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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 May 2018


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 May 2018


 

Paper 1:

Topic: Issues related to women.

 

Domestic Violence Act applies after divorce too

 

Context: The Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that the Domestic Violence Act, intended to safeguard women against marital abuse, will apply even after divorce. The court observed that the act extends to all man-woman relationships, and also protects divorced women from their former husbands.

  • The apex court has upheld Rajasthan High Court’s interpretation that ‘domestic relationship’ is not confined to the “relationship as husband and wife or a relationship in the nature of marriage, but it includes other relationship as well such as sisters, mother, etc.”.

 

What is Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005?

  • It is an act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of Women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Domestic Violence Act 2005 is the first significant attempt in India to recognise domestic abuse as a punishable offence, to extend its provisions to those in live-in relationships, and to provide for emergency relief for the victims, in addition to legal recourse. It extends to the whole of India except the State Jammu & Kashmir.
  • It aims to protect women from physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse at home.

 

Way ahead:

Domestic violence can continue even after divorce and the reach of the Act should not be shackled by confining only for the protection of women living in marriage.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Particulars of Domestic violence act.
  • For Mains: DV Act- significance, concerns, misuse and reforms.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)

 

Context: The Directorate General of Hyrdrocarbons (DGH) had recently announced the completion of the first round of bidding under its new Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a part of its revamped Hyrdrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) unveiled in March 2016.

 

What is OALP?

The policy was brought out in June 2017 and marked a departure from the previous regime in terms of the geographical area that could be explored, the number of licences required, the manner in which proceeds are to be shared with the government, and the procedure to sell what is extracted. OALP is a part of HELP, which itself was a replacement to the New Exploration and Licensing Policy.

 

Key features of the new policy:

  • The ‘open acreage’ in OALP refers to the fact that potential investors are now able to choose exactly which areas they want to explore and develop. Under OALP, investors choose the exact areas they are interested in, convey their interest to the government, which then places just those blocks up for bidding, typically twice a year.
  • Under the new policy, developers don’t need to apply for separate licences for each of the hydrocarbons they want to extract from the block. They can obtain a single unified license that will allow them to extract and market oil, gas, coal bed methane, shale oil and shale gas.
  • The new policy also does away with the earlier provision for a profit-sharing model with the government. Profit sharing as a policy led to a number of delays and complications over what exactly constituted the cost, and therefore profit, of the firm doing the exploring. The new policy hinges on revenue-sharing, doing away with this ambiguity.

 

What was the need for the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)?

India is the 3rd largest consumer of crude oil and petroleum products with oil and gas contributing 34.4% to primary energy consumption. In 2015-2016, India’s crude oil import dependence rose to 81% from 78.5%. In last five years, India has seen overall decline in exploration and production of conventional resources. New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) created in 1997 ended the state dominance and created a competitive environment leading to liberalization of oil and gas exploration and production industry. However, it failed to keep the momentum of production growth and attracting the foreign investment.

Bureaucratic hurdles like multiple approvals and sanctions, cost overruns, and disputes led to some oil majors leaving their awarded blocks and exit from the space.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: OALP and HELP.
  • For Mains: Need for HELP and its significance.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Overcrowding in prisons

 

Context: The Supreme Court has expressed concern about overcrowding in prisons across the country, in some cases beyond 150 per cent of the capacity, and asked all the high courts to consider the issue as it involves “violation of human rights”. The court has requested the chief justices of the high courts to take up the matter as a suo-motu writ petition.

  • The Centre apprised the court that steps were being taken to encourage setting up of ‘open prisons’ and a model uniform rules for the administration of open correctional institutions have already been framed.

 

What are open prisons?

Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with society and reduce the psychological pressure and lack of confidence they faced lack of confidence in returning to lives outside prison.

 

Background:

Overcrowding is one of the biggest problems faced by prison inmates. It results in poor hygiene and lack of sleep among other problems. More than 65% of the undertrials spend three months to five years in jail before getting bail. A fourth of all the under trials have been under detention for more than a year.

