Daily Current Affairs : 14th January 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. ISRO Report on Joshimath Land Subsidence
  2. Child Marriage
  3. Centre Vs Delhi Dispute
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . ISRO Report on Joshimath Land Subsidence

Context: According to images released by the National Remote Sensing Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation, Uttarakhand’s Joshimath has witnessed a rapid subsidence of nearly 5.4 cm in the past 12 days. The report stated that a subsidence of nearly 9 cm was recorded between April-November 2022.

Current Issue:

  • The ISRO-NRSC report clearly demonstrated rated Joshimath’s slow and rapid land subsidence since April 2022.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) released satellite images of Joshimath and the preliminary report on land subsidence showed that the entire town may sink
  • The picture taken by the Cartosat-2S satellite shows that the Joshimath subsided round 5 cm within a span of a few days and the areal extent of subsidence has also increased. But it is confined to the central part of Joshimath town.

What is National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC)?

  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) is one of the primary centres of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space (DOS)
  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) has the mandate for establishment of ground stations for receiving satellite data, generation of data products, dissemination to the users, development of techniques for remote sensing applications including disaster management support, geospatial services for good governance and capacity building for professionals, faculty and students.

What is Cartosat-2S satellite?

  • Cartosat-2S is an advanced remote-sensing satellite capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery.
  • Cartosat series of satellites with high-resolution imaging sensors are primarily intended for applications in the areas of cartography and large-scale mapping.
  • Some of the important applications include
    • Monitoring of irrigation infrastructure created under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program,
    • National Urban Information System,
    • Topo-thematic mapping at 1:10,000 scale,
    • Urban Infrastructure planning, and many State level Geospatial applications.

Findings of the report

  • Hyderabad-based NRSC has released the satellite images of areas that are sinking. The pictures are taken from the Cartosat-2S satellite.
  • In images, the entire town, including the Army’s helipad and the Narasimha temple, has been marked as a sensitive zone.
  • The Uttarakhand government is conducting rescue operations in danger-prone areas based on ISRO’s preliminary report. The government is shifting the people in these areas to safer places on priority.
  • According to the report, the land subsidence was slow between April and November 2022, during which Joshimath had sunk by 8.9 cm. But between December 27, 2022, and January 8, 2023, the intensity of land subsidence increased, and the town sank by 5.4 cm in these 12 days.
  • Joshimath, home to the monastery of Adi Shankaracharya and gateway to the Badrinath temple, is built on the deposits of an old landslide, which means the slopes can be destabilised even by slight triggers.
  • The town is also in Zone V, denoting highest risk, in India’s seismic zonation scheme.
  • Joshimath’s geological setting, together with the unplanned and rampant construction in and around the town, has resulted in land subsidence.

2 . Child Marriage

Context : The Supreme Court decided to examine whether girls as young as 15 years can enter into wedlock on the basis of custom or personal law when such marriages constitute an offence in statutory law.

About the issue

  • Recently the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a Muslim girl, on attaining puberty or the age of 15 years and above, could be married based on Muslim personal law, irrespective of the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
  • The Kerala High Court had recently observed that provisions of POCSO would apply if the bride or groom was a minor, irrespective of the validity or otherwise of the marriage.
  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) failed a case against this order.
  • National Commission for Women (NCW) also failed a petition to make the minimum age of marriage for Muslim women on par with persons belonging to other faiths.
  • NCW, like the NCPCR, had raised the question whether personal law could override statutory provisions of POCSO, etc.
  • The NCW had argued that the practice of marrying below the age of 18 would expose Muslim women to abuse and harassment. It was arbitrary and discriminatory.
  • Under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, of 1872, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, of 1936, Special Marriage Act, of 1954, and Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955, the minimum age of marriage for a man is 21 years and for a woman is 18 years. However, under the Muslim personal law in India, which continues to remain uncodified and unconsolidated, persons who gave attained puberty are eligible to get married i.e., on attaining the age of 15 years, while they are still minor
  • The petition had sought the enforcement of the fundamental rights of minor Muslim women who had contracted marriage before attaining the age of majority, whether consensually or otherwise.

What is Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006?

  • This Act prohibits the child marriages and provide relief to victims and enhance punishment for those who abet, promote, or solemnize such marriages.
  • It come into force in the year 2007
  • As per the act, the age of marriage for boys is 21, and for girls, it is 18, and any marriage of people below this age will be considered as a child marriage which is illegal, an offence and is punishable under the law.
  • The objective of the Act includes
    • The Act makes child marriage voidable.
    • The Act also allows for maintenance and residence for the girl till her remarriage from the male contracting party or his parents.
    • All the punishments contemplated under the Act are quite enhanced as compared to the 1929 Act.

The prohibition of child marriage amendment bill 2021

  • The Bill amends the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 to increase the minimum age of marriage of females to 21 years.  Further, the Bill will override any other law, custom, or practice.
  • Under the 2006 Act, a person married below the minimum age may apply for annulment within two years of attaining majority (i.e., before 20 years of age).  The Bill increases this to five years (i.e., 23 years of age).

