Current Affairs Analysis

28th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Panspermia theory; Sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes; Presidential list; Article 341; Armed Forces Tribunal; Vinoba Bhave; Bhoodan Movement; Gramdan Movement; Tribal languages face extinction threat; Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education; UNESCO degree of endangerment of languages; Deinococcus radiodurans; Radiation-resistant bacteria; Van Allen radiation belt; Bureau of Police Research and Development; EOHO Scheme of UK; Textile Grand Challenge 2019; etc.
By IASToppers
August 28, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • States can have sub-groups among SCs/STs: SC
  • AFT begins hearing cases through video-conferencing

Issues related to Health & Education

  • 500 million children excluded from remote schooling: UN

Indian History

  • Vinoba Bhave’s contribution to dissemination of Gandhi’s philosophy

Art & Culture

  • Tribal languages in India face extinction threat

Science & Technology

  • Bacteria can survive cosmic trip: Study

Also in News

  • Golden Jubilee of Bureau of Police Research and Development

Key Facts for Prelims

  • EOHO Scheme of UK
  • Textile Grand Challenge 2019

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Polity & Governance

States can have sub-groups among SCs/STs: SC

A five-judge Bench of Supreme Court held that States can sub-classify Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Central List to provide preferential treatment to the weakest out of the weak.

  • The bench said that reservation has created inequalities within the reserved castes itself.
  • The 2005 ruling by the SC had ruled that state governments had no power to create sub-categories of SCs for the purpose of reservation.

Rationale:

  • Categorisation would achieve equitable representation of all SCs in government service and would bring about real equality or proportional equality.

Sub-categorisation of SCs:

  • Among the Scheduled Castes, there are some that remain grossly under-represented despite reservation in comparison to other Scheduled Castes.
  • For example: In Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, special quotas were introduced for the most vulnerable Dalits.
  • In 2000, the Andhra Pradesh legislature passed a law reorganising 57 SCs into sub-groups and split the 15% SC quota in educational institutions and government jobs in proportion to their population.
  • It was declared unconstitutional in the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that states did not have the power to alter the Presidential list that identifies SCs and STs.

What is the Presidential list?

  • The Constitution provides for special treatment of SCs and STs to achieve equality.
  • But, the Constitution treats all Schedule Castes as a single homogeneous group and does not specify the castes and tribes to be called SCs and STs.
  • This power is left to the central executive — the President.
  • As per Article 341, the castes notified by the President are called SCs and STs.
  • A caste notified as SC in one state may not be a SC in another state.
  • These vary from state to state to prevent disputes as to whether a particular caste is accorded reservation or not.
  • The President has the power to notify the inclusion or exclusion of a caste as a Scheduled Caste, and states cannot tinker with the list.

Arguments against sub-categorisation:

  • The requirement of social and educational backwardness cannot be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • The special treatment is given to SCs is due to untouchability with which they suffer.
  • In the State of Kerala v N M Thomas, 1976, the SC held that Scheduled Castes are not castes, they are class.
  • The objective of reservation is to ensure that all backward classes march hand in hand and that will not be possible if only a select few get all the coveted services of the government.
  • Such decisions will be made to appease one vote-bank or the other.

To know more about ‘what is creamy layer’ and ‘why does government wants Supreme Court to reconsider stand on SC/ST creamy layer’, refer to the link given below:

[Ref: The Hindu; Indian Express]

AFT begins hearing cases through video-conferencing

The Delhi-based principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal initiated hearing of matters pertaining to regional benches through video conferencing.

  • This brought an immense relief to the armed forces personnel, whose applications are awaiting justice at various Regional Benches.

Armed Forces Tribunal:

  • Armed Forces Tribunal is a military tribunal in India.
  • It was established under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.
  • It deals with the disciplinary and service matters required quick resolutions for the military forces.

Power and Functions:

  • It can adjudicate the disputes and complaints regarding commission, appointments, enrolments and conditions of service in respect of persons’ subject to the Army Act, 1950, The Navy Act, 1957 and the Air Force Act, 1950.
  • It can provide for appeals arising out of courts- martial held under the said Acts and for matters connected.
  • The paramilitary forces, Assam Rifles and Coast Guard, are outside the tribunal’s purview.
  • The Tribunal transacts their proceedings as per the Armed Forces Tribunal (Procedure) rules, 2008.

