National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS Exams- 2nd October 2019
Topic: Social Justice
In News: Correcting an error of judgment, the Supreme Court recently recalled its March 20, 2018 verdict, which bent the written law to protect persons accused of committing atrocities against the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
- On March 20, a judgment diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, to grant anticipatory bail to accused persons and directed that the police should conduct a preliminary enquiry on whether complaint under the 1989 law is “frivolous or motivated” before registering a case.
- Both conditions were not part of the original legislation. The reason cited was that the law was misused.
Details of New Judgement:
- In its recent judgement on the government’s review petition, a three-judge Bench reasoned that human failing and not caste is the reason behind the lodging of false criminal complaints.
- The Supreme Court condemned its own earlier judgment, saying it was against “basic human dignity” to treat all SC/ST community members as “a liar or crook.”
- Members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, due to backwardness, cannot even muster the courage to lodge an FIR, much less, a false one, the judgment noted.
About SC/ST Anti-Atrocities law:
- The provisions of SC/ST Act can be divided into three categories:-
a) Provisions of criminal law.
- Creation of new types of offences not in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or in the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 (PCRA).
- Atrocities can be committed only by non-SCs and non-STs on members of the SC or ST communities. Crimes among SCs and STs or between STs and SCs do not come under the purview of this Act.
- Defines various types of atrocities against SCs/STs and prescribes stringent punishments for the same.
- Enhanced minimum punishment for public servants.
- Punishment for neglect of duties by a public servant(Section 4)
- Cancellation of arms licenses in the areas identified where an atrocity may take place or has taken place and grant arms licenses to SCs and STs
- Denial of anticipatory bail (Section 18) provided in Section 438 of the CrPC
- Denial of probation to convict (Section 19).
b) Provisions for relief and compensation for victims:
c) Provisions that establish special authorities for the implementation and monitoring of the Act.
- Creation of Special Courts and special public prosecutor
- Mandatory, periodic monitoring system at District, State and National level
- Identification of atrocity prone areas
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015:
- Amends existing categories and adds new categories of actions to be treated as offences.
- Offences in case of sexual exploiting of SC or ST woman: Practice of dedicating a SC/ST woman as a devadasi to a temple was added as a crime with other provisions like Using acts, words or gestures of a sexual nature and touching an SC/ST woman intentionally in a sexual manner without her consent.
- New offences: (a) garlanding with footwear, (b) compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging, (c) abusing SCs or STs by caste name in public, (d) attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs or STs or disrespecting any deceased person held in high esteem, and (e) imposing or threatening a social or economic boycott.
- Preventing SCs or STs from undertaking the following activities: (a) using common property resources, (c) entering any place of worship that is open to the public, and (d) entering an education or health institution
- Presumption to the offences: If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.
- The act specifies the duties of public servants
- Under the earlier Act, a court of Session at the district level is deemed a Special Court
- Amendment specifies that an Exclusive Special Court and exclusive Special Public Prosecutor must be provided at the district level
- Special courts must be established where offences are less in number
- cases should be disposed of within two months
- Adds a chapter on the rights of victims and witness.
- The duty of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their, and witnesses.
Topic: Environment and Ecology
In News: According to a new study published by zoological survey of India, Some of the Butterfly and Moth specie are exhibiting Aa upward habitat shift.
More on the Topic:
- The butterfly named Himalayan tailless bushblue (Arhopala ganesa ganesa) was known to occur at an altitude between 1,300 m to 2,400 m in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. Recent studies however, have located the species at 3,577 m in Askot Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand, at least 1,200 m higher than it’s known range.
- An upward habitat shift has also been found for the blue baron (Euthalia telchinia), a butterfly species protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. While earlier it was known to be found at an altitude of 1,500 m in the central Himalayas, north-east India and the Western Ghats, researchers recorded it at 2,100 m at Neora Valley National Park, West Bengal.
- In the case of some species of moth, a similar uphill movement of habitat was recorded. The Trachea auriplena — described from Sri Lanka at about 300 m altitude — was recorded at 3,100 m in the Valley of Flowers National Park (Uttarakhand), an unusual occurrence for the species.
