Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022
- Minority Status
- Manipur NRC
- Guardianship and adoption law
- India – Bangladesh Relationship
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022
Context: The Lok Sabha passed the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which provides for the establishment of carbon credit markets and brings large residential buildings under the energy conservation regime.
About Energy Conservation (Amendment Bill) 2022
- The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha.
- The Bill seeks to amend the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
- The Act promotes energy efficiency and conservation.
- It provides for the regulation of energy consumption by equipment, appliances, buildings, and industries.
Key Features of the Bill
- Obligation to use non-fossil sources of energy: The original Act empowers the central government to specify energy consumption standards. The current bill adds that the government may require the designated consumers to meet a minimum share of energy consumption from non-fossil sources. Different consumption thresholds may be specified for different non-fossil sources and consumer categories.
- Designated consumers include: (i) industries such as mining, steel, cement, textile, chemicals, and petrochemicals, (ii) transport sector including Railways, and (iii) commercial buildings, as specified in the schedule.
- Failure to meet the obligation for use of energy from non-fossil sources will be punishable with a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh. It will also attract an additional penalty of up to twice the price of oil equivalent of energy consumed above the prescribed norm.
- Carbon trading: The Bill empowers the central government to specify a carbon credit trading scheme.
- Carbon credit implies a tradeable permit to produce a specified amount of carbon emissions.
- The central government or any authorised agency may issue carbon credit certificates to entities registered under and compliant with the scheme.
- The entities will be entitled to purchase or sell the certificate. Any other person may also purchase a carbon credit certificate on a voluntary basis.
- Energy conservation code for buildings: The Act empowers the central government to specify energy conservation code for buildings. The code prescribes energy consumption standards in terms of area.
- The Bill amend this to provide for an ‘energy conservation and sustainable building code’. This new code will provide norms for energy efficiency and conservation, use of renewable energy, and other requirements for green buildings.
- Applicability to residential buildings: Under the Act, the energy conservation code applies to commercial buildings: (i) erected after the notification of the code, and (ii) having a minimum connected load of 100 kilo watts (kW) or contract load of 120 kilo volt ampere (kVA). Under the Bill, the new energy conservation and sustainable building code will also apply to the office and residential buildings meeting the above criteria. The Bill also empowers the state governments to lower the load thresholds.
- Standards for vehicles and vessels: Under the Act, the energy consumption standards may be specified for equipment and appliances which consume, generate, transmit, or supply energy. The Bill expands the scope to include vehicles (as defined under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988), and vessels (includes ships and boats). The failure to comply with standards will be punishable with a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh. Non-compliance in case of vessels will attract an additional penalty of up to twice the price of oil equivalent of energy consumed above the prescribed norm. Vehicle manufacturers in violation of fuel consumption norms will be liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs 50,000 per unit of vehicles sold.
- Regulatory powers of SERCs: The Act empowers the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) to adjudge penalties under the Act. The Bill adds that SERCs may also make regulations for discharging their functions.
- Composition of the governing council of BEE: The Act provides for the setting up of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The Bureau has a governing council with members between 20 and 26 in number. These include: (i) secretaries of six departments, (ii) representatives of regulatory authorities such as the Central Electricity Authority, and the Bureau of Indian Standards, and (iii) up to four members representing industries and consumers. The Bill instead provides that the number of members will be between 31 and 37. It increases the number of secretaries to 12. It also provides for up to seven members representing industries and consumers
Criticism related to Bill
- States should also be allowed to issue certificates of carbon credit in the “spirit of federalism”.
- Carbon markets would lead to a “revolving door” between the government, businesses and NGOs.
2 . Minority Status
Context: The Supreme Court observed that it is contrary to law to identify religious and linguistic minority communities district-wise. It remarked that minority status of linguistic and religious communities has to be considered State-wise.
About the case
- The court was hearing a petition filed by a Mathura resident, claiming that Hindus do not get minority status in States where they are “socially, economically and politically non-dominant and numerically inferior”. It also sought a declaration from the court to identify minorities district-wise.
- The apex court stated that to recognize minorities at the district level is contrary to law. It was referring to the majority verdict given by the 11-judge Bench in the T.M.A Pai versus State of Karnataka case in 2002.
- The bench observed that it “cannot pass” general directions on the issue. But the court had indicated that a religious or linguistic community which were a minority in a particular State could inherently claim protection and the right to administer and run their own education institutions under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution.
What does Constitution say about minorities?
- The expression “minorities” appears in some Articles of the Constitution, but is not defined anywhere.
- Article 29, which deals with the “Protection of interests of minorities”, says that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”, and that “no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them”.
- Article 30 deals with the “right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions”.
- It says that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- It says that “in making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority…, the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause”, and that “the state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language”.
- Article 350(A) : There shall be a Special Officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed by the President.
