Causing floods is a terrorist offence in law proposed to replace the Indian Penal Code
Context: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill (BNS) aims to replace the existing Indian Penal Code and define terrorism as a distinct offense.
Relevance: GS 2: Governance
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 focuses on terrorist activities, while the BNS seeks to create a general law defining terrorism.
- The bill introduces provisions to criminalize various actions related to terrorism, including causing floods, among other acts.
Definition of Terrorism:
- Section 111 (6) (a) of the BNS defines a “terrorist” as an individual involved in various activities related to weapons, explosives, dangerous substances, or causing fire, floods, or explosions.
- The bill considers causing floods as a terrorist offense, which is a new and significant inclusion.
- The BNS was introduced during the Monsoon Session of Parliament on August 11.
- It has been referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs for examination and review.
Critique of UAPA:
- The UAPA, criticized for its draconian provisions, has led to a low conviction rate (3% of arrests between 2018 and 2020).
- The constitutional validity of UAPA has been challenged in the Supreme Court due to concerns about its provisions.
Specific Case and Public Perception:
- In 2022, a flood in Silchar, Assam resulted in more than 120 deaths. Assam Chief Minister attributed the floods to breaches in embankments caused by individuals.
- A criminal case ensued, and four Muslim residents were arrested, sparking social media accusations of “flood jihad” against the community.
Punishment and Provisions:
- Section 111 proposes a minimum five-year imprisonment and a death sentence as the maximum punishment for a terrorist offense.
- The BNS lacks the senior police officer’s approval requirement for filing an FIR and restrictions on investigation present in UAPA and MCOCA.
- The BNS seeks to replace the Indian Penal Code and introduce a general law defining terrorism, including causing floods as a terrorist offense.
- Concerns are raised about the absence of procedural safeguards in the proposed law, potentially leading to arbitrary arrests and unfair trials, similar to criticisms of UAPA.
- The specific case in Assam highlights the potential consequences of such laws on public perception and communal tensions.
A strong case to restore Section 8(4) of the RP Act
Context: Rahul Gandhi, from the Congress party, faced disqualification after being convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in a 2019 defamation case.
Relevance: GS 2: Governance
Change in Disqualification Process:
- Earlier, under Section 8(4) of the Act, there was no instant disqualification of sitting legislators during the appeal period.
- The Supreme Court’s ruling struck down Section 8(4), leading to potential immediate disqualification upon conviction under Section 8(3).
Article 102(1) and Disqualification Equivalence:
- The Supreme Court established that Article 102(1) treats sitting members and candidates equally in terms of disqualification.
- Parliament lacked the power to grant exemption for three months, leading to the invalidation of Section 8(4) as unconstitutional.
Disqualification Criteria and Presidential Authority (Article 103):
- Section 8(3) of the Act states that a person convicted and sentenced to at least two years’ imprisonment shall be disqualified from the date of conviction.
- It’s suggested that the President of India, under Article 103, should exercise the authority to declare a sitting legislator disqualified.
Role of the President in Disqualification:
- The Supreme Court’s Lily Thomas ruling did not accept this proposition, but Consumer Education & Research … vs Union Of India & Ors (2009) held that the President’s declaration is necessary under Article 103.
- Section 8(3) implies that disqualification occurs from the date of conviction, not at the moment of pronouncement of guilt.
Role of the President vs. House Secretariat:
- The President, under Article 103, should disqualify a member, not the House Secretariat.
- The House Secretariat lacks the authority to declare disqualification immediately upon conviction.
Stay of Sentence vs. Stay of Conviction:
- A question arises whether a stay of sentence or a stay of conviction is necessary to lift disqualification.
- Earlier High Court decisions held varying views on the matter.
- The Supreme Court’s stay of conviction in Rahul Gandhi’s case did not address the question.
Relation Between Disqualification and Sentence Quantum:
- Disqualification arises when the sentence is two years or more.
- The quantum of sentence, rather than the conviction itself, triggers disqualification.
- Legislators’ careers can be affected due to the swift conviction and sentence in comparison to the slow legal process.
Need for Constitutional Amendment:
- The Lily Thomas judgment led to an abrupt disqualification process for legislators.
