Daily Current Affairs Date :28thMarch,2022
(30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)
Covers 4 Most relevant Sources
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Easing Voting for Overseas Citizens (TH, pg 8)
- Minorities Under the Indian Constitution (TH, pg 10)
- Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) (TH, pg 9)
- Par Tapi Narmada River-Linking Project (TH, pg 9)
- Tejas Project (TH, pg 10)
- United States will supply LNG to Europe (TH, pg 8)
- People’s Defense Forces (TH, pg 13)
- Smoking causes over seven million deaths a year (PIB)
Easing Voting for Overseas Citizens (TH, pg 8)
- Context: The government was exploring the possibility of allowing online voting for non-resident Indians (NRI).
- After the passing of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010, NRIs who had stayed abroad beyond six months have been able to vote, but only in person at the polling station where they have been enrolled as an overseas elector.
- In the case of overseas voters, their address mentioned in the passport is taken as the place of ordinary residence and chosen as the constituency for the overseas voter to enrol in.
- However, only a very low proportion of overseas residents actually registered or turned up to vote. The proviso of having to visit the polling booth in person has discouraged eligible voters from exercising their mandate.
- The Representation of the People Act, envisaged voters as only the “ordinary residents” in a constituency who will choose representatives to represent their local interests while mediating on larger issues in the legislature.
- The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended in 2016 to allow service voters to use the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).
- Under this system, postal ballots are sent electronically to registered service voters. The service voter can then register their mandate on the ballot and send it back via ordinary mail. The ECI proposed to extend this facility to overseas voters as well.
What is ETPBS and how does it function?
- The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended in 2016 to allow service voters to use the ETPBS.
- Under this system, postal ballots are sent electronically to registered service voters.
- The service voter can then download the ETPB (along with a declaration form and covers), register their mandate on the ballot and send it to the returning officer of the constituency via ordinary mail.
- The ECI proposed to extend this facility to overseas voters as well. For this to commence, the Law Ministry has to amend the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
e-voting, postal ballots and proxy voting
- India does not support e-voting. The only way a voter can exercise his/her franchise is by personally visiting the polling booth.
- There are two more options: postal ballots and proxy voting reserved for government and armed forces personnel.
Postal ballots(Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS))
- Postal ballots, in which a voter exercises his/her franchise through post is available only for service voters; and electors subject to preventive detention.
- According to the Representation of People Act, 1950, service voter means:
- (a) Being a member of the armed Forces of the Union; or
- (b) Being a member of a force to which provisions of the Army Act, 1950 (46 of 1950), have been made applicable whether with or without modification;
- (c) Being a member of an Armed Police Force of a State, and serving outside that state; or
- (d) Being a person who is employed under the Government of India, in a post outside India.
- In October 2019, the Law Ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 to allow people with disabilities and those who are 80 or older to opt for postal ballots in the absentee voter list.
- The absentee voter refers to a vote cast by someone who is unable to go to the polling station.
- While amending the rules on the suggestions of the Election Commission, the Ministry also allowed “COVID-19 suspect or affected persons” to use the postal ballot facility.
- Now postal ballots would be available to:
- electors over 80 years of age,
- persons with disabilities,
- essential service workers and
- those infected with COVID-19 or suspected to be.
- Under this method, ballot papers are distributed electronically to electors and returned via post.
- The remaining eligible voters are expected to cast a vote in person at designated polling stations.
- Service voters are also entitled to appoint any person as their proxy to cast a vote on their behalf and in their name at the polling station.
- The proxy must be an ordinary resident of that constituency.
- He or she need not be a registered voter but must not be disqualified to be registered as a voter.
- The provision for voting through proxy is valid till the person making the appointment is a service voter.
- Once appointed, the proxy will continue until his or her appointment is revoked by the service voter.
- As of now, an armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law.
Minorities Under the Indian Constitution (TH, pg 10)
- Context:The governments in nine places where followers of Hinduism, Baha’ism and Judaism are a ‘minority’, can consider laying down guidelines to identify them as minority communities at the State level, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.
- Matters like declaring that followers of Judaism, Baha’ism and Hinduism who are minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur can establish and administer educational institutions of their choice in the State and laying down guidelines for identification of minority at State level may be considered by the State government concerned.
