Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

15th November 2019 Current Affairs

1. Eleventh BRICS Summit

The 11th BRICS Summit took place from 13th-14th November 2019 in Brasilia, Brazil. The theme is “Economic Growth for an Innovative Future.”

Points to note regarding Brasilia Declaration

  • It advocates and supports multilateralism, the central role of the U.N. in international affairs and respect for international law.
  • Reforming Multilateral Systems: There is an urgent need to strengthen and reform the United Nations and other multilateral organisations, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to address the significant challenges being faced by the developing countries.
  • Support to Multilateralism: The trade war between China and the U.S. and rising protectionism is hurting the global economy. Multilateralism is crucial for emerging countries to protect their own interests.

Points to note regarding BRICS

  • BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
    • In 2001, the British Economist Jim O’Neill coined the term BRIC to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
    • The grouping was formalised during the first meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers in 2006.
    • South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS.

2. Reasons for Recent Index of Industrial Production (IIP) Contraction

  • Lower agricultural growth impacting rural demand adversely: India is witnessing agricultural distress because of multiple factors like lack of easy credit, the declining average size of farm holdings, poor policy, and planning, etc.
  • A slowdown in the Indian industrial sector: Indian industrial sector is facing slowdown driven by disruptive technologies, changes in consumer behaviour, changing global industrial scenario, etc.
  • Structural growth slowdown in the Indian Economy: India is facing a long-term, deep-rooted economic slowdown which would require the government to undertake some structural policies like economic reforms of 1991.

3. Sabarimala review petitions to a larger Bench

  • 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

Issue:

  • Sabarimala Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to deity  Ayyappan 
  • Situated 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.

4. Chandrayaan 3: India’s 2nd attempt to land on Moon by November 2020

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced their intention to send a second mission to soft-land on the Moon planned for November 2020 dubbed as Chandrayaan 3 mission.
  • The Indian Space Agency’s first and recent attempt went awry on 7 September 2019 and resulted in a partial failure of Chandrayaan 2 mission after communication was lost with mission’s lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan) which crash-landed on Moon while attempting a soft-landing.
  • However, the Chandrayaan 2 mission is still survived by the Orbiter which has captured highest resolution visuals ever taken of Moon by its High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) from an altitude of ~100 km.

About Chandrayaan 3 Mission

  • Chandrayaan 3 will not feature an orbiter of its own: For the new mission, engineers and scientists at Indian space agency will only design and build an entirely new lander and rover. Since Chandrayaan 2 mission already has a functional orbiter that is currently in orbit around Moon, Chandrayaan 3 will not feature an orbiter of its own. However, no final decision has been taken by ISRO on the number of payloads on the lander.
  • Additional ‘Detachable Module’: The lander and rover will be accompanied by an additional ‘detachable module’ that packs engine and fuel needed for journey and this module will tentatively be called ‘Propulsion Module’.
  • The Chandrayaan 3 mission will also feature fewer orbital manoeuvers than Chandrayaan 2, which had a total of 6 orbit raises around Earth and the Moon.

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