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26th November 2022

The Constitution Day and its journey in 73 years

Context

The Constitution Day of India also known as 'Samvidhan Divas’ is celebrated on 26th November every year to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India.

About the Constitution of India (One document to bind diverse India)

  • The Republic of India is governed in terms of the Constitution of India adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950.
  • The Constitution provides for a Parliamentary form of government which is federal in structure with certain unitary features. The constitutional head of the Executive of the Union is the President.
  • The B. R. Ambedkar-written Constitution has been referred to as first and foremost a social document by American historian Granville Seward Austin.


The Constitution day:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 19th November 2015 notified the decision of the Government of India to celebrate the 26th day of November every year as Constitution Day of India to promote Constitution values among citizens.
  • The day was previously celebrated as National Law Day.

Significance of the Constitution:

  • The Indian government’s written principles and precedents are contained in the Constitution.
  • It outlines the fundamental political procedures, rights, guiding principles, constraints, and obligations of both the government and its population.
  • According to the Indian Constitution, it is a democratic, socialist, secular, and democratic republic.
  • It guarantees justice, equality, and liberty to its citizens.

Background (Drafting of the Constitution)

  • A Constituent Assembly constituted as part of the Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946 drafted the Indian Constitution.
  • The Constituent Assembly took two years, 11 months, and 17 days to draft the Constitution for Independent India.
  • During this period, it held 11 sessions covering 165 days, and its members submitted around 7,600 amendments to the draft Constitution.
  • On December 9, 1946, the Assembly convened for the first time, electing Dr. Sachhidanand Sinha, its oldest member, as its provisional president.
  • The first Elected President of the Assembly: Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • A Drafting Committee: A seven-member Drafting Committee prepared the Constitution based on the reports of these committees.
  • The Drafting Committee was led by: B.R. Ambedkar
  • Some essential parts of our constitution have been taken from the body of many countries, few important ones are:
  • the fundamental rights and independent judiciary from the USA
  • the parliamentary system of Britain
  • the post of President, the federal government system from Canada
  • the constitutional amendment system in Africa
  • the fundamental duties of the Soviet Union
  • Emergency provisions from Germany
  • Directive principles of policy from Ireland
  • the Republican system of governance in France
  • a Concurrent list from Australia

Supreme Court seeks response to legalise Same-sex marriages

Context

The Supreme Court sought the government’s response to pleas to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriage under the Special Marriage Act.

What is the issue?

  • The Supreme Court has held that criminalization of private consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was clearly unconstitutional.
  • Hence, decriminalized same-sex relationships in India in 2018.
  • However, decriminalizing homosexuality does not ensure equality and the rights must extend to all spheres of life, including the home, the workplace, and public places, etc.

How LGBTQ+ is defined in India?

  • LGBTQ+ citizens from 7% to 8% of the population of the country.

Provisions Prohibiting Same-sex marriages:

  • Section 292 of the IPC relates to obscenity, with plenty of room to encompass homosexuality under its ambit.
  • Section 294 of IPC, which punishes “obscene behavior in public,” is also applicable and used to discriminate against gay men.
    • It is crucial to highlight that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 removed the penalty for homosexual behavior involving consensual sex in England, however in India; consent is largely irrelevant for creating an offense as described under this provision.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019: It exposes individuals to institutionalized tyranny and dehumanizes their bodies and identities.
  • LGBTQA+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex Asexual, and others. They are the people who don’t identify with cisgender heterosexual ideals.
  • The community includes specific social groups referred to as the Third Gender.

What is the scope of legalizing same-sex marriages in India?

  • The Special Marriage Act, of 1954 provides for the registration of a “special form of marriage in certain cases” which includes the marriage by which a person can be taken advantage of by any person in India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries irrespective of the faith which either party to the marriage may profess.”
  • Thus, the Act includes not only citizens of India but is applicable to all persons from all walks of life whether Indian or not, atheist or agnostic, gay or straight, bisexual or bi-curious, homophobic or homogenous.
  • Sections 4 to 14 of Chapter II of the Act deals with “Solemnization of Special Marriages”.
  • Section 4 sets out the Conditions relating to the solemnization of special marriages. As per the law a marriage between “any two persons” may be solemnized under this Act” on fulfilling certain conditions, one of which is that “the male has completed 21 years of age and the female has completed 18 years of age.”
    • The use of the words “two persons” indicates that the section is gender-neutral and not gender-specific or binary.  
  • Further, Section 4 (c) sets out the age of marriage using the article “the” before male and female and not the article “a”, where the used to refer to one or more people or things already mentioned or easily understood.
  • The only place in which the words “wife” or “husband” are used is in the provision to Section 12(2).
  • This states that a marriage will not be complete and binding on the parties, “unless each party says to the other in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses and in any language understood by the parties, – “I, (A), take thee (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)”.
  • Further, the use of the word “wife” or husband” hardly matters. The terms are generically used and in a same-sex marriage, gender roles are not specifically assigned.

States ask Centre to curb its cess habit

Context

A consultation meeting for the Union Budget of 2023-24 attended by Chief Ministers, Deputy Chief Ministers, as well as Finance Ministers of States, has urged the Centre to rein in its reliance on raising revenues through cesses and surcharges which reduce their share in the divisible pool of taxes.

About

What do Cesses and Surcharges mean?

  • Cess and surcharge are the taxes levied by the Union Government in order to raise funds for government operations.
  • Though both Cess and Surcharge add money to the government’s revenue, these are different in many aspects;

Cess

Surcharge

  • The cess rate stands fixed at 4%.
  • Authorities calculate the cess on the surcharge and the total tax.
  • The Government levies a cess on every taxpayer.
  • Authorities use cess for a particular purpose only and cannot use it for any arbitrary reason.
  • Cess aims to raise funds for some particular expenditure cause.

 

  • The surcharge rate varies between 10%, 15%, 25%, and 37%, depending on the total income of a taxpayer.
  • The surcharge is calculated on the total tax amount only.
  • The Government levies a surcharge on those individuals who have a higher taxable income.
  • A surcharge, on the other hand, can be used for any reason. The reason does not have to be specified.
  • A surcharge aims to place a tax burden on those whose income is beyond Rs.50 lakhs.

Sharing of revenue between the Centre and the States:

Taxes Levied by Union but Collected and Appropriated by the State:

The taxes on the following items are levied by the Union Government but the actual revenue from them is collected and appropriated by the States includes;

  • Stamp duties on bills of exchange, cheques, promissory notes, bills of landing, letters of credit, policies of insurance, transfer of shares, etc.;
  • Excise duties on medicinal toilet preparation containing alcohol or opium or Indian hemp or other narcotic drugs.

Taxes Levied and Collected by the Union but assigned to States:

The taxes in this category are levied and collected by the Union Government although they are subsequently handed over to the states wherefrom they have been collected.

  • Such taxes included duties in respect of succession to property other than agricultural land;
  • State duty in respect of property other than agricultural land terminal taxes on goods or passengers carried by railways, sea or air, taxes on railway freights and fares;
  • Taxes other than stamp duties on transactions in stock exchanges and futures markets;
  • Taxes on the sale or purchase of newspapers and advertisements published therein;
  • Taxes on the purchase or sale of goods other than newspapers where such sale or purchases take place in the course of interstate trade or commerce.

Taxes Levied and Collected by the Union but Shared:

  • Taxes on income other than agricultural income and excise duties other than those on medicinal and toilet preparations are levied and collected by the Union Government but shared with the states on an equitable basis.
  • The basis of distribution is determined by the Parliament through a law.

IRDAI allows insurers to invest for Private equity funds

Context

India’s insurance regulator IRDAI has approved proposals for private equity funds to directly invest in insurers, allowing promoters to dilute up to 26% stake to dispense with its approval for raising capital such as subordinated debt and preference shares.

About

What are private equity funds?

  • Similar to a mutual fund or hedge fund, a private equity fund is a pooled investment vehicle where the adviser pools together the money invested in the fund by all the investors and uses that money to make investments on behalf of the fund.
    • Difference: Unlike mutual funds or hedge funds, however, private equity firms often focus on long-term investment opportunities in assets that take time to sell with an investment time horizon typically of 10 or more years.
  • Although a private equity fund may be advised by an adviser that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), private equity funds themselves are not registered with the SEC.
  • As a result, private equity funds are not subject to regular public disclosure requirements.

