- Surrogacy Law
- UN Convention to Combat Desertification
- Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee
- Neolithic Age
- Banni festival
The Supreme Court has protected the right of parenthood of a woman, suffering from a rare medical condition, by staying the operation of a law which threatened to wreck her hopes to become a mother through surrogacy.
GS II- Government policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- Recent Case and Reasons for Approaching the Supreme Court (SC)
- About Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021
- Eligibility criteria for intending couple
- Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother
- Offences and penalties
Recent Case and Reasons for Approaching the Supreme Court (SC)
Medical Condition and Gestational Surrogacy:
- The woman suffers from Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which leads to absent ovaries and uterus, making her unable to produce her eggs.
- She and her husband had initiated gestational surrogacy through a donor last year.
- Amendment and Ban on Donor Gametes:
- On March 14 this year, the government issued a notification amending the law, prohibiting the use of donor gametes in surrogacy.
- The amendment mandated that “intending couples” must use their own gametes for surrogacy.
- Gametes are reproductive cells used for sexual reproduction, like ova (egg cells) and sperm.
- The woman began the surrogacy process months before the amendment, which should not apply retrospectively.
- The amendment ruled out the use of donor eggs, making it impossible for her and her husband to continue surrogacy.
- The amendment contradicted the Surrogacy Act 2021, which recognized situations requiring gestational surrogacy due to medical conditions.
- The Surrogacy Rules specified medical conditions like the absence of a uterus, abnormal uterus, or surgical removal due to conditions like gynaecological cancer.
- The rules affirmed that the choice rested solely with the woman.
- The law required that surrogacy could only be availed of when the child was “genetically related” to the intending couple, allowing for the use of donor eggs.
- The amendment was prima facie contradictory to the Surrogacy Act’s main provisions in both form and substance.
- The law permitting gestational surrogacy was “woman-centric,” based on a woman’s inability to become a mother due to medical or congenital conditions.
- The amendment could not contradict rules recognizing the absence of a uterus or related conditions as medical indications necessitating gestational surrogacy.
- Addressing the government’s contention regarding genetic relation, the court pointed out that the child would be related to the husband.
- The expression “genetically related” to the intending couple should be read as related to the husband.
About Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021
The Act prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.
- In altruistic surrogacy, the surrogate mother receives no monetary remuneration other than medical bills and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.
- Commercial surrogacy refers to surrogacy or associated treatments that are performed for a monetary gain or reward (in cash or kind) that exceeds the cost of basic medical care and insurance coverage.
Surrogacy is permitted when it is:
- For intending couples who suffer from proven infertility;
- Not for commercial purposes
- Not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation
- For any condition or disease specified through regulations.
Eligibility criteria for intending couple
- The intending couple should have a‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
- A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
- A certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board;
- An order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court; and
- Insurance coverage for a period of 16 months covering postpartum delivery complications for the surrogate.
- The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
- The couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years;
- Between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband);
- They do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness;
- Other conditions that may be specified by regulations.
Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother
- To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be:
- A close relative of the intending couple;
- A married woman having a child of her own;
- 25 to 35 years old;
- A surrogate only once in her lifetime;
- Possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.
- Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.
National and State Surrogacy Boards
The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.
Functions of the NSB include,
- Advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy;
- Laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics;
- Supervising the functioning of SSBs.
Parentage and abortion of surrogate child
- A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.
- An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority.
- This authorisation must be compliant with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
- Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.
Offences and penalties
- The offences under the Act include:
- Undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy;
- Exploiting the surrogate mother;
- Abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and
- Selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.
- The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.
-Source: The Hindu
UN Convention to Combat Desertification
Recently, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has announced the launch of its first-ever Data Dashboard, which shows that Land Degradation is advancing at an astonishing rate across all regions.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Land Degradation?
- Key Highlights of UNCCD Data on Land Degradation
- Recommendations of UNCCD to Achieve LDN Targets
What is Land Degradation?
- Land degradation arises from various factors, including extreme weather conditions, particularly drought.
- Human activities that pollute or degrade the quality of soils and land utility also contribute to land degradation.
Impact of Land Degradation:
- Severe land degradation can lead to desertification, resulting in the creation of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions.
