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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 23 January 2024

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 ina 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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Idate Commission report

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Madhika Language
  2. Srirangam temple
  3. Laser Communication with Chandrayaan-3 Lander
  4. End-to-end encryption
  5. Mpemba effect
  6. Elusive binturong and the small-clawed otter 

 

Mapping:

  1. Aravali Range

 


 

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Idate Commission report

GS Paper 2

  Syllabus: Constitutional and Non-constitutional Bodies

  

Source: TH

 Context: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) emphasized the need to implement the Idate Commission report, which recommends establishing a permanent commission for Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic, and De-Notified Tribes (NTs, SNTs, and DNTs) in India.

 

The NHRC called for repealing the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952, and suggested appointing a representative of the De-notified Tribe community as per the Act’s stipulations. Additionally, it proposed the non-inclusion of DNTs/NTs/SNTs under SC/ST/OBC categories, formulation of specific policies for them, and addressing challenges in obtaining basic facilities and rights, especially for women and children among these communities. The discussion highlighted the importance of changing colonial mindsets and ensuring human rights for these tribes.

 

What are Nomadic Tribes (NTs), Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs), and De-Notified Tribes (DNTs)?

  1. Nomadic Tribes (NTs): These are communities that migrate from one place to another in search of livelihood. They often do not have a permanent settlement. Examples include the Banjara tribe and the Gujjar tribe.
  2. Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs): Similar to Nomadic Tribes, SNTs partially practice a nomadic lifestyle. They may have some settled areas but also engage in a nomadic way of life. The Van Gujjars in Northern India are an example.
  3. De-Notified Tribes (DNTs): These tribes were originally labelled as “criminal tribes” during the British colonial period under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1872. After independence, this label was officially removed, but the stigma persists. The term “De-Notified” refers to the removal of this classification. The Kanjar and Nat communities are examples of De-Notified Tribes.

 

About the Idate Commission (officially known as the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes):

It was formed in 2014 with Bhiku Ramji Idate as its head. Its primary objectives included creating a comprehensive state-wide catalogue of Denotified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs), identifying those not listed under SCs/STs or OBC categories, and proposing welfare measures for their benefit.

 

Major recommendations of the Idate Commission: 

  1. Establish a permanent commission for the DNTs, SNTs, and NTs with statutory status.
  2. Establish a separate department for their welfare in states with their sizable populations.
  3. Conduct a detailed survey of the families of DNTs to work out their estimated population and their concentration.
  4. Enable legal and constitutional protection by including a third schedule in the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
  5. DNTs not included in the SCs/STs/OBCs list should be listed as OBCs.

 

About the challenges faced by Denotified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs):

They encounter various challenges as they lack a centralized list and recognition as a distinct group under the Constitution, similar to Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribes (ST). These communities often fall outside the scope of government welfare initiatives, facing issues such as limited education and inadequate access to essential infrastructure like drinking water, shelter, and healthcare.

 

Steps taken by the government

  1. Development and Welfare Board for DNTs Established in 2019 (based on the recommendations of the Idate Commission) for a period of 3 years (extendable to 5 years)
  2. Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED) for educational empowerment, health insurance, livelihoods and housing.
  3. A committee has also been set up by the NITI Aayog to complete the process of identification of the De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DNCs)

 

About NHRC:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body established in India to safeguard and promote human rights in the country. It was established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, with a mandate to address human rights violations, provide remedies to victims, and create awareness about human rights principles among the public.

 

The mandate of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

Mandate of NHRCDescription
Investigate Human Rights ViolationsThe NHRC is responsible for investigating and inquiring into complaints of human rights violations, covering civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
Recommend Remedial MeasuresAfter investigation, the NHRC has the authority to recommend remedial measures to the concerned authorities for the protection and promotion of human rights. This includes suggestions for compensation, rehabilitation, and legal action against the perpetrators.
Spread Awareness and EducationThe NHRC is tasked with spreading awareness about human rights, promoting human rights education, and conducting research on various issues related to human rights in India.
Monitor State and Central Government ActionsThe NHRC monitors the actions of both state and central government authorities to ensure compliance with human rights standards and principles.
Provide Assistance and AdviceThe NHRC provides assistance and advice to individuals, groups, and organizations on human rights issues, offering guidance and support in addressing violations or concerns.
Promote Human Rights CultureThe NHRC aims to promote a culture of human rights by organizing seminars, workshops, and campaigns on various human rights issues. It collaborates with civil society organizations, academia, and other stakeholders to create awareness and advocacy for human rights.
Cooperation with International BodiesThe NHRC collaborates with international organizations, including the United Nations and its agencies, to exchange information, expertise, and best practices in the field of human rights. This fosters cooperation on a global scale to address and advance human rights concerns.

