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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women Business and the Law (WBL) Index 2020IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WBL index

Mains level : India's poor performance and reasons behind


 

The Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020 index to measure the economic empowerment of women was recently published.

WBL Index

  • The WBL report released by the World Bank.
  • It is based on the countries’ formal laws and regulations that have a bearing on women’s economic participation, covering eight areas (eg, parenthood, equality of pay).
  • It tracks how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city.

India’s poor performance

  • India placed 117th among 190 countries on the index.
  • India, the world’s most populous democracy scored 74.4 on a par with Benin and Gambia and way below least developed countries like Rwanda and Lesotho.
  • The global average was 75.2 — a slight increase from 73.9 in the previous index released in 2017.

Global Performance

  • Only eight economies scored a perfect 100 — Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden.
  • Those countries have ensured equal legal standing to men and women on all the eight indicators of the index.
  • No economy in ‘East Asia and the Pacific’, ‘Europe and Central Asia’, or ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ were among top reformers, the report claimed.
  • Countries in ‘Middle East and North Africa’ and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ accounted for nine of the 10 top progressing countries on the WBL Index:
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. The United Arab Emirates
  3. Nepal
  4. South Sudan
  5. São Tomé and Príncipe
  6. Bahrain
  7. The Democratic Republic of Congo
  8. Djibouti
  9. Jordan
  10. Tunisia

Significance of the Index

  • Legal rights for women are both the right thing to do and good from an economic perspective.
  • When women can move more freely, work outside the home and manage assets, they are more likely to join the workforce and help strengthen their country’s economies.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Indian Origin Tamils and Sri Lanka’s Citizenship LawPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IOT

Mains level : Citizenship issues of Indian origin Tamils in Sri Lanka


Recently an MHA spokesperson wrote on Twitter that about 4.61 lakh Tamils of Indian origin were given Indian citizenship during 1964-2008. The reference was to the Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs) of Sri Lanka, and the Lal Bahadur Shastri-Sirimavo Bandaranaike Pact of 1964.

The Indian Origin Tamils

  • Different from Sri Lankan Tamils who live predominantly in the North and East, the IoTs are descendants of indentured Tamil workers.
  • The British had shipped them to the island in the mid 19th century to work on tea estates in the five hill districts of the Central and Uva provinces.
  • These people now call themselves Malayaha (hill country) Tamils — because of the historical stigma attached to being “Indian” Tamils.
  • At the time of Sri Lanka’s independence, the IOTs numbered around 800,000.
  • They were the backbone of the tea industry, politically active, and keen to ensure their rights in independent Sri Lanka through strategic alliances with unions and left parties.
  • Determined to blunt their political rights, the ruling parties described IOTs as “birds of passage” with no loyalty to the country, as India’s fifth column in Sri Lanka, and as people who stole the locals’ jobs.

SL’s 1948 Citizenship Act

  • Sri Lanka’s Nov. 1948 Citizenship Act was the first in a series of divisive moves by the Sinhala rulers to consolidate their political base in the majority Sinhalese (Buddhist and Christian) community.
  • It was aimed at excluding IOTs — then as now, the predominant workforce in the upcountry tea estates — whose numbers and growing association with leftist parties were proving to be politically inconvenient.
  • The IOTs that India accepted through the 1964 agreement were not “fleeing” Sri Lanka.
  • Most were, in fact, reluctant to leave the country in which they had lived for three generations or longer.
  • Those that remained, were stateless in Sri Lanka for decades until their status as citizens was settled ironically because the ruling party now wanted their votes.

What did the Act provide?

  • Under the Act, citizenship could be only by patrilineal descent or registration.
  • For citizenship by registration, umarried persons had to show 10 years of uninterrupted stay in Sri Lanka from the date of application; married persons had to show 7 years.
  • Most IOTs were unlettered and poor, with no documents. Effectively an entire community was rendered stateless.
  • Soon afterward came the Indian & Pakistani Residents’ Act of 1949, which opened a window for those above a certain income level.
  • Only 1,40,000 had been granted citizenship under the Indian & Pakistani Residents’ Act, and 2,50,000 were accepted by India as its citizens.
  • Finally, the 1949 Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Amendment was passed, under which only citizens could vote.
  • The IOTs were stripped of voting rights, and the fallout was immediate: in 1947, there were 7 Indian Tamils in the legislature; in 1952, there were none.

Issues with the Act

  • This Act sharply delineated ethnic differences, and distorted the political system to weight it in favour the Sinhalese majority.
  • This created an intractable dynamic of ethnic outbidding between the two major Sinhalese-dominated parties to attract Sinhalese voters at the expense of the Sri Lankan Tamil minority.
  • This directly contributed to the latter’s alienation, support for secessionism, and the outbreak of ethnic violence and civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.

