Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - January 9, 2018

Social Issues

Section 377
LGBT Community rights
Larger Bench to decide on Sec. 377
Supreme Court Petition seeks to quash law criminalising homosexuality

  • The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a larger Bench a writ petition filed by five gay and lesbian members of the LGBT community to strike down the colonial Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code of 1860, which criminalises homosexuality.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, decided to revisit a December 2013 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Suresh Kumar Kaushal versus Naz Foundation, which dismissed the LGBT community as a negligible part of the population while virtually denying them the right of choice and sexual orientation.
  • The Bench said a section of people cannot live in fear of a law which atrophies their right to follow their natural sexual inclinations.
  • It said societal morality changes with time, and law should change pace with life.

Enlighten about Section377 (COURT OBSERVATIONS)

  • Section 377 punishes carnal intercourse against the order of nature.
  • The determination of order of nature is not a common phenomenon.
  • Individual autonomy and individual natural inclination cannot be atrophied unless the restrictions are determined as reasonable.”
  • What is natural for one may not be natural for the other, but the confines of law cannot trample on or curtail the inherent rights embedded with an individual under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
  • Section 377 has the potential to destroy individual choice and sexual orientation.
  • The court agreed that both its decisions emphasising transgender identity in the NALSA case and the observations made by a nine-judge Bench in the right to privacy case upholding the right to sexual orientation and choice of sexual partners warrant a re-look into its dismissive verdict in the Naz case.
  • A right to sexuality, sexual autonomy and freedom to choose a sexual partner forms the cornerstone of human dignity which is protected under Article 21

Paradigm shift

  • The order reveals a paradigm shift in the apex court’s views.
  • A Review Bench of the Supreme Court, in January 2014, had agreed with the December 11, 2013 verdict refusing to strike down Section 377 IPC.
  • The 2013 verdict had, instead, set aside the historic and globally accepted verdict of the Delhi High Court.
  • The High Court had read down Section 377 and declared that the penal provision targeted homosexuals as a class.

Cyber security

Cybercrime victims can complain online
Home Ministry to launch a web portal

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is set to launch a web portal where people who have faced online abuse and victims of cybercrimes like financial frauds can register complaints on a real-time basis.
  • The Centre also plans to give access rights to banks on the portal to address cases of fraudulent transactions online.
  • According to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), there was a 21% increase per year in incidents of cybercrime.
  • The portal has been readied on the directives of a committee appointed by the Supreme Court to check circulation of child pornography and sexual violence videos on the Internet.
  • In December, the court asked the Centre to set up a cell in the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Ministry of Home Affairs to report and take down such videos and messages.
  • The portal will be operational from January 10.
  • If money has been fraudulently withdrawn through someone’s credit or debit card, the person can log onto the portal and register a complaint.
  • Since banks would be given access rights, the bank concerned would receive the complaint and take action immediately,” said a senior official of the Home Ministry.

Science & Technology

Pratyush India’s fastest supercomputer Fourth fastest machine in the world dedicated to weather and climate research

  • India’s supercomputing prowess moved up several notches Monday after it unveiled Pratyush,
  • Pratyush - an array of computers that can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops.
  • One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system.
  • According to a statement by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pratyush is the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world dedicated to weather and climate research, and follows machines in Japan, USA and the United Kingdom.
  • It will also move an Indian supercomputer from the 300s to the 30s in the Top500 list, a respected international tracker of the world’s fastest supercomputers.
  • The machines will be installed at two government institutes: 4.0 petaflops HPC facility at IITM, Pune; and 2.8 petaflops facility at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, Noida.

Enlighten about petaflop machines -

  • The government had sanctioned ₹400 crore last year to put in place a 10-petaflop machine.
  • A key function of the machine’s computing power would be monsoon forecasting using a dynamical model.
  • This requires simulating the weather for a given month — say March — and letting a custom-built model calculate how the actual weather will play out over June, July, August and September.
  • With the new system, it would be possible to map regions in India at a resolution of 3 km and the globe at 12 km.

Nation

Territorial Army
HC orders TA to allow women

  • The Delhi High Court cleared the path for induction of women in the Territorial Army
  • HC observed that any provision that bars them from joining the Force was against the Fundamental Rights provided under the Constitution

Enlighten about HC decision

  • Women are eligible for recruitment and appointment to the Territorial Army under Section 6 of the Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948
  • It said the government has not given any rationale to justify its action of enforcing a bar against recruitment of women in the force
  • The court noted that more and more countries have moved away from positions of total prohibition to permitting recruitment of women even in combat roles in the armed forces
  • It listed around 22 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, which permit recruitment of women even in combat roles

Enlighten about Territorial Army

  • Territorial Army is an organisation of volunteers who receive military training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency
  • It is also known as the second line of defence after the regular Army
  • The role of the Territorial Army is to relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities
  • It also helps in maintenance of essential services in situations where life is affected or the security of the country is threatened

Reforms

Appropriate labelling of organic food mandatory from july 2018

  • From July 2018, it would be illegal to sell organic food that is not appropriately labelled
  • The rules were finalised after almost a year of being sent out as a draft for public comments

Two authorities to provide certification

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had issued regulations that required food companies selling organic produce to get certified with one of the two authorities
  • — National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) or
  • The Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India)
  • Companies could also get a voluntary logo from the FSSAI that marked its produce as ‘organic’

Enlighten about NPOP and PGS-India

  • For nearly two decades now, organic farming certification had been done through a process of third party certification under the NPOP
  • It was run by the Ministry of Commerce and was used for certifying general exports
  • Nearly 24 agencies were authorised by the NPOP to verify farms, storages and processing units and successful ones got a special ‘India Organic’ logo
  • The PGS-India programme, in contrast, had been around for only two years
  • It involves a peer-review approach
  • Farmers played a role in certifying whether the farms in their vicinity adhered to organic-cultivation practices
  • This programme was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National Centre of Organic Farming

Economy

Credit Enhancement Fund to be launched by March Fund to raise credit rating

  • The Credit Enhancement Fund, announced by the Finance Minister in the last Budget, is expected to be operational by the end of this fiscal
  • The India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL) anchored fund will help raise credit rating of bonds floated by infrastructure companies and facilitate investments from long-term investors
  • In the 2016-17 Budget speech, FM had proposed that the LIC will set up a dedicated fund to provide credit enhancement to infrastructure projects
  • LIC could not anchor the proposed company because of regulatory issues