Daily Current Affairs : 20th January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Reservation in Private Sector for locals
  2. Seismic Zones
  3. IAS cadre rule
  4. Martial Rape
  5. 5G Technology and Airlines
  6. Facts for Prelims


1 . Reservation in Private Sector for locals


Context : With the law guaranteeing 75% reservation to locals in private sector jobs in Haryana coming into force earlier this month, the reigning sentiment among various stakeholders is one of “disruption”. Industrialists, migrant workers and contractors remain wary of its repercussions on businesses and employment prospects.

Background

  • In November 2020, the state Assembly passed the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020 paving way for more employment opportunities for locals in the private sector.
  • Law implemented from January 15 requires firms with 10 or more employees to adhere to it.

About the law

  • According to the law, 75 per cent of private sector jobs in the state, till a certain salary slab will be reserved for local candidates.
  • The Act will cover jobs that pay up to Rs 30,000 as gross monthly salary. In the draft Bill, the salary limit had been set at Rs 50,000, according to NDTV.
  • The law apply to companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms located across Haryana.
  • Those who are domiciled in Haryana will be able to avail the benefits of the act. To have domicile status, a person should be born in the state or should have lived in there for at least 15 years.
  • Companies have the option to hire people from outside if they cannot find suitable candidates in Haryana. But they would have to inform the government about this decision.

Constitutional provisions on reservation

  • Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees equality before law and equal protection of laws to everyone.
  • Article 16(1) and 16(2) assure citizens equality of opportunity in employment or appointment to any government office.
  • Article 15(1) generally prohibits any discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 29(2) bars discrimination against any citizen with regard to admission to educational institutions maintained by the government or receiving aid out of government funds on grounds of religion, race, caste etc.
  • Articles 15(4) and 16(4) state that these equality provisions do not prevent the government from making special provisions in matters of admission to educational institutions or jobs in favour of backward classes, particularly the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Article 16(4A) allows reservations to SCs and STs in promotions, as long as the government believes that they are not adequately represented in government services.

Is this reservation Bill violative of Article 16 of the Constitution of India?

  • Andhra Pradesh’s decision of introducing 75 per cent reservation for local candidates was challenged in the Andhra Pradesh High Court which observed that “it may be unconstitutional”.
  • The Andhra Pradesh High Court had asked state government to inform if the quota-law was enacted as per the Constitution.
  • For mandating reservation in public employment, the state draws its power from Article 16(4) of the Constitution.
  • It says that the right to equality in public employment does not prevent the state from “making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • The Constitution has no manifest provision for private employment from which the state draws the power to make laws mandating reservation.
  • Haryana government claims that while Article 16 talks about the “public employment”, the Bill only pertains to “private sector employment”.

Arguments in favor of reservation in private sector for Locals

  • This will fulfill the main purpose of reservation to allow unemployed locals or backward classes to be employed.
  • Reservation in private secor can help get rid of the problem of joblessness. 
  • Many private sector firms get government aid and tax benefits. Then why not they have a provision for quota in their jobs?
  • In metros, the hiring rate of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes by multi-national companies (MNCs) is almost negligible because of concerns over technical skills and English-speaking abilities. If reservation is introduced in the sector, they will get a fair chance of representation and learning.

Arguments against reservation in private sector for Locals

  • Private sector runs on talent and abilities. And it is a bitter fact that talent will be compromised in the reservation system.
  • Private sector is about profit making enterprises. The new law states that if locals with the necessary skills are not there, companies will have to train local workers in conjunction with the state government and then hire them, which could lead to more hassles and expenses for businesses.
  • This policy will set a bad national precedent. Now those states can cite this law as a precedent and have their own. Karnataka and Maharashtra, which have plenty of workers from Andhra Pradesh, have been thinking of making similar laws. This might lead to extreme regionalism.
  • Reservation policy has not yielded the desired results in the past and implementing a backfired policy is disastrous for the country.
  • This might become a disincentive for industries. Now with the ‘mandatory’ local labour that puts a cap on ‘competing outside labour’, the bulk of workers can work less and demand higher remunerations.
  • People from other states may not get adequate employment opportunities. As in the 2014 case—Charu Khurana vs. Union of India—when a trade union had declined membership to a make-up artist because she had not lived in Maharashtra for at least five years, as per the union’s rules. Though the trade union lost the case but the said person was discriminated against. 
  • Such provision of reservation could hinder the state’s economic growth by affecting the ease of doing business. Ease of recruiting talent is a major aspect that influences the index. The end result can be loss of confidence in the industry and business moving elsewhere.

Concerns

  • The law could trigger an exodus of large domestic and multinational investors across sectors such as auto, IT that rely on highly skilled manpower.
  • The 75% reservation will result in moving out of tech and automotive companies, especially MNCs as these are highly skilled manpowerbased companies.
  • The law is already tilting the scales for large firms, particularly in ecommerce, IT & ITeS and new manufacturing sectors, who had chosen Gurugram as a hub for their businesses.
  • Moreover, imposing the reservations on gig and platform companies could create a crippling talent crunch.
  • If other States take Haryana’s cue and follow suit, there would surely be an extreme level of talent crunch across industries and across the country.

States in favour of reservation in private sector for locals

  • Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in the Industries/Factories Bill, 2019 passed by the Andhra Pradesh government. As per this law, 75% of jobs in industries are to be reserved for locals.
  • Even the Madhya Pradesh government had announced 70% reservation for locals in industries. 
  • The Karnataka government has also insisted that private companies provide 80% reservation in jobs for locals (Kannada-speaking people) in all categories and for this the government has already amended the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules, 1961, to reserve 100% for group ‘C’ and group ‘D’ jobs for locals in the private sector. 

2 . Seismic Zones of India


About Seismic Zone

  • Seismic zone or seismic belt is an area of seismicity potentially sharing a common cause. It may also be a region on a map for which a common areal rate of seismicity is assumed for the purpose of calculating probabilistic ground motions. An obsolete definition is a region on a map in which a common level of seismic design is required

Seismic Zones of India

  • The Indian subcontinent has a history of devastating earthquakes. The major reason for the high frequency and intensity of the earthquakes is that the Indian plate is driving into Asia at a rate of approximately 47 mm/year
  • Geographical statistics of India show that almost 54% of the land is vulnerable to earthquakes
  • National Centre for Seismology under Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency of Government of India (GoI), for monitoring earthquakes in and around the country.
  • The latest version of seismic zoning map of India given in the earthquake resistant design code of India [IS 1893 (Part 1) 2002] assigns four levels of seismicity for India in terms of zone factors.
  • The earthquake zoning map of India divides India into 4 seismic zones (Zone 2, 3, 4 and 5) unlike its previous version, which consisted of five or six zones for the country. According to the present zoning map, Zone 5 expects the highest level of seismicity whereas Zone 2 is associated with the lowest level of seismicity.
  • Approximately, ~ 11% area of the country falls in zone V, ~18% in zone IV, ~ 30% in zone III and remaining in zone II.

3 . Amendments to Rule 6


Context : The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to the States on January 12 that the Union government proposes to amend Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954.

About the News

  • The Union government is planning to acquire for itself overriding powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers through Central deputation, doing away with the requirement of taking the approval of the State governments.
  • The letter comes in the wake of a shortage of All India Services (AIS) officers in Union Ministries. The DoPT in its communication said States “are not sponsoring an adequate number of officers for Central deputation”, and the number of officers is not sufficient to meet the requirement at the Centre.

Amendments proposed to Rule 6.

  • One of the major changes proposed is if the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre and does not give effect to the Central government’s decision within the specified time, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government.” Presently, officers have to get a no-objection clearance from the State government for Central deputation.
  • The other change proposed is the Centre will decide the actual number of officers to be deputed in consultation with the State and the latter should make eligible the names of such officers. According to existing norms, States have to depute the All India Servicesofficers, including the IPS officers, to the Central government offices and at any point it cannot be more than 40% of the total cadre strength.
  • The third proposed amendment says that in case of any disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter shall be decided by the Central government and the State shall give effect to the decision of the Centre “within a specified time.”
  • The fourth change proposed is that in specific situation where services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest” the State shall give effect to its decisions within a specified time.

4 . Martial Rape


Context : The Delhi High Court is hearing a challenge to the constitutional validity of the ‘marital rape immunity’ provided for in the Indian Penal Code. The case has put the spotlight on crucial issues concerning consent, the extent of state control on female sexual autonomy, and correcting historical prejudices in law

What is the case about?

  • A two-judge Bench is hearing a clutch of four petitions challenging the constitutionality of the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with rape.
  • IPC Section 375 defines rape and lists seven notions of consent that, if vitiated, would constitute the offence of rape by a man.
  • The crucial exemption: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”
  • This exemption essentially allows a marital right to a “husband”, who can with legal sanction exercise his right to consensual or non-consensual sex with his “wife”.
  • This exemption is being challenged as unconstitutional as it undermines consent of a woman based on her marital status.
  • The marital rape exception was overturned by the House of Lords in 1991. Canada (1983), South Africa (1993), Australia (1981 onwards) enacted laws that criminalise marital rape.

Why is this provision in place?

Marital rape immunity is known to several post-colonial common law countries. It is premised on broadly two assumptions:

  • Consent in Perpetuity : This is the assumption that on marriage a woman gives consent held by her husband in perpetuity which she cannot retract. This concept in the colonial-era law has roots in the antiquated idea that a woman is the property of her man.
  • Expectation Of Sex: This is the assumption that a woman is duty-bound or is obligated to fulfil sexual responsibilities in a marriage since the aim of marriage is procreation. Since the husband has a reasonable expectation of sex in a marriage, the provision implies that a woman cannot deny it.
  • The reasons for not outlawing the provision so far, too, are crucial. In a 2010 paper observed that the “preservation of the institution of the family” is what mainly allows the provision to gain legitimacy. “… the preservation of the family institution by ruling out the possibility of false, fabricated and motivated complaints of ‘rape’ by ‘wife’ against her ‘husband’ and the pragmatic procedural difficulties that might arise in such a legal proceeding”.

What are the arguments before the court?

