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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 13 March 2021

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. Padyatra to commemorate salt march.

2. Plea to constitute district medical boards.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. State Election Commissioners.

2. Rajasthan Information Commission penalises five officials for negligence.

3. Places of Worship Act.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Bring down benzene emission at fuel outlets, says panel.

2. Stop influx from Myanmar: Centre.

 


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

Padyatra to commemorate salt march:


Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off the foot march to re-enact the historic Mahatma Gandhi-led Salt March, while launching the ‘Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav’, the government’s initiative to mark 75 years of India’s Independence.

  • The march from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi in Navsari district, a distance of 386 km, will take 25 days.
  • It will mark the 91st anniversary of the historic march against the tax on salt imposed by the British in India.

About the 75th anniversary celebrations:

To be continued till August 15, 2023 under five themes of the celebrations as the guiding force for moving forward, keeping dreams and duties as the inspiration. The themes are:

  1. Freedom Struggle.
  2. Ideas at 75.
  3. Achievements at 75.
  4. Actions at 75.
  5. Resolves at 75.

About the Salt Satyagraha:

On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi embarked a historic Salt March from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad to the village of Dandi in the state’s coastal area to protest against the steep tax the British levied on salt.

  • The Salt March began on March 12, 1930 and continued till April 6, 1930.
  • It was a 24-day Salt March, which was non-violent in nature, is historically significant as it led to the mass Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • Upon reaching the seashore in Dandi, Mahatma Gandhi broke the law by producing illegal salt.

Why Gandhiji chose Salt Satyagraha to start the civil disobedience movement?

  • In every Indian household, salt was indispensable, yet people were forbidden from making salt even for domestic use, compelling them to buy it from shops at a high price.
  • The state monopoly over salt was deeply unpopular; by making it his target, Gandhiji hoped to mobilise a wider discontent against British rule.
  • Salt was chosen to symbolize the start of civil disobedience movement because salt was deemed as something on which each Indian had the basic right.

gandhi

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Salt March.
  2. Causes, effects and outcomes.
  3. About the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  4. Key leaders.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance and outcomes of Dandi March.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to women.

Plea to constitute district medical boards:


Context:

The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a plea to constitute district medical boards with expert gynaecologists and even paediatricians to help rape survivors.

  • The court also said that if a woman is raped and is pregnant, she must be told about her legal rights.

What’s the case?

The court was hearing the case of a 14-year-old rape survivor seeking an abortion.

However, following a report from a medical board, to which the top court had referred her, she withdrew her plea for termination of pregnancy.

Need for:

This case highlighted the need for setting up medical boards in every district so that rape survivors could benefit from early medical intervention and not be forced to go through more trauma.

  • There has been a strong push against the law, which imposes severe restrictions on the reproductive choice of a woman, her personal liberty and bodily autonomy.
  • Several affected women, even rape survivors, have approached the apex court against the 1971 law.
  • So far, the apex court has dealt with pleas for medical termination of pregnancy on a case-to-case basis.

What the law says?

Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 prohibits termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks.

  • An exception to the law is made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to a court that the continued pregnancy is life-threatening for the mother.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is passed by the Lok Sabha and it will be discussed in the Rajya Sabha.

  • It seeks to extend the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 weeks to 24 under special circumstances.

Abortion vs Fundamental Right:

The “right to exercise reproductive choice is the right to choose whether to conceive and carry pregnancy to its full term or to terminate it. This choice is at the core of one’s privacy, dignity, personal autonomy, bodily integrity, self determination and right to health recognised by Article 21 of the Constitution.”

cabinet_decision

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Provisions in the new bill vs 1971 act.
  2. Time limit for abortion in India vs other countries.
  3. Contraceptive-failure clause.
  4. Constitution and composition of Medical Board.

Mains Link:

Discuss how Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 strives to provide reproductive rights to women in India.

Sources: the Hindu. 

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

State Election Commissioners:


Context:

The Supreme Court has held that independent persons and not bureaucrats should be appointed State Election Commissioners.

What’s the case?

An appeal was filed by the Goa government against an order of the Bombay High Court which had issued a stay on certain municipal election notifications issued by the Goa State Election Commission.

  • The Supreme court has now upheld the High Court order regarding municipal reservations and directed the state government to notify reservations for the municipalities of Mormugao, Margao, Mapusa, Quepem and Sanguem within the next 10 days.
  • It also directed the State Election Commission to complete the election process by April 30.