- “It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under this Constitution and report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament, and sent to the Governments of the States concerned”
Minority in India Current Status
- Currently, only those communities notified under section 2(c) of the National Minorities Commission Act, 1992, by the central government are regarded as minority.
- In the exercise of its powers under the Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, the Centre on October 23, 1993, notified five groups — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis — as ‘minority’ communities. Jains were added to the list in January 2014
What have courts said on the subject?
- TMA PAI: In ‘TMA Pai’, an 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court dealt with the question of the scope of right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice under the Constitution.
- A majority ruling by six judges in 2002 referred to two other cases in which the SC had to consider whether Hindus were a religious minority in the State of Punjab.
- After examining the opinion of this Court in the Kerala Education Bill case , the Court held that the Arya Samajis, who were Hindus, were a religious minority in the State of Punjab, even though they may not have been so in relation to the entire country as it took the State as the unit to determine whether the Hindus were a minority community
- Bal Patil 2005
- In this judgement the court said after the verdict in 11 judges bench in TMA Pai foundation case supra the legal position stands clarified that henceforth the unit for determining status of both languishing and religious minorities would be state, if there for the state has to be regarded as a unit for determining linguistic Minority vis-a-vis article 30, then with religious minorities being on the same footing, it is the state in relation to which the majority or monetary status will have to be determined.
3 . Manipur NRC
Context: Recently, the Manipur Assembly resolved to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and establish a State Population Commission (SPC). The approval came after more than two dozen organizations, most of them tribal, demanded an Assam-like NRC to protect the indigenous people from a perceived demographic invasion by “non-local residents”.
What is NRC
- National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein.
- These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.
- Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.
- This NRC was prepared under a directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Why is Manipur pushing for NRC?
- The northeastern States have been paranoid about “outsiders”, “foreigners” or “alien cultures” swamping out their numerically weaker indigenous communities.
- Manipur, home to three major ethnic groups, is no different.
- These ethnic groups are the non-tribal Meitei people concentrated in the central part of Manipur, and the tribal Naga and Kuki-Zomi groups mostly inhabiting the hills around.
- There has been a history of conflict among these three groups, but the NRC issue has seemingly put the Meiteis and the Nagas on the same page.
- NRC is necessary because the political crisis in neighbouring Myanmar, triggered by the military coup in February 2021, has forced hundreds of people into the State from across its 398-km international border.
- A majority of those who fled or are fleeing belong to the Kuki-Chin communities, ethnically related to the Kuki-Zomi people in Manipur as well as the Mizos of Mizoram.
- In July, seven Manipur students’ organisations and 19 tribal and mixed groups submitted a memorandum demanding the implementation of NRC and the establishment of an SPC to “check and balance the population growth”.
- The State Assembly bowed to these demands and decided to go for NRC and SPC.
Has Manipur had protective mechanisms?
- In December 2019, Manipur became the fourth northeastern State to be brought under the inner-line permit (ILP) system after Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
- Inner-line permit (ILP): a temporary official travel document to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area.
- It is implemented under the British-era Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation.
- But an umbrella organization that spearheaded the ILP movement said the system was flawed and that Manipur needed a stronger and more effective mechanism for protecting indigenous populations.
Are Myanmar nationals the only bugbears?
- The population growth rates in the hill districts of the State were 153.3% between 1971 and 2001 and 250.9% between 2001 and 2011 compared to the corresponding national growth rate of 87.67% and 120% respectively.
- In the case of the valley districts, the growth rate was 94.8% and 125.4% during these periods.
- The abnormal population growth rates of the hill districts point to a strong possibility of a huge influx of non-Indians.
- The situation is such that smaller indigenous communities may face extinction.
- This indicated the government had Myanmar nationals, primarily the Kukis, on its radar.
- They are not the only communities to be viewed as demographic invaders.
- The pro-NRC groups have identified “Bangladeshis” and Muslims from Myanmar who have “occupied the constituency of Jiribam and scattered in the valley areas”, as well as Nepalis (Gurkhas) who have “risen in tremendous number”.
Status of the NRC elsewhere in the northeast
- Assam: It is the only State in the region that undertook an exercise to update the NRC of 1951 with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for citizenship of a person.
- This date, incorporated in the Assam Accord of 1985 that ended a six-year anti-foreigners’ movement, was chosen because many people were believed to have crossed over from erstwhile East Pakistan from March 25, 1971, onwards after Pakistan launched an operation to effectively start the Bangladesh liberation war.
- The complete draft of the Assam NRC was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh out of 3.3 crore applicants, which the government in the State and some indigenous groups have refused to accept.
- Nagaland: It attempted a similar exercise called RIIN (Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland) in June 2019 to primarily sift the indigenous Nagas from the non-indigenous Nagas. The move, seen as directed particularly against the Nagas of adjoining Manipur, was shelved following opposition from several groups.
