Court was whether the “national security” perspective and “social welfare state” perspective provided constitutional grounds for “reasonable restrictions” (reasonable because non-arbitrary).
Here, “national security” perspective refers to the the vital role of surveillance to curb terror and prevent money laundering and crime financing.
Social welfare state” perspective refers to how Aadhaar ensured that subsidies went to the right people.
The issue of contention: Passing the Aadhar as a Money Bill:
- From this issue, one thing that has emerged is the question of finality of the Speaker’s decision on what amounts to a Money Bill under Article 110(3) of the Constitution.
- There are two competing views that emerge here. These are:
1) An Expansionist View
2) A Contractionist View
- The Expansionist view, while acknowledging the high constitutional status of the Speaker, suggests that any bill which involves recourse to Consolidated Fund of India is a Money Bill, and the charge levelled is that the finality of the Speaker’s decision is virtually unchallengeable.
- The Contractionist view suggests that just like all constitutional functionaries, the Speaker is bound to exercise the discretion reasonably;
- The fact that increasingly one observes that a large number of bills are being tagged as Money Bills sets a dangerous precedent because it removes the rationale for bicameral legislatures.
- From a critical standpoint, Justice Chandrachud fully dissents and holds the law invalid as a “fraud on the Constitution”, asserting that it is a colourable exercise of constitutional power.
- Importantly, Justice Chandrachud holds that the decision to give the Aadhaar Bill the status of a Money Bill violates the principle of bicameralism and an aspect of federalism. It is important to note that the principle of bicameralism is declared as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India.
III. Editorial Analysis:
- Experts have cited certain lapses when it comes to the implementation of the Aadhar. There have been instances where owing to the cancellation of a family’s ration card by the State government because of not linking it to the Aadhaar, people have lost their lives out of hunger.
- It is important to note that, as a percentage of the population, the number of people excluded from getting Aadhaar, may be small, but they happen to be the most vulnerable sections of our society. They include, bed-ridden old persons, victims of accidents, people with visual disabilities, etc.
- Further, critics allege that there is a misconception that for millions of Indians, it is the only (or first) ID they have. They assert that according to a response to an RTI, 99.97% of those who got Aadhaar numbers did so on the basis of existing IDs.
The Aadhar and PDS: A Critical Look
- It is important to note that each government programme has its own eligibility criterion.
- In the Public Distribution System (PDS), there are State-specific inclusion/exclusion criteria.
- In certain States, if you have a government job or live in a concrete/pucca home, even if you have an Aadhaar card. you cannot get a PDS ration card.
- Alternatively, if one lived in a mud hut or were an Adivasi, one would get a PDS ration card. After the induction of the Aadhaar, on top of satisfying the State eligibility criteria, one would need to procure and link one’s Aadhaar number in order to continue to remain eligible for your PDS ration card.
- Crucially, before the Aadhaar was made mandatory, on one hand, one could get subsidised PDS grain without Aadhaar and on the other hand, possessing Aadhaar alone did not entitle one to PDS grain. However, with Aadhaar being made compulsory, it has become necessary, but it is not sufficient to get welfare.
- Critics allege that this perspective wasn’t given much attention.
The Scope for Corruption: Does it still persist?
Quantity fraud continues with Aadhaar-based biometric authentication.
What is Quantity fraud?: It is a type of fraud wherein a beneficiary is sold less than his/her entitlement, but signs off on the full amount.
In conclusion, critics allege that those who benefit from these programmes and who understand why Aadhaar cannot improve inclusion do not have a voice in the media or policy-making.
Recently, the Supreme Court decriminalised the offence of adultery by holding Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) unconstitutional.
A Note on Section 497 in The Indian Penal Code:
- This section deals with Adultery.
- Specifically, whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
- Until a few days ago, India was one of the few countries in the world that still considered adultery an offence.
- This draconian law punished the adultering man, or rather ‘the outsider’, for having extra-marital relations with a woman who he knows to be married.
- Further, this was only deemed to have been an offence if the husband had not consented to this relation- thus, implicitly suggesting that the wife was the property of her husband.
- Hence, the husband was considered to be the “victim” of adultery and could file a case. Unfortunately, the same recourse was, however, not available to the wife.
- Thus, as the law previously stood, in this offence, the victim would be the husband alone, whose property (i.e. the wife) was trespassed upon.
Arguments for retaining the provision:
The main argument for retaining the criminal provision was that:
- The outsider should be punished for breaching the matrimonial unit and that the law should mandate punishment for such a moral wrong.
- It was this violation that was seen as a crime against the institution of marriage.
- This crime against the institution of marriage thus justified it to be a breach of security and well-being of society.
Observations by the Court:
- The court observed that the issue of adultery between spouses was a private matter.
- Further, it observed that it could be a ground for divorce under civil law.
- It did not warrant the use of criminal sanction against any party involved.
