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Current Affairs 30 January 2023

CONTENT

  1. Mahadayi River Dispute
  2. Marriage laws for minors
  3. Beating Retreat ceremony
  4. Sub-categorisation of OBCs
  5. Grievances appellate committees
  6. Pashmina Shawls
  7. Black Vulture

Mahadayi River Dispute


Context:

Government of Goa has sought an early hearing by the Supreme Court in the Mahadayi river sharing issue involving Karnataka.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Mahadayi(Mandovi) river
  2. What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?
  3. Why is the Dispute?
  4. What did the Tribunal say?

About Mahadayi (Mandovi) river

  • It is the Lifeline of the Indian state of Goa
  • The Mandovi and the Zuari are the two primary rivers in the state of Goa.
  • Mandovi joins with the Zuari at a common creek at Cabo Aguada, forming the Mormugao harbour
  • It rises in the Western Ghats, from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Belagavi district of Karnataka.
  • Flowing westward, it enters Goa. Over two-thirds of the river’s stretch lies in Goa (76km).
  • River Mahadayi joins the Arabian Sea at Panaji, Goa.

What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?

  • The Kalasa Banduri Nala project aims to divert water from Mahadayi to satisfy the drinking water needs of Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Gadag districts.
  • Though the project was first proposed in the early 1980s, it has remained on paper owing to a dispute between Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
  • As per plans, barrages are to be built against Kalasa and Banduri streams — tributaries of Mahadayi — and water diverted towards Karnataka’s parched districts.

Why is the Dispute?

  • In 2002, two-and-a-half decades since the proposal, the Karnataka government decided to implement the project, after the Centre cleared it.
  • Goa, under its then CM , approached the Centre, urging it to assess the available resources in the river and allocate water to the three basin states — Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • Due to the protests in Goa and also due to concerns over ecological damage, the project was put on hold by the then NDA government.
  • The dispute gained steam in 2006, when the JD(S)-BJP coalition government in Karnataka decided to start work on the project.
  • Goa then approached the Supreme Court, seeking the creation of a Tribunal to settle the water sharing dispute.
  •  A Tribunal was finally set up by the UPA government in November 2010.

What did the Tribunal say?

  • The Tribunal in 2018 awarded 13.42 TMC water from Mahadayi river basin to Karnataka, 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra and 24 TMC to Goa.
  •  In Karnataka’s share, 5.5 TMC was to meet drinking water needs and 8.02 TMC was for hydro-electricity generation.
  • Of the 5.5 TMC, 3.8 TMC was to be diverted to Malaprabha basin through Kalasa and Banduri Nalas (canals).
  • This was notified by the Central government in February 2020.

What happened after the notification?

  • After the Tribunal award, Goa filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court in July 2019, challenging the quantum of allocation.
  • Subsequently, in October 2020, it filed a contempt petition before the SC, accusing Karnataka of illegally diverting water from the Mahadayi basin.
  • Civil appeals were also filed by Maharashtra over the dispute.
  • The project has been a long-standing demand of Karnataka residents set to benefit from it.

-Source:  The Hindu


Marriage laws for Minors


Context:

Recently, the Supreme Court announced that it would examine whether minor girls, as young as 15 years, can marry on the basis of custom or personal law when such marriages are considered an offence in statutory law.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Supreme Court to Address Child Marriages
  3. Laws Governing Marriage in India
  4. Child Marriage in India: High Prevalence in Certain States
  5. Effects of Early Marriage

Details:

  • The legal age for marriage is 18 years for women and 21 years for men.
  • Marriage below this age is considered to be child marriage, and hence an offence.
  • In 2017, the Supreme Court had ruled that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, who is below 18 years, is rape, reading down Exception 2 to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code which allowed the husband of a girl child — between 15 and 18 years of age — to have non-consensual sex with her.

Supreme Court to Address Child Marriages

  • The Supreme Court of India is examining the legality of child marriages involving girls as young as 15 years old.
  • A petition was filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights against a recent ruling by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which allowed for such marriages under Muslim personal law.
  • The Supreme Court has stated that the High Court ruling will not act as a judicial precedent for other courts.
  • The NCPCR argues that personal law and custom cannot be used as a defense for such marriages, which are considered an offense under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Indian Penal Code.
  • The Supreme Court has also called for Parliament to lower the age of consent under the POCSO Act and the Indian Penal Code, which is currently set at 18 years.
  • The government has informed Parliament that it does not currently plan to lower the age of consent.

Laws Governing Marriage in India

Child Marriage Prohibition Act (PCMA)

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was proposed to increase the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years.
  • The bill has been referred to a parliamentary standing committee and has received three extensions for submission of its report.

