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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 6 January 2021

Contents

  1. SC asks govt. to repeal PCA provision regarding cattle
  2. IMD’s State of the Climate Report
  3. Saudi Arabia to lift Qatar embargo: Easing the Gulf crisis

SC ASKS GOVT. TO REPEAL PCA PROVISION REGARDING CATTLE

Context:

The Supreme Court gave the Central Government a week to repeal the provision that empowered the magistrate to confiscate livestock even before a conviction under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act (1960).

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act?
  2. Which part of the PCA Act is directed by the Supreme Court to be repealed?
  3. Cattle slaughter in India
  4. What is in the Constitution Regarding Cow-Slaughter
  5. Legislations against Cow-Slaughter in India
  6. What about India’s Export and Import of Beef?

What is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act?

  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was enacted to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • As per the provisions of the law the government of India formed the Animal Welfare Board of India.
  • This Act provides for punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals.
  • The Act defines animals and different forms of animals and also provides the guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.
  • The Act enshrines the provisions relating to the exhibition of the performing animals, and offences committed against the performing animals.
  • The PCA Act discusses different forms of cruelty, exceptions, and killing of a suffering animal in case any cruelty has been committed against it, so as to relieve it from further suffering.
  • However, this Act makes a provision – “Saving as respects manner of killing prescribed by religion: Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.”
  • The PCA Act also declares that killing an animal for food will not be an offence unless it is “accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering”.
  • In the Act, it is also stated that killing of animals permitted under other existing laws cannot be made an offence.

Which part of the PCA Act is directed by the Supreme Court to be repealed?

  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960 states that Only a person who is Convicted can lose his / her animals.
  • However, the Centre introduced two rules in 2017 — the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules which allowed seizure and subsequent confiscation in ‘gaushalas’ of livestock from people, who depended on these animals for a livelihood, even before they were found guilty of cruelty towards them.
  • Hence, the rules introduced by the government under the parent Act (PCA Act) are going against the parent Act itself.

Arguments against the 2017 Rules put across in the Supreme Court

  • The unjust actions taken on owners of cattle who are not found guilty is threatening the rule of law and generally emboldening groups of persons to take the law into their own hands.
  • Moreover, these incidents are acting as triggers for communal polarisation of society, and if not halted effectively and immediately will have disastrous consequences on the social fabric of the country.

Cattle slaughter in India

  • Cattle slaughter, especially cow slaughter is a controversial topic in India because of the cattle’s traditional status as an endeared and respected living being to some sects of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism while being considered an acceptable source of meat by Muslims as well as adherents of other non-Dharmic Religions in India, such as Zoroastrianism (although some Zoroastrians do not eat beef), and the Animistic and Abrahamic religions etc.
  • More specifically, the cow’s slaughter has been shunned because of a number of reasons such as being associated with god Krishna in Hinduism, cattle being respected as an integral part of rural livelihoods and an economic necessity.
  • Legislation against cattle slaughter is in place throughout most states of India except Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, and states of Northeast India.

What is in the Constitution Regarding Cow-Slaughter

  1. States can make laws on the matters regarding “Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice” which is in the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution – meaning that State legislatures have exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of cattle.
  2. The prohibition of cow slaughter is also one of the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads, “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”

Legislations against Cow-Slaughter in India

  • In 2005, the Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgement upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by different state governments in India.
  • 20 out of 28 states in India currently have various laws regulating act of slaughtered cow, prohibiting the slaughter or sale of cows.
  • The laws governing cattle slaughter in India vary greatly from state to state.
  • Some States allow the slaughter of cattle with restrictions like a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate which may be issued depending on factors like age and sex of cattle, continued economic viability etc.
  • Others completely ban cattle slaughter, while there is no restriction in a few states.

The 2017 Ban by Central Government and Suspension of that ban by SC

  • In 2017, the Ministry of Environment of the Government of India led by Bharatiya Janata Party imposed a ban on the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across India, under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals statutes.
  • The Supreme Court of India suspended the ban on sale of cattle in its judgement in July 2017, giving relief to beef and leather industries.
  • In several cases, such as Mohd. Hanif Qureshi v. State of Bihar (AIR 1959 SCR 629), Hashumatullah v. State of Madhya Pradesh, Abdul Hakim and others v. State of Bihar (AIR 1961 SC 448) and Mohd. Faruk v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court has held that, “A total ban [on cattle slaughter] was not permissible if, under economic conditions, keeping useless bull or bullock be a burden on the society and therefore not in the public interest.”

What about India’s Export and Import of Beef?

  • India has rapidly grown to become the world’s largest beef exporter, accounting for 20% of world’s beef trade based on its large water buffalo meat processing industry.
  • As per existing meat export policy in India, the export and import of beef (meat of cow, oxen and calf) is prohibited.
  • Bone in meat, carcass, half carcass of buffalo is also prohibited and is not permitted to be exported.
  • Only the boneless meat of buffalo, meat of goat and sheep and birds are permitted for export.

-Source: Hindustan Times, The Hindu


IMD’S STATE OF THE CLIMATE REPORT

Context:

2020 was the eighth warmest since India started keeping records in 1901 according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s State of the Climate Report.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Climatology), GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate Change)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the State of the Climate Report
  2. About the ‘India Meteorological Department’ (IMD)

Highlights of the State of the Climate Report

  • During the year 2020, the annual average temperature in the country was 0.29 degree Celsius (°C) above normal (Average from 1981-2010). (2016 was the warmest year ever.
  • 2020 was warmer despite the cooling effect of La Nina which typically has a cooling effect on global temperatures. (However, the cooling effect of La Nina is now offset by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions.)
  • India’s nearly 0.3-degree rise was less than the average global temperature rise of 1.2 degree as per World Meteorological Organisation’s ‘State of the Global Climate report’.
  • The eight warmest years on record in order were: 2016 > 2009 > 2017 > 2010 > 2015 > 2018 > 2019 > 2020.
  • The past decade (2011-2020) was the warmest on record.
  • The annual rainfall over the country in 2020 was 109% of the Long Period Average (LPA) calculated for the period of 1961-2010.

Extreme Weather Events:

  • Extremely heavy rain, floods, cold waves and thunderstorms led to significant loss of lives and properties in the recent years.
  • The Indian Ocean region – the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, together reported five cyclones – Nisarga & Gati formed over Arabian Sea; Amphan, Nivar and Burevi formed over the Bay of Bengal.
  • According to the report “Preparing India for Extreme Climate Events” released by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), over 75% of districts in India are hotspots of extreme climate events.
  • More than 40 per cent of Indian districts are Transforming from Flood-prone to Drought-prone areas and Vice-Versa.

Click Here to read more on the Study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) regarding Extreme Weather events.

About the ‘India Meteorological Department’ (IMD)

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the national meteorological service of the country and it is the chief government agency dealing in everything related to meteorology, seismology and associated subjects.
  • IMD was formed in 1875 and is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • IMD is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • Worldwide there are six regional specialised meteorological centres (RSMCs) and five regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs) mandated for issuing advisories and naming of tropical cyclones.
  • The India Meteorological Department is one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) to provide tropical cyclone and storm surge advisories to 13 member countries under WMO/ESCAP PTC Panel (World Meteorological Organization / The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific – Panel on Tropical Cyclones PTC).

IMD’s Tasks

  • IMD undertakes observations, communications, forecasting and weather services.
  • In collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation, the IMD also uses the IRS series and the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT) for weather monitoring of the Indian subcontinent.
  • IMD was first weather bureau of a developing country to develop and maintain its own satellite system.

-Source: The Hindu


SAUDI ARABIA TO LIFT QATAR EMBARGO: EASING THE GULF CRISIS

Context:

Saudi Arabia will open its airspace and land border to Qatar in the first step toward ending a years-long diplomatic crisis that deeply divided U.S. defence partners, frayed societal ties and tore apart a traditionally clubby alliance of Gulf states.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (International Agreements affecting India’s interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background to Shaky and Crisis Ridden ties in the Gulf Region
  2. How does Conflicts in the Gulf region affect India?
  3. India’s “Look West” Policy

Background to Shaky and Crisis Ridden ties in the Gulf Region

  • Qatar’s only land border has been mostly closed since mid-2017, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched a blockade against the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist extremist groups and of having warm ties with Iran.
  • The Saudi border, which Qatar relied on for the import of dairy products, construction materials and other goods, opened briefly during the past three years to allow Qataris into Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.
  • Kuwait, which had been mediating throughout the dispute, was first to announce the diplomatic breakthrough through its foreign minister.
  • While the Saudi decision marks a major milestone toward resolving the Gulf spat, the path toward full reconciliation is far from guaranteed.
  • The rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha has been deepest, with the UAE and Qatar at sharp ideological odds.

How does Conflicts in the Gulf region affect India?

  • Geographically, the Gulf is India’s extended neighbourhood and the only link with the no less vital Central Asia, with Pakistan denying this country transit rights and Afghanistan having sunk into chaos.
  • India’s economic ties with the Gulf states have two dominant verticals: the economic symbiosis and India’s expatriate community.
  • Bilateral economic ties are strong: The India-Gulf trade stood around $162 billion in 2018-19, being nearly a fifth of India’s global trade. It was dominated by import of crude oil and natural gas worth nearly $75 billion, meeting nearly 65% of India’s total requirements.
  • Some of these countries have large Indian investments and some have planned large investments in India.
  • Second, the number of Indian expatriates in the Gulf states is about nine million, and they remitted nearly $40 billion back home.
  • Both these intertwined pillars of India-Gulf ties have been affected by the recent maelstrom roiling the shared region.

India’s “Look West” Policy

  • For decades, India was a passive player in West Asia-a beneficiary of good relationships with multiple actors.
  • During the Cold War years, India maintained close economic cooperation with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, the rival poles in regional geopolitics.
  • In the post-Soviet-world the bi-directional approach has been expanded to a tri-directional foreign policy to accommodate the three key pillars of West Asia — Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.
  • After successfully implementing a “Look East” policy to promote trade and investment with its Asian neighbours, India has adopted a similar policy toward West Asia.
  • India adopted Look West policy in 2005 and this has resulted in increased interaction, enhanced trade and economic relations and launch of negotiations towards FTA with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Main features of the “Look West” policy are:

  1. A Secular and Non- Aligned Policy: India’s policy towards the region will be shaped by its policy of nonalignment in the context of the region’s religious (Muslims and Jews) and sectarian (Shia-Sunni) conflicts.
  2. Diplomacy at various levels: Commitment to Diplomacy outlining closer government-to-government (G2G) relations draws attention to the vibrant business-to-business (B2B) and people-to-people (P2P) relationships.
  3. Move towards India’s Non-Ideological Policy: The seismic changes in the Middle East compelled India to revisit its Middle East policy that had been anchored on Arab socialism, secularism and Soviet friendship. India not only had to co-habit with US domination but also engage rising conservatism in the region. In practical terms this meant devising a policy that was driven more by economic calculation than political rhetoric.
  4. Major emphasis on Maritime Diplomacy: The seas surrounding West Asia have assumed a major emphasis in Look West Policy due to energy and economic security they offer now for India.

-Source: The Hindu

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