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Current Affairs 18 October 2023


  1. Same Sex Marriage in India
  2. Consanguinity
  3. Green Credit Programme
  4. Bio-Decomposer for Stubble Burning in Delhi
  5. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  6. Marshall Islands

Same Sex Marriage in India


Recently, The Supreme Court has delivered its long awaited verdict rejecting petitions to legalise same-sex marriage and delved deeper on the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to examine the issue thoroughly, which have convergence and interrelationship with homosexuality.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Supreme Court’s Observation on Same-Sex Marriage
  2. Legality of Same-Sex Marriages in India
  3. Arguments in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage
  4. Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage

Supreme Court’s Observation on Same-Sex Marriage


A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of India, delivered a 3:2 verdict regarding the constitutional validity of same-sex marriages.

Verdict and Rationale:
  • Majority Opinion: The Chief Justice of India’s opinion concluded that the court cannot grant constitutional validity to same-sex marriages within the existing Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954. The responsibility to create such laws rests with the Parliament and state legislatures.
  • Dynamic Nature of Marriage: The Supreme Court acknowledged that the concept of marriage is not static and can evolve over time.
  • Equal Rights for Queer Persons: The court affirmed that individuals in the queer community have an equal right and freedom to enter into a “union.”
  • Absence of Fundamental Right to Marry: All five judges on the Bench unanimously agreed that there is no fundamental right to marry under the Constitution.
Minority Opinions (CJI and Justice Kaul):
  • The Chief Justice of India and Justice Kaul supported the extension of ‘civil unions’ to same-sex couples.
  • A ‘civil union’ grants legal status to same-sex couples, providing them with specific rights and responsibilities similar to those of married couples. However, it does not have the same recognition in personal law as marriage.

Legality of Same-Sex Marriages in India

Recognition as a Statutory Right:
  • The right to marry is not explicitly recognized as a fundamental or constitutional right in the Indian Constitution; it is considered a statutory right.
  • The acknowledgment of marriage as a fundamental right has developed through judicial decisions of India’s Supreme Court, which are binding on all courts throughout India under Article 141 of the Constitution.
Earlier Supreme Court Views on Same-Sex Marriages:

Marriage as a Fundamental Right (Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and others, 2018):

  • The Supreme Court, in this case, referenced Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Puttaswamy case.
  • It held that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is an integral part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 16(2) of the Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence, or any of them.
  • The right to marry is intrinsic to the liberty guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right, allowing individuals to make decisions central to their pursuit of happiness. Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe, are at the core of constitutional liberty.

LGBTQ Community Entitled to Constitutional Rights (Navjet Singh Johar and others v. Union of India, 2018):

  • The Supreme Court held that members of the LGBTQ community are entitled to the full range of constitutional rights, including the liberties protected by the Constitution.
  • They are entitled to equal citizenship and the “equal protection of the law.”

Arguments in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage:

  • Equal Rights for All: All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry and form a family.
  • Legal Equality: Same-sex couples should have the same legal rights and protections as opposite-sex couples.
  • Anti-Discrimination: Non-recognition of same-sex marriage amounts to discrimination that infringes upon the dignity of LGBTQIA+ couples.
  • Social and Economic Benefits: Marriage provides social and economic benefits to couples and their families, which should also be extended to same-sex couples.
  • Fundamental Right: The Chief Justice of India acknowledged that cohabitation is a fundamental right, and the government has a duty to legally recognize the social impact of such relationships.
  • Gender Complexity: The Supreme Court of India recognized that biological gender is not absolute, and gender is more complex than just one’s genitals. There is no absolute concept of a man or a woman.
  • Global Principles: Same-sex marriage is legal in many countries around the world, and denying this right in a democratic society contradicts global principles.

Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage:

  • Religious and Cultural Beliefs: Many religious and cultural groups believe that marriage should be limited to a union between a man and a woman, based on their traditional values and principles.
  • Marriage’s Primary Purpose: Some argue that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation, and same-sex couples cannot have biological children, which they believe goes against the natural order.
  • Legal Complications: Concerns exist that legalizing same-sex marriage could create complications related to inheritance, tax, and property rights.
  • Resistance to Legal Changes: Some argue that it would be too difficult to modify existing laws and regulations to accommodate same-sex marriage.
  • Societal Stigma and Discrimination: When queer couples adopt children, they may face societal stigma and discrimination, which can negatively impact the child’s emotional and psychological well-being, especially in societies where LGBTQIA+ acceptance is not universal.

About Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
  • Marriages solemnized under Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws.

The Act has 3 major objectives:

  • to provide a special form of marriage in certain cases,
  • to provide for registration of certain marriages and,
  • to provide for divorce.
Applicability of the Act
  • Any person, irrespective of religion.
  • Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, or Jews can also perform marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
  • Inter-religion marriages are performed under this Act.
  • This Act is applicable to the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.
  • Indian national living abroad.
Succession to the property
  • Succession to the property of person married under this Act or customary marriage registered under this Act and that of their children, are governed by Indian Succession Act.
  • However, if the parties to the marriage are Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain religion, the succession to their property will be governed by Hindu succession Act.
  • The Hindu Marriage Act is pertinent to Hindus, though the Special Marriage Act is appropriate to all residents of India regardless of their religion applicable at Court marriage.

-Source: Indian Express



Recent studies delves into the influence of consanguinity on genetics and health. It elucidates how this widespread tradition affects disease susceptibility and the development of human traits within global populations.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Consanguinity: An Overview
  2. Benefits and Challenges Related to Consanguinity
  3. The Way Forward with Regards to Consanguinity

Consanguinity: An Overview

  • Social and Genetic Aspects: Consanguinity encompasses both social and genetic dimensions. Socially, it involves marriages between blood relatives, such as cousins or siblings. Genetically, it refers to unions between closely related individuals, often referred to as inbreeding.
  • Implications: The concept of consanguinity has implications for both family structures and population genetics.
Key Takeaways from Studies Related to Consanguinity
  • Global Prevalence: Approximately 15-20% of the world’s population practices consanguinity, with a higher prevalence in regions like Asia and West Africa.
  • Historical Practices: Some ancient human civilizations, such as the Egyptians and Incas, are believed to have practiced consanguinity.
  • Genetic Evidence: Genetic evidence, such as DNA analysis, suggests that historical figures like King Tutankhamun of Egypt were born to parents who were blood relatives.
  • Endogamous Groups in India: India is home to over 4,000 endogamous groups where people marry within the same caste, tribe, or group. This practice makes India a significant area for consanguinity studies.
  • Health Impacts: Studies have shown that consanguinity can lead to increased mortality rates and a higher prevalence of recessive genetic diseases in populations where it is practiced. This is due to the higher likelihood of inheriting two copies of a harmful recessive gene when closely related individuals have children.

Benefits and Challenges Related to Consanguinity

  • Preservation of Tradition: In some societies, consanguineous marriages are a longstanding tradition that helps preserve cultural and social norms.
  • Social Safety Net: Consanguineous relationships can provide a built-in social safety net. Relatives are more likely to assist each other during financial, emotional, or medical crises, reducing the burden on external social services.
  • Cultural Compatibility: In some cases, marrying close relatives may reduce the risk of incompatibility in terms of cultural, religious, or social backgrounds, potentially leading to more stable marriages.
  • Selective Breeding in Controlled Settings: In controlled breeding settings, mating closely related individuals is a widely used technique to eliminate harmful genetic traits and enhance desirable qualities in plants and animals. This can lead to better agricultural yields and improved livestock quality.
  • Increased Risk of Genetic Disorders: The most significant challenge of consanguinity is the increased risk of offspring inheriting genetic disorders due to the sharing of common recessive genes. Conditions like cystic fibrosis may be more prevalent among the offspring of close relatives.
  • Limited Genetic Diversity: Marrying close relatives can lead to limited genetic diversity in the population, potentially reducing overall resilience to diseases and environmental changes.
  • Complex Family Dynamics: In consanguineous families, complex family dynamics can develop as multiple roles and relationships intersect, potentially leading to conflicts and tensions related to decision-making and family hierarchies.
  • Erosion of Autonomy: In closely-knit consanguineous communities, there can be an erosion of individual autonomy, where decisions related to marriage, family planning, and other life choices are heavily influenced by the family or community, potentially limiting personal freedom.
  • Silencing of Domestic Violence: In consanguineous relationships, women may be discouraged from reporting domestic violence due to familial and cultural pressures to preserve family respect. This silence can perpetuate the cycle of abuse, making it difficult to seek help or intervention in cases of domestic violence.

