Current Affairs 15th August

PM: Aug. 14 will be day to recall Partition trauma

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that August 14 will be observed as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’ to acknowledge the pain undergone by Indians due to the Partition of India in 1947.

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, he tweeted, “Partition’s pains can never be forgotten. Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence. In memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people, 14th August will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day”.

The Prime Minister added that the day would remind Indians of the need to “remove the poison of social divisions”. “May the #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay keep reminding us of the need to remove the poison of social divisions, disharmony and further strengthen the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment,.

The Union Home Ministry also notified August 14th as the ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’ in the Gazette of India after the announcement.

It described the notification: “Whereas People of India while celebrating the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ salute those sons and daughters of our beloved Motherland who had to sacrifice their lives during the partition of India”.

Bombay HC stays provisions of new IT Rules #GS2 #Governance

The Bombay High Court on Saturday partially stayed the operation of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The court said, “We have found that prima facie it is in intrusion of petitioner’s rights and goes beyond substantive law and the Information Technology Act.”

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni stayed Rule 9(1) and Rule 9(3) of the new IT Rules.

The portion which is stayed brings Code of Ethics under the IT Rules and directs self-regulation by the publishers, self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers and oversight mechanism by the Central government.

The court said, “Rule 9 (observance and adherence to the code) prima facie seems to be against the freedom of speech. We have stayed Rule 9 (1) and (3).”

“We may observe that as far as Rule 14 (inter-departmental committee) is concerned, no immediate urgency as committee is not set up. In these circumstances, the oversight committee itself has not taken effect. We urge petitioners to come as and when it is set up,” it added.

Referring to Rule 16 (blocking of information in case of emergency), the court said, “We find no case is made out for a stay on Rule 16. Hence that is not stayed.”

The court was hearing a petition filed by legal news website The Leaflet and a public interest litigation by journalist Nikhil Wagle.

The petitions urged for direction from the court to restrain authorities from taking any coercive action against the petitioners for any failure to comply with the new rules.

‘Vague and draconian’

Senior advocate Darius Khambata, representing The Leaflet , argued that the rules go far beyond the permissible restrictions of freedom of speech and freedom of trade for a digital news publisher. They are vague and draconian and can have a chilling effect on free speech, so much so that they have to be stayed immediately, he said.

Advocate Abhay Nevagi, appearing for Mr. Wagle, contended that the rules were arbitrary, illegal, irrational and unreasonable and contrary to the provisions of law, including Article 14 (equality before the law), Articles 19 (1) (a) (to freedom of speech and expression), 19 (1) (g) (to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business) of the Constitution.

Courts in the country continue to differ in views on marital rape #GS2 #Governance

Four years after the Supreme Court referred to Justice J.S. Verma Committee’s recommendation to make marital rape a crime, besides quoting from decisions of courts across the world that “a rapist remains a rapist and marriage with the victim does not convert him into a non-rapist”, Indian courts continue to take views on marital rape that are the polar opposite of each other.

The recent response from courts to complaints of marital rape has been contradictory. When the Kerala High Court backed marital rape as a valid ground for divorce, a court in Maharashtra gave anticipatory bail to a man while concluding that forcible sex with his wife was not an “illegal thing” though she said it left her paralysed.

In 2017, the top court, in Independent Thought versus Union of India , refused to delve into the question of marital rape while examining an exception to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code which allows a man to force sex on his wife if she is above 15 years of age. However, in its judgment that declared “sexual intercourse with a girl below 18 years of age is rape regardless of whether she is married or not”, the Supreme Court highlighted that legislative immunity given to marital rape stemmed from the “outdated notion that a wife is no more than a subservient chattel of her husband”.

Similarly, the Gujarat High Court has held that “a law that does not give married and unmarried women equal protection creates conditions that lead to the marital rape”. “It allows the men and women to believe that wife rape is acceptable. Making wife rape illegal or an offence will remove the destructive attitudes that promote the marital rape,” the court had suggested.

Legislative amnesty to marital rape continues to survive in the statute book despite a gamut of decisions by the Supreme Court upholding the bodily integrity and privacy of women.

The right to bodily integrity was recognised in the context of privacy in State of Maharashtra v. Madhukar Narayan Mardikar . Here, the top court observed that no one has a right to violate the person of anyone else, including of an “unchaste woman”.

In Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration , the top court backed a “woman’s right to refuse participation in sexual activity or alternatively the insistence on use of contraceptive methods”. The court has held that “rape is not only a crime against the person of a woman, it is a crime against the entire society”. In State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh , the court voiced the extent of trauma suffered by a rape survivor, saying “a murderer destroys the physical body of his victim, a rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female”.