- Land degradation accelerates climate change and biodiversity loss, contributes to droughts, wildfires, involuntary migration, and the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
- Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement that connects environmental and developmental aspects to promote sustainable land management.
- It specifically addresses arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions, collectively known as drylands, which are home to some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and populations.
- The Convention’s 197 parties collaborate to enhance the living conditions in drylands, preserve and restore land and soil productivity, and mitigate the impacts of drought.
UNCCD and Interconnected Challenges:
- UNCCD collaborates with the other two Rio Conventions to tackle the interrelated challenges of land, climate, and biodiversity:
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework:
- This framework represents a global commitment to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), with the goal of restoring the productivity of extensive degraded land, enhancing the livelihoods of over 1.3 billion people, and reducing the effects of drought on vulnerable populations.
UNCCD and Sustainable Development:
- Goal 15 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) emphasizes the determination to protect the planet from degradation.
- It emphasizes sustainable consumption and production, responsible natural resource management, and urgent climate action to ensure the planet can meet the needs of present and future generations.
Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)
- LDN is a straightforward but potent concept that involves ensuring a balance between the depletion and restoration of natural resources in a way that preserves the overall health and productivity of the land.
- The core of LDN centers on adopting more effective land management practices and improved land-use planning to enhance economic, social, and ecological sustainability for both current and future generations.
- LDN offers substantial advantages in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation. By halting and reversing land degradation, it is possible to shift the status of land from being a source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) to becoming a carbon sink. This transformation is achieved by increasing carbon stocks in soils and vegetation.
Key Highlights of UNCCD Data on Land Degradation:
Global Land Loss:
- Between 2015 and 2019, the world witnessed the annual loss of over 100 million hectares of productive land, which is equivalent to twice the size of Greenland.
- This highlights a significant and rapid worsening of land degradation on a global scale.
High Impact Regions:
- Regions such as Eastern and Central Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean are experiencing severe land degradation, affecting at least 20% of their total land area.
- Sub-Saharan Africa, Western and Southern Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean have experienced land degradation rates faster than the global average.
- Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean have seen 163 million hectares and 108 million hectares of land, respectively, succumb to degradation since 2015.
- Certain countries have made progress in combatting land degradation. For instance, Botswana in sub-Saharan Africa reduced land degradation from 36% to 17% of its territory.
- The Dominican Republic witnessed a reduction in the proportion of degraded land from 49% to 31% between 2015 and 2019. Ongoing efforts aim to restore 240,000 hectares in specific land degradation hotspots.
- Uzbekistan reported the highest proportion of degraded land (26.1%) in Central Asia but also achieved the largest decrease, going from 30% to 26% since 2015.
- India, however, experienced an increase in degraded land area from 4.42% in 2015 to 9.45% in 2019, indicating significant land degradation.
Recommendations of UNCCD to Achieve LDN Targets:
- Restore Degraded Land:
- The UNCCD underscores the need to restore approximately 1.5 billion hectares of degraded land by 2030 to attain the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) objectives set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Stopping Further Degradation and Accelerating Restoration:
- The UNCCD emphasizes that despite concerning global trends, it remains possible to meet or even exceed LDN goals. This can be achieved through a combination of halting further degradation and accelerating efforts to restore degraded land.
- Voluntary LDN Targets:
- Numerous countries have established voluntary LDN targets for the year 2030, reflecting their commitment to combating land degradation.
- Need for Funding:
- Adequate funding is crucial to support and advance these efforts in line with the LDN targets.
-Source: Down To Earth
Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee
Recently, Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee has initiated investigation over ‘Cash for Query’ allegations on a Member of Parliament (MPs) accused of accepting “Bribes” to ask questions in Parliament.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Potential Outcomes of an Ethics Committee Investigation
- Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee
- Overlap with Privileges Committee
Potential Outcomes of an Ethics Committee Investigation:
- Ethics Committee Recommendations:
- If the Ethics Committee finds merit in the complaint, it can make recommendations regarding the alleged misconduct.
- Suspension Recommendation:
- A common potential punishment recommended by the Ethics Committee is the suspension of the Member of Parliament (MP) for a specified period.
