Ojaank IAS Academy




12 May 2022 – Current Affairs

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Lack of Toilet Usage

Paper 2 HEALTH 

Why You Should Know?

• The percentage of households in India that do not use any toilet facility according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
• Even though India was declared open defecation free in 2019, the NFHS-5 survey conducted in 2019-21 showed that despite a decrease in open defecation from 39% in 2015-2016, the problem still persists in the country.
• Access to a toilet facility is lowest in Bihar (62%), followed by Jharkhand (70%) and Odisha (71%). According to the report, 69.3% of households have access to improved toilet facilities.

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)?

• Foreword The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), launched on 2nd October 2014, has one of its stated objectives as the achievement of Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in all the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in India, by October 2019.
• This is probably the best tribute the country can pay to the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

ODF under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan?

• Though the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched in October 2014, until June 2015, there was no uniform definition of ODF.
• Every city, village, state had their own understanding of what qualified as ODF.

Menstrual cloth

• The percentage of women aged 15 to 24 still using cloth for menstrual protection, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report, with experts attributing it to a lack of awareness and taboo existing around menstruation.
• According to the report, 64% of women said that they used sanitary napkins, 15% said they used locally prepared napkins while the rest said that they used cloth for menstrual protection. The reuse of unclean cloth increases exposure to multiple local infections.

Rising internet addiction in children worries experts

Paper 2 HEALTH

Why You Should Know?

• The majority of the 67 persons who walked into the Internet Deaddiction Clinic at the Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital were adults.
• But what was shocking to the psychiatrists on call was that 10 of them were aged five to 10 and 13 of them were aged 11 to 18.

Major Points 

• Among them was a 14-yearold boy, who was brought by his mother with complaints of abnormal hand movements, staying awake late at night to play mobile games, academic decline and lack of interest to write the board exams.
• The boy, according to doctors, stayed awake till 3 a.m. to play mobile games and compete with friends. He had lost weight and his appetite had reduced.
• When he was assessed at the centre, he appeared thin for his age. He avoided eye contact and answered only in monosyllables. Treatment was initiated; he was counselled regularly once every four days and his gadget use was restricted to one hour per day.
• His progress was monitored. He was also started on medications. Eventually, his abnormal hand move ments reduced and his appetite improved, psychiatrists said.
• However, many became addicted to these gadgets. As a result, they show less involvement in studies, experience sleep disturbances, anger issues, social withdrawal and have reduced their interaction with family members.
• The clinic, which was launched on December 13, 2021, has been catering to clients with overuse of the Internet in various forms.
• This includes video games, social media, online shopping, online gambling and online pornography.
• Some are victims of cyberbullying and suffer from sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, strained interpersonal relationships, poor school or work performance.

Below normal mercury in India from 2022 to ’26


Why You Should Know?

• IN A rare trend, India could be among the few regions globally where below normal temperatures have been predicted for this year and the next four years, the decadal climate outlook reportissued by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has stated.
• In the latest Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, the WMO said that 2022 will be cooler (compared to the 1991 – 2020 average) over India, along with Alaska and Canada.
• One of the primary reasons for lowering of temperatures over India from next year is the possible increase in rainfall activity in this decade.

Major Points 

• In April this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had said that the Indian monsoon will soon enter the positive epoch after remaining under a negative epoch since 1971.
• The future trend suggests that the decadal mean value will be close to near normal during 2021 to 2030.
• It will then turn positive, meaning that the decade 2031-2040 will be the beginning of a wet epoch, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of IMD, had said in April.
• However, the WMO has warned with high certainty that during any one year between 2022 and 2026, the global nearsurface temperature could extrial levels.

The Exception Provided to Marital Rape


Why You Should Know?

• A TWO-JUDGE Bench of the Delhi High Court delivered a split verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the exception provided to marital rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
• Justice Rajiv Shakdher held that the exception under Section 375 (which deals with rape) of the IPC is unconstitutional, and that it is “steeped in patriarchy and misogyny”. Justice C Hari Shankar held that the provision is valid, and that a husband’s sex with an unwilling wife cannot be “equated with the act of ravishing by a stranger”.
• The court was hearing a clutch of four petitions. Apart from the petitioners, who include the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), the court heard several intervenors, including a men’s rights organisation and amicus curiae senior advocates Rajshekhar Rao and Rebecca John.

