Child, law, and consensual sex
Context: In the last month, three High Courts in India quashed FIRs and criminal proceedings under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, or acquitted accused individuals in such cases. In some instances, the courts cited consensual sex as the reason for acquittal.
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 Issues Related to Children
Age of Consent and POCSO:
- Under POCSO, a ‘child’ is defined as anyone below 18 years of age.
- The purpose of this definition is to safeguard children against sexual assault, irrespective of their consent.
- The courts have not considered the mandatory presumption in favor of the victim’s age under POCSO.
Concerns and Impact:
- Quashing consensual sex cases raises questions about the bottom-line age of consent and the protection of vulnerable children.
- Some recommendations propose reducing the age of consent to 16 years, but this could have implications for the child’s best interests.
- The harsh minimum imprisonment in POCSO cases may affect the conviction rate.
Need for a Resolution:
- The judiciary’s reluctance to convict accused persons in consensual sex cases requires attention.
- A study by the Bureau of Police Research and Development could help decide on reducing the age of consent based on age-wise analysis across states.
- Parliament has the authority to reduce the age of consent, but the Supreme Court needs to resolve the gap between law and interpretations by various High Courts.
Importance of Supreme Court Intervention:
- The Supreme Court’s involvement is crucial, especially considering the judgment in Independent Thought v. Union of India (2017), where it ruled that sexual intercourse with a minor wife is considered rape.
- Resolution is needed to establish consistency and ensure the best interests of children in such cases.
Lok Sabha passes contentious Biological Diversity Bill amid din
Context: The Lok Sabha passed the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Relevance: GS 3 Environment
Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- Purpose of the Bill: The Bill aims to amend the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, which has been in force for 20 years, to address existing issues.
- Encouraging Traditional Medicine: The amendments seek to benefit tribes and vulnerable communities by ensuring they gain from medicinal forest products. Certain activities are decriminalized to encourage Ayurveda and ease of doing business.
- Exemption for AYUSH Practitioners: The amended Bill exempts registered AYUSH medical practitioners and people accessing codified traditional knowledge from prior intimation to State biodiversity Boards for accessing biological resources for certain purposes.
- Criticism and Concerns: Environmental organizations express concerns that the amendments may solely benefit AYUSH firms and could lead to “bio piracy.” Some fear misuse and potential abuse due to the exemptions.
- Decriminalization and Monetary Penalties: The Bill decriminalizes several offenses under the Act, replacing them with monetary penalties.
Moon missions offer tough tests – landers, the toughest
Context: Historically 40% of moon missions have failed and 60% of lander missions have been unsuccessful.
Relevance: GS 3 Space
Different kinds of moon missions that have been launched so far:
- Flybys: These missions involve spacecraft passing near the Moon without entering its orbit. They may study the Moon from a distance or be on their way to explore other celestial bodies.
- Orbiters: These spacecraft are designed to enter lunar orbit and conduct prolonged studies of the Moon’s surface and atmosphere. They are the most common way to study planetary bodies. Chandrayaan-1 and 46 other missions were orbiters.
- Impact Missions: An extension of orbiters, where instruments crash land on the Moon’s surface after the main spacecraft continues in orbit, providing useful data.
- Landers: These missions involve a soft landing on the Moon’s surface, a more complex endeavor than orbiters. The first successful landing was by Luna 9 in 1966.
- Rovers: Extensions of landers, equipped with wheels to move on the Moon’s surface, allowing them to collect data beyond the lander’s stationary capabilities. Chandrayaan-2’s rover was called Pragyaan.
- Human Missions: These entail astronauts landing on the Moon’s surface. So far, only NASA has achieved this, with six missions between 1969 and 1972. NASA’s Artemis III, planned for 2025, aims to return humans to the Moon after over 50 years.
Challenges in Moon Missions:
- High Historical Failure Rate: Over 40% of moon missions have historically failed, increasing to over 60% for robotic lander missions and 67% for sample return missions.
- ISRO’s Experience: Chandrayaan 2 mission by ISRO faced failure with its lander ‘Vikram’ losing contact before lunar touchdown.
