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29th April 2023

Book hate speech cases even without complaint: SC


Calling hate speech a serious offence that can affect the secular fabric of India, the Supreme Court directed all states to suo moto register cases of such offences even if there is no formal complaint.

Key highlights of the SC Order

  • Any hesitation to act will be viewed as contempt of the top court and appropriate action will be taken against the erring officers.
  • All states and UTs shall ensure that immediately as and when any speech or any action takes place which attracts offences such as Sections 153A, 153B and 295A and 505 of the IPC, suo motu action will be taken to register cases even if no complaint is forthcoming and proceed against the offenders in accordance with law.

What comes under hate speech?

  • There is no international legal definition of hate speech, and the notion of what constitutes "hateful" speech is debatable.
  • Hate speech is defined as any form of communication, whether spoken, written, or physical, that criticizes or discriminates against a person or a group based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender, or other identity factors.

Legal Provisions of Hate Speech in India:

  • Article 21: Responsible speech is the essence of the liberty granted under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Article 19(2): It guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens of India.
    • Exception: Hate speech has not been defined in any law in India. However, legal provisions in certain legislations prohibit select forms of speech as an exception to freedom of speech.

Legislations around Hate speech: The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter IPC);

  • Section 124A IPC penalises sedition
  • Section 153A IPC penalises ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’.
  • Section 153B IPC penalises ‘imputations, and assertions prejudicial to national integration.
  • Section 295A IPC penalises ‘deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
  • Section 298 IPC penalises ‘uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person’.
  • Section 505(1) and (2) IPC penalises the publication or circulation of any statement, rumour or report causing public mischief and enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes

National Health Account Estimates


The National Health Account Estimates 2019-20 have been released recently.

Key highlights of the findings:

  • Increase in government spending: There has been a consistent increase in government spending.
    • The government spent 1.35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (total value of the final goods and services in a year indicative of a country’s economy) on healthcare during the year, bouncing back from a slight drop seen in 2018-19 as per the report.
  • Declining out-of-pocket expenditure by people: Money spent by people from their own pocket on healthcare has been going down.
    • 1% of the total spending on healthcare in FY2020 came directly out of people’s pockets. But this is actually a 15.5 percentage point drop from 62.6% of the spending coming out-of-pocket in FY 2015.
  • Increase in social security: There has been a consistent increase in social security expenditure by the government, which increased from 5.7% of the total spending on health in FY 2015 to 9.3% in FY 2020.
  • The highest focus was given to the primary sector: A major chunk of the government’s health spend was in the primary sector.
    • Out of the total spending by the government on healthcare in FY 2020, 55.9% went to primary care, 29.6% went to secondary care, and 6.4% went to tertiary care.
    • Other Sectors: To compare, the government spent 51.3% on primary care, 21.9% on secondary care, and 14% on tertiary care in FY 2015.

Government Schemes

  • Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs): Services at AB-HWCs are free and universal to all individuals residing in the service area.
  • Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY): AB-PMJAY provides health coverage of up to Rs 5.00 lakh per family per year to 10.74 crores poor, deprived families as per Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database

About National Health Account (NHA) estimates:

  • The National Health Account (NHA) estimates for India 2019-20 is the seventh consecutive NHA estimates report prepared by NHSRC, designated as National Health Accounts Technical Secretariat (NHATS) in 2014 by the Union Health Ministry.
  • The NHA estimates are prepared by using an accounting framework based on the internationally accepted standard of System of Health Accounts, 2011, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Significance: These estimates are not only comparable internationally but also enable the policymakers to monitor the progress in different health financing indicators of the country.

Forest fires, a threat to Uttarakhand’s unique biodiversity


Forest fires are becoming more frequent and fierce in Uttarakhand. 

What’s at stake?

  • Uttarakhand is home to at least 102 species of mammals, 70 reptiles, 19 amphibians, and 124 species of fish. The state also boasts 600 species of birds.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies 55 of the bird species as “threatened”, of which six are critically endangered and four are endangered.
  • Several mammalian fauna found in the state are also classified as endangered. The list includes the Asian elephant, tiger, Alpine musk deer, Himalayan musk deer, leopard, snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan Thar, leopard cat, Himalayan black bear, sloth bear, and pangolin.
  • With 7,000 species of plants, Uttarakhand contributes 31 percent of the country’s floral diversity. As many as 119 flowering plants are endemic to the state.

How does it impact?

  • Loss and displacement of species: The impact of recurrent forest fires in Uttarakhand is not limited to the direct loss of trees and wildlife, their displacement, and the subsequent colonization of unwanted species.
  • Pushing towards extinction: Forest fires can meddle with the life cycle of species and push many of the threatened and endemic species closer to extinction.
    • Affecting growth: By destroying the leaves and foliage, a forest fire can significantly reduce the photosynthetic activity of surviving trees and thereby affect their growth.
    • Affected seedlings: It can also damage the seed bank, both above and below the ground, and wipe out the seedlings and saplings growing on the forest floor.
  • Impact on recovery rate: The loss of keystone organisms in forest ecosystems, such as invertebrates, pollinators, and decomposers, can significantly slow the recovery rate of the forest.
  • The serious impact of reproduction: Forest fires can also interfere with the reproduction and propagation of certain plants and animals. Such recurrent events can be deadly to the species that are native or endemic to the region.

Suggestive measures

The below steps would not only minimize instances of forest fire but also protect biodiversity from such an event.

  • Collect fuel load in time: Pine needles and dry leaf litter are the common fire materials that occur on the forest floor. These should be cleared by collecting them before January when the fire season begins in Uttarakhand.
  • Fix fire line: The creation of a fire line is often delayed in Uttarakhand. This pattern needs to be changed and a timely (before February) excavation of the fire line should be ensured.
  • Install fire watch towers: There is an urgent need for these towers in this hilly state with undulating topography, especially in areas that have a history of forest fires.
  • Applying management techniques: There is also an urgent need to understand management techniques such as
    • promoting habitat-specific research to limit burning, especially in biodiversity-rich and water-supply areas
    • establish a well-equipped center for unbiased dissemination of information

Kalaignar pen monument project Cleared


The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has recommended the proposal to construct Muthamizh Arignar Dr. Kalaignar pen monument in the Bay of Bengal, off the Marina beach, for coastal zone clearance with nearly 15 conditions.

  • The pen monument is to honour DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.
  • The 42-metre-tall pen monument is proposed to be constructed 360 metres from the shoreline with a bridge linking the monument and the beach at Rs 80 crore.
  • The proposed site falls under CRZ-1A, CRZ-II and CRZ-IVA areas and green signal has been given by the State level authorities.

Muthamizh Arignar Dr. Kalaignar (1924-2018)

  • Born on June 3, 1924 in Thirukkuvalai village, M Karunanidhi had many achievements registered under his name. 
  • Beginning his political career as a 14-year-old activist in the anti-Hindi agitation of the late 1930s, he quickly became the voice of the surging Dravidian movement.
  • In 1953, His involvement in the Kallakudi agitation in Kallakudi made him gain ground in Tamil politics. Karunanidhi has contested 12 Assembly elections and not even lost once.
  • The pen monument is to honour DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.
  • The 42-metre-tall pen monument is proposed to be constructed 360 metres from the shoreline with a bridge linking the monument and the beach at Rs 80 crore.
  • The proposed site falls under CRZ-1A, CRZ-II and CRZ-IVA areas and green signal has been given by the State level authorities.

What are Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ)?

  • Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) are the areas along the 7,500 km-long coastal stretch of India.
  • The coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line (HTL) and a stage of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwater and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations, is called the Coastal Regulation Zone.
  • The development of buildings, tourism infrastructure and other facilities is regulated in these areas by the Government of India.
  • Coastal areas are of four categories as CRZ-1, CRZ-2, CRZ-3 and CRZ-4.
    • CRZ-1: These are ecologically sensitive areas which are essential in maintaining the ecosystem of the coasts. These include national parks/marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, mangroves and corals/coral reefs.
    • CRZ-2: The areas that have already developed up till the shoreline of the coast are included in this zone. Construction of unauthorised structures is prohibited in this zone.
    • CRZ-3: Rural and urban localities that are relatively undisturbed and do not belong to the first two categories are included under CRZ-3. Only specific activities related to agriculture or some public facilities are allowed in this zone.
    • CRZ-4: These areas include the coastal stretches in Lakshadweep, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and some other small islands, except those termed as CRZ-I, CRZ-II, or CRZ-III. These areas reside in the aquatic region up to the territorial limits.

Short News Article


Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Statue in Mauritius

A statue has been unveiled of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Mauritius.

  • Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the founder of the Maratha Empire in western India. 
  • Shivaji Maharaj was born at the Shivneri fort near Junnar in Pune district on 19th February 1630.
    • Shivaji’s mother, Jijabai was the daughter of Lakhuji Jadhavrao of Sindkhed.
    • His father Shahajiraje Bhosale was a prominent sardar in the Deccan.
  • Shivaji entered into military career even before attaining the age of 20.
  • He captured the fort Toran with the help of Mavalis. He also captured many forts like Chakana, Simhagad, Kondana and Purandar from Adil Shah of Bijapura. 
  • Shivaji conquered many territories and forts belonging to Aurangzeb.
  • Shivaji was crowned as King in 1674 C.E. His coronation took place at Raigadha with pomp and as per the Vedic rites, he took the title “Chatrapati”.


Women’s reservation Bill cannot wait any longer


It is disheartening to witness that even 75 years after Independence, Parliament lacks substantial representation from half the population, with women holding just 14% of the seats. 

A promising start

  • Leading CMs: Just a decade ago, three of India’s largest States, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, were in the spotlight for being led by women Chief Ministers.
  • Leading Leaders: While Sushma Swaraj led the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi served as both President of the Congress Party and Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance.
  • President of India: Also, India had its first woman President, Pratibha Patil around the same time.

Historical Background

  • Pre-Independence era: From the pre-Independence era when several women’s organisations demanded political representation for women.
  • Rising demand: It can be traced back to 1955 when a government appointed committee recommended that 10% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies should be reserved for women. 
  • National Perspective Plan for Women (1988): The National Perspective Plan for Women (1988) recommended that 30% of seats in all elected bodies should be reserved for women. This recommendation was reiterated in the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, which was adopted in 2001.
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