What is the marital rape exemption?

• Section 375 defines rape and lists seven notions of consent which, if vitiated, would constitute the offence of rape by a man.
• However, the provision contains an exemption: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”
• This exemption essentially allows a marital right to a husband who can with legal sanction exercise his right to consensual or non-consensual sex with his wife.
• The exemption is also under challenge before the Gujarat High Court on the grounds that it undermines consent of a woman based on her marital status.
• Separately, the Karnataka HC has allowed the framing of marital rape charges against a man despite the exemption in law.

What was the government’s stand?

• The Centre initially defended the rape exception, but later told the court that it was reviewing the law, and that’wider deliber ations are required on the issue”.
• Solicitor General Tushar Mehta brought to the court’s notice a 2019 committee set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs to review criminal laws in the country.
• The Delhi government argued in favour of retaining the marital rape exception.
• Its arguments spanned from protecting men from possible misuse of the law by wives, to protecting the institution of marriage.

What happens when a verdict is split?

• The case is heard by a larger bench. This is why judges usually sit in benches of odd numbers for important cases, even though two-judge benches or division benches are not uncommon.
• The larger bench to which a split verdict goes can be a three-judge bench of the High Court, or an appeal can be preferred before the Supreme Court.
• The Delhi High Court has already granted a certificate of appeal to move the Supreme Court since the case involves substantial questions of law.

What is the takeaway from the verdict?

• Even though the court has delivered a split verdict, its intervention moves the needle in favour of doing away with the marital rape exemption in law.
• Justice Shakdher’s opinion takes the conversation forward on the subject, and sets the stage for a larger constitutional intervention before the Supreme Court.
• On May 10, the Supreme Court refused to stay the Karnataka High Court order that for the first time puta man on trial for marital rape.
• The SC’s refusal to stay the order indicates that the higher judiciary is willing to carry out a serious examination of the colonial-era provision.

What was the Karnataka HC ruling?

• The Karnataka High Court was hearing an appeal by a husband against a sessions court decision to frame rape charges brought against him by his wife.
• Along with charges under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code that punishes rape, the man was charged under Sections 377 (unnatural of fences),506 (criminal intimidation), 498A (domestic cruelty), and 323 (assault) of the IPC, and Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 for alleged sexual abuse against his minor daughter.
• The man sought quashing of the FIR, especially the charge of rape, since Section 375 specifically carves out an exception for marital rape.
• But the single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna refused to interfere with the sessions court order.
• While the High Court did not explicitly strike down the marital rape exception, it allowed the married man to be put on trial on rape charges brought by his wife.
• The husband had moved the High Court after the trial court took cognisance of the offence under Section 376 (punishment for rape).

What is the law on marital rape elsewhere? 

• Marital rape immunity is known to several post-colonial common law countries. Australia (1981), Canada (1983), and South Africa (1993) have enacted laws that criminalise marital rape.
• In the United Kingdom, the House of Lords overturned the exception in 1991. Ina landmark decision in Rv R, the Lords took the view that the time had arrived when the law should declare that a rapist remains a rapist subject to the criminal law, irrespective of his relationship with his victim”.
• They said that the verdict was not creating a new offence, rather only removing a common law fiction with its roots in ecclesiastical law.
• It was argued that the House of Lords decision amounted to a retrospective change in criminal law, which would amount to a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
• The European Court of Justice reviewed the ruling and upheld the decision of the Lords as a “foreseeable evolution” of the law.
• Subsequently, in 2003 marital rape was outlawed by legislation in the UK.

Indian Penal Code’s(IPC)Section 124A


Why You Should Know?

• THE VALIDITY of the sedition law is once again before the Supreme Court, nearly 60 years after it had held the provision to be constitutional.
• A three-judge bench directed that all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings on charges under the Indian Penal Code’s(IPC)Section 124A, which deals with sedition, be kept in abeyance until the central government completes a reexamination of the provision.
• The court expressed the hope that until then, the Centre and the states would restrain from invoking the provision; if any fresh case is registered under it, parties can approach courts for relief.

What the provision says

• Section 124A defines sedition as: “Whoever, by words, eitherspokenor written, or by signs or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added..”
• The provision contains three explanations: the expression “disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity: comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the government with a view to obtaining their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contemptor disaffection, do not constitute an offence under Section 124A; and neither do comments expressing disapprobation of administrative or other action of the government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection.

Its rigins of the law

• Although Thomas Macaulay’s draft of the IPC had the law on sedition, it was eventually not included in the Code enacted in 1860. Legal experts believe the omission was accidental.
• In 1890, sedition was included as an offence under Section 124A through the Special Act XVII. The punishment prescribed then, transportation “beyond the seas for the term of his or her natural life”, was amended to life imprisonment in 1955.
• The provision was extensively used to curb political dissent during the Independence movement with several cases under it lodged against Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant, Shaukat and Mohammad Ali, Maulana Azad, MK Gandhi and others. It is during this time that the sedition trial in Queen Empress v Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1898) took place.
• The Constituent Assembly debated including sedition as an exception to the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed in the Constitution, but several members disagreed. The word is not included in the document.

Liberal readings

• In Romesh Thaparv State of Madras (1950). the Supreme Court held that “criticism of the government exciting disaffection or bad feelings towards it, is not to be regarded as a justifying ground for restricting the freedom of expression and of the press, unless it is such as to undermine the security of or tend to overthrow the state”.
• Subsequently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Tara Singh Gopi Chand v The State (1951) and the Allahabad High Court in Ram Nandan v State of Uttar Pradesh (1959) held that Section 124A was primarily a tool for colonial rulersto quell discontent and declared the provision unconstitutional.
• Then in 1962, the issue came up before the Supreme Court in Kedamath Singh v State of Bihar.

Kedar Nath ruling

• A five-judge Constitution Bench overruled the earlier High Court rulings and upheld the constitutional validity of IPC Section 124A.
• However, the court attempted to restrict the scope for its misuse, holding that unless accompanied by an incitement or call for violence, criticism of the government cannot be labelled sedition.
• The court issued seven “guidelines” underlining when critical speech cannot be qualified as sedition.
• It said not all speech with “disaffection”,”hatred,” or “contempt” against the state but only speech that is likely to incite “public disorder” would qualify as sedition.
• The phrase “public disorder” is not itself contained in Section 124A; it was read into it by the court.

and after

  • Since the Kedar Nath verdict,”public disorder” has been considered a necessary ingredient for the commission of sedition.
  • In Balwant Singh v State of Punjab (1995). the Supreme Court reiterated that the real intent of a speech must be taken into account before labelling it seditious.
  • The petitioners had been accused of sedition for raising slogans such as “Khalistan Zindabad… Hinduan Nun Punjab Chon Kadh Ke Chhadange, Hun Mauka Aya Hai Raj Kayam Kar” (Hindus will leave Punjab and we will rule).
  • In Dr Vinayak Binayak Sen v State of Chhattisgarh (2011), the court held that a person can be convicted for sedition even if he is not the author of the seditious speech but has merely circulated it.
  • the Allahabad High Court held that criticism of the judiciary would not amount to sedition, The late Union minister had written a blog post criticising the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring the National Judicial Appointments Commission as unconstitutional.
  • Successive reports of the Law Commission of India and even the Supreme Court have underlined the misuse of the sedition law.
  • The Kedar Nath guidelines and a textual deviation in law put the onus on police to distinguish between legitimate speech from seditious speech.
  • Just last year, in Vinod Dua v Union of India, the Supreme Court quashed FIRs with charges of sedition against the journalist for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, and cautioned against unlawful application of the provision.

The current case

• Wednesday’s ruling came on a batch of petitions against the provision filed by journalists Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and others.
• The petitioners have argued that the restricted definition of sedition in Kedar Nath can be addressed through other existing laws.
• Although the government initially defended the provision, it has now told the court that it is considering a review.
• If the court strikes down the provision, it will have to overrule the Kedar Nath ruling and uphold earlier rulings that were liberal on free speech.
• If the government decides to review the law-by diluting the language or repealing it – it could still bring back the provision in a different form.