 

Management of prisons:

The management of prisons falls exclusively under the domain of the state government, as per the seventh schedule of the constitution. In every state, the prison administrative machinery works under the chief of prisons who is a senior ranking IPS officer.

 

Need for reforms:

  • NHRC figures show that prisoners cut off from family and friends had a 50% more chance of committing suicide than those outside. The average suicide rate among the general public for this period is 11 (per 100,000) whereas the average suicide rate in prison is 16.9 (per 100,000). In other words, the average suicide rate in prisons is over 50% more than in normal conditions.
  • Indian prisons face three long-standing structural constraints: overcrowding, thanks to a high percentage of undertrials in the prison population, understaffing and underfunding. The inevitable outcome is sub-human living conditions, poor hygiene, and violent clashes between the inmates and jail authorities.
  • Besides, while 33% of the total requirement of prison officials still lies vacant, almost 36% of vacancy for supervising officers is still unfulfilled. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jails.

 

Way ahead:

Indian jails have often been dubbed as a university for grooming criminals due to pathetic and inhumane conditions. In the absence of a robust Whistleblower Protection Act and structural changes to address the issues of overcrowding and understaffing, India’s prisons will continue to be heaven for politically connected criminals and hell for socio-economically disadvantaged undertrials, some regular media uproars notwithstanding.

Fundamental rights of prisoners cannot be placed in the back-burner and the Centre and the states need to be more pro-active in sensitising staff about the need to treat prisoners as humanely as possible.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: NALSA and open jails.
  • For Mains: Prison reforms- need and challenges.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

 

Context: The government is planning to bring an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court verdict putting safeguards on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and subsequently introduce a bill to insulate it from further judicial scrutiny.

  • The government is likely to introduce the bill in monsoon session of Parliament to incorporate the legislation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, laws under which cannot be challenged in courts.

 

Impact:

  • The ordinance is an interim arrangement to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue. The proposed ordinance would make it clear that notwithstanding any judgement or any other law in force, the provisions of the act shall remain valid. Once promulgated, this would mean the ordinance would overturn the SC order.
  • Also, once included in the Ninth Schedule, the legislation gets protection under Article 31-B (validation of certain Acts and Regulations) and is not subject to judicial scrutiny.

 

What’s the issue?

In its March 20 order, the apex court had laid down new guidelines for police officers on how to ensure that innocent people, especially public officials, are protected from false complaints under the act. The “dilution” triggered massive protests by various Dalit and political outfits.

 

About SC/ST Act:

  • The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act. The SC/ST Act was enacted on September 9, 1989. The rules for the Act were notified on March 31, 1995.
  • The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community. This includes denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process.
  • According to the SC/ST Act, the protection is provided from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities like forceful drinking or eating of inedible food sexual exploitation, injury etc, atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation.
  • For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a Court of Session to be a Special Court to try offences under this Act in each district.
  • The prime objective of the SC/ST Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: SC/ST Act and 9th schedule of the constitution.
  • For Mains: Need for review of the act and issues related to judicial overreach.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN)

Context: SAWEN recently its first ever meeting in India. Representatives of seven countries participated in the meeting and the members agreed on having an operational framework for strengthening the regional body to combat wildlife crime.

During the meet six proposals, including tracking of wildlife smuggling route, review of existing laws and a structure for the organisation were tabled.

 

About SAWEN:

  • SAWEN is a regional network comprises eight countries in South Asia –Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • It aims at working as a strong regional intergovernmental body for combating wildlife crimes by attempting common goals and approaches for combating illegal trade in the region.

 

Significance of SAWEN:

The South Asia region is very vulnerable to illegal traffic and wildlife crimes due to presence of precious biodiversity and large markets as well as traffic routes for wildlife products in the region. The collaboration in harmonising as well as enforcing the wildlife protection in the region is considered very important for effective conservation of biodiversity.

 

How will it help India?

India along with other member countries will take initiatives to bring “harmonisation and standardisation” in laws and policies to conserve fauna and flora and will also document the trend of poaching, illegal trade and related threats to the natural biodiversity.

