Daily Current Affairs : 3/1/2019


Topics Covered

  1. Sabarimala Issue
  2. Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018
  3. Juno mission
  4. Panel to Protect Assam’s heritage
  5. Exotic trees eating up Western ghats grasslands
  6. National Health Authority
  7. Purchase Managers Index

1 . Sabarimala Issue

Context : Two young women entered the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala under police cover in the early hours of Wednesday, triggering anti-government protests across the State.

About the Temple

  • Lord Ayyappan is the presiding deity. Ayyappan is believed to have been found as a baby by the river, and raised by the King and Queen of Pandalam. According to legend, the Prince later renounced the kingdom and the King built a shrine for him atop a hill, 3,000 ft above sea level, at Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. While various routes lead to Pamba, including an arduous one through forest, the journey from Pamba to the temple is an uphill trek. The temple is administered by the Travancore Devaswom Board, an autonomous authority under the state government.
  • Ayyappan is worshipped as celibate, and pilgrims assume his identity once they take the initiation vows; they are expected to practice celibacy and abstinence during the 41-day vratam. This belief is linked to a legend around Ayyappan’s relations with Malikapurathamma, a minor deity, who resides close to his abode. Malikapurathamma wanted him to marry him but he had vowed to remain a brahmachari; he promised that he would marry her the year no kanni ayyappan (first-time pilgrim) would visit him.

High Court Vedict

  • In 1991 a devotee wrote a petition stating that the the temple board in collusion with the government was violating Temple practice by allowing women into the sanctum and according special treatment to be VVIP. Since the Judgment affect a large number of people it was considered as a PIL.
  • In a substantial judgment the division bench of Kerala High Court said that women between the ages of 10 to 50 not be allowed to enter as per the existing Traditions
  • Age limit was specified by The Travancore Dewasom board in charge of the administration of the Temple.
  • The court also wondered if the Ayyapa devotees formed a special religious denomination
  • In 2006 the Indian young Lawyers Association escalated the issue directly to the Supreme Court. This was not an appeal of the 1991 judgment nut it did call that judgment to question.
  • Specifically it challenged Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu places of public worship at 1965 and said all the Hindus have the right to enter the temple and denying them was a form of untouchability.

Supreme Court Judgement

  • In 2006 the Indian young Lawyers Association escalated the issue directly to the Supreme Court. This was not an appeal of the 1991 judgment but it did call that judgment to question.
  • Specifically it challenged Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu places of public worship act 1965 and said all the Hindus have the right to enter the temple and denying them was a form of untouchability.
  • The court addressed five issues which are as follows
  1. Is it not unconstitutional to reserve the entry on the basis of gender?
  2. How do you strike a balance between the rights of menstruating women to enter the temple and the rights of the temple to reserve entry?
  3. Is Ayyapa temple a separate religious denomination? If so how can a state funded entity indulge in practice that violates morality?
  4. Does Kerala Hindu places of public worship at 1965 ban the entry of women into the temple?
  5. Does the said rule violates Part 3 of the constitution?
  • The SC’s landmark judgment came on 28 September, and declared the ban on women ages 10-40 entering the temple ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘discriminatory’. 
  • The 4:1 judgment was delivered by a five-judge bench consisting then CJI Dipak Misra and Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, with Malhotra dissenting.

2 . Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018

Context : The government on Wednesday introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha that will allow individuals to voluntarily offer biometric ID Aadhaar as a means of identity verification for obtaining services like opening a bank account and getting a mobile phone connection.


  • In a verdict questioning the validity of Aadhaar, Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric based unique identity number, but restricted its use by private entities like telecom operators for verifying identity of mobile phone user. 
  • Aadhaar also remains mandatory for filing of IT returns and for allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN), it would not be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and phone connections. 
  • It would also not be mandatory for school admissions, and for exams held by the Central Board of Secondary Examination ( CBSE), National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance ( NEET) and the University Grants Commission (UGC). 

About the Proposed Bill

  • Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 allow individuals to voluntarily offer biometric ID Aadhaar as a means of identity verification for obtaining services
  • The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, moved by Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, bans storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication
  • The Bill seeks to amend three separate laws governing Aadhaar, the telecom sector and banking regulation, gives a minor an option to opt out of the 12-digit identity scheme on attaining the age of 18 years.
  • The Bill also makes it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it a bank account or a SIM card.
  • It also provides for stiff penalties for violation of norms.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

3 . Juno Mission

Context : NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft has beamed back new images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter’s moon Io, captured during the mission’s 17th flyby of the gas giant. On December 21, four of Juno’s cameras captured images of the Jovian moon Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system

About Juno Mission

  • Juno will improve our understanding of the solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.


  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.

