IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st July 2020
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science – Health and Medicine; Recent developments/advancements
- ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is Oxford University’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
- According to Lancet study, the vaccine candidate produced neutralising antibodies and boosted the immune system as well.
- According to the Scientists, increasing T-cell response as well as antibodies could be very important in controlling COVID-19.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity – Elections
- The EC had earlier recommended extending the postal ballot facility to electors over 65 years as the age group had been termed most vulnerable to COVID-19.
- The Law Ministry also notified the change to the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 on June 19, extending the facility to electors above 65 years, as opposed to the existing provision for above 80 years.
- However, on July 16, the EC announced that it would not be extending the facility to electors of age 65 and above due to logistical, staff and safety protocol related constraints.
- Postal voting is voting in an election where ballot papers are distributed to electors (and typically returned) by post, in contrast to electors voting in person at a polling station via an electronic voting system (EVM).
- Through postal ballot facility, a voter can cast his/her vote remotely by recording his/her preference on the ballot paper and sends it back to the election officer before counting.
- When the counting of votes commences, these postal votes are counted first before the counting of votes from the EVMs of all other voters.
Who can avail postal ballot facility?
Only certain categories of people are eligible to register as postal voters.
- Members of the armed forces like the Army, Navy and Air Force.
- Members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state)
- Government employees posted outside India and their spouses are entitled to vote only by post.
- Voters under preventive detention can also vote only by post.
Do you know?
- Special voters such as the President of India, Vice President, Governors, Union Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the House and government officers on poll duty have the option to vote by post. But they have to apply through a prescribed form to avail this facility.
- Recently a new category of ‘absentee voters’ were introduced who can now also opt for postal voting.
- These are voters employed in essential services and unable to cast their vote due to their service conditions.
- Currently, officials of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Northern Railway (Passenger and Freight) Services and media persons are notified as absentee voters.
Part of: GS Mains II – Governance issues; Social issue; Rule of law
- In previous DNA article, we read that three people, alleged cattle thieves suspected to be Bangladeshi nationals, were lynched in Assam.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2017 data which was released in October 2019, Assam has one of the highest crime rates in the country.
- Anecdotal trends suggest a spike in mob lynchings in recent years, often incited by malicious dissemination of false accusations of cow slaughter, kidnapping of children and theft, through social media.
Key points for Mains:
- Suppressing of data: The NCRB did collect data on lynchings in 2017 but did not publish.
- The victims are invariably from vulnerable groups.
- Lynchings must have no place in a democratic society.
- Lynchings are a uniquely unsettling derailment of governance.
- Act of mob violence is a sign of failure of law enforcement.
Part of: GS Prelims – Defence
- Indian naval ships conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the U.S. Navy’s USS Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar islands as it is transiting the Indian Ocean.
- The exercise comes amid a high alert by the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to the standoff with China along the border in Ladakh.
Do you know?
- As part of this exercise, four frontline naval ships, Shivalik, Sahyadri, Kamorta and Rana including a stealth corvette, teamed up with carrier USS Nimitz and three other U.S. ships in the eastern Indian Ocean near the islands.
- On June 27, JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki from the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force ( JMSDF) training squadron had conducted a PASSEX with INS Rana and INS Kulish in the Indian Ocean.
- The Navy is keeping a close watch on the movement in the IOR of Chinese naval ships, whose presence has gone up considerably over the years in the name of antipiracy patrols. In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Govt schemes and Acts; Social issue
- The Consumer Protection Act,2019 came in to force from 20th July 2020.
- The new Act will empower consumers and help them in protecting their rights through its various notified Rules and provisions like Consumer Protection Councils, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, Mediation, Product Liability and punishment for manufacture or sale of products containing adulterant / spurious goods.
Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
- Act includes establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
- The CCPA will be empowered to conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution, order recall of unsafe goods and services, order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements, impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements. (includes e-commerce platforms)
E-Commerce rules are strengthened:
- Under this act every e-commerce entity is required to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options, etc. including country of origin which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology – Space related issues
- The first Arab space mission to Mars, an unmanned probe dubbed “Hope” took off from Japan.
- The Hope Mission aims to reveal more about the atmosphere of the Red Planet.
- The Japanese rocket carrying the probe off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southwestern Japan.
- “Hope” is expected to enter Mars orbit by February 2021, marking the year of the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE, an alliance of seven emirates.
