Daily Current Affairs Date :26th January,2021
(30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)
Covers 4 Most relevant Sources
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- A) International Relations
- India and Indo-Pacific (TH, pg 8)
- B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
- Origins of the Beating Retreat Ceremony (TH, pg 15)
- Chakma and Hajong Refugees (TH, pg 8)
- Preamble of the Constitution (TH, pg 6)
- C) Miscellaneous
- Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards(PIB)
A) International Relations
- India and Indo-Pacific (TH, pg 8)
- Context:India on Tuesday expressed “deep sympathy” to the tsunami-hit Kingdom of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean and extended an immediate relief assistance of $200,000 to deal with the disaster that was triggered by the explosion of a massive underwater volcano.
- Disaster Risk Reduction and Management is an important pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI).
- Given the increasing salience of the Indo-Pacific concept in global discourse, the Ministry of External Affairs established a new Division for the Indo-Pacific in April 2019.
- Indo-Pacific Division deals with matters relating to the Indo-Pacific, India-ASEAN relations, East Asia Summit, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).
- India’s concept of the Indo-Pacific is inclusive in nature, and supports an approach that respects the right to freedom of navigation and overflight for all in the international seas.
- India’s Indo-Pacific vision is premised upon the principle of ‘ASEAN-Centrality’.
- In November 2019, India launched the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) at the East Asia Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand.
- As an open global initiative, the IPOI draws on existing regional cooperation architecture and mechanisms to focus on seven central pillars conceived around Maritime Security; Maritime Ecology; Maritime Resources; Capacity Building and Resource Sharing; Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation; and Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport.
- India sent out a brief to Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam among others for their views and potential participation in the IPOI.
- Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership (AIIPOIP) has been underway since the leaders’ 2020 virtual summit.
- India became a Strategic Partner of ASEAN in 2012.
- India’s Act East Policy, which provides the guiding framework to take forward the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership to the next level, recognizes connectivity in its broadest sense as the key.
- Connectivity includes physical, economic, political and people-to-people connectivity.
- ASEAN and India share land and maritime borders, which provides significant scope for enhancing connectivity through land, air and the sea.
- India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway is an ongoing effort to enhance road-connectivity between India and the South East Asia.
- India has a Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN spanning goods, services and investment.
East Asia Summit
- Established in 2005, the East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region formed to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.
- It has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues.
- The membership of EAS consists of ten ASEAN Member States (i.e. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam), Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the USA.
- India has been a part of East Asia Summits since its inception in 2005 in Kuala Lumpur.
- There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are –
- Environment and Energy,
- Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases,
- Natural Disaster Management, and
- ASEAN Connectivity.
- Following the 12th EAS in November 2017 in Manila, Philippines and following the adoption of the Manila Plan of Action, Maritime Cooperation has been identified as an important area of cooperation under the EAS.
Indian Ocean Rim Association
- Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is a 22-member regional grouping of countries in the Indian Ocean Region.
- India is a founding member of IORA that was established in 1997.
- The IORA Secretariat is located in Port Louis, Mauritius.
- IORA has identified six Priority Areas (Academic, Science and Technology, Fisheries Management, Tourism and Cultural Exchanges, Disaster Risk Management, Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation) and 2 Cross-cutting Issues (Blue Economy and Women’s Economic Empowerment) for regional cooperation.
Asia Europe Meeting
- Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) is the biggest inter-governmental process between Asia and Europe.
- It was established in 1996 as an ‘informal dialogue’ forum for countries from the two continents.
- It currently has 53 Partners – 51 countries and 2 regional organisations (ASEAN and European Union). India joined ASEM in 2008 as part of its second expansion process.
Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC)
- MGC is a sub-regional forum in South-East Asia, launched in 2000 in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
- It was the joint initiative by six countries – India, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.
- MGC Asian Traditional Textile Museum in Siem Reap, Cambodia, has also been established.
- Beginning high up in the Tibetan Plateau inside China, the Mekong River winds its way through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before spilling into the South China Sea.
- It formspart of the international border between Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, as well as between Laos and Thailand.
Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS)
- ACMECS is a cooperation framework among the five countries in the Mekong subregion, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.
- In July 2019, India joined ACMECS as a Development Partner along with Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and USA.
B) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
- Origins of the Beating Retreat Ceremony (TH, pg 15)
- Context:Beating Retreat is a centuries-old military tradition going back to the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset.
- In the past, as soon as the buglers sounded the ‘retreat’, troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield.
- It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of the ‘retreat’ has been retained to this day.
- Colours and standards are cased and flags lowered at ‘retreat’.
How is the Beating Retreat in India conducted?
- The ceremony is conducted every year on January 29 at Vijay Chowk to mark the formal conclusion of the Republic Day celebrations.
- The ceremony is graced by the President of India as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. It is marked by the lowering of flags at dusk.
- It is an event much awaited by the public and always inspires awe.
How has the ceremony evolved?
- For a long time, it was only the Services bands that took part in the ceremony in line with military traditions.
- It was only recently that the musical bands of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and the Delhi Police were included.
- Until last year the ceremony came to a close with ‘Abide With Me’, the popular 19th century Christian hymn, followed by the ever-popular tune ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’, which was played as the bands marched out.
- However, this year ‘Abide With Me’ has been dropped and a popular Indian tune ‘Ae merawatanke logon’, which was composed by C. Ramachandra for which Kavi Pradeep provided lyrics, has been included.
- Chakma and Hajong Refugees (TH, pg 8)
- Context:The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Arunachal Pradesh government to submit an action taken report against the racial profiling and relocation of people belonging to the Chakma and Hajong communities.
- The Chakmas and Hajongs, originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of the former East Pakistan, had to flee when their land was submerged by the Kaptai dam project of Bangladesh/East Pakistan in the 1960s.
- Buddhists by faith, the Chakmas faced religious persecution in East Pakistan along with the Hajongs, who are Hindus.
- Out of those who reached India, most of them were Chakmas and only 2,000 were Hajong.
- The groups entered India through what was then the Lushai Hills district of Assam (today’s Mizoram).
- While some stayed back with Chakmas already living in the Lushai Hills, the Indian government moved a majority of the refugees to present-day Arunachal Pradesh.
- The Chakma and Hajong refugees did not have citizenship and land rights. They were provided basic amenities by the state government.
- The Supreme Court had directed the Centre in 2015 that Chakmas and Hajongs are accorded Indian citizenship.
- Several organisations in the State have been opposing the idea of granting citizenship to them saying it would change its demography.
What was their legal status?
- While they were originally treated as refugees, New Delhi decided to grant them citizenship under the Citizenship Act following a joint statement by the PMs of India and Bangladesh in 1972.
- The Arunachal government opposed this, and continues to do so.
- Preamble of the Constitution (TH, pg 6)
- Context:President Ram Nath Kovind led the nation in a community reading of the ‘Preamble to the Constitution’ on Constitution Day (26th November).
- The American Constitution was the first to begin with a Preamble.
- The term ‘Preamble’ refers to the introduction orpreface to the Constitution.
- It contains the summary or essence ofthe Constitution.
- A. Palkhivala, an eminent jurist andconstitutional expert, called the Preamble as the ‘identity card ofthe Constitution.’
- The Preamble to the Indian Constitution is based on the‘Objectives Resolution’, drafted and moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, andadopted by the Constituent Assembly.
- The ‘Objectives Resolution’ was moved by Nehru on December 13, 1946 and adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.
- The Preamble has been amended bythe 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1976), which addedthree new words–Socialist, Secular and Integrity.
Text of the Preamble (85 words!)
- The Preamble in its present form reads:
“We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constituteIndia into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICand to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, Social, Economic and Political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote amongthem all;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual andthe unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day ofNovember, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TOOURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.
Ingredients of the Preamble
- The Preamble reveals four ingredients or components:
- 1. Source of authority of the Constitution: The Preamble statesthat the Constitution derives its authority from the people ofIndia.
- 2. Nature of Indian State: It declares India to be of a sovereign,socialist, secular democratic and republican polity.
- 3. Objectives of the Constitution: It specifies justice, liberty,equality and fraternity as the objectives.
- 4. Date of adoption of the Constitution: It stipulates November26, 1949, as the date.
Key words in the Preamble
- The word ‘sovereign’ implies that India is neither a dependencynor a dominion of any other nation, but an independent state.
- Till the passage of the Indian Independence Act, 1947,India was a dependency (colony) of the British Empire.
- From August 15, 1947 to January 26, 1950, India’spolitical status was that of a dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations.
- India ceased to be a British dominion on January 26, 1950, by declaring herself a sovereign republic.
- However, Pakistan continued to be aBritish Dominion until 1956.
- There is no authority above it, and it is free to conduct its ownaffairs (both internal and external).
- Though in 1949, India declared the continuation of her fullmembership of the Commonwealth of Nations and accepted the British Crown as the head of the Commonwealth, this extra-constitutionaldeclaration does not affect India’s sovereignty in anymanner.
- Further, India’s membership of the United NationsOrganisation (UNO) also in no way constitutes a limitation on hersovereignty.
- India became a member of the UNO in 1945.
- Being a sovereign state, India can either acquire a foreignterritory or cede a part of its territory in favour of a foreign state.
- Even before the term was added by the 42nd Amendment in1976, the Constitution had a socialist content in the form of certain Directive Principles of State Policy.
- In other words, what washitherto implicit in the Constitution has now been made explicit.
- Moreover, the Congress party itself adopted a resolution to establish a ‘socialistic pattern of society’ in its Avadi session as early as in 1955and took measures accordingly.
- Notably, the Indian brand of socialism is a ‘democratic socialism’ and not a ‘communistic socialism’ (also known as ‘statesocialism’).
- Communistic socialism involves the nationalisation of all means ofproduction and distribution and the abolition of private property.
- Democratic socialism, on the other hand, holds faith in a ‘mixedeconomy’ where both public and private sectors co-exist side byside.
- As the Supreme Court says, ‘Democratic socialism aims toend poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.
- Indian socialism is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism, leaningheavily towards the Gandhian socialism.
- One common agreement between Gandhism and Marxism is “the final goal of a stateless society.”
- The new Economic Policy (1991) of liberalisation, privatization and globalisation has, however, diluted the socialist credentials ofthe Indian State.
- The term ‘secular’ too was added by the 42nd ConstitutionalAmendment Act of 1976.
- However, as the Supreme Court said in1974, although the words ‘secular state’were not expressedlymentioned in the Constitution, there can be no doubt thatConstitution makers wanted to establish such a state andaccordingly Articles 25 to 28 (guaranteeing the fundamental rightto freedom of religion) have been included in the constitution.
- The Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularisme., all religions in our country (irrespective of theirstrength) have the same status and support from the state.
- A democratic polity, as stipulated in the Preamble, is based onthe doctrine of popular sovereignty, that is, possession of supremepower by the people.
- Democracy is of two types–direct and indirect. In directdemocracy, the people exercise their supreme power directly as isthe case in Switzerland.
- There are four devices of directdemocracy, namely, Referendum, Initiative, Recall andPlebiscite.
- Referendumis a procedure whereby a proposedlegislation is referred to the electorate for settlement bytheir direct votes.
- Initiativeis a method by means of which the people canpropose a bill to the legislature for enactment.
- Recall is a method by means of which the voters canremove a representative or an officer before the expiryof his term, when he fails to discharge his dutiesproperly.
- Plebisciteis a method of obtaining the opinion ofpeople on any issue of public importance. It is generallyused to solve the territorial disputes.
- In indirect democracy, on the other hand, therepresentatives elected by the people exercise the supremepower and thus carry on the government and make the laws.
- Thistype of democracy, also known as representative democracy, is oftwo kinds–parliamentary and presidential.
- The Indian Constitution provides for “representative parliamentary democracy”under which the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions.
- Universal adult franchise, periodic elections, rule of law,independence of judiciary, and absence of discrimination oncertain grounds are the manifestations of the democratic character of the Indian polity.
- The term ‘democratic’ is used in the Preamble in the broadersense embracing not only political democracy but also social and economic democracy.
- The term ‘republic’ in our Preamble indicates thatIndia has an elected head called the President.
- He is electedindirectly for a fixed period of five years.
- A republic also means two more things:
- one, vesting of politicalsovereignty in the people and not in a single individual like a king;
- second, the absence of any privileged class and hence all public offices being opened to every citizen without any discrimination.
- Gandhi used the idea of Swaraj to challenge not only political colonisation by the British, but the colonisation of our minds.
- It is because rule by one makes people unfree and enslaves them that the republic, its alternative, is strongly associated with freedom.
- To have a republic is to have a free people. This is why Gandhi’s swaraj is an important republican idea.
- The term ‘justice’ in the Preamble embraces three distinct forms–social, economic and political, secured through various provisionsof Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles.
- Social justice denotes the equal treatment of all citizens withoutany social distinction based on caste, colour, race, religion, sexand so on.
- It means absence of privileges being extended to anyparticular section of the society, and improvement in theconditions of backward classes (SCs, STs and OBCs) andwomen.
- Economic justice denotes the non-discrimination betweenpeople on the basis of economic factors.
- It involves the eliminationof glaring inequalities in wealth, income and property.
- Acombination of social justice and economic justice denotes what isknown as ‘distributive justice’.
- Political justice implies that all citizens should have equalpolitical rights, equal access to all political offices and equal voicein the government.
- The ideal of justice–social, economic and political–has beentaken from the Russian Revolution (1917).
- The term ‘liberty’ means the absence of restraints on the activitiesof individuals, and at the same time, providing opportunities forthe development of individual personalities.
- The Preamble secures to all citizens of India liberty of thought,expression, belief, faith and worship, through their FundamentalRights, enforceable in court of law, in case of violation.
- The liberty conceived by the Preamble orFundamentalRights is not absolute but qualified.
