(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Economy
Context: The Supreme Court has upheld a National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) decision to wind up Devas (Digitally Enhanced Video and Audio Services), once regarded as a move to revolutionise digital media and broadcasting services via satellite. However, it ended up as a case of fraud and corruption under CBI investigation.
What is NCLT?
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was enacted in 2016 for reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximization of the value of assets of such persons.
- The adjudicating authority is National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for companies and LLPs and Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) for individuals and partnership firms.
- It is a quasi-judicial body in India that adjudicates issues relating to companies in India.
- Established on 1st June, 2016 (Companies Act, 2013).
- Formed based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee.
- It deals with matters mainly related to companies law and the insolvency law.
- Term of members: Appointments will be for five years from the date of assumption of charge or till attaining the age of 65 or until further orders.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations and GS-III Defence and Security
Context: In the first export order for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system, the Philippines has approved a $374.96 mn contract for the purchase of a shore-based anti-ship variant of the missile from India.
- It includes the delivery of three batteries, training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package.
- The coastal defence regiment of the Philippine Marines will be the primary employer.
- There is interest for acquiring BrahMos missiles from several countries and negotiations are in advanced stages with Indonesia and Thailand.
About BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile
- BrahMos, deployed by the Navy on its warships first in 2005, has the capability to hit sea-based targets beyond radar horizon.
- Capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface- and sea-based targets
- The missiles, fired at a speed of 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound, significantly increase the capability of the ships in engaging long-range targets.
- The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
- It is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile currently in operation.
- BrahMos missiles are designed and developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture company set up by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Mashinostroyenia of Russia
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations
Context China would begin implementing a strategic agreement with Iran, strengthening economic and political cooperation between the two countries as China condemned USA’s sanctions on Iran.
- China and Iran signed the agreement with the wide-ranging partnership set to span areas including energy, security, infrastructure and communications.
- China is Iran’s leading trade partner and was one of the biggest buyers of the country’s oil before then-U.S. president Donald Trump reimposed sweeping unilateral sanctions in 2018.
- China has officially stopped importing oil from Iran, but analysts say Iranian crude is continuing to enter the country disguised as imports from other countries.
- The agreement is also significant because talks continue in Vienna over a potential deal to halt Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.
- A 2015 deal — agreed by Iran, the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
- But the U.S. withdrew from the agreement in 2018, reimposing biting sanctions and prompting Iran to begin rolling back on its commitments.
News Source: TH
(News from PIB)
- Known as the voice of the poor and underprivileged
- Known for the eradication of Yaws, a chronic bacterial infection
- She served the poor for nearly six decades, dedicating her life to the education and upliftment of tribal girls in the Maoist-hit Rayagada region.
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-1: Indian Culture
- A descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers
- Was from Lucknow’s Kalka-Bindadin Gharana
- One of the youngest artistes to be awarded a Sangeet Natak Akademy (28).
- Conferred with a Padma Vibhushan
- Won the National Film Award in 2012
About Kathak dance form
- The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers.
- The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Katha which means “story”, and Kathakar which means “the one who tells a story”, or “to do with stories”.
- Only classical dance of India having links with Muslim culture, it represents a unique synthesis of Hindu and Muslim genius in art.
- The nineteenth century saw the golden age of Kathak under the patronage of Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Oudh. He established the Lucknow gharana with its strong accent on bhava, the expression of moods and emotions.
- The Jaipur gharana known for its layakari or rhythmic virtuosity and the Benaras gharana are other prominent schools of Kathak dance.
- Raslila: The Vaishnavite cult which swept North India in the 15th century. And the resultant bhakti movement contributed to a whole new range of lyrics and musical forms. The Radha-Krishna theme proved immensely popular along with the works of Mirabai, Surdas, Nandadas and Krishnadas.
- Recognized by UNESCO under Intangible Cultural Heritage of India
News Source: PIB
Part of: Prelims and GS 3: Sci and Tech; Space
In News: Motion of some stars holds clue of dark matter shape in barred galaxies
- Scientists investigating how the shape of dark matter halo affects the motion of stars in stellar bars (found at the centre of some galaxies) have found that out-of-plane bending events of the bar explain the shape of dark matter halos in barred galaxies.
