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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 15 November 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 15 November 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. SC Strikes Down Finance Act Rules for Appointments to Judicial Tribunals.
  2. Sabarimala case.
  3. Nadu Nedu programme.
  4. UNESCO World Heritage week.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Atal Tinkering Labs.
  2. Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. “Shishu Suraksha” app launched in Assam.
  2. International Symposium on Lighting (iSoL).
  3. Golden Leaf Award.

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

 

SC Strikes Down Finance Act Rules for Appointments to Judicial Tribunals

 

What to study?

For Prelims: All about tribunals and money bill.

For Mains: Issues and controversies over the passage of this act.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has passed an interim order that said the appointments to tribunals shall be on the basis of existing statutes and not the rules framed under the Finance Act of 2017.

 

What has the court said?

  1. The government should reframe the rules and ordered that until then, the existing laws will govern the tribunals.
  2. The Ministry of law should conduct an impact study and submit report to the apex court.
  3. Validity of passage of Finance Act 2017 as Money Bill should be decided by a larger bench.

 

What’s the issue?

The Finance Act had given the Centre the power to govern appointments, removal and service conditions of the members of judicial tribunals like National Green Tribunal, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.

The petitioners had challenged the Finance Act, 2017, particularly Part XIV on various grounds. The Part XIV had repealed provisions relating to the administration of 26 Tribunals established under diverse central laws.

The central government was given the powers to frame rules by virtue of Section 184.

The challenge to the Finance Act, 2017, was on the grounds that it was passed as a Money Bill.

The petitioners had argued that the passage of the Finance Act in the form of a Money Bill amounted to a fraud on the Constitution since they can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha.

 

What is a Money bill?

A money bill is defined by Article 110 of the Constitution, as a draft law that contains only provisions that deal with all or any of the matters listed therein. These comprise a set of seven features, broadly including items such as the imposition or regulation of a tax; the regulation of the borrowing of money by the Government of India; the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund of India; and so forth.

In the event a proposed legislation contains other features, ones that are not merely incidental to the items specifically outlined, such a draft law cannot be classified as a money bill. Article 110 further clarifies that in cases where a dispute arises over whether a bill is a money bill or not, the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision on the issue shall be considered final.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Sabarimala case

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Particulars of the case, location of Sabarimala and surroundings.

For Mains: Concerns and challenges, and the need for a larger bench.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has referred to a 7 judge- bench a clutch of review petitions challenging its September 2018 verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple.

 

Background:

  • The verdict was given by a 5- judge bench.
  • In 3:2 majority verdict, two judges stuck to their earlier stand of quashing the custom which barred entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years. 
    The split decision came on 65 petitions – 56 review petitions, four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas – which were filed after the apex court verdict of September 28, 2018 sparked violent protests in Kerala.

 

Observations made by the court:

  1. Restrictions on women in religious places are not limited to Sabarimala alone and are prevalent in other religions too. The issue of entry of women into mosques and Agiyari could also be taken by the larger bench.
  2. Both sections of the same religious group have a right to freely profess, practise and propagate their religious beliefs as being integral part of their religion by virtue of Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

Questions before the larger bench:

  1. Whether a court can probe if a practice is essential to a religion or should the question be left to the respective religious head?
  2. Should “essential religious practices” be afforded constitutional protection under Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs)?
  3. What is the “permissible extent” of judicial recognition a court should give to PILs filed by people who do not belong to the religion of which practices are under the scanner?

 

Constitutional vs Cultural dimensions:

The case has constitutional as well as cultural dimensions. Displaying great cultural sensitivity, a division Bench of the Kerala High Court had, back in 1991, pointed out that “age regulation” in Sabarimala is not unconstitutional. 

In Sabarimala, the deity is worshipped in the form of Naishtika Brahmacharior a celibate, as pointed out by the Kerala High Court.

The supporters of Temple ban say that:

  1. This particular deity system is Tantric in nature and not Vedic.
  2. In the Tantric system, the temple is not a prayer hall but an energy centre; the deity is not God who is omnipresent, but a source of energy (chaithanya) in a particular spiritual space. 
  3. Uniqueness is the soul of every temple. Lakhs of women congregate in Sabarimala every year. There is only one limitation: they should not be between 10 and 50, because of the specific nature of the Prathishta(idol) and the vow celibacy associated with the idol. 
  4. The restriction finds its source in the legend that the Sabarimala temple deity – Swami Ayyappa – is a ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ – and should not be disturbed.

 

Why does preventing women’s entry to the temple discriminatory in nature?

Preventing women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple with an irrational and obsolete notion of “purity” clearly offends the equality clauses in the Constitution. In any civilised society, gender equality is to be treated as one of the core values. 

  • It denotes a patriarchal and partisan approach.
  • The entry prohibition takes away the woman’s right against discrimination guaranteed under Article 15(1) of the Constitution.
  • It curtails her religious freedom assured by Article 25(1).
  • Prohibition of women’s entry to the shrine solely on the basis of womanhood and the biological features associated with womanhood is derogatory to women, which Article 51A (e) aims to renounce.
  • The classification based on age is an act of discrimination based on sex.

 

Way ahead:

This issue raises serious questions about faith and practices of a religious denomination or sect. 

Therefore, it is time to evolve a judicial policy to do substantial and complete justice.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: Supreme Court ending the Sabarimala ban is a triumph of constitutional morality over regressive social and religious practices. Critically examine.


Topics Covered:

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Nadu Nedu programme

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the programme.

For Mains: Need for and significance of English education, challenges present and ways to address them.

 

Context: ‘Nadu-Nedu’ programme has been launched in Andhra Pradesh.

The programme seeks to transform government schools into vibrant and competitive institutions.

 

Key features of the programme:

  • Aim: to transform all government schools with required infrastructure and up- gradation of skills besides setting up English labs.
  • It also seeks to provide basic amenities such as clean water, furniture, compound wall, toilets etc.
  • Teachers would be imparted training to effectively implement the decision to introduce English medium from Classes 1 to 6 in government schools from the next academic year.
  • The parent committees and locals would be involved to make it an inclusive system.

 

Criticisms:

A language war has erupted in Andhra Pradesh. In this age of rapid globalization, the detractors, primarily the Opposition, has argued that the state should stick to Telugu to protect itself from cultural degradation, else it would endanger the regional language’s survival.

 

Need for English education:

Language is a means of communication. Today English is a global language, but our vernacular languages are where our thoughts form. At the same time, English is needed to reach out to people at a global level. 

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics Covered:

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

 

UNESCO World Heritage week

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: WHS- selection and significance, what are endangered sites?

 

Context: World Heritage Week is celebrated by UNESCO between November 19, 2019 and November 25, 2019.

The Objective of celebrating World Heritage Week is to increase awareness among people about safety and preservation of cultural heritages and monuments.

There are 38 World Heritage Sites located in India. These include 30 cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed site. India has the sixth largest number of sites in the world.

 

UNESCO world heritage site:

  • It is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)as of special cultural or physical significance.
  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.

 

Selection of a site:

To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.

 

Legal status of designated sites:

UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site provides prima facie evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.

 

What are endangered sites?

  • A site may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if there are conditions that threaten the characteristics for which the landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Such problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanization or human development.
  • This danger list is intended to increase international awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures.
  • Review: The state of conservation for each site on the danger list is reviewed on a yearly basis, after which the committee may request additional measures, delete the property from the list if the threats have ceased or consider deletion from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics covered:

  1. Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Atal Tinkering Labs

 

What to study?

For Prelims: AIM, ATL and their important features.

For Mains: Various initiatives to promote innovation and their significance.

 

Context: Atal Tinkering Lab Marathon is being organised by the Atal Tinkering Labs of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the NITI Aayog in an effort to identify India’s best student innovators.

 

Key facts:

  • It is a six-month-long nationwide challenge across six different thematic areas, namely, clean energy, water resources, waste management, healthcare, smart mobility and agriculture-tech.
  • This is open to all students under the age of 18 years.
  • Students of top 30 innovations will be trained on business and entrepreneurship skills, including intellectual property, effective communication, making an elevator pitch, etc.

 

What are ATLs?

With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.

Objective: The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.

Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.

Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society can set up ATL.

 

Significance of ATLs:

  • Atal Tinkering Labs have evolved as epicentres for imparting these ‘skills of the future’ through practical applications based on self-learning.
  • Bridging a crucial social divide, Atal Tinkering Labs provide equal opportunity to all children across the spectrum by working at the grassroot level, introducing children to the world of innovation and tinkering.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Disaster and management.

 

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: composition, objectives and significance of CRDI.

For Mains: Disaster preparedness and the need for information sharing and collaboration between various agencies.

 

Context: At the Leaders’ Dialogue with BRICS Business Council and New Development Bank (NDB), Prime Minister Modi requested the BRICS countries and the NDB to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

 

About CDRI:

Launched by Modi in September 2019 at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York, US.

  • A platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  • It will create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices, with regard to infrastructure development in accordance with their risk context and economic needs.

 

Benefits and significance:

  • This initiative will benefit all sections of society.
  • Economically weaker sections of society, women and children, are the most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters and hence, will be benefitted from the improvement of knowledge and practice in creating disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • It will also benefit all areas with high disaster risk.
  • In India, the north-eastern and Himalayan regions are prone to earthquakes, coastal areas to cyclones and tsunamis and central peninsular region to droughts.

 

Why do we need a global coalition?

Many countries, including India, have over the years developed robust disaster management practices that have helped in sharply reducing human casualties in a disaster. However, the economic costs of a disaster remain huge, mainly due to the damage caused to big infrastructure.

A global coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure would address concerns that are common to developing and developed countries, small and large economies, countries at early and advanced stages of infrastructure development, and countries that have moderate or high disaster risk.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Facts for prelims:

 

“Shishu Suraksha” app launched in Assam:

“Shishu Suraksha”, the mobile application, is the brainchild of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR).

  • The e-complaint box will enable users from all over the state to lodge complaints about the violation of child rights.
  • The purpose of the e-box is to empower citizens to take moral responsibility of protecting our future generations.
  • The app can be used by anyone in Assam, coming across any incident of children’s rights violation, to lodge a complaint which will be directly registered at ASCPCR.
  • As soon as the complaint is lodged, the Commission will receive a message. It will then deal with the issue by being in touch with the appropriate authority.

 

International Symposium on Lighting (iSoL):

Organised by the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT).

It provides a common platform to professionals related directly or indirectly to the automotive lighting fraternity from all around the globe.

iSoL-2019 is aimed at creating a knowledge sharing platform ensuring the flow of information.

 

Golden Leaf Award:

Context: Tobacco Board Receives the 2019 Golden Leaf Award.

Category: ‘Most Impressive Public Service Initiative’.

The award was given in recognition of the Board’s efforts to initiate various sustainability (green) initiatives in Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco cultivation in India.

About the Golden Leaf Award:

The Golden Leaf Awards were created to recognize professional excellence and dedication in the tobacco industry by Tobacco Reporter, an international magazine in the year 2006.

Awards are granted on an annual basis to companies that have achieved outstanding performance in five categories:

  1. Most impressive public service initiative
  2. Most promising new product introduction
  3. Most exciting newcomer to the industry
  4. Most outstanding service to the industry
  5. BMJ most committed to quality award