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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 31 July 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Pratihara style of architecture.

2. World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Merger of political parties under 10th schedule 

2. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Perseverance- NASA’s mission to Mars.

2. What is aerial seeding?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Article 239A(4) of the Constitution.

2. Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act.

3. AIM-iCREST.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Pratihara style of architecture:

Context:

A rare late ninth century stone statue of Lord Shiva, which was stolen from a temple in Rajasthan and smuggled to the UK, will be returned to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

 Key facts:

  • The stone Nataraj/Natesha murti, in “chatura pose with jatamakuta and trinetra” and almost four-feet-tall, is a rare depiction of Lord Shiva in the Prathihara style.
  • It is a rare sandstone idol.
  • It is originally from the Ghateswara Temple at Baroli, Rajasthan.

Ghateswara

Pratihara empire:

The Gurjara-Pratiharas, also known as the Pratihara Empire, ruled much of Northern India from the mid-7th to the 11th century.

They were instrumental in containing Arab armies moving east of the Indus River.

Nagabhata I defeated the Arab army under Junaid and Tamin during the Caliphate campaigns in India.

Architecture:

Gurjara-Pratihara are known for their sculptures, carved panels and open pavilion style temples.

The greatest development of their style of temple building was at Khajuraho, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Pratiharas- timeline, regions they ruled and important rulers.
  2. Pratihara architecture- key features.
  3. About Archaeological Survey of India.
  4. Khajuraho temples.
  5. What is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

  2. Effects of globalization on Indian society.

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons:

Celebrated on July 30.

Designated by UN in 2013.

This year’s theme focuses on first responders to human trafficking.

Who are first responders?

These are the people who work in different sectors – identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.

  • During the COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become even more important, particularly as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made their work even more difficult. Still, their contribution is often overlooked and unrecognized.

first_responders

Key facts:

  1. People are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced begging, forced marriage; for selling children and as child soldiers, as well as for removal of organs;
  2. Women make up 49% and girls 23% of all victims of trafficking;
  3. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of exploitation (59% share) followed by forced labour (34% share);
  4. Most victims are trafficked within their countries’ borders – those trafficked abroad are moved to the richest countries.

Blue Heart Campaign of UN:

It has been initiated by the UN  to raise global awareness to fight human trafficking and its impact on society. 

It aims to encourage the involvement of the governments, civil society, the corporate sector and individuals to inspire action and help prevent this heinous crime.

It allows people to show their solidarity with the victims of human traffickingand increasing their visibility by wearing the Blue Heart.

What are the constitutional & legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India?

  1. Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1).
  2. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA)is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  3. Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking.
  4. Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Section 370 and 370A of the IPC are related to?
  2. Article 23(1) of the constitution.
  3. Blue Heart campaign of the UN is related to?
  4. Who are first responders?
  5. About World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

Mains Link:

What are the constitutional & legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India? Discuss.

Sources: UN.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Merger of political parties under 10th schedule:

Context:

The Rajasthan High Court has issued notices to the speaker and secretary of the state legislative assembly and six MLAs, who contested elections on BSP tickets and then defected to the Congress.

What’s the issue?

The BSP won six seats in Rajasthan but all its MLAs joined the Congress in September last year.

But, now at the national level, BSP is arguing that a state unit of a national party cannot be merged without the party being merged at the national level.

Besides, BSP national secretary has also issued a whip to 6 MLAs telling them to vote against the Congress in case there is a floor test.

On what grounds is BSP’s case based?

BSP’s contention is that the merger is illegal and unconstitutional because for a national party, such merger has to take place at the national level. 

Supporting Supreme Court judgments:

  1. 2006 ruling in Jagjit Singh v State of Haryana:

In this case, the Court upheld the Speaker’s decisions disqualifying 4 MLAs from single- member parties who had joined the congress.

  1. 2007 ruling in Rajendra Singh Rana And Ors vs Swami Prasad Maurya:

37 MLAs — one-third of the BSP strength — “split” from the party after its government fell, to support SP. The SC ruled that the split cannot be recognised primarily because not all these MLAs split at once.

But, why these judgments cannot be relevant today?

The key aspect is that these cases deal with splits where when one-third of the members of a legislative party splits; they could not attract disqualification as per Paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule.

