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Current Affairs 22 January 2024

1. Termination of Pregnancy

2. Japan’s successful Lunar Landing

3. Left Wing Extremism in Chhattisgarh

4. Minor apprehended for harbouring terrorists in Dhangri attack

5. Ayodya Ram temple consecration



Context:

The Rajasthan High Court has declined a plea of a 11-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 31-week pregnancy, saying a fully developed foetus also has the right to life and live a healthy life without any abnormalities.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
  3. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act, 2021
  4. Who falls in the category of women allowed to terminate pregnancy between 20-24 weeks?
  5. Have there been judicial interventions in cases of abortions?

Key points:

  • A plea to terminate pregnancy by a 11 year old was turned down by the Rajasthan High Court recently. The survivor was allegedly raped by her father.
  • The plea stated that the girl does not wish to give birth to such a child as it would be a constant reminder of the atrocities committed on her and would not be good for her mental health and social well being.
  • In this case, the medical board is in the opinion that abortion at such an advanced stage would endanger the life of the child.
  • Consequently, the  Court held that any attempt to terminate the pregnancy at this advanced stage is likely to lead to a premature delivery and the same may affect the neurotic development of the unborn child.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 provides the legal framework for making CAC services available in India.
  • Termination of pregnancy is permitted for a broad range of conditions up to 20 weeks of gestation as detailed below:
    • When continuation of pregnancy is a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or could cause grave injury to her physical or mental health;
    • When there is substantial risk that the child, if born, would be seriously handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities;
    • When pregnancy is caused due to rape (presumed to cause grave injury to the mental health of the woman);
    • When pregnancy is caused due to failure of contraceptives used by a married woman or her husband (presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health of the woman).

The MTP Act specifies

  • who can terminate a pregnancy;
  • till when a pregnancy can be terminated; and
  • where can a pregnancy be terminated.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act, 2021

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows termination of pregnancy by a medical practitioner in two stages.
  • After a crucial amendment in 2021, for pregnancies up to 20 weeks, termination is allowed under the opinion of one registered medical practitioner.
  • For pregnancies between 20-24 weeks, the Rules attached to the law prescribe certain criteria in terms of who can avail termination. It also requires the opinion of two registered medical practitioners in this case.
  • For pregnancies within 20 weeks, termination can be allowed if:
    • the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or
    • there is a substantial risk that if the child was born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.
  • The explanation to the provision states that termination within 20 weeks is allowed “where any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by any woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy, the anguish caused by such pregnancy may be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”.
    • The phrase “any woman or her partner” was also introduced in 2021 in place of the earlier “married woman or her husband”. By eliminating the word “married woman or her husband” from the scheme of the MTP Act, the legislature intended to clarify the scope of Section 3 and bring pregnancies which occur outside the institution of marriage within the protective umbrella of the law.
  • For both stages — within 20 weeks and between 20-24 weeks — termination is allowed “where any pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, the anguish caused by the pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”.

Who falls in the category of women allowed to terminate pregnancy between 20-24 weeks?

  • For pregnancies between 20-24 weeks, Section 3B of the Rules under the MTP Act lists seven categories of women:
    • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest;
    • Minors;
    • Change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce);
    • Women with physical disabilities (major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016);
    • Mentally ill women including mental retardation;
    • The foetal malformation that has substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped;
    • Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as may be declared by the Government.

Have there been judicial interventions in cases of abortions?

  • Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India:
    • Despite the fact that existing laws do not permit unconditional abortion in the country, in the landmark 2017 Right to Privacy judgement in the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India and others, the Supreme Court had held that the decision by a pregnant person on whether to continue a pregnancy or not is part of such a person’s right to privacy as well and, therefore, the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Foetal abnormality:
    • Several women annually approach the apex court and High Courts, when medical boards reject their application to access MTP beyond the gestational upper limit (now 24 weeks), seeking permission to abort a pregnancy, mostly in cases where it is a result of sexual assault or when there is a foetal abnormality.
    • Recently, the Calcutta High Court allowed a 37-year-old woman, who was 34 weeks into her pregnancy, to get a medical abortion as the foetus was diagnosed with an incurable spinal condition. This judgment allowed abortion for the furthest gestational in the country so far.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, Japanese agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA) landed the smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) on the lunar surface near an equatorial crater becoming only the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the moon.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Japan’s Lunar Mission
  2. SLIM’s Lunar Mission Objectives
  3. India’s Moon Missions:
  4. SLIM’s Impact on Chandrayaan 4 Mission

