Polity & Governance
- Bill seeking unemployment allowance
- Uniform Civil Code
Government Schemes & Policies
- Unregulated sale of acid
Issues related to Health & Education
- International Day of Women and Girls in Science
- 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign
- Safer Internet Day
- Data on Indians living abroad
Bilateral & International Relations
- 41st anniversary of Iranian Revolution
Defence & Security Issues
- Exercise AJEYA Warrior 2020
Art & Culture
- Pulling Down constructions at Hampi
- Storm Ciara
Key facts for Prelims
- World Pulses day
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Polity & Governance
Bill seeking unemployment allowance
Recently, four private members of Parliament have presented Private Member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha to propose doling out some form of unemployment allowance to jobless citizens and deal with high unemployment.
Bills presented by the members:
- Unemployment Allowance Bill 2019: seeks to provide an allowance to all unemployed people.
- Financial Assistance to Unemployed Post-Graduates Bill 2019: restricts the unemployment allowances to unemployed postgraduates only.
- Unemployed Youth (Allowance and Employment Opportunities) Bill 2019: eyes the twin-purpose of generating gainful employment opportunities and payment of unemployment allowance.
- Unemployment Allowance Bill: proposes unemployment allowances for jobless youth until they get gainful employment.
What is a Private Member Bill?
- Any MP who is not a Minister is referred to as a private member.
- Both Ministers and private members contribute to the law making process. Private member’s bills are piloted by non-Minister MPs.
- Their purpose is to draw the government’s attention to what individual MPs see as issues and gaps in the existing legal framework, which require legislative intervention.
Introduction in the House:
- The admissibility of a private member’s Bill is decided by the Rajya Sabha Chairman and Speaker in case of Lok Sabha.
- The Member must give at least a month’s notice before the Bill can be listed for introduction; the House secretariat examines it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation before listing.
- After 1997, the number of private member’s Bills has been limited to three per session.
- While government Bills can be introduced and discussed on any day, private member’s Bills can be introduced and discussed only on Fridays.
Uniform civil code
A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.
What is UCC?
- Article 44 of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
- Article 44 is one of the directive principles. These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.
Reasons India needs UCC:
1. Common law for all:
- First, a secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
- Several members of the Constituent Assembly disagreed vehemently with differentiated laws as they were the factors that have kept India back from advancing to nationhood.
- The existence of personal laws based on religion keep the nation divided into watertight compartments in many aspects of life.
2. Gender Justice:
- The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim.
- The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
- It is important to note that B.R. Ambedkar fought hard for the passage of the Hindu Code Bill because he saw it as an opportunity to empower women.
- The Muslim social reformer Hamid Dalwai also made the rights of women a central part of his campaign for a uniform civil code.
Uniform code in civil matters:
- Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters- Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc.
- States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?
- Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion;
- Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
- Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture.
- An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to public order, health, morality and other provisions relating to fundamental rights, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights
- In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting Uniform Civil Code in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote. By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of fundamental rights and therefore the Uniform Civil Code was made less important than freedom of religion.
- The underlying principle should be that constitutional law will override religious law in a secular republic.
- Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
Government Schemes & Policies
Unregulated sale of Acid
The Delhi High Court has sought the Delhi government’s stand on a plea by an acid attack survivor, who has alleged easy availability of acid in the capital despite the Supreme Court directions to regulate its sale.
What is the issue?
- A 37-year-old petitioner and acid attack survivor Shaheen Malik has alleged that the statutory rules which regulate the sale of acid were not being implemented here by authorities.
- Despite the SC’s directions, acid was easily available for purchase across the counter in retail stores of Delhi.
- She has sought proper implementation of the Delhi Poisons Possession and Sales Rules, 2015 which imposes restrictions on the sale of acid in the national capital.
Supreme Court guidelines:
- Acid to be sold only to people with valid identity card.
- Buyers need to explain the need to buy acid.
- The chemical and sales will have to be reported to the police.
- Amendment was made in Indian Penal Code, 1860 wherein two sections 326-A and 326-B were inserted exclusively dealing with acid attack.
- Victim compensation scheme got notified in all states and union territories of India.
- Supreme Court directed for the minimum compensation of 3,00,000/- to every acid attack victim in all states and union territories.
- Unregulated acid sale and its easy availability across various pharmacy or grocery shops in India.
- Complete absence of regulation to determine if the level of dilution confirms to the prescribed safety levels.
- Acid attacks are still carried out across the country and the lack of justice and compensation to the acid attack survivors.
Issues related to Health & Education
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology.
- It is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women in collaboration institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science.
