Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 12th August

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 12th August-2021

Daily Current Affairs 12th August – Topics

  • Criminalisation of politics : Observation made by Supreme Court
  • National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) Survey on Minority Schools
  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021
  • Status of various policies to ensure Right to Food and nutrition.
  • Ujjwala 2.0 Scheme
  • World Lion Day

 

1.Criminalisation of politics : Observation made by Supreme Court

#GS2 #Separation of Powers Between Various Organs #Doctrine of Checks & Balances

Context: Recently, the Supreme Court of India in the 02 different judgements has raised its apprehensions about the threat of criminalisation in politics.

  • This comes in backdrop as Supreme court in a case, finds 09 political parties – Congress, BJP, JD(U), RJD, LJP, CPI(M), CPI, RLSP and NCP – guilty of contempt for not following in letter and spirit its February 13, 2020 direction to publish details of criminal cases against candidates fielded in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
  • In a different case, it has directed that no criminal case against MPs or MLAs can be withdrawn without an approval of the high court of the concerned state.

Significant Observations made by Supreme Court:

Case I: Political Parties Penalised for Contempt:

  • Background: The bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by advocate Brajesh Singh, who alleged wilful defiance of court orders by various political parties during the 2020 Bihar assembly elections.
  • As per the data given by Bihar chief electoral officer’s counsel, there were 427 candidates with criminal backgrounds who contested the assembly elections in Bihar in 2020. The RJD topped the list with 104 candidates, followed by the BJP, with 77 candidates.
    • February 13, 2020 Order: This directive required political parties to put out details of criminal cases against its candidates on their websites, a local newspapers, national newspaper and social media accounts within 48 hours of selecting the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
  • Supreme Court’s observation:
    • Though it found the 09 political parties guilty, the apex court took lenient view of the matter, as it was the first elections conducted after issuance of its directions.
    • Nevertheless, the bench warned them to be careful in future and make sure that the instructions issued by the court as well as the Election Commission of India are followed in letter and spirit.
    • The Court also modified its 2020 order and said the details “shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate” as the latter is difficult to follow given statutory provisions.
    • It asked Election Commission of India to make a devoted mobile application covering info published by candidates about their criminal backgrounds.
    • Keeping constitutional arrangement of separation of powers in mind, the supreme court appeals to the conscience of the lawmakers to take necessary steps for bringing out essential amendments so that the involvement of persons with criminal antecedents in polity is prohibited.

Case II: Approval of High Court for Withdrawing Criminal Cases against MPs/MLAs:

Background: The directions were issued while hearing a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyaya, who mentioned overwhelming pendency of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs and sought their swift disposal by setting up special courts.

Supreme Court’s Directions:

  • To halt state governments from abusing their powers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered those criminal cases against MLAs or MPs cannot be withdrawn without the approval from High Courts as cases filed against candidates are often political.
  • This came after the recent orders issued by various state governments like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra under Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code to withdrew cases against sitting and former lawmakers due to extraneous reasons.
    • While the Karnataka government in August 2020 had issued instructions to withdraw 61 criminal cases mainly against sitting legislators, the Uttar Pradesh government had sought to withdraw 76 cases against elected representatives, including the Muzaffarnagar riot cases against Sangeet Som, Kapil Dev, Suresh Rana and Sadhvi Prachi.
  • Bench also ordered to examine the withdrawals, whether pending or disposed of since last year.
  • High court Chief Justices to establish Special Benches to monitor the progress of criminal cases against sitting and former legislators.
  • Judicial officers presiding over Special Courts or CBI Courts concerning trial of MPs or MLAs shall not be transferred until more orders.

Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:

  • Under this provision, the public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor may, with the consent of the court, withdraw from the prosecution of a case at any time before the judgment is pronounced.
  • Several states have withdrawn cases against legislators, under this section.

 

2.National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) Survey on Minority Schools:

#GS2 # Statutory, Regulatory & Quasi-Judicial Bodies # Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections – Children and Minorities

#Issues related to education #Fundamental rights

Context: Recently, the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) performed a Nationwide Assessment of Minority Schools and released a report called “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Minority Communities”.

Highlights of the report:

  • The objective was to evaluate how the 93rd Amendment to Indian Constitution, which excuses minority institutions from otherwise mandatory provisions of the Right to Education, affected children belonging to minority communities.
  • The report traces the formation of minority education institutions to the Britishers policy of divide and rule under which they tried to split people on the basis of economic, religious, social and political differences.
  • The report highlights the dominance of non-minority category in Minority institutions.
  • Despite the big presence of minority pupils in school-going age groups, minority schools are catering to less than 8% of the minority children population.
  • Overall, 62.50 per cent of students in such schools belonged to non-minority communities.
  • Only 8.76% of the students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • It was also found that the largest number of out-of-school children – at 1.1 crore – belonged to the Muslim community.
  • Uneven Numbers: In West Bengal, 92.47% of the minority population is of Muslims and 2.47% are Christians. On the contrary, there are 114 Christian minority schools and only two schools with Muslim minority status.
    • Likewise, in Uttar Pradesh, though the Christian population is less than 1% there are 197 Christian minority schools in the state.
    • This disproportion takes away the main goal of establishing minority educational institutions.
  • Religion-wise breakup of the schools:
    • Christians comprise 11.54 per cent of India’s minority population, they run 71.96 per cent schools, and Muslims with 69.18 per cent minority population run 22.75 per cent of the schools.
    • Sikhs comprise 9.78 per cent of the minority population and run 1.54 per cent schools;
    • Buddhists with 3.83 per cent minority population run 0.48 per cent schools; and
    • Jains with 1.9 per cent minority population run 1.56 per cent of schools
  • On Madrasas: As per the report, there are 03 types of madrasas in India –
    • Recognised madrasas which are registered and teach both religious as well as secular education;
    • Unrecognised madrasas which have been found short for registration by state governments as secular education is not taught here.
    • Unmapped madrasas which have never applied for registration.
  • According to the NCPCR, the Sachar Committee report, which says 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, has only taken into account the registered madrasas.
  • The curricula of madrasas, are asymmetrical, and has been ignorant of the world around them.
  • Also, madrasas do not have any teachers training programmes

Recommendations:

  • The state should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the sphere of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
  • The NCPCR also supported reservation for students from minority communities in such schools.
  • There is a need to put down specific rules concerning the minimum percentage of students from the minority community to be admitted to the institution.
  • There is a need to revisit the exception made under RTE regarding minority institutions.
  • Article 30 of Indian constitution ensures the right of minorities to open their own institutions for cultural, linguistic and religious protection. However, it should not violates Article 21(A) which guarantees a child’s fundamental right to education.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights:

  • NCPCR is a statutory body set up in 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • It works under the aegis of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • The Commission is authorized under section 13 of CPCR Act, 2005 “to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.” (child includes person up to the age of 18 years)
  • It inquires into complaints relating to a child’s right to free and compulsory education under the Right to Education Act, 2009.
  • It monitors the implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
  • It promotes the incorporation of child rights into the school curriculum, training of teachers or personnel dealing with children.
  • Members:
    • A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done a outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; and
    • 06 members, out of which at least 02 are woman, from the following fields, is appointed by the Central Government from amongst person of eminence, ability, integrity, standing and experience in, Education; Child health, care, welfare or child development; Juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities.

 

3.The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021

#GS2 # List of Significant Amendments & Their Provisions # Functions & Responsibilities of the Union and the States # Cooperative & Competitive Federalism

Context: Recently, The Parliament passed the Constitution 127th Amendment Bill, 2021 unanimously.

  • The Bill amends the Constitution to allow states and union territories to prepare their own list of socially and educationally backward classes.

Key Provision of the bill:

  • The Bill seeks to reinstate the power of State governments to identify Other Backward Classes that are socially and economically backward.
    • In May 2021, the Supreme Court, in an order, had authorized only the union government for such identification.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was established under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
    • The Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018 gave constitutional status to the NCBC, and empowered the President to notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes for any state or union territory for all purposes.
  • The Bill amends this to provide that the President may notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes only for purposes of the union government.
  • This central list will be set and maintained by the union government.
  • The Bill empowers states and union territories to make their own list of socially and educationally backward classes.
  • This list must be made by law, and may differ from the central list.
  • Consultation with the NCBC: Article 338B of the Constitution dictates the union and state governments to refer the NCBC on all major policy matters regarding the socially and educationally backward classes.
    • The amendment bill relieves states and union territories from this obligation for matters related to preparation of their list of socially and educationally backward classes.

What necessitated the bill?

  • On May 5, 2020, while discarding a separate quota for the Maratha community in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court had ruled that after a 2018 amendment in the Constitution (102nd constitutional amendment), only the union government could notify socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) – not the states.
  • The interpretation of 102nd constitutional amendment effectively struck a blow to the authority of state governments in recognizing backward classes and provide them with reservation benefits.
  • This allows states to respond to socio-economic requirements which are specific to a state or region, faster.
  • Besides India has a federal structure and to maintain that structure, this amendment was essential.

 

4.Status of various policies to ensure Right to Food and nutrition.

#GS2 #Isuues related to hunger and poverty #Food security #Government policies and interventions

Context: A national level meet was recently organised by the National Human Rights Commission to deliberate on the status of various policies to ensure Right to Food and nutrition.

Suggestions made by the experts at the end of the meet:

  • Right to Food, apart from being a statutory right also needs to be looked into with a human rights perspective.
  • Therefore, food grain availability, sustainability and its supply towards seeking zero hunger needs to be measured and evaluated on time to time to find gaps.
  • States need to screen data on providing food grains to all the vulnerable sections.
  • Strengthen Integrated Child Development Scheme in terms of intensifying its reach, sufficient finances and staff & their wages.
  • Extend the Mid-Day Meal Scheme to the students up to Class 12 from class 8 at present.

  • Besides Wheat and Rice, add pulses, millets and edible oil in diets
  • Control junk food by labelling of high sugar and salt contents.
  • Take in all children and not just the first born for the benefits under PMGKAY.
  • Decide the menu of food provided in Anganwadi based on local circumstances.
  • Coverage under PDS needs to be amplified as One Nation One Ration Card as of now covers only those whose Aadhar Cards, which have been seeded with the PDS

  • Start an urban employment guarantee scheme in the lines of MGNREGA.
  • Come up with a public distribution system (PDS) not exclusively linked to Aadhaar.

 

5.Ujjwala 2.0 Scheme

#GS2 #Government policies and Intervention #Inclusive Growth #Food Security #Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population

Context: Recently, the union government has launched the second phase of the Ujjwala gas connection scheme for the poor.

Key Provisions of Ujjwala Yojana:

  • Ujjwala is part of the ambitious vision for behavioural change that will help India transit to a $5 trillion economy by 2024.
  • First phase of the scheme was launched in May 2016 to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.
  • The scheme offers a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households.
  • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas acts as the nodal ministry.

Objectives of the scheme:

  • Empowering women and protecting their health.
  • Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • Preventing young children from a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning fossil fuel.
  • Under Ujjwala 1.0, the target was to provide LPG connections to 50 million women from the below poverty line (BPL) households, by March 2020.
  • However, in August 2018, women from seven other categories were brought under the purview of the scheme:
    • SC/ST, those under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), beneficiaries of the Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY), Forest Dwellers, most backward classes, tea gardens and Islands.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Candidate must be a woman above the age of 18 and a citizen of India.
  • Candidate should belong to a BPL household.
  • No one in the claimant’s household should own an LPG connection.
  • Claimant must not be a recipient of other similar schemes provided by the government.

Second phase: Ujjwala 2.0

  • It is aimed to provide maximum benefit to the migrants who live in other states and find it difficult to submit address proof.
  • Now they will only have to give “Self-Declaration” to avail the benefit.
  • Along with a deposit-free LPG connection, Ujjwala 2.0 will provide the first refill and a hotplate free of cost to the beneficiaries.
  • Under Ujjwala 2.0, an additional 10 million LPG connections will be provided to the beneficiaries.
  • Government has also fixed a target of providing piped gas to 21 lakh homes in 50 districts.

Challenges for the success of the scheme:

  • Assuring the continued usage of LPG remains a big test, and low consumption of refills delayed retrieval of outstanding loans disbursed under the scheme.
  • There are challenges such as the issuance of connections to unintended beneficiaries, and issues with the software of the oil marketing companies for recognizing intended beneficiaries and insufficiencies in the deduplication process.

Way Forward:

  • It should also be made available to poor households in urban and semi-urban slum areas.
  • Strict measures like, recording Aadhaar numbers of all adult family members of existing as well as new beneficiaries to make duplication difficult should be done.
  • Working and suitable measures in suppliers’ software to restrict issuance to ineligible beneficiaries.

 

6.World Lion Day:

#GS3 #Conservation #BioDiversity 

Context: Every year, World Lion Day is observed on 10th August in a bid raise awareness about the conservation of lions.

About the initiative:

  • Celebration of World Lion Day was started in 2013 as an initiative to protect the Lions.
  • Lion Day is also observed to protect Lions in their natural habitat and to work on safety mechanisms of the lion communities
  • Lions have seen 80% reduction in their population in last 100 years.

About Lions:

  • Lions (scientific name: Panthera Leo) are the second-largest cat in the world, weighing between 300 and 550 pounds.
  • They are divided into two subspecies: the African lion (Panthera Leo) and the Asiatic lion (Panthera Leo persica).

Role of Lions in maintaining Ecological balance:

  • Lions are an apex predator of their habitat, responsible for keeping the population of grazers in check, thus aiding in keeping the ecological balance.
  • Lions, indirectly helping in disease control in the prey population by targeting the weakest members of the herd.
  • Poaching, genetic inbreeding, plague, canine distemper or a natural disaster are few of the significant threats.

Status in India:

  • Asiatic lions are approximately 110 cm in height. They have been listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and are categorised as Endangered species on IUCN Red List.
  • India is home to the majestic Asiatic Lion, who inhabit the protected territory of Sasan-Gir National Park (Gujarat).
  • According to the data from 2020, there are 674 lions in India, which were 523 in 2015.
  • In 2020, population of Asiatic lions has surged by almost 29% in Gujarat’s Gir forests. The distribution area of lions has also increased by 36%.

Ways to conserve lions

  • Conserve Natural Habitats
  • Mitigating Climate Changes
  • Prefer Sanctuaries/Reservoirs to Zoo
  • Project Lion: The project has been started for the conservation of the Asiatic Lion, whose last remaining wild population is in Gujarat’s Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL).
  • Asiatic Lion Conservation Project: It was launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
    • It works towards scientific management with the participation of communities along with multi-sectoral agencies for disease control and veterinary care for overall conservation of Asiatic lions.

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