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Current Affairs 02 December 2021 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Lok Sabha passes bill to regulate IVF clinics
  2. India joins G20’s Troika with Indonesia and Italy
  3. U.P. reports most UAPA arrests
  4. Over 700 elephants died by electrocution: MoEFCC

Lok Sabha passes bill to regulate IVF clinics

Context:

The Lok Sabha passed the The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 that proposes the establishment of a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals serving in the field.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
  2. The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020
  3. Concerns with the ART Bill

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm.
  • It works by removing eggs from a woman’s body and mixing them with sperm to make embryos. The embryos are then put back in the woman’s body.
  • In Vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART.
  • ART procedures sometimes use donor eggs, donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos. It may also involve a surrogate carrier.

India and ART

  • India has become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity.
  • This has also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues; yet, there is no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020

Defining ART

  • The Bill defines ART to include all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.
  • Examples of ART services include gamete (sperm or oocyte) donation, in-vitro-fertilisation (fertilising an egg in the lab), and gestational surrogacy (the child is not biologically related to surrogate mother).
  • ART services will be provided through:
    1. ART clinics, which offer ART related treatments and procedures, and
    2. ART banks, which store and supply gametes.

Provisions of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020

  • The Bill provides that every ART clinic and bank must be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.
  • The National Registry will be established under the Bill and will act as a central database with details of all ART clinics and banks in the country.
  • State governments will appoint registration authorities for facilitating the registration process.
  • Clinics and banks will be registered only if they adhere to certain standards (specialised manpower, physical infrastructure, and diagnostic facilities). 
  • ART procedures can only be carried out with the written informed consent of both the party seeking ART services as well as the donor.
  • A clinic is prohibited from offering to provide a child of pre-determined sex.
  • The Bill also requires checking for genetic diseases before the embryo implantation.
  • A child born through ART will be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and will be entitled to the rights and privileges available to a natural child of the commissioning couple.  A donor will not have any parental rights over the child.
  • The Bill provides that the National and State Boards for Surrogacy constituted under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 will act as the National and State Board respectively for the regulation of ART services.
  • Key powers and functions of the National Board include:
    • advising the central government on ART related policy matters,
    • reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the Bill,
    • formulating code of conduct and standards for ART clinics and banks, and
    • overseeing various bodies to be constituted under the Bill.
  • Offences under the Bill include:
    1. abandoning, or exploiting children born through ART,
    2. selling, purchasing, trading, or importing human embryos or gametes,
    3. using intermediates to obtain donors,
    4. exploiting commissioning couple, woman, or the gamete donor in any form, and
    5. transferring the human embryo into a male or an animal.

Concerns with the ART Bill

  1. The Bill allows for a married heterosexual couple and a woman above the age of marriage to use ARTs and excludes single men, cohabiting heterosexual couples and LGBTQ+ individuals and couples from accessing ARTs.
  2. The Bill seems to violate Article 14 of the Constitution and the Right to Privacy jurisprudence of Puttaswamy, 2017, where the Supreme Court held that “the sanctity of marriage, the liberty of procreation, the choice of a family life and the dignity of being” concerned all individuals irrespective of their social status and were aspects of privacy.
  3. Unlike the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, (SRB) 2019, there is no prohibition on foreign citizens accessing the ARTs but not all of the Indian citizens which fails to reflect the true spirit of the Constitution.
  4. The Bill restricts egg donation to a married woman with a child (at least three years old). Even here, egg donation as an altruistic act is possible only once a woman has fulfilled her duties to the patriarchal institution of marriage.
  5. The Bill does little to protect the egg donor. Harvesting of eggs is an invasive process which, if performed incorrectly, can result in death.
  6. The Bill requires an egg donor’s written consent but does not provide for her counselling or the ability to withdraw her consent before or during the procedure.
  7. A woman receives no compensation or reimbursement of expenses for loss of salary, time and effort. Failing to pay for bodily services constitutes unfree labour, which is prohibited by Article 23 of the Constitution.
  8. The commissioning parties only need to obtain an insurance policy in her name for medical complications or death with no amount or duration specified.
  9. The Bill requires pre-implantation genetic testing and where the embryo suffers from “pre-existing, heritable, life-threatening or genetic diseases”, it can be donated for research with the commissioning parties’ permission. These disorders are not specified and the Bill risks promoting an impermissible programme of eugenics.
  10. Children born from ART do not have the right to know their parentage, which is crucial to their best interests and was protected under previous drafts.
  11. Although the Bill and the SRB regulate ARTs and surrogacy, respectively, there is considerable overlap between both sectors and they do not work in tandem. Both Bills set up multiple bodies for registration which will result in duplication.

-Source: The Hindu


India joins G20’s Troika with Indonesia and Italy

Context:

India joined the G20 ‘Troika’ and with this move India has started the procedure for taking over the G20 presidency in 2022.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings and Agreements, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is Troika? What is the need for Troika in G20?
  • About India’s move for joining the G20 ‘Troika’
  • About G20
  • Structure and functioning of G20

What is Troika? What is the need for Troika in G20?

  • Troika means a group of three people working together. It is an English word.
  • The Troika of G20 is made of the current, next and immediate past host countries. The Troika ensures continuity and provides presidency support.
  • The G20 operates without a permanent staff or secretariat. The chair of the group rotates annually among its members. The current chair establishes secretariat temporarily.
  • This secretariat organises meetings and coordinates the working of the group. Thus, there is need for Troika to help with the secretariat so that there is continuity in the works of G20.

Formation of Troika

  • In 2019, the G20 was hosted by Japan. In 2020, Italy hosted G20. In 2021, it is Indonesia. In 2022, 2023 and 2024, it will be hosted by Indonesia, India and Brazil.
  • Thus, the following countries formed the Troika in G20
    • 2020: Japan, Italy and Indonesia
    • 2021: Italy, Indonesia and India
    • 2022: Indonesia, India and Brazil

About India’s move for joining the G20 ‘Troika’

  • With this move, India has started the procedure for taking over the G20 presidency next year.
  • Troika refers to the top grouping within the G20 that consists of the current, previous and the incoming presidencies — Indonesia, Italy and India.
  • India will assume the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022 from Indonesia, and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in India in 2023.
  • Italy hosted the G20 summit during October 30-31 that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where India had raised the issue of Afghanistan’s future following the takeover by the Taliban.
  • Indonesia took over the G20 presidency on December 2, 2021. Next year’s summit will be organised along the overall theme of “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”.
  • As a Troika member, India will work closely with Indonesia and Italy to ensure consistency and continuity of the G20’s agenda.

About G20

  • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment, over 75% of global trade and roughly half the world’s land area.
  • The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
  • Spain as a permanent, non-member invitee, also attends leader summits.

Structure and functioning of G20

  • The G20 Presidency rotates annually according to a system that ensures a regional balance over time.
  • For the selection of presidency, the 19 countries are divided into 5 groups, each having no more than 4 countries. The presidency rotates between each group.
  • Every year the G20 selects a country from another group to be president.
  • India is in Group 2 which also has Russia, South Africa and Turkey.
  • The G20 does not have a permanent secretariat or Headquarters.
  • The work of G20 is divided into two tracks:
    1. The Finance track comprises all meetings with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and their deputies. Meeting several times throughout the year they focus on monetary and fiscal issues, financial regulations, etc.
    2. The Sherpa track focuses on broader issues such as political engagement, anti-corruption, development, energy, etc.
  • Since 2008, the group convenes at least once a year, with the summits involving each member’s head of government.

-Source: The Hindu


U.P. reports most UAPA arrests

Context:

Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of arrests under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, followed by Jammu and Kashmir, and Manipur, according to data tabled by the Government in Rajya Sabha.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967
  2. Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019
  3. Some Concerning Points about the designation of someone as terrorist
  4. Issues with UAPA
  5. About the Increasing UAPA cases

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967 is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (which lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (which was repealed in 2004).
  • Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism and regionalism and not terrorism.
  • However, the provisions of the UAPA Act contravenes the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019

  • The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.
  • It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.

Key Provisions of the Amendment

  • The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:
    • commits or participates in acts of terrorism
    • prepares for terrorism
    • promotes terrorism
    • is otherwise involved in terrorism
  • The word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.
  • However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –
    • to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India
    • to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country
  • The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.
  • The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police.

Some Concerning Points about the designation of someone as terrorist

  • The government is NOT required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
  • At present, legally, a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
  • In this line, an individual who is convicted in a terror case is legally referred to as a ‘terrorist’.
  • And those suspected of being involved in terrorist activities are referred to as ‘terror accused’.
  • The Bill does NOT clarify the standard of proof required to establish that an individual is involved or is likely to be involved in terrorist activities.
  • The Bill also does not require the filing of cases or arresting individuals while designating them as terrorists.

Issues with UAPA

  • UAPA gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities. Thus, the state gives itself more powers vis-a-vis individual liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • UAPA empowers the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on right of dissent which is detrimental for a developing democratic society. The right of dissent is a part and parcel of fundamental right to free speech and expression and therefore, cannot be abridged in any circumstances except for mentioned in Article 19 (2).
  • UAPA can also be thought of to go against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

How can the names be removed?

  • Application – The Bill seeks to give the central government the power to remove a name from the schedule when an individual makes an application.
  • The procedure for such an application and the process of decision-making will also be decided by the central government.
  • If an application filed is rejected by the government, the Bill gives the person the right to seek a review within one month of rejection.
  • Review committee – Under the amendment Bill, the central government will set up a review committee.
  • It will consist of a chairperson (a retired or sitting judge of a High Court) and 3 other members.
  • It will be empowered to order the government to delete the name of an individual from the schedule that lists “terrorists”, if it considers the order to be flawed.
  • Apart from these two avenues, the individual can also move the courts challenging the government’s order.

About the Increasing UAPA cases

  • According to data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Parliament in March, a total of 1126 cases were registered under UAPA in 2019, a sharp rise from 897 in 2015.
  • UAPA, in relaxing timelines for the state to file chargesheets and its stringent conditions for bail, gives the state more powers compared to the Indian Penal Code.
  • Union Home Ministry presented data in the Rajya Sabha, based on the 2019 Crime in India Report compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which showed that only 2.2 % of cases registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act between the years 2016-2019 ended in convictions by court.
  • As many as 1948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1226 cases registered across the country in 2019. Such cases registered in 2015-2018 stood at 897, 922, 901 and 1182 and the number of those arrested was 1128, 999, 1554 and 1421 respectively.

-Source: The Hindu


Over 700 elephants died by electrocution: MoEFCC

Context:

A whopping 1,160 elephants were killed in the country due to reasons other than natural causes in the past 10 years up to December 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Important Protected Areas, Conservation of Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details of information on elephant deaths given in Rajya Sabha
  2. Human-Elephant Conflicts
  3. Steps taken by the MoEFCC for saving Elephants from Trains
  4. What is Project Elephant?
  5. Way Forwards to prevent Man – Animal Conflicts

Details of information on elephant deaths given in Rajya Sabha

  • Electrocution claimed the lives of over 700 elephants. Karnataka and Odisha lost 133 elephants each due to electrocution during the period.
  • Train hits led to the death of more than 180 elephants, this is followed by poaching which caused almost 170 deaths. Out of the 170 elephants killed by poachers in the 10 years and Odisha reported the highest number of deaths, followed by Kerala.
  • Over 60 elephants were killed by poisoning. Assam reported the highest number of elephants poisoned.
  • Among elephant casualties due to train hits, Assam stood first with over 60 deaths.

Human-Elephant Conflicts

Elephant-human conflict is a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.

  • When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans for reasons other than ivory and habitat degradation.
  • Such encounters foster resentment against the elephants amongst the human population and this can result in elephants being viewed as a nuisance and killed.
  • In addition to the direct conflicts between humans and elephants, elephants also suffer indirect costs like degradation of habitat and loss of food plants.

Steps taken by the MoEFCC for saving Elephants from Trains

  1. The formation of coordination committees of officers of Indian Railways and State Forest Departments;
  2. Clearing of vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots;
  3. Signage boards at suitable points to alert loco pilots about elephant presence;
  4. Moderating slopes of elevated sections of railway tracks;
  5. Underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants;
  6. Regulation of train speed from sunset to sunrise in vulnerable stretches;
  7. Regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks by frontline staff of the Forest Department and wildlife watchers.

What is Project Elephant?

  • Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.
  • Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population.
  • It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.
  • This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

Way Forwards to prevent Man – Animal Conflicts

  • Surveillance- Increased vigilance and protection of identified locations using hi-tech surveillance tools like sensors can help in tracking the movement of animals and warn the local population.
  • Improvement of habitat- In-situ and ex-situ habitat conservation measures will help in securing animals their survival.
  • Re-locating of animal habitats away from residential and commercial centres will serve to minimize animal-man conflict for illegal and self-interested motives
  • Awareness Programmes- To create awareness among people and sensitize them about the Do’s and Don’ts in the forest areas to minimize the conflicts between man and animal.
  • Training programs- Training to the police offices and local people should be provided for this purpose forest department should frame guidelines.
  • Boundary walls- The construction of boundary walls and solar fences around the sensitive areas to prevent the wild animal attacks.
  • Technical and financial support- For the development of necessary infrastructure and support facilities for immobilization of problematic animals through tranquilization, their translocation.
  • Part of CSR- Safeguarding Tiger corridors, building eco-bridges and such conservation measures can be part of corporate social responsibility.   

-Source: The Hindu

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