Minimum Age of Marriage for Women

  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) filed a petition to make the minimum age of marriage for Muslim women equal to that of other religious groups.
  • The NCW petition states that the minimum age of marriage for a man is 21 years and for a woman is 18 years under various acts such as the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, Special Marriage Act, 1954, and Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
  • The petition points out that under Muslim personal law, persons who have reached puberty, or the age of 15 years, are eligible to get married, while they are still minors.

Supreme Court Request for Government Response

  • The Supreme Court asked the government to respond to the NCW petition regarding the minimum age of marriage for Muslim women.
  • The NCW and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights raised the question whether personal law can override statutory provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and other laws.

What has the Assam government decreed?

  • The Assam Cabinet recently announced that men who marry minor girls would be booked under stringent laws prescribing imprisonment from two years to life.
  • Citing the National Family Health Survey-5 report, Chief Minister said an average of 31.8% of girls in Assam get married at the “prohibited age” and 11.7% become mothers before adulthood.
  • The national average is 23.3% and 6.8% respectively.

Child Marriage in India: High Prevalence in Certain States

  • 70 districts across 13 states were identified as having a high prevalence of child marriage in an analysis by Young Lives, India, and NCPCR in 2017.
    • These states are Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • Interventions, including awareness campaigns and law enforcement, are being carried out to reduce child marriage, but much work still needs to be done.
  • Jharkhand saw a reduction in child marriage from 37.9% in 2016 (NFHS 4) to 32.2% in 2021 (NFHS 5).
  • West Bengal had 41.6% of women getting married before age 18 in both NFHS 4 and 5.
  • Madhya Pradesh showed improvement with a decrease in child marriage from 32.4% in NFHS 4 to 23.1% in NFHS 5, but still has a high infant mortality rate of 41.3 per 1000 live births.

Effects of Early Marriage:

Health Impacts:

  • Anaemia among 15-19 age group girls in India is 59% (NFHS-5)
  • Early childbearing results in poor maternal and child health, and poor nutritional status.

Education:

  • 41% of women in India have 10 or more years of schooling (NFHS-5)
  • The education level varies from state to state, e.g. in West Bengal, 32.9% of women have completed 10 or more years of schooling (NFHS-5)

Autonomy and Livelihood:

  • Girls who get married early lack reproductive choices and are denied education, autonomy, and livelihood opportunities.
  • The study by Young Lives, India-NCPCR highlights that early marriage can have severe health and socio-economic impacts on girls. Early marriage limits their reproductive choices and education, which can negatively impact their health and livelihood.

-Source: The Hindu


Beating Retreat Ceremony


Context:

The Beating Retreat Ceremony held in Vijay Chowk, Delhi, is a sombre end to the four-day-long Republic Day celebrations in India, including the Republic Day parade held nearby a few days prior.

Relevance

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of this article:

  1. What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?
  2. How has the ceremony evolved?

What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?

  • Beating Retreat is a centuries-old military tradition going back to the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset. As soon as the buglers sounded the ‘retreat’, troops ceased fighting and withdrew from the battlefield.
  • It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of the ‘retreat’ has been retained to this day.
  • The ceremony is conducted every year on January 29 at Vijay Chowk to mark the formal conclusion of the Republic Day celebrations.
  • The ceremony is graced by the President of India as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
  • It is marked by the lowering of flags at dusk.
  • A series of lights illuminate the outlines of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block, South Block and Parliament House.
  • It is an event much awaited by the public and always inspires awe.

How has the ceremony evolved?

  • For a long time, it was only the Services bands that took part in the ceremony in line with military traditions.
  • Recently that the musical bands of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and the Delhi Police were included.
  • Until last year the ceremony came to a close with ‘Abide With Me’, the popular 19th century Christian hymn, followed by the ever-popular tune ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’, which was played as the bands marched out.
    • Abide With Me was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal favourites.
    • The Father of the Nation first heard the piece played by Mysore Palace Band, and could not forget its tenderness and serenity.
  • However, this year ‘Abide With Me’ has been dropped and a popular Indian tune ‘Ae mera watan ke logon’, which was  composed by C. Ramachandra for which Kavi Pradeep provided lyrics, has been included.
  • Also, all the tunes this year are Indian to coincide with the 75th year of Independence.
  • In the last few years, in addition to military instruments like pipes and drums, traditional Indian musical instruments have also been included.
  • This year, 44 buglers, 16 trumpeters and 75 drummers will enthral the audience during the Beating Retreat.
  • In a first this year, there is a drone show with over 1,000 drones built by an Indian start-up as well as a laser projection.

-Source: The Hindu


Sub-categorisation of OBCs


Context:

The Justice G. Rohini-led commission for the sub-categorisation of other backward classes (OBCs) has been given yet another extension in its tenure by the President, according to a Gazette notification issued by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is sub-categorisation of OBCs?
  2. What is the Commission’s brief?
  3. What progress has it made so far?
  4. What have its findings been so far?
  5. What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?

