Current Affairs Analysis

16th & 17th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

BRICS; Minimum age of Marriage for women; Jaya Jaitely Task Force; Sarda Act 1929; Expansion of NCC; National Cadet Corps (NCC); BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group; Why 15th August Was Chosen to Celebrate India’s Freedom; Navroz; Dr. Vikram Sarabhai; RLF-100 or Aviptadil; SalivaDirect etc.
By IASToppers
August 17, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Minimum age of Marriage for women

Government Schemes & Policies

  • PM Announced expansion of NCC

Bilateral & International Relations

  • BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group

Indian History

  • Why 15th August Was Chosen to Celebrate India’s Freedom?

Art & Culture

  • Navroz

Science & Technology

  • ISRO pays tribute to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

Key Facts for Prelims

  • RLF-100 or Aviptadil
  • SalivaDirect

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Polity & Governance

Minimum age of Marriage for women

The Central government has set up a committee to reconsider the minimum age of marriage for women.

  • The Centre will take a decision after the committee submits its report.

Minimum age of Marriage in India:

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 prescribe that the minimum age of marriage is 21 years for men and 18 years for women.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority which is gender-neutral.
  • An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.

Jaya Jaitely Task Force:

  • On June 2, the Union Ministry for Women and Child Development set up a task force headed Jaya Jaitely.
  • It will examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering Maternal Mortality Ratio and improvement of nutritional levels among women.
  • The task force will examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with health, medical well-being, and nutritional status of the mother and neonate, infant or child, during pregnancy, birth and thereafter.
  • It will look at key parameters like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR), Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) and Child Sex Ratio (CSR).
  • It will examine possibility of increasing age of marriage for women from present 18 years to 21 years.

Need for minimum age for marriage:

  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.
  • Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus: Section 5(iii) of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, sets 18 years as minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
  • However, child marriages are not illegal — even though they can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam: Marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
  • Sexual intercourse with a minor is rape and the consent of a minor is regarded as invalid.

How did the law evolve?

  • 1860: Indian Penal Code was enacted which criminalised sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of 10.
  • 1927: The provision of rape was amended in 1927 through The Age of Consent Bill, 1927, which declared that marriage with a girl under 12 would be invalid.
  • The law faced opposition from conservative leaders of the Indian National Movement, who saw the British intervention as an attack on Hindu customs.
  • Sarda Act 1929: The Child Marriage Restraint Act set 16 and 18 years as minimum age of marriage for girls and boys respectively.
  • The law is known as the Sarda Act after its sponsor Harbilas Sarda, a judge and a member of Arya Samaj.
  • It was eventually amended in 1978 to prescribe 18 and 21 years as the age of marriage for a woman and a man respectively.

Rationale of revision of age:

1. Reduce early pregnancy:

  • To reduce the risks of early pregnancy among women.
  • Early pregnancy is associated with increased child mortality rates and affects the health of the mother.
  • Despite laws mandating minimum age and criminalising sexual intercourse with a minor, child marriages are very prevalent in the country.

2. To bring Gender neutrality:

  • As per a petition, different legal ages for men and women to marry violate Articles 14 (right to equality)and 21 (Right to live with dignity) of the Constitution.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Government Schemes & Policies

PM Announced expansion of NCC

PM Modi spoke about expansion of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in coastal and border districts of India.

Major Highlights:

  • NCC is the world’s largest voluntary uniformed youth organisation.
  • He announced that from 173 coastal and border districts, one lakh cadets will be trained, a third of them will be girls.
  • In border areas, the Army will train the cadets.
  • In the coastal area, the Navy will train the cadets.
  • And where there are air bases, Air Force will undertake training activities.

National Cadet Corps (NCC):

  • National Cadet Corps (NCC) was formed in 1948.
  • It has its roots to British era uniformed youth entities like University Corps or University Officer Training Corps.
  • Currently NCC has a strength of around 14 lakh cadets from Army, Navy and Air Force wings.
  • It enrolls cadets at high school and college level and also awards certificates on completion of various phases.
  • It is headed by a Director General of three-star military rank, and falls under the purview of Ministry of Defence.
  • It is led by serving officers from the Armed forces at various hierarchical positions.
  • The NCC cadets receive basic military training at various levels and also have academic curriculum basics related to Armed forces and their functioning.
  • Various training camps, adventure activities and military training camps are an important aspect of NCC training.
  • NCC has a dual funding model where both the Centre and States or Union Territories provide budgetary support.

Significance:

  • NCC cadets have played an important role over the years in relief efforts during various emergency situations.
  • During the ongoing pandemic, over 60,000 NCC cadets have been deployed for voluntary relief work in coordination with district and state authorities across the country.
  • The border and coastal areas will get trained manpower to fight with disasters.
  • Youth will acquire required skills for careers in armed forces.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Bilateral & International Relations

BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group

The 4th Session of the BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group was held recently.

Major Highlights:

  • This year’s session held over video conference on August 12, 2020, was chaired by Russia.
  • There were exchange of opinions concerning drug situation in BRICS states, international and regional trends of illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors.
  • The discussions highlighted need for real time information sharing among the member states and need to curb increased drug trafficking through maritime routes.
  • Misuse of darknet and other advanced technologies for drug trafficking was one of the key focal areas of the meeting.

BRICS:

  • BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
  • It is an association of five major emerging national economies established in 2009.
  • It together represents about 42% of the world population, 23% of GDP, 30% of the territory and 18% of the global trade.
  • The acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, projecting that economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would individually and collectively be amongst the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
  • South Africa joined this informal group in 2011 and BRIC became BRICS.
  • The first formal summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
  • The BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries.
  • All five BRICS nations are G-20 members.
[Ref: PIB]

Indian History

Why 15th August Was Chosen to Celebrate India’s Freedom?