  • Marital rape immunity stands against the light of the right to equality, the right to life with dignity, personhood, sexual, and personal autonomy — all fundamental rights protected under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution respectively. The question before the court is, in fact, to what end or reason the law can validate the encroachment of these rights.
  • The petitioners have also argued that it creates an unreasonable classification between married and unmarried women and, by corollary, takes away the right of a married woman to give consent to a sexual activity.
  • The petitioners have argued that since courts have recognised that consent can be withdrawn even during/in-between a sexual act, the assumption of “consent in perpetuity” cannot be legally valid. On the “reasonable expectation of sex” reasoning, the petitioners have argued that even though there is a reasonable expectation of sex from a sex worker or other domestic relationships as well, consent is not irrevocable.
  • The judges sought to distinguish between sex in a marriage and sex with a sex worker. This distinction is based on the idea that marriage must lead to procreation. This again prompts the question as to whether the law can de-legitimise sexual consent of women in favour of procreation while also recognising an exception — the right to abortion.
  • Another crucial aspect for the court to consider will be whether the protection of marriage and family can be a compelling or even legitimate interest for the state to the extent that it can make laws that violate fundamental rights. Courts apply a balancing test on violation of fundamental rights when the state has a legitimate or compelling interest on the issue: for example, national security, public health and order.

What is the government’s stand?

  • In an affidavit, the Centre defended marital rape immunity. The government’s arguments spanned from protecting men from possible misuse of the law by wives, to protecting the institution of marriage. However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also told the court that wider deliberations are required on the issue. He brought to the court’s notice a 2019 committee set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs to review criminal laws in the country.
  • The Delhi government too has defended the law on the ground that married women who might be subjected to rape by their husbands have other legal recourses such as filing for divorce or a case of domestic violence.
  • The government has also said that since the law on restitution of conjugal rights, a provision in the Hindu Marriage Act that allows a court to compel a spouse to cohabit with the husband, is valid, so is the exception to marital rape, by extension. However, restitution of conjugal rights is a provision in personal laws and not in penal laws and even that provision is currently under challenge before the Supreme Court.

5 . 5G and Airlines


Context : As global airlines scrambled to reschedule flights amid concerns that the rollout of 5G mobile service in the US could potentially interfere with aircraft navigation systems, Air India on Wednesday said it has decided to cancel eight flights on US routes.

What is 5G and how could it disrupt US aviation?

  • 5G is the next generation of mobile internet connection. It lets people download and upload data much more quickly, and allows more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time.
  • To do this, it relies on greater use of radio signals. In the US, the radio frequencies being used for 5G are in part of the spectrum known as C-Band.
  • These frequencies are close to the ones used by radio altimeters on aeroplanes, which measure the height of the aircraft above the ground, and also provide data for safety and navigation systems.
  • The concern is that interference from 5G transmissions could stop these instruments from working properly, and cause safety problems, particularly when aircraft are coming in to land.
  • Altimeters measure how far above the ground an airplane is flying. Radar altimeters operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz (gigahertz) frequency range and the concern being flagged by aviation authorities and airlines is that the auctioned mid-range frequencies in the US are extremely close to this band. The US had auctioned 5G bandwidth to mobile phone companies in 2021 in the 3.7-3.98 GHz on the spectrum range called the C-band.
  • The issue is particularly of concern in the US, given the proximity of the two frequency bands

How serious is the risk to planes?

  • In late 2020, the RTCA – a US organisation which produces technical guidance on aviation issues – published a report warning of the possibility of “catastrophic failures leading to multiple fatalities, in the absence of appropriate mitigations”.
  • More recently, the US aviation regulator, the FAA, warned that 5G interference could lead to problems with a number of different systems aboard Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.
  • These could make it difficult to slow the plane down on landing, causing it to veer off the runway.
Graphic showing how 5G signal could interfere with aviation

How will flying be kept safe?

  • Planes won’t be allowed to use radio altimeters in circumstances where there could be a risk of serious interference.
  • But that will restrict the ability of some aircraft to land, for example, in poor visibility.
  • Airlines for America, which represents ten major carriers, has warned that this could lead to more than 1,000 flights being delayed or cancelled in bad weather and mean at times “the vast majority of the travelling and shipping public will essentially be grounded”.
  • It has also suggested a large part of the US aircraft fleet will be “deemed unusable” because of restrictions on their operation.

Do other countries using 5G share these concerns?

  • Not to the same degree. That’s because the way in which 5G is being rolled out varies from country to country.
  • In the EU, for example, networks operate at lower frequencies than those which US providers are planning to use – reducing the risk of interference. 5G masts can also operate at lower power.
  • Nevertheless, some countries have taken further steps to reduce possible risks.
  • In France, there are so-called “buffer zones” around airports where 5G signals are restricted, while antennas have to be tilted downwards to prevent potential interference.

6 . Facts for Prelims


Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the state of Assam in India. This wildlife sanctuary covers 70.13 km2, on the south bank of the Brahmaputra River in Nagaon district
  • It is situated 40 km downstream of the Kaziranga National Park and 30 km northwest of the Orang National Park on the other side of the river Brahmaputra.
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