Daily Current Affairs 22

10th January 2021 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs    Date : 10th January,2021

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
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Index

A) Art, Culture and History

  • Veer Baal Diwas and the Struggle of Sikhs and Mughals (PIB)
  • Jallitkattu and Kambala (TH, pg 10)
  • B) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  • Chala Reserve Forest(TH, pg 1)
  • Mekedatu Multi-Purpose Project (TH, pg 5)
  • Cloudbursts: Causes, Spread and Prediction (DTE)
  • C) Economic Developments: India and World
  • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) (TH, pg 8)
  • D) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  • Harmonised Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India 2021 (TH, pg 8)
  • E) International Relations
  • Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (TH, pg 11)
  • F) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  • Model Code of Conduct (MCC) (TH, pg 10)
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (TH, pg 8)

 

A) Art, Culture and History

  1. Veer Baal Diwas and the Struggle of Sikhs and Mughals (PIB)
  • Context:The Government of India has decided to commemorate 26thDecember as “Veer Baal Diwas” in the honour of the supreme sacrifice made by Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh, the younger sons of the 10th Sikh Guru Govind Singh Ji, for their supreme and unparalleled sacrifice on 26th December, 1705 at the tender age of 9 and 6 years respectively.

Analysis

  • Akbar had been deeply impressed with the Sikh gurus and, it is said, visited them at Amritsar.
  • However, a clash began with the imprisonment and death of Guru Arjun (5th Guru) by Jahangir on a charge of helping rebel prince, Khusrau, with money and prayers.
  • His successor, Guru Har Govind, was also imprisoned for some time, but he was soon set free and developed good relations with Jahangir, and accompanied him in his journey to Kashmir just before his death.
  • Guru Har Govind came into clash with Shah Jahan on a hunting incident. However, the matter was hushed up at the intervention of some well-wishers at the court.
  • A second conflict took place a little later when the guru’s attempt to build a new city on the river Beas near Jallandhar was objected to.
  • A third conflict took place when two horses of ‘surpassing beauty and swiftness’ being brought to the guru from Central Asia were seized by the royal officials.
  • Ultimately, Guru Har Govind retired to the Punjab foot-hills and was not interfered with.
  • All these conflicts were of an ‘inconsequential nature’, and are ascribed to personal and political factors rather than religion.
  • The gurus being called sachcha padshah or ‘true sovereign’ by his followers does not seem to have been a cause of concern to the rulers because some of the Sufi saints led a rich life style, and were given similar titles by their followers to emphasise their spiritual eminence.
  • There was no atmosphere of confrontation between the Sikhs and the Mughal rulers during this period.
  • Nor was there any systematic persecution of the Hindus, and hence, no occasion for the Sikhs or any group or sect to stand forth as the champion of the Hindus against religious persecution.
  • Despite some display of orthodoxy by Shah Jahan at the beginning of his reign and a few acts of intolerance, such as the demolition of ‘new’ temples, he was not narrow in his outlook which was further tempered towards the end of his reign by the influence of his liberal son, Dara.
  • Dara, the eldest son of Shah Jahan, was by temperament a scholar and a Sufi who loved to discourse with religious divines.
  • With the help of the Brahmans of Kasi, he got the Gita translated into Persian.
  • But his most significant work was an anthology of the Vedas in the introduction to which Dara declared the Vedas to be ‘heavenly books in point of time’ and ‘in conformity with the holy Quran’.
  • Thus, he underlined the belief that there were no fundamental differences between Hinduism and Islam.
  • Although there had been some clashes between the Sikh guru and the Mughals under Shah Jahan, there was no clash between the Sikhs and Aurangzeb till 1675.
  • In fact, conscious of the growing importance of the Sikhs, Aurangzeb had tried to engage Ram Rai, the elder son of Guru Har Rai, at the court.
  • However, Guru Har Rai was displeased with Ram Rai, and nominated as his successor a younger son, Har Kishan, who was only six years old at the time.
  • Har Kishan died soon after, and was succeeded in 1664 by Guru Tegh Bahadur.
  • After his succession, Guru Tegh Bahadur had come to Delhi, but to escape the intrigues of Ram Rai he journeyed to Bihar, and served with Raja Ram Singh of Amber in Assam till 1671.
  • However, in 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought to Delhi from his head-quarters with five of his followers. Various accusations were made against him, and he was asked to recant his faith which he refused. As a punishment, he was beheaded.
  • Various reasons have been put forward to account for Aurangzeb’s action. According to a poetic work of Guru Goving Singh, the son and successor of Guru Tegh Bahadur, he gave up his life in defence of Hindu faith following his meeting with some Brahmans of Kashmir who had sought his support.
  • It is further said that the local waqia navis, or intelligence reporter, told the emperor that if action was not taken against the guru, it could lead to disturbances, and even to a rebellion.
  • The execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur forced the Sikhs to go back to the Punjab hills. It also led to the Sikh movement gradually turning into a military brotherhood. A major contribution in this sphere was made by Guru Govind Singh.
  • Guru Govind Singh showed considerable organizational ability and founded the military brotherhood or the khalsa in 1699.
  • Before this, Guru Govind Singh had made his headquarters at Makhowwal or Anandpur in the foothills of the Punjab.
  • At first, the local Hindu hill rajas had tried to use the guru and his followers in their internecine quarrels. But soon the guru became too powerful and a series of clashes took place between the hill rajas and the guru, who generally triumphed.
  • Aurangzeb was concerned with the growing power of the guru. He now wrote to the governor of Lahore and the faujdar of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, to aid the hill rajas in their conflict with Guru Govind Singh.
  • The Mughal forces assaulted Anandpur but the Sikhs fought bravely and beat off all assaults.
  • The Mughals and their allies now invested the fort closely. When starvation began inside the fort, the guru was forced to open the gate, apparently on a promise of safe conduct by Wazir Khan. But when the forces of the guru were crossing a swollen stream, Wazir Khan’s forces suddenly attacked.
  • Two of the guru’s sons (Sahibzada Zorawar Singhand Sahibzada Fateh Singh) were captured, and on their refusal to embrace Islam, were beheaded at Sirhind. The guru lost two of his remaining sons in another battle. After this, the guru retired to Talwandi and was generally not disturbed.
  • When the guru wrote to Aurangzeb in the Deccan, apprising him of the events, Aurangzeb invited him to meet him.
  • Towards the end of 1706 the guru set out for the Deccan and was on the way when Aurangzeb died.