5 . Guardianship and adoption law
Context: A Parliamentary panel has recommended conferring equal rights on mothers as guardians under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (HMGA), 1956.
Recommendations of the Parliamentary panel on guardianship and child custody?
- The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice tabled its report in both Houses of Parliament on the ‘Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws’.
- Major recommendation:
- On guardianship:
- There is need to amend the HMGA (Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956)
- Accord equal treatment to both mother and father as natural guardians as the law violates the right to equality and right against discrimination provided under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution.
- In cases of marital dispute:
- Need to relook at child custody which is generally restricted to just one parent where mothers tend to have preference.
- Courts should be empowered to grant joint custody to both parents if beneficial for the child, or award sole custody to one parent with visitation rights to the other.
- On adoption:
- New legislation that harmonizes the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956 and it should cover the LGBTQI community as well.
What does the law say on guardianship?
- Indian laws accord superiority to the father in case of guardianship of a minor.
- Religious law of Hindus: Natural guardian of a Hindu minor in respect of the minor’s person or property is the father, and after him, the mother.
- The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937: Shariat or the religious law will apply in case of guardianship.
- Father is the natural guardian, but custody vests with the mother until the son reaches the age of seven and the daughter reaches puberty though the father’s right to general supervision and control exists.
- Supreme Court’s judgment: In Githa Hariharan vs Reserve Bank of India:
- It challenged the HMGA for violating the guarantee of equality of sexes under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
- Judgment failed to recognize both parents as equal guardians, subordinating a mother’s role to that of the father.
- It sets a precedent for courts; it has not led to an amendment to the HMGA.
- Law Commission of India: Its report on “Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India” recommended removal of discrimination against women in matters relating to guardianship and custody of minor children and elaboration of the welfare principle.
What about cases of marital disputes?
- In cases of marital disputes, some courts such as the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Bombay High Court have framed rules to grant joint custody or shared parenting.
- But there is a need to amend the law, including the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 to introduce concepts such as joint custody.
Can queer and transgender people adopt children in India?
- The Adoption Regulations, 2017 doesn’t mention adoption by LGBTQI people and neither bans nor allows them to adopt a child.
- Eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents:
- They should be physically, mentally and emotionally stable
- Financially capable and
- Should not have any life-threatening medical condition.
- Key provisions of adoption regulation 2017
- Single men can only adopt a boy while a woman can adopt a child of any gender.
- A child can be adopted by a couple only if they have been in a marital relationship for at least two years.
- The HAMA which applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists allows men and women to adopt if they are of sound mind and are not minors.
- LGBTQI people who seek adoption face institutional discrimination because of stigma.
- The law should be amended to include LGBTQI as eligible candidates.
6 . Water sharing issues between India and Bangladesh
Context: India and Bangladesh are likely to sign at least one major river agreement later this month. Joint River Commission meeting to decide on agreements on Kushiyara, Ganga
- Water sharing between the two countries is considered a sensitive subject as it often takes political meaning.
- Sharing data on river waters and better flood control planning is also expected to feature in the Joint River Commission (JRC) meeting.
- An agreement on the Kushiyara that flows from Assam into Bangladesh is possible. A major agreement involving the Ganga may also be taken up.
- India has agreed to offer Bangladesh a package on river waters-related deals that will be considered a significant advancement in terms of sharing of river resources with Dhaka.
Rivers between India and Bangladesh
- India and Bangladesh have 54 trans-boundary rivers between them, all of which are part of the drainage system of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin.
- The Padma (the Ganga), the Jamuna (the Brahmaputra) and the Meghna (the Barak) and their tributaries are integral in maintaining food and water security in Bangladesh.
- In most of these cases, Bangladesh is the lower riparian.
- Cause for concern:
- India being both the upper riparian and first to develop the water resources can have far more disproportionate control over the rivers.
- Compounded by the lack of transparent data regarding trans-boundary rivers, such concern can lead to a more serious conflict between the two otherwise friendly Neighbours.
Background of the dispute
- The issues between India and Bangladesh regarding water resource allotment can be traced to the time Bangladesh was still East Pakistan.
- In 1961, India began construction of the Farakka Barrage to divert a portion of dry season flow and increase the navigability of Kolkata port.
- When India began planning for the project in 1950-51, Pakistan expressed concerns over the potential effect of the project on East Pakistan.
- Between 1960 and 1969, India and Pakistan held five meetings to discuss the issue, where India maintained that the negotiations be based on facts after exchange of relevant data.
Joint River Commission
- Soon after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, a Joint River Commission was formed between India and Bangladesh in 1972.
- Prime ministers of Bangladesh and India acknowledged the need for the flow augmentation of the Ganga in the lean season to meet the requirements of both countries.
Teesta river water sharing dispute
- Teesta River is a tributary of the Brahmaputra.