Laws in other countries

• In the United Kingdom, the sedition law was repealed under Section 73 of the Coroners and Justice Act, 2009, citing a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression.
• The common law on sedition dated back to the Statute of Westminster, 1275, when the King was considered the holder of Divine right.
• The 2009 Act termedit”arcane” and “from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today”.
• Australia repealed its sedition law in 2010, and Singapore did so last year.
• In the United States, sedition is a federal felony under the Federal Criminal Code, Section 2384, and is now being used against rioters involved in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Half of Covid patients still have at least one symptom 2 yrs later

Paper 2 HEALTH

Why You Should Know?

• TWO YEARS after infection with Covid19, half of patients admitted to hospital still have at least one symptom, according to the longest follow-up study to date, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
• The study followed 1,192 participants in China who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first wave in 2020.

Major Points 

• While physical and mental health generally improved over time, the analysis suggests that Covid19 patients still tend to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population.
• This is especially true for participants with long Covid, who typically continue to have at least one symptom including fatigue, shortness of breath, and sleep difficulties two years after initially falling ill.
• Six months after initially falling ill, 68% of participants reported at least one long Covid symptom. By two years after infection, reports of symptoms had fallen to 55%.
• Regardless of the severity of their initial illness, 89% of participants had returned to their original work at two years.
• Two years after initially falling ill, 31% of the patients reported fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% reported sleeping difficulties, compared to 5% and 14% respectively among non-Covid participants.
• Covid patients were also more likely to report other symptoms including joint pain, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches.
• Around half the study participants had symptoms of long Covid at two years, and reported lower quality of life than those without long Covid.
• In quality of life questionnaires, Covid patients more often reported pain or discomfort (23%)and anxiety or depression (12%) than non-Covid participants (5% in both).
• Mental health assessments of long Covid participants found 13% displayed symptoms of anxiety and 11% displayed symptoms of depression, while for nonlong Covid participants the proportions were 3% and 1% respectively.

Half of households don’t seek govt health care


Why You Should Know?

• HALF OF the families in India do not usually seek health care from government health facilities and almost half of them do not do so because of “poor quality of care” at public hospitals, according to findings of the National Family Health Survey-5.
• The survey report shows that the percentage of households that did not generally use a government health facility during 201921 was 49.9%, which is lower than the 55.1% recorded in the previous round of NFHS in 2015-16.

Major Points of Reports

• During 2019-21, the proportion of such households was highest in Bihar (80%), followed by Uttar Pradesh(75%). The lowestless than 5% – was recorded in Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
• While Uttar Pradesh saw a marginal decline in the proportion of families that did not generally use a government facility – from 80.1% in 2015-16 to 75% in 201921 – Bihar registered an increase from 77.6% to 80.2% during the same period.
• Besides Bihar, the percentage of such families went up marginally in six other states and UTs.
• The biggest jump was recorded in Uttarakhand, where it increased to 55.7% in 2019-21 from 50.5% in 2015-16.
• The most commonly reported reason for not using government health facilities at the national level is the poor quality of care (reported by 48% of house holds that do not generally use government facilities).
• The second most commonly reported reason is the long waiting time at government facilities (46%), followed by the fact that there is no government facility nearby(40% of households).
• Incidentally, there is no decline in the proportion of families which do not generally use government facility due to “poor quality care” available there.
• According to the NFHS-4in 2015-16,48%of households that did not seek health care from the government health facilities had cited “poor quality of care” as the biggest reason.
• According to the latest report, 46.9% families in urban areas and 51.7% in rural areas used the public health sector during 2019-21, while the proportion of households availing private health sector stood at 51.8% in cities and 46.4% in villages.

Morgan Stanley cuts India’s FY23 growth forecast to 7.6%


Why You Should Know?

• Morgan Stanley pared India’s growth forecast for FY23 to 7.6 per cent from 7.9 per cent, estimated earlier.
• It said that a slowdown in global growth, higher commodity prices and risk aversion in global capital markets expose Asia’s third-largest economy to downside risks.
• The key will likely be from an adverse impact on business sentiment as a slowdown in demand, higher inflation, and the cost of funding impair balance sheet strength and delay the capex recovery.
• On the domestic side, a change in policy stance by the government or central bank could expose the economy to macro stability risks, leading to slower growth.

Morgan Stanley Reports Major Points 

• The investment bank said while its baseline forecast for India is 7.6 per cent growth for FY23, its bearish and bullish growth projections are 6.7 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.
• Economic forecasters have been slashing growth projections for India amid rising geopolitical tension that has led to escalating commodity prices.
• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised downwards its growth projection for FY23 to 7.2 per cent from 7.8 per cent earlier.
• Last month, the World Bank also slashed its FY23 growth forecast for India to 8 per cent from 8.7 per cent estimated in January. It cited tepid recovery in consumption demand and escalating uncertainties due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
• Despite the cyclical headwinds, Morgan Stanley, however, sees the Indian economy expanding at above pre-pandemic growth rates in FY23 and FY24.
• For FY24, the investment bank lowered its growth forecast to 6.7 per cent from 7 per cent estimated earlier.
• The investment bank has projected global growth at 2.9 per cent in calendar year 2022, less than half of the 6.2 per cent growth in 2021. Morgan Stanley said China’s growth may reach merely 4.2 per cent in 2022, about half the pace of last year.
• The slower growth is very broadly based, and the only two major economies where we do not see substantial slowing are Japan and India.
• But when it comes to inflation, Morgan Stanley said within Asia, India would be the economy which will be most exposed to upside risks to inflation. This is considering the higher energy import burden and sustained strength in domestic demand.
• The investment bank expects front-loaded policy rate hikes by stability, with inflation concerns rising. The RBI raised the repo rate 40 basis points, to 4.4 per cent, in an off-schedule meeting last week.
• Expect front-loaded rate hikes and pencil in hikes of 50 bps each in the June and August meetings, to be followed by back-to-back rate hikes to take the policy rate to 6 per cent by December 2022. We expect the terminal policy rate to be 6.5 per cent.

Green rules for coal mines eased to tackle fuel crisis


Why You Should Know?

• The Centre has eased environment approvals for coal mine expansions to boost output amid fuel shortages that have triggered hours-long blackouts.
• Some existing sites will be able to raise production by a further 10 per cent without requiring new impact assessments and rules on consulting local residents have been loosened, according to a government note.

Major Points

• Coal supplies at power plants are shrinking amid a grueling heat wave that’s pushed electricity demand to a record in recent weeks, with several facilities operating with critical reserves of the fuel, power ministry data show.
• Blackouts and curbs on supply to some industries have prompted street protests.
• The fuel accounts for more than 70 per cent of India’s electricity generation, and the country’s coal mining and transportation infrastructure is failing to keep pace with rising demand.
• A lack of railway carriages to transport the fuel from mines to power plants has exacerbated the shortages.
• Changes will last for six months and follow complaints that lengthy processes to win environmental approvals could hamper efforts to ease the crisis.
• Miners are aiming to quickly accelerate output before a rainy season arrives in late June, which can flood operations and slow down production rates.
• The environment ministry’s exemption is valid for mines that have already won approvals to expand output by 40 per cent and will allow them to produce as much as 50 per cent more than the original planned capacity.

coal mines

• Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the ground.
• Coal is valued for its energy content and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity.
• Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production.

Where is coal formed?

• Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal by the heat and pressure of deep burial over millions of years.

Retaining the GST


Why You Should Know?

• The percentage of the goods and services tax (GST) requested to be retained by the online skill-based gaming industry instead of the 28% rate category (the highest category) it was assigned earlier, saying that the move will badly hit the $2.2 billion sector.
• The increase in taxation would not only have a catastrophic impact on the industry but also encourage offshore operators who would circumvent Indian tax jurisdiction by hosting games in some other country.

What is GST?

• GST (Goods and Services Tax) is one indirect tax for the whole nation.
• It is the resultant tax after subsuming major Central and State indirect taxes.
• GST is a destination based tax levied on the consumption of goods and services across the nation, thus rendering the country one unified common market.
• A destination based tax is one which is levied in the state where the goods or services are consumed and not where they are produced.
• On the other hand, an origin based tax is levied in the state where goods or services are produced (not consumed).

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