Supreme Court’s observations/judgement on independence of the state election commissioners:

  • Independent persons and not bureaucrats should be appointed State Election Commissioners. This is necessary because giving government employees the additional charge of State Election Commissioners is a “mockery of the Constitution”.
  • The States should appoint independent persons as Election Commissioners all along the length and breadth of the country.

Need for:

The court said that it was “disturbing” to see government employees manning State Election Commissions as an add-on job.

  • Besides, under the constitutional mandate, it is the duty of the State to not interfere with the functioning of the State Election Commission.

About the State Election Commission:

The Constitution of India vests in the State Election Commission, consisting of a State Election Commissioner, the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats and the Municipalities (Articles 243K, 243ZA).

The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the Governor.

  • As per article 243 the Governor, when so requested by the State Election Commission, make available to the State Election Commission such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the SEC by clause (1).
  • Under the Constitution, establishment of local self-government institutions is the responsibility of the states (entry 5, List II, Seventh Schedule).

Powers and removal of state election commissioner:

The State Election Commissioner has the status, salary and allowance of a Judge of a High Court and cannot be removed from office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of a High Court.

The ECI and SECs have a similar mandate; do they also have similar powers?

The provisions of Article 243K of the Constitution, which provides for setting up of SECs, are almost identical to those of Article 324 related to the EC. In other words, the SECs enjoy the same status as the EC.

In 2006, the Supreme Court emphasised the two constitutional authorities enjoy the same powers.

  • In Kishan Singh Tomar vs Municipal Corporation of the City of Ahmedabad, the Supreme Court directed that state governments should abide by orders of the SECs during the conduct of the panchayat and municipal elections, just like they follow the instructions of the EC during Assembly and Parliament polls.

In practice, are the SECs as independent as the EC?

Although state election commissioners are appointed by the state governors and can only be removed by impeachment, in the last two decades many have struggled to assert their independence.

  • One of the most widely remembered cases of confrontation happened in Maharashtra in 2008. Then state election commissioner Nand Lal was arrested and sent to jail for two days in March 2008 after the Assembly found him guilty of breach of privilege in an alleged conflict over his jurisdiction and powers.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Breach of privilege- application, implications and provisions in this regard.
  2. Applicability of impeachment process for various bodies under the Indian Constitution.
  3. Article 243 vs 324, similarities and differences in powers of state election commissions vs Election Commission of India.
  4. Appeals against decisions of Election Commissions.
  5. Elections to Parliament and state legislatures vs Local Bodies.

Mains Link:

Are the State Election Commissions in India as independent as the Election Commission of India? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Rajasthan Information Commission penalises five officials for negligence:


Context:

The Rajasthan State Information Commission has adopted a tough stance against government officials showing negligence in providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

  • The Commission has imposed fines on five officials of different departments (Including secretary, Village Development Officer and village secretaries) and passed adverse remarks about their conduct.

What’s the issue?

The officials have been fined for not providing information to applicants. Besides, the officials had not responded to the Commission’s notices.

About the RTI Act, 2005:

It sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens’ right to information.

It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002.

  • This act was enacted in order to consolidate the fundamental right in the Indian constitution ‘freedom of speech’. Since RTI is implicit in the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, it is an implied fundamental right.

Key Provisions:

  • Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo motu disclosure of information by each public authority.
  • Section 8 (1) mentions exemptions against furnishing information under RTI Act.
  • Section 8 (2) provides for disclosure of information exempted under Official Secrets Act, 1923 if larger public interest is served.

Information Commissioners and PIOs:

  • The Act also provides for appointment of Information Commissioners at Central and State level.
  • Public authorities have designated some of its officers as Public Information Officer. They are responsible to give information to a person who seeks information under the RTI Act.

Time period:

In normal course, information to an applicant is to be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority.

  • If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours.
  • In case the application is sent through the Assistant Public Information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, five days shall be added to the period of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be.

Applicability of RTI to:

Private bodies:

Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly.

  • In a decision of Sarbjit roy vs Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Central Information Commission also reaffirmed that privatised public utility companies fall within the purview of RTI.

Political parties:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had held that the political parties are public authorities and are answerable to citizens under the RTI Act.

But in August 2013 the government introduced a Right To Information (Amendment) Bill which would remove political parties from the scope of the law.

  • Currently no parties are under the RTI Act and a case has been filed for bringing all political parties under it.

Chief Justice of India:

Supreme Court of India on 13 November 2019, upheld the decision of Delhi High Court bringing the office of Chief Justice of India under the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act.

key_points

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Public Authority under the act.
  2. Exceptions under the act.
  3. About Chief Information Commissioner.
  4. State Information Commissioners.
  5. Public Information Officers.
  6. Latest amendments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the RTI Act, 2005.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Places of Worship Act:


Context:

The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship Act enacted in 1991 which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on August 15, 1947.

What’s the issue?

A petition has been filed in the court terming the law as “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective”.

  • The cut-off date (August 15, 1947) as per the law bars Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “re-claim” their places of worship which were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.

The petitioner also said the Sections of the Act that dealt with the bar on legal claims were against the principles of secularism.

What is the objective of the Act?

  • The aim of the Act was to freeze the status of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.
  • It was also to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such a place of worship as on that day.
  • It was intended to pre-empt new claims by any group about the past status of any place of worship and attempts to reclaim the structures or the land on which they stood.
  • It was hoped that the legislation would help the preservation of communal harmony in the long run.

Key features:

The Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.

It says no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.

It declares that all suits, appeals or any other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, which are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will abate as soon as the law comes into force. No further legal proceedings can be instituted.

Exceptions:

These provisions will not apply to:

  1. Ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains that are covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  2. A suit that has been finally settled or disposed of; and any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.
  3. The Act also does not apply to the place of worship commonly referred to as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. This law will have overriding effect over any other law in force.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

Bring down benzene emission at fuel outlets, says panel:


Context:

A joint committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to study air pollution in Kerala has made the following recommendations:

  1. Installation of vapour recovery system at fuelling stations.
  2. Retrofitting of diesel vehicles with particulate filters.
  3. Stringent action to be taken against industrial units that do not comply with emission norms.
  4. Promote battery-operated vehicles and ban old diesel vehicles in a phased manner.
  5. Creation of green buffers along traffic corridors.

The short-term measures recommended include:

  1. Strict action against visibly polluting vehicles (to be initiated by the Motor Vehicles Department).
  2. Introduction of wet / mechanised vacuum sweeping of roads.
  3. Controlling dust pollution at construction sites.
  4. Ensuring transport of construction materials in covered vehicles.

Need for:

Petrol refuelling stations are a major source of benzene emissions, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter 2.5 concentration. Therefore, installation of vapour recovery system is an important step in improving air quality. The committee recommended that this is to be implemented in coordination with the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization [PESO] shortly.

Sources of Benzene:

  • Automobile and petroleum industry.
  • Incomplete combustion of coal oil, petrol and wood.
  • Found in cigarette smoke and charcoal boiled food.
  • Also present in particleboard furniture, plywood, fibreglass, flooring adhesives, paints, wood panelling.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About NGT.
  2. Composition and functions of NGT.
  3. Benzene- sources (Asked in UPSC Pre).
  4. Effects of benzene on human health.

Mains Link:

Discuss the impact of benzene pollution on human health.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

Stop influx from Myanmar: Centre:


Context:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to the Chief Secretaries of Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh to “take appropriate action as per law to check illegal influx from Myanmar into India.”

Background:

The directive comes weeks after the military coup and subsequent crackdown in the neighbouring country led to several persons crossing over into India.

What has the Centre said?

The State governments had no powers to grant “refugee status to any foreigner” and India is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

  • The Tatmadaw, or Myanmar military, had taken over the country after a coup on February 1.
  • India and Myanmar share 1,643-km border and people on either side have familial ties.

About the Refugee Convention 1951:

  • It is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum.
  • The Convention grants certain rights to people fleeing persecution because of race, religion, nationality, affiliation to a particular social group, or political opinion.
  • India not a member
  • The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals. The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of travel documents issued under the convention.
  • The Convention builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries. A refugee may enjoy rights and benefits in a state in addition to those provided for in the Convention
  • The 1967 Protocol included refugees from all countries as opposed to the 1951 Convention that only included refugees from Europe.

indo_mayanmar

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Indo- Myanmar border.
  2. Bordering states.
  3. Key ports and rivers.
  4. About the UN Refugee Convention.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of UN refugee Convention of 1951.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Articles to be covered tomorrow:


1. Maths, physics no longer must for engineering admissions.

2. Quad summit.


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