- Origin: Teesta Kangse glacier
- Flows through the state of Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
- It has been mired in conflict since 1947 when the catchment areas of the Teesta were allotted to India.
- India-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission in 1972, made an ad hoc arrangement on sharing of Teesta waters in 1983, with India receiving 39 percent of the water and Bangladesh 36 percent of it.
- The Teesta River issue assumed significance after the conclusion of the Ganga Water Treaty in 1996.
- Negotiations between India and Bangladesh on the sharing of the river waters began soon after but have made limited progress.
- In 2011, India agreed to share 37.5 percent of Teesta waters, but the deal never went through due to opposition from West Bengal.
- The sharing of the Teesta waters has been a long-standing demand of Bangladesh since the livelihood of millions is attached to the river’s water.
- Moreover, building of dams along the Teesta in Sikkim has resulted in lean seasonal flow draining into Bangladesh.
- Since Bangladesh is a lower riparian country, it is naturally sensitive about transboundary river issues, and the sharing of the Teesta waters currently holds the key to improved India-Bangladesh relations.
- At a time when India and Bangladesh are apparently witnessing a Golden Era in their bilateral relationship, not addressing this contentious issues properly can dampen the spirit.
- It is in India’s interest to conclude the Teesta water sharing agreement before Bangladesh slips into China’s tight embrace.
- Bangladesh has made its position clear.
- It will be a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) though it continues to believe India is its “most important partner.”
- India also has much to gain from the conclusion of the treaty.
- If India signs the treaty, it will be able to send a positive signal to all stakeholders within Bangladeshi society and assuage fears that exist in the minds of average Bangladeshi about India’s intentions.
- India will be able to strengthen its position as an all-weather friend of Bangladesh in the neighborhood and it will be able to further develop a robust economic and strategic partnership without worrying about the party in power in Bangladesh.
- After the Land Boundary Agreement that was signed in 2014, it is this Teesta water sharing agreement that will be remembered as part of the Shonali adhyaya of India-Bangladesh relations. But India must act now.
6 Facts for Prelims
Context: The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions has informed a Parliamentary Standing Committee that the government is working to develop a “technology solution” to automatically register grievances published in newspapers and on social media platforms on the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) for action.
Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS
- Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) is an online platform available to the citizens 24×7 to lodge their grievances to the public authorities on any subject related to service delivery.
- It is a single portal connected to all the Ministries/Departments of Government of India and States.
- It was launched by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
- Every Ministry and States have role-based access to this system.
- CPGRAMS is also accessible to the citizens through standalone mobile application downloadable through Google Play store and mobile application integrated with UMANG.
- The status of the grievance filed in CPGRAMS can be tracked with the unique registration ID provided at the time of registration of the complainant. CPGRAMS also provides an appeal facility to the citizens if they are not satisfied with the resolution by the Grievance Officer.
- After closure of grievance if the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution, he/she can provide feedback
- Issues which are not taken up for redress:
- Sub Judice cases or any matter concerning judgment given by any court.
- Personal and family disputes.
- RTI matters.
- Anything that impacts upon territorial integrity of the country of friendly relations with other countries.
National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB)
Context: The value of the counterfeit currency in the banking system reduced from ₹43.47 crore in 2016-17 to about ₹8.26 crore in 2021-22, amounting to a sharp decline of more than 80%. By National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the value of fake currency seized by various enforcement agencies in 2017 was ₹28 crore. However, it shot up to ₹92.18 crore in 2020.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)
- It was set up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals.
- It was established on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee to the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Taskforce (1985).
- NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009.
- This project connects 15000+ police stations and 6000 higher offices of police in the country.
- In August 2017, NCRB launched the National Digital Police Portal, which allows search for a criminal/suspect on the CCTNS database.
- The Bureau has also been entrusted to maintain the National Database of Sexual Offenders (NDSO) and share it with the States/UTs on a regular basis.
- NCRB has also been designated as the Central Nodal Agency to manage technical and operational functions of the ‘Online Cyber-Crime Reporting Portal.
Partition horrors Remembrance Day
Context: The first-ever Partition Horrors Remembrance Day would be observed on August 14.
- Partition Horrors Remembrance Day is a national Memorial Day in India that commemorates the victims and sufferings of people during the Partition of India.
- The day remembers the sufferings of many Indians during the partition.
- Several families were displaced, and many lost their lives in the partition.
- It aims to remind Indians the need to remove social divisions, disharmony and to further strengthen the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment.
- The partition had left 10 to 20 million people displaced and 2 hundred thousand to 2 million dead.
- The event will be commemorated with silent marches centered on 75 refugee colonies.
- The Culture Ministry had planned exhibitions at nearly 5,000 locations.
- The photos and text for the exhibition had been uploaded on the website for Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav for participating institutions to download and print, the source said.
- Schools, colleges and post offices were among those locations where the exhibition would be displayed.