Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 10th December 2018
Centre amends Citizenship Rules, 2009
Part of: GS Mains II and III – Indian Polity; Internal Security and Security issues
- Union Home Ministry has notified amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
What are those amendments?
- Now Citizenship Rules to include a separate column in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
- In other words, a separate entry in the form will ask the applicant: “Do you belong to one of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians?”
- The Centre has made the changes under Section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Do you know?
- A parliamentary committee has been examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that proposes citizenship to above six persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before 2014.
- However, the above proposed provision has run into strong resistance in the BJP-ruled Assam because it will pave the way for giving citizenship mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.
Dalit struggle and sacrifice
Person in news
Part of: GS Mains II and IV – Social/Dalit issue; Essay and Ethics
- There are many stories of Dalit struggle and sacrifice — largely unheard in mainstream media and literature.
- Below are few examples and personalities who made an impact on their surroundings and society. (can be used in GS Mains – Social issue answers; Essay and Ethics)
- These are people who have largely worked in interior Tamil Nadu taking on oppression of Dalits on basic issues like rights to a graveyard, or water, and other civil rights problems. Some of them were killed fighting for these rights.
- Kandan, a dalit from small village of Vanjinagaram, near Melur in Tamil Nadu
- He took on caste oppression in the village and spearheaded a movement to draw water from public well and press for rights.
- In 1987, Kandan was hacked to death.
- He sacrificed his life seeking equality and basic civil rights.
- She founded the Annai Ashram.
- Veerammal started a school for Dalit girls in the 1950s near Tiruchi. This school grew to run classes up to the 12th standard.
- She then started an ITI, and a children’s home but there is no mention of her in the mainstream.
- She led an anti-Hindi agitation in Chennai.
- James Tremmond Heer
- He was a foreigner and the Collector of Chengalpattu in 1892.
- He recommended to the government that 12 lakh acres of Depressed Class land be given to the Dalits.
Vishwanath Precinct Development Project
Part of: GS Mains I: Conservation-restoration of cultural heritage
- Beautification plan destroys oldest neighbourhoods in Varanasi.
- Around the temple of Lord Vishwanath, destruction is taking place on a scale this ancient city hasn’t witnessed in modern times.
- A strip of land — measuring 43,636 sq m — between the 18th century shrine and the River Ganga — is being cleared of all construction, many perhaps as old as the temple itself, so that pilgrims have an easier access through a wide and beautified corridor that has been planned under the Kashi Vishwanath Precinct Development Project.
JICA project faces land acquisition issues
Part of: GS Mains II and III – Social Issue; Land acquisition and Land Reforms; Governance; Government schemes and policies
- The government acquired land from private parties have long been the subject of heated dispute, often resulting in violent conflict.
- Recently, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) held meetings with farmers, their representatives and activists opposing land acquisition for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. The JICA funds the project.
- The meeting was to understand their concerns and demands for parting with their land.
Do you know?
- Over 1,000 farmers have filed affidavits, contending that the process violates the guidelines of the JICA.
- They had demanded for a fresh environment impact assessment and a social impact assessment.
- Farmers allege that – As per JICA guidelines, there must be fair compensation for those whose land is acquired for any project funded by it; but in the case of the bullet train project, the Gujarat government has diluted the provisions so that compensation comes down.
- In other words, the State has diluted the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, after Japan entered into a contract in September 2015 with the Indian government to build the country’s first bullet train corridor between Mumbai to Ahmedabad.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act):
- The number of safeguards that the law legislates has made the process of acquisition manifestly fairer.
- For instance, it compels a social and environmental impact assessment as a precondition for any acquisition.
- Besides, it also acknowledges a need for a system of rehabilitation and resettlement for those whose livelihoods are likely to be affected by the transfer of land.
- The law provided for greatly enhanced compensation, consent of those whose land was sought to be acquired, and detailed rehabilitation and resettlement provisions (including employment, land for land, and other beneficial schemes). In other words, it changed the relationship between the state and the individual by empowering the latter against the former.
- It also included a retrospective clause. Section 24 of the new Act provided that under certain circumstances, acquired land could be returned to affected families.
