- SC observes that choice of a partner is a person’s fundamental right, and it can be a same-sex partner.
- A Constitution bench hearing petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era provision that criminalises private consensual sex between adults.
- Bench is led by chief justice Dipak Misra. Other Judges of the bench are Justice Chandrachud, Justice R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra
- SC revisiting its December 2013 verdict in Suresh Kaushal case which had upheld section 377.
- It had considered LGBT community as a negligible part of the population and virtually deny them the right of choice and sexual orientation.
- However, in 2010, Delhi HC had protected the LGBT community from section 377
- During hearing senior advocate Arvind Datar argue that the right to sexual orientation was meaningless without the right to choose a partner.
- SC drew its observations from the March 2018 judgment in the Hadiya case, which held that neither the State nor one’s parents could influence an adult’s choice of partner. That would be a violation of the fundamental right to privacy.
- SC will also decide whether Section 377 stood in conformity with Articles 21 (right to life), 19 (right to liberty) and 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.
- 172nd Law Commission report had recommended deletion of section 377.
- Priya pillai, human right expert, analyses the importance of Human Rights Council
- US recently withdrew from HRC.
- US alleged that HRC target Israel
- There is demand for withdrawal in other countries including India.
- The HRC was established in 2006, as part of the UN’s reform process, replacing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
- There are 47 Council members which are elected by the General Assembly with three-year terms, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
- States are elected on the basis of geographic quotas.
- Current members include Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom
- It was to serve as a forum for all states to examine and ‘peer review’ the record on human rights.
- The ‘Universal Periodic Review’ process, where all states are scrutinised, is currently in its third cycle (2017-2021).
- No state is exempt from this process, including Security Council members.
- The main criticism against it is that it is made up of states not known for their human rights records
- It is also alleged that states are using the opportunity to highlight the records of other states.
- Although HRC has good track record on evolution of human rights norms
- Situation in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, and North Korea are highlighted by HRC
- HRC also addressed LGBTIQ rights and discrimination on the basis of religion
- The HRC is also a forum to monitor international obligations of a state based on international law that states themselves have undertaken. This forum is an important component of the UN rights system
- Another aspect overseen by the HRC is the appointment of special rapporteurs — independent mandate holders — on issues including internal displacement, torture, racial discrimination, as well as country specific mandates.
- HRC should not be confused with the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- OHCHR is a separate institution which presents reports independent of the HRC, the recent report on Kashmir being an example.
- Discussions and reform proposals for HRC are already in the works, with engagement by states and human rights organisations indicating a consensus building approach.
- Author argues that US has overlooked the reform process of HRC.
- Author observes that invoking sovereignty as the basis to disengage is specious at best and malafide at worst.
- At last author opines that both states and individuals who need more robust defence of their right would lose more.
- Author also suggests for substantive engagement with issues concerning the rights of individuals.
- India and Republic of south Korea signed 11 MoUs and agreement between them during the visit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in
- India praises the peace process of the Korean peninsula. It considers itself stakeholder and beneficiary of the Korean peninsula peace process.
- India and South Korea signed a joint statement agreeing to discuss an ‘early harvest’ package for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) aimed at identifying key areas for enhanced trade between the two countries
- Some additional agreement is on
- Trade remedies,
- Railway safety research,
- Cyber strategy, and
- Cultural exchanges
- The two countries also agreed to try to increase their bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030, up from current levels of $20 billion.
- India and South Korea also signed a joint vision statement on for mutual benefit which includes
- Strategic ties in the region.
- Enhance military exchanges
- Training and experience-sharing, and
- Research and development including innovative technologies
- The vision statement also talks about encouraging Korean defence manufacturers to “Make in India”.
- Hanhwa Techwin, has partnered with Larsen and Toubro to produce K-9 Vajra artillery guns for the Indian Army at a factory near Pune.
- The bilateral vision document also committed to building a peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based region based on 3Ps: People, Prosperity and Peace.
- Delhi and Seoul also agreed to collaborate on development projects in third countries, beginning with Afghanistan.
- Both the country likely to undertake capacity building programmes (training of personnel) in Afghanistan
- Both sides announced central roles for each other in India’s “Act East” policy and South Korea’s recently announced “New Southern” policy.
- India hopes to improve bilateral relation between India and south korea at the level of South Korea relation with U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
- A senior Iranian diplomat says that Iran may end “special privilege” to India if India tried to replace Iranian crude with supplies from Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States.
- S. administration of President Donald Trump asks India to drastically cut down crude supply from Iran.
- Iran alleges that India’s response is lukewarm.
- Although, India has not spelt out how it would address the concerns of the U.S. government.
