Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- 13th Amendment
- Official Language
- Facts for Prelims
1 . 13th Amendment
Context: India expects Sri Lanka to implement the Thirteenth Amendment and ensure a “life of respect and dignity” for its Tamil population, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
About the news
- Thirty-six years since the signing of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, the 13th Amendment to Sri Lankan Constitution is back in focus with the visit of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India.
- India and Sri Lanka have held talks on a number of infrastructure projects that can ensure greater connectivity between the two countries and announced a development assistance package for the Tamils of Indian origin who are marking 200th anniversary of their arrival into the island nation.
What is the legislation?
- It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene, in an attempt to resolve Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict that had aggravated into a full-fledged civil war, between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which led the struggle for Tamils’ self-determination and sought a separate state.
- The 13th Amendment led to the creation of Provincial Councils and assured a power sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country, including Sinhala majority areas, to self-govern.
- Subjects such as education, health, agriculture, housing, land and police are devolved to the provincial administrations, but because of restrictions on financial powers and overriding powers given to the President, the provincial administrations have not made much headway.
- The provisions relating to police and land have never been implemented.
- Initially, the north and eastern provinces were merged and had a North-Eastern Provincial Council, but the two were de-merged in 2007 following a Supreme Court verdict.
Why is it contentious?
- The 13th Amendment carries considerable baggage from the country’s civil war years.
- It was opposed vociferously by both Sinhala nationalist parties and the LTTE. The former thought it was too much power to share, while the Tigers deemed it too little.
- A large section of the Sinhala polity, including the leftist-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which led an armed insurrection opposing it, saw the Accord and the consequent legislation as an imprint of Indian intervention.
- Though signed by the powerful President Jayawardene, it was widely perceived as an imposition by a neighbour wielding hegemonic influence.
- The Tamil polity, especially its dominant nationalist strain, does not find the 13th Amendment sufficient in its ambit or substance.
- On the other hand, Tamils have said that not enough power had been devolved to the provincial councils to make them meaningful.
Why is the 13th Amendment significant?
- Till date, the 13th Amendment represents the only constitutional provision on the settlement of the long-pending Tamil question.
- It is considered part of the few significant gains since the 1980s, in the face of growing Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism from the time Sri Lanka became independent in 1948.
How Has India Pursued The Issue With Sri Lanka?
- Ever since the signing of the accord, India has stressed the importance of the implementation of the 13th amendment besides giving attention to the requirements of the Indian-origin Tamil community;
- India has underscored that to create an united Sri Lanka, devolution of powers to the Tamil regions was necessary for long-term reconciliation of the issue between the ethnic communities.
- India considered the full implementation of the 13th amendment in Sri Lanka “critical” for achieving reconciliation with the minority Tamil community.
- India had urged Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendment at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session at Geneva.
2 . Official language
Context: The Supreme Court said it cannot direct the Centre to include Rajasthani as an official language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
Background of the news
- The court referred to a 1997 reported decision of the Supreme Court in the Kanhaiya Lal Sethia case to note that “to include or not to include a particular language in the VIIIth Schedule is a policy matter of the Union. Courts do not, in exercise of their power of judicial review, interfere in policy matters of the State, unless the policy so formulated either violates the mandate of the Constitution or any statutory provision or is otherwise actuated by mala fides. No such infirmity is present in the instant case”.
- The Bench noted that the court need not oblige a petitioner merely because the latter thinks the cause he or she represents is a genuine one.
What is the official language?
- The official language is a term used to refer to a language that is given specific legal standing in a country and can apply to the whole country or a specific area. It is used by a region’s government for official purposes and has more to do with day-to-day bureaucracy.
- The official language is mostly used by the government of a country in the courts and its administrative works and is often expressly mentioned in constitutions and serves a symbolic purpose. This language is important as it allows people to communicate with each other and is important for things such as business and government.
Article 343. Official language of the Union-
- India has no National Language as per the Constitution but has Hindi and English as the official languages as per Article 343 of the Indian Constitution
- The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English alongside Hindi in the Indian Government indefinitely until legislation is passed to change it. English was initially provided for 15 years as per Article 343
- It is an Act to provide for the languages which may be used for the official purpose of the Union of India, for the transaction of business in Parliament, for Central and State Acts and for a certain purpose in High Courts.
- Various states of India have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation. So Indian states/union territories have various official languages at their respective levels.
- While Hindi is the language used by the Central Government as per Article 343 when communicating with the states of the Hindi Belt and English is the Associate official language and the language to be used when communicating with the states.
Article 344. Commission and Committee of Parliament on official language
- The President shall, at the expiration of five years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of ten years from such commencement, by order constitute a Commission which shall consist of a Chairman and such other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule as the President may appoint, and the order shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.
- It shall be the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to-
- the progressive use of the Hindi language for the official purposes of the Union;
- restrictions on the use of the English language for all or any of the official purposes of the Union;
- the language to be used for all or any of the purposes mentioned in article 348;
- the form of numerals to be used for any one or more specified purposes of the Union;
- any other matter referred to the Commission by the President as regards the official language of the Union and the language for communication between the Union and a State or between one State and another and their use.
Scheduled Languages of India
- As per the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution, 22 languages have been granted the status of scheduled languages of India.
- These are– Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.
- Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Indian Constitution. The Sindhi language was added in 1967.
- Thereafter, three more languages– Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992. Subsequently, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.
- Candidates sitting for an examination conducted for public service are entitled to use any of these languages as a medium to answer the paper.
