Why is the Kerch Bridge attack significant?
Relevance: GS 2 International Relations
Context: The Kerch Bridge, linking the Russian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula, was attacked by two Ukrainian sea drones.
Importance of Kerch Bridge:
- The bridge is crucial for Russia, providing a logistical supply link for its troops in the south.
- After annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia lacked direct connectivity between the mainland and Crimea, prompting the construction of the bridge.
- Ukraine targeted the bridge during its planned offensive to retake Kherson, aiming to disrupt Russian supplies and secure a land bridge for Crimea.
- Ukraine launched a counteroffensive using advanced weapons supplied by the West.
- The U.S. and European allies provided various military aid packages, including armaments and training.
- Despite some territorial gains in the southeast, Ukraine hasn’t achieved a breakthrough victory.
- The counteroffensive faced challenges due to well-fortified Russian positions and significant weaponry losses for Ukraine.
Pressure on Ukraine:
- Ukraine received assurances of further weapons and training from Western allies during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
- Ukraine’s major thrust in the counteroffensive was yet to begin before the attack on the Kerch Bridge.
Should delimitation be delayed further?
Relevance: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Context: Delimitation process
Background and Delimitation History:
- Delimitation involves redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and State Assembly constituencies based on Census data to achieve almost equal voter representation.
- Last delimitation exercise took place in 1976, using 1971 Census data.
- A freeze was placed on delimitation until the first Census after 2026 due to population imbalances between northern and southern states.
- Current Lok Sabha boundaries are based on the 2001 Census, but the number of seats remains frozen based on the 1971 Census.
Delimitation Process and Parliament’s Role:
- Parliament specifies the total number of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly seats.
- Delimitation Commission, appointed under a Delimitation Commission Act, redistributes seats among states based on population.
- Parliament can make exceptional arrangements for specific cases, but the principle of one person, one vote, and one value cannot be eliminated.
Regional Variations in Population Trends:
- Population count shows demographic divergence between northern and southern states.
- Suggestions for a fixed proportionality in representation based on population, with room for deviation in specific circumstances.
- Representation should also consider the voices of marginalized communities, like tribal people and the elderly.
Balancing Representation and Marginal Voices:
- Representation should not solely be based on headcount, but also consider characteristics of representation.
- Political decisions and negotiations will determine the final formula for representation.
- The process should not introduce colonial concepts of different categories of voters.
Concerns of Southern States and Impact of Migration:
- Some calculations suggest that redistribution of seats according to current population distribution may impact the representation of northern and southern states.
- Migration patterns show significant mobility from the east to the south and from the north to the west.
- Migrants’ agency is becoming increasingly important in political outcomes, and candidates are addressing migrant-related issues in elections.
In impasse in wrestlers’ case, the loser is the rule of law
Context: Women trainee wrestlers, including award-winning sportspersons, faced alleged sexual advances and indignities during training for almost a decade.
- The rule of law and autonomy cannot be taken for granted; it depends on political commitment and a robust rule of law culture.
- Contemporary Indian society faces weakening of the rule of law due to a trust deficit in the colonial model of the rule of law and a faith-oriented majoritarian re-imagination of laws.
Case of Wrestlers’ Alleged Sexual Harassment:
- In January 2023, they began a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, seeking resolution.
- The Sports Ministry referred the complaints to an oversight committee, but no satisfactory outcome was achieved.
- The wrestlers approached the Supreme Court, leading to the registration of FIRs under relevant laws and judicial oversight.
- The alleged perpetrator, a politician in a top sports position, started a vilification campaign against the wrestlers.
- Slothful and Selective Investigation:
- Delhi Police took time in investigating the crime and focused on the complainants’ credentials while being lenient towards the accused.
- The police filed a closure application under the POCSO Act based on the withdrawal application of a minor wrestler, raising questions about police selectivity.
Rule of Law Course Correction:
- The rule of law requires universal and equal applicability, ensuring a fair and impartial investigation.
- Judicial oversight is crucial to check police powers and monitor the investigation.
- Survivors’ protests for justice have not yielded adequate relief, raising concerns about the weakening of the rule of law in the country.
- The need is to stand up and resort to course correction to save the soul of the rule of law.
- Similar threats to the rule of law are faced in other democracies worldwide.
- The Stockholm Criminology Symposium highlighted the theme of principled and equitable law enforcement.
India’s data protection law needs refinement
Context: India’s Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill, 2022 is likely to be tabled in Parliament, but critical gaps remain.
- Drafting a data protection law for over 1.4 billion Indians is challenging.
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has faced implementation challenges and risks being ineffective.
Scope and Definition:
- The DPDP Bill only protects personal data, leaving out non-personal data.
- Non-personal data, when combined with other datasets, can lead to identification and privacy risks.
- The previous drafts accounted for this, but the latest version lacks provisions for penalizing re-identification of non-personal data as personal data.
Limited Reach of Data Protection Board:
- The proposed data protection board cannot initiate proceedings on its own.
- Users have limited control and knowledge of data transfers, making it difficult for them to approach the board.
- Allowing the board to take action on behalf of affected users would be beneficial.
Solutions for Implementation Challenges:
- Including penalties for re-identification of non-personal data as personal data would enhance the scope and effectiveness of the DPDP Bill.
- Allowing the data protection board to initiate complaints on its own would provide better enforcement capabilities.
- Addressing the gaps in the DPDP Bill will improve its implementation and ensure it remains relevant in the rapidly evolving data economy.
SC asks Centre to transfer cheetahs to other location
Context: The court urged the government to consider moving the remaining cheetahs to a more suitable environment if needed and not turn the issue into a “prestige” matter.
Disturbing Cheetah Mortality Rates at Kuno National Park:
- Within a year, 40% of the 20 cheetahs brought from South Africa and Namibia to Kuno National Park (KNP) have died, raising serious concerns.
- Eight cheetahs have died in a short span, with two deaths occurring just last week.
- Alarming cheetah mortality rates indicate a precarious situation for the translocated big cats.
Supreme Court Urges Relocation:
- The Supreme Court advised the Union government to consider moving the cheetahs to a more suitable environment, if necessary.
- The welfare and survival of the cheetahs should take precedence over any prestige associated with the conservation project.
Centre’s Response and Measures:
- The Additional Solicitor General acknowledged the unfortunate deaths of the cheetahs and attributed them to several reasons.
- The cheetah conservation project is considered prestigious, and authorities are exploring various options to ensure the well-being and survival of the remaining cheetahs at Kuno National Park.
- The Centre assures that efforts are being made to address the situation and protect the cheetahs.
Centre bans export of non-basmati white rice to control price rise in India
Context: The Directorate General of Foreign Trade, under the Union Commerce Ministry, announced an immediate ban on the export of non-basmati white rice.
Reasons for the Ban:
- The ban was implemented to ensure sufficient availability of non-basmati white rice in the domestic market and to curb price rise.
- Retail prices had increased by 11.5% over a year and 3% over the past month, necessitating measures to stabilize prices.
Previous Measures and Their Impact:
- Export duty of 20% on non-basmati white rice was imposed earlier to lower prices and ensure availability in the domestic market.
- However, despite the imposition of export duty, exports of this rice variety increased significantly.
- Factors contributing to the surge in exports include high international prices due to geopolitical scenarios, El Nino sentiments, and extreme climatic conditions in other rice-producing countries.
Impact on Exports:
- In 2023-24, about 15.54 lakh tonnes of non-basmati white rice were exported, compared to only 11.55 lakh tonnes during 2022-23.
- The sharp increase in exports has been attributed to various external factors impacting rice prices in the global market.