Polity & Governance
- Private property is a human right: Supreme Court
Government Schemes & Policies
- Transgender Persons Act comes into effect
Issues related to Health & Education
- Country’s first case of infection by H9N2 virus
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- SC backs Kerala High Court order to demolish 59 villas for violating CRZ norms
- Pongal spells peril for Salem’s foxes
- Taanaji Malusare and the Battle of Singhagad
Art & Culture
- INTACH efforts to protect Buddhist site turned successful
Science & Technology
- NASA’s ARTEMIS lunar exploration program
Key Facts for Prelims
- Steel Hub is launched by Minster of Steel
- The Kolkata port renamed after Syama Prasad Mookerjee
- National Youth Day is celebrated on Swami Vivekananda Jayanti
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Private property is a human right: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court (SC) has held in a judgment that a citizen’s right to own private property is a human right. The state cannot take possession of it without following due procedure and authority of law.
What did Supreme Court say?
- The SC said that the state cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’.
- The SC said that grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the state an encroacher.
- The SC said that in a welfare state, right to property is a human right.
Doctrine of Adverse possession:
- The SC referred to the “doctrine of adverse possession”, under which a person who is not original owner becomes the owner because of fact that he has been in possession of property for a minimum of 12-years, within which real owner did not seek legal recourse to oust him.
- However, the court held that the state cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’.
The case of Vidya Devi:
- In 1967, Himachal Pradesh govt took over Vidya Devi’s four acres of land to build a road.
- Vidya Devi, (being an illiterate widow) did not file any proceedings for compensation.
- In 2010, Vidya Devi was informed somehow about her entitlement to the compensation that moved to the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court ordered the state to pay her ₹1 crore in compensation and noted that in 1967, right to private property was still a fundamental right under Article 31 of the Constitution.
Right to property in the constitution:
- The Constitution of India 1949 contained Article 19(1)(f) as well as Article 31, which provided right of private ownership of property, and freedom to acquire, enjoy and dispose it off by lawful means.
- Article 31(1) provided that a person could be deprived of his property only by the authority of law. That is, private property couldn’t be taken away by an executive order.
- Article 31(2) stated that the state could take over someone’s private property only for public purposes, and only after payment of a compensation as provided for in the law.
- The 44th amendment (1978) completely removed Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31 from the Part III – Fundamental Rights. Instead, it introduced Article 300A in Part XII.
- Article 300A states that no person shall be deprived of his property except in accordance with law. Therefore, the right to property ceased to be a fundamental right, and can be regulated with the parliamentary law.
- The right to property is now considered to be not only a constitutional or statutory right, but also a human right.
Government Schemes & Policies
Transgender Persons Act comes into effect
The Ministry of Social Justice issued a notification, notifying the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, which was passed by Parliament on November 26 and given Presidential assent on December 5, 2019.
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019
- The Act aims to end discrimination against transgender persons in accessing education, employment and healthcare.
- It also recognises the right to self-perceived gender identity and provides for certification from a District Magistrate.
- In case, a transgender person has had a gender-change surgery, the law says they can obtain a certificate from the medical facility where they had the operation, and apply for a change in their certificate.
Key features of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019:
Definition of a transgender person:
- The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar, hijra, aravani, and jogta.
- Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.
Prohibition against discrimination:
- The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property, opportunity to hold public or private office etc.
Right to choose:
- Going by the bill, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
Right of residence:
- Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
- If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.
- The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.
- The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
Certificate of identity for a transgender person:
- A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
- A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.
Welfare measures by the government:
- The Bill states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.
- It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training etc.
National Council for Transgender persons (NCT):
- It also proposes to Set up a National Council for Transgender persons to advise the central government on policies and legislation related to transgender persons as well as redress the grievances of transgender persons.
District Screening Committee:
- The Bill also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and “district screening committee” to get certified as a transperson.
- The committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
Significance of the Act
- It will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma of discrimination and abuse against them and bring them into the mainstream of society.
- This will lead to inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
Criticism of the Act
- The provisions against discrimination in the Bill have no enforceability.
- The Bill has also criticised for only providing separate definitions for intersex persons but no provisions for transgenders. The Bill also incorrectly assumes that all persons with intersex variations are transgender
- Although the revised definition of transgender is better than what was stipulated in 2016 bill, current definition of transgender is prone to ambiguous and illiberal interpretation.
- The bill also does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transgender persons as according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman.
- There is no provision for the reservation of trans genders even after National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) said that the trans people should be considered socially and economically backward.
- The 2014 NALSA judgement stated that transgender persons had the right to gender self-identification and that a trans person could choose to identify as a male, female or third gender. However, to be identified as male or female, one will have to undergo surgery and then get a certificate identifying one’s gender.
- According to Census 2011, there are more than 4.80 lakh transgenders in the country.
- A contentious provision that criminalized begging by transgender people has been removed from the bill.
Issues related to Health & Education
Country’s first case of infection by H9N2 virus
Indian scientists have detected the country’s first case of infection with a rare variant of the virus that causes avian influenza, or bird flu.
What is A(H9N2) virus?
- H9N2 is a subtype of the influenza A virus, which causes human influenza as well as bird flu.
- The H9N2 subtype was isolated for the first time in Wisconsin, US in 1966 from turkey flocks.
- According to the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), H9N2 viruses are found worldwide in wild birds and are endemic in poultry in many areas. However, they are somewhat neglected.
Human Infection by H9N2
- H9N2 virus infections in humans are rare, but likely under-reported due to typically mild symptoms of the infections.
- Cases of human infection have been observed in Hong Kong, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Egypt.
- One case was detected in Oman recently.
- The first case globally was reported from Hong Kong in 1998. A total of 28 cases in China have been reported since December 2015. Cases continue to be reported mainly from mainland China and Hong Kong.
- The virus has, however, spread extensively among poultry populations. Surveillance for influenza viruses in poultry in Bangladesh during 2008-2011 found H9N2 virus to be the predominant subtype. The virus was also identified in poultry populations in surveillance studies in Myanmar during 2014-16 and Burkina Faso in 2017.
- According to NCBI, H9N2 viruses could potentially play a major role in the emergence of the next influenza pandemic.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), with avian influenza viruses circulating in poultry, there is a risk for sporadic infection and small clusters of human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments. Therefore, sporadic human cases are not unexpected.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
SC backs Kerala High Court order to demolish 59 villas for violating CRZ norms
The Supreme Court upheld the Kerala High Court order to demolish 59 villas and other constructions in Nediyanthuruthu, a small island in the backwaters of Alappuzha in Kerala.
About CRZ norms:
- A notification was issued under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 of India for regulation of activities in the coastal area in 1991.
- As per notification, Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) is the coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line (HTL) and a stage of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwater and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations.
- CRZ rules restrict large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, or reclamation and bunding within a certain distance from the coastline.
- Restrictions criteria:
- Population of The Area
- Ecological Sensitivity
- Distance from The Shore
- Whether the area had been designated as a natural park or wildlife zone
- CRZ Rules are made by the Union Environment Ministry but implementation is supposed to be done by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.
- The states are also supposed to frame their own coastal zone management plans in accordance with the central Rules.
New CRZ Rules 2018:
- It removed certain restrictions on building, streamlined the clearance process, and aimed to encourage tourism in coastal areas.
- The new Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.
Categories of CRZ:
- The ecologically sensitive areas that lie between high and low tide line, and are very much essential for maintaining the ecosystems, are covered under CRZ-I.
- Natural gas exploration and salt extraction are permitted in this zone.
- The areas up to the shoreline of the coast are notified under CRZ-II.
- Unauthorised structures are not allowed here.
- Rural and urban areas which fall outside CRZ-I and CRZ-II are covered under CRZ-III.
- Only agriculture-related activities and public facilities are permitted in this zone.
- Aquatic areas up to territorial limits are notified under CRZ-IV.
- Though originally this zone was notified for Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, fishing and allied activities were subsequently allowed here after due modification.
CRZ-III (Rural) areas two separate categories:
- CRZ-IIIA– rural areas with a population density of 2,161 per sq km.
- As per the 2011 Census, in this area, no-development zone is now 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
- CRZ-IIIB -rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km
- It continues to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.
- There are areas immediately next to the sea are home to many marine and aquatic life forms, both animals and plants need to be protected against unregulated development.
- The villas are constructed in the Vembanad backwaters (Lake) which is a Ramsar site.
- Vembanad is the longest lake in India and the largest lake in the Kerala.
- Nediyathuruthu is among the seven tiny islets in the Vembanad backwaters in Alappuzha district.
Pongal spells peril for Salem’s foxes
The Forest Department officials in Salem, Tamil Nadu are gearing up to prevent an unusual Jallikattu — one that uses foxes instead of bulls on Kaanum Pongal.
What is the issue?
- The Jallikattu-like event using foxes, or [vanga nari in Tamil] which is usually organised on Kaanum Pongal on the outskirts of the district.
- The villagers believe it will bring bountiful rain and good fortune. After special rituals are conducted, the hapless animals are chased through the streets, much like bulls in the more conventional jallikattu. After the event, the animals are released into the forest.
Despite a ban, the event has been organised for decades now.
- The Bengal Fox also known as the Indian fox is a fox endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
- These are protected under Part 1 of Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and hunting or capturing them is prohibited.
- IUCN Red List- Least Concerned.
- These are medium sized foxes and have elongated muzzles with large bishy tail.
- The Bengal fox is distributed throughout much of the Indian subcontinent with the exception of the wet forests and the extreme arid zone. Its range is bounded by the Himalayas and the Indus River valley.
- They generally prefer foothills and non-forested regions such as open grassland, thorny scrub, semi-desert and arid environments.
- They can also be found in agricultural fields, as they are not generally fearful of humans.
- The animal undergoes cruel treatment in the name of this festival.
Taanaji Malusare and the Battle of Singhagad
Recently, a Bollywood film, based on Subedar Taanaji Malusare, a Maratha military leader, was released.
[For about Taanaji Malusare and the Battle of Singhagad, visit IASToppers’ 22nd October 2019 Current Affairs Analysis at https://www.iastoppers.com/22nd-october-2019-current-affairs-analysis-iastoppers/]
Art & Culture
INTACH efforts to protect Buddhist site turned successful
After a sustained campaign, heritage lovers and officials have been successful in almost stopping the stone-pelting ritual at Bojjannakonda, a famous Buddhist site at Sankaram.
What was the issue?
- The villagers, as a part of the ancient ritual, used to pelt stones at a belly-shaped object, believing it to be a part of a demon.
- However, following the intervention of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the practice on the Kanuma day during Sankranti has almost been stopped.
Bojjannakonda and Sankaram
- Bojjannakonda and Lingalametta are the twin Buddhist monasteries dating back to the 3rd century BC.
- These sites have seen three forms of Buddhism
- Theravada period when Lord Buddha was considered a teacher
- Mahayana, where Buddhism was more devotional
- Vajrayana, where Buddhist tradition was more practised as Tantra and esoteric form.
- The main stupa was carved out of rock and then covered with bricks, where one can see a number of images of the Buddha sculpted on the rock face all over the hill.
- At the nearby Lingalametta, one can see hundreds of rock-cut monolithic stupas in rows.
- The name Sankaram is derived from the term, ‘Sangharama’.
- It is famous for the whole lot of votive stupas, rock-cut caves, brick-built structural edifices, early historic pottery and Satavahana coins that date back to the 1st century AD.
- Tourists visit the Buddhist sites in large numbers to see the relic casket, the three Chaitya Halls, the votive platforms, the stupas and the Vajrayana sculpture.
Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)
- The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was founded in 1984 in New Delhi with the vision to spearhead heritage awareness and conservation in India.
- It is a non-profit charitable organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
- In 2007, the United Nations awarded INTACH a special consultative status with United Nations Economic and Social Council.
- Today INTACH is recognized as one of the world’s largest heritage organizations, with over 190 Chapters across the Country.
- In the past 31 years INTACH has pioneered the conservation and preservation of not just our natural and built heritage but intangible heritage as well.
- Headquartered in New Delhi, it operates through various divisions such as Architectural Heritage, Natural Heritage, Material Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Heritage Education and Communication Services (HECS), Crafts and Community Cell, Chapters, INTACH Heritage Academy, Heritage Tourism, Listing Cell and Library, Archives and Documentation Centre.
- The festival Makara Sankranti is celeberated for 4 days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Day 3 is celebrated as Kanuma whereas the Day 4 is celebrated as Mukkanuma.
- ‘Kanuma’ is celebrated as a thanksgiving to the cattle for a bountiful harvest.
- Govardhan puja or go pooja (worship of cows) takes place during the Kanuma festival. The cattle are bathed and decorated with paint and ornaments. They are taken to the temples and pooja is performed.
- The day also signifies the lifting of the Govardhan hill by Lord Krishna to protect the people of Gokulam.
Science & Technology
NASA’s ARTEMIS lunar exploration program
NASA is moving with plans for its upcoming Artemis mission in 2024. Starting with the construction of a base on the moon, the space agency is hoping to return astronauts – including the the first woman to set foot on the Moon in a few short years.
About ARTEMIS program:
- ARTEMIS stands forAcceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.
- The main objective of ARTEMIS program is to measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it.
- Artemis is named after the Greek goddess of the Moon and twin sister of the god Apollo.
- For the Artemis program, NASA’s new rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft a quarter of a million miles away from Earth to the lunar orbit.
- Once astronauts dock Orion at the Gateway — which is a small spaceship in orbit around the moon — the astronauts will be able to live and work around the Moon, and from the spaceship, astronauts will take expeditions to the surface of the Moon.
- Through this programm, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 using innovative technologies to explore more of lunar surface than ever before at the Moon’s South Pole.
- In it, NASA will learn about Moon to take the next mission of sending astronauts to Mars.
Objective of Artemis program:
- Demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches needed for future exploration including Mars.
- Establish American leadership and a strategic presence on the Moon while expanding U.S. global economic impact.
- Broaden commercial and international partnerships.
- Find and use water and other critical resources needed for long-term exploration.
- Investigate the Moon’s mysteries and learn more about earth and the universe.
- Prove the technologies that are needed before sending astronauts on missions to Mars.
So far missions on Moon:
- The Moon was first visited by the Soviet Union’s uncrewed Luna 1 and 2 in 1959 and as of April 2019, seven nations have followed.
- The first human landing on the Moon in 1969 during the Apollo missions of USA.
- The European Space Agency, Japan, China and India (Chandrayaan-2) all have sent missions to explore the Moon.
- Israel’s Beresheet (a private company) sent a spacecraft to land on the Moon in April 2109 that successfully orbited the Moon, but was lost during a landing attempt.
- Indian-American, Raja Chari, is also among the 11 NASA graduates who are to be a part of its future missions to International Space Station (ISS), Moon and Mars.
- ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) recently announced Chandrayaan-3−India’s third lunar mission.
Key Facts for Prelims
Steel Hub is launched by Minister of Steel
Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel launched Mission PURVODAYA: Accelerated development of eastern India through integrated steel hub in Kolkata, West Bengal.
- Through this programme, the government aims to transform logistics and utilities infrastructure which would change the socio-economic landscape in the eastern India.
- The steps, under mission, also include growth of steel industry along with employment opportunities across the entire value chain.
Integrated Steel Hub
- The steel hub encompasses Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh.
- It aims to attract investment of nearly $70 billion in the steel sector and spur economic growth across eastern India.
- It is a part of Mission Purvodaya initiative which has been launched for the focused development of eastern states.
- The project will focus on three key elements:
- Capacity addition through easing the setup of greenfield steel plants.
- Development of steel clusters near integrated steel plants as well as demand centres.
- Transformation of logistics and utilities infrastructure in the eastern region.
Significance of the steel hub
- Government estimates suggest capacity addition in the steel hub would entail capital investments of over $70 billion.
- It will lead to an incremental Gross State Domestic Product of over $35 billion through steel alone.
- It will create over 5 million jobs across the steel value chain in the region.
- The steel hub which will serve as a catalyst in the transformation of the eastern region following the Rs 100 lakh crore infrastructure investment (through National Infrastructure Pipeline) announced by the government in the next 5 years.
The Eastern States
- The eastern states are rich in natural resources and collectively hold nearly 80% of the country’s iron ore, most of domestic coking coal reserves and significant portion of chromite, bauxite and dolomite reserves.
- The eastern belt has the potential to add more than 75% of the country’s incremental steel capacity envisioned by the National Steel Policy.
- Out of the 300 mt steel capacity by 2030-31, the region alone is capable of contributing over 200 mt.
The Kolkata port renamed after Syama Prasad Mookerjee
Prime Minister renamed the Kolkata Port Trust after Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, at an event to mark its 150th anniversary.
About Kolkata Port Trust:
- Location: on the river Hooghly.
- It has many sharp bends, and is considered a difficult navigational channel.
- Kolkata Port Trust’s connectivity with industrial centres in east India, made trade easier for neighbouring countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.
- The Kolkata port is the only riverine port in the country.
- The Portuguese first used the present location of the port to anchor their ships in the early 16th century. Since they found the upper reaches of the Hooghly river that is unsafe for navigation.
- In 1690, Job Charnock (an employee and administrator of the East India Company) is believed to have founded a trading post at this port.
- After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, this port was used to ship lakhs of Indians as ‘indentured labourers’ to far-flung territories throughout the Empire.
- As Kolkata grew in size and importance and for merchants in the Kolkata, the colonial government formed a River Trust in 1870 through the Calcutta Port Act.
- During World War II, the port was bombed by Japanese forces.
- After Independence, the Kolkata Port lost its preeminent position in cargo traffic and ceased.
- The Farakka Barrage (built in 1975) reduced some of this port’s woes as Ganga waters were diverted into the Bhagirathi-Hooghly system.
- A riverine port is a port which is located on the river front.
National Youth Day is celebrated on Swami Vivekananda Jayanti
January 12 marks the birthday of Swami Vivekananda and National Youth Day 2020.
About National Youth Day:
- The government of India declared Swami Vivekananda birthday as National Youth Day to honour his contributions to the country in 1984 and has been celebrated since.
- Objective: to promote rational thinking among the youth, believed to be the future of the country.
Contribution of Swami Vivekananda:
- He wrote the books named ‘Raja Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’, ‘Karma Yoga’.
- He was an ardent disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and credited with enlightening the western world about Hinduism.
- He pushed for national integration in colonial India.
- He is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
- He began delivering lectures at various places in the US and UK, and became popular as the ‘messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’.
- He formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 to bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.
- In 1899, he established the Belur Math on the western bank of the Ganga to have a permanent abode for the monastery.
- He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
Key facts about Vivekananda:
- His speeches at the World’s Parliament of Religions made him famous as an ‘orator by divine right’.
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had called Vivekananda the “maker of modern India.”
- In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so.
- He was the first religious leader in India to understand and openly declare that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the masses.
- Swami Vivekananda left for America with the funds partly provided by the Raja of Khetri for the Parliament of the World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893.