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Current Affairs 14 January 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Hate speech
  2. PM SVANidhi
  3. Rare Earth Metals
  4. Ganga Vilas Cruise

Hate Speech


Context:

Recently, The Supreme Court said the “buck ultimately stops with the government” to clamp down on hate speech and hate crimes, as they are offences committed on society.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is “Hate Speech”?
  2. Laws related to hate speech in India
  3. Indian Penal Code on Hate Speech
  4. Observations of different institutions related to hate speech
  5. Rangila Rasool case
  6. Later cases

What is “Hate Speech”?

  • In general, “Hate Speech” refers to words whose intent is to create hatred towards a particular group, that group may be a community, religion or race.This speech may or may not have meaning, but is likely to result in violence.
  • BPRD Definition: The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as a “language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”
  • According to the Law Commission of India, “Hate speech generally is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like. This, hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.”

Laws related to hate speech in India

Article 19 of the Constitution– Freedom of Speech and Expression is guaranteed to all the citizens of India. However, the right is subjected to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Indian Penal Code on Hate Speech
  • Section 295A defines and prescribes a punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
    • “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both,” the IPC section reads.
  • According to Section 153A of IPC, “promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”, is a punishable offence and attracts three years of imprisonment.
  • According to Section 505 of IPC, “Statements that promote mutiny by the armed forces, or causes such fear or alarm that people are induced to commit an offence against the state or public tranquillity; or is intended to incite or incites any class or community to commit an offence against another class or community”, will attract a jail term of up to three years under Section 505(1).
  • Under Section 505(2), “it is an offence to make statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.
  • Under Section 505(3), the offence will attract up to a five-year jail term if it takes place in a place of worship, or in any assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.

Observations of different institutions related to hate speech

  • The Supreme Court had observed that “hate speech is an effort to marginalize individuals based on their membership in a group. It seeks to delegitimize group members in the eyes of the majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society. It, therefore, rises beyond causing distress to individual group members and lays the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable….”
  • The Human Rights Council’s ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression’ expressed that freedom of expression can be restricted on the following grounds:
    • Child pornography (to protect the rights of children).
    • Hate speech (to protect the rights of affected communities)
    • Defamation (to protect the rights and reputation of others against unwarranted attacks)
    • Direct and public incitement to commit genocide (to protect the rights of others)
    • Advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence (to protect the rights of others, such as the right to life).

Rangila Rasool case

  • Rangila Rasool was a tract — brought out by a Hindu publisher — that had made disparaging remarks about the Prophet’s private life. Cases against the first pamphlet, filed under Section 153A, were dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which examined the question whether targeting religious figures is different from targeting religions.
  • When a second, similar piece was published, it raised tensions. While the magistrate had convicted the publisher Rajpaul under Section 153A, the Lahore High Court held that a “scurrilous and foul attack” on a religious leader would prima facie fall under Section 153A — although not every criticism.
  • This debate in interpretation prompted the colonial government to enact Section 295A with a wider scope to address these issues.

Later cases

  • In 1957, the constitutionality of Section 295A was challenged in Ramji Lal Modi v State of Uttar Pradesh.
    • The Supreme Court upheld the law on the grounds that it was brought in to preserve “public order”.
    • Public order is an exemption to the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to religion recognised by the Constitution.
  • In a 1960 ruling, in Baba Khalil Ahmed v State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court said that “malicious intent” of the accused can be determined not just from the speech in question but also from external sources.
  • In 1973, in Ramlal Puri v State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court said the test to be applied is whether the speech in question offends the “ordinary man of common sense” and not the “hypersensitive man”.
    • However, these determinations are made by the court and the distinction can often be vague and vary from one judge to the other.
  • In Baragur Ramachandrappa v State of Karnataka, a 2007 decision of the Supreme Court, “a pragmatic approach” was invoked in interpreting Section 295A.
    • The state government had issued a notification banning Dharmakaarana, a Kannada novel written by award-winning author P V Narayana on the ground that it was hate speech, invoking a gamut of provisions including Section 295A.
    • The pragmatic approach was to restore public order by “forfeiture” of a book over individual interest of free speech.

-Source: The Hindu


PM SVANidhi


Context:

More than nine thousand street food vendors have been onboard on food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato as part of the Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) scheme.

Relevance:

GS II- Government policies and interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. PM Street Vendor’s Atmanitbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)
  2. PM SVANidhi and SIDBI
  3. Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)
  4. About SVANidhi se Samriddhi

PM Street Vendor’s Atmanitbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)

  • PM SVANidhi is a Special Micro-Credit Facility.
  • PM SVANidhi was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for providing affordable Working Capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to Covid-19 lockdown.
  • Under the Scheme, the vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year.
  • The scheme promotes digital transactions through cash back incentives.
  • Beneficiaries: 50 lakh Street Vendors.
  • The Government of India has extended the PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme beyond March, 2022 with the following provisions:
    • Extension of lending period till December 2024;
    • Introduction of 3rd loan of upto ₹50,000 in addition to 1st & 2nd loans of ₹10,000 and ₹20,000 respectively.
    • To extend ‘SVANidhi Se Samriddhi’ component for all beneficiaries of PM SVANidhi scheme across the country
The eligible vendors are identified as per following criteria:
  • Street vendors in possession of Certificate of Vending / Identity Card issued by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs);
  • The vendors, who have been identified in the survey but have not been issued Certificate of Vending / Identity Card;
  • Street Vendors, left out of the ULB led identification survey or who have started vending after completion of the survey and have been issued Letter of Recommendation (LoR) to that effect by the ULB / Town Vending Committee (TVC); and
  • The vendors of surrounding development/ peri-urban / rural areas vending in the geographical limits of the ULBs and have been issued Letter of Recommendation (LoR) to that effect by the ULB / TVC.
PM SVANidhi and SIDBI
  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is the Implementation Agency for PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)
  • SIDBI will also manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).
  • SIDBI will leverage the network of lending Institutions like Non-Bank Finance Companies (NBFCs), Co-operative Banks etc., for the Scheme implementation.

Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, GoI and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), established a Trust named Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) to implement the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises.
  • Beneficiaries: New and existing Micro and Small Enterprises engaged in manufacturing or service activity excluding Educational Institutions, Agriculture, Self Help Groups (SHGs), Training Institutions etc., are eligible.
  • Fund and non-fund based (Letters of Credit, Bank Guarantee etc.) credit facilities up to Rs 200 lakh per eligible borrower are covered under the guarantee scheme provided they are extended on the project viability without collateral security or third-party guarantee.

About SVANidhi se Samriddhi

  • It is an additional program of PMSVANidhi was launched on 4th January 2021 in 125 cities in Phase 1, covering approximately 35 Lakh Street vendors and their families.
  • 22.5 lakh scheme sanctions have been extended to them including 16 lakh insurance benefits under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeeban Jyoti Yojana and 2.7 Lakh pension benefits under Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana, amongst other such benefits. 
  • Considering the success of Phase I, MoHUA launched the program expansion to additional 126 cities with an aim to cover 28 Lakh Street vendors and their families, with a total target of 20 Lakh scheme sanctions for FY 2022-23. The remaining cities would be gradually added to the program.
  •  SVANidhi se Samriddhi program was started to provide social security benefits to street vendors for their holistic development and socio-economic upliftment.

-Source: The Hindu


Rare Earth Metals


Context:

Recently, Swedish state-owned mining company, LKAB,  announced that it has discovered more than one million tonnes of rare earth oxides in the northern area of the country. This is the largest known deposit in Europe, the company added.

  • Currently, no rare earths are mined in Europe and the continent mostly imports them from other regions. According to a report in the BBC, 98 per cent of rare earths used by the European Union were sent by China.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are rare earths?
  2. What are rare earths used for?
  3. Rare Earth Minerals Reserves – India Ranks 3rd in the World

What are rare earths?

  • Rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table — the 15 lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium, which tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides, and have similar chemical properties.
  • The 17 rare earths are cerium (Ce), dysprosium (Dy), erbium (Er), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), holmium (Ho), lanthanum (La), lutetium (Lu), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), scandium (Sc), terbium (Tb), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and yttrium (Y).
  • Despite their classification, most of these elements are not really “rare”.
  • One of the rare earths, promethium, is radioactive.

What are rare earths used for?

  • These elements are important in technologies of consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, clean energy, advanced transportation, healthcare, environmental mitigation, and national defence, among others.
  • Scandium is used in televisions and fluorescent lamps, and yttrium is used in drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
  • Rare earth elements are used in space shuttle components, jet engine turbines, and drones.
  • Cerium, the most abundant rare earth element, is essential to NASA’s Space Shuttle Programme.
  • In recent years, rare earths have become even more important because there has been an increase in demand for green energy.
  • Elements like neodymium and dysprosium, which are used in wind turbine motors, are sought-after more than ever as wind mills across the world continue to grow.
  • Moreover, the push for switching from internal combustion cars to electric vehicles has also led to a rise in demand for rare earth magnets — made from neodymium, boron, and iron — and batteries.

Rare Earth Minerals Reserves – India Ranks 3rd in the World

  • India has the third-largest reserves of rare earth minerals in the world. Due to radioactivity of monazite sands, Indian Rare Earths Ltd under the Department of Atomic Energy is the sole producer of rare earth compounds.
  • Globally, China has a monopoly over rare earth, after USA’s recede in this industry due to high environmental and health concerns.
  • China had once, almost shivered the Japanese economy by halting the export of rare earth elements.
  • India is also blessed with some crucial rare earth minerals like zirconium, neodymium etc., available in plenty in monazite sands.
  • This could contribute to Indian export markets if utilized properly. However, owing to various reasons such as cost reduction due to high production (economies of scale) in China, lack of demand in the domestic market, lack of domestic processing technologies, the production of rare earth minerals has depleted over years.
  • Most of the products that use rare earth minerals as raw materials are imported. Despite rare earth minerals having high value add the potential for export growth, inadequate processing technologies have made India suffer.

-Source: Indian Express


Ganga Vilas Cruise


Context:

Recently, the Prime Minister of India flagged off the world’s longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas in Varanasi.

Relevance:

Facts for prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Ganga Vilas Cruise
  2. Significance

About Ganga Vilas Cruise

  • The cruise on the river Ganges will be operated by private companies and is being supported by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which falls under the Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways (MoPSW).
  • The cruise will cover 40 historic sites along the river, such as the Mahabodhi temple, Hazarduari Palace, and Katra Masjid, as well as connecting National Waterway 1 (NW-1) and National Waterway 2 (NW-2) on the Brahmaputra River.
  • The cruise will also traverse 27 river systems and pass through 50 tourist destinations, including World Heritage Sites, National Parks, and major cities like Patna, Sahibganj, Kolkata, Dhaka, and Guwahati.
  • The 51-day cruise is planned to travel along the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River system between Haldia (Sagar) and Allahabad, which was declared as National Waterway 1 (NW-1) in 1986.

Significance:

  • The project is significant as it has the potential to create job opportunities in the hinterland and promote river cruise tourism in India.
  • It aims to introduce a new era of tourism in India by highlighting the country’s best features to the world.
  • The cruise is designed to provide foreign tourists with an immersive and authentic experience, allowing them to explore India’s art, culture, history, and spirituality, as well as that of Bangladesh.

-Source: Indian Express


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