This will also strengthen institutional responses to combat wildlife crime by promoting research and information sharing, training and capacity building, technical support, sharing experiences and outreach and to encourage member countries to prepare and implement their national action plans in curbing wildlife crime.

 

Background:

Wildlife crime has emerged as one of the greatest threats to the survival of many wildlife species in South Asia as well as across the globe. This organized crime involving multi-billion dollars is highly trans-national and remains flourishing as a result of weak legal framework and/or lax enforcement in the source, transit and destination countries. Curbing the wildlife crime demands well coordinated multi-agency and multi-country efforts with high level of commitment and advancement.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Paper 3:

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

 

Merchandise Export from India Scheme

Context: The Director General of Foreign Trade has said that the rates enhanced under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), a scheme to promote exports, would continue beyond June 30.

 

About MEIS:

What is it?

Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) under Foreign Trade Policy of India (FTP 2015-20) is one of the two schemes introduced in Foreign Trade Policy of India 2015-20, as a part of Exports from India Scheme.

Objective of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) as per Indian Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 (FTP 2015-20) is to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in export of goods/products, which are produced/manufactured in India, especially those having high export intensity, employment potential and thereby enhancing India’s export competitiveness.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: MEIS and its key features.
  • For Mains: Significance of MEIS.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

ISRO making green propellant

 

Context: Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have reported progress in the development of an environment-friendly propellant to power satellites and spacecraft. The new propellant is a blend based on hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN).

 

About the new propellant:

  • The new HAN-based monopropellant is already being tested. A monopropellant is a chemical propulsion fuel which does not require a separate oxidizer. It is used extensively in satellite thrusters for orbital correction and orientation control.
  • The in-house formulation consists of HAN, ammonium nitrate, methanol and water. While methanol was added to reduce combustion instability, the choice of AN was dictated by its capacity to control the burn rate and lower the freezing point of the propellant.

 

Need for a new propellant:

Presently, hydrazine rocket fuel is being used. However, it is a highly toxic and carcinogenic chemical. Due to its high performance characteristics, hydrazine has dominated the space industry as the choice of propellant for over six decades, despite its environment and health hazards and the challenges faced in its manufacturing, storage, ground handling and transportation.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Ivory is ‘government property’:

 

Context: The Supreme Court, in Wild Life Warden v Komarrikkal Elias case, has held that elephant tusk is a property of the Government. The Supreme Court observed that there is a clear “declaration” in the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 on elephant tusks being government property.

Section 39(1) (c) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 says that an ivory imported into India and an article made from such ivory in respect of which any offence against this Act or any rule or order made thereunder has been committed, shall be deemed to be the property of the state government, and where such animal is hunted in a sanctuary or national park declared by the Central Government, such animal or any animal article, trophy, uncured trophy or meat derived from such animal shall be the property of the Central Government.

 

In news- What is the ‘Castle doctrine’ in Law?

Also known as the castle law or the defense of habitation law, this refers to a doctrine in the common law tradition which states that a person who acts in self defence against an intruder into his personal property has the right to legal immunity for his actions.

A person who is defending his home against an intruder can use deadly force to protect himself and still be exonerated for his actions under the law. The defendant employing the castle doctrine will have to justify his action with sufficient evidence and also explain the use of deadly force as an appropriate and reasonable response to the particular threat that was facing him.

 

What is Thalassemia?

  • Thalaseemia is a chronic blood disorder. It is a genetic disorder due to which a patient cannot make enough hemoglobin found in Red Blood Cells (RBC’s). This leads to anemia and patients also require blood transfusions every two to three weeks to survive.
  • Thalassemias are inherited disorders passed from parents to children through genes. Each red blood cell can contain between 240 and 300 million molecules of haemoglobin. The severity of the disease depends on the mutations involved in the genes, and their interplay.
  • India is the thalassaemia capital of the world with 40 million carriers and over 1,00,000 thalassaemia majors under blood transfusion every month.