3 . Centre V/s Delhi dispute

Context: A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a dispute between the Delhi government and the Centre over the control of services. Almost five years ago, another Constitution Bench had ruled in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party-led state government in a similar tussle

About the News

  • A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, and comprising Justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and P S Narasimha, is hearing the dispute between the Centre and the Delhi government over matters pertaining to control over the transfers and the overall functioning of administrative services in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.
  • On May 6 last year, a three-judge Bench headed by former CJI N V Ramana had referred this case to a larger Bench on the Centre’s plea. The three-judge Bench had decided that the question of control over administrative services required “further examination”.

History of the case

  • The Centre on April 27, 2022, sought a reference to a larger Bench, arguing that it needed the power to make transfers and postings of officers in Delhi on account of it being the national capital and the “face of nation”.
  • The court agreed that the limited question relating to the scope of the legislative and executive powers of the Centre and NCT of Delhi, with respect to the term “services”, would need an authoritative pronouncement by a Constitution Bench in terms of Article 145(3) of the Constitution.
  • In its order of May 6, the court said: “The Constitution Bench of this Court, while interpreting Article 239AA(3)(a) of the Constitution, did not find any occasion to specifically interpret the impact of the wordings of the same with respect to Entry 41 in the State List (State public services; State Public Service Commission).
  • The case had come before the three-judge Bench because a two-judge Bench had earlier delivered a split verdict on the issue of services. In this judgment, delivered in 2019 by a two-judge Bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, several issues relating to the powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) were settled; however, on the issue of control over services, the two judges ruled differently.
  • The 2019 verdict also dealt with five other issues arising from the power tussle, relating to the power of the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government to investigate corruption cases against central government officials and appoint commissions of inquiry.
  • The 2019 verdict was essentially delivered to decide the contentious issues based on the law settled by the five-judge Constitution Bench in 2018.
  • In 2018, a five-judge Bench comprising then CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Sikri, Bhushan, A M Khanwilkar, and (now CJI) Chandrachud interpreted Article 239AA of the Constitution which contains special provisions for the national capital.
  • The court laid down broad parameters for the governance of Delhi; it held that although Delhi cannot be given the status of a state, the powers of the LG can be curtailed as he has no “independent decision-making power” and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.
  • The court also restricted the jurisdiction of the LG to matters involving land, police, and public order, while holding that for all other matters, he will have to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
  • Prior to this, the Delhi High Court had, in its judgment of August 4, 2017, on the same issue, held that for administration purposes of the NCT, the LG is not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in every matter. On appeal, the SC in 2017, referred the matter to decide the interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution.

What is Article 145(3)?

  • Article 145(3) deals with the setting up of a Constitution Bench comprising at least five judges “for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution.

What is Article 239AA(3)(a)?

  • Article 239 AA was inserted in the Constitution by the 69th Amendment Act, 1991, and conferred Special Status upon Delhi following the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee that was set up in 1987 to investigate Delhi’s demands for statehood.
  • According to this provision, the NCT of Delhi will have an Administrator and a Legislative Assembly. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly, “shall have the power to make laws for the whole or any part of the NCT with respect to any of the matters in the State List or Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable to Union territories” except on the subjects of police, public order, and land.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Forex reserves of India

  • Foreign Exchange reserves or Forex reserves are assets such as foreign currencies, gold reserves, treasury bills, etc retained by a central bank or other monetary authority that checks the balance payments and influences the foreign exchange rate of its currency and maintains stability in financial markets.
  • RBI is the custodian of the foreign exchange reserves in India.
  • Major component of the reserves includes
    • Foreign Currency assets
    • Gold Reserves
    • The Special drawing rights
    • Reserves with IMF
  • According to the report released by the RBI, India’s forex reserves declined by USD 1.268 billion to USD 561.583 billion.
  • The reserves had been declining as the central bank deployed the reserves to defend the rupee amid pressures caused by global developments.
    • Foreign currency assets (FCA), a major component of the overall reserves, dropped by USD 1.747 billion to USD 496.441 billion during the week to January 6, according to the Weekly Statistical Supplement released by the RBI.
    • Expressed in dollar terms, the foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the foreign exchange reserves
    • Gold reserves increased by USD 461 million to USD 41.784 billion, it said.
    • The Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) were up by USD 35 million to USD 18.217 billion, the apex bank said.
    • The country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was down by USD 18 million to USD 5.141 billion

Purpose of the Foreign Exchange Reserve:

  • The most significant objective behind this is to ensure that RBI has backup funds if their national currency rapidly devalues or becomes altogether insolvent.
  •  If the value of the Rupee decreases due to an increase in demand of the foreign currency, then RBI sells the dollar in the Indian money market so that depreciation of the Indian currency can be checked.
  • A country with a good stock of forex has a good image at the international level because the trading countries can be sure about their payments.
  •  A good forex reserve helps in attracting foreign trade and earns a good reputation in trading partners.

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  • MV Ganga Vilas River cruise is a living example of the development of inland waterways in the country.
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