Other MARS ventures planned in 2020
- Tianwen1 from China
- Mars 2020 from the United States
Unlike the two other Mars ventures scheduled for this year, it will not land on the Red Planet, but instead orbit it for a whole Martian year, or 687 days.
Do you know?
- The launch of the probe, known as “AlAmal” in Arabic, had twice been delayed because of bad weather.
- Only the United States, India, the former Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency have successfully sent missions to orbit the fourth planet from the sun.
- China is preparing to launch its first Mars rover later this month.
Iran to continue work with India on Chabahar line
Part of: GS Mains II – India-Iran Bilateral Relations; International Relations
- In the latest twist to Iran’s ChabaharZahedan railway project, Iran’s Railway Minister said Iran and India are “determined to continue” cooperation on the railway line.
- Earlier Iranian official had said that India was not a part of the inauguration as it had not signed the ChabaharZahedan rail agreement, despite a previous 2016 MoU between Iranian railway infrastructure company CDTIC and Indian railway construction company IRCON.
India and Non-Alignment
Part of: GS Mains II – India and the World; International Affairs
According to External Affairs Minister –
- India will never be a part of an alliance system.
- As the world rebalances, the middle powers like India, Japan, the European Union and others have opportunities in shaping Geopolitics.
- India must now take more “risks”, as the world expected it to take a more proactive stance on the “big issues” of the day, including connectivity, maritime security, terrorism, climate change and terrorism.
Topic: General Studies 2
- Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of people
- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Context: The lynching of three people, alleged cattle thieves suspected to be Bangladeshi nationals, in Assam on July 18th
Why the incident is condemned?
- It is the second such disturbing incident in recent weeks in the area. On June 1, a 43-year-old Bangladeshi national was lynched in Putni Tea Estate situated about 3 km from the India-Bangladesh border.
- Irrespective of whether they are thieves or smugglers, such killings point to a lack of faith in the rule of law, leading to a general lawlessness
- It also impacts the cordial relations between India and Bangladesh given the difficulties in handing over the bodies to Bangladeshi authorities
Did You Know?
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2017 data which was released in October 2019 a year behind schedule, Assam had 143 registered crimes per lakh of population
- The NCRB did collect data on lynchings in 2017 but did not publish those
What is lynching?
- Lynching is defined as an act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting or attempting an act of violence, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob (two or more persons) on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation and ethnicity.
- Lynching is an egregious manifestation of prejudice, intolerance, and contempt towards the rule of law.
- There have been many incidences of Mob Lynching for issues with respect to cow, children kidnappers , etc and not only common people but also the police personnel became victims of it.
- Amnesty International India documented 721 such incidents between 2015 and 2018.
Causes of mob lynching
- Prejudices in Indian society are age old and deep rooted. These prejudices are based on various identities like race, gender, caste, class, religion, etc.
- Social media or technological advances help in the process of ‘confirmation bias’ – it is the confirmation of a prejudice or a bias
- The strategic silence of the State and the ineffective law and order machinery has further given legitimacy to mob lynching.
- Political mobilization of fringe groups and Politicization of lynching and strategic silence.
- Lack of digital literacy among common people.
Supreme Court direction
- Supreme Court has described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy”
- Supreme Court in the case of Tehseen Poonawala v Union of India, has provided a 11-point prescription for preventive, remedial and punitive measures and has asked Parliament to legislate a separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same.
Is there any separate legislation on lynching?
There isn’t any Parliamentary law on it but Manipur state has enacted a separate law on lynching. The Manipur Law is in sync with the Supreme Court guidelines.
- The Manipur Law has defined mob lynchings
- The Law specified that there would be nodal officers in each district to control such crimes.
- It is the first in the country dealing with the protection and rights of vulnerable populations which defines a new crime of dereliction of duty of public officials.
- It states that Police officers who fail to prevent the crime of lynching in their jurisdiction are liable to be imprisoned for a term that may extend from one to three years with a fine limit of ₹50,000.
- The Law requires the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation.
- Inspired by this Rajasthan and West Bengal have formulated their version of laws to curb mob lynching
- Mob violence defames the country and there must be stringent intervention by the police to bring an end to this.
- The political leadership also has a role to play in questioning the social consent that allows mob violence.
- The centre should come with the law to deal with it.
Connecting the dots:
- For a demographically diverse country such as India, hate crimes are a disaster. Discuss.
JUDICIARY/ SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and imp
Context: The Supreme Court of India upheld the right of the Travancore royal family to manage the property of deity at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala.
Did You Know?
- In 2011 there was discovery of treasure worth over Rs. 1 lakh crore in temple’s underground vaults.
- The temple is built in the unique Chera style of architecture, and its main deity is Lord Vishnu who is found in the Anantha Shayana posture (reclined posture of eternal yoga) on Adishesha or king of all serpents.
Background of the issue
- As per the Instrument of Accession signed between the princely state and the Government of India, the administration of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple was vested in trust in the Ruler of Travancore, since 1949.
- In 1971, privy purses to the former royals were abolished through a constitutional amendment stripping their entitlements and privileges. This decision was upheld by SC in 1993.
- In 1991, when the last ruler of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, passed away, his brother Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma took over the temple management.
- This created a furore that he had no legal right to claim the control or management of the temple.
- However, the royal family continued to manage the affairs of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple till the Kerala High Court in 2011 ruled that the family cannot continue to exert its shebait rights.
Kerala High Court Judgement in 2011
- Kerala High Court directed the State to take over the temple, set up a trust to control the management and assets of the temple.
- Court also directed state government to exhibit its treasures for public viewing in a museum.
- It ruled that the successor to the erstwhile royals could not claim to be in control of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple as the definition of ‘Ruler’ in Article 366 (22) was amended through Twenty Sixth (Constitutional) Amendment Act, 1971, which abolished the privy purses.
- This verdict was challenged by Royal Family in Supreme Court
Supreme Court Verdict in 2020
- SC reversed the 2011 Kerala High Court decision.
- SC said that, as per customary law, the members of the royal family have the shebait rights even after the death of the last ruler.
- Shebait rights means right to manage the financial affairs of the deity.
- The SC held that, for the purpose of shebait rights the definition of Ruler would apply and would transfer to the successor.
- Administrative Committee: The SC accepted the submission of the royal family that the temple is a public temple, and directed setting up of an administrative committee with the Thiruvananthapuram District Judge as its chairperson,
- The other members of the Committee would be a nominee of the trustee (royal family), the chief thanthri of the temple, a nominee of the State and a member nominated by the Union Ministry of Culture.
- Advisory Committee: A second committee to be constituted to advise the administrative committee on policy matters. This would be chaired by a retired High Court judge nominated by the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.
- The primary duties of the two committees would be to preserve the treasures and properties.
About Devaswom Boards
- In Kerala, Devaswom Boards, comprising members of both government and community, manage temples and their properties.
- The Devaswom Boards, which are mandated to administer temples, have no scope to tinker with temple rituals or introduce ‘reforms’ with regard to temple rituals.
- In case of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, instead of Devaswom Boards, the above two committees will discharge the relevant functions.
- However, they have the freedom to create facilities for the devotees.
- Several trusts do commendable service by offering free food and providing facilities to the pilgrims.
- However, extraneous considerations like politics, ideology, power, wealth etc. have crept in public trusts and boards that have often ignored the welfare of devotees.
Significance of the Judgement
- The judgment makes it clear that the temple is a public temple and needs to be administered with due consideration of the interests of the devotees.
- It has brought public attention to the larger socio–political dimensions that have always affected administration and ownership of places of worship
- The present judgment is an indicator that the coming together of individuals of integrity, devotion and professional commitment to administer places of worship could be a preferred mechanism
- The verdict raises the need for moral cleansing, professionalising the administration of places of worship.
The mixing up of politics and other considerations with worship can be deleterious for both politics and faith and ominous for society at large.
Connecting the dots:
- Secularism – difference between Indian and Western Model
- Article 25 & 26
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- 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) Who among the following categories of people are eligible to register as postal voters?
- Members of the armed forces
- Government employees posted outside India
- Absentee voters
Select the correct statements
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 4
- 2, 3 and 4
- All of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements about National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)
- It is under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
- It publishes an annual report called Crime in India that records crime on the basis of the FIRs registered in the police stations across the country
Select the correct statements
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3) Which of the following is/are part of space missions which are expected to land on the Mars?
- China’s Tanegashima1
- UAE’s HOPE
- US’s Mars 2020
Select the correct answer
- 3 only
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
ANSWERS FOR 20th July 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
About privatization of Indian Railways
About Hagia Sphia Mosque in Turkey
About India-Iran relations