GS 1

Social issues

Punishing the victims: (The Hindu, Editorial)


  • The steady dilute of the anti-dowry law will endanger countless women who are in genuine distress.


  • The first attempt to dilute Section 498A came from a 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court which mandated a nine-point checklist before any arrests could be made under Section 498A.
  • Then followed the latest Supreme Court judgment which has almost irretrievably diluted 498A and rendered it nearly unreachable to victims.
  • This judgment mandates a family welfare committee in every district to scrutinise dowry harassment cases.
  • Members of this committee can be social workers or anyone interested in the subject and may also be paid an honorarium.
  • The police are expected to consider the recommendations of this committee before making any arrest.

The drawback:

  • It is not difficult to predict how such committees will operate in our male-dominated districts.
  • Sadly, the victim remains ignored in the judgment. As a result of these constraints, thousands of genuinely distressed women will not be able to access justice.
  • The impact of Section 498A, which was admittedly enacted to ensure the safety of women in their matrimonial home, should have been assessed to examine its effectiveness in preventing dowry deaths and cruelty to women in their matrimonial home.
  • But the attention of the judges, and indeed of a large section of society, is directed solely towards misuse of the law.


  • In a just society, a penal provision should be reviewed only after fully protecting the perspective of the victim.
  • Because, a total of 24,771 dowry deaths have occurred in India from 2012 to 2014, averaging more than 20 dowry deaths every single day.
  • Thus, Section 498A is not only relevant but also vital for the protection of genuine victims.
  • Sometimes even some genuine cases of misuse of this law should not endanger the huge number of women who are in genuine distress.

GS 2

Parliament and State Legislatures

Cattle trade ban rules were not placed before Parliament


  • The rules banning cattle slaughter were never placed before Parliament, which the government should have done before implementing them.


  • Section 38A of the Prevention of Cruelty Act of 1960 says that any rule made by the Centre under it ought to be laid before each House of Parliament “as soon as it is made.”
  • The rules are to be placed before Parliament for a total of 30 days.
  • Any modification agreed upon by both the Houses should be incorporated in the rules or else they would have no effect.
  • On the contrary, the July 27, 2017 reply of the Lok Sabha Secretariat to petitioner Sabu Stephen’s RTI plea said that the Parliament had no information about the rules.

Motor Vehicles Bill sent to RS panel:


A bill seeking to bring radical changes in the transport sector by amending the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, would be sent to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.


  • In the meeting of the leaders of all parties of the Rajya Sabha, chaired by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, parties sought more time to study the Motor Vehicles Bill, 2017
  • At the meeting, all political parties other than the ruling parties expressed their concerns on certain clauses, particularly those dealing with the State’s domain, such as driver licensing, recall of old and defected vehicles and regulation of taxi aggregators.
  • The Select Committee, which will be constituted soon, would submit its report on the first day of the Winter Session and passed in that session.
  • The Lok Sabha had passed the legislation during the budget session.

Salient features of the Bill:

  • The bill aims to bring radical reforms in the transport sector, ranging from hefty fines to traffic rules violations to improving the licensing system and checking bogus licences.
  • It also aims to usher in multi-fold hike in fines for traffic violations and compensation of Rs 5 lakh for grave injuries.
  • It will save people from corruption during registration of new vehicles.
  • The Bill is one of the biggest reforms in the sector, aims to bring radical reforms in the transport sector.
  • It also proposes changes to insurance coverage, road safety norms, and impacts the public transport system, among other things.

SC for centralised system to select judicial officers:


  • The Supreme Court on Friday indicated a favourable attitude towards a centralized selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary.

The decision taken by bench

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said the court was even ready for a day-long hearing on the issue on August 22 to amicably resolve the objections of various States and High Courts to the proposal.
  • The Bench tried to mitigate the concern of various States and High Courts, maintaining that there would be no breach and interference in the federal structure.
  • The court considers this as a service to nation, not a gain to someone.
  • A country to progress needs functional and effective judiciary according to the court.
  • No person from abroad would like to come to India and contest his case for 15 years. Citizen should have confidence in the judiciary.
  • It directed the apex court registry to send a “concept note” of the proposal allaying the objections to all the Registrars-General of the High Courts and the secretaries of States’ Law Ministries.

New Bill to allow States to drop no-detention policy:


  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development is considering to introduce a Bill to amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, to enable States to do away with the no-detention policy if they wish.

The Bill

  • The Cabinet already cleared the introduction of the Bill and the Ministry wants it introduced in this session itself and passed in the next session.
  • Twenty-five States had approved with the idea of doing away with or tuning the no-detention policy, wherein a child is not detained till Class 8 to give a boost to levels of learning.
  • Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra did not ask for a rollback of the policy.
  • The Centre has therefore decided to allow States to take the call and to tweak the RTE Act to enable them to do so.
  • The Bill is expected to permit States to introduce exams in Classes 5 and 8.
  • Students who fail in the exams to be held in March will be given remedial training and offered another chance to pass in May. Those who still fail will be detained in the same class.
  • Officials say there were complaints that the no-detention policy aimed at holding students in school and giving an impulse to education led to learning levels taking a dip.
  • The planned modification in the RTE Act is expected to arrest this trend.
  • Dropout rates till Class 8 are just 4%, but they rise to above 20% after that. This is because of the no-detention policy..

Price of rapacity: (The Hindu, Editorial)


The Supreme Court has laid down a benchmark for action against illegal mining


  • The apex court has also set a significant benchmark for stringent action against those who indulge in mining without environmental or forest clearance.
  • Even the Central Empowered Committee had recommended compensation to the extent of 30% of the value of the iron ore and manganese ore illegally mined in Odisha, but the court has been firm about not compromising on the quantum of compensation.
  • The apex court has been passing a series of orders on illegal mining activity, notably in Goa and Karnataka.
  • The court has asked the centre to take a fresh look at the National Mineral Policy, 2008, which seems to be only on papers and not being enforced.

Key points:

  • The court has firmly ruled that any excess extraction within the leased area would amount to unlawful mining. Every renewal of a mining lease would require such clearance, even if there is no expansion, modernization or increase in the pollution load.
  • The court’s verdict came on a PIL, filed by NGO Common Cause, and had sought immediate intervention in the matter, saying that the Justice MB Shah Commission has pointed out large-scale illegal mining in the state.
  • It also said any mining activity carried out after 7 January 1998 without a forest clearance amounted to illegal or unlawful mining in terms of the Act attracting 100 per cent recovery of the price of the extracted mineral.

India still talking to China, says MEA:


  • The Indian government maintained to not comment on “operational details”, but continued to affirm that “war is not an option” despite rising tensions.

Maintaining silence on claims by the Chinese government

  • India is maintaining its silence on claims by the Chinese government that India has reduced troop levels on the Doklam plateau where they have been in a standoff with the PLA.
  • The MEA spokesperson commented that “as far as the deployments are concerned, these are operational matters on our side or the other side and would not like to specifically go into them.”
  • India will continue to engage with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels on the basis of the Astana consensus between leaders of both the nation.
  • The MEA added that its refusal to comment on charges made by the Chinese government over the past few days of a “transgression by Indian troops”, didn’t signify that it was unprepared for an escalation in tensions.

GS 3

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment

Centre starts ETF for PSUs, lenders:


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday announced the introduction of Bharat 22, a new exchange traded fund (ETF) comprising 22 stocks including Centre Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), public sector banks (PSBs), and Specified Undertakings of the Unit Trust of India(SUUTI).


  • Arun Jaitley said that the ETF will have a single company cap of 15 per cent, while a sectoral cap of 22 per cent will also be in place.
  •  In his recent Budget speech, Arun Jaitley had said that the government would be using ETFs to bolster its disinvestment efforts.

Bharat 22:

  • Bharat 22 is a well-diversified ETF spanning six sectors- basic materials, energy, finance, FMCG, industries, and utilities.
  • Bharat 22 will have 15.2 per cent of SUUTIs holdings.
  • The weightage in the Bharat 22 Index given to basic materials is 4.4%, energy 17.5%, finance 20.3%, FMCG 15.2%, industrials 22.6%, and utilities 20%.
  • Among the 22 stocks, IOC, BPCL and NALCO will have 4.4 per cent weight each in Bharat-22. Power Grid will have 7.9 per cent weight, while Axis Bank (7.7 per cent), SBI (8.6 per cent) and Coal India (3.3 per cent) ITC (15.2 per cent), ONGC (5.3 per cent), NTPC (6.7 per cent) will have 3-15% weightage in the ETF.

Key points:

  • ICICI Prudential would be the ETF Manager and Asia Index Private Ltd.  would be the Index Provider.
  • In 2016-17, the revised disinvestment target was Rs 45,000 crore and the government realized Rs 46,247 crore. This comprised CPSE, strategic disinvestment and income from SUUTI.
  • This year, the target was set at Rs 72,500 crore and government has realized Rs 9,300 so far.
  • The banking segment includes stock from State Bank of India, Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank, Rural Electrification Corporation, and Power Finance Corporation.
  • The energy segment includes Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum, and Coal India.
  • Globally, today there are $4 trillion worth of assets under management (AUM). These are expected to touch $7trillion by 2021.
  • The first central public sector enterprises (CPSE) ETF, which was set up in 2014, comprised of 10 companies — Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), Coal India, Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), GAIL (India), Oil India, Power Finance Corp. (PFC), Bharat Electronics, Rural Electrification Corp.(REC), Engineers India Ltd and Container Corporation of India.

Prelims Related News

ISRO set to launch satellite with corrected clocks:


  • Indian Space Research Organisation will soon launch a replacement navigation satellite fitted with corrected atomic clocks to make up for the satellite, IRNSS-1A, which failed in mid 2016.


  • The upcoming IRNSS-1H will be sent up towards the end of August.
  • Its launch became urgent after all three rubidium atomic clocks on IRNSS-1A failed in mid-2016.
  • Three more clocks failed later across the fleet of seven satellites, which together had 21 atomic clocks.

The malfunction:

  • The malfunctions struck the orbiting satellites even as ISRO completed putting the seventh and last regional navigation spacecraft, 1G, in orbit in April, 2016.
  • Notably, 1A can still send low-powered messages and weather data that are useful to fishermen.
  • The first regional navigation spacecraft was put in orbit in July 2013.

Navigation Indian Constellation:

  • The Rs. 1,420-crore fleet, now called NAViC or Navigation Indian Constellation, is India’s own GPS-like system to give accurate information about location and time of persons or objects,  in the same way as the older U.S. Global Positioning System or Russia’s GLONASS.


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