- Chandrayaan 3: Launched as a replica of Chandrayaan 2 with improvements in its lander for another attempt at soft landing on the moon.
Failure Rates of Lunar Missions:
- Sample Return Missions: Have the highest failure rate of 66.7%.
- Robotic Lander Missions: Second highest failure rate of 62.8%.
- Crewed Lander Missions: All Apollo missions by NASA had a 100% success rate.
- Impactor Missions: High failure rate of 56.3%.
- Orbiter Missions: Lower failure rate of 36.7%.
- Flyby Missions: Relatively low failure rate of 24.6%.
Trends over Decades:
- 1950s: Very high failure rate of 84.6%, all orbiter missions failed.
- 1960s: Highest number of moon missions (74) but a failure rate of 62.2%.
- 1970s: Improved with 40 missions and 25% failure rate.
- 2000s: All missions succeeded.
- 2010s: Lower failure rate of 22%, but a rise in unsuccessful missions.
- 2020s: Failure rate increased to 47.1%.
Himachal floods: a man-made disaster?
Context: Flash floods during this year’s monsoon season have caused unprecedented damage to both lives and assets in Himachal Pradesh.
Relevance: GS 3 Disaster Management
Impact of Development on Flash Floods in Himachal Pradesh:
- Climate Change: The high precipitation causing flash floods is partially attributed to climate change, as predicted by the IPCC report.
- Anthropogenic Factors: Planned development has contributed significantly to disasters in the region.
- Hydropower Projects: Uncontrolled construction of hydropower projects has transformed mountain rivers and caused damage during periods of higher precipitation.
- Tourism Development: Road expansions for tourism promotion have resulted in bypassing essential geological studies, leading to landslides and damage during heavy rainfall.
- Cement Plants: Massive cement plants and extensive mountain cutting alter the landscape, reducing land’s capacity to absorb water.
- Shift in Crop Patterns: Transition to cash crop economy affects transportation needs, leading to hasty road construction without proper drainage.
- Institute a Commission of Inquiry to discuss policy framework failures and involve local communities as stakeholders.
- Empower local communities over assets and insure them to rebuild infrastructure quicker in case of losses.
- Plan infrastructure considering climate change to avert disasters caused by heavy rainfall.
Full-reserve banking: where banks act solely as custodians of customers’ money
Context: Full-reserve banking
Relevance: GS Paper – 3 Banking Sector & NBFCs
- Under this system, banks cannot lend out money from demand deposits.
- They act as custodians for customer deposits and may charge fees for safekeeping.
- Banks can only lend money from time deposits with an agreed-upon withdrawal period.
- Banks can create loans electronically without having physical cash to back them up.
- Most transactions happen through non-cash instruments, reducing the demand for cash withdrawals.
- Central banks can provide emergency cash to support banks during sudden cash demands.
Support for Fractional-Reserve Banking:
- Advocates believe it stimulates investment and economic growth by allowing loans without immediate savings from depositors.
- It helps finance large investments necessary for economic development.
Support for Full-Reserve Banking:
- Advocates argue it prevents bank runs and crises, as banks are required to hold sufficient reserves for customer withdrawals.
- It limits banks’ ability to create money out of thin air, reducing artificial economic booms and busts caused by changes in money supply.
President opens tribal arts gallery at Rashtrapati Bhavan as she finishes a year in office
Janjatiya Darpan (Tribal Mirror) Gallery:
- The Rashtrapati Bhavan inaugurated the ‘Janjatiya Darpan’ gallery dedicated to tribal arts, culture, and heroes.
- It spans around 2,200 square feet and was developed by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts under the Union Culture Ministry.
- The gallery showcases themes like unsung tribal freedom fighters, traditional natural resource management practices, tribal art, musical instruments, and various scripts.
Navachara and Sutra-kala Darpan:
- The President also inaugurated ‘Navachara,’ an artificial intelligence-enabled gallery developed in collaboration with Intel India.
- ‘Sutra-kala Darpan’ showcases a textile collection that documents the illustrious legacy of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.