- Moreover, no justification can be given by the state for penalising people with imprisonment for making intimate and personal choices.
- The Supreme Court dismissed the regressive patriarchal notion of women being the property of their husband. The court held that Section 497, as it existed, denied women ownership of their sexuality and agency over their own relationships.
- Further, the court relied on K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India to explain this deprivation of autonomy as a violation of their right to privacy and to live with dignity, which is thus violative of their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- The adultery provision also violated the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14. The court observed that women were treated as passive entities, and possessions of their husband.
The idea of Equality:
- Section 497 consumed the identity of a wife, as an individual with rights as an equal partner to the marriage, tipping the scales to favour the husband.
- The court further explained: “Marriage in a constitutional regime is founded on the equality of and between spouses. Each of them is entitled to the same liberty which Part III [of the Constitution] guarantees.”
- As a consequence to the above, not affording both parties to a marriage equal rights and opportunities would be discriminatory and a violation of their right to equality.
- Facebook announced that up to 50 million accounts were breached in a security flaw exploited by hackers.
- The attack allowed the hackers to steal access tokens, the equivalent of digital keys that enable them to access the accounts.
- The breach is the latest privacy embarrassment for Facebook, which earlier this year acknowledged that tens of millions of users had personal data hijacked by a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016.
- Facebook has fixed the vulnerability and informed law enforcement.
- As a precaution, Facebook is temporarily taking down the “view as” feature — described as a privacy tool to let user see how their own profiles would look to other people.
- Facebook took an additional precautionary step of resetting access tokens for another 40 million accounts where the vulnerable feature was used. This will require those users to log back in to Facebook.
- There is a need to continue developing new tools to prevent this from happening in the first place (preventive measures).
- Rates may have eased in the shorter-end with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) relaxing the SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) norms but liquidity, especially in the longer-end, is a challenge.
- Nobody is willing to lend long term.
- Liquidity has been tight for the last one year.
- Money has become dearer and dearer over the last 12 months.
- This is probably the culmination of lack of depth in the debt market and the absence of long-term funding.
- The lack of a broader understanding of the different elements of NBFC in the market. NBFCs are so unbelievably heterogeneous. A one shoe fits all approach will not work.
- There is a dire need to develop and deepen the debt market.
- This is a country that is hungry for infrastructure investment. The government has to make it attractive for people to come in with longer-term money through innovative tax structures, incentives and other modes.
- The future growth of the country’s economy is predicated hugely on infrastructure and housing.
- From the point of view job creation and affordable housing for all , these were the two big pillars. There has to a strong base resource for these two sectors.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cracked the whip on Bandhan Bank freezing the remuneration of its MD and CEO Chandra Shekhar Ghosh for not bringing down promoters’ shareholding in the bank to 40% within three years of operations as mandated by it while granting the bank licence.
- RBI had also barred the Kolkata-based lender from opening new branches. The bank has to take RBI’s prior approval for opening branches.
- There is a three-layered structure for the group. Bandhan Financial Services holds 100% stake in Bandhan Financial Holdings which is the non-operative financial holding company and also the promoter of Bandhan Bank with a 82.28% stake.
- The bank started operations on August 23, 2015.
- Bandhan Bank was listed at the end of March this year following an Initial Public Offering.
- While Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) norms ban promoters’ stake sale for one year after listing, since the lender was aware of the RBI’s licensing conditions, it should have timed its IPO accordingly.
- The government has decided to reduce its borrowing requirement for the year by ₹72,000 crore and the borrowing target for the October to March period has been set at ₹2.47 lakh crore.
- The reduction of ₹72,000 crore will be managed by a mix of reducing buy-back as well as additional flows from small savings schemes.
- Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu has approved the constitution of a high-level advisory group (HLAG) to look into the opportunities and ways to address the ongoing challenges in the global trade scenario.
- The terms of reference (ToR) of the HLAG are to examine the prevailing international trade dynamics, including, but not confined to, the rising protectionist tendencies, especially on the part of major economies, non-engagement by some countries on outstanding trade negotiation issues and commitments, including the Doha Development Agenda, and their insistence on pursuing negotiating mandates, in many cases prematurely and without efforts, to build consensus and common understanding.
- The government added that the HLAG would meet regularly over the next two months and make specific implementable recommendations in light of the terms of reference, including on each of the areas, to facilitate the formulation of future trade policies.
- The HLAG will be chaired by, among others, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Member Surjit Bhalla, and other members will include S. Jaishankar, Former Foreign Secretary and Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, Government of India.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued the draft guidelines on prohibiting market abuse, which propose to debar errant participants from accessing the market.
Reserve Bank of India (Prohibition of Market Abuse) Directions 2018
- The directions, called the Reserve Bank of India (Prohibition of Market Abuse) Directions 2018, define what is market manipulation, benchmark manipulation and misuse of information as well.