- This Day is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.
Global statistics and concern:
- While some of the greatest scientists and mathematicians have been women, they remain under-represented in comparison to their male counterparts in higher studies involving science, as well as among the top scientific achievers.
- According to a 2018 report by UNESCO, just 28.8% of researchers are women. In India, this drops to 13.9%.
- Between 1901 and 2019, 334 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 616 Laureates in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine, of which just 20 have been won by 19 women. Just three women have won Nobel in Physics, five in Chemistry, while 12 women have won the Medicine Nobel.
- UNESCO data from 2014-16 show that only around 30% of female students select STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields in higher education. Female enrolment is particularly low in information technology (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%) and engineering and allied streams (8%).
- In 2015-16, 9.3% of female students in undergraduate courses were enrolled in engineering, compared to 15.6% across genders. Conversely, 4.3% of female students were enrolled in medical science, compared to 3.3% across genders.
- The report found that in over 620 institutes and universities, including IITs, NITs, ISRO, and DRDO, the presence of women was 20.0% among Scientific and Administrative Staff, 28.7% among Post-Doctoral Fellows, and 33.5% among PhD scholars.
- Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science, and science day is a step to achieve the same.
[Ref: Indian Express, UN]
2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign
The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has announced a new global campaign “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” to acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.
What is the Campaign?
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has urged people worldwide to cover the total distance travelled by refugees each year- 2 billion kilometres – by running, jogging or walking.
- The “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” campaign vies to encourage people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity.
Objective: The goal is to acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.
Distance covered by refugees:
- UNHCR traced the journeys of refugees around the world and calculated that, collectively, people forced to flee travel approximately two billion kilometres every year to reach the first point of safety.
- According to UNHCR estimates, Syrian refugees travelled over 240 kilometres each to reach Turkey. South Sudanese refugees travelled more than 640 kilometres to reach Kenya. Rohingya refugees from Myanmar travelled approximately 80 kilometres to reach Bangladesh.
Running, cycling and walking in 27 countries
- The “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” campaign calls on the public to show their solidarity with refugees by running, walking or cycling to collectively cover two billion kilometres.
- Participants can seek sponsorships to raise funds. The UN agency is hoping to raise over US $ 15 million to support refugees with food and water, shelter, basic aid, healthcare, psychological support, and registration and reception services.
- UNHCR reported that people in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East had already pledged to take part in the campaign in 2019, including individuals, celebrity supporters, refugees and UNHCR personnel.
Safer Internet Day
February 11, 2020 was observed as Safer Internet Day (SID).
- The SID initiative first began in Europe, but is now recognised in around 150 countries worldwide.
- Each year, the SID initiative aims to increase awareness about emerging online issues, such as cyberbullying, and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns.
Theme: “Together for a better internet”.
- The European Commission describes SID as “an international event taking place in February every year, which promotes a safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones by children and young people across the world.”
- SID was first initiated in 2004, and is as part of the EU’s ‘Better Internet for Kids’ policy, which aims to increase access to high-quality content for children and young people, increase awareness and empowerment, create a safe environment for children online, and fight against child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.
- It is organised by the Insafe/INHOPE network of awareness centres, that is spread across 30 countries and is funded by the Connecting Europe Facility program (CEF) of the EU.
- In India, the New Delhi-based NGO DISC (Developing Internet Safe Community) Foundation is the SID Committee.
Data on Indians living abroad
According to data tabled by the Ministry of External Affairs in Lok Sabha, there are over 1.36 crore Indian nationals living abroad.
Indians living abroad:
- The highest number of Indians abroad are living in the United Arab Emirates, where the 34,20,000 Indians comprise about one-fourth of all Indians abroad.
- The UAE is followed by Saudi Arabia (25,94,947), the US (12,80,000), Kuwait (10,29,861), Oman (7,79,351), Qatar (7,56,062), Nepal (5,00,000), UK (3,51,000), Singapore (3,50,000) and Bahrain (3,23,292).
- Citing RBI data, the ministry said that during 2018-2019, $76.4 billion was received as remittances from Indians abroad.
- During 2019-2020 (April-September), $41.9 billion was received.
- Between 2015 until December 2019, the mortal remains of 21,930 Indians from 125 countries have been brought back to India.
- Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) division of the ministry is the nodal division that coordinates with all missions / posts abroad regarding transportation of the mortal remains of Indians from abroad to their hometowns in India.
- The missions/posts remain in constant touch with the family/relatives of deceased Indian nationals to facilitate transportation or local burial/cremation of the mortal remains in accordance with their wishes and local regulations.
