IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 18th July 2018
‘Mobocracy’: rule or domination by the masses
Part of: GS Mains II – Governance issues; Security; Welfare issues
- India’s Supreme Court has recommended the government enact new laws to combat mob violence, amid a sharp rise in the number of so-called vigilante attacks.
- Supreme Court ruled that the State has a “sacrosanct duty to protect its citizens from unruly elements and perpetrators of orchestrated lynching and vigilantism.”
- “Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land”
- SC held that ‘lynching’ should be dealt as a “special and separate offense and provide adequate punishment.”
A special law in this field would instil a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activities.
There can be no trace of doubt that fear of law and veneration for the command of law constitute the foundation of a civilized society.
It also recommended that cases of lynchings be heard in a fast track court with trials to be concluded within six months and the highest possible sentences to be awarded.
- Critics argue that the rise in mob violence has coincided with the electoral success of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. They allege that the current government has helped foster a culture of religious intolerance since coming to power in 2014.
- Populace of a great Republic like ours has lost the values of tolerance to sustain a diverse culture.
- Rising wave of frenzied mobs — fed by fake news, self-professed morality and false stories — would consume the country like a “typhoon-like monster.”
Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Governance issues; Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
- The Amendment Bill proposes to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioners.
- Opposition parties opposed the amendments – it will dilute the RTI law and compromise the independence of the Information Commissions.
From previous day’s editorial – Concerns over proposed amendments to Right To Information Act 2005 – we learnt that:
- Government also intend to amend RTI – for Introduction, Consideration, and Passing.
- The proposed amendments have been kept secret and there has not even been a hint of public consultation or pre legislative consultation.
Do you know?
- The current law gives Information Commissioners a tenure of five years and salaries which match those of Election Commissioners.
- The proposed RTI amendment Bill seeks to amend that.
Argument given by the government –
- Election Commission is a constitutional body, the Information Commissions are statutory bodies.
- They both have differing mandates and hence their status and service conditions need to be rationalised accordingly.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) set up under the Right to Information Act is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not having been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the RTI Act.
Tribe/community in news: Bru community
- The Brus had fled Mizoram in 1997 following an unrest.
- Multiple efforts have been made since then to repatriate them.
- Recently, Union Home Ministry committed to implement the agreement (BRU PACT) signed to repatriate nearly 33,000 Bru refugees, currently living in camps in Tripura, to Mizoram.
- The Central government will implement the agreement and all the benefits, including cash assistance, would be given to the refugees who abide by it.
Do you know?
- As per the agreement, signed by the Central government and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram besides the MBDPF leadership, each of the 5,407 families will get ₹5,000 per month along with free ration for two years, besides house-building assistance of ₹1.5 lakh.
- A one-time financial assistance of ₹4 lakh will also be given to each family but the amount will be kept as fixed deposit in the name of the family head.
- Around 8,000 Bru refugees have gone back to Mizoram since 1997 in six batches and they have been living peacefully in the State.
Plants may soon create own fertilizer from thin air: study
Part of: GS Prelims and mains III – Science and technology; Research and development
- Research is being done to engineer plants that can develop their own fertilizer by using atmospheric nitrogen to create chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
- Although there are no plants that can fix nitrogen from the air, there is a subset of cyanobacteria that is able to do so, scientists said.
Do you know?
- Cyanothece bacteria has the ability to fix nitrogen because it has a circadian rhythm.
- Cyanothece photosynthesise during the day, converting sunlight to the chemical energy they use as fuel, and fix nitrogen at night, after removing most of the oxygen created during photosynthesis through respiration.
- The research team took the genes from Cyanothece, responsible for this day-night mechanism, and put them into another type of cyanobacteria, Synechocystis, to coax it into fixing nitrogen from the air too.
General Studies 2
- History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
General Studies 4
- Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
MLK Jr. is suggesting others or us to find what we value in life; family, friends, hopes, dreams, etc. If one is living with no reason other than fear of death, there is no real value to the individual’s life.