- Out of plane bending of the bar in barred galaxies (central bar-shaped structure composed of stars) is a rare violent bar thickening mechanism known as buckling.
- The trillions of galaxies in our Universe have different shapes and sizes, which are determined by the motion of their stars.
- Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is a disk galaxy made up of stars moving in circular orbits around the center in a flattened disk, with a dense collection of the stars at the center called the bulge. These bulges can have shapes ranging from nearly spherical to as flat as the galaxy disk.
- Milky Way has a flat boxy or peanut-shaped bulge in its center. Such bulges are formed due to thickening of the stellar bars in galaxies.
- One of the interesting and violent thickening mechanism is buckling, where bar bends out of the plane of the galaxy disk.
- Many recent numerical and observational studies suggest that dark matter halos are spherical, prolate (a sphere squashed from the sides), or oblate (a sphere squashed from the top and bottom) in shape.
Importance: Shape of dark matter halos is important for understanding halo spin, which is an area of research being studied by many galaxy simulation groups over the world.
- Dark matter forms the skeleton on which galaxies form, evolve, and merge.
- About 85% of the universe is dark matter
- Dark matter is not antimatter, because we do not see the unique gamma rays that are produced when antimatter annihilates with matter.
- Dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together; dark matter exerts its influence on individual galaxies as well as the universe at large.
- Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with the electromagnetic field, which means it does not absorb, reflect or emit electromagnetic radiation, and is therefore difficult to detect.
- Primary evidence for dark matter comes from calculations showing that many galaxies would fly apart, or that they would not have formed or would not move as they do, if they did not contain a large amount of unseen matter.
- Professor Stephen Hawking: Proposed the theory that primordial black holes are a source of dark matter
News Source: PIB
- GS-3: Indian Economy & challenges
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: Inequality Kills: The unparalleled action needed to combat unprecedented inequality in the wake of COVID-19” is a report released in January 2022 by Oxfam, a U.K.-based consortium of 21 charitable organisations that have a global presence
- The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened economic inequalities across the world.
- The pandemic has brought into light that peoples’ life chances are directly linked to their access to wealth and healthcare, their positions of power in society, their racial and caste identities, and their geographic locations.
What is the “Inequality Kills” report?
- Vaccine apartheid: The report argues that unequal access to vaccines between countries (Vaccine Apartheid) and the lack of universal vaccination programs in many countries as a cause of the emergence of multiple new strains of the coronavirus that has led to the continuation of the pandemic.
- Heightened Inequality: The report points out that 160 million people were rendered poor during the pandemic, while the ten richest people doubled their fortunes since the start of the pandemic.
- Govt stimulus increased Billionaires Wealth: It also demonstrates how emergency government expenditure (estimated at $16 trillion) that was meant to keep economies afloat during this crisis, inflated stock prices. This resulted in billionaires’ collective wealth increasing by $5 trillion during the pandemic (Oxfam calls this process as “the billionaire variant”)
- Inequality Kills: The central argument of the report is that inequality is a death sentence for people that are marginalised by social and economic structures and removed from political decision making. The report argues for sustained and immediate action to end the pandemic, address global inequality and initiate concerted measures to tackle the climate emergency.
Why does the report say that inequality kills?
- Inequality is institutionalised violence against poorer people. The report categorically states, “Extreme inequality is a form of ‘economic violence’—where structural and systemic policy and political choices that are skewed in favor of the richest and most powerful people result in direct harm to the vast majority of ordinary people worldwide.”
- Weakens Social Fabric: The report identifies higher inequality with more crime and violence and less social trust.
- Disproportionate Social Impact: The brunt of inequality and the violence it begets is borne, for instance, by women across the world, Dalits in India, Blacks & Native Americans in USA and indigenous groups in many countries.
- Widened Gender Inequality: Women who were already unequal before the pandemic are now more unequal because of increased economic inequality.
- Lockdowns led to an increase in violence against women worldwide.
- 13 million women have not returned to the workforce and 20 million girls are at risk of losing access to education.
- The gender equality has suffered a huge set back which will take at least 135 years to correct.
- Climate crisis exaggerated by inequality between countries: Extreme neoliberal models of economic growth have led to a skewed system of carbon-intensive production, that favours richer countries while shifting the risk onto poorer countries.