About Jupiter

  • Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a giant planet with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined
  • Jupiter has 79 known natural satellites. Of these, 63 are less than 10 kilometres in diameter and have only been discovered since 1975.
  • The four largest moons, visible from Earth with binoculars on a clear night, known as the Galilean moons, are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

4 . Panel to Protect Assam’s Heritage

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assam. It also recommended reserving Assembly seats for indigenous communities in the State.

5 . Exotic trees eating up Western Ghat’s grasslands

Context : Over four decades, the country lost almost one-fourth of these grasslands and exotic invasive trees are primarily to blameThough grassland afforestation using pine, acacia and eucalyptus ceased in 1996, the exotics still invade these ecosystems

What are Exotic Trees

  • Exotic species, which are also known as alien species, invasive species, non-indigenous species, and bioinvaders, are species of plants or animals that are growing in a nonnative environment.
  • Alien species have been moved by humans to areas outside of their native ranges. Once transported, they become removed from the predators, parasites, and diseases that kept them in balance in their native environments. As a result of the loss of these controls, they often become pests in the areas into which they are introduced

Main Exotic Invasive Trees

  • Pine
  • Acacia
  • Eucalyptus

Shola Forest

  • Shola forests are tropical Montane forests found in the valleys separated by rolling grasslands only in the higher elevations. They are found only in South India in the Southern Western Ghats.
  • The shola forests are patches of forests that occur only in the valleys where there is least reach of the fog and mist
  • Other parts of the mountains are covered in grasslands. The trees never grow on the mountain tops. This is such a unique landscape formation that is native only to the southern Western Ghats.
  • The word Shola means grove in Tamil
  • They are found only in the high altitude mountains of the states Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu. Nowhere else in the world exist such a kind of forests.
  • The Shola forests are very rich in bio-diversity when it comes to plants. There are at least 25 types of trees that dominate these forests in the Nilgiri Hills
  • These forests are rich in endemic species of animals where some species of animals have adapted to this unique landscape and are found nowhere else in this world. The endangered Nilgiri tahr (an Asian goat-antelope) is endemic to the shola-grassland, and its range is now restricted to a 400-km stretch of shola-grassland mosaic, from the Nilgiri Hills to the Agasthyamalai Hills.

About the Study

6 . National Health Authority

Context : Union Cabinet cleared the constitution of a National Health Authority (NHA) through an executive order, thus taking the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) out of the ambit of the Ministry of Health.

About National Health Authority

  • Restructuring of existing National Health Agency as “National Health Authority” is for better implementation of Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
  • With this approval, the existing society “National Health Agency” has been dissolved and will be replaced by National Health Authority as an attached office to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
  • Existing multi-tier decision making structure has been replaced with the Governing Board chaired by the Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India which will enable the decision making at a faster pace, required for smooth implementation of the scheme. The composition of the Governing Board is broad based with due representations from the Government, domain experts, etc. Besides, the States shall also be represented in the Governing Board on rotational basis.

7 . Purchase Manager’s Index

Context : India’s manufacturing PMI slows down in December

What is a PMI?

  • PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before. It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.

What are its implications for the economy? 

  • The PMI is usually released at the start of the month, much before most of the official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth becomes available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity. Economists consider the manufacturing growth measured by the PMI as a good indicator of industrial output, for which official statistics are released later. Central banks of many countries also use the index to help make decisions on interest rates 

PMI for India

  • For India, the PMI Data is published by Japanese firm Nikkei but compiled and constructed by Markit Economics (for the US, it is the ISM).

PMI for Manufacturing Sector

  • The variables used to construct India’s PMI for manufacturing sector are: Output, New Orders, Employment, Input Costs, Output Prices, Backlogs of Work, Export Orders, Quantity of Purchases, Suppliers‟ Delivery Times, Stocks of Purchases and Stocks of Finished Goods. Similar variables are used for the construction of services PMI. A manufacturing PMI and a services PMI are prepared and published by the two.
  • The Nikkei and Markit economics websites says that PMI data are based on monthly surveys of carefully selected companies.

Difference between PMI and IIP

  • The popular index that measures growth in the industrial sector as far as India is concerned is the CSO prepared Index of Industrial Production.
  • IIP shows the change in production volume in major industrial subsectors like manufacturing, mining and electricity.
  • Similarly, the IIP also gives use based (capital goods, consumer goods etc) trends in industrial production. It covers broader industrial sector compared to PMI.
  • But compared volume based production indicator like the IIP, the PMI senses dynamic trends because of the variable it uses for the construction of the index. For example, new orders under PMI show growth oriented positive trends and not just volume of past production that can be traced in an ordinary Index of Industrial Production. Inventory level shows recessionary or boom trends. Employment scenario is also sentimental indicator.
  • Thus according to some experts, the PMI is more dynamic compared to a standard industrial production index.

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