3 . E-Cigarette
Context: Despite the ban imposed by the Union government in 2019, e-cigarettes continue to be sold on e-commerce sites, even to children below 18, warn experts working in the area of tobacco control. Now to curb this, the Health Ministry has launched an online portal to facilitate reporting of violations under the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act (PECA).
- Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings, and other chemicals.
- They can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks.
- It has mainly 3 parts a rechargeable lithium battery, a vaporization chamber, a cartridge
How it works
- Lighting a traditional cigarette causes the tobacco to burn, releasing smoke that contains nicotine. The user breathes in the smoke to deliver nicotine to the lungs.
- An electronic cigarette doesn’t rely on this process of combustion. Instead, it heats a nicotine liquid and converts the liquid to a vapor, or mist, that the user inhales.
Arguments against E- Cigarettes
- The amount of nicotine delivered did not always match the amount stated on the label.
- Some cartridges labeled nicotine-free in fact contained nicotine
- . And cancer-causing compounds found in tobacco were also found in some e-cigarette cartridges, along with other toxins. One of the toxins found was diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.
- Their addictive-potential is not understood, and some studies show that they can act as a gateway drug for adolescents
- Use of e-cigarettes has documented adverse effects on humans which include DNA damage; carcinogenesis; cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity; respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders and adverse impact on foetal development and pregnancy
How e cigarettes remain a health challenge in India?
- A decision to ban e-cigarettes is aimed at protecting the youth, the section that is most vulnerable to the health hazards of e-cigarettes.
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) around 27% of the Indian population uses tobacco in some form and India’s massive population makes it the largest tobacco market in the world. India is one of the only countries that has completely banned the sale of e-cigarettes.
- A research revealed that 23% reported using e-cigarettes, 70% reported using tobacco, and 8% were dual users of both e-cigarettes and tobacco. Just under two-thirds of those who were aware of e-cigarettes believed them to be harmful and to contain chemicals. Among non-users, 31% were curious about using e-cigarettes, and 23% intended to use them in the following year, indicating high levels of susceptibility.
- Exposure to vaping within family and peer groups is a conduit through which vaping rates will increase over time. Intense monitoring and enforcement of existing regulations would assist in preventing greater uptake in the future.
Steps taken by the Government to ban on E- Cigarette:
- ICMR has recommended complete prohibition on ENDS or e-cigarettes in India in the greater interest of protecting public health.
- The Union government, considering the harmful effects of electronic cigarette and the alarming rise in its prevalence among youth, prohibited the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement, of electronic cigarettes, which include all forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, heat not burn Products, e-hookah and the like devices, by whatever name called and whatever shape, size or form it may have, vides the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019, which was introduced as an Ordinance and later formalized into an Act in 2019.
- The States were also directed to review the compliance of PECA and issue necessary instructions for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act, through special drives and random checking in schools and colleges.
- Nicotine is a chemical that contains nitrogen, which is made by several types of plants, including the tobacco plant. It is also produced synthetically.
- Nicotiana tabacum, the type of nicotine found in tobacco plants, comes from the nightshade family. Red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes are examples of the nightshade family.
- While not cancer-causing or excessively harmful on its own, nicotine is heavily addictive and exposes people to the extremely harmful effects of tobacco dependency.
- When a body is exposed to nicotine, the individual experiences a “kick.” This is partly caused by nicotine stimulating the adrenal glands, which results in the release of adrenaline. This surge of adrenaline stimulates the body. There is an immediate release of glucose, as well as an increase in heart rate, breathing activity, and blood pressure.
- Nicotine also makes the pancreas produce less insulin, causing a slight increase in blood sugar or glucose.
- Indirectly, nicotine causes the release of dopamine in the pleasure and motivation areas of the brain. A similar effect occurs when people take heroin or cocaine.
- Dopamine is a brain chemical that affects emotions, movements, and sensations of pleasure and pain. If your brain dopamine levels rise, the feeling of contentment is higher.
4 . Facts for Prelims
- ‘Mandamus’ means ‘we command’. It is issued by the Court to direct a public authority to perform the legal duties which it has not or refused to perform. It can be issued by the Court against a public official, public corporation, tribunal, inferior court or the government. It cannot be issued against a private individual or body, the President or Governors of States or against a working Chief Justices. Further, it cannot be issued in the following circumstances:
- The duty in question is discretionary and not mandatory.
- For the performance of a non-statutory function.
- Performance of the duty involves rights of purely private nature.
- Where such direction involves violation of any law.
- Where there is any other remedy available under the law.
- The writ of mandamus is issued for keeping the public authorities within their jurisdiction while exercising public functions. The object of mandamus is the prevention of disorder emanating from failure of justice that is required to be granted in all cases where there is no specific remedy established in law. It cannot be issued when the government or public official has no duty to perform under the law.
- A writ petition seeking mandamus must be filed by a person in good faith and who has an interest in the performance of the duty by the public authority. The person seeking mandamus must have a legal right to do so and also must have demanded the performance of the duty and it is refused by the authority.
Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK)
- A dedicated Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) has been created for assured funding for critical safety related works on the Indian Railways.
- Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) was created in 2017-18 with a corpus of `1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years.
- The projects taken up under this fund relate to track renewal, bridges, signaling, rolling stock, training and amenities for safety critical staff.
- RRSK works are to be funded from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) and Railways revenues/resources including mobilization of resources through Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR).