Daily Current Affairs – 12-05-2023

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    Anti-Conversion  Legislation In India

    Syllabus: GS 2/ Polity and Governance

    In News

    The Uttar Pradesh government has released figures regarding the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act Amid the ongoing controversy over The Kerala Story movie.

    • The government said 427 conversion-related cases were reported between January 1, 2021, and April 30, 2023.

    History of anti-conversion law in India

    • Pre-Independence
      • India has a long history of anti-conversion laws which can be dated back to the pre-Independence era. 
      • the British did not enact any law, many princely states did so to restrict missionary activity. 
      • Some examples of such legislation are the Raigarh State Conversion Act, of 1936, the Patna Freedom of Religion Act, of 1942, the Sarguja State Apostasy Act, of 1945, Udaipur State Anti-Conversion Act, of 1946, which mainly against conversion to Christianity.
    • Post-Independence: After Independence, in 1954, Parliament took up for consideration the Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill. 
      • Six years later, another law, the Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill, of 1960, was proposed to stop conversion. Both bills failed in parliament’s want of support.
    • Present Status:  To date, there has been no central legislation restricting or regulating religious conversions.

    Scenario  in states 

    • In post-independence India, Odisha became the first State to enact a law restricting religious conversions, which later became a model framework for other states. 
      • Odisha’s 1967 Act provides that no person shall directly or indirectly convert any person from one religious faith to another by force, inducement or any fraudulent means.
      • Madhya Pradesh passed a new law in 2021— the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (MPFRA), which the State’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra described as having the strictest provisions compared to other laws.
      • More than ten Indian States have passed laws prohibiting certain means of religious conversions —Arunachal Pradesh (1978), Gujarat (2003), Chhattisgarh (2000 and 2006), Rajasthan (2006 and 2008), Himachal Pradesh (2006 and 2019), and Tamil Nadu (a law was enacted in 2002, but repealed in 2004), Jharkhand (2017), Uttarakhand (2018), Uttar Pradesh (2021), and Haryana (2022).
      •  The Karnataka Assembly also passed an anti-conversion Bill amid stiff opposition. 

    Objectives

    • To deter any effort to convert people to other religions through allurement, force, or on the pretext of marriage.  

    Criticism 

    • These State laws have a “chilling effect” on the right to profess and propagate one’s religion, enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution.

    Supreme Court’s Observations 

    • The Supreme Court verdict in Rev. Stainislaus vs. State of Madhya Pradesh in the 1960s is frequently cited in matters involving religious freedom. 
      • Then Chief Justice of India A.N. Ray dissected Article 25 to hold that “the Article does not grant the right to convert other persons to one’s own religion but to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets.”
    • Recently, the Supreme Court emphasised that Forced religious conversions are “dangerous” and they affect the security of the nation.
      • It urged the Union government to “step in” and apprise the court of the measures being taken to prevent such occurrences.

    Right to Freedom of Religion in India

    • The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these. 
    • In keeping with this idea of religious freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion and the power of the State
    • Constitutional Provisions:
      • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
      • Article 26:  Freedom to manage religious affairs
      • Article 27: Freedom to pay taxes for the promotion of any particular religion
      • Article 28: Freedom to attend religious instruction or worship in certain educational institutions.

    Way Ahead 

    • The right to religion did not include the right to convert other people to a particular religion, especially through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement, and other means.
    • The conversion laws must be strengthened and rightly so to stop the use of lures and force but they should not discriminate among religions while identifying the perpetrators.

    Source:TH

    SC holds Delhi Government has Control over Administrative Services

    Syllabus: GS2/ Importance aspects of Governance, Government policies & interventions.

    In News

    • In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court held that the Delhi government would have control over all services in the national capital, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), except those pertaining to land, police and law and order.

    What is the Supreme Court Ruling?

    • The SC held that the Lt. Governor shall be bound by the decision of Delhi government over services, apart from public order, police and land.
    • The Court held that the Lieutenant Governor was, according to Article 239AA, bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of NCTD in relation to matters within the legislative scope of NCTD, which included all ‘services’ coming under Entry 41 of the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution except those related to public order, police and land.
      • The principle of collective responsibility extends to the responsibility of officers, who in turn report to the ministers. If the officers stop reporting to the ministers or do not abide by their directions, the entire principle of collective responsibility is affected.
    • A constitutionally entrenched and democratically elected government needs to have control over its administration.
      • If a democratically elected government is not able to hold to account the officers posted in its service, then its responsibility towards the legislature as well as the public is diluted.
      • Civil servants are required to be politically neutral. The day-to-day decisions of the Council of Ministers are to be implemented by a neutral civil service, under the administrative control of the Ministers. Civil service officers thus are accountable to the Ministers of the elected government,
    • The policies of the government are implemented not by the people, Parliament, the Cabinet, or even individual Ministers, but by civil service officers. Effectiveness of the services is to a large extent dependent upon the relationship between the Ministers and civil service officers
    • The executive power of Union in a state over matters on which both union and states can legislate is limited to ensure that governance of state is not taken over by the union. This would completely abrogate the federal system of governance and the principle of representative democracy.

    Background

    • The issue in the case was whether the Government of NCT of Delhi had legislative and executive powers in relation to ‘services’ under Schedule VII, List II, and Entry 41 of the Constitution of India.
      • Whether the officers allocated to Delhi by the Union of India, came under the administrative control of the Government of NCT of Delhi. 
    • The Ministry of Home Affairs on May 21, 2015, stated that the LG will have power over “services”.
    • In February 2019, two Judges of the Supreme Court had expressed divergent views.
      • Justice AK Sikri held that transfers and posting of officers of and above the rank of Joint Secretary were under the powers of Lieutenant General of Delhi; other officers were under the control of Delhi Govt. 
      • Justice Ashok Bhushan dissented to hold that “services” were totally outside the purview of Delhi Government.
    • The Delhi government challenged the constitutional validity of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act 2021, which provided that the term “government” referred to in any law made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi will imply the Lieutenant Governor (L-G).
    • In 2022, the then Chief Justice Of India constituted a three judge bench to decide upon the dispute which later transferred to the Constitution Bench.

    What is Article 239AA of the Constitution?

    • About: 
      • Article 239 AA was inserted in the Constitution by the 69th Amendment Act, 1991, and conferred Special Status upon Delhi following the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee. The committee was set up in 1987 to look into Delhi’s demands for statehood.
    • Provisions:
      • According to this provision, the NCT of Delhi will have an Administrator and a Legislative Assembly. 
      • Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly, “shall have the power to make laws for the whole or any part of the NCT with respect to any of the matters in the State List or Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable to Union territories” except on the subjects of police, public order, and land.
      • The Article 239AA also notes that L-G has to either act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.
    • Article 239AB:
      • It provides that the President may by order suspend the operation of any provision of Article 239AA or of all or any of the provisions of any law made in pursuance of that article. This provision resembles Article 356 (President’s Rule).

    Administration of UTs in India (Part VIII (Articles 239 to 241)) 

    • Unlike the states of India, which have their own governments, Union Territories (UTs) are the federal territories, administered by the union government of India. In UTs, the central government appoints the Lieutenant Governor, who is the administrator and the representative of the President of India.
    • Administrators of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Puducherry are designated as Lieutenant Governors. The Governor of Punjab is concurrently the Administrator of Chandigarh.
    • The National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry each have a legislative assembly and council of ministers. The Legislative assembly of Union Territory of Puducherry may make laws with respect to matters enumerated in List II or List III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution in so far as these matters are applicable in relation to the Union Territory. 
    • The legislative assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi also has these powers with the exceptions that Entries 1, 2 and 18 of the List II are not within the legislative competence of the legislative assembly.
    • The judiciary in UTs is also governed by the Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament. However, in some UTs, such as Delhi, the High Court has wider powers than in other UTs, such as Lakshadweep.

    Source: TH

     

    SC ruling on political crisis in Maharashtra

    Syllabus: GS2/ Indian Constitution, Significant Provisions

    In News

    • Recently, the Supreme Court passed a unanimous judgment on the various issues related to the split in Shiv Sena in June 2022.
      • The apex court made strong observations about the role of the then Governor of Maharashtra and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. 

    Political Crisis in Maharashtra

    • In June 2022, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government was toppled and replaced by another government, comprising a faction of the Shiv Sena, which claimed to be the “real” Sena
      • The leader of the breakaway Sena faction, Eknath Shinde, became Chief Minister.
    • Based on the five petitions and arguments made by both parties, the Court gave its ruling on questions of law that arose in this case.

    Highlights of the court judgment  

    • Speaker to decide disqualification:
      • Not intervening in the proceedings, the SC said the issue of disqualification ought to be decided as per established procedures in law and the Speaker is the appropriate authority for this under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which lays down the anti-defection law.
      • The bench clarified that an MLA has the right to participate in proceedings of the House regardless of pendency of any petitions for disqualification.
    • Faction constituting the political party: 
      • The Court asked the Speaker to first determine which of the factions constitute the political party and take the call without being influenced by the ECI order in that regard.
        • The Bench said the Speaker must not decide which faction constitutes the political party on the “blind appreciation” of which group had a majority in the Assembly. 
      • The court noted that, “This is not a game of numbers, but of something more. The structure of leadership outside the Legislative Assembly is a consideration which is relevant to the determination of this issue.
    • Governor’s act in accordance with law:
      • Need of  objective material for the floor test:
        • The court said that then Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was not justified in calling for a floor test, as he did not have objective material to show that the incumbent government had lost the confidence of the House.
      • Governor’s discretion:
        • It said that the power of the Governor to act without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers is of an extraordinary nature, and must be exercised with circumspection within the limits of law. 
        • It also said that the Governor is not empowered to enter the political arena and play a role in inter or intra party disputes.
    • Legislature party, political party distinct:
      • While the Shinde-led faction argued that the legislature party and the political party are inextricably intertwined, the court said the two could not be conflated.
      • Registration with EC:
        • The court said that as per provisions of the Representation of the People Act, an association of individuals calling itself a political party has to be registered with the EC.
      • Recognition of legislature party:
        • The court said that Parliament had recognised the independent existence of a legislature party to the limited extent of providing a defence to actions of legislators of the political party. 
          • For instance, the freedom of expression of legislators in the House, or intra-party dissent, cannot fall within the purview of anti-defection laws.
    • Appointment of whip & leader:
      • The court said that a whip interacts with members of the legislature party to communicate the directions of the political party. 
      • It held that “it is the political party and not the legislature party which appoints the Whip and the Leader of the party in the House”.
      • Therefore, it said the Speaker must recognise only the whip and leader who are duly recognised by the political party.
    • Speaker and EC can adjudicate issues concurrently:
      • The court said it could not accept the Thackeray group’s contention that the EC was barred from deciding on the party symbol dispute until the Speaker decided the disqualification pleas before him.
      • The court said this would amount to “indefinitely staying proceedings before the ECI”, as the Speaker’s decision would attain finality only after the appeals against his decision were disposed of.
    • Referral of Nabam Rebia case to larger bench:
      • The five-judge Bench referred certain issues related to its 2016 judgment in the Nabam Rebia case to a larger Bench. 
      • One of the issues is whether a notice for removal of a Speaker would restrict the powers of the Speaker to issue disqualification notices to MLAs.

    Significance

    • The apex court’s ruling along with the recent Delhi government’s tussle with the Centre over the national capital’s bureaucracy
      • draw new red lines for Constitutional offices in the face of political compulsions, and 
      • underline the sanctity of the elected government.
      • Both rulings are essentially political battles decided one way or the other in a courtroom.
    • Triple chain of accountability:
      • In the Delhi case, the court emphasised on a “triple chain of accountability” to read the Constitutional provisions expansively and allow Delhi government control over services. 
      • The bench said that the triple chain of accountability flows from bureaucrats to ministers, ministers to the legislature, and the legislature to the electorate.

    What was the Nabam Rebia case?

    • In Nabam Rebia & Bamang Felix v. Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Legislative Assembly (2016), the Supreme Court had ruled that it would be 
      • “constitutionally impermissible for a Speaker of the House to adjudicate upon disqualification petitions under the anti-defection law as per Tenth Schedule while a motion of resolution for his/her own removal from Office of Speaker is pending”.

    10th Schedule

    • The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution by 52nd Amendment Act.
    • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection
    • What constitutes defection?
    • The law covers three kinds of scenarios: 
      • Voluntarily giving up:
        • When legislators elected on the ticket of one political party “voluntarily give up” membership of that party or vote in the legislature against the party’s wishes. 
        • A legislator’s speech and conduct inside and outside the legislature can lead to deciding the voluntarily giving up membership.
      • Independent members:
        • The second scenario arises when an MP/MLA who has been elected as an independent joins a party later. 
      • Nominated legislators:
        • The law specifies that nominated legislators can join a political party within six months of being appointed to the House, and not after such time.
      • Violation of the law in any of these scenarios can lead to a legislator being penalised for defection. 
    • Exceptions in Law:
      • Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. 
        • The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger
        • In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

    Source: LM

     

    Preterm Births

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health

    News 

    • In May 2023, United Nations agencies released a new report on pre-term births titled “Born too soon: decade of action on preterm birth”.

    Pre-term

    • Meaning: Preterm is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. 
    • Categories: There are sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:
      • extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
      • very preterm (28 to less than 32 weeks)
      • moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).
    • Reasons: Most preterm births happen because of spontaneous preterm labour, but some are due to medical reasons such as infections, or other pregnancy complications that require early induction of labour or caesarean birth. Lack of medical infrastructure in rural areas and lifestyle changes, chronic diseases & IVF pregnancies in urban centres are other factors.
    • Impact: Pre-term birth is the leading cause of child mortality, accounting for nearly one in five of deaths of children under five years. Pre-term survivors can face lifelong health consequences, with an increased likelihood of disability and developmental delays.
    • Recommendations: It is important to encourage quality care at special newborn care units and train mothers in practising kangaroo care for low birth weight infants. This essentially means prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother and frequent breastfeeding.
    • Steps by Government of India: The government has launched many programmes such as the India Newborn Action Plan and Rashtriya Bal Suraksha Karyakram and has set up many Speciality Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) across the country.

    Findings of recent report

    • The report was released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) – the world’s largest alliance for women, children and adolescents.
    • Around 13.4 million babies were born pre-term in 2020 with nearly one million dying from complications. Every two seconds, a baby is born too soon. Every 40 seconds, one of those babies dies. 
    • The global pre-term birth rate was 9.9 per cent in 2020, compared to 9.8 per cent in 2010.
    • Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa regions account for more than 65% of preterm births globally. 
    • Around 45 per cent of all pre-term births in 2020 happened in five countries — India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China and Ethiopia. 
    • In 2020, Bangladesh had the highest estimated pre-term birth rate (16.2 per cent), followed by Malawi (14.5 per cent) and Pakistan (14.4 per cent). India and South Africa, at an estimated 13 per cent each, were among the top five countries with high pre-term birth rates. 
    • Within India, West Bengal reported 16 per cent of such births, Tamil Nadu 14 per cent and Gujarat 9 per cent.

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    Mpox

    Syllabus: GS 2/Health 

    In News 

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said that mpox was no longer a global health emergency.

    • The organization declared mpox a public health emergency of international concern in July 2022 and backed its stand in November and February.

    About Mpox

    • It is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus.
    •  It can cause a painful rash, enlarged lymph nodes, and fever. 
      • Most people fully recover, but some get very sick.
    • It was discovered in Denmark (1958) in monkeys kept for research and the first reported human case of mpox was a nine-month-old boy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, 1970). 
      • In 2022, the disease’s name was changed by WHO from ‘monkeypox’ to ‘mpox’ to reduce the racial and sexual stigma surrounding it. 
    • Transmission: It can spread from person to person or occasionally from animal to people.
    • Treatment and vaccination: Early and supportive care is important to help manage symptoms and avoid further problems.
      • Getting a mpox vaccine can help prevent infection. 

    Source: DTE

     

    Saksham

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health, Government policies & intervention

    In News

    • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the SAKSHAM (Stimulating Advanced Knowledge for Sustainable Health Management), a Learning Management Information System (LMIS).

    About

    • SAKSHAM is an initiative developed by the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW), which provides all health-related training programmes to healthcare professionals of the country in digital mode.
    • The dedicated and unified platform will provide training and medical education in online mode.
    • It is a Learning Management Information System (LMIS) which:
      • Will be developed as a centralised resource repository for training and teaching material.
      • Will deal with case-based learning in the health sector.
      • Will have documented best practices in health-related teaching and training.
      • Will also act as a central database of trained healthcare professionals in the country.
    • Currently SAKSHAM: LMIS is hosting more than 200 public health and 100 clinical courses through online mode. 
    • Health professionals can register themselves for these courses on the portal and get the certification after undergoing requisite training and qualifying the required assessment criteria.
    • This digital learning platform will ensure inclusive capacity building of health professionals from primary health centres located in rural and remote areas all the way up to tertiary care and corporate hospitals in metropolitan cities.

    Source: PIB

     

    CU- Chayan Portal

    Syllabus: GS2/ Education

    News

    • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched CU– Chayan, a unified faculty recruitment portal for Central universities (CU).

    About

    • The portal would cater to the needs of all the stakeholders in the teachers’ recruitment process. It will provide a common platform for listing of vacancies, advertisements and jobs across all Central Universities. 
    • The portal makes the recruitment process completely online starting from application to screening, with alerts to all the users of the portal.

    University Grants Commission (UGC)

    • Background: It came into existence in 1953 and became a statutory Organization of the Government of India by an Act of Parliament in 1956.
    • Headquarters: New Delhi.
    • Parent organization: Department of Higher Education, Union Ministry of Education.
    • Functions: It is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education in India. It provides recognition to universities in India, and disbursements of funds to such recognized universities and colleges.
    • The types of universities regulated by the UGC include: Central universities, State universities, Deemed university, or “Deemed to be University” and Private universities.

    Source: TH

    NMC’s Norms for Foreign Medical Graduates

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News

    • The National Medical Commission (NMC) has relaxed its norms for the internship of foreign medical graduates (FMGs) for a year.
      • “Foreign Medical Graduate” means a person who does not have basic graduation or primary qualification (undergraduate medical degree) from any University or medical college or institution in India, to seek license for medical practice in India.

    About the Norms

    • This has been announced as a one-time measure to help students who are in the last year of their studies and had returned to India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and so on.
    • FMGs who have passed their screening test have been allowed to intern at non-teaching hospitals and recognised non-teaching hospitals.
    • The allotment of FMGs in these non-teaching hospitals shall also be done through concerned state medical councils.

    About National Medical Commission (NMC)

    • It has been constituted by an act of Parliament known as National Medical Commission Act, 2019 which came into force in 2020.
    • The Board of Governors in supersession of Medical Council of India constituted under section 3A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 stands dissolved thereafter.
    • Autonomous Boards: 
      • Under-Graduate Medical Education Board
      • Post-Graduate Medical Education Board
      • Medical Assessment and Rating Board
      • Ethics and Medical Registration Board
    • Functions:
      • lay down policies for maintaining a high quality and high standards in medical education and make necessary regulations in this behalf;
      • lay down policies for regulating medical institutions, medical researches and medical professionals and make necessary regulations in this behalf;
      • assess the requirements in healthcare, including human resources for health and healthcare infrastructure and develop a road map for meeting such requirements;
      • promote, co-ordinate and frame guidelines and lay down policies by making necessary regulations for the proper functioning of the Commission, the Autonomous Boards and the State Medical Councils;
      • ensure coordination among the Autonomous Boards;
      • take such measures, as may be necessary, to ensure compliance by the State Medical Councils of the guidelines framed and regulations made under this Act for their effective functioning under this Act;
      • exercise appellate jurisdiction with respect to the decisions of the Autonomous Boards;
      • lay down policies and codes to ensure observance of professional ethics in medical profession and to promote ethical conduct during the provision of care by medical practitioners;
      • frame guidelines for determination of fees and all other charges in respect of fifty percent. of seats in private medical institutions and deemed to be universities which are governed under the provisions of this Act;

    Source: IE

    Harit Sagar Guidelines 2023

    Syllabus: GS3/ Infrastructure

    In News

    • The Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways has launched ‘Harit Sagar’ the Green Port Guidelines. 

    About the Guidelines

    • Objective: To minimize waste through Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle to attain zero waste discharge from port operations and promote monitoring, based on Environmental Performance Indicators. 
    • These Guidelines provide a framework for the Major Ports for drawing out a comprehensive action plan for achieving targeted outcomes in terms of quantified reduction in carbon emission to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
    • It lays emphasis on use of Clean/Green energy in Port operation, developing Port capabilities for storage, handling and bunkering Greener Fuels viz. Green Hydrogen, Green Ammonia, Green Methanol / Ethanol etc.
    • This also covers aspects of National Green Hydrogen Mission pertaining to ports, development of green hydrogen facility, LNG bunkering, Offshore Wind Energy etc and provides provision for adopting global Green Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard.           

    Sagar Shrestha Samman

    • Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways also conferred ‘Sagar Shrestha Samman’ awards to major ports for their all-time best performance on select operational and financial parameters during FY 2022–2023.

    Significance:

    • Ports are major hubs of economic activity. However, this high level of activity can result in significant environmental impacts, including air and water pollution, among others. Such green initiatives help mitigate these impacts by reducing pollution, conserving resources, and promoting sustainable practices.
    • As sustainability becomes a growing concern for businesses and consumers globally, Indian ports are demonstrating their commitment to environmental responsibility. India has been taking significant steps to adopt green initiatives in its ports to promote sustainability and reduce environmental impact.

    Source: PIB