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Current Affairs 05 September 2023

CONTENTS

  1. One nation, one election plan
  2. Urban Cooperative Banks
  3. New Covid-19 Variant: Pirola
  4. Inheritance Rights of Children from Void Marriages Under Mitakshara Law
  5. Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF)
  6. DIKSHA Platform
  7. Vibrio vulnificus

One Nation, One Election Plan


Context:

The Centre has recently formed an eight-member committee, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind and including Union Home Minister, to examine the feasibility of implementing the “one nation, one election” idea. This committee, outlined with seven terms of reference, will consider whether a constitutional amendment is required and if states need to ratify it to facilitate simultaneous elections.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Constitutional Amendment in India: A Mix of Flexibility and Rigidity
  2. Amendment of the Constitution: Types of Majority and Ratification
  3. Entrenched Provisions in the Constitution

Constitutional Amendment in India: A Mix of Flexibility and Rigidity

Article 368 and Its Interpretation
  • Article 368 of the Indian Constitution governs constitutional amendments.
  • The interpretation of this provision has caused tensions between Parliament and the judiciary since 1951.
Debate on Flexibility vs. Rigidity
  • During the Constituent Assembly discussions, there was a debate on whether the Constitution should be flexible or rigid.
  • The British constitution is flexible, allowing amendments through ordinary legislation.
  • The U.S. Constitution requires the ratification of three-fourths of states for amendments.
  • India’s Constitution adopted a combination of flexibility and rigidity.
Informal Amendments through Judicial Interpretation and Conventions
  • The Constitution is informally amended through judicial interpretation and established conventions.
  • For instance, the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
  • While the Constitution mentions consultation between the President and Chief Justice of India, the Supreme Court interpreted consultation as “concurrence.”
  • This interpretation led to the establishment of the collegium system, effectively changing the Constitution’s interpretation.

Amendment of the Constitution: Types of Majority and Ratification

Simple Majority
  • Some Constitution provisions can be amended using the simple legislative process in Parliament, similar to passing ordinary legislation.
  • This requires a majority vote of those present and voting, without the need for a quorum.
  • Article 368 doesn’t explicitly list these provisions as “less significant”; however, they are excluded from Article 368’s purview, forming a separate category.
  • Examples include changing state names, admitting new states, and altering state boundaries.
Special Majority
  • Provisions not falling under the first category require a special majority, per Article 368.
  • The amendment Bill must pass in both Houses of Parliament with a majority of at least two-thirds of the members present and voting.
  • According to Lok Sabha Rules, the total membership includes all members, regardless of vacancies or absentees at the time.
Ratification by States
  • A third category of provisions requires not only a special majority but also ratification by legislatures in at least half of the states.
  • Only after state ratification can such an amendment be presented to the President for assent.
  • These are known as “entrenched provisions” and relate to the federal character of the Constitution.
  • Examples include the 99th Constitutional amendment in 2014, ratified by 16 state legislatures, and the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill in 2016, which introduced the Goods and Services Tax regime, ratified by 23 states.

Entrenched Provisions in the Constitution

Article 368 identifies six parts of the Constitution with additional safeguards for amendment:

  • Articles 54 and 55: Covering the election of the President of India.
  • Articles 73 and 162: Concerning the extent of executive power of the Union and states.
  • Articles 124–147 and 214–231: Pertaining to powers of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
  • Articles 245 to 255: Dealing with the scheme of distribution of legislative, taxing, and administrative powers between the Union and the states.
  • Articles 82-82: Addressing the representation of states in Parliament.
  • Article 368 itself.
Ratification by States:
  • Supreme Court Perspective In the 1992 Supreme Court case of Kihoto Hollohan v Zachillu, the issue of ratification gained importance.
  • One argument against the constitutionality of the Tenth Schedule, which deals with disqualification of elected representatives, was its lack of ratification by the states.
  • The amendment sought to limit the jurisdiction of courts in matters related to disqualification.
  • This touched upon one of the six aspects requiring ratification by half the states: jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the Tenth Schedule’s validity but struck down the part of the amendment affecting court jurisdiction.

-Source: Indian Express


Urban Cooperative Banks


Context:

Recently, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) addressed concerns regarding Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) and emphasized the need to bolster their governance.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Banking)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Cooperative Banks?
  2. Overview of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs)
  3. Structure of co-operative banks in India
  4. Importance of Cooperative Banks
  5. Concerns Associated with Urban Co-operative Bank

What are Cooperative Banks?

  • Co-operative banks are financial entities established on a co-operative basis and belonging to their members. This means that the customers of a co-operative bank are also its owners.
  • Cooperative Banks continue to be important and the ideal organisations even in the changing economic environment, as participation and inclusion are central to poverty reduction.
Important Details with respect to Cooperative Banks
  • Co-operative banks in India are registered under the State’s Cooperative Societies Act.
  • The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by the Banking Regulations Act 1949 and Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
  • The Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) is in control of management elections and many administrative issues as well as auditing, and the RBI brought them under the Banking Regulation Act as applicable to cooperative societies.
  • Urban cooperative banks have been under the radar of the RBI, but because of dual regulation either of them did not have as much control over these banks in terms of supersession of boards or removal of directors.

Structure of co-operative banks in India

  • Broadly, co-operative banks in India are divided into two categories – urban and rural.
  • Rural cooperative credit institutions could either be short-term or long-term in nature.
  • Short-term cooperative credit institutions are further sub-divided into State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
  • Long-term institutions are either State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) or Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (PCARDBs).

Overview of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs):

  • UCBs are primary cooperative banks situated in urban and semi-urban areas, although there is no formal definition for them.
  • UCBs, along with PACS, RRBs, and LABs, can be categorized as differentiated banks operating in localized areas.
  • Prior to 1996, UCBs were limited to lending for non-agricultural purposes, but this restriction is no longer applicable.
  • Traditionally, UCBs had a community-centric focus, providing loans primarily to small borrowers and local businesses. However, their operational scope has now expanded significantly.

Importance of Cooperative Banks

The cooperative banking system has to play a critical role in promoting rural finance and is especially suited to Indian conditions.

Various advantages of cooperative credit institutions are given below:

  • Alternative Credit Source:  The main objective of the cooperative credit movement is to provide an effective alternative to the traditional defective credit system of the village moneylender.
  • Cheap Rural Credit: Cooperative credit system has cheapened the rural credit by charging comparatively low-interest rates, and has broken the money lender’s monopoly.
  • Productive Borrowing:  The cultivators used to borrow for consumption and other unproductive purposes. But, now, they mostly borrow for productive purposes.
  • Encouragement to Saving and Investment: Instead of hoarding money the rural people tend to deposit their savings in cooperative or other banking institutions.
  • Improvement in Farming Methods: Cooperative credit is available for purchasing improved seeds, chemical fertilizers, modern implements, etc.
  • Financial Inclusion: They have played a significant role in the financial inclusion of unbanked rural masses. They provide cheap credit to the masses in rural areas.

Concerns Associated with Urban Co-operative Bank

  • The uncovering of large-scale financial irregularities has taken urban cooperative banks off guard.
  • Low capital basis, weak corporate governance, inability to detect fraud, delayed adoption of new technologies, and insufficient system of checks and balances are difficulties confronting urban cooperative banks (UCBs).
  • The latest Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020 empowers the RBI with all powers, including those formerly reserved for the registrar of cooperative organizations.
  • The RBI’s control was limited, and it shared it with the registrar of cooperative societies of states, resulting in the much-discussed dual control and the issues it posed to the central bank.
  • The cooperative sector has two challenges:
    • first, increased competition from not just Scheduled Commercial Banks, but also from minor financing banks and payments banks;
    • second, vulnerability caused by internal shortcomings, such as the inability to detect and prevent fraud.

-Source: The Hindu


New Covid-19 Variant: Pirola


Context:

An article published in the Yale Medicine Review on August 31 has noted the rise of Covid-19 infections in multiple countries, driven by a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 called BA.2.86, which is informally being termed ‘Pirola’.
Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About SARS-CoV-2
  2. Virus Mutation Process
  3. About Pirola Variant

About SARS-CoV-2

  • SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the coronavirus family.
  • It is the virus responsible for Covid-19 (Corona Virus Disease-2019), which caused the global pandemic.
  • The virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets.
  • Mutations are frequent as the virus circulates in humans, leading to the emergence of variants with higher transmission efficiency.
Virus Mutation Process
  • When a virus infects cells, its genetic material (RNA or DNA) replicates, and errors during this process trigger mutations. The likelihood of mutation increases when a virus is widespread and causing many infections.
  • Mutations are changes in DNA sequence.
  • Most mutations have little impact on the virus’s ability to cause disease.
  • But changes in specific areas of the genetic material can affect transmission and disease severity.