The report submitted by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee of Amendments to Criminal Law of January 2013 had recommended the removal of the marital rape immunity. “A marital or other relationship between the perpetrator or victim is not a valid defence against the crimes of rape or sexual violation. The relationship between the accused and the complainant is not relevant to the inquiry into whether the complainant consented to the sexual activity. The fact that the accused and victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape,” the committee had advised the government unsuccessfully.

The report underscored the fact that marital rape immunity had been withdrawn in most foreign jurisdictions. In England and Wales, the House of Lords had held in 1991 that “marriage is in modern times regarded as a partnership of equals, and no longer one in which the wife must be the subservient chattel of the husband”.

Anti-drone systems deployed in border areas of Kashmir #GS3 #SnT

J&K saw stringent security measures in place, including anti-drone systems along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and heightened aerial surveillance in Srinagar, ahead of Independence Day.

Meanwhile, four Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) operatives, planning to carry out attacks, were held in Jammu and an improvised explosive device (IED) was defused in Kishtwar, the police said on Saturday.

An alert has already been sounded in Jammu after the intelligence inputs suggested that militants may try to carry out attacks on the I-Day. Security has been beefed up and anti-drone technology employed to keep a watch on movement of drones from across the International Border and LoC, officials said.

The police claimed to have arrested four JeM operatives in Jammu. “The JeM terrorists were planning to collect arms dropped by drones and supply to active terrorists in the Kashmir Valley,” Inspector General of Police Mukesh Singh said.

One of the arrested men were identified as Muntazir Manzoor, alias Saifulla from Pulwama. Manzoor’s truck was being used for transporting weapons to the Valley, the police said. The other three were Ijahar Khan, alias Sonu Khan from U.P., Touseef Ahmed Shah, alias Showket and Adnan from Shopian. They were tasked with procuring a motorcycle to trigger an IED blast in Jammu.

Sri Lanka to procure oxygen from India to ‘augment supply’ #GS2 #IR

Sri Lanka will procure oxygen from India in the coming weeks to augment supply amid a raging fourth wave of COVID-19 in the island nation.

The government has decided to purchase 100 metric tonnes of oxygen from India next week for its COVID-19 treatment centres, the state-run Daily News reported on Saturday, quoting the Secretary to the Ministry of Health.

Official sources indicated that in additional to the initial commercial procurement, Colombo has also initiated bilateral discussions with New Delhi to explore ways to source more oxygen in the coming weeks. The details of the arrangement, likely commercial, are being worked out, they said.

According to officials in Colombo, one consignment, procured commercially from a private supplier in India, is scheduled to leave for Sri Lanka in a few days by sea. Last month, Bangladesh imported 180 metric tonnes of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from India. In recent months, India sent consignments of oxygen to Indonesia and Nepal.

Sharp rise in cases

Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of its fourth wave of the pandemic, witnessing a sharp rise in daily COVID-19 cases — an average of 3,000 a day — and deaths reported in the past week.

The country has reported a total of nearly 3.5 lakh cases since last year, and 11 % of those are currently active, according to data published by the Health Promotion Bureau. While medical experts have recommended strict restrictions on mobility to combat the current spike, the government on Friday said it was not going in for a country-wide lockdown. Meanwhile the Public Health Inspectors’ Union has asked people to “self-impose a seven-day travel restriction.”

Although India was the first country to send vaccines to Sri Lanka earlier this year, New Delhi could not sustain the diplomatic outreach amid India’s devastating second wave. However, Sri Lanka has been purchasing other medical supplies from India to enhance its pandemic response. Since last month, Colombo has procured at least 4.5 million syringes from suppliers in India, according to a senior government official.

According Dr. Hemantha Herath, Deputy Director General of Health Services, the supply of oxygen within Sri Lanka, mainly from two producers, was “adequate” to cater to the current requirement. “The country is importing oxygen to augment supply and be prepared for a shortage. We should work towards being self-reliant, so that we don’t have depend on external sources. Those countries may have a sudden requirement too during such a pandemic,” Dr. Herath told The Hindu .

India faced an acute shortage of oxygen earlier this year, when several thousand lives were lost for the want of oxygen support at the right time. New Delhi obtained international assistance at the time to cope with the crisis.

Where will climate change strike? #GS3 #Environment

The story so far: In one of the most categorical statements from a scientific body in the U.N. system, a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a report released on August 9 that human activities were unequivocally the principal driver of changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere, in other words, of climate change. Man-made emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), led by carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide since the industrial era, were altering the climate system, raising average surface temperature globally. The contribution of Working Group I to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report is one of the three such technical reports, the other two being on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (WG II) and mitigation (WG III) expected later this year, ahead of a synthesis report next year.

