Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 Aug 2017
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Supreme Court scraps instant triple talaq
The controversial Islamic divorce practice of instant triple talaq (Talaq-e-Biddat) has been struck down as arbitrary and against the tenets of Islam. The practice was against Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old resident of of Uttarakhand, filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2015 and sought a ban on the practice after her husband ended their 15-year marriage by sending a letter with the word talaq written thrice. Her petition seeks the Supreme Court to declare talaq-e-bidat, polygamy and nikah halala illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25.
Several other women lined up with their petitions over the following months. Women cannot pronounce triple talaq and are required to move a court for getting divorce under the Sharia Act, 1937.
What is instant triple talaq?
There are three forms of talaq (divorce) in Islam: Ahsan, Hasan and Talaq-e-Biddat (triple or instant talaq). Ahsan and Hasan are revocable but Biddat is irrevocable. Biddat is considered sinful but is permissible in Islamic law. It has been banned in more than 20 Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Triple talaq as a statutory right:
Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 has already recognised triple talaq as a statutory right. Therefore, Instant talaq was no longer a personal law to remain free from the rigours of the fundamental rights as it comes under the ambit of Article 13 of the Constitution. Article 13 mandates that any law, framed before or after the Constitution, should not be violative of the fundamental rights.
Triple talaq and Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court in June 2016 decided to examine if Islamic laws governing marriage and inheritance violated the fundamental rights of women and take a call on how far it can intervene to modify the existing laws.
Under the Constitution, religious freedom is subject to all other Fundamental Rights. Article 25 — which guarantees Freedom of Practice and Propagation of Religion — does not protect religious practices since they can negatively affect the welfare of citizens. Article 14, which guarantees the Right to Equality, overrides Article 25 because triple talaq denies a Muslim woman’s equality before the law.
Similarly, Article 25 is subject to Article 15 (1) which says that the State “shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex…” Since triple talaq does not work in the favour of women, it violates Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.
The court favoured keeping on hold the practise of triple talaq for six months, urged the political parties to set aside their differences and aid the Centre in coming out with a legislation.
- The government has said it will write a new matrimony law for Muslims to fill a legal vacuum should the Supreme Court strike down triple talaq.
- Also, this judgment is likely to be a valuable touchstone for the Law Commission while handling contentious issues under the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Meeting of FSDC
The seventeenth Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was recently held in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Finance, Shri Arun Jaitley.
- The Council discussed the issues and challenges facing the Indian economy and Members agreed on the need to keep constant vigil and be in a state of preparedness of managing any external and internal vulnerabilities.
- FSDC took note of the developments and progress made in setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team in the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin) and Financial Data Management Centre and discussed measures for time bound implementation of the institution building initiative.
The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was constituted in December, 2010. The Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and its members are Governor, Reserve Bank of India; Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Secretary, Department of Financial Services; Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance; Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India; Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.
What it does?
The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates. No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
NITI Aayog to launch “Mentor India” Campaign
NITI Aayog is all set to launch the Mentor India Campaign, a strategic nation building initiative to engage leaders who can guide and mentor students at more than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs, established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission.
About Mentor India campaign:
Mentor India is aimed at maximizing the impact of Atal Tinkering Labs, possibly the biggest disruption in formal education globally. The idea is to engage leaders who will nurture and guide students in the Atal Tinkering Labs. These labs are non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors.
NITI Aayog is looking for leaders who can spend anywhere between one to two hours every week in one or more such labs to enable students experience, learn and practice future skills such as design and computational thinking.
NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government of India to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country. The Mission has / is in the process of setting up 900+ such labs across India and aims to have 2,000 such labs by end of 2017.
Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, Internet of things & sensors etc.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
India welcomes Trump’s new Afghanistan policy
India has welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s new policy on Afghanistan and said his move would help target “safe havens” of terrorism in South Asia.
- American President had urged India to play a larger role in providing economic and development assistance to the war-torn Afghanistan.
