- Sundar Sarukkai, professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, analyse the implications of the recent Supreme Court observations in the Sabarmila temple case.
2. Recently, the apex court has held that temple is not a private space.
3. The court observations came while hearing the case relating to the ban on women aged 10 to 50 from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
4. The Supreme Court’s observation on the same case:
- The CJI observed that the temple draws funds from the Consolidated Fund, is a “public place of worship” and there is “no concept of private mandirs”.
- The court said that the “right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion” is a constitutional right.
- Final judgment is yet to be delivered.
5. However, the author has put forward the following arguments on temple being not a private space.
- Temple takes public funds, but there are many public institutions, such as scientific institutions and government buildings like legislatures, which subsist on public funds but do not allow everybody the right to entry into their premises.
- There are many other religious places of worship which do not take government money.
- God may be ‘housed’ in a temple (or any other place of worship) but cannot be imprisoned and restricted to that private space alone.
- A temple or any place of worship cannot claim a right to the deity who is being worshipped in that place, since the deity by definition is present to all at all other places.
- God is not an entity who can be privatised and put under the control of certain individuals or communities or some dominant males.
- Temple is not a private space because of its dependence on the idea of god as the supreme ‘public entity’ has an important corollary.
6. According to the author, any demand for the right to privacy in a place of worship will ultimately imply the privatisation of god.
7. The author highlights that in Sabarimala temple, it is not just the link between the right to pray and the right to enter the temple space because the restriction is only applicable to menstruating women.
8. The author said that it is more about differentiating between menstruating and non-menstruating women in a public space and for a public activity.
9. The author said that “If there is one important idea similar to god and prayer, it is that of education. Like prayer, the right to basic education is also a constitutional right.”
10. He suggested that places of learning such as schools, colleges and universities are often referred to as temples of education. Education, like god, should be accessible to all, irrespective of gender, caste, class or any other obstacle.
- According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, FASTag users can experience ‘near’ non-stop movement at toll plazas on various national highways.
2. Earlier, the government has introduced the radio frequency identification device(RFID) based FASTag system for vehicles crossing toll gates on the country’s highway network.
3. The RFID card has seen an average uptake of two lakh vehicles per month and their use currently accounts for 12.5% or five lakh transactions of the total 40 lakh transactions recorded per day at all toll booths across the country.
4. FASTag system:
- FASTag system is used to avoid stopping to pay a toll tax.
- The tag with a quick response (QR) code and an identification number is affixed to the windscreen of a vehicle.
- The tag is linked to a user’s FASTag account with the bank of his or her choice.
- Once the vehicle passes through a toll booth, the user receives an SMS alert regarding the charge debited to his or her account.
- Trucks and taxis account for the biggest users of FASTags unlike personal car owners whose movement is most likely to be restricted to city limits.
- Although, the technology being presently used in India but still requires one to slow down to a speed of 10 km per hour as the toll plaza antennae has a range of only six meters.
- To encourage the use of FASTags, NHAI refunds 5% of the total monthly transactions.
- The device was rolled out in April 2016, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways made it mandatory from December, 2017 for all new cars and trucks to be fitted with a FASTag before sold.
- The Ministry has also proposed to make FASTag compulsory for all commercial vehicles seeking a national permit.
- Need free flow of vehicles, resulting in an increase in return on investment for transporters as well as bringing down logistics cost.
- Need a system that will allow movement which is free of human interventions, lanes as well as boom barriers.
- India is in discussion with the U.S. to procure an advanced air defence system to defend the NCR from aerial attacks.
2. The process of procuring the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II(NASAMS-II) has been initiated.
- The NASAMS was developed by Raytheon in partnership with KONGSBERG Defence and Aerospace of Norway
- It provide state of the art defence system that can maximise the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, UAV or emerging cruise missile threats.
- NASAMS-II is an upgraded version of the NASAMS and features new 3D mobile surveillance radars and 12 missile launchers for quicker reaction.
- It is in the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) stage now.
- This system will help in preventing 9/11 type attacks.
- The system would complement other systems such as the medium and long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems under procurement.
4. India is deploying a multi-tiered air defence network to fully secure its airspace from incoming fighter aircraft, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
5. India is also in an advanced stage of talks with Russia for the procurement of very long rang S-400 air defence systems.
6. India is also developing an indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence(BMD) system.
7. Phase-I of the BMD is expected to be deployed very soon.
8. India is going ahead with the procurement of the S-400 systems despite U.S sanctions against Russia.
- The Ministry of Civil Aviation is rolling out DigiYatra project very soon.
2. DigiYatra project:
- Under this project, the image of passengers will be captured once these passengers will enter the airport.
- Once passengers establish their identity, they will be able to pass through the entire lifecycle of the travel.
- There is a separate provision for those who does not want to disclose their identity.
- DigiYatra is an industry-led initiative coordinated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in line with Digital India programme.
- For this a passenger needs to enroll into DigiYatra program through AirSewa app.
- DigiYatra verified passenger will get free entry at airport through E-Gates.
- The ID verification will be done by the BCAS-approved Government ID.
- The DigiYatra programme is expected to be initially rolled out at airports in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Varanasi and Vijayawada
3. Reasons for introducing this project:
- The project will use digital technology to enhance air passenger experience
- The basic objective is to reduce queues at airports and bring efficiency to the boarding process.
- Due to growing civil aviation sector.
- It aims to transform the flying experience for passengers and position Indian Aviation amongst the most innovative aviation networks in the world.
- This will also facilitate walk-through security scanners swiftly owing to advanced biometric security solutions.
- This facility is expected to enable passengers to plan their trips efficiently by identifying price trends .
- The Centre has drawn up plan to explore the deep recesses of the ocean.
2. The Union Earth Science Ministryhas tasked with coordinating the exercise.
3. The Ministry has also unveiled a blueprint of the ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM).
4. The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO.
5. An offshore desalination plant will help in achieving these goals by developing a submersible vehicle that can go to a depth of atleast 6,000 metres with three people on board.
6. The UN International Sea Bed Authority has allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometers in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
7. These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel, and cobalt.
8. It is estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of seas in the Central Indian Ocean.
9. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone spreads over 2.2 million square kilometers and in the deep sea, lies “unexplored and utilized.”
10. The focus will be on technologies for deep-sea mining, underwater vehicles, and underwater robotics and ocean climate change advisory services, among other aspect.