The Way Forward with Regards to Consanguinity

Consanguinity, being a practice deeply rooted in culture and tradition, requires a thoughtful and balanced approach. Here’s a way forward to address the associated challenges:

  • Respect for Cultural Values: It’s essential to respect and acknowledge cultural values and practices related to consanguinity. Recognize that these practices are an integral part of many societies.
  • Education and Awareness: Promote education and awareness about the potential risks and benefits of consanguinity. Ensure that individuals and communities are well-informed about the implications of such marriages.
  • Legal Safeguards: Implement legal safeguards that protect the rights and interests of individuals involved in consanguineous marriages. These safeguards can include ensuring consent, minimum age requirements, and addressing potential issues related to inheritance and property rights.
  • Support Services: Provide access to support services such as personalized medicine and genetic counseling. These services can help individuals understand and manage the potential health risks associated with consanguinity.
  • Empowerment: Empower individuals to make informed choices about their relationships while preserving their cultural heritage. Encourage open dialogue within families and communities to make choices that are both culturally and medically sound.
  • Research and Data Collection: Encourage research and data collection on the prevalence and impact of consanguinity in different regions. This can help tailor interventions and support services more effectively.
  • Collaboration: Foster collaboration between healthcare providers, educators, policymakers, and community leaders to address the multifaceted challenges related to consanguinity.

-Source: The Hindu

Green Credit Programme


The government has recently unveiled an innovative and voluntary Green Credit program designed to reward and incentivize individuals and entities for their positive environmental contributions.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Green Credit Programme
  2. Significance of the Green Credit Programme
  3. Concerns Regarding the Green Credit Mechanism

Green Credit Programme:

  • The Green Credit Programme introduces a system of incentives, known as “Green Credits,” for activities that have a positive impact on the environment.
  • It complements the domestic Carbon Market in India, expanding beyond CO2 emission reductions to incentivize a wider range of sustainable actions.
  • The Green Credit System aims to meet various environmental obligations, encouraging companies, individuals, and local bodies to undertake sustainable initiatives.
  • Unlike the carbon market’s focus on CO2 emissions, the Green Credit Programme promotes broader environmental goals.
Tradable Credits:
  • Green credits earned through sustainable activities will be tradable, allowing participants to sell them on a proposed domestic market platform.
  • This creates a market-based approach to incentivize and reward environmentally beneficial actions.
Program Administrator:
  • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) will serve as the administrator of the Green Credit Programme.
  • ICFRE will develop guidelines, processes, and procedures for the implementation of the programme, ensuring its effectiveness and integrity.

Green Credit Activities:

The programme promotes a range of activities that contribute to environmental sustainability, including:

  • Increasing Green Cover: Promoting tree plantation and related activities to enhance the green cover across the country.
  • Water Conservation: Encouraging water conservation, water harvesting, and efficient water use, including the treatment and reuse of wastewater.
  • Regenerative Agriculture: Promoting natural and regenerative agricultural practices and land restoration to improve productivity, soil health, and the nutritional value of food produced.
  • Waste Management: Supporting sustainable waste management practices, including collection, segregation, and treatment.
  • Air Pollution Reduction: Encouraging measures to reduce air pollution and other pollution abatement activities.
  • Mangrove Conservation: Promoting the conservation and restoration of mangroves, important ecosystems for coastal areas.
  • Ecomark Label: Encouraging manufacturers to obtain the “Ecomark” label for their goods and services, signifying their environmental sustainability.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure: Encouraging the construction of buildings and infrastructure using sustainable technologies and materials.
  • Setting Thresholds and Benchmarks: The Green Credit Programme will establish thresholds and benchmarks for each specific Green Credit activity, ensuring clear standards and targets for participants to achieve.

Significance of the Green Credit Programme:

Encouraging Compliance and Synergy:

  • The programme incentivizes private sector industries and entities to fulfill their existing obligations by aligning their actions with those generating or purchasing green credits.
  • It promotes convergence between different legal frameworks and encourages a comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability.

