Polity & Governance
- SC’s use of extraordinary powers in the Constitution to allow a divorce
- Railway Board revamp will see cut in strength
Government Schemes & Policies
- Union Health minister inaugurates 2nd Edition of “Eat Right Mela”
- 40 women and institutions to be conferred on Women’s Day 2020
Issues related to Health & Education
- UGC issues norms for ethics in higher education
- Plant varieties regulator revising FAQs after farmers call foul
- Initial public offers stayed muted in 2019
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- A hundred Tibetan gazelles
Bilateral & International Relations
- Iran kicks off joint naval drills with Russia, China
- Earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India found in A.P.
Science & Technology
- PM catches glimpse of solar eclipse
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Polity & Governance
SC’s use of extraordinary powers in the Constitution to allow a divorce
Recently, the Supreme Court used extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant divorce in a case of “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”.
- Currently, Hindu marriage law does not include “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as a ground for divorce. However, the apex court in a number of cases has provided the said relief using its extraordinary powers that allow it to do complete justice.
Grounds for divorce under Hindu law
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, lays down the law for divorce, which applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.
Under Section 13 of the Act, the grounds for divorce include:
- Voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse
- Desertion for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition
- Ceas(ing) to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion
- Being incurably of unsound mind.
- Mutual consent between Husband and Wife
Section 27 of The Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides the grounds for grant of divorce in the case of marriages solemnised under that Act.
However, neither of the two Acts provide for “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as a ground for divorce.
Article 142 of the Constitution
- Article 142 provide a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, i.e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.
- The provision is usually used in cases involving human rights and environmental protection. Recently, it was also used during the Ayodhya judgment, making the first such case where it was invoked for a civil dispute over an immovable property that involved private parties.
Irretrievable breakdown of marriage
- Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage is defined as:
‘The situation that exists when either or both spouses are no longer able or willing to live with each other, thereby destroying their husband and wife relationship with no hope of resumption of spousal duties.’
- In recent case of R. Srinivas Kumar v. R. Shametha, supreme court said that divorce was granted on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. It has been noted that such powers are exercise by supreme court where it is found that a marriage is totally unworkable, emotionally dead, disturbance to both the parties, beyond salvage and has broken down irretrievably.
- The Law Commission of India has twice recommended that irretrievable breakdown of marriage be included as a new ground for granting divorce to Hindus under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act. The Commission first suggested an amendment in 1978 in its 71st report, and in 2009 in the 217th report.
Railway Board revamp will see cut in strength
The Union Cabinet approved the restructuring of the Railway Board, including reduction in the Board strength as well as merger of the different cadres into a central service called the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).
- The existing eight services are the Indian Railway Service of Engineers, (IRSE), Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS), Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE), Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS) and Indian Railway Accounts Services (IRAS).
Restructuring of Indian Railways
- Unification of the existing 8 Group A services of the Railways into a Central Service called Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).
- Railways will now have just two departments—Railway Protection Force and Medical Service Department—with all its other departments coming under IRMS.
- Railway Board to be headed by Chairman Railway Board (CRB) who will be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with 4 Members (for Infrastructure, Operations & Business Development, Rolling Stock and Finance) and some independent members, who will be highly distinguished professionals.
- The existing service of Indian Railway Medical Service (IRMS) to be consequently renamed as Indian Railway Health Service (IRHS).
- Unification of services will end ‘departmentalism’, promote the smooth working of Railways, expedite decision making and promote rational decision making.
- IRMS will enable Railways to recruit engineers/non-engineers as per need, and offer equality of opportunity to both categories in career progression.
- Railway board will no longer be organised on departmental lines and replaced with a leaner structure organised on functional lines.
- The new Independent Members of Railway board will help Railway Board in setting a strategic direction.
Government Schemes & Policies
Union Health minister inaugurates 2nd Edition of “Eat Right Mela”
While inaugurating the Eat Right Mela, Union health minister stressed upon the importance of having a Jan Andolan, a peoples’ movement, encouraging people to have healthier diets which will help in reduction of the disease burden in the country.
- He also launched NetSCoFAN (Network for Scientific Co-operation for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition).
About Eat Right Mela
- As part of the Eat Right India movement, the ‘Eat Right Mela’ was conceived to engage, excite and enable citizens to eat right through an infotainment model.
- Eat Right Melas have been envisioned for massive outreach to build awareness on safe food and healthy diets.
About Eat Right India
- The ‘Eat Right India’ movement was launched by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to nudge businesses and consumers to adopt safe, healthy and sustainable food practices and habits.
- The two foundations of the Eat Right India movement are Eat Healthy and Eat Safe.
About NetSCoFAN (Network for Scientific Co-operation for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition)
- It is a network of research & academic institutions working in the area of food & nutrition along with the NetSCoFAN directory, covering detailed information of various heads/Directors and lead scientists of lead and associated partnering institutions.