- Wealthiest 1% of humanity are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50%”.
- Hunger deaths: The report shows how poverty, caused by rising inequality, also leads to hunger and deaths due to hunger. For instance, 369 million children have reportedly lost access to school meals during the pandemic. For millions of these children this was their most nutritious meal of the day.
How does the report propose to rectify global inequality?
- The “Inequality Kills” report proposes far-reaching changes to structures of government, economy and policy-making to fight inequality.
- It urgently asks for “vaccine recipes” to be made open-source so that every qualified vaccine manufacturer can manufacture them. In doing so the report asks for monopolies over vaccines held by pharmaceutical giants and anchored in place through the World Trade Organisation, to end.
- The report then asks for governments to “claw” back the wealth from billionaires by administering solidarity taxes higher than 90% especially on the billionaires that have profited during and because of the pandemic.
- In addition to this, the report asks for permanent cancellation of tax havens, progressive taxation on corporations and an end to tax dodging by corporations.
- The report then suggests that all of this regained wealth be redirected towards building income safety nets, universalising healthcare for everyone, investing in green technologies and democratising them, and, investing in protecting women from violence.
- Finally, the report advocates for redistributing power along with wealth by strengthening workers’ unions, boosting political representation of marginalised groups, and asserting human rights.
Connecting the dots:
- GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations.
Context: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Haldwani, Uttarakhand
where he stated that road construction was ongoing at Lipulekh and even further, top authorities at Nepal have asked their Prime Minister to note PM Modi’s comments and demand a response.
- The Indian embassy in Nepal has conveyed that India’s position on the India- Nepal border remains consistent and unambiguous.
Why has the relationship between India and Nepal taken a turn for the worse?
- The immediate provocation is the long-standing territorial issue surrounding Kalapani, a patch of land near the India-Nepal border, close to the Lipulekh Pass on the India-China border,
- Lipulekh Pass is one of the approved points for border trade and the route for the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra in Tibet.
- However, the underlying reasons are far more complex where Nepali political class by raising the banner of Nepali nationalism paints India as a hegemon, that creates distrust between the neighbours.
Image courtesy: TKP
Kalapani and the maps
- India inherited the boundary with Nepal, established between Nepal and the East India Company in the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.
- Kali river constituted the boundary, and the territory to its east was Nepal. The dispute relates to the origin of Kali.
- Near Garbyang village in Dharchula Tehsil of the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, there is a confluence of different streams coming from north-east from Kalapani and north-west from Limpiyadhura.
- The early British survey maps identified the north-west stream, Kuti Yangti, from Limpiyadhura as the origin, but after 1857 changed the alignment to Lipu Gad, and in 1879 to Pankha Gad, the north-east streams, thus defining the origin as just below Kalapani.
- Nepal accepted the change and India inherited this boundary in 1947.
- The Maoist revolution in China in 1949, followed by the takeover of Tibet, created deep misgivings in Nepal, and India was ‘invited’ to set up 18 border posts along the Nepal-Tibet border.
- By 1969, India had withdrawn its border posts from Nepali territory. The base camp for Lipulekh remained at Kalapani, less than 10 km west of Lipulekh.
- In their respective maps, both India and Nepal showed Kalapani as the origin of Kali river and as part of their territory.
- After 1979, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police has manned the Lipulekh Pass. In actual practice, life for the locals (Byansis) remained unchanged given the open border and free movement of people and goods.
- After the 1996 Treaty of Mahakali (Kali river is also called Mahakali/Sarada further downstream) that envisaged the Pancheshwar multipurpose hydel project, the issue of the origin of Kali river was first raised in 1997.
- The matter was referred to the Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee that had been set up in 1981 to re-identify and replace the old and damaged boundary pillars along the India-Nepal border.
- The Committee clarified 98% of the boundary, leaving behind the unresolved issues of Kalapani and Susta (in the Terai) when it was dissolved in 2008.
- It was subsequently agreed that the matter would be discussed at the Foreign Secretary level.
- The Survey of India issued a new political map (eighth edition) on November 2, 2019, to reflect the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir as two Union Territories. Nepal registered a protest though the map in no way had changed the boundary between India and Nepal.
- However, on November 8, the ninth edition was issued. The delineation remained identical but the name Kali river had been deleted. Predictably, this led to stronger protests, with Nepal invoking Foreign Secretary-level talks to resolve issues.
- By April 2020, Mr. Oli’s domestic political situation was weakening. Under the Nepali Constitution, a new Prime Minister enjoys a guaranteed two-year period during which a no-confidence motion is not permitted.
- This safe period ended in February unleashing simmering resentment against Mr. Oli’s governance style and performance. His inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic added to the growing resentment.
- The re-eruption of the Kalapani controversy, when India inaugurated newly built 80-km road in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragath district leading up to Lipu Lekh pass. This provided Mr. Oli with a political lifeline.
- A subsequent comment by the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Manoj Naravane, on May 15 that “Nepal may have raised the issue at the behest of someone else” was insensitive, given that the Indian COAS is also an honorary general of the Nepal Army and vice-versa, highlighting the traditional ties between the two armies.
- Mr. Oli had won the election in 2017 by flaunting his Nepali nationalism card, the flip side of which is anti-Indianism. This is not a new phenomenon but has become more pronounced in recent years.
- A new map of Nepal based on the older British survey reflecting Kali river originating from Limpiyadhura in the north-west of Garbyang was adopted by parliament and notified on May 20. The new alignment adds 335 sq km to Nepali territory, territory that has never been reflected in a Nepali map for nearly 170 years.
- This brief account illustrates the complexity underlying India-Nepal issues that cannot be solved by rhetoric or unilateral map-making exercises.
Way Forward: Rewriting the fundamentals
- India has often spoken of the “neighbourhood first” policy.
- For too long India has invoked a “special relationship”, based on shared culture, language and religion, to anchor its ties with Nepal. Today, this term carries a negative connotation — that of a paternalistic India that is often insensitive and, worse still, a bully.
- India-Nepal relationship took a nosedive in 2015 when India first got blamed for interfering in the Constitution-drafting in Nepal and then for an “unofficial blockade” that generated widespread resentment against the country.
- It reinforced the notion that Nepali nationalism and anti-Indianism were two sides of the same coin that Mr. Oli exploited successfully.
- In Nepali thinking, the China card has provided them the leverage to practise their version of non-alignment.
- In the past, China maintained a link with the Palace and its concerns were primarily related to keeping tabs on the Tibetan refugee community. Today’s China is pursuing a more assertive foreign policy and considers Nepal an important element in its growing South Asian footprint.
- India remained content that its interests were safeguarded by quiet diplomacy even when Nepali leaders publicly adopted anti-Indian postures. Long ignored by India, it has spawned distortions in Nepali history textbooks and led to long-term negative consequences.
- The urgent need today is to pause the rhetoric on territorial nationalism and lay the groundwork for a quiet dialogue where both sides need to display sensitivity as they explore the terms of a reset of the “special relationship”.
Can you answer this question?
- What are the major irritants in Indo-Nepal relations? What are their fallouts? Examine.
(Down to Earth: Governance)
Jan 6: Raising marital age of women: Smashing patriarchy or further regression? – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/governance/raising-marital-age-of-women-smashing-patriarchy-or-further-regression–81009
- GS-1: Society (Women’s Issues)
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
In News: The Union government has decided to raise the marital age of women to 21 years from 18 years.
- By amending the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006 and other personal law, the legal age of marriage of women will be raised rom 18 to 21 years.
- Cited health implications for women with regard to the age of motherhood, maternal mortality rate (MMR), malnutrition and other allied concerns
- Based on recommendations of the NITI Aayog task force headed by Jaya Jaitly set up in June, 2021.
- The task force was set up to re-examine the age of marriage and its correlation to health and social indices such as infant mortality, maternal mortality, and nutrition levels among mothers and children.
Other Key Recommendations
- The government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas.
- Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
- These deliveries must come first, as, unless they are implemented and women are empowered, the law will not be as effective.
- An awareness campaign to be undertaken on a massive scale on the increase in age of marriage, and to encourage social acceptance of the new legislation, which they have said would be far more effective than coercive measures.
What is the minimum age of marriage?
- Personal laws that govern marriage and other personal practices for communities prescribe certain criteria for marriage, including age of the bride and groom.
