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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th November 2019

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  • November 15, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th November 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Doctrine of Essentiality

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Polity

In News

  • A five-judge Bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi decided to refer the Sabarimala review petitions to a larger Bench of seven judges.
  • This decision reopens not only the debate on allowing women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple but also on the courts role in interfering in religious matters.
  • The doctrine of “essentiality” was invented by a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the ‘Shirur Mutt’ case in 1954
  • The court held that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion, and took upon itself the responsibility of determining the essential and non-essential practices of a religion.
  • The idea of providing constitutional protection only to those elements of religion which the court considers “essential” (as determined by Court) is problematic in so far as it assumes that one element or practice of religion is independent of other elements or practices.
  • Scholars of constitutional law have also argued that the essentiality/integrality doctrine has tended to lead the court into an area that is beyond its competence, and given judges the power to decide purely religious questions.
  • Some of the contentious questions/issues which a larger seven- judge bench now needs to answer are:
    • Whether a court can probe if a practice is essential to a religion or should the question be left to the respective religious head; 
    • Should “essential religious practices” be afforded constitutional protection under Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs)
    • To what extent court can recognize the PILs filed by people who do not belong to the religion of which practices are under the scanner.
    • To examine the “interplay” between the rights to religion and equality

India’s first Geochemical Baseline Atlas released in Hyderabad

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III –Environment

In News

  • In a first, CSIR- National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad has brought out the ‘Geochemical Baseline Atlas’ of India for environment management purpose. 
  • The 44 maps of oxides and trace elements over the entire nation aim to document the concentration and distribution of the chemical elements in the soils of India.
  • The map trace elements from top soil i.e. top 25 cm depth and bottom soil at 100 cm depth from the year 2006 to 2011.
  • With human activities and natural processes continuously modifying the chemical composition of our surroundings, the maps will form the backbone for environment managementparticularly the land use policies by government.
  • It will help in understanding how soil pollution is contributing to groundwater contamination.
  • It will also help in finding out if the damages are caused by a particular industry in the region and thus helps government take appropriate action
  • The baseline map of India will help to plan the land use in different parts of the country. For example, a toothpaste manufacturing industry, which use high concentration of Strontium, cannot be in a place where soil is already having high baseline concentration of Strontium
  • This is the third map among the series of maps published by NDRI. Earlier, The Gravity map of India and Seismic map of India were released by the research institute.

Stubble Burning

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Environment

In News

  • The Punjab government has decided to pay ₹2,500 per acre as compensation to small and marginal farmers, who have not burnt paddy residue in the ongoing harvesting season
  • Farmers’ unions and agriculture experts feel that the move may not fetch the desired results as the compensation is only to those who own land up to five acres
  • The government data shows that between October 1 and November 13, as many as 48,689 cases of farm fires were reported in Punjab. Last year, during the same period there were 44,845 such incidents
  • Stubble burning, close to the autumn season every year, has been a key contributing factor to air pollution across the northern region, including Delhi.
  • For management of paddy straw, the Centre and the State government are providing subsidised agro-machines and equipment to farmers and cooperative societies to achieve zero burning, yet farmers continue to burn the crop residue claiming lack of alternatives.
  • The long term solution lies in alternative uses of residue for which the State government needs to infuse investment so as utilize the stubble collected Ex: bioethanol production, fodder for animals,use for bedding material for animals, mushroom cultivation and so on.

Diabetes Atlas

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II –Health

In News

  • The ninth edition of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas was released on the occasion of International Diabetes Day (Nov 14th)
  • The worldwide prevalence of diabetes was estimated at 463 million in the age group of 20-79 years, or in other words, one in 11 adults. 10% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes (USD 760 billion)
  • One in six people with diabetes in the world is from India
  • India is at number two (&will continue till 2045) with an estimated 77 million diabetics, whereas China leads the list with over 116 million diabetics.
  • The IDF has stressed the urgency to develop and implement multi-sectoral strategies to combat the growing epidemic with increased focus on prevention.
  • In addition to people with diabetes, India also has a huge burden of pre-diabetics. If the authorities target them with information on the right lifestyle options to help keep blood sugar, lipids and blood pressure under control, India can prevent at least a third from developing diabetes.

AboutInternational Diabetes Federation (IDF) 

  • It is an umbrella organization of over 240 national diabetes associations in 168 countries and territories
  • The Federation’s activities aim to influence policy, increase public awareness and encourage health improvement, promote the exchange of high-quality information about diabetes, and provide education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers.
  • IDF is associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations and is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO).

TOBACCO BOARD OF INDIA

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – Health

In News

  • Tobacco Board of India has been awarded the Golden Leaf Award in the Most Impressive Public Service Initiative category for the year 2019, for its efforts to initiate various sustainability (green) initiatives in Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco cultivation in India
  • The Golden Leaf Awards were created to recognize professional excellence and dedication in the tobacco industry by Tobacco Reporter, an international magazine in the year 2006.
  • Awards are granted on an annual basis to companies that have achieved outstanding performance in five categories – most impressive public service initiative, most promising new product introduction, most exciting newcomer to the industry, most outstanding service to the industry and the BMJ most committed to quality award.