What is the key message from Working Group I?

The WG I report asserts, leaving nothing to doubt, that the contribution of GHG emissions from various activities is the scientific basis for global warming and climate change. These actions include the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transport, emissions from agriculture and waste, and energy profiles of buildings. Compared with the period 1850-1900, the increase in global surface temperature for the decade 2011-2020 is estimated to be 1.09°C, an indication of how much the world has warmed.

This must be viewed against the consensus under the Paris Agreement of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that the world should act to limit warming compared to levels that existed before the industrial revolution to well below 2°C, and preferably 1.5°C. The WG I report devotes itself to assessing what impacts would accrue to various dimensions of the planet, such as land, oceans, mountains, polar regions, glaciers and water cycle, under different emissions scenarios.

Even in the best case scenario, the global surface temperature increase averaged between 2081 and 2100 could be 1.0°C to 1.8°C, while in a high emissions scenario, it could go to a searing 3.3°C to 5.7°C. Since the original pledges of the Paris Agreement are insufficient to keep warming to well below 2°C, deep and early cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are necessary.

What will be the effect of continued global warming?

A warmer world is estimated to have a big impact on extremes of temperature and rainfall with implications for human health, ecosystem survival and sustainable economic activity. The report says it is “virtually certain that hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions” as witnessed since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) “have become less frequent and less severe”.

Scientific confidence is now high that human-induced climate change is the main driver of these changes. There are other impacts too. Climate change has contributed to increases in agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions due to increased land evapotranspiration, the report says. Enhanced warming is expected to amplify thawing of permafrost (subsurface soil in the polar regions that remains below freezing point year-round), and loss of seasonal snow cover, of land ice and of Arctic sea ice.

Under scenarios of rising CO2 emissions, two of the big carbon sinks on the planet — the oceans and land — may become less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. Continued warming would influence the global water cycle, further intensifying it, with consequences for “its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events”, the WG I report adds.

What could be the consequences for India?

India’s major concerns are centred around the health of the annual monsoon, the fate of Himalayan glaciers, heating over land, floods, droughts and overall impact on people’s well-being, agriculture and food production. Here, the report says with medium confidence that “heatwaves and humid heat stress will be more intense and frequent during the 21st century” and both annual and summer monsoon rainfall will rise, with a higher degree of variability between years.

Such a situation creates a lot of uncertainty. It is important to note that over South Asia, among other regions, aerosol emissions notably from human activity had a cooling influence during the 20th century, which in turn counteracted increases in monsoon rainfall produced by warming. That aerosol effect could be overcome by persistent warming, leading to future high levels of rainfall.

For the snow-covered areas, the outlook is, again, alarming. Snow volumes are forecast to decrease in most regions of the Hindu Kush Himalaya during the 21st century and the snowline elevations to go up while glacier volumes are likely to decline, with greater mass loss in scenarios of higher CO2 emissions.

Cave lion cub found in Siberian permafrost is 28,000 years old #GS3 #Environment

Scientists have said that an astonishingly well-preserved cave lion cub found in Siberia’s permafrost lived 28,000 years ago and may even still have traces of its mother’s milk in it.

Female cub

The female cub, named Sparta, was found at the Semyuelyakh River in Russia’s Yakutia region in 2018 and a second lion cub called Boris was found the year before, according to a study published in Quaternary.

The cubs were found 15 metres apart but are not only from different litters but were also born thousands of years apart. Boris, a male cub, lived around 43,448 years ago, the study said.

Other finds

The two cubs aged 1-2 months were found by mammoth tusk collectors. Two other lion cubs named Uyan and Dina have also been found in the region in recent years. Cave lions have been extinct for thousands of years.

Valery Plotnikov, one of the study’s authors, told Reuters in the regional capital Yakutsk that Sparta was so well-preserved that it still had its fur, internal organs and skeleton. “The find itself is unique; there was no any other such find in Yakutia,” he said.

“Maybe, we hope, some disintegrated parts of the mother’s milk [remain intact]. Because if we have that, we can understand what its mother’s diet was,” he said.

Faster warming

Similar finds in Russia’s vast Siberian region have happened with increasing regularity. Climate change is warming the Arctic at a faster pace than the rest of the world and has thawed the ground in some areas long locked in permafrost.,Climate%20change%2C%20warming%20of%20the%20Arctic%20has%20led%20to%20several,its%20mother%27s%20milk%20in%20it.

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