- The Centre was responding to a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay that the followers of Judaism, Baha’ism and Hinduism — who are the real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur — cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.The Centre said the allegation was “not correct”.
- The government’s affidavit explained that Parliament and State legislatures have concurrent powers to enact law to provide for the protection of minorities and their interests.
- The Centre gave the example of how Maharashtra notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the State.
- Upadhyay had argued that the Centre has reserved for itself unbridled power to declare a community as a minority.
- The Centre responded that Parliament was empowered under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Entry 20, “economic and social planning”, of the Concurrent List to enact laws to promote and protect the interests of minorities.
- Parliament has the legislative competence and the Central government has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.
Minorities and the Indian Constitution
- The Constitution uses the word ‘minorities’ in some articles but does not define it anywhereand speaks of those ‘based on religion or language only’.
- However, the rights of the minorities have been spelt out in the Constitution in detail.
- The Constitution of India used the word ‘minority’ or its plural form in some articles: 29 to 30 and 350 A to 350 B.
- Article 29 has the word ‘minorities’ in its marginal heading but speaks of “any section of citizens having a distinct language script and culture”.
- This may be a whole community generally seen as a minority or group within a majority community.
- Article 30 speaks specifically of two categories of minorities – religious and linguistic.
- The remaining two articles – 350 A and 350 B relate to linguistic minorities only.
- “As per the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, six communities are declared as minority communities viz Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians (Parsis).
‘Common Domain’ and ‘Separate Domain’ of rights of minorities provided in the Constitution
- The Constitution provides two sets of rights of minorities which can be placed in ‘common domain’ and ‘separate domain’.
- The rights which fall in the ‘common domain’ are those which are applicable to all the citizens of our country.
- The rights which fall in the ‘separate domain’ are those which are applicable to the minorities only and these are reserved to protect their identity.
‘Separate Domain’ of Minority Rights
- The Minority Rights provided in the Constitution which fall in the category of ‘Separate Domain’ are as under:
- right of ‘any section of the citizens’ to ‘conserve’ its ‘distinct language, script or culture’; [Article 29(1)]
- restriction on denial of admission to any citizen, to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, ‘on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them’; [Article 29(2)]
- right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice;[Article 30(1)]
- freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State;[Article30(2)]
- special provision relating to the language spoken by a section of the population of any State;[Article 347]
- provision for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage;[Article 350 A]
- provision for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities and his duties; and [Article 350 B]
- Sikh community’s right of ‘wearing and carrying of kirpans; [Article 25]
Protection of weaker sections in Indian pluralistic society
- The Constitution protects all sorts of weaker sections of the Indian citizenry – whether this ‘weakness’ is based on numbers or on social, economic or educational status of any particular group.
- The Constitution, therefore, speaks of Religious and Linguistic Minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes and makes – or leaves room for making – for them special provisions of various nature and varying import.
National Commission for Minorities
- The National Commission for Minorities is a statutory body established under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
What powers have been vested with the Commission?
- The Commission shall have all the powers of a civil courttrying a suit and, in particular, in respect of the following matters, namely:
- summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
- requiring the discovery and production of any document.
- receiving evidence on affidavit.
- requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
- issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.
- any other matter which may be prescribed.
What kind of complaints area not entertained by the Commission?
- those not based on or relating to Minority status/rights/safeguards.
- those concerning matters sub judice (pending before a court/quasi-judicial/body).
- those for which ordinary judicial/quasi-judicial/administrative remedies are available elsewhere but have not been availed by complainant without any reasonable justification.
- those relating to events which are one-year old or older.
- those which are vague. anonymous, pseudonymous or frivolous.
- those not directly addressed to the Commission and sent to it by way or copies of complaints/ representations addressed into any other authority.
What is the responsibility of the Central/ State Governments to which report/ recommendations have been sent by the Commission?
- The Central/State Government/s shall cause the recommendations to be laid before each House of Parliament along with a memorandum explaining the action taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to the Union and the reasons for the non-acceptance, if any, of any of such recommendations.
Minorities’ commission to seek constitutional status
- The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (Article 338) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (Article 338A) and National Commission of Backward Classes (338B) enjoy constitutional status, while National Commission for Minorities is a statutory body.
Why Constitutional Status?
- In its present form, the NCM has powers to summon officials, including chief secretaries and director generals of police, but has to rely on departments concerned to take action against them.