Living is about making an impression after death. Otherwise, once one dies with no one to remember him or her, what’s the difference between him/her never existing in the first place? So find something you value, love, treasure, and will engrave you in life even after death, much like Anne Frank’s “I want to live even after death.”
Nelson Mandela is an ideal example for such thought.
- Nelson Mandela was a man who cherished the ideal of a free society all his life; an ideal that as he proclaimed at his trial in Pretoria, in April 1964, he hoped to live for, but if need be, die for.
- During his lifetime, Mandela dedicated himself to the freedom struggle of the African people, and in doing so, fought against White and Black domination in South Africa.
- But more than anything else, he fought for democracy as a plural society in which all races, languages and opinions could live together in harmony, and with equal opportunity.
However, what Nelson Mandela, as a political and moral leader, made possible for humanity was to extend and expand our capacity to rethink politics in terms of an ethics of empathy, a politics of forgiveness, and a revolution of values.
South Africa’s transition to democracy, under the leadership of Mandela, was a great work of political creativity and moral wisdom.
The two noted definitions of a human being — by Aristotle — that he is a political being and a being endowed with speech, supplement each other in Mandela’s anti-apartheid practice of freedom.
What Mandela understood through his life experience was that freedom cannot be speechless, while violence is incapable of speech. That such an outspokenness (what the Greeks called parrhesia) must be intimately connected with the ideal of freedom seems to be true in the legendary life of Mandela.
Mandela was born a century ago in a world where outspokenness was not practised among Blacks in South Africa.
Blacks were meant to learn through imitation and emulation, not through asking questions.
Mandela’s political future as a national leader was established and solidified by two facts: the bus boycott in the 1940s in Alexandra and his meeting with Walter Sisulu, who was an African nationalist who influenced many activists and ANC members. These two influences drove Mandela to form the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League in 1944.
The next turning points in his political struggle was during the Sharpeville Massacre (1960), when a hundred African demonstrators were killed, and both the ANC and the Pan-African Congress were banned.
Mandela decided to go underground and create a new armed wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation).
In the eyes of Mandela, the choice of turning the ANC into a violent organisation was to acquire the best hope of reconciliation afterwards. Nevertheless, he was the first to criticise this decision of his in the mid-1970s. Madela insisted on the ANC’s heritage of non-violence and racial harmony.
The second memorable moment of his life and that of South African nation was when he became, in 1994, South Africa’s first democratic and Black African President.
“Madiba”, as Mandela was known by his clan name, accomplished his heroic status by meeting the challenges of his life and those of his time.
As an activist, as a prisoner or as a leader in government, he remained intensely conscious of his moral and political responsibilities as a man in search for excellence.
Even after his death, on December 5, 2013, he has remained a global figure with a legacy — of a politics of excellence.
If we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth today, it is not because we take leave of his time and his struggle but mainly because his politics of excellence and his moral capital are more relevant than ever to all those who continue to believe in the non-violent pursuit of public happiness and in peace-making governance.
Connecting the dots
- Given below are two quotations of moral thinkers/philosophers. For each of these, bring out what it means to you in the present context:
- “If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
- “Freedom cannot be speechless, while violence is incapable of speech.”
- Discuss the legacy of Nelson Mandela as the champion of a politics of excellence, non-violent pursuit of public happiness and in peace-making governance.
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Health related issues.
General Studies 3
- Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management
Is Indian food clean?
- Huge quantities of fish laced with the substance, formalin—a known carcinogenic chemical primarily used for stopping decomposition of corpses—have been seized across the country.
What is formalin?
- Formalin is derived from formaldehyde, which is a substance that is carcinogenic to humans.
- Mixed in the right proportion with water, the paste is used for embalming and preventing the decay of dead cells. Formalin, which contains 37–40% formaldehyde, is used in mortuaries and labs.