Composition:

  • The Tribunal normally follows the procedure as practiced in the High Courts of India.
  • Each Bench comprises of a Judicial Member and an Administrative Member.
  • The Judicial Members are retired High Court Judges.
  • The Administrative Members are retired Members of the Armed Forces who have held rank of Major General/ equivalent or above for a period of three years or more.
  • AFT is a criminal court with respect to Indian Penal Code, and Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Appeals against decision of the AFT can be taken only in Supreme Court.
  • The state High Courts cannot entertain such appeals.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Issues related to Health & Education

500 million children excluded from remote schooling: UN

As per UNICEF report an estimated 463 million children have been unable to access remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread school closures.

Major Highlights:

  • At least one-third of the world’s school children lack the equipment or electronic access that would allow them to pursue distance education.
  • Low-income countries predominantly implemented radio-based instruction, whereas middle-income countries relied primarily on television and digital media.
  • The pandemic has caused the largest disruption to education in history, with schools closed in some 160 countries in mid-July, affecting an estimated 1.5 billion students.
  • Nearly 10 million children may never go back to school because of deep budget cuts and rising poverty caused by the pandemic.
  • Many countries switched to online learning, but this has only widened the learning gap between children from rich and poor families.
  • The report underlines the gaping geographical differences in children’s access to distance education, with far fewer affected in Europe than in Africa or parts of Asia.

 [Ref: Aljazeera; UNICEF]

Indian History

Vinoba Bhave’s contribution to dissemination of Gandhi’s philosophy

Acharya Vinoba Bhave was an ideal disciple of Gandhiji and a deeply spiritual person.

  • He believed that the essence of Indianness is a caring attitude and a spirit of sacrifice and service.

Bhoodan Movement:

  • The Bhoodan movement started from Pochampalli, Telangana in 1951.
  • It encouraged landlords to voluntary donate a portion of the land to the poor farmers.
  • He walked about 70,000 km in 14 years and received about 42 lakh acres of land as donation for the landless farmers.
  • Sri Vedire Ram Chandra Reddy of Pochampalli, was the first person to donate his 100 acres of land to Vinoba-Ji in response to his appeal.
  • Some zamindars, owners of many villages offered to distribute some villages among the landless, known as Gramdan movement.
  • The Bhoodan-Gramdan movement initiated by Vinoba Bhave is also known as the Blood-less Revolution.

Significance:

  • Like Gandhiji, Vinoba brought about change without coercion, without violence.
  • They demonstrated that positive, lasting changes are possible with people’s active participation.
  • Vinoba’s Sarvodaya movement and Gramdan concept exemplified Gandhian ideal of village reconstruction and rural upliftment.
  • It was a cooperative system for socio-economic upliftment of the villages.
[Ref: PIB]

Art & Culture

Tribal languages in India face extinction threat

There are 7,000 living languages in the world and around 3,000 are considered as endangered.

  • This means that almost half of the planet’s current linguistic diversity is under threat.

Situation in India:

  • Around 197 Indian languages are in various stages of endangerment in our country, the highest in the world.
  • There were 1,100 languages since 1961, based on the Census number of 1,652 mother tongues.
  • India may have lost 220 languages since 1961.
  • Another 150 languages could vanish in the next 50 years.
  • There are 780 living languages at present and 400 of them are at risk of dying. 

Tribal languages:

  • There are five tribal languages that are moving towards extinction in India.
  • The most threatened language is Majhi in Sikkim (with only 4 speakers).
  • The Mahali language in eastern India, Koro in Arunachal Pradesh, Sidi in Gujarat and Dimasa in Assam are facing extinction.
  • UNESCO has put Asur, Birhor and Korwa in its list of world’s endangered languages with Birhor being categorised as Critically Endangered.
  • Two major tribal languages included in the Eighth Schedule- Bodo and Santali, have shown decline.

Official list of languages in India:

  • According to UNESCO, any language that is spoken by less than 10,000 people is potentially endangered.
  • In India, after the 1971 census, govt. decided to not include any language spoken by less than 10,000 in the official list of languages.
  • From 1971 onwards, the Census has been counting only of those languages that have more than 10,000 speakers.
  • It resulted in a decline in the list of languages to 108 languages in the 1971 Census, as against 1,652 a decade ago.

Concerns:

  • Tribal languages are a treasure trove of knowledge about a region’s flora, fauna and medicinal plants.
  • When a language declines, that knowledge system is completely gone, followed by the loss of culture and solidarity.

Is MTBMLE a solution?

  • Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTBMLE) could play a key role in preserving tribal languages.
  • Including mother tongue- based intervention in early childhood for tribal children can enhance the early childhood learning process.

UNESCO- Six degrees of endangerment:

[Ref: Down To Earth]

Science & Technology

Bacteria can survive cosmic trip: Study

Scientists have found radiation-resistant bacteria that can survive at least three years exposed in orbit.

Major Highlights:

  • The research agrees with the ‘panspermia theory’ as per which the microbes can travel from one planet to another, seeding life on arrival.
  • This suggest that simple life forms could manage long journey between Earth and Mars unprotected.

The Experiment:

  • The Japanese researchers deposited a bacteria called Deinococcus radiodurans outside the International Space Station at an altitude of 400 kilometres from the Earth.
  • Despite the harsh environment of outer space and exposure to strong UV and large temperature changes, the bacteria were still alive in parts after three years.
  • The team hope to carry out similar experiments outside the Van Allen radiation belt, which would expose the bacteria to even more radiation.

Van Allen radiation belt:

  • A Van Allen radiation belt is a zone of energetic charged particles.
  • Most of which originate from the solar wind, that are captured by and held around a planet by the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • The radiation belts were discovered by a group of US scientists in 1958 under the supervision of Dr. James Van Allen.
  • The belt is divided into another two belts – outer and inner.
  • The outer belt of the radiation belt is formed by the energetic and charged electrons.
  • The inner belt contains a combination of protons and electrons and is formed as a result of cosmic ray collisions in the upper atmosphere.
  • It can be a dangerous to satellites that spend considerable time in the radiation belt.

 [Ref: Live Mint]

Also in News

Golden Jubilee of Bureau of Police Research and Development

The Bureau of Police Research and Development is celebrating its Golden Jubilee Anniversary on 28th August, 2020.

Bureau of Police Research and Development:

  • BPRD was set up on 28 August 1970.

Objective:

  • To promote excellence in policing.
  • To promote speedy and systematic study of police problems.
  • Apply science and technology in techniques by the Police.
  • For modernisation of Police forces.

Details:

  • It works under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It has evolved as a multifaceted, consultancy organisation.
  • At present it has 4 divisions – Research, Development, Training and Correctional Administration (prison reforms).
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India.

Contribution:

  • BPRD has played a vital role in shaping the Indian Police.
  • It has prepared the Police Forces through its training interventions and capacity building programmes.
  • The capacities have been enhanced through Research and National Mission projects.
  • It has undertaken various modernization initiatives to keep the Police Forces in pace with latest change and challenges.
  • In the last 5 years, BPR&D has focused on capacity building of the police officials and has trained about 55,000 Officers and men.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

EOHO Scheme of UK

  • The Eat Out to Help Out (EOHO) scheme is an economic recovery measure by the UK government.
  • It aims to support hospitality businesses as they reopen after COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Under the Scheme, government would subsidise meals (food and non-alcoholic drinks only) at restaurants by 50%, from Monday to Wednesday every week, all through August.
  • There is no minimum spend and no limit on the number of times customers can avail the offer.
  • The whole point of the scheme is to encourage a return to dining in restaurants.

Textile Grand Challenge 2019

  • The Ministry of Textiles organised the Textile Grand Challenge 2019.
  • It was organised with support of National Jute Board and the Startup India Team of the Department for Promotion of Industry & Industrial Trade (DPIIT).
  • Aim: To bring forward innovative ideas by start-ups/entrepreneurs for development of cost effective and low-weight carry bags.
  • Innovative solutions were sought for (i) Alternative to single use Plastic bags and (ii) Alternative to Multi-Use Plastic bags, using domestically grown natural fibres-Jute and Cotton.
  • The bags are to be made using Jute Bio-mass, Jute Plant based bio-polymer and cotton fibre waste to phase out plastic bags.
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