The new US policy on Afghanistan:
The Pentagon and NATO allies are redrawing their operational plans in America’s longest war that began in 2001, and an increase in troop levels is expected soon. The new U.S. strategy for South Asia has many old elements, but in a departure from the past, it commits troops in Afghanistan for an open-ended period of time. The policy also sets the stage for a new wave of U.S. offensive against Islamist forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Benefits for India:
- Increased access: A greater role of India in Afghanistan where it is already playing a big part in its reconstruction, will not only give India strategic advantage over its traditional rivals like Pakistan and China, but would also mean greater access to the oil and mineral rich Central Asian nations and opportunity for its industry to gain a larger share in the whole Afghanistan rebuilding business.
- Strategic advantage: A stable Afghanistan, which is fiercely against Pakistan, can in fact give India strategic advantage by providing a valuable military base in future, overlooking both Pakistan and China.
- Gateway to central Asia: In July 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic visit of five Central Asian nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and the main objective was ensuring India’s future energy security. For India, Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia and a stable Afghanistan with greater access will go a long way in fulfilling India’s objective.
- Against terrorism: Also, a wider presence in Afghanistan will give India greater leverage in dealing with the terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State which are trying to establish their Indian footprint. There groups are currently using restive regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan as their gateway opportunity to the Indian Subcontinent.
- Afghanistan in future can also emerge as a big push for Make in India initiative for India’s nascent defence industry as the country would need a sustained military supply to handle not only its internal terror threats but also to secure its contentious borders with Pakistan, a terror exporter that has been destabilising Afghanistan for the past four decades.
India and Afghanistan:
India has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around USD 2 Billion since 2002 on development projects including its parliament building and committed another USD 1 Billion last year.
The Indian aid has been mostly in infrastructure development, health services and military equipment like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. But breaking the tradition of not giving lethal military equipment in aid, it gave Afghanistan four attack helicopters last year and is also training its soldiers.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
New species of the genus Nasikabatrachus
A new species of the endemic frog genus Nasikabatrachus has been discovered from the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
- The newly discovered frog is named Nasikabatrachus bhupathi.
- It has a snout-shaped nose, just like a pig’s and is a soil dwelling species of purple frog.
- It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, near the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.
Significance of this discovery:
The discovery is significant as it constitutes additional evidence in favour of the theory of continental drift. The frog is an inhabitant of Seychelles, and the discovery of this frog species in India suggests that the Indian subcontinent was part of the ancient landmass of Gondwana before splitting from Seychelles 65 million years ago.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
New flexible fuel cells turn sweat into power
Scientists have developed stretchable fuel cells that extract energy from sweat, and could power a range of wearable devices such as LEDs and Bluetooth radios. The new cells were developed using lithography and screen-printing to make 3D carbon nanotube-based cathode and anode arrays.
How it operates?
The biofuel cells are equipped with an enzyme that oxidises the lactic acid present in human sweat to generate current.
- To be compatible with wearable devices, the biofuel cell needs to be flexible and stretchable. So engineers decided to use what they call a “bridge and island”.
- Essentially, the cell is made up of rows of dots that are each connected by spring-shaped structures. Half of the dots make up the cell’s anode or electrode through which conventional current flows; the other half are the cathode. The spring-like structures can stretch and bend, making the cell flexible without deforming the anode and cathode.
- The basis for the islands and bridges structure was manufactured via lithography and is made of gold. Researchers used screen printing to deposit layers of biofuel materials on top of the anode and cathode dots. To increase power density, engineers screen printed a 3D carbon nanotube structure on top the anodes and cathodes.
- The structure allows engineers to load each anodic dot with more of the enzyme that reacts to lactic acid and silver oxide at the cathode dots. In addition, the tubes allow easier electron transfer, which improves biofuel cell performance.
Significance of these cells:
The epidermal biofuel cells are a major breakthrough in the field, which has been struggling with making the devices that are stretchable enough and powerful enough. The biofuel cells generate 10 times more power per surface area than any existing wearable biofuel cells.