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2nd September 2022

Tibetan Democracy Day

Context

Tibetan refugees across the world are celebrating the 62nd anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day on September 2.

About

Tibetan Democracy Day:

  • The day was marked with the inauguration of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala on September 2nd, 1960.
  • The day is widely known within the community as Mangsto Duchen (‘Mangsto’: democracy; ‘Duchen’: occasion).
  • At the heart of the Tibetan democratic system, which governs over 1 lakh refugees across the world, stands the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala.

NOTE: CTA is not officially recognised by any country.

Important developments

  • First Oath: The first elected representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile took their oaths in Bodh Gaya to inaugurate the Tibetan democratic system.
  • 1963: Dalai Lama enacted the Tibetan constitution based on the ideals of democracy and universal values, following which the first women representatives were elected.
  • 1975: Kashag, the apex body of CTA, declared September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy.
  • 1991: Charter of the Tibetans in exile was adopted, and in the following year, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission was established, introducing the exile community to the three pillars of democracy.
  • Dalai Lama after announcing a position of semi-retirement, called for the first direct election of Kalön Tripa, the executive head of the CTA.
  • 2011: Dalai Lama handed over all his political and executive power to the Sikyong, also known as the President of CTA.

How does the CTA, the Tibetan government-in-exile, work?

  • The CTA, which is based in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, has a branch office in every Tibetan settlement spread across India and abroad.
  • Under its incumbent President, Penpa Tsering, CTA runs seven departments: Religion and Culture, Home, Finance, Education, Security, Information and International Relations, and Health.
  • The President is directly elected every five years.
  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, the highest legislative body of the CTA, comprises 45 members:
    • 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibet, U-Tsang, Dhotoe, and Dhomey
    • two from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism
    • two representing each of the Tibetan communities in North America and Europe
    • one each from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).
  • Every Tibetan above 18 with their Green Book, the main document of identity, is allowed to register in the voter’s list.

India’s official policy towards the CTA:

  • India considers the Dalai Lama as a revered religious leader and an honoured guest, but it does not encourage political activities by Tibetans.
  • It does not recognise any separate government of Tibet functioning in India.
  • CTA President Lobsang Sangay was among the invitees at the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
  • In 2016, Dalai Lama was hosted in Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Dalai Lama has also been allowed to visit Tawang, one of the main sites of contention in the Sino-Indian border dispute. In 2017, amid ongoing tensions in Doklam, Lobsang Sangay visited Pangong lake in Ladakh.

Relationship of CTA with other countries:

  • The US is the only government in the world which is politically upfront in supporting the Tibetan issue, whether it be a bi-partisan support for Tibet; Policies on Tibet (Tibet Policy Act 2002, and Tibet Policy and Support Act 2020), and an appointment of special coordinator on Tibet.

Cervavac, Indigenously developed vaccine for cervical cancer

Context

Recently the scientific completion of Cervavac, India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer has been announced.

About

About Cervical Cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is a prevalent sexually transmitted infection.
  • It’s a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
  • It is mostly caused by long-term infection with particular forms of HPV.
  • It is the second most prevalent cancer form and the second leading cause of cancer death in women of reproductive age.
  • According to the WHO, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally.

Cervical Cancer in India:

  • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year.
  • Almost all cervical cancer cases are linked to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

Human papillomavirus infection:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that is passed between people through skin-to-skin contact.
  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

New qHPV vaccine:

  • Cervavac was developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in coordination with the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT). 
  • Cervavac received market authorisation approval from the Drug Controller General of India in July 2022.

Mary Roy case in SC: Equal property rights for women

Context

A celebrated champion of gender equality and a renowned educator, Mary Roy passed away recently.

About

Mary Roy:

  • Mary Roy was the mother of Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy.
  • Mary Roy was a passionate advocate for women’s rights and the founder of the Pallikoodam School in Kottayam, Kerala.
  • She best known for the “Mary Roy” case, the prolonged legal battle that ensured equal property rights for women from Kerala’s Syrian Christian families.

Mary Roy Case:

  • Mary Roy case is seen as a milestone in ensuring gender justice in India.
  • Mary Roy sued her brother, George Isaac in 1983 petition under Article 32 for being denied equal rights to her deceased father’s property.
  • Mary Roy mounted a legal challenge to the law after she was asked to leave her father’s Ooty cottage that she had returned to, along with her two children, after her divorce.
  • Question before SC: The key question before the Supreme Court was whether, in territories that once formed part of the erstwhile Travancore state, matters of intestate (a person who has died without leaving a will) succession to the property of Indian Christian community members were governed by the Travancore Christian Succession Act 1917, or by the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

Travancore Succession Act

  • Under the Travancore Succession Act, women belonging to the Syrian Christian community had no right to inherit property.
  • The Act, stated that “a daughter shall not be entitled to succeed to the property of the intestate in the same share as the son but she will be entitled to one-fourth the value of the share of the son or Rs 5,000 whichever is less.”
  • Also, under the Act, even this amount was to be denied to the woman “if Streedhanom was provided or promised to her (daughter)”.
  • In the case of a widow, the Act only provided for maintenance that was “terminable at death or on remarriage”.

Verdict in the case

  • The Supreme Court in its 1986 judgment upheld the supremacy of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
  • SC ruled that in case the deceased parent has not left a will, the succession will be decided as per the Indian Succession Act, 1925 which will also apply to the Indian Christian Community in the erstwhile state of Travancore.
  • Although the Supreme Court had ruled the case in her favour as early as February 1986, it took another 25 years for her to get a final verdict – a decree from a Kottayam sub-court in 2009.

UAE, NASA missions find 'patchy' auroras in Mars atmosphere

Context

The United Arab Emirate's Mars Mission (EMM) and NASA's MAVEN probe have found "patchy" proton auroras in Mars' skies, providing new insights into the red planet's atmosphere.

About

About new findings:

  • The new aurora found by the team is formed when the solar wind directly impacts Mars' upper atmosphere and emits ultraviolet light as it slows down.
  • It was discovered in snapshots of the dayside disk obtained by the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), which observes the planet's upper atmosphere.
  • The new images represent the first time scientists had a global view of spatial variability in proton aurora at Mars, and the first time they been able to unambiguously observe this patchy structure.
  • These wavelengths are only emitted by the hydrogen atom, which tells us that super energetic hydrogen atoms must be present in the atmosphere in order to produce the auroral emission.

Aurora:

  • An aurora is a natural light display in a planet's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions such as the northern lights, or the aurora borealis, seen from the Earth.
  • When the aurora occurs, small regions of the planet become much brighter, signifying intense localised energy in the atmosphere.
  • There are two types- the aurora borealis and aurora australis – often called the northern lights and southern lights.
  • It should also be noted here that Sun’s energy, in the form of the solar wind, is behind the whole process.


NASA’s MAVEN Mission:

  • Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is a spacecraft developed by NASA that went into orbit around Mars to study the planet's atmosphere. 
  • Mission goals include determining how the atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been substantial, were lost over time.
  • MAVEN was launched aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle at the beginning of the first launch window on November 18, 2013.
  • NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft has discovered “layers” and “rifts” in the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) of Mars. 
  • The phenomenon is very common at Earth and causes unpredictable disruptions to radio communications. However, we do not fully understand them because they form at altitudes that are very difficult to explore at Earth. 
  • The unexpected discovery by MAVEN shows that Mars is a unique laboratory to explore and better understand this highly disruptive phenomenon.

 

United Arab Emirate's Mars Mission (EMM):

  • The Hope Mars Mission, also called the Emirates Mars Mission, is the first uncrewed, interplanetary satellite (opens in new tab) spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • In fact, the Hope satellite is the first planetary science mission led by an Arab-Islamic country.
  • ‘Hope’ was developed by UAE scientists in the USA and was launched in July 2020 from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.
  • The mission is officially named the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) and the orbiter has been named Hope or ‘Al Amal’.

Rainbow clouds

Context

Recently, an unusually-shaped rainbow cloud appeared over China. The cloud in question resembles a pileus cloud, and the phenomenon of bright colours appearing on a cloud is called cloud iridescence.

About

What is a pileus cloud?