India’s response

  • The treatment of Indian Tamils had cast a shadow on India-Sri Lanka relations even before independence; post-independence, the citizenship laws became a major irritant.
  • They were denounced in India, and the Madras legislature passed a resolution against them.
  • In 1947, PM Nehru had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Senanayake to give citizenship to all Indian Tamils who had lived in the country for 7 years prior to January 1, 1948.
  • The two countries corresponded on this issue until Nehru’s death in 1964.
  • Nehru rejected the Sri Lankan position that the “stateless” IOTs were automatically Indian citizens, and would have to be shipped to India.

Repatriation of IOTs

  • After the 1962 war with China, PM Shastri was eager to mend fences with Sri Lanka. He gave in to Bandaranaike’s demands, and it was agreed that Sri Lanka would accept 3,00,000 IOTs and their natural increase, while India would accept 5,25,000 IOTs and their natural increase.
  • The status of the balance 1,50,000 IOTs was to be decided later.
  • Some 4,00,000 reluctantly applied for citizenship of India; 6,30,000 applied for Sri Lanka’s.
  • By the time the window agreed upon in 1964 closed, only 1,62,000 IOTs had been given Sri Lankan citizenship. In the same period, India gave citizenship to over 3,50,000.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Ethnic Unity Law in TibetPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : India-China Relations in context of Tibet


The People’s Congress of Tibet passed a law that makes ethnic unity in the region mandatory, reflecting the significant role that the autonomous Himalayan region plays in its economic and social development.

About the Law

  • The law makes it clear that Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times.
  • It states that it is the common responsibility of the people of all ethnic groups to safeguard national reunification and take a clear stand against separatism.

Ethnic Unity in China

  • This is not the first time that the phrase ethnic unity has been mentioned by China.
  • In October 2019 the Communist Party of China published a guideline for enhancing ethnic unity.
  • It stressed on efforts to improve the governance of ethnic affairs, guaranteeing the legal rights and interests of citizens of ethnic groups.
  • It called for cracking down on “criminal acts” that sabotage ethnic unity or cause ethnic separation.
  • Before this, in 2016, China began a campaign in the autonomous territory of Xinjiang to promote ethnic unity and called for people to respect the cultures of the minorities who call the region home.

Why such Law?

  • There are more than 40 ethnic minorities in the region, which account for 95 per cent of Tibet’s population of over three million.
  • Like Tibet, Xinjiang is another region of China that houses multiple ethnic minorities.
  • A similar legislation was passed there four years ago and in recent times, China has faced criticism for detaining at least a million Uighur and other Muslims, along with some ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks.
  • China has began “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, a region that has been claimed by China since 1949.
  • China has denied these allegations and maintains that the facilities where the detainees are housed are vocational training centers.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Article 131, on which Kerala has based its challenge to the CAAExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 131, 32, 226

Mains level : Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts


  • The Kerala government moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act becoming the first state to challenge the law.
  • It filed a petition under Article 131 of the Constitution and asked for the law to be declared unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 14 (equality before law), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion).

What is Article 131 of the Constitution?

  • The Article vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over disputes occurring between states or between states and the Centre.
  • The original jurisdiction of a court means the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, in which the court reviews the decision of a lower court.
  • Unlike the original jurisdiction under Article 32 (which gives the top court the power to issue writs, etc.), the jurisdiction in Article 131 is exclusive, meaning it is only the Supreme Court which has this authority.
  • Under Article 226, the High Courts too have the power to issue writs, directions etc.

Original jurisdiction

  • Article 131 reads, “Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. — Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute —

(a) between the Government of India and one or more States; or
(b) between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
(c) between two or more States,
if and in so far as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends:

  • The said jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad, or other similar instrument which, having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution.
  • However they continue in operation after such commencement, or which provides, that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.

What kinds of disputes are covered under Article 131?

  • In ‘State of Rajasthan vs Union of India’, 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the existence or extent of a legal right is a precursor before a suit under Article 131 is entertained. But mere wrangles between governments have no place in the scheme of that Article.
  • Similarly, in the 1978 case, ‘State of Karnataka vs Union of India’, which involved the Centre’s authority to order an inquiry into a state Chief Minister’s conduct, jurisdiction under Article 131 was held valid.
  • In the present case filed by Kerala, central legislation (CAA) is being challenged. In 2011, a two-judge Supreme Court Bench in ‘Madhya Pradesh v Union of India’ had held such a suit was not maintainable.
  • Later in 2013, another two-judge Bench in ‘State of Jharkhand v State of Bihar and Another’ disagreed with the previous verdict and referred the matter to a larger Bench. Kerala’s plaint relies on the 2013 verdict.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

National Policy for the treatment of 450 ‘Rare Diseases’Govt. SchemesPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rare Diseases

Mains level : Highlights of the saif policy for ‘Rare Diseases’


The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has published a national policy for the treatment of 450 ‘rare diseases’.

About the Policy

  • The Centre first prepared such a policy in 2017 and appointed a committee in 2018 to review it.
  • It was created on the direction of the Delhi High Court to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • This was in response to writ petitions for free treatment of such diseases, due to their “prohibitively” high cost of treatment.
  • Hence, a policy was deemed necessary to devise a “multipronged” and “multisectoral” approach to build India’s capacity for tackling such ailments.

