Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Rules for recogntion of National and State Party
- Vibrant Village Programme
- SC on encounters
- NISAR Satellite
- APPI & ASSSOH
- Maternity Benefits for adoptive mothers
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Rules for recognition of National and State Party
Context: Ahead of the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) received a shot in the arm from the Election Commission of India, as the poll body accorded it the status of a national party. Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Communist Party of India (CPI), and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lost their national party status. The EC also revoked the recognition of some parties as State parties, while giving fresh recognition in two States to others.
How does a party get recognised as a national party?
- The Election Commission reviews the poll performance of recognised parties after every State Assembly election or general election to the Lok Sabha. The rules for recognition as a national party are specified by the Commission in para 6B of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
- A party becomes eligible to be accorded national status if it fulfil one of the following conditions:
- (a) if it is recognised as a state party in at least four States,
- (b) if it secures 6% of the total votes polled in four States in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly elections, and in addition, gets four of its members elected to the Lok Sabha, or
- (c) if it wins 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha from at least three different States.
- Besides this, the Symbols Order of 1968 was amended in 2016 to give parties one additional “pass over”. As per this amendment, deemed to have been in force since January 1, 2014, if a national or State party fails to fulfil the eligibility criteria in the next general elections (March 2014 Lok Sabha polls in this case) or the assembly election after the election in which it received recognition, it will continue to be recognised as a national or State party, meaning it will not be stripped of its status. However, whether it will continue to be recognised after any subsequent election would again have to be determined by the eligibility criteria.
- For example- The NCP lost its recognition in three States (Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya) where it did not secure enough assembly votes between 2017 and 2018. It is currently a State party in only two States, Maharashtra, where it got 16.71% of the votes in the 2019 Assembly elections, and Nagaland, where it made inroads earlier this year.
What are the criteria to be recognised as a state party?
- For recognition as a State party, it has to secure at least 6% of the valid votes polled and two seats in Assembly polls or one in Lok Sabha polls. There are three other alternatives for eligibility-
- (a) in General Elections or Legislative Assembly elections, the party has to win 3% of seats in the legislative assembly of the State (subject to a minimum of 3 seats),
- (b) in a Lok Sabha General Election, the party has to win 1 Lok Sabha seat for every 25 Lok Sabha seats allotted for the State, or
- (c) in a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party has to poll 8% of votes in a State.
What are the benefits of recognition as national and State parties?
- A recognised political party enjoys privileges like a reserved party symbol, free broadcast time on State-run television and radio, consultation in the setting of election dates, and giving input in setting electoral rules and regulations.
- Candidates put up by registered but unrecognized political parties meanwhile are allotted election symbols by the Returning Officers of the concerned constituencies after the last date for withdrawal of candidature, as per availability. Thus, the party cannot use a single poll symbol across the country.
2 . Vibrant Village Programme
Context: Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was in Arunachal Pradesh for the launch of the ‘Vibrant Villages Programme’ (VVP) in the border village of Kibithoo. The constant threat along the country’s border amid the ongoing standoff with China has led to a concerted push to upgrade infrastructure in the border areas. To this end, the Union Cabinet approved the allocation of Rs 4,800 crore for the Centre’s ‘Vibrant Villages Programme.’
What is the ‘Vibrant Villages Programme’?
- Village development scheme was first announced in the 2022 Budget.
- VVP targets to provide comprehensive development of villages on the border with China and improvement in the quality of life of people living in identified border villages. The development in these villages will help prevent migration, and thus also boost security.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2018 had pointed towards backwardness, illiteracy, and lack of basic facilities and infrastructure in our border areas. The VVP aims to address all these issues.
Which states come under VVP?
- Under this centrally sponsored scheme, 2,967 villages in 46 blocks of 19 districts have been identified for comprehensive development. These villages about the border in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Ladakh. In the first phase, around 662 villages have been identified for priority coverage.
What are the funds allocated for the programme?
- According to Union Home Minister, a population of about 1.42 lakh people will be covered in the first phase. Under the program, the government has allocated Rs 4,800 crore for infrastructure development and to provide livelihood opportunities in the border areas. Out of the total outlay, Rs 2,500 crore will be spent exclusively on the creation of road infrastructure. The total outlay is for financial years 2022-23 to 2025-26. There is a conscious effort not to overlap VVP with the Border Area Development Programme
What are the objectives of the scheme?
- The aims of the scheme is to identify and develop the economic drivers based on local, natural, human and other resources of the border villages
- Development of growth centres on the “Hub and Spoke Model” through promotion of social entrepreneurship, empowerment of youth and women through skill development is also one of the objectives of VVP.
