Context- Menstrual leave is a company policy that permits female workers to take time off work due to bodily discomfort or agony during their menstrual cycle. This regulation has been a source of contention, with some stating that it is vital to meet women’s demands during their periods, while others believe that it promotes discrimination and perpetuates gender stereotypes.
Kerala government has stated that all state universities under the Department of Higher Education will provide menstruation leave to female students.
The statement came shortly after the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) announced its intention to give menstrual leave to all female students in response to a request from the students’ union.
Menstrual leave and the debate
In recent years, the implementation of voluntary menstrual leave policies by several employers has sparked a significant discussion about periods in India.
Due to the shame associated with the word menstruation, when the Bihar government adopted a period leave programme in 1992, it was referred to as special leave for women.
Employers’ recent push to give period leave has been addressed and contested in the public realm, to some extent normalising the topic around menstruation.
Who are menstruators?
Menstruators is an umbrella word for those who have female reproductive anatomy and have menstrual periods.
Women, trans males, and non-binary people are all included.
Menstruation is also decoupled from femininity as a result of this biological process.
Arguments in favour
Menstruation is a biological function, however it is accompanied with cramps, nausea, back and muscular problems, headaches, and other symptoms.
Furthermore, they can be devastating in menstrual women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis.
PCOS affects 20% of menstruators in India, and endometriosis affects around 25 million. Individuals’ pain thresholds might differ for a variety of reasons.
For many menstruators, it is a biological process that is accompanied by medical symptoms. Affirmative action policies like as mandatory period leave recognise this fact.
The Kerala government’s decision that all female students at state colleges would be granted menstruation leave is a positive step that moves the conversation into educational institutions.
This would also assist to lower female dropout rates from government schools in rural India, which are caused by a lack of clean bathrooms, running water, sanitary pads, and other amenities.
The main argument against a menstrual leave policy is the concern of hiring prejudice owing to the financial implications to businesses. Many countries have expressed concern over discriminatory hiring.
It is frequently associated with the fall in female labor-force participation following the implementation of statutory paid maternity leave.
Period leave is sometimes viewed as medicalizing a natural biological function.
Inaction due to fear of more prejudice is not the way to equality. What is required is a comprehensive approach targeted at closing current gaps.
Menstrual leave should be implemented in a thorough and inclusive manner that considers the needs and rights of all employees, regardless of gender.
Employers should be forced to implement obligatory self-care leave as an alternative to period absences for individuals who are unable to take advantage of the latter. Employees should be free to use their self-care leave whenever they choose. This will decrease burnout while increasing productivity.
Menstrual leave and self-care leave will also help to de-stigmatize menstruation and self-care. Employers should also be required to follow a strict diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) framework.
A structured menstrual leave policy in the organised sector can help to protect menstruators in the unorganised sector as well.
Menstrual hygiene is a public health concern. Period leave cannot be disregarded as a foreign idea given the large population of menstruators in India who endure shame. It is a critical step in ensuring reproductive health fairness in India.
Source – The Hindu
No bar on contesting two seats in one poll: Supreme Court
GS Paper- II
Context– The Supreme Court has rejected to overturn a clause in the election law that permits people to run for office in two seats at the same time.
What exactly is the problem?
The petition asked the court to declare Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act unlawful and unconstitutional.
The petition maintained that, like one-person-one-vote, one-candidate-one-constituency is a principle of democracy.
What did the SC say?
This is a policy problem as much as a question of political democracy.
CJI noted that it is up to Parliament to make a decision.
Provision for standing elections in two constituencies
Section 33 (7) of the RPA, 1951 allows a person to run for a maximum of two seats in a general election, multiple by-elections, or biennial elections.
Prior to the passage of this legislation, candidates may run in any number of seats.
Section 70 of the Act states that if candidates win both seats, they must relinquish one within 10 days, prompting a by-election.
A person cannot be a member of both Houses of Parliament (or a state legislature) at the same time, or represent more than one seat in a House, according to the Constitution.
Problems with the provision for two polls
There have been situations where a candidate runs in two seats and wins in both. In such a case, he resigns from one of the two seats.
As a result, a by-election from one seat would be necessary, resulting in needless spending on the conduct of that by-election.
ECI believes in one-candidate-one-constituency.
In 2018, the Election Commission endorsed the petition in an affidavit.
In July 2004, it told the Supreme Court that it had recommended a change to Section 33(7).
A candidate must deposit 5 lakh if running in two constituencies in an Assembly election, or 10 lakh if running in a general election.
The funds would be used to pay the costs of a by-election if he or she was victorious in both constituencies and had to renounce one.
Source – The Hindu
What is Additional Surveillance Mechanism (ASM)?
GS Paper- III
Context- The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has added an extra surveillance mechanism to highly well-known business tycoons’ firms (ASM). The Adani Group’s market value has dropped by $108 billion since Hindenburg Research accused it of stock manipulation and accounting fraud.
What exactly is a Surveillance Mechanism (ASM)?
The Additional Surveillance Measure (ASM) was implemented in 2018 by SEBI and recognised stock exchanges to manage the extremely volatile equities on the Indian stock market.
In the stock market, ASM serves as a control measure for speculative trading, protecting regular investors’ interests and keeping them out of potentially harmful trading scenarios.
There are two parts of additional margins:
What is ASM list in the stock market?
ASM list refers to a group of securities that are presently being monitored due to factors like as price volatility, volume variance, and so on.
Stocks that have been shortlisted for the ASM list warn investors about unexpected price volatility.
To prevent speculation, these stocks are subject to a variety of trading restrictions.
Stocks on the ASM list are subject to stricter controls.
They are not permitted to be pledged or to use intraday leverages such as bracket and cover orders.
How does it work?
For instance, The stock will be assigned a 5% price band on the day it is added to the ASM list; afterwards, it may only move 5% up or down from the previous day’s closing level.
As a result of this limit breach, the stock is no longer available for trading on the market.
Furthermore, by the fifth day, the investor should have 100% margin money to trade the stock.
The selected securities will be monitored further based on preset criteria, and once the condition is reached, they will be moved into Trade to Trade settlement.
ASM list stock selection criteria
The following criteria are used to select stocks for inclusion in ASM and were mutually decided upon by SEBI and Exchanges:
Close-to-Close Price Variation
High Low Variation
Client Concentration of Unique PANs
Source – Indian Express
CITES database reveals Red Sanders smuggling
GS Paper- III
Context- The CITES trade database records 28 cases of Red Sanders confiscation, seizure, and wild specimen exportation from India.
Pterocarpus santalinus is an Indian indigenous tree that has a limited geographical distribution in the Eastern Ghats.
It is a slow-growing tree species that matures after 25-40 years in natural forests.
It is restricted to a small area of forest in Andhra Pradesh.
It is mostly found in the Andhra Pradesh districts of Chittoor, Kadapa, Nandhyal, Nellore, and Prakasam.
It was listed as ‘near threatened’ in 2018 and will be listed as ‘endangered’ again in 2021.
It is listed under Appendix II of CITES and is banned from international trade.
Legal protection in India
The Union Environment Ministry opted to leave Red Sanders (red sandalwood) off of Schedule VI of the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, claiming that doing so would impede cultivation of the uncommon plant species.
Schedule VI governs and limits the production, ownership, and sale of endangered plant species.
Threats to this specie
Red Sanders, which are prized for their vibrant colour and medicinal powers, are in high demand throughout Asia, notably in China and Japan.
They are utilised in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, as well as furniture, woodcraft, and musical instruments.
A tonne of Red Sanders costs anywhere between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the international market, indicating its appeal.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an acronym that stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It is as an international agreement intended at guaranteeing “that international trading in specimens of wild animals and plants does not harm their existence”.
It was written in response to a resolution passed by members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
It went into effect on July 1, 1975, and now has 183 parties.
The Convention is legally obligatory on the Parties in the sense that they have agreed to execute it; nonetheless, it does not supersede national legislation.
In 1976, India signed and ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
CITES operates by imposing restrictions on international commerce in specimens of specific species.
All imports, exports, re-exports, and sea-based introductions of species protected by the agreement must be permitted through a licencing system.
There are three appendices:
Appendix I contains species that are on the verge of extinction. Only in extraordinary situations are trade-in specimens of these species authorised.
Appendix II offers a lower degree of security.
Appendix III comprises species that are protected in at least one nation, which has requested assistance from other CITES Parties in restricting trade.
Source – Indian Express
GS Paper- I
Context- The public hearing on the proposed pen memorial for former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi was marred by disturbances as supporters of the monument raised a commotion while opponents raised concerns over environmental harm and loss of livelihoods.
The Pen Memorial honours M. Karunanidhi.
The metaphorical catamaran to which Karunanidhi related himself inspired the concept of a monument on sea.
The Rs 81-crore ‘Pen Monument,’ which stands 360 metres from the coast in the Bay of Bengal, is likely to become a landmark in Chennai once completed.
It will mix regional themes, architecture, and designs with Tamil historical aspects as a reflection of Tamil culture and architecture.
The monument’s design is inspired by the Veena, a classic Carnatic musical instrument handcrafted with extraordinary accuracy in Tamil Nadu.
The Thumba represents the pen pedestal, the long bridges, the music hole, a pen statue, and the peg, the tensile canopy seats on the bridge.
The frets symbolise the distance between the bridge’s columns, whereas the strings represent the Meru or Kudira.
The design for the memorial pedestal’s planted garden is based on Sikku Kolam, a traditional artwork produced by Tamil women in their homes in which a geometric pattern is constructed using dots and circles. The memorial will be made of locally sourced stone.
The planned ‘MuthamizhArignar Dr Kalaignar Pen Monument’ off Marina Beach is located in Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) IA, II, and IVA and requires approval under Section 4(ii)(j) of the Union Environment Ministry’s Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011. (amended up to March 22, 2016).
Apart from being President of the DMK from 1969 to 2018 and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for five terms between 1969 and 2011, he was one of the most influential figures in Tamil Nadu and Dravidian politics. He made significant contributions to Tamil literature as an orator, poet, and writer of non-fiction and fiction, plays, and films.
The pen-shaped memorial commemorates his numerous contributions to Iyal (poetry and literature), Isai (music), and Naadagam (theatre), the three main foundations of both ancient and current Thamizh, or Tamil.
Karunanidhi used the pen to command Tamil hearts and become a mass leader, a “symbol of [his] greatest ability and prowess.”
Source – Indian Express
Jharkhand Domicile Bill
Context -The Governor of Jharkhand has returned the Domicile Bill, which determines who is a “local” in the state, to the state administration to “seriously consider” its validity.
Domicile is a legal notion that connects a person to a location with which he has a personal relationship or regards as his permanent residence.
It is not necessarily the place where a person lives.
Jharkhand was founded in 2000 by separating regions from Bihar that had a major tribal population in order to improve tribal development and cultural preservation.
The definition of domicile has been debated since its inception. It was based on land records from 1932 in 2002. The government issued a loosened domicile policy in 2016, outlining six options for determining residence.
Provisions of draft domicile Bill
It defines a ‘local’ in Jharkhand using land records from 1932. People whose names or ancestors’ names appear in land records from 1932 or before shall be considered Jharkhand residents.
Those who have lost their land records or are landless might apply for inclusion to their respective Gram Sabhas.
Only locals, as defined by it, would be eligible for appointment to state government class 3 and 4 jobs.
The law would enter into force only if the Centre amends it to insert it in the Ninth Schedule, removing it from judicial review.
Arguments in Favour of the Bill: Why is 1932 the cut-off year?
The land survey and revenue registry (also known as the ‘1932 khatiyan’) was completed in major sections of the state in 1932.
It was noted that migration of people from neighbouring States to Jharkhand (undivided Bihar) had badly impacted the “original inhabitants/moolvasis/aboriginals”.