- The ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in our Preamblehave been taken from the French Revolution (1789–1799).
- The term ‘equality’ means the absence of special privileges to anysection of the society, and the provision of adequate opportunitiesfor all individuals without any discrimination.
- The Preamble secures to all citizens of India equality of statusand opportunity.
- This provision embraces three dimensions of equality–civic, political and economic.
- The following provisions of the chapter on Fundamental Rightsensure civic equality:
- (a) Equality before the law (Article 14).
- (b) Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race,caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15).
- (c) Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment(Article 16).
- (d) Abolition of untouchability (Article 17).
- (e) Abolition of titles (Article 18).
- There are two provisions in the Constitution that seek to achieve political equality.
- One, no person is to be declaredineligible for inclusion in electoral rolls on grounds of religion,race, caste or sex (Article 325).
- Two, elections to the Lok Sabhaand the state assemblies to be on the basis of adult suffrage(Article 326).
- The Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 39) secures tomen and women equal right to an adequate means of livelihoodand equal pay for equal work(economic equality).
- Fraternity means a sense of brotherhood.
- The Constitutionpromotes this feeling of fraternity by the system of singlecitizenship.
- Also, the Fundamental Duties (Article 51-A) say that itshall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony andthe spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of Indiatranscending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities.
- The Preamble declares that fraternity has to assure two things–
- the dignity of the individual and
- the unity and integrity of thenation.
- The phrase ‘dignity of the individual’ signifies that the Constitution not only ensures material bettermentand maintain a democratic set-up, but that it also recognises thatthe personality of every individual is sacred.
- This is highlightedthrough some of the provisions of the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, which ensure the dignity of individuals.
- Further, the Fundamental Duties (Article 51-A) alsoprotect the dignity of women by stating that it shall be the duty ofevery citizen of India to renounce practices derogatory to thedignity of women, and also makes it the duty of every citizen ofIndia to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity ofIndia.
- The word ‘integrity’has been added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976).
- The phrase ‘unity and integrity of the nation’ embraces both thepsychological and territorial dimensions of national integration.
- Article 1 of the Constitution describes India as a ‘Union of States’to make it clear that the states have no right to secede from theUnion, implying the indestructible nature of the Indian Union.
Significance of the Preamble
- The Preamble embodies the basic philosophy and fundamentalvalues–political, moral and religious–on which the Constitution isbased.
- Hidayatullah, a former Chief Justice of India, observed,‘Preamble resembles the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, but is more than a declaration…’
- The Preamble shows the general purposes behind the severalprovisions in the Constitution, and is thus a key to the minds of themakers of the Constitution.
- Further, where the terms used in anyarticle are ambiguous or capable of more than one meaning,some assistance at interpretation may be taken from theobjectives enshrined in the Preamble.
Preamble as part of the Constitution
- One of the controversies about the Preamble is as to whether it isa part of the Constitution or not.
- In the Berubari Union case (1960), the Supreme Court specificallyopined that Preamble is nota part of the Constitution.
- In the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the Supreme Courtrejected the earlier opinion and held that Preamble is a part of the Constitution.
- In the LIC of India case (1995) also, the Supreme Court againheld that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.
- Like any other part of the Constitution, the Preamble was alsoenacted by the Constituent Assembly; but, after the rest of theConstitution was already enacted.
- The reason for inserting thePreamble at the end was to ensure that it was in conformity withthe Constitution as adopted by the Constituent Assembly.
- However, two things should be noted:
- 1. The Preamble is neither a source of power to legislature nora prohibition upon the powers of legislature.
- 2. It is non-justiciable, that is, its provisions are not enforceablein courts of law.
Amenability of the Preamble
- The question as to whether the Preamble can be amended underArticle 368 of the Constitution arose for the first time in the historicKesavananda Bharati case (1973).
- The Supreme Courtheld that the Preamble is a partof the Constitutionand heldthat the Preamble can be amended, subject to the condition thatno amendment is done to the ‘basic features’.
- In other words, theCourt held that the basic elements or the fundamental features ofthe Constitution as contained in the Preamble cannot be alteredby an amendment under Article 368.
- The Preamble has been amended only once so far, in 1976, bythe 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, which has added threenew words–Socialist, Secular and Integrity–to the Preamble. Thisamendment was held to be valid.
C) Clever Picks (Miscellaneous)
- Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards(PIB)
- The President of India has approved the conferment of Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards – 2021 on 51 persons.
- The Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are given to a person for meritorious act of human nature in saving the life of a person.
- The award is given in three categories, namely, Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak and Jeevan Raksha Padak.
- Persons of all walks of life are eligible for these awards.
The award can also be conferred posthumously.