About Tobacco Board of India

  • Tobacco Board is a statutory body established underTobacco Board Act of 1975 and is headquartered in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The board functions under the overall guidance of Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • The main functions of the Board include regulating the production and curing of Virginia tobacco in India, improving the yields and quality of tobacco, facilitating sale of tobacco through e-auctions, undertaking various grower welfare measures and export promotion of tobacco.
  • India stands 3rd in production of tobacco and in exports. Brazil and USA are ahead of India.
  • Tobacco and tobacco products earn approx Rs.20,000 Cr. to the national exchequer by way of excise duty, and approx.Rs.5000 Cr. by way of foreign exchange every year.

Miscellaneous

VASHISHTHA NARAYAN SINGH

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has condoled the passing away of renowned Mathematician Dr. Vashishtha Narayan Singh.
  • Born in 1942, Vashishtha Narayan Singh had been suffering from schizophrenia for long time.
  • In 1963, he completed his PhD on “on cycle vector space theory” from the University of California and worked at NASA. 
  • The 74-year-old is said to have challenged Einstein’s theory of relativity. 
  • After returning to India he worked as an Associate Professor in IIT-Kanpur and Kharagpur and atIndian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

About Schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. 
  • Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease.

(MAINS FOCUS)


SOCIETY

TOPIC: General Studies 1:

  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Supreme Court’s Sabarimala verdict

Context:

  • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court   referred Kerala’s Sabarimala temple case to a larger bench of seven judges, with a 3:2 majority.
  • The bench did not stay the judgment passed on 28 September 2018 that had lifted the ban on entry of women between age 10 and 50 to the temple.
  •  Women can still visit the shrine until the larger bench decides on the matter.

Issue:

  • Sabarimala Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to deity  Ayyappan 
  • S ituated at Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, India.
  •  In the past, women devotees of menstruating age were not permitted to worship here, this ban being said to be out of respect to the celibate nature of the deity in this temple.
  •  A Kerala high-court judgement had legalized this interpretation, and forbade women from entering the temple since 1991.
  • In September 2018, a judgement of the Supreme Court of India ruled that all pilgrims regardless of gender, including women in the menstruating age group, should be allowed entrance to Sabarimala.
  • The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that any exception placed on women because of biological differences violates the Constitution – that the ban violates the right to equality under Article 14, and freedom of religion under Article 25.
  •  This verdict led to protests by people who oppose the verdict.
  •  Several women attempted to enter Sabarimala despite threats of physical assault against them but failed to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
  •  Two women belonging to the previously barred age group finally entered the temple defying protests on 2 January 2019 with the help of police through the back gate.
  • Temple was closed for purification

Article 25(2)(b) creates a further exception to the right. It accords to the state a power to make legislation, in the interests of social welfare and reform, throwing open Hindu religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.

Article 26, on the other hand, which is also subject to limitations imposed on grounds of public order, morality, and health, accords to every religious denomination the right, among other things, to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes and to manage their own affairs in matters of religion.

Judgement:

  • The debate about the constitutional validity of practices entailing into restriction of entry of women generally in the place of worship is not limited to this case, but also arises in respect of entry of Muslim women in a Durgah/Mosque
  • In the 2018 Sabarimala verdict, the majority opinion authored by then CJI Dipak Misra defined ‘morality’ in Article 25 to mean constitutional morality. Article 25 reads, “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”.
  • Referring to Article 25(1), the 2018 judgment said: “We must remember that when there is a violation of the fundamental rights, the term ‘morality’ naturally implies constitutional morality and any view that is ultimately taken by the Constitutional Courts must be in conformity with the principles and basic tenets of the concept of this constitutional morality…”
  • According to the essential religious practices doctrine evolved by the court in the 1950s, practices and beliefs considered integral by a religious community are to be regarded as “essential”, and protected under Article 25.
  • In the 2018 Sabarimala judgment, the majority opinion held that barring certain women from entering the temple owing to the celibate nature of Lord Ayyappa was not an essential religious practice. Justice R F Nariman, in his concurring opinion, had observed that when there is internal dissent on a practice, its essentiality to the religion becomes questionable.

For example, to determine whether the Swami Narayan Satsangis could bar non-Satsangi Harijans from entering their temples, a civil court examined evidence whether the Satsang constituted a religious denomination. In Ismail Faruqui v Union of India (1994), the court determined that offering prayers in a mosque was not an essential religious practice of Islam and upheld the law under which the Centre acquired the disputed land in Ayodhya.

Connecting the dots:

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to refer the Sabarimala issue to a larger Bench underscores the need for a thorough review and wider consultation on the earlier verdict that allowed entry of women in the 10-50 age group into the hill shrine. Analayse

POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Context:

  • India decided to hold the signing off of  Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) until “significant outstanding issues” were resolved, when all other 15 countries involved in the negotiations stated that they were ready to sign the mega trade deal in 2020.

PM narendra modi’s statement:

 “When I measure the RCEP Agreement with respect to the interests of all Indians, I do not get a positive answer. Therefore, neither the Talisman of Gandhiji nor my own conscience permit me to join RCEP,” .

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP):

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th November 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th November 2019

Src: Wikimedia

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and its six FTA partners (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

  • RCEP negotiations started in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.5 billion people with a total (GDP) of $49.5 trillion, approximately 39 percent of the world’s GDP
  • RCEP will be the world’s largest economic bloc.

Purpose:

  • The purpose of RCEP is to create an “integrated market” spanning all 16 countries, making it easier for products and services of each of these countries to be available across this region.
  • ASEAN says the deal will provide “a framework aimed at lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for goods and services for businesses in the region”.
  • The negotiations are focussed on areas like trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce, and small and medium enterprises.

Trade deficits :

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th November 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th November 2019

  • India runs large trade deficits with at least 11 of the 15 RCEP members
  • China accounts for $53 billion of India’s $105 billion trade deficit with these.

Reasons for not joining:

  • Unsatisfactory negotiations pertaining to India’s trade with China — India has an over $50 billion trade deficit 
  • “Inadequate” protection against surges in imports.
  • Industry has voiced fears that cheaper products from China would “flood” the market.
  • India has not received any assurances on its demand for more market access, 
  • India’s concerns over non-tariff barriers is not addressed 
  • A “possible circumvention” of rules of origin ,the criteria used to determine the national source of a product  were not addressed which allow countries like China to pump in more products.
  • India has pushed for other countries to allow greater movement of labour and services for a long , which is not addressed 
  • Concerns over  unsustainable trade deficits is also not addressed.
  • India already have , bilateral FTAs with most RCEP nations, but it has recorded trade deficits with these countries
  • Domestic industries like  dairy industry was expected to face stiff competition from Australia and New Zealand.

Milk issue of India:

  • Milk is the India’s largest “crop”. 
  • In 2018-19, the estimated production of milk, at 187.75 million tonnes (mt).
  • The value of milk output (Rs 5,63,250 crore at an average farm-gate rate of Rs 30/kg) 
  • Milk is a source of liquidity for farmers, as it is sold daily and generates cash to take care of routine household expenses, unlike other crops that are marketed only once or twice a year.

Concern:

  • Milk matters equally to consumers in India, because it meets the animal protein/fat requirements of a significant portion of the population that is vegetarian.
  • As incomes rise, the demand for milk goes up even more.
  • If dairy products are covered under an RCEP deal, India may have to allow members of the bloc greater access to its market, whether through phased duty reductions or more liberal tariff rate quotas (TRQs). 
  • There is an already existing TRQ for milk powder, which enables import of up to 10,000 tonnes per year at 15% customs duty, and quantities beyond that at the regular rate of 60%.
  • The Indian dairy industry is resisting any enhanced TRQs or other import concessions, even if extended only to RCEP countries, as opposed to the US or European Union.

Way forward:

  • An auto-trigger mechanism that would allow India to raise tariffs on products in instances where imports cross a certain threshold.
  • Lowering and eliminating tariffs on several products from the India which It has expressed
  • Opening the vast Indian market must be matched by openings in some areas where our businesses can also benefit
  • India to safeguard the interests of its domestic industry suggested  measures like seeking a 2014 base year for tariff reductions instead of 2013, Using a base year before 2014 would mean a drastic drop in the import duties on these products. This measure must be accepted by RCEP

Conclusion:

  • India needs a strategy that brings together the economic and political aspects of its strategic thinking at this time where global economy is in challenge
  • RCEP could perhaps end up doing to dairy what the free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) did in palm oil, fear many in the industry in India. 
  • At a time of global uncertainties and challenges to multilateralism and the international economic order, a negative message on RCEP would undermine India’s plans for economic growth.

Connecting the dots:

  • Economic isolation is not an option for India and It must move  towards bilateral trade pacts. Analyse.
  • RCEP will be the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy. Analyse
  • India believes that the RCEP trade deal doesn’t provide adequate protection against possible surges of imported goods. Justify

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Doctrine of Essentiality

  1. It was invented by a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the ‘Shirur Mutt’ case in 1954.
  2. Under this doctrine, the Court took upon itself the responsibility of determining the essential & non-essential practices of a religion and offered Constitional protection to only those religious practices which was considered as essential to religion.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statementsabout ninth edition of International Diabetic Federation’s Diabetes Atlas

  1. 10% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes
  2. One in six people with diabetes in the world is from India
  3. The atlas offers projections that continue to put India at the second slot right up to 2045

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Q.3) Consider the following statements

  1. India stands third in the production of tobacco after Brazil and USA
  2. Tobacco Board is a statutory body which works under the overall guidance of Ministry of Agriculture and farmer’s welfare.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Geochemical Baseline Atlas

  1. It is released by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Ministry of Earth Sciences
  2. It will help in finding out future contaminations due to industries across the country, thereby enabling the Government and policymakers to leverage it in planning the land use.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS FOR 14 Nov 2019 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 B
3 A
4 C
5 A

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