What is sub-categorisation of OBCs?

  • The idea is to create sub-categories within the larger group of OBCs for the purpose of reservation.
  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • This has been a legal debate for other reservation categories too: in September 2021, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations.
  • For OBCs, the debate arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of the 27% reservation.
  • The argument for creating sub-categories within OBCs is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
    • It was to examine this that the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.

What is the Commission’s brief?

It was originally set up with three terms of reference:

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the Central List.
  2.  To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs.
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories. A fourth term of reference was added on January 22, 2020.
  4. To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

This was added following a letter to the government from the Commission on July 30, 2019, in which it flagged “several ambiguities in the list as it stands now”.

What progress has it made so far?

  • In its letter on July 30, 2019, the Commission wrote that it is ready with the draft report on sub-categorisation. Following the new term of reference added in January 22, the Commission began studying the list of communities in the central list.
  • Among the challenges it has faced, one has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • The Commission wrote to Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment on December 12, 2018, requesting for an appropriate Budget provision for a proposed all-India survey for an estimate of the caste-wise population of OBCs.
  • On August 31, 2018, then Home Minister had announced that in Census 2021, data of OBCs will also be collected, but since then the government has been silent on this, whereas groups of OBCs have been demanding enumeration of OBCs in the Census.

What have its findings been so far?

  • In 2018, the Commission analysed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions, including universities, IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS, over the preceding three years.
  • The findings were: 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs; 24.95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities; 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions; 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.

What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?

  • According to data tabled in Parliament by MoS for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in Rajya Sabha on March 17, the total number of Group A to Group C employees (including safai karmacharis) was 5.12 lakh (see table).
    • Of these, 17.70% are SC, 6.72% ST, 20.26% OBC (Other Backward Classes), and 0.02% EWS (Economically Weaker Sections).
    • In Group-A, the highest tier among these, the representation of SCs is just 12.86%, of STs 5.64% and of OBCs 16.88%. Reservation for these communities is 15%, 7.5% and 27% respectively.
  • These data cover 43 departments and government offices including Cabinet Secretariat, UPSC and Election Commission, but excluding the largest central government employers such as Railways and Department of Posts.
  • Among Secretaries and Special Secretaries, only six belong to SCs and STs, and, “no data regarding OBC is maintained”.
  • Out of 91 Additional Secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities are 10 and 4 respectively and out of 245 Joint Secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities are 26 and 29 respectively in various Ministries/Departments under Central Staffing Scheme.

-Source: The Hindu


Grievances Appellate Committees


Context:

The Centre has notified the formation of three grievance appellate committees that will address users’ complaints against social media and other internet-based platforms, including being empowered to oversee and revoke content moderation-related decisions taken by these platforms.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Composition of Three Grievances Appellate Committees (GACs)
  2. Role of Grievances Appellate Committees (GACs)

Composition of Three Grievances Appellate Committees (GACs)

Composition:

  • Each GAC will have a chairperson, two whole-time members from different government entities, and retired senior executives from the industry, serving a term of three years.

First Panel:

  • Chairperson: CEO of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Whole-time members: Retired IPS officer Ashutosh Shukla and PNB’s former CGM and CIO Sunil Soni

Second Panel:

  • Chairperson: Joint Secretary in charge of Policy and Administration Division in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  • Whole-time members: Retired Indian Navy Commodore Sunil Kumar Gupta and former VP of L&T Infotech Kavindra Sharma

Third Panel:

  • Chairperson: Senior Scientist at Ministry of Electronics and IT, Kavita Bhatia
  • Whole-time members: Former Traffic Service Officer of Indian Railways Sanjay Goel and former MD and CEO of IDBI Intech Krishnagiri Ragothamarao

Role of Grievances Appellate Committees (GACs)

  • Purpose: In response to criticism from civil society activists and complaints from users about being deplatformed without an adequate avenue of hearing, the government established GACs to handle appeals from users who are not satisfied with the content moderation decision made by a social media company’s grievance officer.
  • Function: GACs can seek expert assistance in dealing with appeals and will adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism for the entire appeal process. Social media companies will have to compile and report every order passed by the GACs on their websites.
  • Appeal Process: Anyone who is aggrieved by a decision made by a social media intermediary’s grievance officer can file an appeal to the GAC within 30 days. The GAC must resolve the appeal within a month of receipt.
  • Timing: The GACs’ online platform will be operational from March 1, 2023, taking into account the transition period required for social media intermediaries.

-Source: Indian Express


Pashmina Shawls


Context:

Kashmir’s famed pashmina shawls, known for centuries for their signature intricate buta or paisley patterns, got a French touch.

  • The transformation, where Kashmiri shawls were adorned with abstract paintings rather than intricate embroidery, has re-introduced the fabric with new-age aesthetics.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Agriculture and Allied sectors, GS-III: Intellectual Property Rights

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Pashmina Shawls and what is the history behind them?
  2. How is the Pashmina Shawl produced?
  3. Changthangi or Pashmina goat
  4. Pashmina wool
  5. Changpa

What are Pashmina Shawls and what is the history behind them?

  • Pashmina Shawls are a fine variant of shawls spun from cashmere wools. A cashmere wool itself is obtained from the Changthangi goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) native to the high plateau of Ladakh.
  • Pashmina shawls gained much prominence in the days of the Mughal Empire as objects of rank and nobility. Babur first established the practice of giving khilat – giving ‘robes of honour’ – in 1526 to members of his court for their devoted service, high achievements or as a mark of royal favour. 
  • Through the enthusiastic use by Empress Joséphine – the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte – the pashmina shawl gained status as a fashion icon. 

MSP for hand spun, hand woven Pashmina fixed

  • In a significant step towards promotion of Handicrafts, the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir has announced a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for GI certified Pashmina shawls.
  • The MSP of Pashmina was determined after three consecutive meetings that were held at Indian Institute of Carpet Technology through discussions and considering various types of expenditures incurred during different stages of manufacturing.
  • Among the various benefits of adopting Minimum Support Price policy, it will help in reviving hand spinning and hand weaving and will help grass root level artisans who work hard to promote these crafts by virtue of which Kashmir is famous.

GI Tag for Pashmina 

  • In order to preserve the centuries old art of spinning and weaving of genuine pashmina fabric and to maintain international standards the Government of India (Under WTO) has established a quality mark for genuine Pashmina that will identify items the genuine fiber known as Pashm obtained from the goat living in Ladakh of Kashmir region. 
  • Geographical Indication (GI) Label on Kashmir Pashmina acts as a certification that the product possesses certain unique qualities not found elsewhere and is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin, under the Paris Convention and Lisbon Agreement.

BIS Standards for Pashmina

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify its purity in 2019.
  • The certification will help curb the adulteration of Pashmina and also protect the interests of local artisans and nomads who are the producers of Pashmina raw material.
  • It will also assure the purity of Pashmina for customers.
  • It will ensure better prices for the goat herding community in Ladakh as well as for the local handloom artisans producing genuine Pashmina products.

How is the Pashmina Shawl produced?

  • Every winter the goats from whom pashmina is acquired shed their coat. 
  • In the spring the undercoat is shed, which is collected by combing the goat instead of shearing them as is the case with other wool collection activities.
  • The pashmina wool is produced by the people known as the Changpa, a nomadic people who inhabit the Ladakh region. The Changpa rear sheep in a harsh climate where temperature drops to −40 °C .
  • Raw pashmina is exported to Kashmir where the combing, spinning, weaving and finishing are traditionally carried out by hand by a specialised team of craftsmen and women.
  • The major production centre of pashmina shawls is in the old district of Srinagar. 
  • It takes about 180 hours to produce a single piece of pashmina shawl.

Changthangi or Pashmina goat

  • The Pashmina goat is a breed of goat inhabiting the plateaus in Tibet, Nepal, parts of Burma and neighbouring areas of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, India.
  • It is also known as ‘Changthangi’, ‘Changra”.
  • They are raised for ultra-fine cashmere wool, also known as pashmina once woven.
  • These goats are generally domesticated and are reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang region of Greater Ladakh.
  • The Changthangi goats have revitalized the economy of Changthang, Leh and Ladakh region.

Pashmina wool

  • Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool.
  • The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir.
  • Often shawls called shahmina are made from this material in Kashmir and Nepal; these shawls are hand spun and woven from the very fine cashmere fibre.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products on August 2019 to certify its purity.
  • Kashmir Pashmina has been accorded Geographical indication (GI) tag under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

Changpa

  • The Changpa are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The homeland of the Changpa is a high-altitude plateau known as the Changtang, which forms a portion of western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh.
  • The Changpa of Ladakh are high altitude pastoralists, raising mainly yaks and goats.
  • The Changpas rear the highly pedigreed and prized Changra goats (Capra Hircus) that yield the rare Pashmina fiber (Cashmere wool).

-Source: The Hindu


Black Vulture


Context:

An American black vulture was recently spotted in the Delhi NCR region causing a stir amongst birdwatchers and conservationists.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Black Vulture:

  • Distribution: Black vultures are widely distributed in the northeastern United States to South America, including Peru, Central Chile, and Uruguay.
  • Habitat: Black vultures breed in dense woodlands but forage in open habitats, and they are most abundant at low elevations.
  • Migration: Black vultures typically avoid crossing large bodies of water and do not cover long distances.
  • Conservation Status: According to the IUCN Red List, the black vulture is classified as Least Concern.

-Source: The Hindu


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