Why need such a policy?

  • As per the policy, out of all rare diseases in the world, less than five per cent have therapies available to treat them.
  • In India, roughly 450 rare diseases have been recorded from tertiary hospitals, of which the most common are Haemophilia, Thalassemia, Sickle-cell anemia, auto-immune diseases, Gaucher’s disease, and cystic fibrosis.

Features of the policy

  • While the policy has not yet put down a detailed roadmap of how rare diseases will be treated.
  • It has mentioned some measures, which include creating a patient registry for rare diseases, arriving at a definition for rare diseases that is suited to India, taking legal and other measures to control the prices of their drugs etc.
  • It intends to kickstart a registry of rare diseases, which will be maintained by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • Under the policy, there are three categories of rare diseases — requiring one-time curative treatment, diseases that require long-term treatment but where the cost is low, and those needing long-term treatments with high cost.
  • Some of the diseases in the first category include osteopetrosis and immune deficiency disorders, among others.
  • As per the policy, the assistance of Rs 15 lakh will be provided to patients suffering from rare diseases that require a one-time curative treatment under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme.
  • The treatment will be limited to the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

What are rare diseases?

  • Broadly, a ‘rare disease’ is defined as a health condition of low prevalence that affects a small number of people when compared with other prevalent diseases in the general population. Many cases of rare diseases may be serious, chronic and life-threatening.
  • While a majority of rare diseases are believed to be genetic, many — such as some rare cancers and some autoimmune diseases — are not inherited, as per the NIH.
  • According to the policy, rare diseases include genetic diseases, rare cancers, infectious tropical diseases, and degenerative diseases.

Definition

  • India does not have a definition of rare diseases because there is a lack of epidemiological data on its incidence and prevalence.
  • While there is no universally accepted definition of rare diseases, countries typically arrive at their own descriptions, taking into consideration disease prevalence, its severity and the existence of alternative therapeutic options.
  • In the US, for instance, a rare disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people.
  • The same definition is used by the National Organisation for Rare Disorders (NORD) in India.

Classical languages in IndiaPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Classical languages of India

Mains level : Protection of classical languages


Recently in a Marathi literary festival, a resolution was passed demanding its declaration as a ‘Classical’ language.

‘Classical’ languages in India

Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

How are they classified?

According to information provided by the Ministry of Culture in the Rajya Sabha in February 2014, the guidelines for declaring a language as ‘Classical’ are:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
  • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.”

How are the Classical languages promoted?

The HRD Ministry noted the benefits it provides once a language is notified as a Classical language:

  • Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages
  • A Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages is set up
  • The University Grants Commission is requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages so declared.
Coastal Zones Management and Regulations

Centre eases CRZ rules for ‘Blue Flag’ beachesIOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CRZ norms, Blue flag certification

Mains level : Blue Flag Certification


The MoEFCC has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.

Why such move?

  • The Blue Flag certification, however, requires beaches to create certain infrastructure — portable toilet blocks, grey water treatment plants, a solar power plant, seating facilities, CCTV surveillance and the like.
  • However, India’s CRZ laws don’t allow the construction of such infrastructure on beaches and islands.
  • The new order allows for some constructions subject to maintaining a minimum distance of 10 meters from HTL (High Tide Line).

Blue Flag certification

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.
  • The certification is accorded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education.
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.
  • It has 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches, that is, (i) Environmental Education and Information (ii) Bathing Water Quality (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services.

Blue Flag beaches

  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in south and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395 Blue Flag beaches, respectively.

In India

  • Last year, the Ministry selected 13 beaches in India to vie for the certificate.
  • The earmarked beaches are — Ghoghala beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave beach (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod beaches (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu), Eden beach (Puducherry), Rushikonda beach (Andhra Pradesh), Miramar beach (Goa), Golden beach (Odisha), Radhanagar beach (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and Bangaram beach (Lakshadweep).
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Explained: Commissionerate SystemExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Police Commissionerate System

Mains level : Read the attached story


The UP Cabinet has approved the Commissionerate system of policing for state capital Lucknow, and Noida.

The Police Commissionerate System

  • The system gives more responsibilities, including magisterial powers, to IPS officers of Inspector General of Police (IG) rank posted as commissioners.
  • Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, ‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject.
  • In the arrangement in force at the district level, a ‘dual system’ of control exists, in which the Superintendent of Police (SP) has to work with the District Magistrate (DM) for supervising police administration.
  • At the metropolitan level, many states have replaced the dual system with the commissionerate system, as it is supposed to allow for faster decision-making to solve complex urban-centric issues.

Additional powers to Police

  • In this system, the Commissioner of Police (CP) is the head of a unified police command structure, is responsible for the force in the city, and is accountable to the state government.
  • The office also has magisterial powers, including those related to regulation, control, and licensing.
  • The CP is drawn from the Deputy Inspector General rank or above, and is assisted by Special/Joint/Additional/Deputy Commissioners.