- December 18 is declared as The Minorities Rights Day in 1992 by the United Nations after the agency adopted the Statement on the individual’s Rights belonging to religious or Linguistic National or Ethnic Minorities.
Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) (TH, pg 9)
- Context:Google is said to be testing support for variable refresh rates (VRR) in the Chrome OS 101 Dev Channel.
What is VRR?
- Refresh rate is the number of times a display is capable of refreshing in a second. It is measured in hertz (Hz). So, a 30 Hz or a 60 Hz display can refresh 30 or 60 times per second, respectively.
- The higher the refresh rate, the better the quality of viewing experience.
- Displays with over 120 Hz can deliver a smoother and more comfortable viewing experience. This is necessary while playing video games or watching videos.
- VRR supports a wide range of refresh rates, allowing its refresh rate to change in real-time based on the frames-per-second (FPS) rate coming from a source device such as a gaming console.
How does the technology work?
- VRR, which is also termed as dynamic refresh rate or adaptive refresh rate by different device makers, is designed to eliminate syncing issues that arise when the refresh rate of a display does not match with the FPS of the content from a source device.
- Issues such as screen-tearing, judder (wobbling effect) and lag are common when refresh rate and FPS are not synchronised.
- One of the common problems gamers experience is screen-tearing when the FPS output from a source is higher than the refresh rate a display can handle, which results in the display showing two or more frames in its top and bottom halves.
- This syncing issue can be fixed with one of the VRR solutions.
- In mobile devices, a VRR solution can not only improve the gaming experience of users by keeping up with intense gameplay but also save battery power on them as the adaptive refresh rate does not run at the highest rate all the time and switches to a lower refresh rate during less graphic-intensive tasks.
Par Tapi Narmada River-Linking Project (TH, pg 9)
- Context: More than 5,000 tribal people in Gujarat gathered in Gandhinagar to oppose the proposed Par-Tapi-Narmada river link project, which the local communities fear will displace residents of the region in south Gujarat.
- The Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project proposes to transfer river water from the surplus regions of the Western Ghats to the deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch.
- It proposes to link three rivers —
- Par originating from Nashik in Maharashtra
- Tapi from Saputara that flows through Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat
- Narmada originating in Madhya Pradesh and flowing through Maharashtra and Gujarat.
- The link mainly includes the construction of seven dams and a 395-kilometre long canal, along with powerhouses for electricity generation.Of these, the Jheri dam falls in Nashik (Maharashtra), while the remaining dams are in Southern Gujarat.
- The excess water in the interlinked Par, Tapi and Narmada rivers which flow into the sea in the monsoon would be diverted to Saurashtra and Kutch for irrigation. The reservoirs will also provide flood relief to the peopleresiding in downstream areas.
Tejas Project (TH, pg 10)
- Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur launched the “Training for Emirates Jobs And Skills (Tejas)” project at the Dubai Expo.
- The project is expected to create a 10,000-strong Indian workforce in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during its initial phase. It is aimed at skilling, certification and overseas employment of Indians.
United States will supply LNG to Europe (TH, pg 8)
- The United States will supply LNG of at least 50 bcm to the EU until 2030. This is to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy exports and thus neutralise Kremlin’s influence on Europe.
- Europe relies on Russian exports to meet about 40% of its natural gas requirements. Germany and many countries in Eastern Europe depend on Russia to meet more than 80% of their natural gas needs.
- It should be noted that Europe has been at the mercy of Russian energy exports which has limited its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine due to the fear that Russia could cut off its energy exports to Europe.
People’s Defense Forces (TH, pg 13)
- Forced to turn away from peaceful protests, many of those opposed to military rule in Myanmar took up arms, forming hundreds of militia groups called People’s Defense Forces — better known as PDFs.
- In some parts of the country, they’ve joined forces with well-organised, battle-hardened ethnic armed groups, which have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades.
Smoking causes over seven million deaths a year (PIB)
- After the WHO adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, it has been included as a Global Development Target in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SD). India has become a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.
- It was the Portuguese explorer Christopher Columbus who introduced tobacco to Europe, and their colonies in India and South Asia.
The active principle in tobacco is the molecule nicotine. Recent research has also shown that regular smokers are prone to Type 2 diabetes.