Support for Ecosystem Services:

  • The guidelines of the programme integrate mechanisms to quantify and support ecosystem services.
  • This benefits organic farmers and Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) by recognizing and rewarding their contributions to ecosystem conservation.

Valuing Multiple Ecosystem Services:

  • The Green Credit Programme introduces a unique instrument that values and rewards multiple ecosystem services.
  • It goes beyond carbon mitigation and allows green projects to achieve optimal returns by considering a broader range of environmental benefits.

Concerns Regarding the Green Credit Mechanism:

Risk of Greenwashing:

  • Experts express concerns that the market-based nature of green credits may lead to greenwashing practices.
  • There is a risk of entities making false or exaggerated claims about environmental sustainability without delivering substantial environmental benefits.

Tokenistic Activities:

  • Some fear that companies or entities may engage in superficial activities solely to generate green credits, without making meaningful efforts to address environmental issues.
  • This raises concerns about the genuineness and effectiveness of the actions taken.

Need for Urgent Emissions Reductions:

  • Critics question the effectiveness of market mechanisms, such as green credits, in achieving the necessary and urgent emissions reductions required to combat climate change.
  • They argue that more transformative efforts guided by government policies and regulations are essential.

Resource Allocation and Fraud Prevention:

  • There are concerns about the allocation of resources for monitoring and preventing fraud within the green credit mechanism.
  • Critics argue that these resources could be better directed towards initiatives with more significant transformative impacts on sustainability.

-Source: Down To Earth

Bio-Decomposer for Stubble Burning in Delhi


Recently, the Delhi Government has initiated the spraying of a Bio-Decomposer to tackle Stubble Burning. However, the effectiveness of the microbial solution largely depends on its timing of application, according to farmers.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is stubble burning?
  2. Bio-Decomposer to Address Stubble Burning

What is stubble burning?

  • Stubble burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested. The practice was widespread until the 1990s, when governments increasingly restricted its use.
  • The burning of stubble, contrasted with alternatives such as ploughing the stubble back into the ground or collecting it for industrial uses, has a number of consequences and effects on the environment.
Effects of Stubble Burning:

Helpful effects

  • Kills slugs and other pests
  • Can reduce nitrogen tie-up

Harmful effects

  • Loss of nutrients
  • Pollution from smoke
  • Damage to electrical and electronic equipment from floating threads of conducting waste
  • Risk of fires spreading out of control
  • The main adverse effects of crop residue burning include the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contributes to the global warming, increased levels of particulate matter (PM) and smog that cause health hazards, loss of biodiversity of agricultural lands, and the deterioration of soil fertility
Alternatives to Stubble Burning:
  • In-Situ Treatment of Stubble: For example, crop residue management by zero-tiller machine and Use of bio-decomposers.
  • Ex-Situ (off-site) Treatment: For example, Use of rice straw as cattle fodder.
  • Use of Technology– For example Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, which can uproot the stubble and also sow seeds in the area cleared. The stubble can then be used as mulch for the field.

Bio-Decomposer to Address Stubble Burning

  • A bio-decomposer is developed to expedite the natural decomposition of crop residues.
  • Typically, it comprises a mixture of various microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and enzymes working together to break down plant material into enriching organic matter for the soil.
Examples of Microorganisms:
  • Bacteria: Bacillus, Clostridium, E. coli, Salmonella
  • Fungi: Mushrooms, Molds, Yeasts
  • Other Organisms: Earthworms, Insects (Beetles, Flies, Ants, Maggots), Arthropods (Millipedes, Woodlice)
  • Pusa-Biodecomposer is a fungi-based liquid solution designed to soften tough crop residues, making them easily mixable with soil to act as compost.
  • The fungi thrive at temperatures around 30-32 degrees Celsius, coinciding with the conditions during paddy harvesting and wheat sowing.
  • It produces enzymes that break down cellulose, lignin, and pectin in paddy straw.
  • Developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and named after ICAR’s Pusa campus in Delhi.
  • Besides crop residues, it rapidly converts animal waste, dung, and other waste into organic manure.
  • Enhances soil fertility and crop productivity by turning stubble into manure and reducing the need for future fertilizer use.
  • An efficient, cost-effective, and practical solution to combat stubble burning.
  • Environmentally friendly, aligning with the Swachh Bharat Mission’s goals.
Efficacy and Considerations:
  • Application of the microbial solution is aimed at decomposing paddy straw left in the field post-harvest.
  • It requires spraying after harvest, plowing into the soil, and light irrigation over 20-25 days for effective decomposition.
  • Timely application aligning with the harvest is crucial for maximizing its effectiveness.
  • Various factors such as crop rotation, labor availability, and crop type impact its relevance for farmers.
  • Weather conditions, particularly rain during September and October, play a role in its application and effectiveness.

-Source: Indian Express

Buff-Breasted Sandpiper


Recently, a rare bird from the arctic tundra, Buff-breasted sandpiper, was sighted in Kannur, Kerala.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Buff-breasted Sandpiper: A Delicately Beautiful Shorebird
  2. Key Facts about the Arctic Tundra

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: A Delicately Beautiful Shorebird

  • Appearance: The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is considered one of the most delicately beautiful of all shorebirds.
  • Breeding and Migration: These birds breed in the open arctic tundra of North America and usually migrate to South America for winters.
  • Habitat: During migration, they are commonly found in North American habitats, primarily on dry, open ground such as prairies and pastures.
  • Mating Behavior: Male Buff-breasted Sandpipers gather in groups on display territories known as leks. They display their eye-catching underwings to compete for the attention of females.
  • Long-Distance Migrant: This species is a champion long-distance migrant, traveling thousands of miles from their high-Arctic nesting grounds to winter on the grasslands of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
  • Conservation Status: The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is categorized as “Near Threatened” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Key Facts about the Arctic Tundra:

  • Biome Description: The Arctic tundra is the northernmost biome, characterized by vast, dry, rocky landscapes with few trees.
  • Geographical Range: It covers the land north of the Arctic Circle up to the polar ice cap and reaches as far south as the Hudson Bay area of Canada and the northern part of Iceland.
  • Etymology: The word “tundra” originates from the Finnish word “tunturi,” meaning ‘treeless plain.’
  • Permafrost: One crucial characteristic of the tundra is permafrost, which refers to permanently frozen ground. The tundra’s soil is rocky and nutrient-poor, with slow organic matter decomposition.
  • Carbon Sink: Despite the absence of trees, the tundra is a significant carbon sink due to large amounts of organic matter found in peat and humus deposits.
  • Temperature: Temperatures in the tundra range from 15.5°C in summer to -60°C in winter. Mean temperatures remain below 0°C for six to ten months of the year.
  • Annual Precipitation: The annual precipitation in the tundra is around 150 to 250mm. Most of this precipitation does not evaporate due to the low temperatures.

-Source: The Hindu

Marshall Islands


The United States recently signed a new 20-year agreement on economic assistance to the Marshall Islands worth $2.3 billion.


Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Marshall Islands
  2. Historical Background
  3. Compact of Free Association with the United States

The Marshall Islands:

  • Location: The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is situated in the western Pacific Ocean and comprises a chain of five volcanic islands and 29 coral atolls.
  • Capital: Majuro
  • Official Languages: English and Marshallese
  • Government: The Marshall Islands is a presidential republic with a parliamentary system. The President of the Marshall Islands serves as both the head of state and the head of government.
  • Economy: The economy of the Marshall Islands relies primarily on agriculture and tourism.
  • Official Currency: United States dollar
  • Cryptocurrency: In 2018, the Marshall Islands became the first country to issue its own cryptocurrency and certify it as legal tender.
Historical Background:
  • The islands have had various colonial rulers over the centuries, including Spain from the late 1400s to the late 1800s, Germany from 1885 to World War I, and Japan from 1914 to World War II.
  • After World War II, the Marshall Islands became part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under United States administration.
  • The RMI Government was officially established in 1979, following the signing of the Constitution.
  • The Marshall Islands gained its independence in 1986 after signing the Compact of Free Association with the United States, terminating the UN-US Trusteeship Agreement.
Compact of Free Association with the United States:
  • This compact provides the Marshall Islands with financial assistance, defense protection, and access to U.S. government programs.
  • It acknowledges the Marshall Islands’ right to self-government and aims to promote economic development and budgetary self-reliance.
  • The United States holds full authority and responsibility for the security and defense of the Marshall Islands.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023