Do you know?

  • The Mughal Governor of Kashmir till 1671 was Saif Khan. He is famous as a builder of bridges. He was a liberal and broadminded person who had appointed a Hindu to advise his on matters of administration.

 

  1. Jallitkattu and Kambala (TH, pg 10)
  • Context:The Supreme Court gave the nod to resume bullock cart races in Maharashtra that were prohibited since 2017.
  • The court found no reason to prohibit races in Maharashtra when jallikattu and bullock cart races were happening in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively.

Analysis

What is Jallitkattu?

  • It is a traditional bull-taming sport organised in Tamil Nadu during Pongal.
  • The sport involves a natively reared stud that is set free inside an arena filled with young participants.
  • The challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands.
  • In 2011, the Environment Ministry added bulls to its 1991 notification banning the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs. The notification was challenged in the Supreme Court and was upheld in 2014.
  • The ministry in 2016 modified its earlier notification and declared that the sport could continue despite the existing ban.
  • Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have amended the central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and allowed jallikattu and bullock cart racing, respectively. The state laws have been challenged in the apex court.

Kambala

  • Kambala is an annual buffalo race.
  • It is mainly celebrated in Karnataka.
  • In Kambala, the contest takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair raced in wet rice fields, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.

 

B) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Chala Reserve Forest(TH, pg 1)
  • Context:A creeper that once gave a monk’s robe its saffron hue has made a Buddhist village in eastern Assam adopt a forest.

