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The Hindu Newspaper 22/06/2020

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1)Consider the following statements regarding the concept of Eclipse

  1. When the shadow of the Earth falls on the moon it is called Lunar eclipse.
  2. When the shadow of the moon falls on the Earth it is called Solar eclipse.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a.  1 only

b.  2 only

c.  Both 1 and 2

d.  Neither 1 nor 2

Answer : c

An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured, either by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer.

The term eclipse is most often used to describe either a solar eclipse, when the Moon’s shadow crosses the Earth’s surface, or a lunar eclipse, when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow

2)Arrange the following from South to North

  1. East Sea
  2. East China Sea
  3. South China Sea
  4. Sea of Okhotsk

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a.  4-1-2-3

b.  3-2-1-4

c.  3-1-2-4

d.  4-3-2-1

Answer : b

North Korea has recently launched two short-range missiles. The missiles were fired from Wonsan in eastern North Korea and landed in the Sea of Japan.

Russia’s plane was taking part in a joint air patrol by Russian and Chinese warplanes over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea – the first-ever air patrol between the two countries.

South Korean media has recently reported that a Russian warplane recently violates its airspace.

3)Union Finance Minister has recently launched the “Taxalogue”. It refers to?

a.  e-journal

b.  Tax calculation app

c.  Publicity Kit for tax awareness

d.  Awareness film about CBDT

Answer : a

Union Finance Minister has recently launched an in-house e-journal “Taxalogue” or Dialogue on Taxes, which is a new initiative taken by CBDT being a quarterly e-journal where one can contribute articles on issues pertaining to taxation.

News:- Secrecy of ballot is key to free and fair elections: SC

Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections. The choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it, the Supreme Court has held in a judgment.

“It is the policy of law to protect the right of voters to secrecy of the ballot… Even a remote or distinct possibility that a voter can be forced to disclose for whom she has voted would act as a positive constraint and a check on the freedom to exercise of franchise,” a three judge Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Krishna Murari observed.

The principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy, the court said.

Is there a Statute Provision?:- Section 94 of the Representation
of the People Act, which upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain
confidential about her choice of vote.

can the Voter Reveal his/her vote :- However, a voter can also
voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure.


“The privilege ends when the voter decides to waive the privilege and instead volunteers to disclose as to whom she had voted. No one can
prevent a voter from doing
. Nor can a complaint be entertained from any, including the person who wants to keep the voter’s mouth sealed as to why she disclosed for whom she voted,” Justice Khanna wrote.

News:- NGT fine on Karnataka over pollution in lake:- The National Green Tribunal has imposed an interim penalty of ₹10 lakh on the
Karnataka government over pollution in the Kithiganahalli Lake,

What is National Green Tribunal (NGT)?

It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.

With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.

NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.

Structure of NGT

The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.

The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).

A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.

There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.

Powers & Jurisdiction:-

The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).

Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).

The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of ‘natural justice’.

While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.

NGT by an order, can provide:- relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage (including accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance),

  • for restitution of property damaged, and
  • for restitution of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.
  • An order/decision/award of Tribunal is executable as a decree of a civil court.

The NGT Act also provides a procedure for a penalty for non compliance:

  • Imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years,
  • Fine which may extend to ten crore rupees, and
  • Both fine and imprisonment.
  • An appeal against order/decision/ award of the NGT lies to the Supreme Court, generally within ninety days from the date of communication.

The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment, these include:

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.

Strengths of NGT:-Over the years NGT has emerged as a critical player in environmental regulation, passing strict orders on issues ranging from pollution to deforestation to waste management.

NGT offers a path for the evolution of environmental jurisprudence by setting up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

It helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts on environmental matters.

NGT is less formal, less expensive, and a faster way of resolving environment related disputes.

It plays a crucial role in curbing environment-damaging activities.

The Chairperson and members are not eligible for reappointment, hence they are likely to deliver judgements independently, without succumbing to pressure from any quarter.

The NGT has been instrumental in ensuring that the Environment Impact Assessment process is strictly observed.

Challenges:-

Two important acts – Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 have been kept out of NGT’s jurisdiction. This restricts the jurisdiction area of NGT and at times hampers its functioning as crucial forest rights issue is linked directly to environment.

The NGT decisions are being challenged in various High Courts under Article 226 (power of High Courts to issue certain writs) with many asserting the superiority of a High Court over the NGT, claiming ‘High Court is a constitutional body while NGT is a statutory body’.” This is one of the weaknesses of the Act as there is lack of clarity about what kind of decisions can be challenged; even though according to the NGT Act, its decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court.

Decisions of NGT have also been criticised and challenged due to their repercussions on economic growth and development.

The absence of a formula based mechanism in determining the compensation has also brought criticism to the tribunal.

The decisions given by NGT are not fully complied by the stakeholders or the government. Sometimes its decisions are pointed out not to be feasible to implement within a given timeframe.

The lack of human and financial resources has led to high pendency of cases – which undermines NGT’s very objective of disposal of appeals within 6 months.