Formalin is often used to preserve fish, which is an easily perishable food whose value depends on its freshness. And when fish is imported from another state, to prevent rot during transport, fish traders resort to using formalin, even though formalin consumption is harmful to human beings.
How does formalin affect humans?
- There are several risks associated with ingesting formalin – having even 30 ml of a solution, which contains as little as 37% formalin, can kill a fully grown adult.
- Once ingested, formalin releases toxins into the body, and the sustained ingestion of formalin can eventually lead to cancer.
- Breathing even the smallest amount of formaldehyde gas can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis.
- If formaldehyde is present in the air at a level more than 0.1 ppm, people could experience a burning sensation in their eyes, nose and throat, apart from coughing and sneezing. They could also experience nausea and skin irritation.
- If formalin reaches the stomach, a person could experience stomach ache and nausea. Even if the fish or vegetables treated with formalin are cooked, it doesn’t stop the formalin from releasing the toxins into the body.
The recent seizure of huge quantities of fish laced with formalin leads us to the bigger problem of food adulteration in India.
Do you know?
The technical definition of food adulteration according to the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is, “The addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food, so that the natural composition and quality of food substance is affected.”
Food adulteration can be intentional when done to add volume, texture, taste or stability to the items. Or it can be due to carelessness or poor maintenance of the facility/logistics on part of the food manufacturer/ distributor. The bottom line is that it can cause serious long term damage to your health.
Recent figures presented by the health ministry in Parliament suggest that almost one in four food samples tested in 2016-17 have been found to be adulterated. And it is rising—from 19.5 per cent in 2014-15 to 23.4 per cent in 2016-17
Food adulteration, why is it a concern?
- Food is one of the basic necessities for sustenance of life. Pure, fresh and healthy diet is most essential for the health of the people. It is no wonder to say that community health is national wealth.
- The Supreme Court has said that access to food free from harmful substances such as pesticides is a fundamental right.
- Consumption of adulterated food might be playing a role in the alarming rise of heart, kidney and liver diseases, diabetes and cancer in the country.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
- FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
Issues with the adulteration
- The crackdown on formalin, however, has been restricted to banning fish from the breeding states rather than trying to uproot the menace.
- Food adulteration in India has reached dangerous levels with nothing edible spared from the unscrupulous practice.
- Rampant adulteration using toxic chemicals and synthetic colours is ruining people’s health.
- In addition to lack of awareness among the public, the regulatory, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms are just not up to the mark.
The Food Safety and Standard Act 2006, which replaced the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 repealed the life imprisonment clause for offenders provided in the previous act and the penal provision for various offences was placed in the nature of monetary terms. Penalties for very serious offences were diluted to the punishment between three months to six years.
Prevention is the key, and it can only be achieved with the help of a robust quality control system and action against violators.
The new Consumer Protection Bill with stringent punishment for adulteration should be passed in Parliament.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s proposal for life imprisonment sentences for adulterers should be implemented.
Development of stricter monitoring programs to screen all food products for safety is the only way to secure food supply and address the growing concern over food adulteration. Without access to healthy foods, a nutritious diet that is necessary for good health is out of reach.
Connecting the dots:
- What is food adulteration? How far has the government faired in cracking down this menace and issues involved with it? Discuss
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Which of the following are Constitutional bodies?
- Finance Commission
- Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities
Choose the appropriate code:
- 1, 2 and 3 only
- 1, 3 and 4 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
- 1, 3, 4 and 5 only
Q.2) Which among the below is not a non-constitutional body?
- National Development Council
- Central Information Commission
- Central Vigilance Commission
- Finance Commission
Q.3) Consider the following about Central Information commission:
- The Central Information Commission has been constituted under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
- The commission submits its report to the President of India.
Which among the following is/are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1,2 and 3
Q.4) Which one of the following is not a nitrogen-fixing organism?
India will benefit most by engaging in the global market.
Goa’s glass problem
Faith Vs Blind Faith
The quality of justice