- For example, Section 5(iii) of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, sets a minimum age of 18 for the bride and 21 for the groom. This is the same for Christians under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and the Special Marriage Act.
- For Muslims, the criterion is attaining puberty, which is assumed when the bride or groom turns 15.
Note: The minimum age of marriage was prescribed for the first time by the law known as the Sarda Act, 1929. It was later renamed as the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA), 1929.
Why is there a minimum age?
- To outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.
- This is done through special legislation such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
- Under the Child Marriage Prevention Act, any marriage below the prescribed age is illegal and the perpetrators of a forced child marriage can be punished.
Against the decision
- Child and women’s rights activists, as well as population and family planning experts have not been in favour of increasing the age of marriage for women on the basis that such legislation would push a large portion of the population into illegal marriages.
- They have contended that even with the legal age of marriage for women being kept at 18 years, child marriages continue in India and a decrease in such marriages has not been because of the existing law but because of increase in girl’s education and employment opportunities.
The claims or arguments provided by the officials in favour of this law lack statistical evidence from the past as well as the present.
- For instance, the age of Indian women was increased to 18 years from 16 years in 1978, with the sole objective of providing them better access to health and education. That goal has not been achieved even after four decades.
- Some 23 per cent of women marry before they turn 18 (National Family Health Survey-5, 2019–21). This highlights the failure of the government in achieving its goal of providing better opportunities for girls in backward and poverty-stricken areas, along with better healthcare facilities.
- Despite the Child Marriage Prohibition Act, India ranks 14th-highest in rate of prevalence of child marriage.
- The country ranks 140 out of 153 countries in terms of the gender gap index, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021.
- Experts noted that 70% of early marriages take place in deprived communities such as SCs and STs, and said the law will simply push these marriages underground instead of preventing them.
- Rural women will be affected more than urban women. According to NFHS 4, the median age at first marriage (age 25-49) for urban women (19.8) is 1.7 years more than that for rural women (18.1).
Elephant in the Room: Just one of the 31-member parliamentary panel examining the law to raise the marital age is a woman. This itself is enough to highlight how decision-making powers are still in the hands of the men in our country and there are miles to go in order to achieve gender equality in its true form.
How marriage age and women’s health are linked?
Preventing early marriage can reduce the maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio, according to Dipa Sinha, professor of economics at Ambedkar University.
- At present, the maternal mortality ratio — the number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 children born — is 145.
- India’s infant mortality ratio shows that 30 of every 1,000 children born in a year die before the age of one. Both these indicators in India are the highest among the BRICS economies.
- Young mothers are more susceptible to anaemia. More than half the women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in India are anaemic. The prevalence of anaemia among women has consistently been high over the last 20 years.
The Way Forward
Legislation, education and government action must be used together to help families keep teenage girls in school.
- Need to promote gender equity from all aspects: To truly empower them while respecting their reproductive rights, the government must invest far more in addressing issues of equity — measures that will enable the disadvantaged to complete their education, provide career counselling and encourage skilling and job placement, address safety issues of women in public places including public transportation, and change the perceptions of parents who are ultimately those who make marriage related decisions for a majority of women.
- Reduce the judgment: We need rigorous and genuine efforts to uplift the social status of women and provide a comfortable space where they can live freely, without the fear of being judged or being under constant scrutiny.
- Increased access and accessibility to Education at all levels: Empowerment of women through education should be a priority irrespective of the law.
- Main causes need to be dealt with first: Limited access to education and economic prospects, and security concerns are the known reasons for early marriage. If the main causes of early marriage are not addressed, a law will not be enough to delay marriage among girls.
Can you answer the following questions?
- Is it right to increase the age of marriage of women to 21? Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Which of the following is/are true regarding National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)?
- It is a quasi-judicial body in India that adjudicates issues relating to companies in India.
- It is formed based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee.
Select the correct answer:
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Kathak is a classical dance form of which of the following state of India?
- Uttar Pradesh
Q.3 Vienna talks is associated with which of the following?
- Iran’s nuclear programme
- Climate change issues of Vienna
- Disaster management of Austria
- Russia-Ukraine hostile relations
ANSWERS FOR 18th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On geopolitical prospects in 2022:
On India’s livestock sector:
On India-Japan relationship: