Daily Current Affairs – 04-09-2023

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    Assam to Draft Anti-polygamy Law

    Syllabus: GS1/Diversity of India, GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions, Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions & Bodies for Protection & Betterment of these Sections

    In News

    • The Assam government has constituted a three-member panel to draft the proposed law to end polygamy in the State.

    More about the news

    • The committee is concerned of not offending the sentiments of tribal communities in the state, some of which follow polygamous practices. 
    • The committee has also highlighted that the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, did not encompass Scheduled Tribes.

    What is Polygamy?

    • Polygamy is defined as “the act or custom of maintaining more than one spouse at the same time”.

    Data on Polygamy in India

    • The government data shows that polygamy cases in the country had come down to 1.4 per cent in 2019-20 as against 1.9 per cent in 2005-06. 
    • North Eastern states: This rate has been higher in the northeastern states. According to reports, in Meghalaya, it is 6.1 per cent and in Tripura, it is 2 per cent. 
    • Other states: This practice continues in Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha as well among some castes. 
      • Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, this practice is more prevalent among Muslims than Hindus.
    • Assam: Polygamy is prevalent in Assam’s three districts of the Barak Valley and the areas of Hojai and Jamunamukh. However, its rate is very low among the educated classes, and it is not so present even among the local Muslim population.

    About the legality of Polygamy 

    • Criminalisation of Polygamy in India: The Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalises bigamy, or marrying someone while still being married to someone else. 
      • Polygamy is punishable under Sections 494 and 495 of the IPC.
    • Polygamy under Hindu Law: The Hindu Marriage Act, which came into effect on May 18, 1955, made it clear that Hindu polygamy would be abolished and criminalised
      • Monogamy was the sole option available to Hindus. 
      • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 states that polygamous marriages are void.
      • It was made explicit that a Hindu spouse may not marry again until the first one is terminated, either through a divorce or the death of one of the spouses.
      • Because Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs are all considered Hindus and do not have their own laws, the provisions in the Hindu Marriage Act apply to these three religious denominations as well. 
    • Polygamy under other religious Laws in India: Polygamy was abolished among Christians through the Christian Marriage Act of 1872. 
      • Similarly, Parsis saw the end of polygamy with the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936.
    • Polygamy under the Muslim personal law: Crucially, while the Hindu personal law outlaws bigamy and polygamy, the Muslim personal law does not. 
      • The clauses under the ‘Muslim Personal Law Application Act (Shariat) of 1937, as construed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, apply to Muslims in India.
      • A Muslim man can marry and maintain four women or spouses at the same time, according to Muslim personal law. 
        • Under Muslim personal law, such a relationship is recognised and legal
      • While a Muslim man can have four wives at the same time, however, the same is not applicable to a Muslim woman.
        • A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry more than one individual.
    • Global practice: Polygamy is illegal and criminalised across Europe and the US, as well as in China, Australia, and other countries. 
      • Polygamy is permissible and legal exclusively for Muslims in nations such as India, Singapore, as well as Malaysia.
      • Polygamy is still recognised and practiced in nations such as Algeria, Egypt, and Cameroon.

    Issues & criticisms of Polygamy

    • Forced marriages: In areas where polygamy is common, women are often forced into marriages they don’t want. 
      • Moreover, laws permitting polygamy tend to favour men, such as in some parts of West Africa where Sharia Law allows men to have multiple wives while women cannot.
    • Not a religious duty: Polygamy is not at all a preferred lifestyle choice & comes with several drawbacks. It is not at all a religious duty or religious conduct, as the court system has often acknowledged.
    • Power imbalance & mental health: Psychology studies have shown that polygamy can have detrimental effects on women due to the power imbalance in such relationships, particularly in polygynous setups where one man has multiple wives. 
      • Women often find themselves competing for attention.
      • Women in polygynous relationships are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and reduced life and marital satisfaction.
    • Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse: Research indicates that polygamy is linked to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, leading to negative emotions for mothers in polygamous families, including loneliness, despair, anger, powerlessness, and sadness.
    • Effects on Children: Children born into polygamous situations may also face adverse effects on their development due to the stressful nature of such marriages. 

    Way Ahead

    • As per the United Nations Human Rights Committee, polygamy should be abolished in regions where it exists because it violates women’s dignity and restricts their free will.
    • Laws such as polygamy, triple talaq and nikah halala are not only archaic, but they are also debilitating for Muslim women
    • The legality of such laws needs to be challenged and subsequently discarded.

    Source: TH

    Status of the Right to Information Act

    Syllabus :GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    • Some activists observed that  the Right to Information act has been weakened over the years.

    About Right to Information (RTI) Act

    • It was enacted by Parliament in 2005 .
    • It empowers Indian citizens to seek accessible information from a Public Authority and makes the Government and its functionaries more accountable and responsible.
    • It mandates timely response within 30 days to citizen requests for government information. 
      • Section 4 of the Right to Information Act deals with the obligations of public authorities.
    • The right to information has been upheld by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right flowing from Article 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees every citizen the right to free speech and expression
    • Section 24 of the RTI Act provides that the Act does not apply to the security and intelligence organisations specified in the Second Schedule of the Act.
      • And these are Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indian Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, National Security Guard, Assam Rifles,, Special Branch (CID),  Crime Branch-CID, and agencies specified by the state governments through a notification will be excluded from providing information. The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these organisations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violation.

    Amendment 

    Achievements 

    • It helped citizens obtain information and data from Central and State institutions that are not readily available in the public domain. 
    • It has also been put to effective use by public-spirited citizens to shine the light on corruption and arbitrary abuse of power by the state. 
    • It has empowered citizens, promoted accountability and transparency in the working of the government and contained corruption.
    • Allowing RTI applications to be filed online largely removes some barriers — instead of obtaining uncommon financial instruments, citizens can simply file a request online and pay with UPI.

    Issues and Concerns 

    •  In recent years, activists worry that this system is being made less and less effective, shutting off a crucial means to holding public officials accountable.
    • The Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019 gave the Union Government unilateral power in deciding how long information commissioners, who hear appeals against unsatisfactory or absent RTI responses, can serve, and what their salaries are.
    • Tardy appointments to the information commission have also undermined confidence in the RTI framework, as appeals can take months or even years to be heard, if ever. 
    • There are also concerns that powerful public officials would evade accountability by invoking blanket bans on disclosing personal information. 
    • People are increasingly dissatisfied with the information they are receiving from public officials.

    Supreme Court’s Observations

    • The Supreme Court has directed the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions to ensure proper implementation of provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 including on proactive disclosure of information by public authorities.

    Conclusion 

    • Public accountability is a crucial feature that governs the relationship between ‘duty bearers’ and ‘right holders’
    • The right to question is the hallmark of a democracy. Any attack on the RTI law, which has empowered citizens to question those in power, is an attack on the foundation of our democratic republic.
    • There is a need to strengthen the RTI law to fulfil its objectives.
    • For an informed citizenry, all stakeholders, including public-spirited individuals, youth organisations and NGOs should create awareness about the provisions of the Act so that the RTI mechanism can be strengthened to usher in a new era of transparency, accountability and good governance.

    Source:TH

    Minor Irrigation Census (MIC)

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • The Ministry of Jal Shakti released the report on the 6th census on minor irrigation schemes. 

    About

    • So far, five censuses have been conducted with reference year 1986-87, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2006-07 and 2013-14 respectively. 
    • The 6th minor irrigation census with reference year 2017-18 was completed in 32 States/ UTs.
    • The census was conducted under the centrally sponsored scheme “Irrigation Census”.
    • A sound and reliable data base for minor irrigation schemes is essential for effective planning and policy making in this sector. 

    Major Findings

    • Total MI schemes: 23.14 million minor irrigation (MI) schemes have been reported in the country, out of which 94.8% are Ground Water (GW) and 5.2% are Surface Water (SW) schemes. 
      • There has been an increase of about 1.42 million in MI schemes during 6th MI census as compared to 5th Census.
    • Share under the scheme: Ground water still accounts for a major share (94.8%) of all the minor irrigation schemes in the country.
      • Dug-wells have the highest share in MI schemes followed by shallow tube-wells, medium tube-wells and deep tube-wells.
    • Leading States: Uttar Pradesh possesses the largest number of MI schemes in the country followed by Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
      • A majority of MI schemes (96.6%) are under private ownership.
    • Gender of the owner: For the first time, the information about gender of the owner of the MI scheme was also collected in case of individual ownership. 
      • Out of all the individually owned schemes, 18.1% are owned by women. 
    • Source of Energy: Majority of these schemes (76%) utilize electricity as a source of energy followed by diesel (22.2%). 
    • Water use Efficiency: There has been an improvement in water use efficiency and decline in wastage of water through use of improved water distribution devices over the years. 

    What are Minor Irrigation Schemes?

    • Irrigation schemes using either groundwater or surface water and having a Culturable Command Area upto 2000 hectare individually are categorized as Minor Irrigation Schemes. 
      • CCA is the area which can be irrigated from a scheme and is fit for cultivation
    • The schemes have been categorized broadly into six major types; 
      • Dugwell 
      • Shallow tubewell 
      • Medium Tubewell 
      • Deep tubewell 
      • Surface flow schemes and 
      • Surface lift schemes.
    • Minor Irrigation plays an important role in the development of agriculture and livelihoods particularly in drought prone areas and areas outside command of Major and Medium projects.

    Source: TH

    Integrating Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) into DIKSHA platform

    Syllabus:GS2/Education

    News

    • The National e Governance Division (NeGD) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is set to integrate Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) into Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) platform.

    What is  Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL)?

    • PAL’s software-based approach will allow each student to have an individualized learning experience over the course of the curriculum based on their unique needs and abilities.
    • Adaptive learning systems customize the presentation of the content or present new concepts to the student based on their individual activities and responses. 

    How does PAL work?

    • Tagging of content: It is done to create learning loops, where a student faces difficulty at a certain tag, then supportive material offering an explanation of the tagged concept can be provided.
    • For example if a student of Class 9 is learning the Pythagoras theorem and makes a calculation mistake, the AI learning system flags it and loops the student back to a basic video of how to make the calculation.

    What is the DIKSHA platform?

    • DIKSHA is a national platform for school education, under the Ministry of Education.It provides e-content for schools via an online portal and a mobile application. It also has embedded assistive technologies for learners with visual or hearing impairments.
    • DIKSHA enables all states/UTs to enable learning at home, thereby elevating the use of technology for the benefit of teachers and learners across the country. 
    • DIKSHA features digitized National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks used by national and State Boards. Apart from this, DIKSHA hosts 2.43 lakh contributions by 11,624 academicians by way of teaching videos, explainers, and practice questions.

    States Initiatives

    • In some States, private players are administering PAL, which works on AI or Artificial Intelligence.
    • Andhra Pradesh has signed contracts with three privately owned edtech companies for training teachers to use IT applications in the classroom, provide analytics for remedial learning, and help students improve their conceptual understanding. 

    Challenges

    • Lack of Funds:Building the core tech platform and then developing and tagging of content cost a large amount.For example Assam has discontinued the project after implementing it for two years.
    • Massive exercise:Building PAL is a massive exercise as content from across subjects will have to be categorized and different chunks will have to be tagged. New content may also have to be created.
    • Time consuming: The process of making PAL is time consuming and it will still take three to four years to develop the tech and roll it out for use.

    Source:TH

    Autonomous Hill (or District) Councils

    Syllabus: GS2/Polity

    In News

    • To solve the ongoing conflict in Manipur and assuage Kukis, the state has proposed to the Centre that the existing autonomous hill councils be given more autonomy. 

    Background of ADCs

    • As per the Government of India Act, 1935 the British divided the hill regions of Assam into “excluded” and “partially excluded”.
    • In these areas, federal or provincial laws would not apply until the governor felt they were needed for peace and development.
    • The aim of the provision was to allow tribal populations to govern themselves.
    • When India became independent, this provision was adopted with improvements into the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution based on recommendations made by a committee under then Gopinath Bordoloi.
      • It had recommended creation of autonomous district councils (ADCs) in the six hill districts of Assam — United Khasi-Jaintia Hills District, Garo Hills District, Lushai Hills District, Naga Hills District, North Cachar Hills District, and Mikir Hills District—so that the tribal people could protect their identity and resources.
    • Some of these hill districts later became states: Khasi-Garo districts became Meghalaya, Naga Hills District became Nagaland, while Lushai Hills became Mizoram, and the existing ADCs were either subsumed, were renamed, or new ones were created. Tripura was added to the list in 1986.
    • Currently, there are 10 ADCs under the Sixth Schedule in the North East, with three each in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram, and one in Tripura. 
    • Manipur has six ADCs, but these came into existence in 1971 under an act of Parliament.

    Sixth Schedule of the Constitution

    • The Sixth Schedule was adopted under Article 244 of the Constitution with provisions for formation of autonomous administrative divisions within a state. 
      • These divisions, in the form of ADCs, were granted certain legislative, judicial and administrative autonomy within the state.
    • Composition: According to the Sixth Schedule, the ADCs administering a region within a state have 30 members with a term of five years.
      • The Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam is an exception to this with more than 40 members and rights to make laws on 39 issues.
    • Jurisdiction: ADCs can make laws, rules and regulations with regard to land, forest, water, agriculture, village councils, health, sanitation, village and town level policing, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce, social customs, and mining, among other issues. 
      • ADCs also have powers to form courts to hear cases where both parties are members of Scheduled Tribes and the maximum sentence is less than 5 years in prison.

    The Case of Manipur

    • Parliament passed The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, paving the way for creation of ADCs in Manipur’s hill areas.
    • These regions constitute 90% of its geographical area, inhabited by tribes such as Nagas, Kukis, Zomis, Hmars, etc. At that time, Manipur was a Union Territory.
    • Composition: The councils are to have not more than 18 members who are to be elected and enjoy powers of taxation, maintenance of properties, allotment of land, management of forests, regulation of cultivation, and legislative authority on matters of marriage, inheritance, social customs and appointment of chiefs.

    How are ADCs in Manipur Different?

    • While other ADCs draw their power from the Constitution, the Manipur ADCs are dependent on the state Assembly due to the provisions of the Act.
    • ADCs under the Sixth Schedule have far wider legislative powers spanning several matters of governance, while those in Manipur are limited to personal matters of marriage, divorce and social customs. 
    • The former only need the assent of the Governor for their proposals to become laws. The latter have to route them through Hill Area Committees (comprising MLAs from the hills) and present it to the state Assembly.
    • While both have budgeting powers, the former gets central grants through the state, while the latter is dependent on the state government for financial devolution. 
    • Unlike Sixth Schedule ADCs, Manipur ADCs are subservient to the Deputy Commissioner, who is appointed by the state government. 
      • In almost all matters, the DC’s decision is final unless overruled by the Governor. The DC can even dissolve the ADCs with the assent of the Governor.

    Source: IE

    Process of Amending the Constitution

    Syllabus: GS2/ Polity

    News

    • The Law Ministry has outlined a terms of reference to examine if a constitutional amendment to facilitate simultaneous polls would have to be ratified by the states.

    Amending the Constitution 

    • In India, Article 368 of the Constitution deals with the power and process of amending the Constitution.
    • The Constitution can be amended in three ways: 
      • Amendment by simple majority of the Parliament, 
      • Amendment by special majority of the Parliament, and 
      • Amendment by special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures. 

    Amending by Simple majority

    • This is done through a majority of those present and voting and does not require a quorum.
    • Article 368 does not directly make a list of such ‘less significant’ provisions. However, a  number of provisions in the Constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the two Houses of Parliament outside the scope of Article 368. These provisions include: 
      • Admission or establishment of new states.
      • Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states. 
      • Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states. 
      • Second Schedule–emoluments, allowances, privileges and so on of the president, the governors, the Speakers, judges, etc. 
      • Quorum in Parliament.
      • Use of official language

    Amending by Special  majority

    • The majority of the provisions in the Constitution need to be amended by a special majority of the Parliament, that is, a majority of the total membership of each House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of each House present and voting. 
    • The expression ‘total membership’ means the total number of members comprising the House irrespective of fact whether there are vacancies or absentees.
    • The provisions which can be amended by this way includes: 
      • Fundamental Rights; 
      • Directive Principles of State Policy; and 
      • All other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.

    By Special Majority of Parliament and Consent of States 

    • Those provisions of the Constitution which are related to the federal structure of the polity can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament and also with the consent of half of the state legislatures by a simple majority. 
    • If one or some or all the remaining states take no action on the bill, it does not matter; the moment half of the states give their consent, the formality is completed. 
    • There is no time limit within which the states should give their consent to the bill.The following provisions can be amended in this way: 
      • Election of the President and its manner. 
      • Extent of the executive power of the Union and the states. 
      • Supreme Court and high courts. 
      • Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the states. 
      • Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule. 
      • Representation of states in Parliament. 
      • Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure (Article 368 itself).

    Source:IE

    Facts In News

    Amrit Kalash Yatra

    Syllabus: GS 2/Governance 

    In News

    • Union Home Minister launched the Amrit Kalash Yatra under the ‘Meri Mati-Mera Desh’ campaign in New Delhi, 

    About Amrit Kalash Yatra 

    • Under this, 7500  pots with soil or grains collected from every household, ward and village will reach New Delhi between 28th and 30th of October. 
    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will put soil from these Amrit Kalash in the Amrit Vatika created at Delhi in honour of great veers, which will keep on reminding every citizen that we must make India great during the period of Amritkal.

    About Meri Maati Mera Desh

    • “Meri Maati Mera Desh”, with the tagline `Mitti ko naman, veeron ka vandan`, is a nationwide and people led “Jan bhagidari” initiative to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence. 
    • It is the finale of Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav program. 
    • It is a tribute to the Veers and Veeranganas who have made the supreme sacrifice for the country.
    • This campaign comprises many activities and ceremonies conducted across the country at Panchayat/Village, Block, Urban Local Body, State and National levels:

    Source:PIB

    Preeclampsia

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health, GS3/ Science & Technology

    In News

    • The biomarker used to predict preeclampsia in the early stage was discovered by scientists.
      • The scientists detected differences in DNA methylation in the control pregnancies versus the pregnancies that developed preeclampsia. 

    Preeclampsia

    • Preeclampsia is characterised by elevated blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine.
    • Preeclampsia is a common but highly ignored pregnancy complication, which puts not just the mother, but also the baby at risk. Preeclampsia alters blood flow from the mother to the placenta, resulting in an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby inside the womb.

    Treatment 

    • Low-dose aspirin at early stages of the disease (before 16 weeks of gestation) can reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia.

    Source: TH

    Literacy week

    Syllabus: Gs-2/ Government Policies & intervention, Education

    Context:

    • The Ministry of Education has decided to organise a literacy week to celebrate International Literacy Day under ULLAS- Nav Bharat Saksharta Karyakram. 
      • The International Literacy Day is celebrated on 8 September every year.

    About

    • It enables mass participation to inculcate a sense of Kartavya Bodh and Janbhagidari in each and every citizen of the nation. 
    • It will make India fully literate and to increase the number of registrations for learners and volunteers on the ULLAS mobile app.

    ULLAS- Nav Bharat Saksharta Karyakram on Education for All 

    • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (jointly funded by the Centre and states) and was implemented during FYs 2022-27 in alignment with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
    • The Scheme has five components, namely 
      • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy 
      • Critical Life Skills
      • Basic Education
      • Vocational Skills
      • Continuing Education
    • The slogan for the scheme is ‘Jan Jan Sakshar’.
    • Aims: 
      • The scheme will cover non-literates of the age group of 15 years and above in all state/UTs in the country. 
      • By utilizing technology, it seeks to widen access to fundamental literacy and important life skills.
      • The DIKSHA Portal acts as a digital portal for students to access a variety of  learning resources.

    DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) Portal

    • It is a national platform for school education, an initiative of National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
    • It enables people with visual impairments to access the portal using assistive technology.
    • DIKSHA can be accessed by learners and teachers across the country and currently supports 36 Indian languages.

    Source: PIB

    G20 THINQ

    Syllabus:Miscellaneous

    News

    • The Indian Navy had scaled up the Inter School Quiz competitions, held at various stations to a National Level School Quiz Competition – The Indian Navy Quiz (THINQ).

    About

    • The event is being conducted by the Navy under the aegis of the G20 Secretariat and in partnership with NWWA (Navy Welfare and Wellness Association).
    • It will have two levels: National and International. The National Round of the G20 THINQ will see the participation of school children studying in Classes IX to XII. 
    • On completion of the national round, the two best quizzers among all finalists will be chosen to represent Team India in the international round.
    • The International Round of G20 THINQ will see a representation from across the world.This round will see the participation of teams from G20+9 nations, each team comprising two students.

    Source: PIB

    Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

    Syllabus:GS3/ Economy

    News

    • The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has made allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group.

    What is (OCCRP)?

    • The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project is a global network of investigative journalists. It is spread across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. 
    • The organization was founded by Drew Sullivan and Paul Radu in 2006.
    • It is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

    OCCRP’s Mission and Vision

    • The group aims to develop and equip a global network of investigative journalists and publish their stories. With this, OCCRP exposes crime and corruption so the public can hold power to account. 
    • Its vision is “A world where lives, livelihoods, and democracy are not threatened by crime and corruption.”

    Achievements

    • In 2019 the project received a Global Shining Light Award Citation of Excellence from the Global Investigative Journalism Network for its story entitled The Azerbaijani Laundromat.
    • The entity was involved in the coverage of Pegasus spyware as well as the Panama Papers leak. In 2017, the OCCRP was felicitated with Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting of Panama Papers Series.

    Source:Mint