- Programme also intends to leverage tourism potential through promotion of local, cultural, traditional knowledge and heritage in the border areas, thus increasing the employment opportunities of the people and, as a result, stemming migration. Development of sustainable eco-agribusinesses on the concept of “One village-One product” through community-based organisations, cooperatives, SHGs, NGOs etc is also aimed at.
- The scheme envisages that drinking water, 24×7 electricity, connectivity with all weather roads, cooking gas, mobile and internet connectivity be made available in the border areas. Special attention will be given to solar and wind energy, tourist centres, multi-purpose centres and health infrastructure and wellness centres.
- The district administration will prepare action plans with the help of Gram Panchayats for the identified villages to ensure 100 per cent saturation of Central and state schemes.
3 . Supreme Court on Encounters
Context: Gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed’s son Asad and his aide Ghulam, both wanted in connection with the Umesh Pal murder case, were killed in an encounter at Jhansi. On these extra-judicial killings, popularly known as “encounters”, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and subsequently, the Supreme Court have laid down proper guidelines and procedures to be followed to prevent any misuse of power by the law enforcement agencies.
What has the Supreme Court said on “encounters”?
- On September 23, 2014, a bench of then CJI RM Lodha and Rohinton Fali Nariman issued detailed guidelines enumerating 16 points to be followed “in the matters of investigating police encounters in the cases of death as the standard procedure for thorough, effective and independent investigation.”
- The guidelines came in the case “People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra” and included the registration of a first information report (FIR) as mandatory along with provisions for magisterial inquiry, keeping written records of intelligence inputs and independent investigation by bodies such as the CID.
What are the Procedures to be followed?
- A Magisterial Inquiry must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur during police action. The next of kin of the deceased must invariably be associated in such inquiry.
- In every case when a complaint is made against the police alleging commission of a criminal act on their part, which makes out a cognizable case of culpable homicide, an FIR to this effect must be registered under appropriate sections of the IPC,” the court said in its judgment, adding that such an inquiry made under Section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, must show “whether use of force was justified and action taken was lawful.”
- Following such an inquiry, a report must be sent to the Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code
- The guidelines also stated that whenever the police receives any intelligence or tip-off on criminal movements or activities relating to the commission of grave criminal offence, “it shall be reduced into writing in some form (preferably into case diary) or in some electronic form.
- Following such tip-off or intelligence, if an encounter takes place and a firearm is used by the police party, resulting in death, then an FIR to that effect has to be registered and forwarded to the court under Section 157 without delay.
- Provisions for an independent investigation into the encounter are also listed which “shall be conducted by the CID or police team of another police station under the supervision of a senior officer (at least a level above the head of the police party engaged in the encounter).”
- Further, the court directed that these “requirements/norms must be strictly observed in all cases of death and grievous injury in police encounters by treating them as law declared under Article 141 of the Constitution of India”.
- Article 141 says that the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all other courts in Indian territory.
- With regard to the National Human Rights Commission’s involvement, the court deemed it as not necessary, “unless there is serious doubt about independent and impartial investigation.” However, the information about the incident must be sent to NHRC or the State Human Rights Commission, the court added.
- Prior to this, the NHRC, in 1997, under its former chairperson Justice MN Venkatachaliah, had given a set of guidelines in cases where death is caused in police encounters.
What did the NHRC say on encounters?
- In March 1997, former CJI Justice M N Venkatachaliah wrote to all Chief Ministers saying that the NHRC was receiving complaints from the general public and NGOs that instances of fake encounters by the police were on the rise, and that the police kills accused(s) instead of subjecting them to the due process of law.
- In the light of this, the NHRC asked all states and Union Territories to ensure that police follow a set of guidelines in cases where death is caused in police encounters. These included the police’s duty to enter all information received about encounter deaths in an “appropriate register” and provisions for investigation by independent agencies like the State CID.
- Information as received shall be regarded as sufficient to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence and immediate steps should be taken to investigate the facts and circumstances leading to the death to ascertain what, if any, offence was committed and by whom
- The guidelines also said that the grant of compensation to the deceased’s dependents may be considered where police officers may be convicted and prosecuted after investigation.
- In 2010, these were amended under the then NHRC chief Justice GP Mathur, to include provisions for registration of an FIR, magisterial inquiry and reporting of all death cases to the NHRC by a Senior Superintendent of Police or Superintendent of Police of the District within 48 hours of such death.
- Three months after the encounter, a second report must be sent to the NHRC, providing information, inclusive of the post mortem report, inquest report and the enquiry findings.
4 . NISAR Satellite
Context: A forthcoming satellite, NISAR, jointly developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the U.S. will map the most earthquake-prone regions in the Himalayas with unprecedented regularity. The data this will generate can potentially give advance warning of land subsidence, as recently observed in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, as well point to places that are at greatest risk from earthquakes.
What is NISAR Satellite
- NISAR is a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with the goal to make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
- NISAR will be the first radar of its kind in space to systematically map Earth, using two different radar frequencies (L-band and S-band) to measure changes in our planet’s surface, including movements as small as centimeters. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) refers to a technique for producing fine-resolution images from a resolution-limited radar system.
- NASA is providing the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder and payload data subsystem. ISRO is providing the spacecraft bus, the S-band radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
What are the applications of NISAR?
- NISAR will provide a wealth of data and information about the Earth’s surface changes, natural hazards, and ecosystem disturbances, helping to advance our understanding of Earth system processes and climate change.
- The mission will provide critical information to help manage natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, enabling faster response times and better risk assessments.
- NISAR data will be used to improve agriculture management and food security by providing information about crop growth, soil moisture, and land-use changes.
- The mission will provide data for infrastructure monitoring and management, such as monitoring of oil spills, urbanization, and deforestation.
- NISAR will help to monitor and understand the impacts of climate change on the Earth’s land surface, including melting glaciers, sea-level rise, and changes in carbon storage.
- The NISAR satellite, expected to cost approximately $900 million (with ISRO contributing about one-tenth) will use two frequency bands: the L-band and S-band to image the seismically active Himalayan region that will, every 12 days, create a “deformation map”
- These two frequency bands will together provide high-resolution, all-weather data from the satellite that is expected to follow a sun-synchronous orbit and will be launched in January 2024.
5 . APPI and AHSSOH
Context: Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Rupala launched the Animal Pandemic Preparedness Initiative and World Bank-funded Animal Health system support for One Health to enhance India’s preparedness and response to potential animal pandemics in line with the one health approach
What is APPI and AHSSOH?
- Animal Pandemic Preparedness Initiative (APPI) and the World Bank-funded Animal Health System Support for One Health (AHSSOH) are aimed at enhancing India’s preparedness and response to animal pandemics, with a focus on zoonotic diseases that pose a threat to both animal and human health.
- This initiative will help to improve veterinary services and infrastructure, disease surveillance capabilities, early detection and response, build the capacity of animal health professionals, and awareness among farmers through community outreach.
- The Animal Pandemic Preparedness Initiative is a proactive step to protect animal resources and ensure the safety and health of our people
- Animal Health System Support for One Health (AHSSOH) aims to create an ecosystem for a better animal health management system using the One Health approach covering five (05) states in India.
- These initiatives are the comprehensive efforts to address animal pandemics in a holistic manner. By strengthening India’s animal health systems and implementing the One Health approach, it will prevent and control zoonotic diseases, which not only impact the health and welfare of the animals but also have significant economic impact and human health concerns.
6 . Maternity Benefits for adoptive mothers
Context: The Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 5(4) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which states that a woman who legally adopts a child below three months old will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
What is section 5(4) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961?
- The original 1961 legislation did not have specific provisions for mothers who adopt, and these were inserted with the 2017 amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act.
- According to Section 5(4) of the amended Act, “A woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months or a commissioning mother shall be entitled to maternity benefit for a period of twelve weeks from the date the child is handed over to the adopting mother or the commissioning mother, as the case may be.”
- The term “commissioning mother” refers to a surrogate mother and has been defined as “a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman.” A woman adopting a child older than three months gets no benefits.
About the PIL
- The PIL challenges this provision on grounds of being “discriminatory” and “arbitrary” towards adoptive mothers.
- “Section 5(4) apart from being discriminatory and arbitrary towards the adoptive mothers, also arbitrarily discriminates against orphaned, abandoned or surrendered children above the age of three months, which is completely incompatible to the object of the Maternity Benefit Act as well as the Juvenile Justice Act,”
- The purported benefit of 12 weeks’ maternity leave as “mere lip service”, the petition also states that when compared to the 26 weeks’ benefit for biological mothers, the provision fails to stand the basic scrutiny of Part III of the Constitution, which is linked to the concept of non-arbitrariness.
What is the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961?
- The Maternity Benefit Act was originally passed by Parliament on December 12, 1961, to regulate the employment of women in “certain establishments” for the period before and after childbirth and “to provide for maternity benefit and certain other benefits.”
- Originally it applied to every establishment “being a factory, mine or plantation” and later in 1973, it was extended to “any such establishment belonging to Government” and “every establishment where persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances.” It repealed the Mines Maternity Benefit Act, 1941 and Maternity Benefit Act, 1929.
- Section 4 of the 1961 Act prohibited the employment of or work by women during a certain period and under sub-section (1) stated, “No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.”
- The right to paid maternity leaves was also given under Section 5 of the 1961 Act, although the period of such leave could not exceed twelve weeks, “that is to say, six weeks up to and including the day of her delivery and six weeks immediately following that day.”
- Additionally, no woman could be allowed to avail maternity benefits if she had not worked in the establishment for at least “one hundred and sixty days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.” These benefits would be allowed without dismissing the female worker from service or reduction of wages. Violating provisions of the Act could result in three months’ punishment, with or without a fine.
- On March 9, 2017, the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017, was passed by Parliament, which brought about key changes to the original Act.
What did the amendment in 2017 do?
- The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 amended Section 5 of the erstwhile Act to allow 26 weeks of paid leave after childbirth, although only to biological mothers.
- The amendment also inserted Section 5(4) which said that adoptive or surrogate mothers legally adopting a child below three months will be entitled to a maternity benefit period of 12 weeks from the date the child is handed over to the mother.
- Further, it inserted provisions to allow women to work from home under Section 5(5) which said, “…Where the nature of work assigned to a woman is of such nature that she may work from home, the employer may allow her to do so after availing of the maternity benefit for such period and on such conditions as the employer and the woman may mutually agree.”
- Under the amended Act, Section 11 was also inserted to say that, “Every establishment having fifty or more employees shall have the facility of creche within such distance as may be prescribed, either separately or along with common facilities.” It is also mandated that the employer allows four visits a day to the creche by the woman as well as rest intervals for her.
- However, a much-received criticism of this Act is that it does not apply to the unorganised sector.
7 . Facts for Prelims
What is ‘dabba trading’?
- Dabba (box) trading refers to informal trading that takes place outside the purview of the stock exchanges.
- Traders bet on stock price movements without incurring a real transaction to take physical ownership of a particular stock as is done in an exchange. In simple words, it is gambling centred around stock price movements.
- For example, an investor places a bet on a stock at a price point, say ₹1,000. If the price point rose to ₹1,500, he/she would make a gain of ₹500. However, if the price point falls to ₹900, the investor would have to pay the difference to the dabba broker. Thus, it could be concluded that the broker’s profit equates the investor’s loss and vice-versa. The equations are particularly consequential during bull runs or bear market.
- The primary purpose of such trades is to stay outside the purview of the regulatory mechanism, and thus, transactions are facilitated using cash and the mechanism is operated using unrecognised software terminals. Other than this, it could also be facilitated using informal or kaccha (rough) records, sauda (transaction) books, challans, DD receipts, cash receipts alongside bills/contract notes as proof of trading.
Tamil Nadu’s Uthiramerur Inscription
- Uthiramerur, which has a 1,250-year history, is situated in Kancheepuram district Tamil Nadu. It is noted for its temple inscriptions that describe a self-governance system existing around 7th to 9th century CE
- The Pallava king Nandivarman II established it around 750 A.D. The Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Sambuvarayars, the Vijayanagara Rayas, and the Nayaks successively ruled it.
- The village has three important temples, the Sundara Varadaraja Perumal temple, the Subramanya temple, and the Kailasanatha temple.
- The three temples have a large number of inscriptions, notably those from the reigns of Raja Raja Chola (985-1014 A.D.), his son Rajendra Chola, and the Vijayanagar emperor Krishnadeva Raya. Rajendra Chola as well as Krishnadeva Raya visited Uthiramerur.
- Uthiramerur, built on the canons of the agama texts, has the village assembly mandapa at the centre. All the temples are oriented with reference to the mandapa.
- The stone inscriptions of 10th century AD found in the Vaikuntha Perumal Temple in Uthiramerur, Kancheepuram District, describe a system of Village Government, that is, administration by assemblies and functional committees.
- It is amazing to note that even in that ancient period, villages were divided into wards with the residents of each ward electing their representatives through what was known as the “Kudavolai” system.
- There were well established codes for the conduct of elections. There were also rigid qualifications and disqualifications prescribed for the contesting candidates
- Village assembly of the Uthiramerur- One of the important features of the Uthiramerur is the village assembly. The village was divided into 30 wards, one representative elected for each.
- The entire village, including infants, had to be present at the village assembly mandapa at Uthiramerur when elections were held. Only the sick and those who had gone on a pilgrimage were exempt.
- There were committees for the maintenance of irrigation tanks, roads, to provide relief during drought, to test gold, and so forth.
- Specific qualifications were prescribed for those who wanted to contest.
- The essential criteria were age limit, possession of immovable property, and minimum educational qualification. Those who wanted to be elected should be above 35 years of age and below 70.”
- Only those who owned land that attracted tax could contest elections. Another stipulation was that such owners should possess a house built on a legally owned site
- A person serving in any of the committees could not contest again for the next three terms, each term lasting a year.
- Elected members who accepted bribes, misappropriated others’ property, committed incest, or acted against the public interest suffered disqualification