Polity & Governance
- Removal of controversial ‘name and shame’ hoardings
- National Conference on Women in Police and CAPFs
Government Schemes & Policies
- Haryana’s ‘quota within SC quota’ for college admissions
- MP’s plea on GI tag for basmati rice dismissed
Issues related to Health & Education
- Which strain of coronavirus has come to India?
- Commercial Cord blood banking
- Restrictions on input tax credit challenged in HC
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- CPCB notifies contaminated sites
- War heroes who resisted Portuguese
Key Facts for Prelims
- Swabhiman Anchal
10th March 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Allahabad High Court has recently directed the Lucknow administration to remove forthwith the controversial ‘name and shame’ hoardings of those arrested during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
What is the issue?
- In a controversial move, the police and the administration put up several hoardings in Lucknow identifying those accused of violence during the protests against the CAA in December 2019, triggering fears among those named.
- The names, photographs and residential addresses of the accused are listed in the hoardings.
- They have been asked to pay for the damage to public and private property within a stipulated time or have their properties seized by the district administration.
- The total damage listed in the hoardings amounts to ₹1.55 crore. As many as 57 persons have been identified in the hoardings.
- The action of the State, which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people.
- The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
- The Bench also asked the District Magistrate of Lucknow to submit a report on the action taken by March 16.
- The Bench said that, “where there is gross negligence on part of public authorities and government, where the law is disobeyed and the public is put to suffering and where the precious values of the constitution are subjected to injuries, a constitutional court can very well take notice of that at its own.”
- Advocate General failed to satisfy that why the personal data of few persons have been placed on banners though in the State of Uttar Pradesh when there are lakhs of accused persons who are facing serious allegations pertaining to commission of crimes whose personal details have not been subjected to publicity.
Accused are not fugitive:
- Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the power is available to a Court to publish a written proclamation requiring appearance of persons against whom a warrant has been issued and such person is concealing himself to avoid execution of warrant, the court said.
- No other power is available in the Code to police or the Executive to display personal records of a person to public at large, it stated.
- There are certain provisions empowering the investigating agencies or other Executives to take picture of accused for the purpose of their identification and record but that too is not open for publication.
- The only time these photographs be published is to have assistance in the apprehension of a fugitive from justice.
- Commenting on the legality of the hoardings, the court said that there is no law is in existence permitting the State to place the banners with personal data of the accused from whom compensation is to be charged.
[Ref: The Hindu]
A National Conference on Women in Police and CAPFs was recently inaugurated by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Mrs. Smriti Zubin Irani.
The main objective of the National Conference was to discuss and deliberate on the following two themes:
- Cyber Stalking and Bullying of Women: Steps for Protection
- Challenges faced by CAPF Women in Operational Areas.
Highlights of the event:
- The National Conference on Women in Police and CAPFs was organized by the Bureau of Police Research and Development.
- It was envisaged to make a Standard Operating Procedure for “One Stop Centre for Women”.
- Union Minister for Women and Child Development stressed the need to train more female forensic investigators and cyber-crime experts.
- She advised that counselling at the time of recruitment of women in the forces would make them better prepared for their career.
- The Union Minister regretted that the society still looks at the working women with bias and holds the performance of men to be the only benchmark for success.
- The Minister also proposed training of members of the Child Welfare Committees (CWC) and emphasized the need for coordination among the MHA, CWC, NGOs and other stakeholders of the Criminal Justice System, so that once a criminal is punished, he is not able to take advantage of the provisions of law to delay the execution of punishment.
Bureau of Police Research and Development:
- The Bureau of Police Research and Development was set up on 28 August 1970 in furtherance of the objective of the Government of India for the modernization of police forces.
- It has evolved as a multifaceted, consultancy organisation.
- At present it has 4 divisions – Research, Development, Training and Correctional Administration.
- Headquarter: New Delhi, India
Government Schemes & Policies
Haryana’s ‘quota within SC quota’ for college admissions
The Haryana Assembly last week passed a Bill to split the 20% quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state’s higher educational institutions into two, creating a quota within the quota for a new group of “Deprived Scheduled Castes”.
What does the new law say?
- Section 3(1) of The Haryana Scheduled Castes (Reservation in Admission in Government Educational Institutions) Act, 2020 lays down that “20% seats shall be reserved for the members of the Scheduled Castes while making admission…”
- Section 3(2) says: “50% of the 20 % seats reserved for Scheduled Castes for admission in any Government educational institution shall be set aside for candidates belonging to deprived Scheduled Castes as enumerated in the Annexure”.
- Section 4 says that “Where a seat set aside for candidate from deprived Scheduled Castes… is not filled up in any academic year due to non-availability of candidate of deprived Scheduled Castes possessing the requisite qualifications, the same shall be made available to candidate of Scheduled Castes.”
- The Deprived Scheduled Castes category has 36 communities including Valmiki, Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera, etc.
Is this sub quota a new idea?
- The Manohar Lal Khattar government has replicated the initiative of the state’s Congress government in 1994, when Bhajan Lal was Chief Minister.
- Bhajan Lal’s government bifurcated the Scheduled Caste quota into two categories: Block A and Block B.
- In 2006, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the 1994 notification, citing the decision of a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in E V Chinnaiah vs State of Andhra Pradesh and Ors (November 5, 2004).
- Haryana filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the order.
- The SLP remains pending with the court, which did not grant a stay in the matter.
What is the government’s argument?
- The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act says that the representation of the Scheduled Castes now categorized as “Deprived Scheduled Castes” is “only 4.7%, 4.14% and 6.27% in Group A, Group B and Group C services respectively, even though their population is about 11% of the total State population”.
- The Statement says, “the population of other Scheduled Castes in Haryana is also about 11% of the total State population but in respect of representation in Government Services their share is 11%, 11.31% and 11.8% in Group A, B and C, respectively.”
- The reason for the poor representation of the Deprived Scheduled Castes in government jobs can be found in their educational qualifications.
- Thus, even though the “minimum prescribed educational qualification for majority of the posts of Group A, B & C services… is Graduation, the SECC (Socio-Economic Caste Census) data reveals that in terms of education, only 3.53% population of the Deprived Scheduled Castes is Graduate, 3.75% of them are Senior Secondary level and 6.63% are Matric/Secondary level. Also 46.75% of them are illiterate”.
Article 15(5) of the Constitution:
- The Chief Minister said in the Assembly that Article 15(5) of the Constitution authorizes the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SCs/STs for admission to educational institutions.
What happens now?
- However, the legal battle in the Supreme Court will continue.
- The opponents of the move say it is unlikely to survive legal scrutiny, especially in the light of the E V Chinnaiah decision.
MP’s plea on GI tag for basmati rice dismissed
The State of Madhya Pradesh and the Madhya Shetra Basmati Growers Association have lost two separate cases filed by them in the Madras High Court in 2016 challenging the exclusion of 13 districts in the State from a map submitted by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) seeking Geographical Indication tag for basmati rice grown in the Indo Gangetic Plain.
Why was the petition dismissed?
- Both the writ petitions were dismissed on the primary ground of maintainability after stating that the Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) had already issued GI tag certificates to APEDA by accepting its claim that basmati rice was grown only in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand apart from 26 districts in Uttar Pradesh besides Jammu as well as Kathua.
- The judges pointed out that after the filing of the present petitions in 2016, challenging an order passed by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in Chennai, the GIR had passed an order on March 15, 2018 accepting APEDA’s application.
- Since two more writ petitions had been filed in 2018 challenging the grant of GI tag to APEDA and those cases were still pending, adjudication of present petitions had become merely academic, they added.
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority:
- APEDA is an apex body of the Ministry of Commerce to promote the export of agricultural commodities and processed food products.
- It was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act 1985.
- The Authority replaced the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).
- APEDA links Indian exporters to global markets besides providing comprehensive export oriented services.
- APEDA provides referral services and suggest suitable partners for joint ventures.
- APEDA’s export basket ranges from typically Indian ethnic products like pickles, chutneys, sauces, curries etc. to rice, honey, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, beverages, guar gum, poultry, livestock products, confectionery, cut flowers, food grains, aromatic plants and other Indian delicacies.
- Vietnam, UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA, Iran, Iraq and Nepal are the major destinations for export of food products from India.
- APEDA has marked its presence in almost all agro potential states of India and has been providing services to agri-export community through its head office, five Regional offices and 13 Virtual offices.
Issues related to Health & Education
Which strain of coronavirus has come to India?
Scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune are still working to determine which strain of Corona virus has come to India.
What is the issue?
- A study from China has claimed that the novel coronavirus has two strains — ‘L’ and ‘S’.
- The research looked at 103 coronavirus specimens and identified 149 mutations.
- The researchers inferred that of the two subtypes, 70% of were of type L; the remaining were of type S.
- However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to confirm this finding.
- The Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) says: “Whole genome sequencing analysis of 104 strains of the COVID-19 virus isolated from patients in different localities with symptom onset between the end of December 2019 and mid-February 2020 showed 99.9% homology, without significant mutation.”
- Dr. R R Gangakhedkar, head of the division of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research, said that virulence is not a function of the genetic composition of the virus alone.
- They have been trying to find out about the strain in India.
Mortality depends on factors:
- The mortality depends on a large number of factors including:
- the kind of treatment the person has got,
- the existing medical conditions,
- when the person started getting medical attention, etc.
- In China alone there are some 80 different trials on (so there are that many different treatments).
Commercial Cord blood banking
Poona Citizen Doctor Forum (PCDF), a body that aims to rebuild trust among citizens and doctors, and promote ethical rational medical practice, has come forward to bust the aggressively promoted concept of cord blood banking.
- The leading gynaecologist and activist Dr. Arun Gadre has warned to-be parents against falling prey to the emotional marketing tactics by stem cell banking companies.
- Over the past decade, stem cell banking has been aggressively marketed even as its use is still in experimental stages.
- But these companies charge enormous fees from parents to preserve cells, adding it is merely by emotional marketing that companies convince parents to bank the cells for several years promising future therapeutic use.
- Cord blood banking involves taking the umbilical cord blood, which is a rich source of stem cells, and preserving it for future use.
- Private companies who have forayed into this field offer packages anywhere between ₹50,000 and ₹1 lakhs to store and preserve the cells in right conditions.
Views by ICMR:
- However, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) does not recommend commercial stem cell banking.
- It says so far there is no scientific basis for preservation of cord blood for future self-use and this practice therefore raises ethical and social concerns.
- Private storage of the cord blood is advisable when there is an elder child in the family with a condition treatable with these cells and the mother is expecting the next baby.
- In other situations, parents should be educated about the limitations of banking at this point of time.
- Despite such guidelines, a nexus of doctors and stem cell banking companies thrives and these companies get access to data of to-be parents.
- Activists say stem cell banking companies start approaching their prospective customers much before the delivery and offer competitive packages.
Cord Blood banking:
- Globally, cord blood banking is recommended as a source of hematopoietic stem cell (derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood) transplantation for hematological cancers and disorders where its use is recommended.
- For all other conditions, the use of cord blood as a source of stem cells is not yet established.
What is cord blood?
- Cord blood is the blood from the baby that is left in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth.
- It contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to treat some types of diseases.
What are hematopoietic stem cells?
- Most cells can make copies only of themselves. For example, a skin cell only can make another skin cell.
- Hematopoietic stem cells, however, can mature into different types of blood cells in the body.
- Hematopoietic stem cells also are found in blood and bone marrow in adults and children.
How can hematopoietic stem cells be used to treat disease?
- Hematopoietic stem cells can be used to treat more than 70 types of diseases, including diseases of the immune system, genetic disorders, neurologic disorders, and some forms of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma.
- For some of these diseases, stem cells are the primary treatment. For others, treatment with stem cells may be used when other treatments have not worked or in experimental research programs.
- Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells, and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells.
Indian Council of Medical Research:
- The ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, and is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.
- The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Restrictions on input tax credit challenged in HC
Restrictions imposed on the input tax credit, used by business establishments to reduce their tax liability, on inward supplies under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act have been challenged in the Rajasthan High Court with the plea that the amendment made to a rule to introduce the provision had imposed “unreasonable and arbitrary” conditions.
What is the issue?
- A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty at the High Court’s principal seat in Jodhpur has issued notices to the Union government on the writ petition.
- The petitioner firm contended that the right to avail of credit could not be taken away by imposing the restrictions contained in the provisions of Section 43A of the Act, which was yet to be notified, through rules.
- The amended Rule 36 (4) of the CGST Rules, 2017, provides that the input tax credit can be availed only when a supplier of goods updates and uploads online the details of supplies through each of the bills.
- The petitioner firm, Ravi Infrabuild, argued that the restrictions had been put on the basis of the acts of supplier, on which the recipient had no control.
- Prior to the amendment, the tax regime provided that the difference would account for output tax liability.
- Petitioner’s counsel Vinay Kothari said that after the amendment, even a bona fide buyer had to chase the seller to upload and update his bills, failing which he would face the brunt.
- The credit towards input has been capped to 20%, and now 10%, by way of the impugned amendment.
- Evidently, the amendment is totally arbitrary and violates constitutional and fundamental rights of business establishments.
- Section 43A of the CGST Act was introduced into the GST framework to simplify the procedures for filing of returns and availing the input tax credit.
- The impugned rule was amended even before Section 43A was notified, which the petitioner said had violated Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution.
Input Tax Credit:
- Input tax credit (aka ITC) is the subtraction of the tax money you have paid on inputs on the final output bill.
- ITC is the tax that a business pays on a purchase and that it can use to reduce its tax liability when it makes a sale.
- In other words, businesses can reduce their tax liability by claiming credit to the extent of GST paid on purchases.
Who can avail of ITC?
- ITC is available to an entity only when it is covered under the GST Act.
- Any manufacturer, supplier, agent or e-commerce operator aggregator must be registered under the GST if it is to become eligible to claim the ITC on their purchases which are used in the course and furtherance of business.
Misuse of provision:
- According to sources, availing ITC ideally should not result in loss of revenue but there could be possibility of misuse of the provision by unscrupulous businesses by generating fake invoices just to claim tax credit.
- During the meeting of the GoM, it was pointed out that as much as 80% of the total GST liability is being settled by ITC and only 20% deposited as cash.
- GST revenue has averaged around ₹96,000 crores per month so far this fiscal and this reflects the cash component being deposited by businesses.
- Under the present dispensation, there is no provision for real time matching of ITC claims with the taxes already paid by suppliers of inputs.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
CPCB notifies contaminated sites
According to a March update by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) there are 128 sites in India contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances.
- West Bengal led the list with 27 sites followed by Odisha with 23 sites.
- Including those, there are 324 sites that may be contaminated, with 196 still awaiting an investigation and confirmation.
- The Union Environment Ministry has been monitoring — and has begun to commission clean-up jobs — at sites known to be contaminated.
- Twenty sites in 6 States have seen agencies prepare a detailed project reports, or a plan of action, to clean up sites. Such action follows orders by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
- There are other such sites in Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh.
- These incidents include oil contamination due to leakage of underground oil pipelines of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited in Tamil Nadu, pesticide and heavy metal contamination in creeks at Eloor, Kerala, chromium contamination at Rania, improperly disposed electronic waste lying on the banks of river Ramganga, Mercury contamination of the soil at Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, and Ganjam, Odisha, and chromium contamination at Ranipet, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
- Independent organisations have long warned that India has a poor track record in dealing with chemical accidents.
- According to ToxicsLink, an organisation that deals with hazardous waste disposal, there have been four major chemical accidents recorded, on average, every month between 2016-2019 and several accidents are not duly recorded.
- A committee constituted by the NGT in a report last January, on the state of the management of hazardous waste (HW) in India noted that “the inventory as prepared so far is not very comprehensive and cannot be taken as holistic representative of the actual scenario of HW management.”
Central Pollution Control Board:
- The CPCB of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
- It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974.
- The CPCB is entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It co-ordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them.
- It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control, as a technical wing of MoEFCC.
- The board is led by its Chairperson, who is generally a career civil servant from the Indian Administrative Service appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet of the Government of India.
War heroes who resisted Portuguese
Marakkar: The Lion of the Arabian Sea is a Malayali film in news recently. Last month, a petition was filed in the Kerala High Court against the film, alleging ‘distortion of history’ and demanding a stay on the release which was declined by the court.
What is the film about?
- It is a war film depicting the heroics of the Marakkar clan, whose leaders were naval chieftains of the Zamorin of Calicut during the 16th and 17th centuries.
- The Zamorin, Samoothiri in Malayalam was the title given to rulers of the Calicut kingdom on the Malabar coast.
- The Marakkars fought against Portuguese invaders for nearly a century.
Who were the Marakkars?
- By some accounts, they were of Arab origin and had migrated from Tunisia to Panthalayani near Koyilandy in present-day Kozhikode, and later moved to the region around present-day Kottakkal and Thikkodi near Payyoli, Kerala.
- By other accounts, the Marakkars were descendants of affluent businessman from the Cochin kingdom who migrated later to Calicut.
- The name ‘Marakkar’ could have originated from maram or marakkalam, meaning ship, as these families lived along the coast and used ships.
- Alternatively, it could have originated from the Arabic word markaba, meaning those who migrated via ships.
- The Marakkars were mostly Muslims, but in some parts, they have been found to be Hindus as well.
What was the war against the Portuguese about?
- Faced with invading Portuguese ships, the Zamorin reached out to the Marakkars to defend the coast.
- They were led in succession by four Marakkars, chief admirals who were appointed by the Zamorin with the title of Kunjali.
- Related by bloodline, they were Kuttyali Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar I, appointed in 1507), Kutty Pokker (Kunjali Marakkar II), Pathu Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar III) and Muhammad Ali Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar IV, appointed in 1595).
- Their strategy was similar to guerrilla warfare. The Portuguese had massive ships which could not make easy manoeuvres in the sea.
- The Marakkars used small ships which could easily surround the Portuguese ships, enabling the fighters to attack at will.
- In the span of 100 years, the exploits of the Kunjali Marakkars are said to have improved the naval fleet of Calicut as well as other kingdoms, stretching from Saurashtra to Ceylon along the Indian coast.
- War technologies and ammunition greatly improved as well.
Kunjali Marakkar IV:
- Kunjali Marakkar IV earned his reputation with his fierce onslaught on Portuguese ships, the favours he gave those who fought against the Portuguese, and his efforts to strengthen the fort at Kottakkal.
- When he took charge in 1595, relations between the Zamorin and the Marakkars were deteriorating.
- The Zamorin was feeling threatened by Kunjali Marakkar IV’s popularity, and by reports (said to be spread by the Portuguese) that he was planning to create a Muslim empire.
- In 1597, the Zamorin signed a peace treaty with the Portuguese and attacked Kottakkal fort.
- For months, the Marakkars resisted the attack by the Zamorin’s Nair soldiers and the Portuguese fleet.
- Eventually, as Portugal sent more forces and the Zamorin mounted his effort, Marakkar surrendered to the Zamorin on the assurance that their lives would be spared.
- But the Portuguese violated the terms, arrested him, took him to Goa and beheaded him.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Key Facts for Prelims
It is an erstwhile cut-off region in Malkangiri district of Odisha.
- Proximity with the Maoist-prone regions of adjoining Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had made Swabhiman Anchal a safe haven of Naxalites for decades.
- However, in 2018, the Gurupriya bridge connected this cut-off area with the mainland. The State government initiated a special package for the development of Swabhiman Anchal that included laying roads to connect around 150 remote villages as well as projects to provide basic amenities.
- A joint operation named “Operation Swabhiman” was taken up for ghat cutting work, which will further increase road connectivity.