Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 11, 2017

Supreme Court Decisions

IPC section 497 – ADULTERY LAW

  • A notice has been issued by the Supreme court to the Centre on a public interest litigation challenging the constitutionality of IPC section 497 dealing with adultery, saying it appeared to be “archaic” and did not appear to be gender-neutral.

The two aspects of the penal provision will be examine by the court:

  • One, why does Section 497 treat the man as the adulterer and the married woman as a victim?
  • Two, the offence of adultery ceases the moment it is established that the husband connived or consented to the adulterous act. So, is a married woman the “property” of her husband, a passive object without a mind of her own?

Enlighten about Section 497 IPC –

  • The court is hearing a petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 497 IPC read with Section 198(2) of the CrPC.
  • The petition says, Section 497 IPC is unconstitutional as it discriminates against men and violates Article 14, 15 and 21.
  • Section 497 IPC says, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.
  • In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”
  • Section 198(2) CrPC says that “… no person other than the husband of the woman shall be deemed to be aggrieved by any offence punishable under Section 497 or Section 498 of the said Code: Provided that in the absence of the husband, some person who had care of the woman on his behalf at the time when such offence was committed may, with the leave of the Court, make a complaint on his behalf.”
  • Adultery is at best a violation of the terms of agreement between a married couple.
  • The IPC version of criminalising adultery with five years imprisonment is just a more moderate version of the Islamic versions which see it as a grave offence that deserves barbaric punishments like stoning and lashing.
  • Such laws serve as encouragement to peep into people’s bedrooms though only the husband can make a complaint.
  • It is possible that common law jurists conceived an adultery law to prevent duels between the wronged husband and the lover or to give the husband a legal device to hit back at the wife and her lover.
  • Most countries in the West have decriminalized adultery. India should follow their example rather than split hairs over making it gender just.

Report/Survey

Trachoma

National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17)

  • India is now declared free from ‘infective trachoma’.

Enlighten about the Survey –

  • The active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with overall prevalence of only 0.7%.
  • This is much below the elimination criteria of infective trachoma as defined by the WHO- active trachoma is considered eliminated if the prevalence of active infection among children below 10 years is less than 5%.
  • The Survey results indicate that active trachoma is no longer a public health problem in India.
  • India has now met the goal of trachoma elimination as specified by the WHO under its GET2020 program.
  • This has been possible due to decades of inter-sectoral interventions and efforts that included provision of antibiotic eye drops, personal hygiene, availability of safe water, improved environmental sanitation, availability of surgical facilities for chronic trachoma, and a general improvement in the socio economic status in the country.

Enlighten about Trachoma

  • It is a chronic infective disease of the eye and is the leading cause of infective blindness globally.
  • Trachoma is a disease of poor environmental and personal hygiene and inadequate access to water and sanitation.
  • It affects the conjunctiva under the eyelids.
  • Repeated infections cause scarring leading to in-turning of the eyelashes and eyelids. This further causes damage to the cornea and blindness.

Areas affected –

  • It is found affecting the population in certain pockets of the States of North India like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Nicobar Islands.
  • Trachoma infection of the eyes was the most important cause of blindness in India in 1950s and over 50% population was affected in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It was the most important cause of corneal blindness in India, affecting young children.

Government Announcements

MSME Sambandh

  • A Public Procurement Portal launched recently by the government.

Objective of the portal

  • To monitor the implementation of the Public Procurement from MSEs by Central Public Sector Enterprises.
  • By the help pf this App the Micro and Small Enterprises would be able to access the information about the products being procured by CPSEs.
  • Thus, it would help the MSEs in participating in the procurement process.

Enlighten about the Procurement Policy 2012

  • The Procurement Policy launched in 2012 mandates the Central Government Departments / CPSUs to procure necessarily from MSEs i.e. every Central Ministry / Department / PSU shall set an annual goal for procurement from the MSE sector at the beginning of the year, with the objective of achieving an overall procurement goal of minimum of 20% of the total annual purchases of the products or services produced or rendered by MSEs.
  • By creating an online portal, the Ministries and the CPSEs can assess their performance.

MSME sector

  • MSME sector generates more employment next only to Agriculture sector.
  • 80% of jobs in industry is given by MSME with just 20% of investment.

Judiciary

E-Courts Project National Conference on e- courts

  • The e Committee, of the Supreme Court of India in association with the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the Government of India recently held a National Conference on e- courts project in New Delhi.
  • The Conference focused on the progress, sharing of best practices, experiences, important issues and emerging challenges under the Project.

Enlighten About the e- courts project

  • The eCourts Mission Mode Project (Phase I 2010-15; Phase II 2015-19) is a national e Governance project for ICT enablement of district and subordinate courts of the country.
  • It is being implemented by the Government of India with a total outlay of 1670 crores (Phase II).
  • The major objectives of the Project are to make whole judicial system ICT enabled by putting in place adequate and modern hardware and connectivity; automation of workflow management in all courts; electronic movement of records from taluka/trial to appeal courts; installation of video conferencing (VC) facility and recording of witness through Video Conferencing.
  • Specific targets set under the Project include: computerization of all the courts (around 20400) and DLSA and TLSC; WAN and cloud connectivity in 3500 court complexes; full Installation and use of Video Conferencing facility at 3000 Court Complexes and 1150 prisons; charting out key identified citizen services like electronic filing, daily orders, delivery of decrees, online case status in all the district courts etc.

Defence

Ajeya Warrior 2017

  • Ajeya Warrior is a joint exercise between the Indian Army and Royal British Army.
  • The Exercise is held once in two years, alternatively in India and the UK.
  • The 3rd edition of this joint military exercise is being held in Rajasthan.
  • The aim of the Exercise is “to build and promote positive military relations between Indian and UK Army and to enhance their ability and interoperability to undertake joint tactical level operations in Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Environment under United Nations Charter”.
  • The exercise further focuses on enhancing and exchanging skills and experience between the Indian Army and the Royal British Army.

Infrastructure Development

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • Asian Development Bank will fund highway upgradation project in Karnataka for which it has approved a loan of USD 346 million.
  • This is ADB’s second funding to Karnakata, whose per capita income is higher than the national average and has lower unemployment and poverty rates.
  • The project will see construction of planned pedestrian, installation of women-friendly elements including bus shelters, marked crossings, footpaths and proper signage, among others.
  • The project will also carry out a road safety survey to identify critical accident spots across the state highways and carry out measures to improve these.

Enlighten about ADB

  • It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines.
  • It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.

Board of Governors

  • It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
  • It is composed of one representative from each member state.
  • The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
  • The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.
  • It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans.
  • The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.

Miscellaneous

World’s oldest eye:

  • Researchers have unearthed what they believe to be the “oldest eye” in a 530-million-year-old fossil of an extinct sea creature.
  • The fossil of Schmidtiellus reetae, which includes an early form of the eye seen in many of modern animals, including crabs, bees and dragonflies, was discovered in Estonia.
  • Schmidtiellus reetae had a primitive form of compound eye — an optical organ that consists of arrays of tiny visual cells, called ommatidia, similar to those of present-day bees.
  • Although the species had poor vision compared with many modern animals, it could identify predators and obstacles in its path.
  • Its eye consisted of approximately 100 ommatidia, and did not have a lens, like the modern compound eyes, probably because the primitive species lacked parts of the shell needed for lens formation.

International Relations

US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital rejected by UN
UN Security Council urgent meeting

  • Eight of the 15 members of the UN Security Council had called for an urgent meeting to analyze the decision taken by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
  • Jerusalem is a final status issue for which a comprehensive, just and lasting solution must be achieved through negotiations between the parties, UN said

UNESCO Report

UNESCO Report on education in India

226 Million adults can’t read
12 million children out of school

  • 266 million adults are still unable to read and some 12 million children are yet to get enrolled in schools
  • 35% of the world’s illiterate population is in India
  • According to the UNESCO, if India can improve and change the education scenario, the total global education scenario will change

Condition of children education

  • There were some 12 million children who do not go to school
  • Part of sustainable development goals: Making education accessible to all as well as improving the quality of education available is one of the 17 sustainable development goals