Lord Mountbatten chose 15th August on the basis of the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender during world war II.

Details:

  • 1929: Jawaharlal Nehru as the President of Indian National Congress in Lahore session gave the call for Poorna Swaraj and chose January 26 as the Independence Day.
  • The Congress party continued to celebrate it 1930 onwards, till India attained independence.
  • Lord Mountbatten had been given a mandate by the British parliament to transfer the power to India by June 30, 1948.
  • However, Mountbatten advanced the date to August 1947 to abstain any riot.
  • Mountbatten determined 15 August because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender during World war II.
  • Subsequently, January 26 1950 was chosen as the Republic Day- the day India formally became a sovereign country and was no longer a British Dominion.

How did Pakistan get independence on August 14?

  • Actually, it didn’t. The Indian Independence Bill gave August 15 as the date of independence for both the countries.
  • In 1948, Pakistan started marking August 14 as its independence day, either because the ceremony for the transfer of power in Karachi was held on August 14, 1947, or because August 14, 1947, was the 27th of Ramadan, a very sacred date to the Muslims.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Art & Culture

Navroz

The Parsi New Year or Navroz is celebrated to mark the beginning of the new Iranian calendar.

All about Parsi New Year:

  • In Persian, Nav means new, and Roz stands for the day, which translates to new day.
  • This tradition is believed to have begun over 3,000 years ago.
  • It is observed by Iranians and the Parsi community around the world.
  • It is celebrated most prominently in Maharashtra and Gujarat due to sizeable Parsi population.

Why do Indians celebrate Navroz in August?

  • In Iran and other parts, Zoroastrians celebrate Persian New Year using the Fasli/Bastnai calendar.
  • According to the calendar new year falls on the moment of Vernal Equinox, mostly on March 21st.
  • However, in Indian subcontinent, Shahenshahi Calendar is followed which does not take leap years into account, that is why Navroz is celebrated on August 17.
  • Navroz is also known as Jamshed-i-Navroz after Persian King Jamshed, who is credited to have created Persian Calendar known as Shahenshahi Calendar.

Key Facts:

  • Parsis are also known as Zoroastrians as they follow Zoroastrianism.
  • It is one of the oldest known monotheistic religions founded by Prophet Zarathustra or Zoroaster (Greek) in Pre-Islam era of ancient Iran in 650 BC.
  • After invasion of Islamic armies in the 7th Century, Zoroastrians fled Persia and mainly dwelled in India.
  • India is home to the largest group of Parsis from around the world.
[Ref: News18, Hindustan Times]

Science & Technology

ISRO pays tribute to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

The birth centenary year of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai completed on 12th of August.

Major Highlights:

  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) paid tribute to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai by announcing that Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter has captured the Moon images of Sarabhai Crater.
  • The Sarabhai Crater captured in 3D images shows that the Crater has a depth of around 1.7 Kms taken from its raised rim and the slope of Crater walls is in between 25 to 35 degree.
  • These findings will help the Space Scientists to understand further the process on the lunar region filled with lava.
  • Chandrayaan-2 continues to perform and provides valuable scientific data.

Vikram Sarabhai:

  • Vikram Sarabhai is considered the Father of Indian space programme.
  • He along with noted scientist Homi Jahangir Bhabha, spearheaded Indian Space Research.
  • Sarabhai founded Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad in the year 1947.
  • The laboratory started its operation from RETREAT, Sarabhai’s residence in Ahmedabad.
  • He persuaded government of India to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962 to concentrate on space research, after Russia launched the Sputnik satellite.
  • Sarabhai was the first chairman of the INCOSPAR.
  • INCOSPAR was restructured and renamed as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969.
  • He set up India’s first rocket launch site in Thumba, a small village near the Thiruvananthapuram airport in Kerala.
  • He was also responsible for bringing cable television to India.
  • His constant contact with NASA paved a way for the establishment of Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975.
  • He was the mastermind behind building India’s first satellite, Aryabhata.
  • He was one of the founding members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).
  • Vikram Sarabhai received the Padma Bhushan in 1966 for his contribution to India’s progress. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972, posthumously.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

RLF-100 or Aviptadil

An old drug formulation — RLF-100 is being probed to treat Covid-19 patients as initial studies have shown that the drug is able to halt SARS-CoV-2 virus replication in lungs.

What does RLF-100 do?

  • RLF-100 or Aviptadil is a formulation of synthetic human Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide (VIP).
  • VIP is released throughout the body, but remains mostly concentrated in lungs.
  • It is produced by immune cells and nerve endings and acts as a neurotransmitter.
  • It helps improve muscle activity and blood flow in gastrointestinal tract.
  • VIP has anti-inflammatory and anti-cytokine activity properties.
  • It protects alveolar type II cells responsible for oxygen exchange in lungs.
  • Since coronavirus attacks lungs and the alveolar cells, drug may be helpful in preventing SARS-CoV-2 onslaught in alveolar cell and limit damage in lung.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

SalivaDirect

  • SalivaDirect is an inexpensive new rapid diagnostic test for novel coronavirus infection that uses saliva samples.
  • It was granted an emergency use authorisation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 15.
  • The test has high sensitivity and can detect when the number of virus copies in the saliva sample is as low as six-12 copies per microlitre.
  • The official data shows 88-94% which is the best accuracy (sensitivity) of any saliva test.
[Ref: The Hindu]
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