- The Supreme Court referred the petitions on women’s entry to Sabarimala temple to the Constitution bench.
2. Women who are of an age to menstruate (10-50) are restricted from entering the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.
3. The apex court ‘s ruling came after hearing petition challenging rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of public worship(Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.
4. The apex court has made the following observations:
- Woman’s entry restrictions can be imposed only on the basis of health, morality, and public order.
- If a man who is not a trustee or a Poojari can enter, than women also can.
- It was against the constitutional mandate to deny entry to women.
- The court also supported the Kerala government which rooted for the entry of women of all ages to the temple.
- Supreme Court said right of a woman to pray is a constitutional right.
- Every woman is also the creation of god, the court said
- Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said women and their physiological phenomena are creations of God. If not God, of nature.
- Justice Chandrachud clarifies that woman right to pray is not dependent on a legislation but a constitutional right. Nobody has an exclusionary right of entry to a temple.
- The court also referred Article 25 (1) which mandates freedom of conscience and right to practise religion. “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion…”
- The court also observed that the Constitution upheld the ideals of liberty of thought, expression, belief and faith, be it for man or woman.
- The court observed that the not allowing entry in the temple was a violation of the rights to equality and gender justice.
- A Bill to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act to abolish the ‘no detention policy’ in schools was passed in the Lok Sabha.
2. The demand for repeal of ‘no detention’ policy was made by many States and UTs in recent years which observed students scoring poor marks.
3. Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar moved the ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017’, which sought for regular examination in Classes V and VIII.
4. The Minister said that it would be at the discretion of the States whether to continue with no detention or not.
5. Present act deals with the following provisions:
6. Under the current provisions of the RTE Act, no student can be detained till class 8 and all students are promoted to the next grade.
7. Amended Act:
- The amended Act will now have provisions not only for examination in both these classes.
- It will also extend powers to the State to hold back children, if they fail in re-examination — also provisioned in the amended Bill.
8. Arguments in favour of amended Bill:
- The amendment was necessary to improve the “learning outcomes”
- It will brings accountability in elementary education system.
- The amendment will help in revocation of “no detention “ policy in Classes V and VIII, enabling States now to allow schools to fail the child if he/she fails in either or both Classes and withhold their promotion to next standard.
- In States such as Sikkim, Kerala, and Telangana, the students, who were studying in private schools, had come back to government schools.
9. Arguments against amendment:
- Some opposition parties critised this move and saying the State governments should be given control on this.
- The government should form uniform guidelines for conduction exams and leave it to the State on how the exams should be conducted.
- Teachers training, quality and accountability is most important in this regard.
- G.N. Devy, literary critic and cultural activist, emphasized that recent census data inadequately reflect India’s linguistic composition and inconsistent with global ideas.
2. As per authors view, if language disappears, it goes forever, taking with it knowledge gathered over centuries.
3. Author highlighted that large parts of culture get exterminated through slight shifts in policy instruments.
4. The 1931 census was important because it held up a mirror to the country about the composition of caste and community.
5. During 1965 census, languages in the country were enumerated in full.
6. Recently, the census of India made public the language data based on the 2011 census, which took into account 120 crore speakers of a very large number of languages.
7. During the census, citizens submitted 19,569 names of mother tongues –technically called “raw returns”.However, total 1,369 names –technically called ‘labels’ were picked as “being names of languages”.
8. In addition to the 1,369 “mother tongue” names shortlisted, there were 1,474 other mother tongue names.
9. The 1,369 have been grouped further under a total of 121 “group labels”, which has been presented as “languages”.
10. Of these, 22 languages are included in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution, called “Scheduled Languages”.
11. According to analysts, under the heading “Hindu”, there are nearly 50 other languages. Bhojpuri also comes under “Hindu”. The same is case with Sanskrit.
12. Even English is used by large population as utility language in education, law, administration, media and healthcare.
13. UNESCO’s role:
- UNESCO has progressively developed its vision and deepened its understanding of global linguistic diversity.
- UNESCO tries to highlight the key role that language plays in widening access to education, protecting livelihoods, and preserving culture and knowledge traditions.
- 1999/2000, it proclaimed and observed Feb 21 as International Mother language day.
- In 2001, the universal declaration on cultural diversity accepted the principle of “safeguarding the linguistic heritage of humanity and giving support to expression, creation and dissemination in the greatest possible number of language.
- UNESCO has launched a linguistic minority network and supported research.
- It has also brought out atlas of the world’s languages in Danger, which highlights the central place of languages in the world heritage.
14. The author also highlighted the loopholes in the census such as:
- The census not provides data on second language preference.
- It inadequately reflect India’s linguistic composition and inconsistent with global ideas.
15. The author also provide suggestions in this regard:
- The Census in India should adequately reflect the linguistic composition of the country.
- The Census, a massive exercise that consumes so much time and energy, need to take cares of :
a) Needs to see how it can help in a greater inclusion of the marginal communities.
b) How our intangible heritage can be preserved.
c) How India’s linguistic diversity can become an integral part of our national pride.
- Atul Aneja, Hindu’s China correspondent, highlighted that ‘two plus one’ formula, synergized by India and China, can become the template for the rise of South Asia.
2. India-China ties have been rising in recent times.
3. In this background, the proposed “2 plus 1” formula (“China & India” plus “another”) could further enhance the overall regional prosperity.
4. Nepal’s influence on Indo-China ties:
- Nepal’s ties with India had come under severe strain in 2015 due to the border blockade that chocked off critical supplies.