 

Evaluation of its success in achieving its objectives:

Positives:

  • Investigation of Human Rights Violations: The NHRC has been successful in investigating numerous cases of human rights violations in India.
    • As of September 2021, the NHRC had registered over 17,000 cases and completed inquiries in more than 13,000 cases.
  • Recommendations for Remedial Measures: The NHRC’s recommendations have led to positive changes and accountability in some cases.
    • One notable example is the NHRC’s intervention in the encounter killings in Manipur, where it recommended the registration of FIRs, compensation to the victims’ families, and disciplinary action against the involved security personnel. From 1993 to 2021, the NHRC awarded monetary relief amounting to over Rs. 200 crores in cases of custodial deaths.
  • Awareness and Education: The NHRC has played a crucial role in spreading awareness about human rights through its campaigns, workshops, and publications.
    • As of 2020, the NHRC had organized more than 5,000 human rights awareness programs across the country.
  • Monitoring of Prisons and Jails: The NHRC has the authority to visit and inspect prisons, jails, and detention centres to ensure the protection of the human rights of inmates.
    • It conducts regular inspections and takes appropriate actions to address issues such as overcrowding, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment.
  • International Engagement: The NHRC actively participates in international human rights forums and collaborates with international organizations. It engages in dialogue with various countries and shares best practices in the promotion and protection of human rights.

 

Negatives:

  • Implementation and Enforcement: Despite its recommendations, the implementation of NHRC’s directives by the concerned authorities has been a challenge. In some cases, the authorities have failed to take adequate action, leading to a lack of accountability and justice.
  • Limited Jurisdiction: It does not have jurisdiction over human rights violations by non-state actors, such as private companies. NHRC is also limited by temporal jurisdiction of cases violation limited to the past 1 year.
  • Delayed Justice: For instance, the NHRC’s recommendations in cases of extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths have not always led to prompt action and redress for the victims and their families.
  • Limited Resources and Staffing: The NHRC has often faced resource constraints, including limited budgetary allocations and understaffing. This hampers its ability to effectively handle a large number of complaints and conduct comprehensive investigations in a timely manner.

 

Conclusion:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) plays a crucial role in promoting and protecting human rights in India. The Supreme Court has emphasized the need to provide the NHRC with greater autonomy, independence, and financial resources to enhance its effectiveness in addressing human rights issues.

  

Insta Links:

 

Prelims Links:

Other than the Fundamental Rights, which of the following parts of the Constitution of India reflect/reflects the principles and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)? (UPSC 2020)

 

  1. Preamble
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. Fundamental Duties

 

 

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: D

 

Consider the following: (UPSC 2011)

  1. Right to education
  2. Right to equal access to public service
  3. Right to food.

 

 

Which of the above is/are Human Right/Human Rights under “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

 

Ans: D

Madhika Language

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

  

Context: The Chakaliya community in the remote colony of Kookanam, near Karivellur grama panchayat in Kannur, is facing the imminent extinction of its unique language, Madhika.

  • The language, has no script and is a blend of Telugu, Tulu, Kannada, and Malayalam, will be lost soon.
  • Despite its diverse influences, Madhika is losing ground among the younger generation, who prefer mainstream languages like Malayalam.
  • The Chakaliya community, considered untouchables in the past, faced social stigma, contributing to the neglect of their language.

Srirangam temple

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Prime Minister visited Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, marking the first visit by a serving Prime Minister to the temple, according to temple priests.

 

Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, also known as Srirangam Temple, is a Hindu temple in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of Vishnu. The temple is considered the first and most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples. 

It is constructed in Dravidian style and temple Complex has 21 sculpted Gopurams, 50 sub-shrines, and 9 sacred pools (tanks).

Situated on island of Srirangam bounded by Cauvery and Kollidam (tributary of Cauvery) Rivers.

Laser Communication with Chandrayaan-3 Lander

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: BS

 Context: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has successfully pinged India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission‘s Vikram lander on the Moon using a laser instrument.

The laser beam was transmitted and reflected between the LRO and a retroreflector on the Vikram lander, located near the Moon’s south pole. The Laser Retroreflector Array on Chandrayaan-3’s lander, developed in partnership between NASA and ISRO, has started serving as a marker or reference point on the Moon.

Significance: This achievement opens up new possibilities for precisely locating targets on the lunar surface. The technique holds potential for future lunar missions utilizing retroreflectors.

 

About Laser communication (also known as optical communication)

It is a method of transmitting information using laser beams. Instead of traditional radio frequency signals, laser communication relies on light waves to carry data. It involves modulating the intensity of a laser beam to encode digital data, which is then transmitted and received by specialized equipment. Laser communication offers advantages such as higher data transfer rates, greater bandwidth, and potentially more secure communication channels.

Mpemba effect

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Mpemba effect, named after Tanzanian student Erasto Mpemba, describes the counterintuitive phenomenon where hot water can freeze faster than cold water in similar conditions.

  • Although noticed by historical figures like Aristotle, Francis Bacon, and René Descartes, the effect gained attention after Mpemba highlighted it in 1969.

Despite various experiments, scientists have not reached a consensus on the exact causes of the Mpemba effect.

Several factors are considered, such as microbubbles promoting convection and heat transfer in heated water, increased evaporation in warmer water, and the insulating effect of frost in cold water.

Compounds like calcium carbonate in water may also play a role.

Elusive binturong and the small-clawed otter

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: Two new mammalian species, the elusive binturong (bearcat) and the small-clawed otter, have been added to Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.

  • The binturong, the largest civet in India, was photographed during a migratory bird count, while the small-clawed otter was spotted after a training program.
  • Both species are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

 

SpeciesBinturong (Bearcat)Small-clawed Otter (Asian Small-clawed Otter)
DescriptionLargest civet in India.Primarily found in freshwater habitats.
NativeSouth-East Asia.India (West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala), Southeast Asia, and Southern China.
DistributionIndia (Meghalaya, Sikkim), Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, etc.
ConservationVulnerable (IUCN); Appendix III (CITES).Vulnerable (IUCN); Appendix I (CITES).

 

Aravali Range

Mapping:

 

Source: live law

 Context: The Supreme Court expressed a preliminary opinion that if the State of Rajasthan believes mining activities in the Aravali Range are environmentally harmful, it has the authority to prevent such activities.

The Aravalli Range is regarded as the “lungs” for the highly polluted air in Delhi–National Capital Region (NCR). More than 25% and 31 hill ranges of the Aravallis in Rajasthan had vanished due to illegal quarrying.

 

SC judgement on the mining in the Aravalli region:

  1. 1992: Central government approval mandated for all mining and industrial activities in the Aravalli region.
  2. 1996: Mining lease renewal restricted within a 2km to 5km radius of Badkhal Lake without permission from central and state pollution control boards.
  3. 2009: Complete ban on mining throughout the Aravallis reinstated to safeguard the environment.
  4. 2018: Ordered the total demolition of Kant enclave, a residential complex in the Aravalli forest range.

 

About Aravalli Hills

It is among the world’s oldest fold mountains and is situated in northwest India across states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Haryana, as well as the Union Territory of Delhi. Extending from southwest to northeast, the highest peak is Guru Shikhar near Mount Abu in Rajasthan. Rivers like Banas and Sahibi (Yamuna tributaries) and Luni River originate from the Aravalli region, serving as a water divide between the Indus and Ganga Basins. Known for rich mineral deposits including zinc, gold, silver, copper, dolomite, and marble, the Aravalli Hills hold significance in geological and ecological contexts.

 

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