- Market participants shall not obtain, or attempt to obtain, or share any unpublished price-sensitive information and they shall also not use price-sensitive customer information for trading on own account or on account of any other entity.
- They should not intentionally create or transmit false or inaccurate information that influences price.
- Participants found guilty of market abuse may be subject to regulatory action, including temporary or permanent stoppage of access to the markets in one or more instruments.
- It has been proposed that the directions will apply to all market participants for financial instruments but shall not apply to transactions or other activities being carried on in furtherance of public policy objectives.
- Terrorism remains the single largest threat to peace and stability in South Asia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told an informal meeting of her counterparts from the region on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
Ms. Sushma Swaraj
- It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support.
- An environment of peace and security is essential for regional cooperation to progress and achieve economic development and prosperity of our people.
- The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise.
- While Ms. Swaraj’s remarks that terrorism was holding up the prospects of South Asian cooperation was pointed at Pakistan, Mr. Qureshi, her Pakistani counterpart, blamed India for blocking regional integration.
- In SAARC’s progress and success and region’s connectivity and prosperity, there is only one obstacle i.e.., the attitude of one nation is making the spirit of SAARC and the spirit of the founding fathers of SAARC unfulfilled and unsuccessful.
- The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission has posed some serious questions to the State government about the authority and permission to run drug rehabilitation centres after the death of a young man during treatment for de-addiction at a centre in Jodhpur.
- The commission has specifically asked about qualifications of persons running such centres.
- The commission’s Chairperson, Justice Prakash Tatia, observed in his order that it was necessary to know whether de-addiction had evolved as an independent subject of medicine and whether specialised treatments were available for different types of addiction.
- The commission directed the State’s Principal Medical & Health Secretary to provide information about the official authority which gives permission for establishing the rehabilitation centres as well as the provision for their monitoring.
- The commission’s enquiry came on a complaint filed at its camp hearing in Jodhpur.
- Complainant Imran Khan stated that his brother Sajid had died during treatment at a rehabilitation centre in the city and the police had launched investigation after registering a case under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.
- The rehabilitation centres, which charged thousands of rupees for treatment, do not even have the basic facilities.
- No qualified persons are available there for consultation and treatment and the Centre’s guidelines are being violated with impunity.
- In what is certainly the first such experiment in the country, and perhaps the world, the eminent linguist Ganesh Devy plans to set up a Global Language Park (bhasha van in Hindi) in Pune.
- It will be located on a one-acre plot on the premises of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).
- Conceptualised as part of the 84th PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) International Congress that is under way in the city, the park will have about 80 ‘language trees.’
- Akin to the concept of a language tree in English grammar, each of the 80 trees will symbolise a major or minor language tree sprouting from the important language families.
- Each tree represents the languages and dialects derived from the family or parent tree.
- The idea is to physically represent 6,000 of the world’s spoken tongues in one space.
- Since it is not viable to plant 6,000 individual trees in the space allotted, they’ve decided to plant 80 trees representing large and small family trees.
- Linguists estimate that the world has more than 140 language families, each with its member-languages and dialects.
- Set to open in January 2019, the park will have a tree-lined walkway. Each plant will be equipped with a ‘bespoke audio tour’ to aid visitors.
- Audio samples of songs, poems, folk tales, sayings, and jokes will be drawn from different world languages.
- Visitors will be given an audio guide with a microphone akin to those in museums.
- During their tour of the park, when they approach each tree that identifies certain languages and dialects, they will hear commentary in the form of poetry and literary snippets stored as audio files on the device.
- Taking suo motu cognisance of a report in The Hindu on the increase in polluted river stretches in the country, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed all States and Union Territories to prepare action plans within two months.
- The pollution control boards had failed to check pollution.
- They have not been able to stop dumping of waste, discharge of effluents in rivers and water bodies.
- The situation is far from satisfactory and action is required to be taken on war footing.
- There has to be meaningful further action to restore the minimum prescribed standards for all the rivers of the country.
- The action plans should aim at improving the polluted stretches for at least bathing purposes.
- The tribunal specified that Chief Secretaries of each State and administrators of UTs will be personally accountable for failure to formulate action plan.
- The bench directed that four-member committees, comprising representatives of State pollution control boards and the State governments, be constituted for preparing and executing the action plans.
- The action plan will include components like identification of polluting sources including functioning or status of sewage treatment plants, common effluent treatment plants, solid waste management and processing facilities, quantification and characterisation of sewage generated in the catchment area of the polluted river stretch.
- The Hindu had reported, quoting data from the Central Pollution Control Board, that the number of polluted river stretches in the country had increased to 351 from 302 over the last two years.
- A 40-member team, including 20 women, will undertake a month-long rafting expedition ‘Mission Ganga’ in October.
- The team would be led by Ms. Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mt. Everest.
