Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Rabindranath Tagore and his contributions
- Surrogacy Law
- Minimising the threat from IED’s –
- Common uniforms at higher ranks of Army
1 . Rabindranath Tagore and His Contributions
Context: In the Rabindranath Tagore-founded Visva-Bharati, protests overshadowed celebrations on the poet’s birth anniversary as a large group of people continued their sit-in against the university’s move to take away a piece of land from the Santiniketan house of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
Rabindranath Tagore- early Life
- Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta, India, on May 7, 1861. He was the son of Debendranath Tagore, a prominent philosopher and religious reformer.
- Education– Throughout his childhood, Tagore was educated by tutors and wrote extensively, despite a marked disinterest for traditional schooling. In 1877, he sailed to England to study. He remained for just fourteen months, during which he was schooled in Brighton, East Sussex and at University College, where he studied law and attended lectures on English literature.
- He expressed dissatisfaction with the constraints of Western educational practices in England, however, and returned to India.
- He was also a cultural reformer who modified Bengali art by rebuffing the strictures that confined it within the sphere of classical Indian forms.
- He was popularly known as Bard of Bengal and people used to call him Gurudev.
- He was keen in spreading his ideologies to the rest of the world and hence embarked on a world tour, lecturing in countries like Japan and the United States.
- He has made his contribution in the field of art and literature and the contribution he has made for Bengal and English literature is beyond compare.
- Throughout his career, Tagore published numerous novels, short stories, plays, letters, essays, memoirs, and criticism. He was also known for his musical compositions.
- Poetry- Tagore’s most notable work of poetry is Gitanjali: Song Offerings for which he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. He was the first non-European, as well as the first lyricist, to win the prize. Other notable poetry publications, written and published in Bengali, include ‘Balaka’, ‘Purobi’, Sonar Tari [The Golden Boat] (1894) and Manasi [The Ideal One] (1890). Tagore often published first in Bengali, then translated his own work to English.
- Plays– He wrote novels, plays, and short stories in both languages, including the plays Chitra (1914) and The Post Office (1914).
- Short Stories– He is credited with pioneering the short story form in Bengali literature, with some of his best work collected in The Hungry Stones and Other Stories and The Glimpses of Bengal Life. Some of his famous short stories are Kabuliwala’, ‘Kshudita Pashan’, ‘Atottju’, ‘Haimanti’ and ‘Musalmanir Golpo’.
- Novels – It is said that among his works, his novels are mostly under-appreciated. His works spoke about the impending dangers of nationalism among other relevant social evils. His novel ‘Shesher Kobita’ narrated its story through poems and rhythmic passages of the main protagonist. Other famous novels of his include ‘Noukadubi’, ‘Gora’, ‘Chaturanga’, ‘Ghare Baire’ and ‘Jogajog’.
- Rabindranath Tagore was also an influential artist and musician. He wrote around 2230 songs and painted 3000 painting. He even composed National Anthem of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
- Viswa Bharti University, which was known as Shantiniketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore.
- Though Tagore denounced nationalism, he also vouched for the Indian independence through some of his politically charged songs. He also supported Indian nationalists and publicly criticized European imperialism.
- He also criticized the education system that was forced upon India by the English.
- In 1915, he received knighthood from the British Crown, which he later renounced citing the massacre held at Jallianwala Bagh. He said that the knighthood meant nothing to him when the British failed to even consider his fellow Indians as humans.
2 . Surrogacy Law
Context: The government in the Supreme Court has said that same sex couples and live-in partners are not included in surrogacy and assisted reproduction laws to avoid ‘misuse’ and provide children a ‘complete family’
What is Surrogacy?
- Surrogacy law defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.
Regulation of surrogacy:
- Surrogacy law prohibits commercial surrogacy but allows altruistic surrogacy. Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy. Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy, or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.
Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted:
- Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
What are the eligibility criteria for couples?
- Under the Surrogacy law, the commissioning parents, i.e., the couple who wish to have a child through surrogacy, have first to approach a government medical board, consisting of obstetricians, paediatricians, and other specialists.