- At that time, Nepal and its political leadership started enhancing ties with China to counterbalance India and overcome the strain.
- Nepal was proving to be a new hurdle in the Indo-China ties, during the 2017 Dokhlam standoff.
- Despite all this, Indo-China ties have been improving drastically after the Wuhan summit between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi held recently.
- In this context, Nepal quickly grasped that playing the India versus China card wasn’t feasible any further.
- They are currently displaying diplomatic prudence by maintaining cordial relations with both India and China.
- Also, a Chinese delegation that visited Nepal is said to have proposed the “2 plus 1 formula” for Indo-China-Nepal talks ahead.
- Lines of “strategic communications” have opened up between the India and China.
- The arterial flow of information exchange has meant that both nations can be joint custodians rather than rivals in managing shared interests.
- “2 plus 1” which has been currently proposed by China to deal with Nepal, can possibly be extended to other international engagements too.
- Beijing and New Delhi could engage with any third country in the region, wherever, the competition between the two is to be avoided.
6. Way ahead:
- The ball is now in India’s court to respond to China’s two-plus one formulation.
- By grasping, the two plus one opening, India will have the opportunity to join and sharp the conversation of co-developing Nepal in a trust-building partnership with China.
- The step would be good indication for both India and China to further boost up their ties.
- The two plus one formula can became the template for the peaceful rise of South Asia, synergized by India and China as the twin engines of regional growth.
- Recently, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, promulgated by the President.
2. Fugitive economic offender:
- A Fugitive economic offender is any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India.
- Or who has either left India to avoid criminal prosecution, or who, being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
3. List of offences that can qualify an individual to be designed an economic offender includes:
- Offences under several Acts such as the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881, the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the Central Excise Act, 1944, the Customs Act, 1962, the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and the Indian Penal Code.
4. If a person is designated a fugitive economic offender:
- The special court can direct the Central government to confiscate the proceeds of the crime in India or abroad, whether or not such property is owned by the fugitive economic offender, and any other property or benami property in India or abroad that is owned by the fugitive economic offender.
- The confiscation of property within India is not a problem for the Centre, confiscating properties abroad will require the cooperation of the respective country.
- The fugitive economic offender will also be disqualified from accessing the Indian judicial system for any civil cases.
5. Burden of proof:
- Theburden of proof for establishing that an individual is a fugitive economic offender or that certain property is part of the proceeds of a crime is on the Director appointed to file an application seeking fugitive economic offender status.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has roped in three partners to assemble 27 satellites over the next three years.
2. Recently in Bengaluru, its nodal satellites division URSC (U.R. Rao Satellite Centre) signed separate three-year contracts with Alpha Design Technologies P Ltd and its six consortium members; with defence public enterprise Bharat Electronics Ltd; and with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Hyderabad.
3. Each partner will work with the URSC to produce three small to medium satellites each year, or a total of 27 spacecraft by July 2021.
4. About 50 members from each partner will separately work with URSC engineers to complete the project.
5. The Alpha-plus consortium includes small and medium-sized companies.
6. URSC estimates a requirement of around 71 satellites till 2021.
7. In 2017, it made a record 12 spacecraft but is unable to cope with a growing demand from new applications.
8. Around 35 Indian spacecraft are active in space and will need to be replaced as they expire over time.
9. It is learnt that URSC unit, ISRO Satellite Integration and Test Establishment or ISITE, will provide three separate work stations for the three partners.
10. URSC, so far produced over 100 spacecraft, opened up AIT to industry last year and 13 private and public sector companies had responded.
The space agency launches three types of satellites – for communication, Earth observation and navigation.
- Recently, the traces of the chemical formaldehyde in fish found in several states.
2. Recently, the Kerala government found formaldehyde-laced fish being transported into the State.
3. Formalin, a cancer-inducing chemical used illegally to preserve fish
4. The study conducted in Chennai revealed around 5-20 ppm of the chemical in freshwater and marine fish in two of the city’s markets
5. Goa also reported similar findings. However, its food and drug administration later clarified that the levels in Goa samples were on a par with “naturally occurring” formaldehyde in marine fish.
6. The Food Safety and Standard of India has banned formaldehyde in fresh fish.
7. The International Agency for Research on cancer labeled the chemical a carcinogen in 2004.
8. IARC evidences mainly based on studies on workers in industries such as printing, textiles, and embalming.
9. Problems associated with formaldehyde in fish:
- At high doses, it causes gastric irritation.
- Formaldehyde binds to the tissue, unlike added formaldehyde, which remains free.
- Workers from industries (like textiles, printing) inhale formaldehyde fumes, and show high rates of nasopharyngeal and other cancers among them.
- However, there is no evidence that formaldehyde causes cancer when ingested orally.
- A 1990 study by U.S. researchers estimated that human consume 11 mg of the chemical through dietary sources every day.
10. The Goa government needs to draw a line between safe and unsafe consumption in a transparent manner.
- The Union Cabinet recently, approved the policy framework to streamline production sharing contracts signed in the pre-New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) and NELP periods.
2. Key decisions under the framework includes:
- Increasing the exploration period granted for blocks in the northeast.
- Easing the sharing of royalties with the developers of the blocks.
- Based on recommendations in ‘Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for North East, the government has extended timelines by two years for exploration and one year for appraisal period.
- This was done while considering geographical, environmental and logistical challenges of the north eastern region.
- The government has also allowed marketing, including pricing freedom for natural gas to be produced from discoveries which are yet to commence production.
- The government has created an enabling framework for sharing of statutory levies including royalty and cess in proportion to the participating interest of the contractor in Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks.