ias-toppers-Burkha_iStock-talaq
Current Affairs Analysis

23rd August 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

SC strikes down instant triple talaq; Mentor India Campaign; Atal Tinkering Labs; Atal Innovation Mission; SAMPADA; Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY); 17th meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council; Nasikabatrachus bhupathi; Epidermal Biofuel Cells; Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company (BWEL); etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 23, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • 17th meeting of FSDC
  • SC strikes down instant triple talaq

Government Schemes & Policies

  • NITI Aayog launches “Mentor India” Campaign
  • Cabinet approves renaming SAMPADA scheme

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • New species of the genus Nasikabatrachus

Bilateral & International Relations

  • TRAI ink LoI with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission

Science & Technology

  • New flexible fuel cells turn sweat into power

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Closure of loss-making Bharat Wagon approved

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Polity & Governance

17th meeting of FSDC

The 17th meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, was held in New Delhi.

ias-toppers-17th-meeting-of-FSDC

Highlights of the meeting:

  • The 17th meeting of FSDC agreed to be in a state of preparedness for managing any external or internal vulnerability to the Indian economy.
  • The Council noted that India has macro-economic stability on the back of improvements in its macro-economic fundamentals, structural reforms, action taken to address the Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) challenge, extraordinary financial market confidence and long-term positive consequences of demonetization.
  • The Council also discussed the issues and challenges facing the Indian economy and Members agreed on the need to keep constant vigil and be in a state of preparedness of managing any external and internal vulnerabilities.
  • The Council also took note of the progress of Financial Sector Assessment Program for India, jointly conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • FSDC took note of the developments and progress made in setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team in the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin) and Financial Data Management Centre and discussed measures for time-bound implementation of the institution building initiative.
  • It also discussed on the CKYCR system and took note of the initiatives taken in this regard by the members and discussed the issues in respect of its operationalization.
  • It also deliberated on strengthening the regulation of Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs).

About Financial Stability and Development Council:

In December 2010, the Central Government had established Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) with the Finance Minister as it Chairman.

  • The idea to create it was first mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reforms in 2008.
  • It is a super regulatory body for regulating financial sector which is a vital for bringing healthy and efficient financial system in the economy.

Functions:

  • The FSDC envisages to strengthen and institutionalise mechanism of
  1. Maintaining financial stability,
  2. Financial sector development,
  3. Inter-regulatory coordination along with monitoring macro-prudential regulation of economy.
  • It acts as an apex level forum to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability.
  • It also enhances inter-regulatory coordination and promoting financial sector development in the country.
  • It focuses on financial literacy and financial inclusion.
  • It monitors macro-prudential supervision of the economy.
  • It assesses the functioning of the large financial conglomerates.

Composition:

  • Union Finance Minister (Chairman).
  • Heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e. RBI, SEBI, IRDA, PFRDA),
  • Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Union Finance Ministry),
  • Secretary, Department of Financial Services, and
  • Chief Economic Adviser.

FSDC can invite experts to its meeting if required.

[Ref: PIB, Live Mint]

 

SC strikes down instant triple talaq

The Supreme Court banned on Tuesday a controversial Islamic practice of instant divorce as arbitrary and unconstitutional, in a landmark verdict for gender justice that will stop Muslim men calling off a marriage on a whim.

ias-toppers-instant-triple-talaq-judgment

What SC said?

  • The SC observed that said the practice of saying “talaq”, or divorce, three times in one go – sometimes even over email and WhatsApp – violated women’s right to equality and was not integral to Islam.
  • The SC said Triple Talaq violates the fundamental right of Muslim women as it irrevocably ends marriage and is against the basic tenets of Quran.

What opponents said

  • Opponents of the practice pointed out that Triple Talaq was not permitted even in several Muslim countries.
  • The Centre took a firm stand, saying that oral, instant divorce must be declared unconstitutional and also asserted “Triple Talaq is not a basic and integral part of Islam”.

What is instant triple talaq?

There are three forms of talaq (divorce) in Islam: Ahsan, Hasan and Talaq-e-Biddat (triple or instant talaq).

  • Ahsan and Hasan are revocable but Biddat is irrevocable.
  • Biddat is considered sinful but is permissible in Islamic law. It has been banned in more than 20 Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

ias-toppers-instant-triple-talaq

What is Shayara Bano case?

  • Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old resident of of Uttarakhand, filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2015 and sought a ban on the practice after her husband ended their 15-year marriage by sending a letter with the word talaq written thrice.
  • She asked the apex Court to declare talaq-e-bidat , polygamy and nikah halala illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25.
  • However, her husband opposed Shayara’s plea on the ground they were governed by Muslim Personal Law and all three practices are sanctified provisions under the very same law.

Background:

  • After Shayara Bano case, several other women lined up with their petitions over the following months.
  • In 2016, the apex court had on its own taken cognizance of the question whether Muslim women faced gender discrimination in the event of divorce or due to other marriages by their husbands.

Is Triple talaq a statutory right?

  • Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 has already recognised triple talaq as a statutory right.
  • Therefore, Instant talaq was no longer a personal law to remain free from the rigours of the fundamental rights as it comes under the ambit of Article 13 of the Constitution.
  • Article 13 mandates that any law, framed before or after the Constitution, should not be violative of the fundamental rights.
  • Women cannot pronounce triple talaq and are required to move a court for getting divorce under the Sharia Act, 1937.

Constitutional provisions:

Under the Constitution, religious freedom is subject to all other Fundamental Rights.

  • Article 25 — which guarantees Freedom of Practice and Propagation of Religion — does not protect religious practices since they can negatively affect the welfare of citizens.
  • Article 14, which guarantees the Right to Equality, overrides Article 25 because triple talaq denies a Muslim woman’s equality before the law.
  • Similarly, Article 25 is subject to Article 15 (1) which says that the State “shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex…” Since triple talaq does not work in the favour of women, it violates Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.

What’s next?

  • The Supreme Court asked the government to bring legislation in six months to govern marriage and divorce in the Muslim community.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

NITI Aayog launches “Mentor India” Campaign

The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has launched Mentor India Campaign, a strategic nation building initiative to engage leaders for guiding and mentoring students at Atal Tinkering Labs.

ias toppers Mentor India Campaign

About the Mentor India Campaign:

  • The Mentor India Campaign aims at maximising the impact of Atal Tinkering Labs by engaging leaders who will nurture and guide students in the Atal Tinkering Labs.
  • Under this initiative, NITI Aayog is looking for leaders who can spend one to two hours every week in one or more such labs to enable students learn, experience and practice future skills such as design and computational thinking.

About Atal Tinkering Labs:

  • Atal Tinkering Labs are meant to be non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors.
  • More than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs have been established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission.
  • They are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India.

About Atal Innovation Mission:

Atal Tinkering Lab Initiative for Young Innovators

  • NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country and to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country.
  • It aims to give substantial boost to the innovation ecosystem and to catalyze the entrepreneurial spirit in the country.
  • It prime objective is to provide an innovation promotion platform involving academics, researchers and entrepreneurs, drawing upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation in India.
  • It will also promote a network of world-class innovation hubs, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Cabinet approves renaming SAMPADA scheme

The cabinet approved the renaming of the new central sector scheme SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.

ias-toppers-SAMPADA

About SAMPADA or PMKSY:

  • PMKSY is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry like Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety, Quality Assurance Infrastructure, Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters and Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages.
  • The objective of PMKSY is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.
  • These schemes aim at development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach, provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry.
  • PMKSY, with an allocation of Rs 6000 crore, is expected to leverage investment of Rs 31400 crore and will handle 334 lakh MT agro-produce valuing Rs 104125 crore.
  • It will benefit 20 lakh farmers and will generate 530500 direct/ indirect employment in the country by the year 2019-20.

Inclusions under PMKSY:

  • Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
  • Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
  • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
  • Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure
  • Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities

Significance:

  • The implementation of PMKSY will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
  • It will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country but also help in providing better prices to farmers.
  • It will also help in reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level, availability of safe and convenient processed foods at affordable price to consumers.
  • It will enhance the export of the processed foods.

Background:

  • Food Processing Sector has emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment and investment. During 2015-16, the sector constituted as much as 9.1 and 8.6% of GVA in Manufacturing and Agriculture sector respectively.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

New species of the genus Nasikabatrachus

Indian scientists have discovered Nasikabatrachus bhupathi, a new species of frog that has a snout-shaped nose, just like a pig in West Ghats.

ias-toppers-Nasikabatrachus

Key facts:

  • It has been named after the Indian herpetologist S. Bhupathy.
  • Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is soiled-dwelling species of purple frog.
  • It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, near the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

Significance of this discovery:

  • The discovery is significant as it constitutes additional evidence in favour of the continental drift theory.
  • The Purple frog inhabitant of Seychelles, and discovery of Nasikabatrachus bhupathi in India suggests that Indian subcontinent was part of ancient landmass of Gondwana before splitting from Seychelles 65 million years ago.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

TRAI ink LoI with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission

ias-toppers-TRAI-MCMC

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has inked an agreement with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to deepen bilateral cooperation in telecom and broadcasting regulation.
  • The two telecom regulators signed a letter of intent (LoI), under which they will exchange information and regulatory best practices.
  • Under the signed Lol, the telecom regulators of India and Malaysia will also undertake joint capacity building exercises in telecom and broadcasting regulation.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Science & Technology

New flexible fuel cells turn sweat into power

Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed stretchable fuel cells that extract energy from sweat, and could power a range of wearable devices such as LEDs and Bluetooth radios.

ias-toppers-epidermal-biofuel-cells

Significance:

  • The epidermal biofuel cells are a major breakthrough in the field, which has been struggling with making the devices that are stretchable enough and powerful enough.
  • The biofuel cells generate 10 times more power per surface area than any existing wearable biofuel cells.

How does it work?

  • The biofuel cells are equipped with an enzyme that oxidises the lactic acid present in human sweat to generate current.
  • The researchers connected the biofuel cells to a custom-made circuit board and demonstrated the device was able to power an LED while a person wearing it exercised on a stationary bike.
  • To be compatible with wearable devices, the biofuel cell needs to be flexible and stretchable. So, engineers decided to use what they call a “bridge and island”.
  • Essentially, the cell is made up of rows of dots that are each connected by spring-shaped structures.
  • Half of the dots make up the cell’s anode or electrode through which conventional current flows; the other half are the cathode.
  • The spring-like structures can stretch and bend, making the cell flexible without deforming the anode and cathode.
  • The basis for the islands and bridges structure was manufactured via lithography and is made of gold.
  • Researchers used screen printing to deposit layers of biofuel materials on top of the anode and cathode dots.
  • To increase power density, engineers screen printed a 3D carbon nanotube structure on top the anodes and cathodes.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Closure of loss-making Bharat Wagon approved

ias toppers Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the closure of loss-making Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company (BWEL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Railways.
  • CCEA decision comes in view of the continues poor physical and financial performance of the BWEL for more than 10 years, in spite of financial assistance and other support provided by the Ministry of Railways.
  • The decision to wound up BWEL comes after its low probability of revival in future.

 

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