Where is the system in force?

  • Previously, only four cities had the system: Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.
  • However, with rapid urbanisation, states felt an increasing need to replicate the system in more places.
  • The sixth National Police Commission report, which was released in 1983, recommended the introduction of a police Commissionerate system in cities with a population of 5 lakh and above, as well as in places having special conditions.
  • Over the years, it has been extended to numerous cities, including Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. By January 2016, 53 cities had this system, a PRS study said.
  • Depending on its success, the policing system may gradually be implemented in other districts as well.
Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Raisina Dialogue 2020Priority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Raisina Dialogue

Mains level : Raisina Dialogue and its impact on India's global profile


 

India`s annual global conference on geopolitics and geo-economics, Raisina Dialogue 2020 has began with the participation of over 100 countries.

Raisina Dialogue

  • The Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.
  • It is jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation.
  • Every year, global leaders in policy, business, media and civil society are hosted in New Delhi to discuss cooperation on a wide range of pertinent international policy matters.
  • The Dialogue is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials, as well as major private sector executives, members of the media and academics.

This years’ agenda

  • The fifth edition of the Dialogue 2020 has been India`s contribution to global efforts to discover solutions, identify opportunities and provide stability to a century that has witnessed an eventful two decades.
  • This year`s Dialogue titled `Navigating the Alpha Century` is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving heads of states, cabinet ministers and local government officials as well as major private sector executives, members of the media and academics.

Significance of the dialogue

  • The Raisina Dialogue has acquired an enviable global profile uniting the best strategic thinkers of the world.
  • The synergies and collaborations in the Raisina Dialogue represent India`s deliberative ethos, as well as its international credibility and convening power.
  • The Dialogue has grown along with India`s diplomatic profile and will set the tone for its intensive diplomatic engagement this year.
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Fastest growing cities in IndiaPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various keywords mentioned

Mains level : Urbanization in India


 The Economist has put Malappuram at the top of the “Top ten fastest-growing cities” in the world.

Anomalies in the data

  • The total fertility rate (TFR, the number of children a woman is likely to have in the childbearing age of 15-49) in Kerala is 1.8 as per NITI Aayog data from 2016 — below the replacement rate of 2.1.
  • Another Kerala city, Thrissur, is No. 13, and the capital Thiruvananthapuram is No. 33 on the UN list.
  • Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu — which has an even lower TFR of 1.6 — is No. 30.
  • Surat in Gujarat (TFR of 2.2) is No. 27. There is no representation on the list from high population growth states like Bihar and UP.

What does “fastest growing” refer to? How is a “city” defined?

  • The list based on data from the UN Population Division refers to “urban agglomerations” (UA), which are extended areas built around an existing town along with its outgrowths — typically villages or other residential areas or universities, ports, etc., on the outskirts of the town.
  • The Census defines a UA as “a continuous urban spread consisting of a town and its adjoining urban outgrowths or two or more physically contiguous towns together”.
  • The NCT of Delhi is a UA that includes the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) areas, as well as 107 “Census towns” — erstwhile surrounding villages where more than 75% of the population is now engaged in non-agricultural pursuits.

A pace of urbanization

  • The Economist has listed the rate at which the populations of the UAs are expected to increase between 2015 and 2020.
  • Since data on India and many other countries were not available for 2015 (the last Census in India was in 2011), the UN report used projections of UAs’ populations — estimates based on past population growth data.
  • The rate of growth between 2015 and 2020 thus calculated provides a measure of the pace of urbanisation.

How does urban population grow?

  • Urban populations can grow when the birth rate exceeds the death rate when workers migrate to the city in search of jobs; when more areas get included within the boundaries of the city; or when existing rural areas are reclassified as urban.
  • The low fertility rate in Kerala means the increase in the population of Malappuram and other cities is not because women are having more children; rather it is because more villages are being transformed into towns, and city borders are expanding.
  • According to the Census definition, an urban area is either a census town (CT) or a statutory town (ST). An ST is any place with a municipal corporation, municipal council, or cantonment board.
  • A CT can be a village with “urban characteristics” — a population more than 5,000, population density more than 400 people per sq km, and with more than 75% of the population not engaged in agriculture for their livelihood.
  • When a village becomes a CT, its population is included in the urban population of the district.

Could migration have caused the increase?

  • Migration can either increase or decrease the population of a town.
  • Kerala sees both emigration — migration from the state to other places — and immigration — the migration of workers to the state.
  • Also the remittances that emigrants send allow the residents of villages to move away from agriculture, which changes the status of a village to census town.

Why these cities are growing so fast?

  • These cities are seeing rapid urbanisation, and the main reason is the inclusion of new areas in the UA’s limits.
  • In 2001, there were two municipal corporations within the UA of Malappuram. In 2011, the number of municipal corporations had doubled to four, and an additional 37 CTs were included within Malappuram.
  • The population of the UA (excluding the residents of the outgrowths) increased almost 10 times in the same period — from 1,70,409 to 16,99,060 — obviously because of the inclusion of existing urban areas in the town.
  • Similarly, Kollam UA grew from one municipal corporation in 2001 to 23 CTs, one municipal corporation, and one municipal council in 2011.
  • Its population increased by 130%, even though the population of the original ST of Kollam actually decreased by 4%.

Why is this not seen elsewhere in India?

  • In Kerala, urbanisation is driven by a move away from agriculture, which leads to a change in a village’s Census classification status.
  • This is evident from the large number of CTs that were included in the UAs of the state since the last Census. On the other hand, except Delhi, the more populous cities in the North had fewer CTs in 2011.
  • While the pace of urbanisation has been slower in the North, some unnaturally high increases in the population can be expected after the 2021 Census — because in some cases, villages on the peripheries were brought within the administrative boundaries of the cities.

Is it good for the economy?

  • Urbanisation leads to the growth of cities, which are sites of infrastructure like universities, hospitals, and public transport facilities.
  • There are more opportunities for the youth, which is why they attract young people and entrepreneurs.
  • In India, people moving to cities leave behind (to some extent) caste and class divisions that dominate life in the villages, and can hope to climb up the social ladder.
  • However, unplanned urbanisation can be “exclusionary”, making it difficult for migrants to live there given the high cost.
  • Unregulated housing, lack of reliable public transport, and longer commutes within these towns puts a strain on the meagre resources of migrants.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Virtual human’ NEONPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEON

Mains level : Applications of AI


NEONs are being called the world’s first artificial humans. They look and behave like real humans, and could develop memories and emotions — though from behind a 4K display.

NEON

  • Star Labs is headed by India-born scientist Pranav Mistry who underlines that what was showcased at CES was the product of just four months’ work.
  • The company says NEONs are computationally created virtual humans — the word derives from NEO (new) + humaN.
  • For now, the virtual humans can show emotions when manually controlled by their creators.
  • But the idea is for NEONs to become intelligent enough to be fully autonomous, showing emotions, learning skills, creating memories, and being intelligent on their own.
  • Star Labs thinks they can be “friends, collaborators, and companions”, but all that is a few years away.

How does it work?

There are two core technologies behind his virtual humans.

  • First, there is the proprietary CORE R3 technology that drives the “reality, real time and responsiveness” behind NEONs.
  • It is the front-end reality engine that is able to give you that real expression.
  • The company claims CORE R3 “leapfrogs in the domains of Behavioral Neural Networks, Evolutionary Generative Intelligence and Computational Reality”, and is “extensively trained” on how humans look, behave and interact.
  • But in the end, it is like a rendition engine, converting the mathematical models to look like actual humans.
  • The next stage will be SPECTRA, which will complement CORE R3 with the “spectrum of intelligence, learning, emotions and memory”.
  • But SPECTRA is still in development, and is not expected before NEONWORLD 2020 later this year.

How could NEONs be used?

  • NEONs are the interface for technologies and services.
  • They could answer queries at a bank, welcome you at a restaurant, or read out the breaking news on television at an unearthly hour.
  • This form of virtual assistance would be more effective, for example, while teaching languages, as NEONs will be capable of understanding and sympathizing.

How are they different from Virtual Assistants?

  • Virtual Assistants now learn from all the data they are plugged into. NEONs will be limited to what they know and learn.
  • Their leaning could potentially be limited to the person they are catering to, and maybe her friends — but not the entire Internet.
  • They will not be an interface for you to request a song, rather they will be a friend to speak to and share experiences with.
  • Currently, its developer doesn’t want NEONs to have collective memory, or to share data among themselves.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Doctrine of ‘Presumption of Constitutionality’ExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Doctrine of ‘Presumption of Constitutionality’

Mains level : Read the attached story


Recently the Supreme Court declined urgent hearing on a plea seeking to declare the CAA as constitutional and said that there was already a “presumption of constitutionality” to a law passed by Parliament.  CJI has said that the court’s role was to examine the validity, and not declare a law constitutional.

Doctrine of Presumption of Constitutionality

  • The term ‘presumption of constitutionality’ is a legal principle that is used by courts during statutory interpretation — the process by which courts interpret and apply a law passed by the legislature, such as Parliament.
  • In the 1992 Supreme Court case ‘ML Kamra v New India Assurance’, Justice K Ramaswamy said: “The court ought not to interpret the statutory provisions, unless compelled by their language, in such a manner as would involve its unconstitutionality.
  • The legislature of the rule making authority is presumed to enact a law which does not contravene or violate the constitutional provisions.
  • Therefore, there is a presumption in favour of constitutionality of a legislation or statutory rule unless ex facie it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
  • If the provisions of a law or the rule is construed in such a way as would make it consistent with the Constitution and another interpretation would render the provision or the rule unconstitutional, the Court would lean in favour of the former construction. ” (“ex facie” meaning ‘on the face’)

When does this apply?

  • It is a cardinal principle of construction that the Statute and the Rule or the Regulation must be held to be constitutionally valid unless and until it is established they violate any specific provision of the Constitution.
  • Further it is the duty of the Court to harmoniously construe different provisions of any Act or Rule or Regulation, if possible, and to sustain the same rather than striking down the provisions out right.
  • The presumption is not absolute, however, and does not stand when there is a gross violation of the Constitution.

Limitations to the doctrine

  • A three-judge Bench in ‘NDMC v State of Punjab’ (1996) spoke of the limitations to the doctrine.
  • The Bench observed that the Doctrine is not one of infinite application; it has recognised limitations.
  • The Court has consistently followed a policy of not putting an unnatural and forced meaning on the words that have been used by the legislature in the search for an interpretation which would save the statutory provisions.
Human Rights Issues

Private Property is a Human Right: Supreme CourtPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Right to Property

Mains level : Read the attached story


The right to property is a human right, the Supreme Court has recently ruled.

What did the court say?

  • A citizen’s right to own private property is a human right. The state cannot take possession of it without following due procedure and authority of law, the Supreme Court has held in a recent judgment.
  • The state cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’.
  • Grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the state an encroacher.
  • Article 300A required the state to follow due procedure and authority of law to deprive a person of his or her private property, the Supreme Court reminded the government.

Adverse possession

  • A welfare state cannot be permitted to take the plea of adverse possession, which allows a trespasser i.e. a person guilty of a tort, or even a crime, to gain legal title over such property for over 12 years.
  • The State cannot be permitted to perfect its title over the land by invoking the doctrine of adverse possession to grab the property of its own citizens.

Back2Basics

Right to Property

  • The Constitution of India originally provided for the right to property under Articles 19 and 31.
  • Article 19 guaranteed to all citizens the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property.
  • Article 31 provided that “no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.” It also provided that compensation would be paid to a person whose property has been taken for public purposes.
  • The 44th Amendment of 1978 removed the right to property from the list of fundamental rights.
  • A new provision, Article 300-A, was added to the constitution, which provided that “no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law”.

What if one is deprived of his/her properties?

  • Thus, if a legislator makes a law depriving a person of his property, there would be no obligation on the part of the state to pay anything as compensation.
  • The aggrieved person shall have no right to move the court under Article 32.
  • Thus, the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, though it is still a constitutional right. If the government appears to have acted unfairly, the action can be challenged in a court of law by aggrieved citizens.
Coastal Zones Management and Regulations

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) RulesPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CRZ norms

Mains level : Coastal conservation in India


Few illegal apartment complexes in Maradu, Kerala, were razed as ordered by the Supreme Court for breaching Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The court had called the illegal constructions a “colossal loss” to the environment.

What are CRZ norms?

  • In India, the CRZ Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea.
  • They restrict certain kinds of activities — like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation and bunding — within a certain distance from the coastline.
  • After the passing of the Environment Protection Act in 1986, CRZ Rules were first framed in 1991.
  • After these were found to be restrictive, the Centre notified new Rules in 2011, which also included exemptions for the construction of the Navi Mumbai airport and for projects of the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • In 2018, fresh Rules were issued, which aimed to remove certain restrictions on building, streamlined the clearance process, and aimed to encourage tourism in coastal areas.
  • While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

Where do they apply?

  • In all Rules, the regulation zone has been defined as the area up to 500 m from the high-tide line.
  • The restrictions depend on criteria such as the population of the area, the ecological sensitivity, the distance from the shore, and whether the area had been designated as a natural park or wildlife zone.
  • The latest Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

Back2Basics

Coastal Regulation Zone: How rules for building along coast have evolved

Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Explained: The fundamentals of the Indian EconomyExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fundamentals as mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Fundamentals of Indian Economy


PM Modi highlighted the strong absorbent capacity of the Indian economy while referring to certain fundamentals. He emphasized the strength of these basic fundamentals in absorbing the shocks of ongoing economic slowdown.

What are the ‘fundamentals of an economy’?

  • The PM has reiterated a phrase of reassurance — underscoring the strong fundamentals of the Indian economy — that has been often used by policymakers in the past when the economy is seen to be faltering.
  • When one talks about the fundamentals of an economy, one wants to look at economy-wide variables such as the overall GDP growth, the overall unemployment rate, the level of fiscal deficit, the valuation of a country’s currency against the US dollar, the savings and investment rates in an economy, the rate of inflation, the current account balance, the trade balance etc.
  • There is intuitive wisdom in looking at these “fundamentals” of an economy when it goes through a tough phase.
  • Such an analysis, when done honestly, can give a sense of how deep the strain in an economy run.
  • It can answer the question whether the current crisis just an exaggerated response to a sectoral problem or is there something more “fundamentally” wrong with the economy that needs urgent attention and “structural” reform.
  • To be sure about the broader health of the economy, one looks at the broader variables. That way, one reduces the chances of getting the diagnosis wrong.

Their relevance

  • The first advance estimates of national income for the current financial year, released earlier in the week, found that nominal GDP was expected to grow at just 7.5% in 2019-20.
  • This is the lowest since 1978. Real GDP is calculated after deducting the rate of inflation from the nominal GDP growth rate.
  • So, if for argument sake, the inflation for this financial year is 4%, then the real GDP growth would be just 3.5%.
  • Just for perspective, the Union Budget presented in July 2019 expected a real GDP growth of 8% to 8.5% and a nominal GDP growth of 12% to 12.5%, with a 4% inflation level.

So, what is the current state of the fundamentals?

The data on most variables that one may call as fundamentals of the Indian economy are struggling.

  • Growth rate — both nominal and real — has decelerated sharply; now trending at multi-decade lows. Gross Value Added, which maps economic growth by looking at the incomes-generated is even lower; and its weakness in across most of the sectors that traditionally generated high levels of employment.
  • Inflation is up but the consolation is that the spike is largely due to transient factors.
  • However, a US-Iran type of conflagration could result is a sharp hike in oil prices and, as such, domestic inflation may rise in the medium term.
  • Unemployment is also at the highest in several decades.According to some calculations, between 2012 and 2018, India witnessed a decline in the absolute number of employed people — the first instance in India’s history.
  • Fiscal deficit, which is proxy for the health of government finances, is on paper within reasonable bounds but over the years, the credibility of this number has come into question. Many, including the CAG, has opined that the actual fiscal deficit is much higher than what is officially accepted.
  • Bucking the trend, the current account deficit, is in a much better state but trade weakness continues as do the weakness of the rupee against the dollar; although on the rupee-dollar issue, a case can be made that the rupee is still overvalued and thus hurting India’s exports.
  • Similarly, while the benchmark stock indices have run up, and grabbed all attention, the broader stock indices like the BSE500 have struggled.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

SC underlines restrictions on use of Sec 144Priority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sec. 144 of CRPC

Mains level : Section 144 : Circumstances of its use and abuse and SC's guidelines


In its order on Jammu and Kashmir the Supreme Court made the following points with regard to the use of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.

Key takeaways of the order

  • Sec 144 cannot be used to suppress the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance, or the exercise of democratic rights
  • When Sec 144 is imposed for reasons of apprehended danger, that danger must be an “emergency”.
  • The imposition of Sec 144 must strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the concerns of the state.
  • Powers under Sec 144 should be exercised in a reasonable and bona fide manner, and the order must state material facts in order to enable judicial review.

What is Section 144?

  • Section 144 CrPC, a law retained from the colonial era, empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.
  • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.
  • In emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

What powers does the administration have under the provision?

  • The magistrate can direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take a certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management.
  • This usually includes restrictions on movement, carrying arms and from assembling unlawfully. It is generally believed that assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144.
  • However, it can be used to restrict even a single individual. Such an order is passed when the magistrate considers that it is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquility, or a riot, of an affray.
  • However, no order passed under Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order, unless the state government considers it necessary.
  • Even then, the total period cannot extend to more than six months.

Why is it criticised so often?

  • The criticism is that it is too broad and the words of the section are wide enough to give absolute power to a magistrate that may be exercised unjustifiably.
  • The immediate remedy against such an order is a revision application to the magistrate himself.
  • An aggrieved individual can approach the High Court by filing a writ petition if his fundamental rights are at stake.
  • However, fears exist that before the High Court intervenes, the rights could already have been infringed.

Also read: 

Explained: How Section 144 CrPC works

J&K – The issues around the state

SC order on Internet ShutdownsPriority 1SC Judgements

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sec. 144 of CRPC

Mains level : Internet shutdown as an infringement of FR


Directing the government to mandatorily publish all orders permitting Internet shutdowns, the Supreme Court has for the first time set the stage for challenging suspension orders before courts.

What triggered the SC?

  • India tops the list of Internet shutdowns globally. According to Software Freedom Law Center’s tracker, there have been 381 shutdowns since 2012, 106 of which were in 2019.
  • The ongoing shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in any democratic country.

The prime mover for Supreme Court

  • The Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017 issued under the Telegraph Act deals with restricting Internet access.
  • It does not provide for publication or notification of the order suspending Internet, the apex court mandated that such orders must be made available to the public.
  • The court declared that it is a “settled principle of law, and of natural justice” that requires publication of such orders, “particularly one that affects lives, liberty and property of people”.
  • This allows individuals to now challenge the orders before courts in J&K and rest of India.

Internet suspension orders are subjected to Judicial Review

  • In the wake of protests against the new citizenship law, Internet services were suspended temporarily in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Karnataka.
  • There should not be excessive burden on free speech even if complete prohibition is imposed, and the government has to justify imposition of such prohibition and explain why lesser alternatives were inadequate, the bench stated.
  • It ruled that Restrictions are to be imposed in an emergency. Hence they must be proportionate to the concern. Their objective must be legitimate rather than cavalier.
  • Authorities must necessarily consider an alternative and least restrictive mechanism before opting to restrict rights. Every decision to impose restriction should be backed by sufficient material and amenable to judicial review.

Pacing up with technology

  • The bench also noted that the law needs to keep pace with technological development:
  • We need to note that the law should imbibe the technological development and accordingly mould its rules so as to cater to the needs of society.
  • Non-recognition of technology within the sphere of law is only a disservice to the inevitable.

Justifying the Kashmir shutdown

  • Lastly, the court mandated that all orders regarding the Kashmir case be made public, and to provide essential services such as e-banking and hospitals immediately.
  • What the centre was arguing in this case was that this is a matter of national security given that it pertains to Kashmir with a history of militancy.
Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI)Priority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI)

Mains level : Financial inclusion in India


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has chalked out an ambitious strategy for financial inclusion of all till 2024.

National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI)

  • Financial inclusion is increasingly being recognised as a key driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation the world over.
  • The strategy aims to strengthen the ecosystem for various modes of digital financial services in all Tier-II to Tier VI centres to create the necessary infrastructure to move towards a less-cash society by March 2022.
  • One of the objectives of the strategy includes increasing outreach of banking outlets of to provide banking access to every village within a 5-km radius or a hamlet of 500 households in hilly areas by March 2020.
  • RBI said that the aim was also to see that every adult had access to a financial service provider through a mobile device by March 2024.
  • With the aim of providing basic of financial services, a target has been set that every willing and eligible adult, who has been enrolled under the PM Jan Dhan Yojana, be enrolled under an insurance scheme and a pension scheme by March 2020.
  • The plan is also to make the Public Credit Registry (PCR) fully operational by March 2022 so that authorised financial entities could leverage the same for assessing credit proposals from all citizens.
Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

In news: Dept. of Military Affairs’Priority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dept. of Military Affairs’

Mains level : Terms of reference for the office of CDS


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the Rules of Business for the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) headed by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Department of Military Affairs (DMA)

  • The DMA headed by Gen Bipin Rawat will have two Joint Secretaries, 13 Deputy Secretaries, 25 Under Secretaries and 22 Section officers.
  • The training policy, most of the training establishments and cadre management of the Services will be under the purview of the DMA.
  • Defence diplomacy of the neighbourhood countries would also be under the CDS.
  • Similarly, deputations to the training establishments such as the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Indian Military Academy (IMA), the Officers Training Academy (OTA) and the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) would also be under the CDS.
  • Cadre review of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) will be looked after by the CDS.

Other facts

  • On December 30, the government notified the DMA creation, with the CDS also as a Secretary in the MoD.
  • The DMA is the fifth department in the MoD, the others being the Department of Defence, the Department of Defence Production, the Department of Defence Research and Development and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.
  • The Services have been brought under the ambit of the DMA in addition to the Territorial Army and works relating to the three Services and procurement exclusive to the Services except capital acquisitions.
  • Defence imports and procurements would be under the the Department of Defence headed by the Defence Secretary.
Judicial Reforms

Curative PetitionPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Review Petition, Curative Petition

Mains level : Capital Punishment and its justification


Curative petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by two convicts in the Nirbhaya case after their execution was scheduled.  The case had shocked the nation and led to the tightening of anti-rape laws. Rape, especially gang rape, is now a capital crime.

Background

  • The concept of Curative petition was evolved by the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and Anr. (2002) Judgement.
  • The question was whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition.
  • The Supreme Court in the said case held that in order to prevent abuse of its process and to cure gross miscarriage of justice, it may reconsider its judgements in exercise of its inherent powers.

Curative Petition

  • For this purpose, the court has devised what has been termed as a “curative” petition.
  • In the Curative petition, the petitioner is required to aver specifically that the grounds mentioned therein had been taken in the review petition filed earlier and that it was dismissed by circulation.
  • This has to be certified by a senior advocate. The Curative petition is then circulated to the three senior most judges and the judges who delivered the impugned judgement, if available.
  • No time limit is given for filing Curative petition. It is guaranteed under Article 137 of Constitution of India i.e. powers of the Supreme Court to review of its own judgements and orders.

Review Petition

  • Article 137 of the Constitution provides that subject to provisions of any law and rule made under Article 145 the Supreme Court of India has the power to review any judgement pronounced (or order made) by it.
  • Thus binding decision of the Supreme Court/High Court can be reviewed in Review Petition.
  • The parties aggrieved on any order of the Supreme Court on any apparent error can file a review petition.
  • Taking into consideration the principle of stare decisis courts generally do not unsettle a decision, without a strong case. This provision regarding review is an exemption to the legal principle of stare decisis.
  • Under Supreme Court Rules, 1966 such a petition needs to be filed within 30 days from the date of judgement or order.
  • It is also recommended that the petition should be circulated without oral arguments to the same bench of judges that delivered the judgement (or order) sought to be reviewed.