  • A pileus cloud is usually formed over a cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud.
  • It is formed when the base cloud pushes a moist current of air upwards and the water vapour from the current condenses to somewhat resemble wave-like crests, or umbrellas.
  • A pileus cloud is transient in nature and lasts barely for a few minutes, making it difficult, and at the same time, exciting, to spot.

Cloud iridescence:

  • Cloud iridescence or Irisation is an optical phenomenon that mostly occurs in wave-like clouds, including
  • pileus and
  • Altocumulus lenticularis.
  • Iridescence in clouds means the appearance of colours on clouds, which can either be in the form of parallel bands like in a rainbow, or mingled in patches.
  • In ancient Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of rainbow.
  • “Irisation”, the phenomenon of rainbow-like colours in clouds, is derived from her name.
  • Iridescence of clouds is a photometeor – an optical phenomenon produced by the reflection, refraction, diffraction or interference of sunlight.


Cause of cloud iridescence:

  • In pileus clouds, small water droplets or ice crystals, usually of a similar size, diffract the sunlight falling on them. The thinness of the cloud ensures more exposure to sunlight for each water droplet or ice crystal.
  • To ensure its wave crest-like appearance, water droplets or ice crystals in these clouds are always moving – droplets form at one side of the cloud and evaporate from the other end – and hence these clouds remain small and thin since the droplets have no way of combining and growing in size.
  • Diffraction: Iridescence or Irisation is caused by diffraction within 10 degrees from the sun. Beyond ten degrees and up till about 40 degrees, interference of light is the main cause of iridescence.

UN accuses China of Uyghur rights abuses

Context

The U.N. accused China of serious human rights violations that may amount to "crimes against humanity" in a long-delayed report examining a crackdown on Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups. Beijing on Thursday denounced the assessment as a fabrication cooked up by Western nations.

About

Conclusions of the report:

  • The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups and may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.
  • It also found:
    • "Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence"
    • "Credible indications of violations of reproductive rights through the coercive enforcement of family planning policies since 2017"
    • "Similarly, there are indications that labour and employment schemes for purported purposes of poverty alleviation and prevention of 'extremism'... may involve elements of coercion and discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds"

Uyghur Community:

  • The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the Central Asian region.
  • The largest population lives in China’s autonomous Xinjiang region, in the country’s north-west.
  • The Uyghurs are one of a number of persecuted Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Hui.
  • Many Uyghur communities also live in countries neighbouring China, such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, Australia.

Xinjiang and its importance to China:

  • Xinjiang lies in the north-west of China and is the country's largest region.
    • Like Tibet, it is autonomous, meaning - in theory - it has some powers of self-governance.
    • But in practice, both regions are subjected to major restrictions by the central government.
  • Xinjiang is a mostly desert region and produces about a fifth of the world's cotton. 
  • The region contains a wealth of natural resources, including oil, gas and rare earth minerals, but perhaps it’s most important value is as a strategic buffer that extends China’s influence westward.
  • While China and Russia have largely aligned their foreign policies in recent years, Xinjiang was on the front line of their Cold War rivalry and remains important as an assertion of Chinese influence in Moscow’s back yard.

China’s response:

  • China has always denied targeting Uyghurs and others for their religion and culture, denouncing the accusations as a confection of lies by the West and saying its crackdown was aimed at quashing separatism, terrorism and religious extremism.
  • It has said camp attendance was voluntary and no human rights were abused, although internal Chinese documents have frequently contradicted such claims. 
  • China calls it as a patchwork of false information that serves as political tool for the U.S. and other Western countries to strategically use Xinjiang to contain China.

Vostok-2022

Context

An Indian Army contingent comprising troops from 7/8 Gorkha Rifles is participating in the multilateral strategic and command exercise ‘Vostok-2022’ which commenced recently at the training grounds of the eastern military district in Russia.

About

Vostok-2022:

  • The Vostok-2022 strategic command and staff exercise will be held under the command of the chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, at 13 training grounds of the Eastern Military District.
  • Participants: India, China, Belarus, Tajikistan, Mongolia and other countries will also participate in the drills.
  • It aims to deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation with the militaries of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic coordination of all participating parties, and enhance the ability to deal with various security threats.
  • The drills are unrelated to the current international and regional situation.
  • Last such Vostok exercise took place in 2018, when China took part for the first time.

Russia’s Military Exercises:

  • VOSTOK (meaning ‘East’) is part of a system of strategic exercises that the Russian Armed Forces have been developing since 2009.
  • It is one of the four named annual strategic exercises conducted on a rotating basis among four of Russia’s five military districts.
  • The scheduled strategic exercises (ZAPAD, VOSTOK, TSENTR, KAVKAZ) are the capstone event of the Russian Armed Forces’ annual training cycle.
  • Last year, India attended Exercise ZAPAD 2021 drills in Russia in which 17 countries including China and Pakistan took part.

CAPF e-Awas portal

Context

The government recently launched the “CAPF e-AWAS” web portal in New Delhi recently.

About

About the CAPF e-AWAS portal:

  • CAPF e-AWAS portal is a common web-portal for online allotment of Departmental Pool Residential Accommodation and Separated Family Accommodation (SFA) held by CAPFs and Assam Rifles.
  • Objective
    • to operationalize the revised policy of allotment
    • to also bring transparency in the allotment process
  • The web-portal enables online registration and allotment of residential quarters/SFAs to eligible personnel of all CAPFs& Assam Rifles.
  • This portal has been developed on the lines of the online allotment system of ‘General Pool Residential Accommodation (eSampada)’.
  • It will facilitate maintenance of an accurate inventory of ‘Residential Quarters/Separated Family Accommodation (SFA)’ held by CAPFs, as well as their allotment through online process to eligible Force personnel.
  • The portal also has the provision for intimation to the applicant through SMS and e-mail at various stages of the allotment process.
  • The portal would also facilitate planning for construction of new quarters based on demand-gap analysis.

CAPF

  • CAPF is a uniform nomenclature for the six Forces of the Union of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • These Forces are, the Assam Rifles (AR), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

Editorial

Academia, research, and the glass ceiling in India

Context:

Gender parity is more than a diversity rectification issue in India. Gender discrimination in academics is not new to the Indian context, it’s an age-old story that must end.

Gender-Bias Against women: Changing Situation

  • The general bias against women which arose out of the suspected capability of their intelligence and their mettle in undertaking the arduous task of research was quite common in the 20th century. Things have changed and the glass ceiling has been broken.
  • Some of the initiatives by the government to remove gender inequality by providing incentives to women are: Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI), and Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN), i.e., a plan under the Department of Science and Technology again to encourage women scientists in science and technology and also preventing women scientists from giving up research due to family reasons, are noteworthy.

Women and STEM:

  • According to UNESCO’s data on some selected countries, India is in the lowest position, having only 14% female researchers working in STEM areas. But India is not very far behind many advanced countries in this aspect. For example, Japan has only 16% female researchers, the Netherlands 26%, the United States 27%, and the United Kingdom 39%.
  • In India, about 43% of women constitute the graduate population in STEM, which is one of the highest in the world, but only 14% of women join academic institutions and universities. According to a report published recently, at most STEM institutes, women occupy 20% of all professorial positions. The more prestigious the institute, the lower the number of women employees. Also, the number of female participants in decision-making bodies is abysmally low.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 2nd September 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. “Women’s land rights and gender justice in land governance are fundamental pillars in protection of women’s human rights”. Comment (250 words)

Approach 

  • Introduction- brief about women’s landownership
  • Issues faced by women (degraded women’s rights) 
    • patriarchy
    • gender-based discrimination in laws, customs and practices

The fear game

  • Fathers fear losing control over land if given to married daughters.
  • Daughters fear damaging family relations if they claim their shares.
  • Policymakers fear land fragmentation
  • severe inequalities to access and control land and other natural resources
  • limited participation in decision-making in land governance
  • Discuss women’s land rights as a key determinant of women’s empowerment in rural areas
    • attainment of practice civil and political rights, social and economic rights
    • rid of poverty and social exclusion
  • Government measures
    • 2005 Hindu Succession Amendment Act (HSAA)
    • 30% seats reserved for women at all levels of local government
  • Required measures 
    • gender-disaggregated data on land ownership
    • innovative policies to increase women’s actual ownership
    • need to increase women’s awareness of their rights
  • Conclude accordingly 
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