- They also liaise with foreign sponsors and local authorities concerned to expedite procedures for the repatriation of mortal remains to India and extend assistance to families including financial assistance for deserving cases under the Indian Community Welfare Fund.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Bilateral & International Relations
41st anniversary of Iranian Revolution
11 February 2020, saw the 41st anniversary of Iranian Revolution, which was a popular uprising in Iran in 1978–79 that resulted in the ousting of the monarchy and establishment of an Islamic republic.
About the Iranian Revolution:
- Iranian Revolution, also known as Islamic Revolution or the 1979 Revolution, was a series of events involving the overthrow of the monarch of Iran Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a leader of one of the factions in the revolt.
- The reason for the revolution was to stop the oppression under the western secular policies.
- The movement against the United States-backed monarchy was supported by various leftist and Islamist organizations and student movements.
Outcomes of the revolution:
- A multiclass opposition overthrew an autocratic ruler, leading to the establishment of a theocratic state- Islamic Republic under Khomeini’s rule.
- This outcome contrasts sharply with other modern revolutionary movements, which have been fought in the name of nationalism or socialism and which have concluded with the transfer of power to a secular, modernizing intelligentsia.
Defence & Security Issues
Exercise AJEYA Warrior 2020
The Fifth edition of Joint Military Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-2020 between India and United Kingdom will be conducted at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom from 13 to 26 February 2020.
- To conduct company level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorists’ operation in Urban and Semi Urban areas.
- Training on modern weapon systems, equipment and simulator training have been planned.
- The soldiers from both the countries will share their experiences gained during conduct of various counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations in the past.
- The exercise is conducted alternatively in United Kingdom and India.
- The joint military exercise displays a bilateral willingness to work jointly and share operating procedures to deal with a situation in a specified operational setting.
- The series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR with United Kingdom is an important exercise in terms of the security challenges faced by both the nations in the realm of changing facets of global terrorism.
- Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR will promote defence cooperation and enhance interoperability while sharing experiences between both the armies.
Art & Culture
Pulling Down constructions at Hampi
The Supreme Court has confirmed the Karnataka government authorities’ decision to demolish constructions near the Hampi World Heritage site.
- The bench concluded that the constructions were in violation of the Mysore Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1961.
- The court ruled that it is possible for certain areas to be protected independent of the existence of monuments, if there is a reasonable belief that they contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance.
Facts about Hampi:
- Hampi is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in central Karnataka.
- It was a part of the Mauryan Empire back in the third century BC.
- Hampi remained an integral part of the capital city of the Vijayanagara from 1343 to 1565 AD.
- It reached its prime during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya who ruled this city between 1509 and 1529 AD.
- The group of Monuments at Hampi were built between 1336-1570 A.D., from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya.
- Among all the rich monuments, Virupaksha Temple is the most significant, dedicated to the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers, Lord Virupaksha.
- It is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Group of Monuments at Hampi).
- Colin Mackenzie, in 1800 discovered the remains of Hampi and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been conducting excavation works in the site.
- Primarily Dravidian style of architecture.
- Combinations of Cholas, Pandya’s & Chalukya Style.
- Built mainly from local granite along with the lime, mortar etc.
- There are more than 500 monuments and the notable Structures at Hampi are Vittala temple, Virupaksha temple, Hampi Bazaar, Achyuta Raya’s Temple, Hazara Rama Temple etc.
Storm Ciara aka Storm Sabine has caused extensive damage in the parts of Europe.
Sequence of events:
- After first sweeping across Ireland and the UK on Sunday, the storm thrashed the north coast of mainland Europe.
- The hurricane-force winds and heavy rains damaged several thousand buildings in the region.
- The storm moved on near Germany, after hitting Britain and Ireland.
- Flood warnings are given and flight operations are suspended in the countries.
- The cyclone has hit parts of UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany.
Key facts for Prelims
World Pulses day
- February 10 is designated as World Pulses Day each since 2019 by the seventy-third session of the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2018.
- It has been established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to recognize the importance of pulses as a global food and create awareness about the nutritional benefits of eating pulses.
- United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 20 December 2013, the adopted a resolution to proclaim the year 2016 as the “International Year of Pulses (IYP)”.
- The day aims to increase the public awareness of the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
- FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
- With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.
- Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.
- FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.
- The agency is directed by the Conference of Member Nations, which meets every two years to review the work carried out by the organization and to Work and Budget for the next two-year period.
- It helps to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition – contribute to the eradication of hunger by facilitating policies and political commitments to support food security and by making sure that up-to-date information about hunger and nutrition challenges and solutions is available and accessible.