22thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 22ndFebruary,2022

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

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Fundamental Duties (TH, pg 1)
  • President’s Fleet Review (IE)
  • Torres Strait (TH, pg 11)
  • Underground Water and Aquifers (Down to Earth)
  • Russia to Recognise Ukraine Rebel Regions (TH, pg 11)
  • Human Rights Watch (TH, pg 3)
  • EU Ministerial Forum on Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific(TH, pg 8)
  • SEA-ME-WE-6 Undersea Cable Consortium (TH, pg 12)
  • Fundamental Duties (TH, pg 1)

  • Context:The Supreme Court asked the Union and the State governments to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of the nation, through “comprehensive, well-defined laws”.
Analysis
  • The original Constitution of India contained only the fundamental rights and not the fundamental duties.
  • However, they incorporated the duties of the State in the Constitution in the form of Directive Principles of State Polity.
  • On the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, the fundamental duties of citizens were added in the Constitution by enacting the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976.
  • This amendment added a new part, namely, Part IVA to the Constitution.
  • This new part consists of only one Article, that is, Article 51A which for the first time specified a code of ten fundamental duties of the citizens.
  • Though the Swaran Singh Committee suggested the incorporation of eight Fundamental Duties in the Constitution, the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1976) included ten Fundamental Duties.
  • Interestingly, certain recommendations of the Committee were not accepted by the Government and hence, not incorporated in the Constitution. These include:
  • 1. The Parliament may provide for the imposition of such penalty or punishment as may be considered appropriate for any non-compliance with or refusal to observe any of the duties.
  • 2. No law imposing such penalty or punishment shall be called in question in any court on the ground of infringement of any of Fundamental Rights or on the ground of repugnancy to any other provision of the Constitution.
  • 3. Duty to pay taxes should also be a Fundamental Duty of the citizens.
  • The Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the Constitution of erstwhile USSR.
  • Notably, none of the Constitutions of major democratic countries like USA, Canada, France, Germany, Australia and so on specifically contain a list of duties of citizens.
  • Japanese Constitution is, perhaps, the only democratic Constitution in world which contains a list of duties of citizens.
  • The socialist countries, on the contrary, gave equal importance to the fundamental rights and duties of their citizens.

List of Fundamental Duties

  • According to Article 51A, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:
  • (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
  • (b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom;
  • (c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
  • (d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
  • (e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
  • (f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture;
  • (g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
  • (h) to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
  • (i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
  • (j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement; and
  • (k) to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years.
  • This duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.

Features of the Fundamental Duties

  • Unlike some of the Fundamental Rights which extend to all persons whether citizens or foreigners, the Fundamental Duties are confined to citizens only and do not extend to foreigners.
  • Like the Directive Principles, the fundamental duties are also non-justiciable. The Constitution does not provide for their direct enforcement by the courts.
  • Moreover, there is not legal sanction against their violation. However, the Parliament is free to enforce them by suitable legislation.

Significance of Fundamental Duties

  • They serve as a warning against the antinational and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.
  • They help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law.
  • In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that in determining the constitutionality of any law, if a court finds that the law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be ‘reasonable’ in relation to Article 14 (equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
  • They are enforceable by law. Hence, the Parliament can provide for the imposition of appropriate penalty or punishment for failure to fulfil any of them.
  1. President’s Fleet Review (IE)

  • Context: The President of India took part in the Indian Navy’s 12th Presidential Fleet Review.
Analysis

What is the President’s Fleet Review?

  • In simplest terms, it is the country’s President taking stock of the Navy’s capability.
  • Historically, a Fleet Review is an assembly of ships at a pre-designated place for the purpose of displaying loyalty and allegiance to the Sovereign and the state.
  • In turn, the Sovereign, by reviewing the ships, reaffirms his faith in the fleet and its ability to defend the nation’s maritime interest.
  • The President is taken on one of the Naval ships, which is called the President’s Yacht, to look at all the ships docked on one of the Naval ports.
  • The President’s Yacht this year is an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel, INS Sumitra.

Importance of Presidential Fleet Review

  • A fleet review is usually conducted once during the tenure of the President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.
  • So far, 11 Presidential Fleet Reviews have been conducted since Independence, of which two have been International Fleet Reviews, in 2001 and 2016.
  • The first was conducted in 1953, under Dr Rajendra Prasad.
  • The next one was done not by the President but by the then Defence Minister, Y B Chavan, in 1964.
  • Since then, it has been the President reviewing the fleet.

Do all naval ships participate?

  • The idea is to showcase not all the Navy’s ships, but every type of ship — and the kind of capabilities it has at that time.
  • The review also includes merchant ships.
  1. Torres Strait (TH, pg 11)

  • Context:Australia has said a Chinese naval vessel that pointed a laser at an Australian military aircraft was so close to Australia’s coast that it possibly could have been seen from the shore, and has called for a full Chinese investigation.
Analysis
  • A Chinese guided missile destroyer and an amphibious transport dock were sailing east through the Arafura Sea between New Guinea and Australia at the time of the incident, and later passed through the narrow Torres Strait.
  • Torres Strait is a passage between the Coral Sea, on the east, and the Arafura Sea, in the western Pacific Ocean. To the north lies New Guinea and to the south Cape York Peninsula (Queensland, Australia).
  1. Underground Water and Aquifers (Down to Earth)

  • Context:Punjab Assembly Election campaigns completely ignored the groundwater depletion problem.
  • The groundwater level in most parts of the state has fallen to dangerous levels.Paddy cultivation in the state is the fundamental cause of this problem.
Analysis

What is groundwater?

  • Water that has travelled down from the soil surface and collected in the spaces between sediments and the cracks within rock is called groundwater.
  • Groundwater is fed by precipitation and can resurface to replenish streams, rivers, and lakes.

Saturated Vs Unsaturated Zones

  • The saturated zone is the layer below the earth where the groundwater fills in all the empty spaces underground, till it reaches an impenetrable layer of rock.
  • The top of the saturated zone is called the water table, and sitting above the water table is the unsaturated zone, where the spaces in between rocks and sediments are filled with both water and air.
  • Water found in this zone is called soil moisture, and is distinct from groundwater.

Artesian Wells vs Borewells

  • Artesian wells are those from which water flows under natural pressure without pumping.
  • Pressure from the water’s weight (hydrostatic pressure) forces water to the surface of a well drilled down into the aquifer.
  • Borewells are basically vertical drilled wells, bored into an underground aquifer to extract water for various purposes using electrical pumps.

What is an Aquifer?

  • An aquifer is a body of rock and/or sediment that holds groundwater.
  • There are two general types of aquifers: confined and unconfined.
  • Confined aquifers have a layer of impenetrable rock above them, while unconfined aquifers lie below a permeable layer of soil.
  • Note:Aquifers are not to be confused with underground rivers or lakes.While groundwater can seep into or out of aquifers due to their porous nature, it cannot move fast enough to flow like a river.
  • The rate at which groundwater moves through an aquifer varies depending on the rock’s permeability.
  1. Russia to Recognise Ukraine Rebel Regions (TH, pg 11)

  • Context: Russia recognised the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk — as independent and have informed the French and German leaders of his decision.
  • France and Germany are mediators in the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Analysis
  • Since Moscow invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, pro-Russia rebels in the Donbass region, comprising the Donetsk and Luhansk, began seizing territory in Eastern Ukraine and held a referendum to declare independence from Ukraine.
  • Since then, these predominantly Russian speaking regions (more than 70% speak Russian) within Ukraine have been witnessing skirmishes between the rebels and Ukrainian forces.
  • This shelling has intensified since last October when Russia began amassing troops along the borders with Ukraine.
  • One way to prevent the outbreak of a war would be to implement the Minsk agreements immediately, as Russia has suggested.

What are the Minsk Agreements?

  • There are two Minsk agreements, Minsk 1 and Minsk 2, named after the Belarussian capital Minsk where the talks were held.
  • Minsk 1 was written in September 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, i.e. Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with mediation by France and Germany.
  • Under Minsk 1, Ukraine and the Russia-backed rebels agreed on a 12-point ceasefire deal, which due to violations by both sides, did not last long.
  • In February 2015, representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE and the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk signed a 13-point agreement, now known as the Minsk 2 accord.
  • However, the provisions under the agreement have not been implemented because of the ‘Minsk Conundrum’.
  • Russia believes that the agreement asks Ukraine to grant the Russia-backed rebels in Donbas comprehensive autonomy and representation in the central Government. Only when this is done will Russia hand over control of the Russia-Ukraine border to Ukraine.
  • Ukraine, on the other hand, feels that Minsk 2 allows it to first re-establish control over Donbas, then give it control of the Russia-Ukraine border, then have elections in the Donbas, and a limited devolution of power to the rebels.
  • Ukraine believes the accord supports its sovereignty fully while Russia believes it only gives Ukraine limited sovereignty.
  • Thus, the Minsk 2 agreement has been rightly criticised for being too hastily drafted, ambiguous and contradictory, making it difficult to implement.
  1. Human Rights Watch (TH, pg 3)

  • Context:Indian authorities are wrongfully prosecuting activists and protest organisers under the anti-terrorism law, Human Rights Watch said in statement.
Analysis
  • Human Rights Watch was founded in 1978 as “Helsinki Watch.”
  • It investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world.
  • It is an organisation of roughly 450 people of 70-plus nationalities who are country experts, lawyers, journalists, and others who work to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need.
  • It directs advocacy towards governments, armed groups and businesses, pushing them to change or enforce their laws, policies and practices.
  • To ensure its independence, it refuses government funding and carefully review all donations to ensure that they are consistent with its policies, mission, and values.
  • Its headquarters are in New York City.
  • Human Rights Watch conducts fact-finding investigations of human rights abuses and monitors various countries to ensure they are not in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
  1. EU Ministerial Forum on Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific(TH, pg 8)

  • India’s foreign affairs Minister appreciated the French initiative of hosting a EU Ministerial Forum on Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on February 22, where he will participate along with several other Ministers from the Indo-Pacific and the EU countries.
  1. SEA-ME-WE-6 Undersea Cable Consortium (TH, pg 12)

  • Bharti Airtel announced it had joined the SEA-ME-WE-6 undersea cable consortium, participating as a major investor, while Reliance Jio said it would land its India-Asia-Xpress (IAX) undersea cable system in Maldives.
  • The 19,200 Rkm (route kilometres) SubCom and the Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6) will connect Singapore and France.

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