The justice delivery mechanism is also hindered by limited number of regional benches.

News:- Operation Samudra Setu :- The Navy launched Operation
Samudra Setu on May 8 to repatriate citizens stuck abroad due to the
COVID-19 pandemic and since then Indian citizens have been evacuated from the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Iran
. INS Jalashwa and INS Magar had evacuated 2,874 individuals from the Maldives and Sri Lanka to the ports of Kochi and Thoothukudi.

News:- Hyderabad firm gets DCGI nod for generic Remdesivir:-

Hetero, drugmaker with headquarters in Hyderabad has received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to manufacture and sell a generic version of Gilead’s Remdesivir drug for the treatment of COVID-19
patients in the country.

The generic version will be marketed under the brand name ‘Covifor’.

News:- Madhesis oppose new Nepal rule:- What is the Rule :- Seven year
waiting period before foreign women married to Nepali men can acquire
Nepali citizenship. Madhesi critics have termed the changes as racially
motivated.

Madhesi People are living in the Plain region.

News: Golden Langur: – IUCN status – Endangered

Chakrashila is India’s first wildlife sanctuary with golden langur as the primary species.

As a part of MGNREGA around 27.24 lakh trees will be planted in Assam to sustain the colonies of the Golden Langurs in Bongaigaon district.

What is StillBirth : A stillbirth is the birth of a baby who has died any time from 20 weeks into the pregnancy through to the due date of birth. The baby may have died during the pregnancy or, less commonly, during the birth.

If the length of gestation (pregnancy) is not known, the birth will be considered a stillbirth if the baby weighs 400 grams or more.

A stillbirth is different from a miscarriage, which occurs when a pregnancy ends before 20 weeks of gestation.

EDITORIALS OF THE DAY :-

What changed in India-Nepal ties?

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2-India and its neighbourhood- relations

Context: Nepal’s Parliament has cleared a map that includes territories with India — Limpiadhura, Lipulek and Kalapani.

Special ties between India and Nepal:

  • Resolving standoffs:
    • Previous standoffs such as the economic blockade of 2015 were effectively resolved through direct negotiations, back-channel diplomacy and an accommodative spirit on both sides.
    • The Backchannels were used during major trade embargos since the 1970s such as Indian royalty.
  • Favouring India: 
    • In 1960’s,Nepal convincingly assured India that a road built to connect Nepal with Tibet had only developmental and no strategic significance.
    • In the 1980s, Nepal annulled a contract with China to build the 210-km Kohalpur Banbasa Road closer to the Indian border after India raised security concerns.
  • Close association of India with Nepal army: The chief of each national army has enjoyed the status of Honorary General of the other side on a reciprocal basis since 1950.

The influence of India in Nepal has reduced over the years.

Troubled phase in Nepal-India relations:

  • Ouster of monarchy: The turning point in relations came with the 12-point understanding among Nepal’s eight political parties in November 2005 in Delhi which led to the ouster of monarchy. The crucial issues such as the abolition of monarchy, declaration of Nepal as a secular country etc. then were not discussed sufficiently in the Parliament of Nepal.
  • Losing of allies in Nepal:
    • India took the lead role in transforming Nepal into a secular republic which set off events leading to India losing its clout and allies.
    • For example-the Nepali Congress was often branded “pro-India” by Communists for their close ties with Indian National Congress and socialists. However, following the 12-point agreement, the Nepali Congress was forced to accept the lead role of Maoists (Communists) in the impending political change.
  • Imposed secularism: The EU took a very open stance that secularism will have no meaning without the right to conversion being incorporated as a fundamental right in the new Constitution. This led to resentment among the majority population about this “imposed secularism”.
  • Change in perception: Over the years, India’s focus on Nepal appears driven more by security concerns and threat perception than by promoting a soft power-based approach.
  • Influence of China:China has increased its presence and investment in Nepal by targeting tourism, post-earthquake reconstruction, trade and energy etc.

Way Forward

India must again begin ‘valuing’ common civilisational , cultural, historic and people to people ties to resolve the current dispute.

Understanding China ‘s strategic objectives regarding India

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- India and its neighbourhood- relations

Context: A violent face-off happened between India and China in Galwan Valley.

Background:

  • 1962 War:
    • Nehru’s thinking was influenced by his idealistic notion of Afro-Asian solidarity and his suspicion of America’s strategic designs.
    • War debacle: It was blamed on the government’s military unpreparedness and its inability to understand China’s larger strategic objectives.
  • Current situation:The China took India’s decision to separate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir as an India’s attempt to change the status quo in Aksai Chin.

Though, India is now much better prepared to face China’s challenge on the ground but we need to understand China’s objectives.

China’s strategic objectives:

  • Ensuring Its dominance:China doesn’t want India to be in the same league and it try to achieve it with periodic localised assaults across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) if India tries to assume a position of equality.
  • Warning against Containing China: China doesn’t want India to actively oppose its interests in the Indo-Pacific region. It want to maintain its dominance by warning India not to align with the U.S. and its allies such as Japan and Australia.
  • Engaging India with problems in its immediate neighbourhood:China doesn’t want India to act as an alternative pole of power to China in the broader Asian region.
  • Neutralising India’s conventional power superiority over Pakistan: It achieve this by supporting Pakistan economically and militarily including the sharing of nuclear weapons designs.

These objectives are essential for a realistic Indian response to China’s aggressive policies along the LAC.

India’s response and Way Forward

India’s main strategic goal should be the adoption of carefully calculated policies that neutralise China’s diplomatic and military power in the Asia-Pacific region without making India appear as a surrogate for other powers.

The working of Rajya Sabha

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Context: Another round of Rajya Sabha (RS) elections were held for 19 seats across several States.

Background:

  • Defection: Eight Congress MLAs left the party in Gujarat after the announcement of RS elections. This enabled the victory of an extra BJP candidate to the RS.
  • Poaching of MLAs: In Rajasthan, the BJP had strength to elect one member but it fielded two which led to speculation of poaching.
  • Change in numbers: The ruling BJP now has 86 members in the Rajya Sabha which is the highest number for the party in the Upper House while the Congress now has 41.

Importance of Rajya Sabha:

  • Power sharing: The upper house works as a Council of States. It represents the intersts of the states. It institutionalises the sharing of power between the Centre and the State under India’s federal structure. There are certain exclusive powers of Rajya Sabha such as power to transfer a subject from the State List to Union List for a specified period.
  • Forum: The House of the Elders is considered an exalted forum of scholarship and statesmanship as it has some nominated members too.
  • Deliberations: They are critical for a vast and diverse country like India.
  • Reviewing house: Its function is to improve legislation passed by the Lower House and is not one of obstruction.
  • Checks and balances: It is supposed to act as a check on the legislation.It is a body to check and scrutinise the laws.
  • Permanent house: The Rajya Sabha doesn’t dissolve like the Lok Sabha.

But it is losing its value in the last few years.

Losing sheen of Rajya Sabha:

  • The steady entry of celebrities and business tycoons has not made a serious contribution to the RS’s working.
  • Reduction in Deliberations: There has been reduction in deliberations of Rajya Sabha. For example- the government has arbitrarily labelled bills as money bills to bypass scrutiny.

Way Forward

There should not be any pushing of legislation through both houses as certain have some far-reaching effects on the country. It is imperative that members work across party lines to uphold Parliament’s constitutional role.

Fighting a double pandemic: On Rising Domestic Violence Cases

SourceThe Hindu

Syllabus: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and the States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Context: In response to the exponential increase in domestic violence cases during Covid-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth Secretariat is working alongside partner organizations on measures which will help its 54 member countries to combat the menace.

Domestic Violence in India during Covid-19 pandemic

Reasons for Increased domestic violence i during the pandemic lockdown

The issue of domestic violence is rooted in the very nature of the patriarchal society.  Often referred to as “intimate terrorism”, domestic violence is an expression the very desire to gain and maintain power and control over women.

The major reasons for increasing domestic violence during Covid-19 lockdown are as follows:

  • Tension and strain created by security, health, and financial worries
  • Confinement and lack of access to alcohol leading to interpersonal violence and abuse.
  • Domestic labor becomes taxing during a lockdown if not distributed equally. The woman is expected to bear the load and violence increase if she fails to do so.
  • Lack of institutional support, inability to complain during lockdown aggravates the problem.

Women in Crisis Situations

  • In West Africa, 60% of total deaths in the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak were women.
  • Following the Canterbury earthquake in New Zealand, there was a 53% rise in domestic violence.

Steps taken to address rising domestic violence during lockdown

  • NCW launched a WhatsApp number – 7217735372 to report domestic violence during lockdown
  • ‘Suppress Corona, not your voice’: It is an initiative launched by Uttar Pradesh government. Under the initiative, a female police officer visits house to register the complaint and warn the perpetrator.
  • Kerala government announced a WhatsApp number – 9400080292 to report domestic violence during the lockdown.
  • “Red dot” initiative by non-profit WEFT (Women’s Entrepreneurs for Transformation): Under this, domestic violence victims are asked to draw a red dot on their palm to seek help and alert their neighbors and authorities.

Suggested Measures:

  • Urgent action to ensure that during this COVID-19 pandemic, victims of abuse can access the health care they need, including mental health services.
  • Psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted using technology-based solutions.
  • Provide emergency transportation to women seeking refuge from domestic violence
  • Ensure access to police assistance, and justice services.
  • Initiate campaigns to raise awareness and enhance support system
  • Media outreach to alert to the facts and the dangers of domestic violence and encouraging positive steps like sharing care responsibilities at home
  • To ensure financial independence, post COVID-19 strategies should include dedicated funding and support for micro, small and medium sized businesses and the informal sector, which are predominantly led by women.

Conclusion: The Commonwealth has decided to hold a virtual follow-up session to the Women Affairs Ministerial Meeting that was held in September 2019, to set out an action plan to support women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis and also extend its support to the planned UN Declaration on Women and COVID-19

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