- The objective of the “Mission Ganga” is to clean river Ganga and spread awareness on waste management.
- Public sector Assam Petrochemicals Limited is set to introduce – in a first in India – methanol as cleaner, cheaper alternative to liquefied petroleum gas.
- The pilot project involving 500 burners and stoves, each fuelled by a 1.2-litre canister of methanol, will be launched on October 5.
- The Supreme Court, in a majority opinion on Friday, held that the pan-India crackdown and arrests of five activists in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case on August 28 was not an attempt to silence dissent.
- Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar shared the majority view on a three-judge Bench that material evidence did not show that the different political ideology of the activists had triggered the police action against them.
- It was concerned with their link with the members of the banned organisation and its activities.
Dismissal of the petition
- The majority opinion dismissed the writ petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others alleging that the arrest of poet Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha were made under questionable circumstances (an exercise of mala fide powers by the police without any legal evidence).
- The majority view called the allegations vague and unsubstantiated assertions.
- The court rejected the plea for a SC-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the allegations against the activists.
- It extended their house arrest for another four weeks and asked them to seek relief from the lower courts.
- The consistent view of this court is that the accused cannot ask for changing the investigating agency or to do investigation in a particular manner, including for court-monitored investigation.
- Any observations made by the apex court will not prejudice their case.
- In a strong dissent, the third member of the Bench, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud lashed out at the Maharashtra police for prejudicing the investigation and besmirching the reputations of the accused persons.
- Justice Chandrachud said the conduct of the Maharashtra police does not encourage the thought that they will conduct a fair and impartial probe.
- He referred to the press meet held by Maharashtra ADGP during investigation; how the police officer distributed letters, alleging that they reveal the accused’s links with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned organisation; how these letters were telecast on TV.
- The allegation raised by the Maharashtra police at press meets that the five arrested activists were plotting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi was baseless, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed.
- So was the charge by the State government that it had materials suggesting that the activists were purchasing arms from outside the country.
- Holding the petition filed by Ms. Thapar as ‘genuine’, Justice Chandrachud observed that it is the constitutional obligation of the Supreme Court to intervene when there is a ‘derailment’ of investigation.
- Justice Chandrachud highlighted the case of former space scientist S. Nambi Narayanan, who was framed by the Kerala Police in a fake espionage case.
- It took Mr. Narayanan over two decades to prove his innocence. It was only recently the Supreme Court cleared his name and awarded him ₹50 lakh as compensation for wrongful prosecution.
- Justice Chandrachud said it was the Supreme Court itself which said that even ₹50 lakh cannot repair his lost reputation and career.
- The dissenting judge said the investigation should not be delayed, but a SIT should take over the probe from the State police.
- Petitioners who moved the Supreme Court in favour of arrested activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao and others said on Friday that they felt vindicated by Friday’s verdict extending their house arrest for four weeks.
- There are two kinds of terrorism that create fear and undermine the foundations of democracy.
- The violent acts of those described as terrorists, who plant bombs, instigate people to be violent, engineer riots and deliberately spread fear though their acts; and the illegal or unjustified acts of state functionaries who, instead of pursuing the actual perpetrators of violence, misuse their powers to harass those who do not conform to the politics of their current masters.
- Public broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio will run messages cautioning people that mob lynching will invite serious consequences under the law.
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also urged private channels to broadcast such messages.
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. In 1981, in Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib case, Supreme Court gave a judgement and explained the conditions in which ‘other authorities’ can be defined as State. Which of the following is not a condition for an enterprise to be called ‘State’ as per the judgement?
Entire share capital help by government
Most of the financial assistance coming from the state
Working in Public interest
i) and ii) only
ii) and iv) only
i), ii) and iv) only
None of the above
Question 2. Consider the following statements regarding the Preamble of the constitution of India:
It is based on the Objective resolution introduced by Jawahar Lal Nehru on 22 January 1947.
Only Sovereign and Secular words were added to the Preamble by 42nd constitutional
amendment act, 1976.
In Keshavanand Bharti case, Supreme Court held that the Preamble is an integral part of the constitution.
Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?
i) and ii) only
i) and iii) only
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
The Ekka or unity movement was a peasant movement against high rent, oppression of revenue collectors etc.
Madaripasi was a prominent leader of the Ekka movement.
Gauri Shankar Mishra and Indra Narayan Dwivedi were instrumental in setting up Kisan Sabhas.
These peasant movements were by and large peaceful in nature
Choose the incorrect option:
I and II only
II and III only
All of the above
None of the above
Question 4. Public Accounts Committee was established as per the recommendations of:
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
Since 2017, there have been at least 25 hunger deaths that can be traced to Aadhaar-related disruption in rations and pensions. In light of the above statement, critically analyse the significance of Aadhaar.
Discuss the challenges to internal security in India.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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