- The Ministry of External Affairs has maintained that Delhi would consult “all stakeholders” in ensuring energy security.
- Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi observes that if India were to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, U.S. and others for 10% of its oil demand then it may have to revert to dollar-denominated imports
- This may also leads to higher CAD
- He also hinted that Iran is not satisfied with India’s investment levels in the port of Chabahar.
- Although, the official said Iran remains an open market for Indian requirements like petroleum, urea and LNG and Iran understands India’s energy requirement.
- He also observe that Iran is essential for India’s quest to access the markets of the emerging economies in the Central Asian region
- He also argued that unilateralism by the U.S. was imposing a heavy cost on the world.
- He cautioned that a conflict in the Gulf region would “drive up” the price of crude oil and impact growing powers like India and China.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently unveiled ‘The Eat Right Movement’.
- The programme aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and well-being by making the right food choices.
- ‘The Eat Right Movement’, built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’.
- Programme also aimed to to cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years
- FSSAI is also trying to improve food labeling and improve claim process.
- Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, observes that Data can be used to reduce the impact of natural disaster.
- Data of vulnerable population can be used to pursue ‘risk-informed development’.
- Road infrastructure can be built by calculating the intensity of floods and determining the types of materials needed to construct durable roads.
- With such valuable information, governments can anticipate disasters and reduce risks through preventive measures such as early warning systems, safety drills, and resilient infrastructure.
- Data also help identify the gaps and makes recommendations on where to allocate resources to mitigate risks from disasters.
- Big data also provides a deeper understanding about how disaster in an economy can trigger chain impact across several industries and services, such as transportation, rice-trading, packaging and retail.
- India recently embarked on an initiative to establish a comprehensive disaster database system.
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working with partners, has established National Disaster Loss and Damage databases in 16 countries.
- UNDP has partnered with various institutions to gather and crunch ‘big data’ to meet the ambitious targets of the Sendai Framework to reduce the risks from disasters.
- UNDP partnered with the Tohoku University and Fujitsu to create a Global Centre for Disaster Statistics (GCDS).
- Fujitsu’s cloud-based ecosystem captures data from a variety of sources, including unstructured sources like social media, high-resolution satellite imagery and drones.
- Specialised technical institutions like the Tohoku University can crunch and analyse these data sets to provide insights for policymakers about the impacts of disasters. This includes helping to monitor recovery, focussing on early warning, and assessing resilience.
- With Increasing Internet penetration in the country, India can follow Japanese way to prevent cyber attacks.
- To put its IT infrastructure under a protective shield, Japan last year brought stringent regulatory mechanism.
- India can also follow the same consider the growing internet penetration in the country.
- Country wise figures:
- Over 60% of the personal computers in India were vulnerable to cyber crimes.
- As per the figures around as 18% of routers, 17% phones, 14% printers, 25% network associated storages, 4% security cameras and 2% media boxes too were vulnerable to threats in India.
- In comparison, only 9% of personal computers, 3% phones, 25% of routers, 16% of printers and 23% of security cameras in Japan were under threat.
- In Hong Kong, about 45% of personal computers were vulnerable to cyber attacks.
China and Singapore:
- The percentage for China, the U.S. and Singapore were 39%, 38% and 33% respectively.
- Precautionary measures:
- Most countries are taking precautionary steps with respect to hardware devices.
- Government –enabled regulations can prevent cyber crimes with the growth of Internet of Things (IoT).
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in IoT safety.
- In future, AI will identify malicious and legitimate behaviour.
- The Western Ghats figures in Lonely Planet’s collection of 10 of the best destinations in Asia.
2. The Western Ghats has figured fourth in Lonely Planet’s top five “2018 Best in Asia” list, a collection of 10 of the best destinations to visit in the continent for the year.
3. The panel of travel experts has named Busan, South Korea, Uzbekistan and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to the first three spots.
4. Western Ghats:
- Older than the Himalayas.
- Well known for its rich and unique flora and fauna
- One of the Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots
- UNESCO World Heritage site
Western Ghats supports the life of 7,402 species of flowering plants such as:
- 1814 species of non-flowering plants
- 139 mammal species
- 508 bird species
- 179 Amphibian species
- 6000 insects species
- 290 freshwater fish species.
5. Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which has started blooming after 12 years in the famed hill station of Munnar has found mention in report.
6. Traversing Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, these rugged hills are UNESCO listed as one of the top spots for biodiversity in the world.
7. Experts have combined through thousands of recommendations to pick the best destinations to visit over the next 12 months.
8. Nagasaki, Japan, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Lumbini, Nepal, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, Sìchuan Province, China and Komodo National Park, Indonesia are the destinations listed after Western Ghats.