Who can invest?

  • A private equity fund is typically open only to accredited investors and qualified clients, they include;
    • Institutional investors, such as insurance companies, university endowments, pension funds, and high-income and net-worth individuals.
  • The initial investment amount for a private equity investment is often very high.

Who are insurers?

  • An insurer also called an 'insurance company is an entity that accepts the risk and promises to pay for the losses that arise within the policy term.
  • The insurer commits to pay for the loss in exchange for the premiums, paid regularly.
  • Even if you are not invested in private equity funds directly, you may be indirectly invested in a private equity fund if you participate in a pension plan or own an insurance policy,

Entities regulated by IRDAI:

  • Life Insurance Companies - Both public and private sector Companies
  • General Insurance Companies - Both public and private sector Companies. Among them, there are some standalone Health Insurance Companies that offer health Insurance policies.
  • Re-Insurance Companies
  • Agency Channel
  • Intermediaries include the following:
    • o    Corporate Agents
    • o    Brokers
    • o    Third Party Administrators
    • o    Surveyors and Loss Assessors.
  • For example, Pension plans and insurance companies may invest some portion of their large portfolios in private equity funds

Role of IRDAI:

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), is a statutory body formed under Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDAI Act 1999)
  • Aim: overall supervision and development of the Insurance sector in India.
  • The key objectives of the IRDAI include the promotion of competition so as to enhance customer satisfaction through increased consumer choice and fair premiums while ensuring the financial security of the Insurance market.

India its own worst enemy in tackling polymer pollution

Context

According to a new report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the Government has diluted the Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016 about six times, but still not able to tackle its plastic menace.

Key highlights of the Report:
  • The report highlights that the amendments in the Plastic Management Rules have been aimed at benefiting major producers, importers, and brand owners.
  • The entire life cycle of plastic can be broken only when the approach will be from source to disposal.
About
About Plastic:
  • Plastic is a synthetic polymer made of gasoline with structures suitable for various uses, including packaging, construction and construction, household and sports equipment, automobiles, electronics, and agriculture. Plastic is cheap, lightweight, strong, and soft.
  • More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually, half of which are used to design consumer goods, such as shopping bags, cups, and straws.

Disposal of Plastic:  Only 9% of recycled plastic waste and about 12% burned, while 79% accumulated in landfills.

Recent steps by India:

  • Currently, the Plastic Waste Management Regulations, of 2016, prohibit the manufacture, importation, storage, distribution, sale, and use of handling bags and plastic sheets of less than 50 microns in the country.
  • The Prime Minister of India was also awarded the “world champion” award by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2018 for promising to eradicate all once-used plastic by 2022.
  • India has pledged to take steps to reduce land pollution caused by Single Use Plastics.
  • India generated 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste in 2019-20, of which only 60% has been recycled
  • 6 of the top 100 global producers of polymers that produce a large quantity of plastic waste are based in India.
  • 22 states in India have announced a ban on single-use plastic but, it had little impact on outcomes. 

What are the loopholes in Policy dealing with Plastic management?

  • In terms of policy- India's environmental policies vary, deliberately good but bad in terms of results
  • With regard to government spending in the absence of a strong will from national governments to replace municipal contracts.
  • Regarding recycling- due to the lack of partition, most plastic waste cannot be recycled
  • Cold regulation - This has led to a ban on the movement of plastic waste to other provinces with recycling.

Steps So far:

  • GloLitter Partnerships Project: Launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as well.
    • Purpose: To prevent and reduce marine plastic waste from shipping and fisheries.
    • It will also assist developing countries in reducing marine waste, including plastic waste, from the maritime and fisheries sector, and reducing the use of plastic in these industries.
    • Also, help identify potential recycling and recycling of plastics.
    • Thirty countries including India have joined this global marine pollution program.
  • World Environment Day, 2018 is held in India; world leaders promise "Beat Pollution" and end its use completely.
  • Specifically, in India: The Plastic Waste Management Regulations, 2016 states that every local organization must be responsible for establishing infrastructure for sorting, collecting, processing, and disposing of plastic waste.
  • Plastic Waste Management Regulations (Amendments): The 2018 Regulations introduce the concept of Extra Manufacturer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Prohibit Single Use Plastics with the aim of liberating India of once-used plastics by 2022.

Short Articles

SHORT NEWS

Topic:Art & Culture

Sangeet Natak Akademi announces 128 winners of Akademi Puraskar


  • The Sangeet Natak Akademi announced 128 winners of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (Akademi Puraskar) for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 for their significant contribution to the fields of music, dance, theatre, traditional/folk/tribal music/dance/theatre, puppetry and contribution/scholarship in the performing arts. 
  • Sahitya Akademi Award, also known as Sahitya Akademi Main Award, is conferred on 24 writers in 24 languages annually for the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Akademi.
  • Each Award carries a plaque, shawl, citation and a Cheque for Rs. One Lakh [Rs 1,00,000].
  • Sahitya Akademi Award was first presented in 1955 and has been presented uninterrupted in all the languages recognized by Sahitya Akademi at a given time.
  • Sahitya Akademi Award is the most prestigious literary award in India.
Topic: Polity & Governance

PM Modi launches various new initiatives under e-court project

PM Narendra Modi launched Virtual Justice Clock, JustIS mobile App 2.0, Digital court and S3WaaS Websites as the country observes the Constitution Day.

  • Virtual Justice Clock is an initiative to exhibit vital statistics of the justice delivery system at the Court level giving the details of the cases instituted, cases disposed and pendency of cases on day/week/month basis at the Court level.
  • JustIS Mobile App 2.0 is a tool available to judicial officers for effective court and case management by monitoring the pendency and disposal of not only his/her court but also individual judges working under them.
  • Digital court is an initiative to make court records available to the judge in digitised form to enable the transition to Paperless Courts.
  • S3WaaS Websites is a framework to generate, configure, deploy and manage websites for publishing specified information and services related to district judiciary. 
    • S3WaaS is a cloud service developed for government entities to generate Secure, Scalable & Sugamya (Accessible) websites.
    • It is multilingual, citizen-friendly and divyang friendly.

Topic: Science & Technology

India To Get First Tilting Trains By 2025-26

  • India will get its first tilting trains by 2025-26. As many as 100 Vande Bharat trains will be manufactured using this technology.
  • About Tilting Technology
  • Tilting trains have a mechanism enabling higher speed on regular broad-gauge tracks.
  • They tilt while negotiating a bend or curve on the track.
  • Such trains are now operational in 11 countries -- Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, the UK, Switzerland, China, Germany and Romania.

Topic: Environment

CITES COP19 downgrades status of southern white rhino

In a major setback to rhino conservation in Africa, CITES downgrades the status of southern white rhino from Appendix I to Appendix II.

About white rhino

  • The white rhino is the third largest mammal in the world dwarfed only by the Asian elephant and the African elephant.
  • There are two subspecies of white rhino. Southern white rhinos and Northern white rhino.
  • Southern white rhinos are found in southern Africa, ranging from South Africa to Zambia. They live in the grasslands and savannahs
  • IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Editorial

COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility

Context:

In the COP 27 summit, parties agreed to a Loss and Damage fund (L & D) providing financial support to developing countries for low-carbon transformations, building resilience to inevitable climate impacts, and other steep challenges.

The Loss & Damage Fund:

  • Objective: To change the existing narrative of averting losses that have already occurred, and to start holding developed countries morally responsible and financially liable for the same.
  • Burden and responsibility: It excludes mention of responsibility and the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).
  • Ambiguity: The ambiguity of responsibility is an adversarial notion to hold developed nations morally and financially accountable. With this the line between victim and perpetrator has been blurred.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 26th November 2022

Mains Question:

Question: What were the views of Dr. Ambedkar on Fundamental Rights and Minorities protection while presenting the Draft Constitution of India? (150 Words)

Question Mapping

  • Polity and Governance (GS-II)
    • Indian Constitution 
  • Briefly introduce Indian Constitution and its diversity
  • Then bring in factors borrowed from the different constitutions of the world.
  • Elaborate further with views of Dr. Ambedkar on:-
    • On Fundamental rights not being absolute and with various exceptions
    • On Minorities- “Equals are not always Equals” and substantiate (Give example of Ireland)
  • Conclude with dependency of the Supreme Court for interpretation of Fundamental Rights and acceptance of majority government by minorities.
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