- Article 103 could be amended to allow Parliament to restore Section 8(4) in a constitutional manner.
What does the fate of Luna 25 mean for Russia?
How NASA, ESA to support moon landing
Context: Luna 25 encountered a glitch and crashed on the moon’s surface on the previous day, leading to mission failure.The failure marks Russia’s lack of success in interplanetary missions for 34 years.
Relevance: GS 3 Space
Reasons Behind Luna 25 Mission:
- Luna 25 had been in development for over two decades, initially named Luna-Glob, and was intended to ensure Russia’s access to the moon’s surface.
- Russia aimed to demonstrate its resilience against international sanctions, particularly after President Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the Ukraine invasion in 2022.
- Russia is leading the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) with China, in contrast to the U.S.-led Artemis Accords.
Comparison with Chandrayaan 3:
- Luna 25 and Chandrayaan 3 were launched around the same time and aimed for moon landings.
- Both missions were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Luna 25’s development began in the early 2010s, while Chandrayaan 3 was in progress since 2019.
- Roscosmos assisted India’s ISRO for the Gaganyaan mission, reflecting cooperation between the two space agencies.
Cause of Luna 25 Failure:
- Roscosmos stated it would investigate Luna 25’s failure, focusing on the precise mode of the glitch.
- Experts speculate that Luna 25 applied excessive thrust during an orbit modification, causing it to crash while trying to reach a lower pre-landing orbit.
- Roscosmos lost contact with Luna 25 during this maneuver.
Roscosmos’s Communication Challenge:
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resulted in global economic sanctions and loss of satellite tracking system privileges.
- Roscosmos could communicate with Luna 25 only when the moon was directly over Russia, due to limited contact stations.
- The window for problem resolution was narrow, and despite attempts, the lander didn’t respond.
Impact on Russia’s Moon Missions:
- Luna 25’s failure indicates Russia’s lag in lunar exploration.
- Russia’s participation in NASA’s near-moon space station partnership was limited even before withdrawing in 2021.
- Roscosmos had planned Luna missions 26 and 27 under the ILRS, but the failure and sanctions could push their launch dates further.
- Russia’s role in the ILRS might become restricted due to these challenges.
ESA’s Support and Ground Stations:
European Space Agency (ESA) has been actively aiding the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
ESA is utilizing two ground stations in its ESTRACK network to:
- Track the spacecraft’s orbit.
- Receive telemetry from the spacecraft.
- Transmit the received data to ISRO’s Mission Operations Centre in Bengaluru.
- Forward commands from Bengaluru to the spacecraft.
- ESA’s 15-meter antenna in Kourou, French Guiana, and the 32-meter antenna at Goonhilly Earth Station, U.K., have been chosen for this support.
Crucial Support During Lander Descent:
- As the Chandrayaan-3 lander attempts to touch down on the lunar surface, the assistance of these ground stations becomes vital.
- Their role will be crucial during the mission’s landing phase.
NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) Involvement:
- NASA’s Deep Space Network is contributing to the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
- DSN is providing telemetry and tracking coverage during the powered descent phase of the spacecraft.
On protecting the biodiversity of the northeast
Context: The Meghalaya High Court in the case of Re: Cleanliness of Umiam Lake emphasized that the state’s natural beauty shouldn’t be destroyed for the sake of promoting tourism.
Relevance: GS 3 Environment
Background and Recent Case:
- Economic activities like tourism, construction, and infrastructure development can lead to environmental degradation.
- The PIL addressed the cleanliness of Umiam Lake and the construction around water bodies.
Northeast India’s Biodiversity:
- Northeast India is ecologically significant due to abundant natural resources, including oil, natural gas, minerals, and fresh water.
- It encompasses biodiversity hotspots like the Garo-Khasi-Jaintia hills and the Brahmaputra valley.
- Despite industrial backwardness, deforestation, floods, and existing industries are causing environmental issues.
- Northeast India is ecologically fragile, prone to climatic changes, and faces threats like deforestation, mining, quarrying, and shifting cultivation.
Environmental Laws and Jurisdiction:
- India has established various environmental laws and policies since the 1980s.
- Offenses related to the environment are considered “public nuisance” under Sections 268 to 290 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
- District Council autonomy under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution limits the state’s authority over land use decisions, including those related to water bodies.
Role of PILs and Judicial Activism:
- PILs encouraged by Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution have led to environmental litigation.
- The National Green Tribunal has imposed heavy fines on states for environmental violations, protecting flora and fauna.
Balancing Economic Development and Environmental Protection:
- Governments need to balance economic development with environmental preservation and sustainability.
- Policies like the ‘Negative List’ under the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 withhold incentives from entities not complying with environmental standards.
- The ‘Act Fast for Northeast’ policy should prioritize trade, commerce, and environmental preservation.
Importance of Uniform Environmental Legislation:
- The pursuit of a $10 trillion economy should not compromise environmental protection.
- There’s a need for a uniform environmental legislation that addresses environmental issues at all levels of governance.
RBI’s platform for loan approvals will help small borrowers
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) aims to establish a ‘Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit’ to facilitate the smooth flow of credit, particularly to small and marginal borrowers.
Relevance: GS 3 Economy
- The platform’s purpose is to expedite loan approval and disbursal processes by serving as a digital clearinghouse for credit-related information.
Features and Development:
- The platform is being developed by the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub.
- It will incorporate open architecture, open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and standards to enable seamless data flow.
- Diverse entities, including State and central governments, credit information companies, and digital identity authorities, will contribute required digital information to lenders.
Pilot Project Focus:
- The RBI plans to introduce the platform in a pilot project focusing on specific financial products, including Kisan Credit Card loans, loans to dairy farmers, credit-sans-collateral to MSMEs, and personal and home loans through participating banks.
- Data from various sources, such as Aadhaar e-KYC, digitized land records, and milk pouring data from select dairy cooperatives, will be accessible to lenders.
Addressing Credit Access Challenges:
- The platform addresses the lack of formal credit penetration, particularly among small and marginal farmers in rural areas.
- It helps leverage digitization advancements to provide timely and cost-effective access to small-ticket loans to those in need.
- Many rural borrowers resort to informal sources due to limited access to formal credit, leading to high-interest rates.
Impact on Financial Inclusion:
- The platform aims to enhance financial inclusion by offering formal credit to underserved segments.
- It aligns with the goal of making institutional rural credit more inclusive and addressing credit access disparities.
- The platform’s success could reduce reliance on informal borrowing, contributing to a more sustainable credit ecosystem.
Centre to buy 521 lakh tonnes of rice this kharif season
Context: The Union Food Ministry has set a procurement target of 521 lakh tonnes of rice for the upcoming kharif season.
Universalization of Fortified Rice Distribution:
- The meeting also discussed the third phase of universalizing the distribution of fortified rice.
- The Ministry aims to complete this phase ahead of the earlier target set for March 2024.
- The goal is to ensure that fortified rice reaches all rice-consuming districts across the country.
Fortified Rice Distribution:
- Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra highlighted that the Ministry is progressing towards achieving the target of 100% distribution of fortified rice.
- The third phase of the program is ongoing, and the entire public distribution system will be covered with fortified rice.
- Of the 250 lakh tonnes of rice with the Food Corporation of India, only 12 lakh tonnes will be non-fortified rice.
National Seminar on Rice Fortification:
- The Ministry organized a national seminar to discuss the effectiveness of rice fortification.
- The scheme is based on evidence and aims to make fortified rice safe, even for individuals with conditions like thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
- Fortified rice is considered non-toxic and safe for consumption.
- Under the scheme, individuals will receive five kilograms of fortified rice every month, containing 160 grams of fortified rice per day, providing 7 mg of iron.
Japan to release water from Fukushima nuclear plant
Context: Japan is set to release water from the Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean, 12 years after a severe nuclear disaster.
- The water, a mix of coolant, groundwater, and rain, collected since the 2011 disaster, will be diluted and filtered.
- Radioactive substances, except tritium, will be removed, with tritium levels deemed well below dangerous limits.
- China has strongly criticized Japan’s decision and suspended some Japanese food shipments. China denounces Japan’s move, stating it will take necessary measures to protect the marine environment, food safety, and public health.
- Hong Kong and Macau are implementing bans on imports from Japanese regions, extending to aquatic products, vegetables, and dairy.