Pak. issues visas to visit Shiva temple
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and its neighbours; International Relations
- Going ahead with a people-oriented diplomacy, Pakistan has issued a large number of visas for Indian pilgrims who are expected to visit the famed Shiva temple at Katas Raj Dham, near the city of Lahore.
Do you know?
- Katas Raj is a complex of ancient temples that is among the most important Hindu pilgrimage centres in Pakistan.
- The temple complex consisting of seven shrines, is located around the Katas lake, considered sacred by pilgrims of multiple faiths.
- Apart from the temples, the area is renowned for its Buddhist remains and architecture.
- Pakistan had earlier granted 3,800 visas for Sikh pilgrims visiting Nankana Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab for the celebration of the 549th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak.
- It had also issued 220 visas for the Shadani Darbar temple in Sukkur where a centuries-old festival is continuing.
- Pakistan also formally inaugurated the project for building the corridor that will allow Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy temple at Kartarpur across the border.
The High Commission said Pakistan remains committed to the bilateral understanding of 1974 with India that allows pilgrims to travel freely.
Bioplastics may not be a viable alternative to plastic
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Global warming; Climate Change
Do you know?
- Bioplastics — often promoted as a climate-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics — may lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study.
- It may trigger cropland expansion, which will further increase greenhouse gas emissions.
- Plastics are usually made from petroleum, with the associated impacts in terms of fossil fuel depletion but also climate change.
- It is estimated that by 2050, plastics could already be responsible for 15% of the global CO2 emissions.
- Bioplastics, on the other hand, are in principle climate-neutral since they are based on renewable raw materials such as maize, wheat and sugarcane. These plants get the CO2 that they need from the air through their leaves.
- Producing bioplastics therefore consumes CO2, which compensates for the amount that is later released at end-of-life. Overall, their net greenhouse gas balance is assumed to be zero.
- Bioplastics are thus often consumed as an environmentally friendly alternative. However, at least with the current level of technology, this issue is probably not as clear as often assumed.
- The production of bioplastics in large amounts would change land use globally. This could potentially lead to an increase in the conversion of forest areas to arable land. However, forests absorb considerably more CO2 than maize or sugar cane annually, if only because of their larger biomass.
TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3
- Social/Health issue
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Death in the air: On Air Pollution
According to Global Burden of Disease 2017 report on the impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy across the states of India –
- Air pollution should be among the highest policy priorities.
- It killed an estimated 1.24 million people in India in 2017. (Report by Greenpeace India also highlighted the same.)
- But the Centre and State governments have tended to treat it as a chronic malaise that defies a solution.
Another report has pointed out that Delhi and Patna are amongst the worst polluted cities in the world. However, GOI syas that these exercises are good for academic purposes but may not necessarily reflect the truth. It also added that it will depend more on the studies done by Indian institutions.
Do you know?
- Global Burden of Disease 2017 report is published by The Lancet.
- Over the years, measures are taken to tackle the situation but pollution continues to threaten. Now large number of deaths are attributed to air pollution.
- GBD Report says – If the country paid greater attention to ambient air quality and household air pollution, the people living in the worst-affected States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand could add more than 1.7 years to their life expectancy.
- Sustainable solutions must be found for stubble-burning and the use of solid fuels in households, the two major sources of pollution, and State governments must be made accountable for this.
- The Centre should work with Punjab and Haryana to ensure that the machinery already distributed to farmers and cooperatives to handle agricultural waste is in place and working. A mechanism for rapid collection of farm residues has to be instituted.
New approaches to recover value from biomass could be the way forward.
- A shift away from solid fuels to LPG
- The proposal from a furniture-maker to convert straw into useful products
- The potential of domestic biogas units, solar cookers and improved biomass cookstoves has to be explored
- Strong control over urban sources of pollution
- Sharp reduction in particulates from fossil fuel
- Better engineered vehicles
- Real-time measurement of pollution should be increased
Urgent intervention is needed for implementing the National Clean Air Action Plan with a strong compliance strategy to meet the clean air standards in all cities. Real-time air quality monitoring, especially that of PM2.5, will have to be expanded significantly to assess air quality in all cities with sizeable population.
India needs massive energy transition across industries and households, mobility transition to public transport, walking and cycling, and effective waste management to control this run-away pollution.
If Indian cities are to cut their own air pollution levels, the change and planning has to happen at the city level and state level, instead of depending on the overall climate control goals and programmes set at the union level. There should be a formation of holistic strategy in which Centre and states including UTs should have equitable involvement with same sense of commitment and accountability so that pollution levels are brought down with suggested a road map in place.
Rapid progress on clean air also depends on citizens making it a front-line political issue.
Connecting the dots:
- Air pollution should be among the highest policy priorities. Do you agree? What long term solutions are required to address this problem? Discuss.
TOPIC:General studies 2
- Role of Judiciary
- Rule of Law; Pending Criminal Cases
- Constitution, Democracy, Governance and issues related to it
- Government policies and issues arising
The below article deals with some of the recent Supreme Court verdicts and orders, which seem too tough to be implemented and may remain just on papers
- Supreme verdict on the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple.
- The order fixing timings for bursting of firecrackers during Diwali.
- Speedy disposal of pending cases against legislators and lawmakers (former and sitting).
- Witness Protection Scheme of 2018.
Among above, this article focuses more on recent orders provided in (3) and (4)
Speedy disposal of pending cases against legislators and lawmakers
- In its verdict on speedy disposal of pending cases against legislators and lawmakers, the court has asked each High Court to designate as many sessions and magistrate courts in the concerned States to try criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs.
- The government informed the court that there are 4,122 criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs in 440 districts across the country.
Why the verdict on speedy disposal of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs will remain failure or on papers?
- One, because a case takes time to decide. The cumbersome Code of Criminal Procedure must be followed. Charges must be framed, witnesses must be examined and cross-examined, documents must be adduced in evidence, and arguments must be heard. Only then can a well-considered judgment be delivered. Moreover, the witnesses and even the investigating authorities may turn hostile.
- Two, overburdened courts. The existing number of courts in India are already overburdened with 33 million pending cases. To implement SC order, means a section of them should give up dealing with the cases before them and only deal with these cases relating to MPs and MLAs. Then their cases will have to be handed over to other judges, who are similarly overburdened.
Why Witness Protection Scheme of 2018 will be an unimplementable order?
- Nowadays it is nearly impossible to get independent witnesses in criminal cases. If someone sees a crime, the tendency is to avoid getting into trouble by deposing about it to the police or the court, which may invite reprisal/retaliation by the party against whom the witness gives evidence. Therefore, the scheme proposes giving witnesses a new identity.
- There are over 28.4 million cases pending in subordinate courts in India, of which perhaps 70% are criminal cases. If on an average there are half a dozen witnesses in each case, this may require change of identity for millions of people. (which may not be feasible, financially or logistically)
- The scheme also mentions providing police escort to the courtroom, temporary safe houses and relocation of the witness. However, it is not so simple to relocate an individual whose job requires him to be at a fixed location. For how long and to how many will the police provide protection?
Therefore, the above proposals appear unrealistic. Unless orders factor in these considerations, they may go the way of the Doshipura graveyard.
Do you know?
- In 1981, the Supreme Court passed an order directing the shifting of some graves in Doshipura in Varanasi from a Muslim graveyard, but the order is yet to be implemented.
Connecting the dots:
- The Supreme Court order on Witness Protection Scheme of 2018 seems too tough to be implemented and may remain just on papers. Do you agree?
- The result of never-ending pending cases is a crisis of faith in the legal system. Do you agree? Discuss.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) The power to grant Indian citizenship lies with the
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Cabinet Secretariat
- Prime Minister’s Office
Q.2) An Indian citizen can be deprived of the citizenship under which of the following circumstances?
- The citizen has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India.
- The citizen has insulted the national symbols.
- The citizen has obtained the citizenship by fraud.
Select the correct answer using code below
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1,2 and 3
Q.3) Consider the following statements regarding citizenship in India:
- Children of Foreign delegates born in India get Indian citizenship.
- A child born in 2018 outside India will get Indian citizenship automatically by descent if both its parents are Indians.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Global Burden of Disease 2017 report is published by –
- World Health Organization
- United Nations
- The Lancet
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Q.5) Katas Raj is a pilgrimage site of Hindus. It has a pond which is believed to have been formed by tears of Lord Shiva when he cried at the death of his wife Sati. Where is this located?
- Sri Lanka
Q.6) Shadani Darbar temple as in news recently. Where is it located?
- None of the above
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