(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS-III -Environment
Context: The details of the recently released draft environment impact assessment (EIA) report for the mega development project in the Great Nicobar Island have raised serious questions.
- The questions are related to submission of incorrect or incomplete information, scientific inaccuracy and failure to follow appropriate procedure.
- A public hearing to discuss the report has been scheduled.
What is the matter related to?
- The matter is related to the NITI Aayog-piloted Rs. 72,000-crore integrated project in Great Nicobar that includes construction of a mega port, an airport complex, a township spread over 130 sq. km of pristine forest and a solar and gas-based power plant.
- Ecologists and researchers have been raising concerns about this project for over a year.
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
- It is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project
- It is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
- Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has decentralized the environmental clearance projects by categorizing the developmental projects in two categories – Category A (national level appraisal) and Category B (state level appraisal).
- Category A projects – They require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.
- Category B Projects– They undergo screening process and they are classified into two types:
- Category B1 projects (Mandatorily require EIA).
- Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-II Policies and interventions
Context: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Arunachal Pradesh government to submit an action taken report against the racial profiling and relocation of people belonging to the Chakma and Hajong communities.
Who are Chakma and Hajong?
- Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while Hajongs are Hindus.
- They were inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who migrated to India due to:
- Submergence of their land by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s.
- religious persecution they faced in East Pakistan as they were non-Muslims.
- The Indian government set up relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh and a majority of them continue to live there even after 50 years.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
- NHRC was established in 1993.
- It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the protection of human rights held in Paris in 1991.
- Status: It is a statutory organization established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993
- Headquarters: New Delhi.
- To investigate the violation of human rights/ the failures of the states/other to prevent a human rights violation
- The commissions may also take on research about human rights, create awareness campaigns through various mediums, and encourage the work of NGOs.
- Chairperson, four full-time Members and four deemed Members.
- A Chairperson, should be retired Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court.
- Appointment: The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
- The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
- The Home Minister
- The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
- The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha
- The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
- They hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
- The President can remove them from the office under specific circumstances.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment
Context: Recently, the Peruvian government declared a 90-day “environmental emergency” in damaged coastal territories, after an oil spill that saw 6,000 barrels of crude oil pour into the sea.
What is an environmental emergency?
- It is defined as a “sudden-onset disaster or accident resulting from natural, technological or human-induced factors, or a combination of these, that causes or threatens to cause severe environmental damage as well as loss of human lives and property”.
- According to UNEP, Countries facing an environmental emergency often require technical support and specialized expertise to respond effectively, minimize adverse impacts, and recover rapidly.
What is oil spill?
- An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially the marine ecosystem, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution.
- The term is usually given to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land.
- Peru is a country in western South America.
- It is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.
- It is essentially a tropical country.
- The cold Peru Current (or Humboldt Current), flows along its Pacific shoreline.
News Source: IE
Part of: Prelims and GS-II Policies and interventions
Context: The Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing a fresh challenge to the provision allowing restitution of conjugal rights under Hindu personal laws.
About Conjugal rights
- Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with restitution of conjugal rights.
- It recognises one aspect of conjugal rights — the right to consortium and protects it by allowing a spouse to move court to enforce the right.
- Conjugal rights are rights created by marriage, i.e. right of the husband or the wife to the society of the other spouse.
- The law recognises these rights— both in personal laws dealing with marriage, divorce etc, and in criminal law requiring payment of maintenance and alimony to a spouse.
- Conjugal Rights includes:
- Living together: The spouses or the married couple should live together
- Marital intercourse: The spouses or the married couple have rights and duties together with each other and have physical or sexual relationships.
- Comfort to each other: The spouses should give comfort to each other like; emotional and mental comfort.
- Matrimonial Obligation: The married couple is supposed to share the responsibility of the households as well.
Why has the law been challenged?
- Main ground is that it is violative of the fundamental right to privacy.
- It amounted to a “coercive act” on the part of the state, which violates one’s sexual and decisional autonomy, and right to privacy and dignity.
- The provision disproportionately affects women. Women are often called back to marital homes under the provision, and given that marital rape is not a crime, leaves them susceptible to such coerced cohabitation.
- Also in question is whether the state can have such a compelling interest in protecting the institution of marriage that it allows a legislation to enforce cohabitation of spouses.
News Source: TH
(News from PIB)
- Objective: To mark the foundation day of the Election Commission of India, i.e. 25th January 1950
- Purpose: To encourage, facilitate and maximize enrolment, especially for new voters
- Theme: Making Elections Inclusive, Accessible and Participative
- The first-ever National Voters’ Day was celebrated on January 25, 2011
- Election Commission of India is a Constitutional Body created under Article 324 of the Constitution of India.
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Awareness in the field of Space – Space Missions
- India’s 1st Human spaceflight programme to be launched by 2023.
- It will include two unmanned flights to be launched in December 2020 and July 2021 and one human space flight to be launched in December 2021.
- It will carry 3 astronauts to a low earth orbit of 300 to 400 kilometres on board GSLV Mark III vehicle, for at least 7 days.
- It will make India the 4th country to send manned mission after the Russia, USA and China.
Components of Gaganyaan
- Mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
- Rocket: GSLV Mk-III, also called the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3,) the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle
- Gaganyaan system module, called the Orbital Module – will circle Earth at a low-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from earth for 5-7 days
- The payload:
- Crew module – spacecraft carrying human beings.
- Service module – powered by two liquid propellant engines.
- The crew members will be selected by the IAF and ISR.
- Crew will perform micro-gravity and other scientific experiments for a week.
Crew Module Atmospheric Re-Entry Technology – Care
- Satellites that are launched for communication or remote sensing are meant to remain in space. However, a manned spacecraft needs to come back.
- While re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft needs to withstand very high temperatures created due to friction.
- A prior critical experiment was carried out in 2014 along with GSLV MK-III when the CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment) capsule successfully demonstrated that it could survive atmospheric re-entry.
Potential of this mission
- Employment generation of around 15,000.
- Technological advancement will enhance India’s standing in the world given only few countries have achieved this feat (USA, Russia, China)
- Inspire nation’s youth to take up scientific research. Can even attract foreign talent.
- Increase foreign investment in the field leading to better infrastructure.
- Using ‘space’ as a tool in foreign policy and diplomacy.
- Bringing in innovative transportation systems.
- Resources to mankind: The ISRO is looking to tap Helium which is present in abundance on the Moon through its future missions which will be very useful for clean nuclear power generation.
- Technological spin-offs from the mission to have positive impact on various sectors like telecom, power.
Other upcoming Missions by ISRO
- RICAT-1A PSLV C5-2 scheduled for February 2022
- INS 2B ANAND PSLV C-53 to be launched in March 2022
- SSLV-D1 Micro SAT in April 2022
News Source: PIB
SCIENCE & TECH/ GOVERNANCE
- GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
Context: The concept of Web3, also called Web 3.0, used to describe a potential next phase of the internet, created quite a buzz in 2021.
- The model, a decentralised internet to be run on blockchain technology, would be different from the versions in use, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
- In web3, users will have ownership stakes in platforms and applications unlike now where tech
What do we need to know of versions in use?
- To understand web3, we should start with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
- Web 1.0 is the world wide web or the internet that was invented in 1989. It became popular from 1993.
- The internet in the Web 1.0 days was mostly static web pages where users would go to a website and then read and interact with the static information.
- Even though there were e-commerce websites in the initial days it was still a closed environment and the users themselves could not create any content or post reviews on the internet.
- Web 1.0 lasted until 1999. Web 2.0 started in some form in the late 1990s itself though 2004 was when most of its features were fully available. It is still the age of Web 2.0 now.
- The differentiating characteristic of Web 2.0 compared to Web1.0 is that users can create content. They can interact and contribute in the form of comments, registering likes, sharing and uploading their photos or videos and perform other such activities.
- Primarily, a social media kind of interaction is the differentiating trait of Web 2.0.
What are some of the concerns?
- In Web 2.0, most of the data in the internet and the internet traffic are owned or handled by very few large companies.
- This has created issues related to data privacy, data security and abuse of such data.
- There is a sense of disappointment that the original purpose of the internet has been distorted. It is in this context that the buzz around Web3 is significant.
- Over the past few years, owing to the popularity of crypto-currency, more discussions happened on Web3.
What is Web3 and how will it address the problems of data monopoly?
- As per the Web3 foundation, Web3 will deliver “decentralized and fair internet where users control their own data”.
- Currently if a seller has to make a business to the buyer, both the buyer and seller need to be registered on a “shop” or “platform” like Amazon or any such e-commerce portal.
- What this “platform” currently does is that it authenticates that the buyer and seller are genuine parties for the transaction.
- Web3 tries to remove the role of the “platform”.
- For the buyer to be authenticated, the usual proofs aided by block chain technology will be used. The same goes for the seller.