- Another moth species Diphtherocome fasciata was recorded at 3,300 m in the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary (Uttarakhand), at least 2,200 m higher than its previous range.
Significance of the study:
- Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) are known as potent ecological indicators and the ZSI through the publication has drawn attention to climate change and conservation of such species.
- There is an intricate relationship between Lepidoptera and vegetation, their distribution depends on and shifts with changes in vegetation. Huge numbers of lateral movement of species can be a cause for concern.
Mains Question: Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region.
Source: The Hindu
Topic: Reports and Indices/ Health
In News: With the help of UNICEF, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently conducted the first-ever comprehensive National Nutrition Survey.
More on the Topic:
- The survey recorded malnutrition that included micronutrient deficiencies and details of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and kidney function in children and adolescents.
Highlights of the Survey:
- Around 10% of children in the age group of 5 to 9 years and adolescents in the age group 10 to 19 years are pre-diabetic. 5% of them were overweight and 5% suffered from blood pressure.
- The survey for the first time proved the coexistence of obesity and under nutrition.
- One in five children in the age group 5 to 9 years were
- Tamil Nadu and Goa had the highest number of adolescents who were obese or overweight.
Government of India Initiatives to curb incidences of Malnutrition:
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY):6,000 is transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women for availing better facilities for their delivery.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan: aims to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight babies through synergy and convergence among different programmes, better monitoring and improved community mobilisation.
- National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013: aims to ensure food and nutrition security for the most vulnerable through its associated schemes and programmes, making access to food a legal right.
- Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme: aims to improve nutritional levels among school children which also has a direct and positive impact on enrolment, retention and attendance in schools.
Topic: Government Policies
In News: Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds.
More on the Topic:
- The sovereign gold bond was introduced by the Government in 2015.
- Government introduced these bonds to help reduce India’s over dependence on gold imports.
- The move was also aimed at changing the habits of Indians from saving in physical form of gold to a paper form with Sovereign backing.
- The Bonds will be sold through Scheduled Commercial banks (except Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks), Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices, and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange Limited.
- The bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram. The tenor will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from the 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
- Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
- The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option after 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
- The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 percent per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value.
Source: The Hindu
In News: The National Population Register (NPR) updation exercise will be undertaken alongside Census 2021.
More on the Topic:
- It will be conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry.
- Only Assam will not be included, given the recently completed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- National Population register is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
- A “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
- The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
- It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
- The NPR will collect both demographic data and biometric data. Biometric data will be updated through Aadhar details.
- It will help the government formulate its policies better and also aid national security.
- It will help to target government beneficiaries in a better way and also further cut down paperwork and red tape in a similar manner that Aadhaar has done.
- It will help in implementing the idea of ‘One Identity Card’ that has been recently floated by the government.
- ‘One Identity Card’ seeks to replace duplicate and siloed documentations of Aadhaar card, voter ID card, banking card, passport, and more.
Enterprise Development Centres
In News: Union micro, small and medium enterprises sector (MSME) ministry is planning to launch enterprise development centres (EDCs) in every district.
More on the Topic:
- EDCs are aimed at developing a cadre of indigenous entrepreneurs in the MSMEs, the EDCs will be similar to incubators for start-ups.
- They shall be run by special purpose vehicles in partnership with the private sector, business management organisations, local industry associations.
Functions of EDCs:
- Offer “enterprise development courses, vocational guidance and skill development for budding entrepreneurs”.
- Have “enterprise clinics” for struggling firms, which the government hopes will reduce the number of small businesses falling into a debt trap financed by bank loans.
- Offer credit facilitation and syndication, export promotion and supplier inclusion.
- Incentives and loans by the government for the sector will also flow through the EDCs, after determining the capabilities of the firm through set parameters.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: Brahmos supersonic cruise missile with major indigenous systems was test-fired successfully.
More on the Topic:
- The missile has been jointly developed with Russia and is named after the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva in Russia.
- It flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km.
- The range of the BrahMos missile can be extended up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime or MTCR in 2016.
- It is a multiplatform e it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.