Warnings from the report

  • The report also warns that “disproportionate blame on any one actor—in most cases teachers—for systemic educational problems can have serious negative side effects, widening inequality and damaging learning”
  • It also calls for “better regulation of private tutoring” globally as well as in India which was widening the education gap between the rich and the poor

Suggestions

  • The report also recommends allocation of 4% of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for education or 15% of the total government expenditure

UNESCO

14th intangible cultural heritage from India – KUMBH MELA
UNESCO names Kumbh Mela in list of Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • The Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´KumbhMela´ on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • The inscription of Kumbh Mela in list was undertaken following recommendation by expert body which examines nominations submitted by member countries of UNESCO during its 12th session of Committee held at Jeju, South Korea.
  • KumbhMela is the 14th intangible cultural heritage from India to be listed in UNESCO’s list.

Enlighten about Kumbh Mela

  • KumbhMela is held every four times every 12 years at four different locations across central and northern India.
  • It is the largest religious congregation and largest peaceful gathering on planet.
  • This vast celebration attracts tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims, including mendicant nagas.
  • The first written evidence of the Kumbha Mela is mentioned in Bhagvat Purana. Another written evidence of Kumbha Mela is in works of Huen Tsang, who visited India in 629–645 AD, during reign of Harsha.
  • The Samudra manthan episode also has mentioned in Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, Mahabharata, and Ramayana.
  • Kumbh Mela is held every third year at one of four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.
  • Thus, it is held at each of these four places every twelfth year. Ardha Kumbha Mela, which is next in sanctity, is held only at Haridwar and Allahabad.
  • The rivers at these four places are Ganga at Haridwar, Prayag Sangam at Allahabad, Godawari at Nashik, and Shipra at Ujjain. The largest crowd is held on Mauni Amavasya.

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • The UNESCO’s coveted list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
  • The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.
  • It includes important intangible cultural heritages worldwide. It has two parts viz. Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of urgent Safeguarding.

List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity from India

  • Koodiyattam: Sanskrit Theatre of Kerala.
  • Mudiyett: theatre ritual of Kerala.
  • Tradition of Vedic Chanting.
  • Kalbelia: folk songs and dances of Rajasthan.
  • Ramlila: Traditional Performance of the Ramayana.
  • Sankirtana: singing, drumming and dancing ritual of Manipur.
  • Ramman: religious festival and ritual theatre of Garhwal Himalayas.
  • Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil of Thatheras: Punjab.
  • Chhau dance: classical Indian dance originated in the eastern Indian states.
  • Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Yoga

Defence

Border Protection Grid (BPG)

  • The Union Home Minister recently highlighted the importance of having Border Protection Grid (BPG) in the country.
  • The concept was highlighted during the recently held meeting of the Chief Ministers of the Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) States, in Kolkata.

Enlighten about BPG:

  • Border Protection Grid (BPG) is a multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure border.
  • The grid will comprise of various elements namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, Intelligence agencies, State Police, BSF and other State and Central agencies.
  • BPG will be supervised by a State level Standing Committee under the Chairmanship of respective Chief Secretaries.

Need for BPG

  • Border security is important to facilitate legitimate trade and commerce between the countries.
  • India has friendly relations with Bangladesh and there is a need to facilitate genuine trade and legitimate cross-border movement of people while curbing radicalization, illegal migration, and smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes and drugs etc.
  • BPG will ensure greater help for the States in the overall border security.
  • Secure borders are also necessary to prevent entry of illegal migrants some of whom have links with extremist groups for furthering anti-national activities with ulterior motives and posing threat to internal security.

Indo – Bangladesh Border –

  • The Indo-Bangladesh Border covering 5 states of India including Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal is 4096 km long.
  • So far in 3006 km border security infrastructure of fence, roads, floodlights and border out posts (BOPs) are in place and works in the remaining 1090 km are yet to be started.
  • Out of this, 684 km will be secured with fence and the related infrastructure, and the balance 406 km with the non-physical barriers.
  • Although bulk of the infrastructure is in place or under construction, construction in some parts is yet to commence mainly due to land acquisition issues.