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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th November 2020

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  • November 9, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


PSLV-C49 successfully launches EOS-01

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Achievements of Indians; Space

In news

  • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 51st flight (PSLV-C49), successfully launched EOS-01 along with nine international customer satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota 

Key takeaways 

  • PSLV-C49 is the 2nd flight of PSLV in ‘DL’ configuration (with 2 solid strap-on motors).
  • EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite, intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
  • The nine customer satellites from Lithuania (1), Luxembourg (4) and USA (4) were launched under a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

Place in news: Tigray region, Ethiopia 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations

In news

  • Ethiopia is on the brink of a civil war after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister announced that he had ordered troops to counter an allegedly violent attack by armed forces in the country’s northern Tigray region.

Important value additions 

  • The Tigray Region is the northernmost of the nine regions (kililat) of Ethiopia.
  • It is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob and Kunama peoples.
  • It is also known as Region 1 according to the federal constitution.
  • Capital and largest city: Mekelle.
  • It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, the Amhara Region to the south and the Afar Region to the east and south east.

Do you know? 

  • In early November 2020, the region and the Ethiopian federal government entered into conflict, with some gunfire being reported in the capital of Tigray, Mekelle.
  • There was conflict in September also, when Tigray held local elections in insubordination of the Ethiopian federal government. 
  • These elections were considered “illegal” by the federal government, further leading to conflict with Tigray authorities.

Various development projects to be inaugurated in Varanasi 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Ancient history & GS-II – Policies and interventions; 

In news

  • Indian Prime Minister will inaugurate various development projects in Varanasi including Sarnath Light and Sound show.

Important value additions 

Sarnath

  • Sarnath is a place located 10 km north-east of Varanasi city near the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • The Deer Park in Sarnath: Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma and Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna.
  • It is also referred to as Isipatana. 
  • This city is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit.
  • It was also the site of the Buddha’s Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment. 
  • Under this Sutta, he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it.

Do you know? 

  • Singhpur, a village approximately 1km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the Eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism.

FASTags mandatory for all four wheelers

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In news

  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a notification making FASTags mandatory for all four wheel vehicles from 1st January 2021.
  • This will apply to old vehicles as well as M and N category of motor vehicles sold before 1st December, 2017.

Key takeaways

  • As per Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the FASTag had been made mandatory for all registration of new four wheeled Vehicles since 1st December 2017. 
  • Itis being supplied by the Vehicle Manufacturer or their dealers.
  • It had further been mandated that the renewal of fitness certificate will be done only after the fitment of FASTag for the Transport Vehicles. 
  • For National Permit Vehicles the fitment of FASTag has been mandated since 1st of October, 2019.
  • The Ministry said that a valid FASTag is also mandatory while getting a new third Party Insurance through an amendment in certificate of Insurance, wherein the details of FASTag ID will be captured. 
  • This will be applicable with effect from 1st of April 2021.
  • This notification would be a major step for ensuring that the payment of fees be 100% at Toll Plazas through the Electronic Means only and that the vehicles pass seamlessly through the Fee Plazas.

Important value additions 

FASTag

  • FASTag is an electronic toll collection system in India
  • Operated by: National Highway Authority of India.
  • It employs Radio Frequency Identification technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it or directly toll owner.

Haryana State Employment Of Local Candidates Bill, 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions

In news

  • On the lines of Andhra Pradesh government, Haryana too has announced that it wants 75% of private sector jobs in the state, till a certain salary slab, reserved for local candidates.

Key takeaways 

  • The state Assembly has passed the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020 paving way for more employment opportunities for locals in private sector.
  • All the companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms and any person employing 10 or more persons shall come under the ambit of this Act. 
  • It shall not include the central government or state government or any organisation owned by the central or state government.
  • A candidate “who is domiciled in State of Haryana” is called a local candidate and shall be able to avail the benefit of this reservation while seeking employment in private sector.
  • Every employer shall be required to employ 75% local candidates for the posts where the gross monthly salary or wages are not more than Rs. 50,000 or as notified by the government from time to time.
  • An employer can claim exemption from this 75% recruitment restriction, but only after going through a long procedure and only if the government appointed officers believe that the employer’s request seeking exemption holds merit.
  • The employer can be fined with a minimum Rs. 10,000 to a maximum Rs. 2 lakh once it is established that the employer has committed a violation of provisions of the Act.

Do you know? 