  • However, in 2003, through the 91st Constitutional Amendment, Paragraph 3 was deleted from the Tenth Schedule.
  • The amendment was made as the one-third split rule was grossly misused by parties to engineer divisions and indulge in horse-trading.
  • One-third was regarded as an easy target to achieve and the law now exempts defection only when it is at two-thirds (in a merger).

Firstly, is “merger” allowed under the constitution?

The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution prohibits defection to protect the stability of governments but does not prohibit mergers.

  • Paragraph 4(2) of the Tenth Schedule, dealing with mergers, says that only when two-thirds of the members agree to “merge” the party would they be exempt from disqualification.

The “merger” referred to in Paragraph 4(2) is seen as legal fiction, where members are deemed to have merged for the purposes of being exempt from disqualification, rather than a merger in the true sense.

Can a state unit of a national party be merged without the party being merged at the national level?

Tenth Schedule identifies this dichotomy between state units and national units.

As per Paragraph 4(2), “merger” of a party means merger of a legislative party of that House.

  • In Rajasthan’s case, it would be the Rajasthan Legislative unit of the BSP and not the BSP at the national level.

What about the whip?

The whip issued by BSP national general secretary to the six MLAs would have no impact because such a direction has to necessarily be issued for voting on the floor of the House.

  • A national leader’s direction cannot be considered a whip in the context of the anti-defection law.

Insta Concepts:

Anti-defection law lists situations for disqualification on the ground of defection:

  1. If an MP or an MLA “has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party” [clause 2(1)(a)], or
  2. If he/she votes or abstains from voting in the house contrary to any direction issued by his party, that is if he violates the party whip in the house [clause 2(1)(b)].
  3. If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  4. If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Decision of presiding officer vs Judicial review.
  2. Merger vs Split of political parties.
  3. Is anti- defection law applicable to the presiding officer?
  4. Relevant Supreme Court cases and verdicts.
  5. Disqualification on the ground of defection.

Mains Link:

Examine the provisions of Anti- defection law. Has this law largely failed to meet its objective? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI):

A report on slavery was recently released by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and an international anti-slavery organisation Walk Free on the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

Key findings:

  1. Commonwealth countries account for about 40% of people living in conditions of modern slavery in the world.
  2. Commonwealth nations are lacking in actions to eradicate modern slavery by 2030.
  3. There is an estimated one in every 150 people in the Commonwealth living in conditions of modern slavery.
  4. One-third of the Commonwealth countries had criminalised forced marriage, while 23 had not criminalised commercial sexual exploitation of children.
  5. Out of 54 countries, only four engage with business to investigate supply chains, and all countries report gaps in victim assistance programs.

India- specific findings:

  1. India has fared the worst in terms of coordination, “with no national coordinating body or National Action Plan in place”.
  2. India had not ratified the International Labour Organisation’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention or the 2014 Forced Labour Protocol.
  3. India accounted for one-third of all child brides in the world.
  4. Despite being the largest country in the region, India has the weakest response on national coordination, with no national coordinating body or National Action Plan in place.

About the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI):

It is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, international non-governmental organisation working in the area of human rights.

In 1987, several Commonwealth professional associations founded CHRI, since there was little focus on human rights within the association of 53 nations although the Commonwealth provided member countries the basis of shared common legal system.

  • Roles and functions: CHRI promotes adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Commonwealth Harare Principles and other internationally recognised human rights instruments, including domestic legislation supporting human rights in Commonwealth countries.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Commonwealth- composition and objectives.
  2. About CHRI- establishment and objectives.
  3. Headquarters of CHRI.
  4. About forced labour convention.

Mains Link:

What is modern slavery? How the countries worldwide are fighting it? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Perseverance- NASA’s mission to Mars:

Context:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V.

  • The launch took place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This is the third launch to Mars this month, following the UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft.

Key facts:

  1. The rover’s Mars arrival is set for 18, 2021. 
  2. The mission is planned to last for at least one Mars year, which works out to about 687 days on Earth (it takes longer for Mars to go around the sun).
  3. Landing site: Jezero crater.
  4. Perseverance is loaded with seven instruments chosen to help it achieve its mission objectives.