- The woman and man in such a case have to be between 25 and 50 years of age. They should not have had a child, either naturally conceived, adopted, or born out of surrogacy. They should also have with them a clear medical and radiological report, and sometimes if asked specifically, a report that also clears them of genetic anomalies.
- Furthermore, the couple should have an insurance policy for the surrogate mother to cover her medical needs for 36 months from the date of embryo transfer. Once the board validates the couple’s submission, an essentiality certificate is issued to them.
- The certificate then has to be submitted to the court of a first-class judicial magistrate for a suitable order. The order would serve as the proof of birth for the child born of surrogacy, and so also enable the commissioning couple to register their child in the municipality concerned.
Who is eligible to be a surrogate?
- As required by the law, the surrogate has to be eligible too. She has to be between 25 and 35 years of age; be married with a child of her own. She should also be a first-time surrogate. Furthermore, a psychiatrist has to certify her as being mentally fit.
- Once the couple and the surrogate have obtained their eligibility certificates, they can approach an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) centre for the embryo transfer.
- The law also says the surrogate and the couple would have to have their Aadhaar cards linked. It would help make the biometrics of the persons in the arrangement traceable, thereby reducing the scope of malpractice significantly.
- The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act. The functions of the appropriate authority include; (i) granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics; (ii) enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics; (iii) investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill; (iv) recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.
Registration of surrogacy clinics:
- Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority. Clinics must apply for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.
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,
- (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy;
- (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and
- (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.
How does the law address commercialisation of surrogacy?
- The sense of the law is that the practice of surrogacy has to be altruistic in nature. Hence, it has banned commercialisation of the surrogacy.
- No one can sell or buy human embryos and gametes.
- No one can sell or buy the services of a surrogate.
- Furthermore, no payment, reward, benefit, fees, renumeration, or inducement can be offered to the surrogate, her dependents, or her representative.
- Also, the law has banned the export of embryos to foreign countries. Even transferring embryos between labs or between ART centres requires the permission of the appropriate authorities. Those caught violating the ban will be fined and jailed for up to 10 years.
Some of the other nuances of the law are:
- The Indian marriage act recognises only marriage between heterosexual individuals. Hence, same sex couples cannot employ surrogacy to have a child.
- The surrogate, once she has entered into the contract, cannot refuse to carry the pregnancy to term. She cannot terminate her pregnancy without permission from the appropriate authority.
- The law says the embryo should be genetically related to the couple, either to the man or to the woman or both. Embryo donation is not allowed in surrogacy.
- The law grants a divorcee or a widow to offer her eggs for surrogacy, on the condition that she is between 35 and 45 years of age.
- If a couple from India utilises the services of a surrogate outside the country, the child born of such an act will not be recognised as an Indian citizen.
- If the commissioning couple dies before the child is born, the onus of raising the child falls on the nominees of the couple appointed at the time of signing the surrogacy contract. The nominees would have to bear the responsibility of the newborn child. However, at a later point, if they so wish, the nominees can give up the child for adoption or to an orphanage.
- The children so born can claim the right to know they were born of surrogacy when they turn 18. They can also exercise their right to trace the identity of the surrogate mother.
What are some criticisms of the law?
- The Law permits the limited conditional surrogacy to married Indian couples and disqualifying other persons on basis of nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age does not pass the test of equality
- Exclusion of LGBTQIA+ community
- The certificate to prove infertility is a violation of privacy as part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- The Act provides for 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10 lakh for a medical practitioner for contravention of any provision of the Act. It is a very harsh provision. It will put off all doctors, and they will not undertake surrogacy procedures
3 . Minimising the treat from improvised explosive devices
Context: On April 26, an IED (improvised explosive device) killed 10 security personnel of the District Reserve Guard in Chattisgarh’s Dantewada area. The jawans were out on an anti-Maoist mission when they were ambushed
What is Improvised Explosive devices?
- An improvised explosive device (IED) attack is the use of a “homemade” bomb and/or destructive device to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. IEDs are used by criminals, vandals, terrorists, suicide bombers, and insurgents. Because they are improvised, IEDs can come in many forms, ranging from a small pipe bomb to a sophisticated device capable of causing massive damage and loss of life. IEDs can be carried or delivered in a vehicle; carried, placed, or thrown by a person; delivered in a package; or concealed on the roadside.
Components of Improvised Explosive Devices
- An IED has five components: a switch (activator), an initiator (fuse), container (body), charge (explosive), and a power source (battery). An IED designed for use against armoured targets such as personnel carriers or tanks will be designed for armour penetration, by using a shaped charge that creates an explosively formed penetrator. IEDs are extremely diverse in design and may contain many types of initiators, detonators, penetrators, and explosive loads
What are the difficulties faced by the Security Forces in dealing with Improvised Explosive Devices?
- The Security forces are dealing with an enemy who is faceless, unidentifiable and hidden among the people.
- Militants, whether they are the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir or the Maoists in central India, have the ‘first mover advantage’, on triggering a landmine or an IED on a mobile Army vehicle or opening burst fire with an AK- 47 on a static CRPF sentry post.
- In such scenarios, particularly in landmine/IED ambushes, the reaction or the response time available for what is called “Immediate Action (IA) or Counter Ambush drill” is a few seconds, and that too, if a few of the security personnel are lucky enough to survive the initial IED ambush.
- Hence, all standard operating systems and procedures, technological measures etc. are directed towards identification and detection of IEDs/landmines and to avoid being caught in them.
How can errors be minimised?
- The first thing that must be kept in mind is to avoid travel by vehicle. The safest mode of travel is on foot in a region where left-wing extremism is active.
- Studies show that over 60% of casualties/fatalities in Maoist territories are because of vehicles ambushed in landmines/IEDs, as also seen in the recent Chhattisgarh incident.
- Routine operations like area domination, cordon-and-search, long range patrolling, ambush-cum-patrolling and so forth should only be undertaken on foot.
- If vehicle travel is absolutely essential, the onward and return journeys should never be by the same route, nor undertaken during the day time.
- The exact timing of triggering IEDs is also an issue during night time. Hence, night travel by vehicles is relatively safe for security forces.
- Camouflage– Stealth, camouflage and concealment are integral to anti-terrorist operations. Olive green vehicles of the Army and light green vehicles of the CRPF are easily identified from a distance, giving adequate time and opportunity to terrorists to organise an IED ambush.
- If vehicle travel is absolutely essential, security forces are expected to take civilian or State Road Transport Corporation buses.
- To avoid easy identification, they must travel with civilians in mufti with weapons carefully concealed.
- Armoured vehicles and other protective gear– Security forces working in war zone should be equipped with appropriate protective gear, such as blast-resistant clothing, helmets, and eye protection. Their vehicles should also be equipped with V-shaped and armour-plated hull, blast-resistant technology and proper sandbagging to minimise damage in the event of an explosion.
- Machine guns and other weapons should be mounted on top of the vehicles with outward facing rotatory seats, from where the men can have a 360-degree observation outside.
- Also, security forces should always travel in a convoy of a minimum of two to three vehicles, containing a distance of at least 40 to 50 meters between them, so that even if one vehicle is caught in a landmine, the personnel in other cars are able to take positions and neutralize the threat.
- How can a region be made safe for travel? – Rigorous and regular implementation of various detection methods, such as metal detectors, ground-penetrating radar, and trained sniffer dogs, to locate and clear landmines and IEDs, is essential.
- Aerial surveillance carried out through drones and road opening parties equipped with UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles), can not only detect the presence of terrorists to carry out operations but also pick tell-tale signs of a likely ambush like piles of rock and mud bags, dugout portions on the sides of the roads, and absence of people or movement of other vehicles.
- Areas known or suspected to contain landmines or IEDs can be mapped, and contingency plans prepared for them.
- Intelligence Inputs- While it is important to gather actionable intelligence, due to the enormous risks of reprisals by terrorists, locals usually do not divulge information for money alone.
- Relationships must be cultivated, and goodwill generated among the local population on a long-term basis beyond and above transactional levels. This requires patience, commitment, empathy and integrity on the part of security forces, which is sometimes lacking.
What are some of the other measures that need to be undertaken?
- Several measures need to be undertaken at the government level, both at the Centre and States. These include collaboration with international organisations, NGOs, and other countries to share information, resources, and best practices for landmine and IED prevention, detection, and clearance; implementation and enforcement of national and international laws, policies, and regulations aimed at preventing the use, production, and trade of landmines and IEDs.
- Legislative measures are required for mandatory addition of odoriferous chemicals and/or biosensors to explosives used in industry and mining etc. for their easy detection during transport.
- Legislative measures are required for mandatory addition of odoriferous chemicals and/or biosensors to explosives used in industry and mining etc. for their easy detection during transport.
4 . Common uniforms at higher ranks of Army
Context: A decision has been taken at the recent Army Commanders Conference that all officers of the rank of Brigadier and above — Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals, and General — will wear common uniform items irrespective of their regimental or corps affiliation.
How will the uniforms worn by the senior Army officers change?
- All officers of the rank of Brigadier, Maj General, Lt General, and General will now wear berets (caps) of the same colour, common badges of rank, a common belt buckle, and a common pattern of shoes.
- They will no longer wear regimental lanyards (cords) on their shoulders. They will also not wear any shoulder flashes like ‘Special Forces’, ‘Arunachal Scouts’, ‘Dogra Scouts’, etc.
- Thus, there will be no item of uniform that will identify them as belonging to a particular Regiment or Corps. All officers of these higher ranks will dress alike in the same pattern of uniform.
What is the present position on wearing such items in the Army?
- As of now, all officers from the rank of Lieutenant to General wear uniform accoutrements (additional items of dress or equipment) as per their regimental or corps affiliation.
- Therefore, Infantry officers and Military Intelligence officers wear dark green berets; armoured corps officers wear black berets; Artillery, Engineers, Signals, Air Defence, EME, ASC, AOC, AMC, and some minor corps officers wear dark blue berets; Parachute Regiment officers wear maroon berets; and Army Aviation Corps officers wear grey berets.
- The ceremonial headgear also varies — while most Infantry regiments, Armoured Corps regiments, and other arms and services have a peak cap with the regimental badge, the Gorkha Rifles regiments, Kumaon Regiment, Garhwal Regiment, and Naga Regiment officers wear a kind of slouch hat which is called Terai Hat or Gorkha Hat colloquially.
- Each Infantry Regiment and Corps has its own pattern of lanyard which they wear around the shoulder and which tucks into the right or left shirt pocket as the tradition may be.
- The badges of rank also differ — the rifle regiments wear black coloured badges of rank, while some regiments wear gilt and silver coloured badges. There are different coloured backings, which are worn with these badges of rank as per individual traditions and customs of the Regiment or Corps.
- The buttons on the uniform also vary in accordance with the regimental tradition. The rifle regiments wear black buttons while officers of the Brigade of The Guards wear golden buttons.
- The belt has varied buckles as per regimental traditions, and each carries its own crest.
What is the reason for making the change?
- Regimental service in the Army ends at the rank of Colonel for most officers who rise further. Thus, all uniform affiliations with that particular Regiment or Corps must also end at that rank, so that any regimental parochialism that may exist is not promoted to the higher ranks.
- Since appointments at higher ranks can often mean commanding troops of mixed regimental lineage, it is only appropriate that the senior officers commanding these troops should present themselves in a neutral uniform rather than a regimental one.
What is the tradition in other armies?
- In the British army, from where the Indian Army derives its uniform pattern and associated heraldry, the uniform worn by officers of the rank of Colonel and above is referred to as the Staff uniform, to distinguish it from the Regimental uniform. The wearing of any item of Regimental uniform, particularly headdress, with the Staff uniform is not authorised.
- Among neighbouring countries, the Pakistan and Bangladesh armies follow the same pattern as the British army. All regimental uniform items are discarded beyond the rank of Lt Colonel. All officers of the rank of Brigadier and above wear similar pattern uniforms.