- With block chain, the time and place of transaction are recorded permanently.
- Thus, Web3 enables peer to peer (seller to buyer) transaction by eliminating the role of the intermediary. This concept can be extended to other transactions also.
- Consider a social media application where one wants to share pictures with their followers. It could be a broadcast operation from the person, aided by blockchain and there is no need of social media accounts for all the participants to be able to perform this.
- The spirit of Web3 is Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) which is that all the business rules and governing rules in any transaction are transparently available for anyone to see and software will be written conforming to these rules.
- With DAO, there is no need for a central authority to authenticate or validate. Crypto-currency and block chain are technologies that follow the DAO principle.
Will it take off?
- There is much scepticism from top tech brains in the industry and the academic community that Web3 does not solve the problems it purports to solve.
- Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter), for example, are a couple of tech entrepreneurs who do not foresee a future for Web3.
- From a technology perspective, Web3 will require deviation from the current architecture where there is a front-end, middle layer and back-end.
- Web3’s architecture will need backend solutions for handling block chain, persisting and indexing data in block chain, peer to peer communications and so forth.
- Similarly, the middle layer, also called the business rules layer, will need to include handling block chain-based backend.
- It is not know yet if Web3 will become the dominant mode of handling the internet but the questions it raises are relevant.
Connecting the dots:
- GS-1: Society
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: In child custody matters, the access to courts are getting tougher with pandemic induced restrictions, impacting both non-custodial parents and children.
- Seeking custody of a child in the event of a marriage breaking down is a messy affair.
- While the concept of shared parenting is a reality in countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, it is not an option in India.
What does the law say?
Two laws determine the custody of children in India.
- The first is The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (HMGA) of 1956, which states that the natural guardian of a Hindu minor boy or unmarried girl shall be the father and mother, provided that custody of a minor who has not completed five years of age shall ordinarily be with the mother.
- But the HMGA does not contain any independent, legal or procedural mechanism for deciding custody rights or declaring court-appointed guardians. Therefore, we fall back on the second law, which is colonial in nature.
- The second law is the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890 (GWA) which deals with the appointment of a person as a ‘guardian’ to a child, both with respect to the child and property.
- Child custody, guardianship and visitation issues between parents are determined under the GWA, if a natural parent wants to be declared as an exclusive guardian to his/her own child.
- Upon disputes between parents in a petition under the GWA, read with the HMGA, guardianship and custody can be vested with one parent with visitation rights to the other parent.
- In doing so, the welfare of the minor or “best interests of the child” shall be of paramount consideration.
What does “best interests of the child” mean?
- India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
- The definition of “best interests of the child” has been incorporated from the UNCRC in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- The “best interests of the child” means to ensure fulfillment of his/her basic rights and needs, identity, social well-being and physical, emotional and intellectual development”.
- In 2019, the Supreme Court of India held in Lahari Sakhamuri v. Sobhan Kodali that the “best interests of the child” is wide in its connotation and “cannot remain the love and care of the primary care, i.e., the mother in case of an infant or the child who is only a few years old.” This is child-centric approach.
- Again, in 2022, the Supreme Court in Vasudha Sethi v. Kiran V. Bhaskar held that a child’s welfare, not the individual or personal legal right of the parents, is of paramount concern in a custody battle. Welfare of the child must get precedence over the parents’ rights.
Have any recommendations been made for joint parenting?
- Recommendations have been made for joint parenting by various committees.
- The Law Commission of India Report in 2015, on Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India, recommended joint custody and shared parenting. It disagreed with the idea of singular child custody with one parent.
- Law Commission made exhaustive recommendations for amendments in the HMGA and GWA for joint custody and for guidelines for such custody, child support, and visitation arrangements.
- A complete draft of The Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, defining wrongful removal and retention, with a complete mechanism for redress was given in a two-volume report to the Government of India by Justice Bindal Committee.
What has happened to these recommendations?
- Unfortunately, these reports have been ignored and impasse over the issue has resulted in ugly custody disputes.
- Against this backdrop, in 2017, in Vivek Singh v. Romani Singh, Supreme Court highlighted the concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome, which refers to the unjustified disdain of a child towards his or her parents.
- The judgment underlined its “psychological destructive effects”. Sadly, alienated children do not even want to speak to or see the parent whose custody they are not under.
- The court held that “a child-centric human rights jurisprudence that time is founded on the principle that public good demands proper growth of the child, who are the future of the nation.”
- Regrettably, a prolonged separation divides and splits families.
What is the way forward?