- House Decision:
- The ultimate decision regarding whether to accept the committee’s recommendation and the nature and extent of the punishment, if any, rests with the House, which includes all MPs.
- Legal Challenge:
- If the accused MP is expelled or faces an adverse decision, they have the option to challenge it in a court of law.
- Grounds for Legal Challenge:
- The grounds for challenging such a decision in court are limited and typically include claims of unconstitutionality, gross illegality, or a denial of natural justice.
Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee:
- The members of the Ethics Committee are appointed by the Speaker for a one-year term.
- The concept of ethics committees for both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha was first suggested during a Presiding Officers’ Conference held in Delhi in 1996.
- The Ethics Committee for the Rajya Sabha was constituted by then Vice President K. R. Narayanan on March 4, 1997, to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of members and examine cases of misconduct referred to it.
- In the case of the Lok Sabha, a study group of the House Committee of Privileges in 1997 recommended the establishment of an Ethics Committee, but it was not implemented at that time.
- The Committee of Privileges eventually recommended the formation of an Ethics Committee during the 13th Lok Sabha.
- The late Speaker, G. M. C. Balayogi, established an ad hoc Ethics Committee in 2000, which only became a permanent part of the House in 2015.
Procedure for Complaints:
- Any person can file a complaint against a Member of Parliament (MP) through another Lok Sabha MP, along with evidence of alleged misconduct and an affidavit confirming that the complaint is not “false, frivolous, or vexatious.”
- If the Member himself or herself complains, no affidavit is required.
- The Speaker can refer any complaint against an MP to the Ethics Committee. The Committee does not consider complaints based solely on media reports or matters that are sub judice. It conducts a prima facie inquiry before deciding to examine a complaint and presents its recommendations after evaluating the complaint.
- The Committee’s report is presented to the Speaker, who seeks the House’s opinion on whether the report should be considered. A half-hour discussion on the report can also be arranged.
Overlap with Privileges Committee:
- The functions of the Ethics Committee and the Privileges Committee often overlap. While allegations of corruption against an MP can be sent to either body, more serious accusations are usually directed to the Privileges Committee.
- The Privileges Committee’s role is to protect the “freedom, authority, and dignity of Parliament.” These privileges apply to individual Members and the House as a whole. An MP can be investigated for a breach of privilege, and a non-MP can also be accused of breaching privilege by actions that undermine the authority and dignity of the House.
- The Ethics Committee deals primarily with cases of misconduct involving MPs.
-Source: The Hindu
The Year 2024 will be highly significant for the global economy due to elections in major influential economies: India, Russia, the UK, the EU, and the US; where in the US, the Bidenomics is supposedly going to be a major electoral plank.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- Rationale Behind Bidenomics
- Other Similar Initiatives Adopted by Other Countries
- Economic Revival Initiatives in India
- “Bidenomics” is a term used to describe the various policy choices made by the Biden administration in the United States.
- According to the White House, Biden’s economic vision is built on three key pillars:
- Making intelligent public investments in America.
- Empowering and educating workers to bolster the middle class.
- Promoting competition to reduce costs and support entrepreneurs and small businesses.
- Bidenomics encompasses policies aimed at:
- Enhancing the physical and digital infrastructure of the USA.
- Reducing the nation’s trade dependence on competitors like China.
- Raising living standards and opportunities for the middle 40% and the bottom 50% of the US population.
- Stimulating job creation within the country.
- The economic approach of Bidenomics involves efforts to generate revenue through increased and higher taxation while also allocating substantial spending towards investments in clean energy and the reduction of healthcare costs.
Rationale Behind Bidenomics:
- Reagan’s Top-Down Model: After the perceived failure of Ronald Reagan’s top-down economic model and trickle-down approach, it became evident that similar initiatives might not yield desired results, and more innovative approaches were needed to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Present Context: The United States recognized that some of the challenges arising in the post-COVID era were deeply rooted in the shortcomings of the trickle-down economic theory. This realization led to the proposition of a new economic model known as Bidenomics, designed to reform the trickle-down theory associated with Reaganomics.
Why Bidenomics Matters:
- Global Influence: Bidenomics is not just influential within the United States; it is also seen as a potential model for global change. For instance, the UK’s Labour Party is considering a more interventionist approach inspired by Bidenomics.
- Bidenomics as a Double-Edged Sword: While Bidenomics has garnered attention and support, it is also a subject of concern. Critics worry that its emphasis on domestic producer subsidies may trigger a global competition in subsidies among countries, especially in the post-COVID landscape.
Other Similar Initiatives Adopted by Other Countries
Abenomics is an economic policy framework initiated in Japan by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It aimed to revitalize the Japanese economy, which had been grappling with deflation, slow growth, and economic stagnation for an extended period.
- Monetary Policy: The Bank of Japan implementing a policy of “quantitative and qualitative monetary easing” (QQE) to combat deflation.
- Fiscal Policy: The second aspect focused on expansionary fiscal policies, including increased government spending and public investments to stimulate demand and foster economic growth.
Economic Revival Initiatives in India:
- New Economic Policy: India introduced a new economic policy in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy. This policy included a stimulus package worth Rs 20 lakh crore, equivalent to 10% of GDP, to support various sectors and segments of the economy.
- Production-linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: India launched the PLI scheme in 2020 to boost manufacturing and exports in key sectors such as automobiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and renewable energy. The scheme offers financial incentives to eligible manufacturers based on their incremental sales and investment over a period of five years.
- Labour Codes: India implemented four labor codes aimed at consolidating and simplifying central labor laws into four broad categories: wages, industrial relations, social security, and occupational safety and health.
- Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission: India launched the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, also known as the Self-reliant India Mission, with an economic stimulus package worth Rs 20 lakh crores. This mission aimed to promote self-reliance and economic growth.
-Source: Indian Express
A rock art dating back to the Neolithic period was recently found in the Palnadu district of Andhra Pradesh.
GS I: History
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Neolithic Age
- End of the Neolithic Age
About the Neolithic Age:
- The Neolithic Age, also known as the New Stone Age, represents the final stage of cultural evolution and technological development among prehistoric humans.
- This term is often associated with the advent of agriculture, marking the time when cereal cultivation and animal domestication became prevalent.
- The beginning of the Neolithic Age varies across regions, as agriculture developed at different times worldwide. In India, the Neolithic Age is estimated to have commenced around 7000 BCE.
- The Neolithic Age succeeded the Mesolithic Period and was followed by the Chalcolithic Age, characterized by early metal tool usage.
Features of the Neolithic Age:
- The Neolithic Age is characterized by the use of stone tools crafted through polishing or grinding techniques, reliance on domesticated plants and animals, establishment of permanent village settlements, and the emergence of crafts such as pottery and weaving.
- Houses during this period were typically constructed using mud and reed, with both rectangular and circular designs.
End of the Neolithic Age:
- Towards the conclusion of the Neolithic era, copper metallurgy was introduced, marking a transition period to the Bronze Age, also known as the Chalcolithic or Eneolithic Era.
- Bronze became the primary material for tools and weapons during this transition, rendering much of the stone technology obsolete, ultimately signaling the end of the Neolithic Age and the broader Stone Age.
- Significant Neolithic sites in India include Burzahom in Kashmir, Chirand in Bihar, and Edakkal caves in Kerala.
-Source: The Hindu
Recently, three people lost their lives and more than a hundred were injured in the traditional Banni festival at Devaragattu in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh.
GS I: Festivals, Facts for Prelims
About the Banni Festival:
- The Banni festival is a traditional stick-fight celebration.
- It takes place on the night of Dussehra, also known as Vijaya Dasami, every year.
- The festival’s objective is to symbolically “snatch” idols from the divine team, leading to a fierce battle known as the Banni Fight.
- Historically, this festival was celebrated by people under the Vijayanagara Empire.
- The festival commemorates the victory of Lord Mala Malleswara Swamy and Goddess Parvati over the demonish Mani and Mallasura, who troubled the people in the Devaragattu region.
- The ritual occurs at midnight when the procession idols of the presiding deities, Malamma (Parvati) and Malleshwara Swamy (Shiva), are brought down from the hill temple at Neraneki.
- Devotees participate by carrying long sticks or lathis, which they use to engage in stick-fighting, often striking each other on the head.
- The essence of this fight is to capture the procession idol, representing a symbolic battle in the festival.
-Source: The Hindu