Perseverance

Why is this mission significant?

  1. Perseverancewill carry a unique instrument, MOXIE or Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment: which for the first time will manufacture molecular oxygen on Mars using carbon dioxide from the carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere (ISRU means In Situ Resource Utilization: or the use of local resources to meet human needs or requirements of the spacecraft).
  2. It will carry Ingenuity, the first ever helicopter to fly on Mars. This is the first time NASA will fly a helicopter on another planet or satellite.
  3. It is the planned first step to bring back rock samples from Mars for analysis in sophisticated laboratories on Earth: with the goal of looking for biosignatures: or signatures of present or past life.

These are some of the key mission objectives: 

  1. Look for signs of ancient microbial life.
  2. Collect Martian rock and dust samples for later return to Earth.
  3. Deliver an experimental helicopter.
  4. Study the climate and geology of Mars.
  5. Demonstrate technology for future Mars missions.

What is the reason for the near-term interest in Mars?

  • Mars is located in the very near backyard (about 200 million km away).
  • It is a planet that humans can aspire to visit or to stay for a longer duration.
  • Mars had flowing water and an atmosphere in the distant past: and perhaps conditions to support life.
  • In the near term, the increase in interest related to Mars is because of Elon Musk’s plans for commercial travel.

Background:

  • NASA has been sending rovers on Mars since 1997 when the Mars Pathfinder Mission was initiated.
  • As the mission turned out to be successful, NASA decided to continue going to Mars to find evidence.
  • Second time, the space organization sent twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity to Mars in 2003.
  • The third attempt was by sending Curiosity in 2012.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Missions to Mars.
  2. Perseverance- objectives.
  3. Instruments onboard.
  4. About the UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft.
  5. Pathfinder mission.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

What is aerial seeding?

Context:

The Haryana Forest Department has started aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis.

  • This technique will allow plantation in sections of the Aravallis that are either difficult to access or inaccessible altogether.
  • The pilot project will help determine the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.

What is aerial seeding?

It is a technique of plantation wherein seed balls – seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components – are sprayed on the ground using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.

How does this technique work?

  1. Seeds balls or seed pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by the low-flying drones.
  2. They fall to the ground with the help of the coating of clay, compost, char and other material, that provides the required weight for seeds to drop on a predetermined location rather than disperse in the wind.
  3. These pellets will then sprout when there is enough rain, with the nutrients present within them helping in the initial growth.

What are the advantages of this technique? 

  • Areas that are inaccessible, have steep slopes, are fragmented or disconnected with no forest routes, making conventional plantation difficult, can be targeted with aerial seeding.
  • The process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed – the reason why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
  • They eliminate the need for ploughing and digging holes in the soil and the seeds do not need to be planted, since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms.
  • The clay shell of these pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


Article 239A(4) of the Constitution:

Context: Lt Governor Anil Baijal has reversed the Delhi cabinet’s decision to reject the Delhi Police’s panel of lawyers for the riots cases in the High Court and the Supreme Court.

L-G used his special powers under Article 239A(4) of the Constitution to overturn the cabinet’s decision.

  • Under this Article, the Delhi government is bound to follow the L-G’s orders.

Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act:

Context: US House panel passes bill to promote legacies of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.

It was authored by John Lewis, the civil rights leader Democratic member of the House who passed away last week.

Key provisions:

  • It will establish annual scholar and student exchange programs for Indians and Americans to study the leaders’ legacies and visit historic sites in India and the U.S., relevant to the India’s freedom struggle and the U.S.’s civil rights movement.
  • The bill also seeks to establish the Gandhi-King Global Academy, a conflict resolution initiative based on the principles of nonviolence.
  • It proposes the establishment of the United States-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the government of India, organized under Indian law.

AIM-iCREST:

It is an incubator capabilities enhancement programme for a robust ecosystem for creating high-performance start-ups.

Atal Innovation Mission has launched the programme in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wadhwani Foundation.

  • Under the initiative, AIM’s incubators are set to be upscaled and provided requisite support to foster the incubation enterprise economy, which will help them to significantly enhance their performance.
  • It will also provide training to entrepreneurs through technology-driven platforms and processes.