Japan’s Lunar Mission

Japan landed a spacecraft on the moon on 20 January 2024, an attempt at the world’s first “pinpoint lunar landing.”

The milestone puts Japan in a club previously occupied by only the United States, the Soviet Union, India and China.

Overview of SLIM

  • Developed and launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on September 7, 2023.
  • Weighs 590 kg at launch, significantly lighter than Chandrayaan 3.
  • Launched alongside XRISM, a next-gen X-ray space telescope, onboard an H-2A rocket.
  • Entered an elliptical orbit around the moon on December 25.

Comparison with Chandrayaan 3

  • SLIM’s launch closely follows the success of Chandrayaan 3’s surface component and Luna 25’s failure.
  • SLIM marks Japan’s second attempt in 2023 for a lunar soft landing.

Journey to the Moon

  • SLIM’s lighter weight is attributed to carrying less fuel.
  • Utilized a longer but fuel-thrifty route based on weak-stability boundary theory.
  • Built up kinetic energy around Earth through multiple swings, allowing for a more fuel-efficient journey.
  • Sacrificed time for fuel efficiency, reaching lunar orbit after four months.
  • December 25 marked SLIM’s orbital capture around the moon.

Innovative Approach

  • SLIM’s deflection toward the moon, rather than slowing down, utilized the combined forces of Earth and lunar gravity.
  • Physicists developed this approach in the late 1980s during the ‘Hiten’ mission.
  • SLIM’s unique trajectory prioritized fuel efficiency over a faster journey to the moon.

SLIM’s Lunar Mission Objectives

Precision in Lunar Landing

  • SLIM is known as the “moon sniper” for its remarkable precision in landing.
  • Scheduled to attempt a landing within 100 meters of its chosen site on the moon.

Historical Context

  • Past moon-landing missions had more lenient area tolerances for landing spots.
  • For example, the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan 3 had a 4 km x 2.5 km area tolerance.
  • China’s Chang’e 3 holds the record for the most precise moon landing, 89 meters away from its chosen spot within a 6 km x 6 km ellipse.

Landing Site and Data Utilization

  • SLIM’s landing site is near the Shioli Crater at 13.3º S and 25.2º E.
  • Similar to Chandrayaan 3, SLIM will use data from JAXA’s SELENE orbiter to guide its descent.
  •  

Technical Specifications

  • SLIM’s lower mass, only 120 kg excluding fuel, contributes to its maneuverability.
  • Its small size tests the efficiency of its design.

Additional Exploration

  • Before landing, SLIM will deploy two small rovers, Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV) 1 and 2.
  • LEV-1, LEV-2, and SLIM will collectively study the lunar surface, gather temperature and radiation readings, and attempt to explore the moon’s mantle.

India’s Moon Missions:

Chandrayaan-1:

  • Confirmed presence of lunar water
  • Evidence of lunar caves formed by an ancient lunar lava flow
  • Past tectonic activity were found on the lunar surface.
  • The faults and fractures discovered could be features of past interior tectonic activity coupled with meteorite impacts.

Chandrayaan-2:

  • Chandrayaan-2 is an integrated 3-in-1 spacecraft of around 3,877 kg comprising of an Orbiter of the Moon, Vikram (after Vikram Sarabhai) the lander and Pragyan (wisdom) the rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
  • The Orbiter will orbit from 100 km away, while the Lander and Rover modules will separate and make a soft-landing on the surface.

Chandrayaan-3 Mission:

  • Chandrayaan-3 is the third lunar exploration mission by ISRO.
  • It aims to demonstrate capabilities in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface.
    • Safe landing (through the lander Vikram – after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme) and
    • Roving (through the rover Pragyan) on the lunar surface.
  • Unlike Chandrayaan-2, it will not have an orbiter and the propulsion module will act as a communications relay satellite.

SLIM’s Impact on Chandrayaan 4 Mission

Targeting Moon’s South Pole

  • Scientists aim for the moon’s south pole region due to perpetually shadowed craters containing water-ice.
  • Chandrayaan 3’s success marked the conclusion of the second phase of India’s lunar exploration program.

Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) Mission

  • LUPEX, or Chandrayaan 4, is the first mission of the third phase.
  • Joint venture with Japan (pending Indian approval) and scheduled for a potential launch in 2026.
  • LUPEX will explore an area closer to the moon’s south pole compared to Chandrayaan 3.

Challenges and Technologies

  • Moon’s polar terrain is rocky with craters and steep slopes, requiring precise landing.
  • Downrange and cross-range limits for LUPEX will be lower, demanding advanced navigation systems.
  • SLIM’s tested technologies, including a feature-matching algorithm, are crucial for LUPEX’s success.

Collaboration Details

  • JAXA expected to provide the launch vehicle and lunar rover; India contributes the lander module.
  • The landing site for LUPEX is yet to be determined.

JAXA’s SLIM Mission Timing

  • SLIM’s mission launch closely follows Chandrayaan 3’s success and precedes Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft failure.
  • SLIM’s success on January 19 sets a record for the smallest-ever area tolerance in a moon landing.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a review meeting on Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in Chhattisgarh during which he underlined the need to rid the state of Maoist menace in three years.

 

Relevance:

GS3- Internal Security- Left Wing Extremism

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. Left-wing Extremism
  3. Democracy in Maoist Areas
  4. Fostering the Well-being of Tribals- Way Forward
  5. Conclusion

Key Points:

  • The Maoist insurgency, currently prevalent in the country, is particularly concentrated in the tribal regions of Chhattisgarh, notably in Bastar, where tribals are a crucial base for the movement.
  • The recent Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh have concluded, and the tribal vote dynamics played a significant role for each political party, considering the substantial tribal population in the state. The tribal voters constitute 34% of the total vote share.
  • The Home Minister in the review meeting emphasised the importance for a combined efforts of the security agencies, Central as well as from the state.
  • He stressed the need for saturation coverage of the Central and state government schemes in LWE-affected districts.
  • He also highlighted the need for a proactive and sensitive handling of all local grievances about bonafide entitlements.
  • Left-wing Extremism:
  •  
  • Left-wing extremists, commonly known globally as Maoists and in India as Naxalites, take their name from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal.
  • Naxalism originated as a revolt against local landlords who assaulted a peasant during a land dispute.
  • Initiated in 1967, the rebellion aimed at the just redistribution of land to working peasants and was led by Kanu Sanyal and Jagan Santhal.
  • The movement has expanded across Eastern India, particularly in less developed areas of states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Naxals are believed to align with Maoist political sentiments and ideology. Maoism, developed by Mao Tse Tung, is a form of communism advocating the capture of state power through a combination of armed insurgency, mass mobilization, and strategic alliances.

Democracy in Maoist Areas:

About the Recent Election:

  • Elections in these Maoist strongholds, designated as Schedule Five areas, have historically been marred by violence, often influenced by Maoist boycott calls. This year’s elections followed a similar pattern in this context.
  • Commencing with the data provided by the media, voter turnout in Maoist-affected regions such as Bijapur and Konta reportedly reached an extremely low range of 3% to 4%.
  • Interpreting this dismal participation could be seen as indicative of an underlying reality, depending on our willingness to recognize it.

Idea of Democracy:

For the tribal population residing in areas grappling with the ongoing Maoist insurgency, the concept of democracy holds diverse meanings. From the Maoists’ standpoint of advocating boycotts, it should be noted that these insurgents, who claim to fight on behalf of the people, paradoxically compel these very individuals to forsake their most potent means of empowerment—participation in the democratic process. This proclamation is crucial in exposing the hypocrisy that underlies the assertion that ‘Maoists are fighting for the people’s cause.’

Parallel Government:

  • In the current situation, the Maoists’ pursuit of their self-proclaimed parallel government, known as ‘jantana sarkar,’ seems unsustainable in both the medium and long term.
  • While the local tribal population tends to recognize this reality to some extent, the state has, for various reasons, failed to sufficiently inspire them.
  • This lack of inspiration has resulted in a discouragingly low level of mass participation in the democratic process. This shift is particularly noticeable compared to past trends where the local population often disregarded boycott calls.

Fostering the Well-being of Tribals- Way Forward:

  • The Maoists have constructed a false narrative, portraying themselves as advocates for the tribal cause. It is crucial to debunk this narrative convincingly by strengthening grassroots democracy.
  • Acknowledging and providing a voice to tribal leadership, currently absent and leading to political disengagement, is imperative where it truly matters.
  • Addressing the challenge posed by the Maoists goes beyond mere security and development concerns; it involves a forward-looking approach that empowers democracy at the grassroots.

Conclusion:

Hence, the desired approach should recognize tribal aspirations and expose the hidden motives of the Maoists. Failure to do so will result in continued short-term attention to the Maoist challenge only when they choose to act at their discretion. Given its significant potential, the PESA Act could serve as a powerful tool to integrate the tribal community by accommodating their aspirations. Its determined implementation is feasible in the medium and long term.

-Source: The Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claimed to have apprehended a juvenile for “harbouring terrorists involved in the killing of seven civilians in Jammu and Kashmir’s Dhangri village in January last year.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background
  2. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
  3. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021
  4. About Juvenile Justice Board
  5. Process for Trying a Child as an Adult in Court
  6. Responsibilities of the Board in the Preliminary Assessment Process

Background:

  • Five civilians were killed and several others seriously injured in the terrorist attack that took place in Rajouri district’s Dhangri on January 1, 2023 followed by two more casualties on the next day.
  • The case was consequently taken up by NIA.
  • Investigations by the agency had revealed that the apprehended minor, along with two other people arrested earlier were involved in harbouring the terrorists who had carried out the attack.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 to comprehensively address children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
  • The Act changes the nomenclature from ‘juvenile’ to ‘child’ or ‘child in conflict with law’.
  • Also, it removes the negative connotation associated with the word “juvenile”.
  • It also includes several new and clear definitions such as orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children; and petty, serious and heinous offences committed by children.
  • The 2015 law also included special provisions to tackle child offenders committing heinous offences in the age group of 16-18 years.
  • It mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one-woman member each.
  • A separate new chapter on Adoption to streamline adoption procedures for an orphan, abandoned and surrendered children,
  • Also, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) was granted the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
  • All Child Care Institutions, whether run by State Government or by voluntary or non-governmental organisations are to be mandatorily registered under the Act within 6 months from the date of commencement of the Act.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

  • Now, “Serious offences” will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is of less than seven years. [Serious offences are those for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years.]
  • The Juvenile Justice Board inquiries about a child who is accused of a serious offence.
  • The Bill amends the present act to provide that an offence which is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years to be non-cognizable (non-cognizable where arrest is allowed without warrant).
  • Presently, the adoption order issued by the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents. The Bill provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
  • The Bill provides that any person aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, within 30 days from the date of passage of such order.

About Juvenile Justice Board:

  • Juveniles accused of a crime or detained for a crime are brought before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (amended in 2006).
  • The aim of JJB is to hold a child culpable for their criminal activity, not through punishment, but counselling the child to understand their actions and persuade them away from criminal activities in the future.

       Structure:

  • The JJB consists of judicial magistrate of the first class and two social workers, at least one of whom should be a woman.
  • JJB are meant to resolve cases within a four month period.
  • Most circumstances the juvenile can be released on bail by the JJB.
  • The JJB is a child-friendly space that should not be intimidating or overwhelming for the child.

Process for Trying a Child as an Adult in Court

  • Offence categorization: The JJ Act classifies offenses committed by children into petty, serious, and heinous offenses.
  • Preliminary assessment: Section 15 of the JJ Act mandates a preliminary assessment by the Board if a child above 16 years of age is alleged to have committed a heinous offense. The assessment covers the child’s mental and physical capacity to commit the crime, their ability to understand the consequences of their actions, and the circumstances surrounding the offense.
  • Board order: If the Board decides, after the preliminary assessment, that the child should be tried as an adult, Section 18 (3) of the Act permits the transfer of the case to the Children’s Court with jurisdiction over such offenses.
  • Objective: The primary purpose of the preliminary assessment is to determine whether a child between the ages of 16 and 18 should be tried as an adult in cases involving heinous offenses.

Responsibilities of the Board in the Preliminary Assessment Process

  • Conduct preliminary assessment: The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) is responsible for conducting the preliminary assessment to determine whether a child between the ages of 16 and 18 should be tried as an adult in cases involving heinous offenses.
  • Provide order copy: The JJB must provide a copy of the order to the child, their family, and their counsel.
  • Seek expert assistance: If the JJB does not have a member with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry, the Board must take the assistance of psychologists or experts who have experience working with children.
  • Provide legal aid counsel: The child must be provided with a legal aid counsel through the District Legal Services Authority, who should be present during the preliminary assessment.
  • Mandate expert training: Experts who assist the JJB must undergo training related to Section 15 of the JJ Act, 2015.
  • Analyze social reports: During the preliminary assessment, the Board and experts must analyze the Social Investigation Report (SIR) prepared by the Probation officer or Child Welfare Officer or any social worker, or a Social Background Report (SBR) prepared after interaction with the child or their family.

-Source: The Indian Express



Context:

The Ram temple in Ayodhya was inaugurated on January 22, 2024. The beautiful complex of the temple architecture is designed by Chanrakant Sompura and his son Ashish. The style of the temple architecture is known as the “Nagara” style.

Relevance:

GS-1 Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nagara Architecture
  2. Background of Ayodhya Ram Temple

Nagara Architecture:

  • The style of temple architecture that became popular in northern India is known as nagara.
  • The architecture emerged sometime in the fifth century CE, during the late Gupta period, in northern India.
  • It is seen in juxtaposition with the Dravida style of southern India, which too emerged in the same period.
  • Further, unlike Dravidian style, it does not usually have elaborate boundary walls or gateways. However, Ayodhya’s Ram temple has hybrid features- 732m long wall runs around the temple compound.
  • While the earliest temples had just one tower, or shikhara, later temples had several. The garbhagriha is always located directly under the tallest tower.
  • Towering over the garbha griha is the shikhara, the most distinguishable aspect of Nagara style temples.
  • Nagara temples are built on a raised plinth, with the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) — where the idol of the deity rests — the most sacred part of the temple.
  • A typical Nagara style temple also comprises a circumambulatory passage around the garbha griha, and one or more mandapas (halls) on the same axis as it. Elaborate murals and reliefs often adorn its walls.
  • Depending on the period and geography, there is a large variation when it comes to what a shikhara looks like, or how it is used in a temple’s design. On this basis, Hardy identifies five modes of Nagara temple architecture — Valabhi, Phamsana, Latina, Shekhari, and Bhumija.

Background of Ayodhya Ram Temple:

Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi Dispute:

The dispute involves a religious site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, where the Babri Masjid, a mosque, was built in the 16th century. Hindus believe that the site is the birthplace of Lord Ram and claim that a temple existed there before the mosque was built.

Demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992:

The mosque was attacked and demolished by a Hindu nationalist mob in 1992, which ignited communal violence across the world.

SC on Ram Temple Construction:

In November 2019, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ordered the disputed land to be handed over to a trust to build the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. The court also directed the government to give the Sunni Waqf Board five acres of land in another location to build a mosque.

 -Source: The Indian Express


 

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