Since the 1941 census, the percentage of persons belonging to Scheduled Tribes and moolvasis has been steadily decreasing in Jharkhand.
Affirmative action for moolvasis development will give them with social, cultural, educational, and other benefits.
Arguments against the Bill
Policy measures such as reserving that do not include social and economic development would increase fragmentation and exacerbate regional conflicts, which can be counterproductive.
The Fifth Schedule includes several parts of Jharkhand (dealing with provisions for Scheduled Tribes). In Satyajit Kumar vs. State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s 100% reservation in scheduled zones was unconstitutional.
Making only locals eligible for appointment to state government class 3 and 4 posts violates Article 16 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality in employment.
Only the parliament has the authority to impose any form of requirements in the event of employment under Section 35 (A) under special provision, according to Article 16(3) of the Constitution. The State Legislature lacks this authority.
The Bill contradicts Supreme Court judgements in the matter of AVS Narasimha Rao and others vs. Andhra Pradesh, which dealt with non-domicile employment.
The NINTH Schedule was added to the Constitution for the first time in 1951, when the text was revised for the first time.
It was established by the new Article 31B, which, together with 31A, was enacted by the government to preserve agricultural reform legislation and to eliminate the Zamindari system. While A. 31A protects ‘classes’ of laws, A. 31B protects individual laws or enactments.
For example, in the 1990s, the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services Under the State) Act encountered legal challenges in reserving 69 percent of seats in colleges and jobs in the state government. To avoid legal complications, the reservation provision was later included into the Ninth Schedule.
When the Tamil Nadu statute was challenged in 2007 (I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu), the Supreme Court held unanimously that while laws listed in the Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged for infringing fundamental rights, they can be challenged for breaking the essential structure of the Constitution.
The Jharkhand administration hopes to protect the present legislation from judicial examination by including it in the Ninth Schedule.
This law follows the recent trend of states such as Andhra Pradesh and Haryana reserving jobs for locals by passing statutes to that effect. The consequences of such measures must be studied holistically in order to reach a consensus within the four boundaries of the constitution.
Source – Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
Newly-discovered ancient ‘marine crocodile’ fossil
Context: A new thalattosuchian—an ancient “relative” of modern-day crocodiles—has been found by scientists, and it may be the oldest of its kind ever known.
Turnersuchushingleyae is the sole intact Thalattosuchian of its age, dating back to the early Jurassic, Pliensbachian stage, around 185 million years ago.
This new fossil fills a gap in the fossil record and shows that Thalattosuchians and other crocodile-like creatures may have evolved 15 million years earlier than Turnersuchus.
They would have resembled the contemporary gharial crocodiles due to their relatively long, thin snouts. Gharial crocodiles are often found in Northern India’s major river systems.
12 African countries commit to ending AIDS in kids by 2030
Context: Ministers and delegates from 12 African nations have outlined plans to eradicate acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in children by 2030 through early detection, treatment, and preventive programmes.
In the first phase, the following countries joined the alliance: Angola, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Over the next seven years, the Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children will fight to accelerate progress toward the 2030 objective.
The Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Ending AIDS in Children was unanimously supported. The pledge is an important step toward ensuring that all children with HIV have access to life-saving medication and that women living with HIV have HIV-free newborns.
Context: Yaya Tso, famed for its lovely lake and as a bird’s sanctuary, has been recommended as Ladakh’s first biodiversity heritage site (BHS).
Yaya Tso is a nesting location for several birds and animals, including the bar-headed goose, black-necked crane, and brahminy duck, and it is also one of the highest breeding sites for the black-necked crane in India.
Biodiversity Heritage Sites are regions with great biodiversity that are unique, environmentally sensitive ecosystems.
The Biological Diversity Act (BDA) of 2002 empowers state governments to notify BHS, in conjunction with “local bodies,” of locations of biological value as Biodiversity Heritage Sites.
There are 36 BHS in India, with Mahendragiri Hill (Odisha) being the most recent addition in 2022.