- Despite the idea of joint parenting growing in India, the laws remain unchanged. Courts are bound to the HMGA/GWA and have no other option. As a result, it is children who suffer in silence.
- During the pandemic, there have been many cases of custodial parents taking advantage of the laws and denying visitation rights to non-custodial parents.
- Therefore, general guidelines or practice directions by the Supreme Court are the need of the hour.
- Shared or joint parenting with equal rights is a viable, practical, balanced solution for the child’s optimal growth.
- Family courts are equipped under the Family Courts Act of 1984 to devise their own procedure, independent of the technicalities of law. They can formulate out-of-box methods and insist that children be shared by the father and mother.
- For a child to be caught in a conventional single parent custody trap is archaic and destructive to the child. It ruins the child’s life and also causes misery to the parent, especially to the one who does not have custody.
Connecting the dots:
(Sansad TV: Today in History)
Jan 22: Battle of Wandiwash – https://youtu.be/gRkv0cB_Z60
- GS-2: India and its neighbourhood
Also known as: Third Carnatic War
Between: A battle in India between the French and the British (part of the global Seven Years’ War)
- Count de Lally (French General)
- British Lieutenant-General Sir Eyre Coote
For: Attempt by the French to acquire the Fort of Vandavasi
Where: Vandavasi in Tamil Nadu
Who won: British
Course of the War
- In Europe, as Austria started the process to recover Silesia, the Seven Years War (1756-63) began. Britain and France were standing once again on opposite sides.
- In 1758, the French army under French General, Count Thomas Arthur de Lally captured the English forts of St. David and Vizianagaram in 1758.
- The Britishers became offensive and inflicted heavy losses on the French fleet under Admiral D’Ache at Masulipatnam.
- British defeated France in India; The French lost the possession to the British and also other territories. The war came to an end with the Signing of the Treaty of Paris.
- The acquired territories of both the sides were restored, but the French lost their influence in India forever.
Significance of the War
- French lost their political influence in India forever.
- The English became the supreme European power in the Indian subcontinent with no rival. This was a huge turning point for the Britishers which led to dominance and establishing their rule across the country.
How did British won and French lost?
A. Lesser Governmental Control over British:
- The English company was a private enterprise. With less governmental control over it, this company could take instant decisions when needed without waiting for the approval of the government. Qucik decisions >> better outcomes
- The French company, on the other hand, was controlled and regulated by the French government and was hemmed in by government policies and delays in decision-making.
B. Superior British Navy and Bigger Cities under Control:
- The English navy was superior to the French navy
- It helped to cut off the vital sea link between the French possessions in India and France.
C. Strong presence of British on Indian land:
- The English held three important places, namely, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras
- Bengal was the richest province at that time providing the British more money for the maintenance of their army.
- French had only Pondicherry.
D. British were Strong in terms of monetary position:
- The French did not focus on their commercial interests compared to their imperialistic ambitions, which made the French company short of funds.
- In spite of their imperialistic motives, the British never neglected their commercial interests.
E. Superior British Commanders:
- A major factor in the success of the English in India was the superiority of the commanders in the British camp- Sir Eyre Coote, Major Stringer Lawrence, Robert Clive and many others
- There was only Dupleix on the French side.
- The First Carnatic War (1746–1748):
- Fought between the French and the British.
- The first of the 3 war fought between the French and the British
- An extension of the Anglo-French rivalry in Europe, Austrian War of Succession
- Second Carnatic War (1749-1754)
- Fought between Nasir jung on one side, supported by the English, and on the other was Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung, supported by French, vying to become the Nawab of Arcot.
- The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, signed in 1754 which recognised Muhammad Ai khan walajah as the Nawab of Carnatic
Can you answer the following questions?
- How did internal rivalries lead to early British expansion and control in India? Discuss.
- Explain the causes and consequences of the third Carnatic War?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Which of the following is/are true regarding categorizing the developmental projects under Environment Impact Assessment ?
- Category A projects – They require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.
- Category B Projects– They undergo screening process
Select the correct answer:
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Which of the following is incorrect?
- Election Commission of India (ECI) is a Constitutional Body
- ECI was created under Article 324 of the Constitution of India.
- 25th January is celebrated as National Voters’ Day to mark the foundation day of the Election Commission of India.
- The first-ever National Voters’ Day was celebrated on January 25, 2020
Q.3 Hajong and Chakma communities, recently seen in news, are originally the inhabitants of which of following country?
ANSWERS FOR 26th Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Republic day:
On low emissions growth: