Read summary of all news articles of the day below


GS-1

Geophysical phenomena


Managing embankments: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • Life had come to a standstill in the Ganga-Brahmaputra flood plains with large tracts of land reeling under floods.   
    Consequences of flood
  • The flood has resulted into submerged houses, broken bridges, and wasted railway tracks.
  • The fury of the waters in the Kishanganj and Katihar districts of Bihar had cut off the road and rail services in north Bengal.
  • Consequently, Northeast India’s connectivity by rail with the rest of India has also got disconnected.
  • Access to water and sanitation is getting difficult.
  • Open use of contaminated water is leading to peak in water-borne diseases.
  • All agricultural land is either covered with sand or remains waterlogged.

Main cause:  the failure of embankments

  • An embankment is an uplifted earthen structure constructed along the river channel to artificially reduce the size of the floodplains by constricting floodwaters to a narrow stretch.
  • The land outside the embankment is supposed to be safe from floods.
  • However, embankment breach results into flooding the “safe” areas.

What is required?

  • A paradigm shifts in the way these embankments are managed is need of the hour.
  • It is vital to involve the community that is close to the embankment in its management.

Result of the study done over 100 villages
The study of over 100 villages in the Ganga-Brahmaputram floodplains found that villages in these areas are exposed to diverse water-related hazards depending on their location vis-a-vis an embankment.

  • Those located inside the embankment are vulnerable to floods and riverbank erosion.
  • Those outside are prone to extended periods of flood.
  • This results when the construction of an embankment causes the drainage lines to be blocked.
  • The regulators in the embankments become dysfunctional, or when there is a backflow of the larger river.
  • The people in these “safe” areas suffer from a constant fear of embankment breach, which is not entirely unfounded.

Social issues


Marital rape a crime in many countries, an exception in many more: (Indian Express, Explained)

Context

  • The central government had filed an affidavit in Delhi High Court, arguing that marital rape should not be criminalized, on the ground that it may “destabilize the institution of marriage”.

The issue of Marital immunity

  • Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape.
  • Section 375 makes an exception for marital rape by stating, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

Grounds laid down for Marital immunity

  • The grounds for “marital immunity” for rape prosecution were laid by Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale in The History of the Pleas of the Crown, published in 1736.

The UN Women’s 2011 report

  • According to the UN Women’s 2011 report, out of 179 countries for which data was available, 52 had amended their legislation to explicitly make marital rape a criminal offence.

Law on marital rape welcomed by other developing countries

  • Australia, several Scandinavian countries, US, UK, all have their marital rape on the shelf protecting the victim.  
  • In 2002, in a shining manner Nepal got rid of the marital rape exception after its Supreme Court held that it went against the constitutional right of equal protection and the right to privacy.

India still lagging behind

  • India like the remaining countries makes an exception for marital rape in their rape laws.

GS-2

Government policies


Rainbow of possibilities: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • The Right to Privacy (RTP) judgment is a victory for queer persons as it opens out the realm of
    possibilities for queer rights under the law.
  • Rulings like RTP certainly will strengthen the case for the Constitution Benchthat is scheduled to sit and decide on the Koushal case.

Section 377 and its issue

  • Same-sex intimacy is understood “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” in the society.

The Koushal case

  • The decision on the Koushal case was a lot less vague in its contempt for members of the LGBT community.
  • The rights of LGBT persons are not given real constitutional rights.
  • The Supreme Court, the highest constitutional court of the country, clearly rejected the right of equal citizenship that the queer community demanded.
  • Koushal was indeed met with overwhelming critique, from civil society as well as from representatives of a range of political parties.
  • The National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India judgment, while articulating a charter of rights for transgender individuals, also noted that Section 377, though associated with certain sexual acts, effectively targeted specific identities: a finding the Koushal court refused to make. This implicit critique was a gentle reprimand at best.

Righting a wrong

  • With the Right to Privacy judgment, the court’s response to Koushal is anything but gentle.
  • Justice G.S. Singhvi emphatically noted LGBT Rights cannot be construed as “so-called rights” as the real rights always originate on sound constitutional doctrine.
  • The Koushal judgment is also called out for referring its constitutional responsibility with the claim that LGBT persons constitute a tiny fraction of the population.

Beyond decriminalization

  • The judges are allowing to imagine possibilities for queer justice beyond the limiting frame of Section 377.
  • Even though the court does not make a holding on the constitutional validity of the section, it does find that sexual orientation as an essential attribute of privacy.
  • The conclusion of Justice Chandrachud’s opinion goes on to hold that privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies and sexual orientation.

GS-3

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment


99% of demonetised notes returned, says RBI report: (The Hindu)

Context

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) annual report finally revealed that around Rs. 15.28 lakh crore of the high-value currency that was demonetized in November was returned to the central bank.

Special Bank-Notes

  • The estimated value of SBNs [specified bank notes] received as on June 30, 2017, was Rs. 15.28 trillion.
  • The central bank was under intense scrutiny since January, after the window for depositing the withdrawn Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 banknotes had closed.

The current state of data

  • At the time of demonetization the value of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes in circulation was Rs. 15.44 lakh crore when deposited with the banks.
  • Separately, the data showed that the share of newly introduced Rs. 2,000 banknotes in the total value of currency in circulation was 50.2% at End-March 2017.
  • The final deposit figures could still surge since as on June 20, 2017, the government allowed District Central Cooperative Banks to deposit the withdrawn notes that had been accepted by them from customers between November 10-14.
  • The central bank is still in discussion with the government whether to accept the demonetized notes held by citizens and financial institutions in Nepal.

Other vital information

  • Data in the annual report showed that only 89 million pieces of Rs. 1,000 were not deposited.
  • As of March 2016, there were 6,326 million pieces of Rs. 1,000 banknotes in circulation.
  • In 2016-2017, another 925 million pieces of Rs. 1,000 notes were supplied into the system by the currency printing presses.

Higher GST cess on luxury cars, SUVs gets Cabinet nod: (The Hindu)

Context

  • There are chances that Luxury cars and SUVs become more expensive with the Union Cabinet approving an ordinance to raise the maximum compensation cess.
  • The cess can be levied over and above the 28% GST on such cars, from 15 % to 25%.

An amendment to GST

  • The Cabinet has approved an amendment to the CGST (Compensation) law.
  • After the implementation of GST, prices of vehicles had substantially come down, whereas smaller vehicles remained untouched.
  • However, these changes will not come into effect immediately.
  • The final decision of whether the cess should be raised, and by how much, will be taken by the GST Council on September 9.

Next step

  • The enabling ordinance will now be sent to the President for promulgation.

What will be its effects?

  • Post introduction of the new indirect tax regime, several carmakers had slashed rates to pass the benefits to the consumer.
  • If the GST Council decides to increase the cess, luxury car prices may rise up by 8-10%.
  • While Mercedes cars will be costlier by a minimum of Rs. 3 lakh, an Audi Q7 will see a price increase of Rs. 7 lakh, while an Audi A6 will be costlier by Rs. 5 lakh.
  • This decision, contradictory to the requirement of creating a sustained demand for the luxury car in this market, would rather affect the growth momentum adversely.

Categorization of the cars remains as it is

  • Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the categorization of cars has not changed.
  • Previously, the luxury cars where excise duties were levied at 27% or 30%, the same categorization is being followed.
  • There is no intention of raising the tax rate on any car, other than those which were put in the luxury category and had high excise and VAT rates.

Industry consultants calls it an unfortunate decision

  • Luxury cars, SUVs and ambulances will get impacted.
  • This will increase the post-GST price of many vehicle categories from pre-GST levels.
  • All the vehicles that were attracting 24% or 27% excise duty in the pre-GST regime may potentially attract higher tax under GST because of this decision.
  • The hike in total tax could be as high as 10% in some cases.

Prelims Related News


Navy to get advanced choppers:

Context

  • The Indian Navy is looking to add to its fleet dedicated helicopters for ‘Special Operations’.
  • Of the 123 Naval Multi-Role Helicopters (NMRH) to be procured, 33 will be dedicated variants for Special Operations.

Why government is procuring these helicopters

  • Helicopters would be used for training Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and the rest would be based on shore as well as on frontline warships.·

How government will procure?

  • The Navy had issued the Request for Information (RFI) to global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for the procurement of 123 NMRH and 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) last week.
  • The procurement would be under the recently approved Strategic Partnership (SP) model of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).
  • The helicopters would have twin-engine and weigh at least 12.5 tonnes.
  • According to the RFI, the requirements include the ability to carry 12 fully equipped troops along with 400 Kg of equipment or eight fully equipped troops and one auto inflatable craft in a stowed configuration.

Other roles to perform

  • The helicopters will also perform other roles like ferrying troops, maritime interdiction including anti-piracy operations, combat search and rescue operation, external cargo carriage, limited casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
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