- The NetSCoFAN would comprise of eight groups of institutions working in different areas viz. biological, chemical, nutrition & labelling, food of animal origin, food of plant origin, water & beverages, food testing, and safer & sustainable packaging.
40 women and institutions to be conferred on Women’s Day 2020
As many as 40 women and institutions will be conferred with Nari Shakti Puraskar on International Women’s Day 2020 to recognise their relentless service towards the cause of women empowerment and social welfare.
About Nari Shakti Puraskar
- Nari Shakti Puraskar is given annually to individuals, groups, institutions in recognition of their exceptional work towards the cause of women empowerment, especially for vulnerable and marginalised women.
- This award was formerly known as Stree Shakti Puraskar.
- This award is conferred by President of India every year on 8th March, the International Women’s Day.
[Ref: Financial Express]
Issues related to Health & Education
UGC issues norms for ethics in higher education
Union HRD Minister launched the 5 documents developed by UGC covering: Evaluation reforms, eco-friendly and sustainable university campuses, Human values & professional ethics, Faculty induction and Academic research integrity.
- University Grants Commission has adopted the Higher Education Quality Improvement Programme
- SATAT- Framework for Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Campus development in Higher Educational Institutions, will encourage universities to adopt practices to enhance the environmental quality of the campus.
- MulyaPravah is a document having Guidelines for Inculcation of Human values and Professionals Ethics in Higher Educational Institutions
- Guidelines for Guru-Dakshta – A guide to Faculty Induction Programme (FIP) will sensitise the faculty to adopt learner centred approaches.
About University Grants Commission (UGC)
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- It is charged with coordination of standards of higher education. Its headquarters is in New Delhi, and six regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore.
- UGC has set up a Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics (UGC-CARE) to continuously monitor and identify quality journals across disciplines.
Functions of UGC
The three primary functions of UGC include
- Overseeing distribution of grants to universities and colleges in India,
- Providing scholarships and fellowships to beneficiaries and
- Monitoring conformity to its regulations by universities and colleges.
Short History of UGC
- The UGC was first formed in 1945 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and Delhi. Its responsibility was extended in 1947 to cover all Indian universities.
- In 1949, a recommendation was made to reconstitute the UGC along similar lines to the University Grants Committee of the United Kingdom. This recommendation was made by the University Education Commission of 1948-1949 which was set up under the chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan.
- In 1956, the UGC became a statutory body.
[Ref: The Hindu, PIB]
Plant varieties regulator revising FAQs after farmers call foul
A document which food and beverages giant PepsiCo India cited to support its charges against Gujarat potato farmers earlier this year is being revised by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority (PPV&FRA), following complaints from major farmers groups.
What is the issue?
- In March 2019, Alleging Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement, PepsiCo India had sued farmers from Sabarkantha district for buying seeds and selling potato of the FL 2027 variety, also known as FC-5, which the Pepsico has registered under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.
- Farmers accuse PepsiCo of having obtained a breeder certificate for the FC-5 potato variety through fraudulent means, saying that this variety of potato has already been grown by farmers.
- The PepsiCo faced product boycotts and major protests for suing farmers, and ultimately withdrew all cases after government intervention in May 2019.
- In June 2019, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) applied for the revocation of PepsiCo’s registration. PepsiCo said that the it accused farmers based on the FAQ document of the act which says that a company has rights to pursue actions who infringe its rights granted under the Act.
About PPV&FR Act
Objective of the PPV & FR Act, 2001
- To establish a system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
- To stimulate investment for research and development for the development new of plant varieties.
Rights under the Act
Breeders’ Rights : Breeders have exclusive rights to produce, sell, market, distribute, import or export the protected variety. Breeder can appoint agent/ licensee and may exercise for civil remedy in case of infringement of rights.
Researchers’ Rights : Researcher can use any of the registered variety under the Act for conducting experiment or research. This includes the use of a variety as an initial source of variety for the purpose of developing another variety but repeated use needs prior permission of the registered breeder.
- A farmer who has evolved or developed a new variety is entitled for registration and protection in like manner as a breeder of a variety;
- Farmers variety can also be registered as an extant variety;
- A farmer can save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the act
- Farmers are eligible for recognition and rewards for the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants;
- There is also a provision for compensation to the farmers for non-performance of variety under Section 39 (2) of the Act, 2001 and
- Farmer shall not be liable to pay any fee in any proceeding before the Authority or Registrar or the Tribunal or the High Court under the Act.
- Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority implements the act. Besides the Chairperson, the Authority has 15 members, as notified by the Government of India.
Registration of varieties
- A Seed variety is eligible for registration under the Act if it fulfills the criteria of Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS).
[Ref: The Hindu]
Initial public offers stayed muted in 2019
Even as initial public offers (IPOs) stayed muted in 2019, significant fund-raising through offers-for-sale (OFS) and qualified institutional placements (QIPs) ensured that overall mobilisation remained vibrant in the year.
About IPO (Initial public offering)
- Initial public offering is the process by which a private company can go public by sale of its stocks to general public.
- A company offering its shares to the public is not obliged to repay the capital to public investors.
- After IPO, the company’s shares are traded in an open market. Those shares can be further sold by investors through secondary market trading.
- The primary objective of an IPO is to raise capital for a business.
About Offer for Sale
- An Offer for Sale is a mechanism where promoters or non- promoters (holding at least 10% of the share capital of the company) in a listed company sell their shares directly to the public in a transparent manner.
- OFS is used when promoters in a listed company needs more financial capital even after IPO.
- This mechanism was first introduced in the market by SEBI in 2012. This is a simpler way for public companies to sell shares and get capital compared to other options such as follow-on public offering (FPO). An FPO is a process where an already listed company issues additional shares to investors.
About Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP)
- QIP is a process which was introduced by SEBI to enable the listed companies to raise finance through the issue of securities to qualified institutional buyers (QIBs).
- Earlier, since raising finance in the domestic market involved a lot of complications, Indian companies used to raise funds from the overseas markets. So to prevent this, SEBI introduced this process so as to make the raising of funds easier in the domestic market.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
A hundred Tibetan gazelles
During the 1962 Indo-China War, Indian troops, who are sent up to the 4,000-metre-high cold desert with poor supply lines to feed them, hunted the Tibetan Gazelle for meat.
About Tibetan Gazelle
- The Tibetan Gazelle is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. They are also found in Ladakh, and parts of Sikkim in small numbers.
- They are relatively small antelopes, with slender bodies. They inhabit open landscapes, including plains, hills, and mountains.
- Due to its small size, so it requires the most nutritious forage
- IUCN status: Near Threatened. They are included in Schedule I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972.
Bilateral & International Relations
Iran kicks off joint naval drills with Russia, China
Iran’s navy kicked off the first joint naval drill with Russia and China in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
- The exercise, launched from Chahbahar in the Gulf of Oman and near the border with Pakistan, is aimed at boosting security of the region’s waterways.
- It is also seen as a response to recent U.S. maneuvers with its regional ally Saudi Arabia, in which China also participated.
Earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India found in A.P.
In a significant find, the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India has discovered the earliest epigraphic evidence so far for the Saptamatrika cult
- Saptamatrikas are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts.
About the newly found inscriptions
- The inscriptions were found from the Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
- The inscription is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.
- This is the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India as on date. So far the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula, corresponding to the 4th century, was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.
- The inscription records the construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa and consecration of images of the temple by a person named Kartika for the merit of the king at the temple of Saptamatrika at Tambrape (ancient name of Chebrolou).
About Satavahana dynasty
- The Satavahana dynasty, also known as Puranas, ruled over parts of western India and the Deccan in second century BCE- to second century CE.
- The Satavahana was based from Dharanikota and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh as well as Junnar (Pune) and Prathisthan (Paithan) in Maharashtra.
- An important ruler of this dynasty was Gautamiputra Shri Satakarni. Inscription composed by Gautami Balashri, the mother of Satakarni, throws lights on the history of the Santavahana dynasty. Satavahana rulers were known as the Lords of the Dakshinapatha, meaning ‘route leading to the South’.
Science & Technology
PM catches glimpse of solar eclipse
Parts of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu witnessed an annular solar eclipse. This annular solar eclipse was also visible from other coutnreis such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sri Lanka etc.
About solar eclipse
An eclipse happens when the moon while orbiting the Earth, comes in between the sun and the Earth, due to which the moon blocks the sun’s light from reaching the Earth, causing an eclipse of the sun or a solar eclipse.
Types of Solar Eclipses
- Total solar eclipseshappen when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth. Total solar eclipses occur every one or two years, on average, and partial and annular eclipses are only slightly more frequent.
- Annular solar eclipsestake place when the Moon’s disk is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the Sun.
- Partial solar eclipsesoccur when the Moon only partially obscures the Sun’s disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
- Hybrid Solar Eclipses, also known as annular-total eclipses, are the rarest type. They occur when the same eclipse changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along the eclipse’s path.
A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth’s surface.
Why isn’t there a solar eclipse every New Moon night?
- Eclipses do not happen at every new moon because the moon’s orbit is tilted just over 5 degrees relative to Earth’s orbit around the sun.
- For this reason, the moon’s shadow usually passes either above or below Earth, so a solar eclipse doesn’t occur. But as a rule, at least twice each year (and sometimes as many as five times in a year), a new moon will align itself in just such a way to eclipse the sun. That alignment point is called a node.
- Depending on how closely the new moon approaches a node will determine whether a particular eclipse is central or partial. The moon’s distance from the Earth will ultimately determine whether a central eclipse is total, annular or a hybrid.