About Pirola Variant

  • The WHO has recorded 21 global cases of Pirola as of August.
  • The US and UK health agencies have found a few cases but consider the numbers too small to assess its transmission or severity.
  • Despite low case numbers, it’s categorized as a “variant under monitoring” due to its 30+ mutations on the spike protein.
  • Yale Medicine’s infectious diseases specialist is concerned about the high mutation count.
  • The US CDC suggests some degree of transmissibility due to the highly mutated variants found in multiple countries.
Covid-19 Trend in India
  • India has reported a low number of cases, with most being mild.
  • In the previous 24 hours, India had only 18 cases, with Maharashtra having the highest count (over 200 out of 500 active cases).

-Source: Indian Express


Inheritance Rights of Children from Void Marriages Under Mitakshara Law


Context:

The Supreme Court has ruled that children born of void or voidable marriages can inherit their parent’s share in a joint Hindu family property under the Mitakshara Law. However, they won’t have rights to property belonging to other family members.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Void or Voidable marriage
  2. Two major schools of Hindu law
  3. Background
  4. SC’s Ruling
  5. Supreme Court Rulings Regarding Daughter’s Inheritance

Void or Voidable marriage

Voidable Marriage:

  • A voidable marriage is initially valid but can be annulled due to certain defects or conditions.
  • Annulment is possible if one party chooses to do so.

Void Marriage:

  • A void marriage is considered invalid right from the beginning.
  • It is as if the marriage never legally existed.

Two major schools of Hindu law

Mitakshara Law
  • The Mitakshara Law is a traditional Hindu legal system that primarily governs rules of inheritance and property rights within a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF).
  • The Mitakshara law of succession applies to the entire country except West Bengal and Assam.
  • The term “Mitakshara” is derived from the name of a commentary written by Vijnaneswara, which explains the Yajnavalkya Smriti, an ancient Hindu legal text.

Geographical Variations

  • The Mitakshara school of Hindu law is observed in various parts of India and is further subdivided into several regional schools, including the Benares school, the Mithila school, the Maharashtra school, and the Dravida school.
Key Principles
  • Under Mitakshara law, a son automatically acquires an interest in the ancestral property of the joint family by birth.
  • All the members of the joint family enjoy coparcenary rights during the lifetime of the father.
  • The specific share of a coparcener is not defined and cannot be disposed of by them.
  • While a wife cannot demand a partition of the joint family property, she has the right to a share in any partition that occurs between her husband and her sons.
Dayabhaga Law
  • The term “Dayabhaga” is derived from a text of the same name written by Jimutavahana, which is a significant work in the Dayabhaga legal tradition.

Geographical Scope

  • The Dayabhaga school of Hindu law is primarily observed in the regions of Bengal and Assam.
Key Principles
  • Under the Dayabhaga law, a son does not automatically have ownership rights by birth but acquires them upon the death of his father.
  • Sons do not enjoy coparcenary rights during the lifetime of their father.
  • The share of each coparcener is defined, and they have the ability to dispose of their share.
  • In this school of law, women do not have the same rights as in the Mitakshara tradition, as sons cannot demand a partition during the lifetime of the father, who is considered the absolute owner.

Background

  • The Supreme Court’s verdict was influenced by a 2011 judgment in Revanasiddappa vs. Mallikarjun.
  • This earlier judgment established the right of children born from void or voidable marriages to inherit their parents’ property, whether self-acquired or ancestral.
  • The case revolved around an amendment in Section 16(3) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

SC’s Ruling

  • Children born from void or voidable marriages must first determine their parent’s share in ancestral property.
  • This involves a “notional partition” to calculate the portion the parent would have received before their death.
  • Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 grants legitimacy and inheritance rights to such children.
  • These children are recognized as “legitimate kin” under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which governs inheritance.
  • They cannot be considered illegitimate when inheriting family property.
  • The court noted that the 2005 Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act allows a deceased person’s share in a joint Hindu family, under the Mitakshara law, to be inherited through testamentary or intestate succession.
  • This amendment expanded inheritance rights, granting equal succession rights to women and men.

Supreme Court Rulings Regarding Daughter’s Inheritance

Arunachala Gounder v. Ponnusamy, 2022

  • The SC ruled that the self-acquired property of a Hindu male who dies intestate (without a will) will devolve by inheritance and not by succession.
  • It stated that this property shall be inherited by the daughter, in addition to the property acquired through coparcenary and obtained through partition.

Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, 2020

  • In this case, the SC held that a woman or daughter should be considered a joint legal heir alongside a son.
  • Daughters can inherit ancestral property equally as male heirs, regardless of whether their father was alive before the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, came into effect.

-Source: Indian Express


Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF)


Context:

Officials from the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry recently said the first tranche of loans to fund ongoing projects in tier-2 and tier-3 cities – under the Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF) will likely be disbursed soon.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF)
  2. Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF)

Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF)

  • The UIDF will be created using priority sector lending shortfall and will be managed by the National Housing Bank.
  • The fund will provide resources for public agencies to create urban infrastructure in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
  • The UIDF will be established on the lines of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
  • States will be encouraged to access the UIDF by leveraging resources from the 15th Finance Commission grants and other existing schemes.
Classification of Cities:
  • Tier-2 cities: Cities with a population between 50,000 to 100,000
  • Tier-3 cities: Cities with a population between 20,000 to 50,000

Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF)

  • The RIDF was established by the government in 1995-96 for financing ongoing rural infrastructure projects.
  • The Fund is managed by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
  • Domestic commercial banks contribute to the Fund to fulfill their shortfall in priority sector lending to agriculture.
  • The main objective of the RIDF is to provide loans to state governments and state-owned corporations for completing ongoing rural infrastructure projects.
  • The loan must be repaid in equal annual installments within seven years from the date of withdrawal, with a grace period of two years.

-Source: The Hindu


DIKSHA Platform


Context:

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

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About DIKSHA Platform
  2. About National e-Governance Division (NeGD)

About DIKSHA Platform

  • Initiative: DIKSHA is a national platform for school education, initiated by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) under the Ministry of Education, Government of India.
  • Content Delivery: It serves as an online portal and mobile application designed to provide e-content for schools.
  • Principles: DIKSHA was developed based on core principles, including open architecture, open access, open licensing, choice, and autonomy.
  • Technology: The platform is built on open-source technology, specifically developed in India and for India. It incorporates internet-scale technologies and accommodates various use cases and solutions for teaching and learning.
Features
  • Building Blocks: DIKSHA integrates the majority of National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR) building blocks. It has successfully enabled various use cases of NDEAR, including energized textbooks, online courses, content authoring, content sourcing, interactive quizzes, question banks, chatbots, analytics, and dashboards.
  • Support for Special Needs: To support teaching and learning for Children With Special Needs (CWSN), DIKSHA offers a wide range of resources, such as audiobooks, Indian Sign Language (ISL) videos, and a dictionary.

About National e-Governance Division (NeGD)

  • Establishment: NeGD was created as an Independent Business Division under the Digital India Corporation by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
  • Role: Since its establishment in 2009, NeGD has played a crucial role in supporting the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) in program management and the implementation of e-Governance projects. It provides technical and advisory support to ministries, departments, and government organizations at both the central and state levels.
  • Digital Platforms: NeGD is responsible for developing and managing several national public digital platforms, including DigiLocker, UMANG, Rapid Assessment System, OpenForge, API Setu, Poshan Tracker, Academic Bank of Credits, and more.

-Source: The Hindu


Vibrio Vulnificus


Context:

Recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a national health alert to warn doctors and clinicians to be on the lookout for people infected with the flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Vibrio vulnificus

  • Type: Vibrio vulnificus is a type of bacteria known for causing potentially fatal infections in humans.
  • Infection Source: Infections occur when a wound comes into contact with raw or undercooked seafood, including its juices, drippings, or saltwater.
  • Tissue Damage: Once infected, the bacteria can aggressively damage various tissues in the body, including the skin, muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels around the wound.
  • Septicemia: In severe cases, the infection can progress to septicemia, a condition in which the bacteria enter the bloodstream. This can lead to septic shock, characterized by a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection can vary depending on the type:
    • Gastrointestinal Infection: Symptoms include watery diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
    • Bloodstream Infection: Symptoms include fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions.
    • Wound Infection: Symptoms include fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge (leaking fluids) at the site of the wound.
  • Prevention: The primary method to avoid infection is to prevent contact with the bacteria. This includes ensuring that any seafood you consume is thoroughly cooked, avoiding raw or undercooked oysters, and practicing proper hand hygiene after handling seafood.

-Source: The Hindu


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