Does this reservation Bill violate Article 16 of the Constitution of India?

  • Concerns were raised in Haryana Vidhan Sabha that the Bill violates Article 16 of the Indian Constitution
  • However, Haryana government claims that while Article 16 talks about the “public employment”, the Bill only pertains to “private sector employment”.

AIM–Sirius Innovation Programme 3.0 launched 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – International Relations & GS-III – Innovation

In news

  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Sirius, Russia launched ‘AIM–Sirius Innovation Programme 3.0’.
  • It is a 14-day virtual programme for Indian and Russian schoolchildren.

Key takeaways 

  • The first Indo-Russian bilateral youth innovation initiative, the AIM–Sirius programme seeks to develop technological solutions (both web- and mobile-based) for the two countries.
  • Over a two-week programme, 48 students and 16 educators and mentors will create 8 virtual products and mobile applications addressing global challenges in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
  • Innovations developed by the student teams will leverage 21st-century technologies such as app development, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning etc.

(MAINS FOCUS)


EDUCATION / FEDERALISM/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 1, 2:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Education
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 

Tamil Nadu NEET Quota

Context: Tamil Nadu Governor gave his assent to a Bill that sought to reserve 7.5% seats in undergraduate medical admissions for government-school students who qualified NEET. The Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed a Bill on the quota in September this year.

What Is NEET?

  • It is an entrance exam for medical courses like MBBS, BDS, and Post Graduation in both government and private medical colleges. 
  • NEET-UG replaced the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) and all individual MBBS exams conducted by states or colleges themselves in 2013. 
  • The NTA – National Testing Agency, the regulatory body for NEET UG Exam, conducts it every year in various parts of India in multiple languages.
  • The responsibility of the NTA is limited to the conduct of the entrance examination, declaration of result and for providing an “All India Rank Merit List” to the Directorate General Health Service, Government of India for the conduct of counselling for 15% All India Quota Seats and for providing the result to States/other Counselling Authorities.
  • NEET is based on a core curriculum approach, whereby the syllabi of all the school boards have been taken into consideration.

Criticism of NEET: Click here

Why was Tamil Nadu opposed to NEET?

  • Among the States that were strident in their opposition to NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) was Tamil Nadu.
  • One of the primary arguments that were made was that NEET would push certain categories of students out of the race for MBBS degrees, and its goal of providing equitable opportunities for all would be frustrated. 
  • Students from government schools and rural areas would not be able to afford the coaching that would be essential for the competitive test, the State government argued. 
  • Since 2017, when NEET was implemented in Tamil Nadu, only 14 students from government schools have managed to get admitted to the MBBS course.

What did the State do?

  • The inevitability of using NEET to select candidates for MBBS seats led critics to point to unique disadvantages for students from government schools, and seek redress on this front. 
  • The government ran free coaching centres for NEET to help students prepare for the examination.
  • In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, of the nearly 700 government-school students who cleared the NEET, nine entered government medical colleges, according to data provided by Tamil Nadu health authorities. 
  • A Commission was set by Tamil Nadu State government and headed by retired High Court judge P. Kalaiyarasan, to set right the “de facto inequalities” between government-school students and private-school students.
  • The Commission, in its report, made the observation that students from government schools are placed at a disadvantage, compared to their counterparts in private schools, “due to a cognitive gap created by socio-economic factors such as caste, wealth, parental occupation, parental education, gender, etc., and these psychological and socio-economic barriers cannot be bridged by a few months of intensive coaching for NEET, even if provided for free
  • It recommended setting aside 10% seats for government students.
  • As a result, the Assembly passed a Bill that sought to provide 7.5% horizontal reservation for government-school students in MBBS admissions.
  • Horizontal reservations are applied irrespective of the community a student belongs to, just as in the case of quota for persons with disability or wards of ex-service personnel. 
  • The government also specified that if a government-school student has scored high marks, she or he could also opt to be allotted a seat based on their community reservation.

How many seats will students from government schools be eligible for this admission season?

  • In the MBBS course in government medical colleges, 15% seats are set aside under the All India Quota, and the remaining 85% will be available for the State Quota, to be filled up according to the rule of reservation. 
  • A further percentage of seats (65% in private self-financing colleges, and 50% in private, self-financing minority colleges) will also be added to the government’s quota. 
  • This year, it adds up to a total of 4,058 seats, and 7.5% of that comes to 304 seats, according to State health authorities. 
  • State government has reiterated that the integrity of the 69% caste-based reservation for medical admissions would be preserved while admitting students to ensure that it is not violated in any manner

Conclusion

  • Where 14 students were admitted in three years, 304 students from government schools will have the opportunity to take up medical education, provided they have cleared NEET.

SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2, 3:

  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Special Marriages Act (SMA)

Context: The Allahabad High Court in a recent ruling declared that the conversion for the sole purpose of marriage as ”null and void”.

What is Special Marriage Act?

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA) was enacted to facilitate the marriage of couples professing different faiths and preferring a civil wedding. 
  • People from different castes or religions or states get married under SMA in which marriage is solemnized by way of registration.
  • The prime purpose of the Act was to address Inter-religious marriages and to establish marriage as a secular institution bereft of all religious formalities, which requires registration alone.

What are the features of the SMA?

  • Basic age Criteria: The marriage of any two persons may be solemnised under the SMA, subject to the man having completed 21 years of age and the woman 18. 
  • Basic Conditions needs to be met: Neither should have a spouse living; both should be capable of giving valid consent, should not suffer from any mental disorder of a kind that renders them unfit for marriage and procreation. 
  • Restrictions related to Religious laws: They should not be within the degrees of prohibited relationship — that is, they should not be related in such a way that their religion does not permit such marriages.
  • Notice Procedure: Parties to an intended marriage should give notice to the ‘marriage officer’ of the district in which one of them had resided for at least 30 days. The notice will have to be entered in a ‘Marriage Notice Book’ and a copy of it displayed at a conspicuous place in the office. 
  • The marriage has to be solemnised within three months of the notice, and if it is not, a fresh notice will be needed.
  • Provision for objections to the marriage: Any person can object to the marriage within 30 days of the publication of the notice on the ground that it contravenes one of the conditions for a valid marriage. The marriage officer has to inquire into the objection and give a decision within 30 days. If he refuses permission for the marriage, an appeal can be made to the district court. The court’s decision will be final.
  • Member of Undivided Family: Also, the Act says that when a member of an undivided family who professes Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religions, gets married under SMA, it results in his or her “severance” from the family.

What are the Criticisms of SMA i.e. the hurdles faced by inter-faith couples?

  • Practical Difficulties: The provisions relating to notice, publication and objection have rendered it difficult for many people intending to solemnise inter-faith marriages. 
  • Vulnerable to coercive tactics by family: Publicity in the local registration office may mean that family members objecting to the union may seek to stop it by coercion. 
  • Danger posed by fringe groups: There have been reports of right-wing groups opposed to inter-faith marriages keeping a watch on the notice boards of marriage offices and taking down the details of the parties so that they can be dissuaded or coerced into abandoning the idea.
  • Intrusion of Privacy: The law’s features on prior public notice being given and objections being called from any quarter, places a question mark on the safety and privacy of those intending to marry across religions. 
  • Violation of Right to Equality: In the case of Hindu and Muslim marriage laws, there is no requirement of prior notice and, therefore, such a requirement in the SMA is considered as violation of the right to equality of those opting for marriage under SMA.
  • Pushes for religious conversion: Due to complexities involved in SMA, the intending couple finds it easier to settle for marriage under the personal law of one of them, with the other opting for religious conversion.  While conversion to Islam and Christianity has formal means, there is no prescribed ceremony for conversion to Hinduism.

Are there laws against conversion for the sake of marriage?

  • The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019, and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, both prohibit conversion by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, inducement, allurement and ‘by marriage’.
  • There is a separate section in both laws under which, not conversion for the purpose of marriage, but marriage done solely for the purpose of conversion, may be declared null and void by a family court based on a suit by either party.

Conclusion

Marriage being a personal matter has to be sparingly regulated, unless it leads to social evils. Freedom of choice should be given primacy in a liberal Democratic country like India.

Connecting the dots:


(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 regarding EOS-01 satellite recently launched by India:

  1. It is an Earth observation satellite. 
  2. It will be useful in agriculture, Forestry and disaster management.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.2 Tigray region was in news recently. Where is it situated? 

  1. Ethiopia 
  2. Sudan 
  3. Eritrea 
  4. Tanzania

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Sarnath: 

  1. It is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit. 
  2. Buddha gave his first teaching Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta after attaining enlightenment in this city.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

ANSWERS FOR 7th November 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A
3 A
4 D

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