Analysis

  • Five years ago, the bhikkhus of a Buddhist monastery in the 152-year-old Chalapather Shyamgaon had bemoaned the near-extinction of bhungloti, a creeper that in combination with the pith of the roots of a jackfruit tree yielded a saffron dye for their robes.
  • The women of the village too lamented how getting vital ingredients from four indigenous plants for dyeing their mekhela, a traditional garment, indigo blue, was getting increasingly difficult.
  • The Chala Reserve Forest is about 100 metres above sea level. But it houses a few orchids that are usually found in higher altitudes.

 

  1. Mekedatu Multi-Purpose Project (TH, pg 5)
  • Context:Amid threat of COVID-19 spread and warning by the Karnataka government against violation of weekend curfew rules, the Congressbegan its 11-day padayatra seeking early implementation of the Mekedatu drinking water project.

Analysis

  • ‘Mekedatu’ is located at the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers in Karnataka.
  • The project is disputed between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery waters.
  • Karnataka intends to build a ‘Balancing Reservoir’ or ‘Mini KRS’ (Krishna Raja Sagar reservoir near Mysuru) across river Cauvery near Mekedaatu for supplying potable water to Bengaluru and parts of Mysuru region in the near future.
  • Since it is for potable purpose, the government need not take approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for this project.
  • However, Tamil Nadu is objecting that the project would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
  • The project has also come under controversy as environmentalists fear irreversible damage to the ecosystem at the Cauvery Wildlife Sacntuary due to large-scale submergence.

 

  1. Cloudbursts: Causes, Spread and Prediction (DTE)
  • Context:Increasing incidents of cloudbursts in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are a clear evidence of climate change, experts have pointed out.

Analysis

  • Cloudburst is a sudden, very heavy rainfall, usually local in nature and of brief duration.
  • According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), it is a cloudburst when the amount of rainfall in a particular region exceeds 10 cm per hour.
  • Most cloudbursts occur in connection with thunderstorms.
  • In these storms there are violent uprushes of air, which at times prevent the condensing raindrops from falling to the ground.
  • A large amount of water may thus accumulate at high levels, and if the upward currents are weakened (e.g., if they are trapped over a region or there is a no air movement for them to disperse, they discharge over a specific area) the whole of this water falls at one time.
  • Such clouds are called cumulonimbus and can stretch to even 13-14 kilometers in height.
  • When warm monsoon winds interact with cold winds it leads for formation of huge clouds, which is also due to the topography or orographic factors.
  • Cloudbursts are especially common in mountainous areas (in both Himalayas andWestern Ghats).
  • This is probably because the warm air currents of a thunderstorm tend to follow the upward slope of a mountain. Mountain cloudbursts cause sudden and destructive floods.
  • Cloud bursts do occur at plains, however, mountainous regions are more prone to cloud bursts due to orography.
  • Cloudbursts in the Himalayan region usually happen in July and August.

Can cloudburst be predicted?

  • It is very difficult to predict the cloud bursts due to its very small scale in space and time.
  • Although, it is difficult to forecast cloudbursts, doppler radars can be very helpful in predicting them.
  • Doppler radar is ideal for real-time tracking of potential cloudbursts, especially if there is a network that allows it to track the air pressure and moisture.
  • Nowcasts (forecasting few hours lead time) can be given three hours prior to the event.

 

C) Economic Developments: India and World

  1. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) (TH, pg 8)
  • Context:Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel has been appointed vice-president of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Analysis

  • The AIIB, launched in Beijing in 2015, has approved more loans for India than any other member of the bank.
  • China is its biggest shareholder and India is the second-largest.
  • The U.S. and Japan are not among its 104 members.
  • In recent years, the bank had transitioned away from mostly co-financing projects with the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • Initially, 70-80% of the projects were co-financed but now that share of projects is standalone.
  • In October, India applied for loans from the AIIB and ADB to procure 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the ADB expected to lend $1.5 billion and the AIIB around $500 million, under the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative.

 

D) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

  1. Harmonised Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India 2021 (TH, pg 8)
  • Context:The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) released the Harmonised Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India 2021 through its website in December 2021. However, an official associated with the project said a few minor tweaks were pending.

Analysis

  • The guidelines are a revision of the Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier-Free Built Environment for Persons with Disabilities and Elderly Persons released by the CPWD, under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in February 2016.
  • While making public buildings and transport fully accessible for wheelchair users is covered in the guidelines, other users who may experience temporary problems have also been considered.
  • For instance, a parent pushing a child’s pram while carrying groceries or other bags, and women wearing saris.

 

E) International Relations

  1. Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (TH, pg 11)
  • Context:Russia ruled out any concession at talks with the United States on soaring tensions over Ukraine, as Moscow, facing strong pressure to pull back troops, seeks a wide-ranging new security arrangement with the West.

Analysis

  • The high-level discussions kick off a week of diplomacy in which Russia will meet with NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as the United States tries to assure European allies they will not be sidelined.
  • The Kremlin is insisting NATO must never grant membership to ex-Soviet Ukraine, which is pushing to join.
  • In the past, the USA warned of severe consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

  • With 57 participating States in North America (including the United States), Europe and Central Asia, including Russia (but not India), the OSCE – the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – is the world’s largest regional security-oriented intergovernmental organization.
  • Its mandate includes issues have an impact on common security, such as arms control and the promotion of human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratization, and national minorities.
  • The OSCE works for stability, peace and democracy through political dialogue.
  • The organization uses a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions.
  • Through this approach, and with its inclusive membership, the OSCE helps bridge differences and build trust between states by co-operating on conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

 

F) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

  1. Model Code of Conduct (MCC) (TH, pg 10)
  • Context:Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name and photo will be removed from the COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued in the five poll-bound States since the model code of conduct has come into force there.

Analysis

  • Article 324 of the Constitution mandates the Election Commission to hold free and fair elections to the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  • The MCC is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections, to ensure free and fair elections.
  • The MCC is operational from the date that the election schedule is announced till the date that results are announced.
  • However, the Commission can’t make its announcement more than three weeks ahead of issuing the formal notification of elections.
  • It was also agreed that the inauguration of any completed or new project would be done by civil servants, so that the MCC did not hurt the public interest.
  • Kerala was the first state to adopt a code of conduct for elections. The Election Commission decided to emulate Kerala’s example and in 1974, just before the mid-term general elections, that the EC released a formal Model Code of Conduct.
  • The MCC contains eight provisions dealing with general conduct, meetings, processions, polling day, polling booths, observers, party in power, and election manifestos.
  • The MCC is not enforceable by law. However, certain provisions of the MCC may be enforced through invoking corresponding provisions in other statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • The MCC is not a part of the Representation of the People Act, 1951and the Commission usually uses moral sanction to get political parties and candidates to fall in line.
  • At the time of the Lok Sabha elections, both the Union and state governments are covered under the MCC.

When and where is the MCC applicable?

  • In the case of Assembly elections, the MCC is valid throughout the poll-bound state.
  • In the case of Parliamentary or General Elections, the MCC is valid throughout the country.
  • In the case of by-elections to districts, the MCC is valid throughout the district where the election is to take place.

What is permitted and what is not under the MCC for the party in power?

  • The MCC forbids ministers (of state and central governments) from using official machinery for election work and from combining official visits with electioneering.
  • Advertisements extolling the work of the incumbent government using public money are to be avoided.
  • The government cannot announce any financial grants, promise construction of roads or other facilities, and make any ad hoc appointments in government or public undertaking during the time the Code is in force.
  • If an order has been issued by the States or the Union government with respect to any scheme but no work has begun till the MCC is in force, then no work shall be started in that respect. However, if work has actually started in the field, that can be continued.
  • However, the Code does not stand in the way of ongoing schemes of development work or welfare, relief and rehabilitation measures meant for people suffering from drought, floods, and other natural calamities. However, the EC forbids the use of these works for election propaganda.
  • No fresh release of funds under MPs/MLAs/MLCs Local Area Development Fund of any scheme can be made in any area where the election is in progress, till the completion of the election.
  • Financial institutions funded, partially or wholly by the Governments shall not take recourse to write off loans advanced to any individual, company, firm, etc.
  • Also, the financial limits of such institutions, while granting or extending loans, should not be enhanced by issuing of loans indiscriminately to beneficiaries.
  • Ministers cannot enter any polling station or counting centre except in their capacity as a voter or a candidate.
  • No transport including official aircraft, vehicles, etc. can be used for the furtherance of the interest of any party or a candidate.
  • A total ban on transfer and posting of all officers/officials directly or indirectly connected with the conduct of the election is put in effect.
  • If any transfer or posting of an officer is considered necessary, prior approval of the Commission must be obtained.
  • No Minister, whether of Union or State, can summon any election-related officer of the constituency or the State for any official discussions anywhere.
  • If a Union Minister is travelling out of Delhi on purely official business, which cannot be avoided in the public interest, then a letter certifying to this effect must be sent from the concerned Secretary of the Ministry/Department to the Chief Secretary of the concerned State, along with a copy to the Election Commission.

Is social media covered under the MCC?

  • The Election Commission has taken the view that the MCC will also apply to content posted by political parties and candidates on the Internet, including on social media sites.
  • In 2013, the Commission laid down guidelines to regulate the use of social media by parties and candidates. Candidates have to provide their email address and details of accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., and add the expenditure on advertisements posted on social media to their overall expenditure for the election.

But how does the EC enforce the MCC without statutory backing?

  • The ECI can issue a notice to a politician or a party for alleged breach of the MCC either on its own, or on the basis of a complaint by another party or individual.
  • Once a notice is issued, the person or party must reply in writing — either accepting fault and tendering an unconditional apology, or rebutting the allegation.
  • In the latter case, if the person or party is found guilty subsequently, he/it can attract a written censure from the ECI — something that many see as a mere slap on the wrist.

Section 126/126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • Section 126 of theRepresentation of the People Act, 1951prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.
  • “Election matter” has been defined as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.
  • This shall, among other things include display of any opinion poll and of standard debates, analysis, visuals andsound-bytes.
  • Section 126A of the R.P. Act 1951 prohibits conduct of Exit Poll and dissemination of its results during the hour fixed for commencement of poll and half an hour after the time fixed for close of poll in all the States and Union territories.

 

  1. Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (TH, pg 8)
  • Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) did not notify the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 rules, the third extended deadline after the Act was passed. January 9, 2022 was the last day of an extension it sought from the two parliamentary committees in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to frame the rules.
  • Without rules, the Act cannot be implemented.

Analysis

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament in December 2019.
  • This Act amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, and seeks to make foreign illegal migrants of certain religious communities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian) coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, and do not reside in the Sixth Schedule areas or in the states regulated by the Inner Line Permit states.

How is citizenship acquired in India?

  • In India, citizenship is regulated by the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 specifies that citizenship may be acquired in India through five methods – by birth in India, by descent, through registration, by naturalisation (extended residence in India), and by incorporation of territory into India.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 allows a person to apply for citizenship by naturalisation, if the person meets certain qualifications.
  • One of the qualifications is that the person must have resided in India or been in central government service for the last 12 months and at least 11 years of the preceding 14 years.
  • For this specified class of illegal migrants, the number of years of residency has been relaxed from 11 years to five years.  

Are the provisions of the Act applicable across the country?

  • The Act clarifies that the proposed amendments on citizenship to the specified class of illegal migrants will not apply to certain areas.  These are:
  • (i) the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.
  • These Sixth Schedule tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.
  • (ii) the states regulated by the “Inner Line” permit under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations 1873.
  • Further, the Inner Line Permit regulates visit of all persons, including Indian citizens, to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

How does the Act change the regulations for Overseas Citizens of India?

  • The Act also amends the provisions on registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).
  • OCI cardholders are foreigners who are persons of Indian origin.
  • An OCI enjoys benefits such as the right to travel to India without a visa, or to work and study here.
  • At present, the government may cancel a person’s OCI registration on various grounds specified in the Act.
  • In case of a cancellation, an OCI residing in India may be required to leave the country.
  • The Act adds another ground for cancelling OCI registration violation of any law notified by the central government.

However, the Act does not provide any guidance on the nature of laws which the central government may notify.