A) Art, Culture and History
1. Baba Guru Nanak and the Sacred Word (PIB)
- Context: The President of India has sent his greetings to fellow citizens on the eve of birthday of Guru Nanak Dev.
- We know more about Baba Guru Nanak (1469-1539) than about Kabir.
- Baba Guru Nanak was born in a Hindu merchant family at Talwandi in a village called Nankana Sahib near the river Ravi in the predominantly Muslim Punjab.
- He trained to be an accountant and studied Persian.
- He was married at a young age but he spent most of his time among sufis and bhaktas.
- The message of Baba Guru Nanak is spelt out in his hymns and teachings.
- These suggest that he advocated a form of nirguna
- He firmly repudiated the external practices of the religions he saw around him.
- He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
- For Baba Guru Nanak, the Absolute or “rab” had no gender or form.
- He proposed a simple way to connect to the Divine by remembering and repeating the Divine Name, expressing his ideas through hymns called “shabad” in Punjabi, the language of the region.
- Baba Guru Nanak would sing these compositions in various ragas while his attendant Mardana played the rabab.
- Baba Guru Nanak organised his followers into a community.
- He set up rules for congregational worship (sangat) involving collective recitation.
- He travelled widely before establishing a centre at Kartarpur (Dera Baba Nanak on the river Ravi).
- A regular worship that consisted of the singing of his own hymns was established there for his followers.
- Irrespective of their former creed, caste or gender, his followers ate together in the common kitchen (langar).
- The sacred space thus created by Baba Guru Nanak was known as dharmsal. It is now known as Gurdwara.
- Before his death in 1539, Baba Guru Nanak appointed one of his followers as his successor.
- His name was Lehna but he came to be known as Guru Angad, signifying that he was a part of Baba Guru Nanak himself.
- Guru Angad compiled the compositions of Baba Guru Nanak, to which he added his own in a new script known as Gurmukhi.
- It appears that Baba Guru Nanak did not wish to establish a new religion, but after his death his followers consolidated their own practices and distinguished themselves from both Hindus and Muslims.
- The three successors of Guru Angad also wrote under the name of “Nanak.”
- The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan, compiled Baba Guru Nanak’s hymns along with those of his four successors and other religious poets like Baba Farid, Ravidas (also known as Raidas), Bhagat Namdev and Kabir in the Adi Granth Sahib.
- These hymns, called “gurbani”, are composed in various
- In the late seventeenth century the tenth preceptor, Guru Gobind Singh, included the compositions of the ninth guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and this scripture was called the Guru Granth Sahib.
- The number of Baba Guru Nanak’s followers increased through the sixteenth century under his successors.
- They belonged to a number of castes but traders, agriculturists, artisans and craftsmen predominated.
- This may have something to do with Baba Guru Nanak’s insistence that his followers must be householders and should adopt productive and useful occupations.
- They were also expected to contribute to the general funds of the community of followers.
- By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the town of Ramdaspur (Amritsar) had developed around the central Gurdwara called Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple).
- It was virtually self-governing and modern historians refer to the early-seventeenth-century Sikh community as ‘a state within the state’.
- The Mughal emperor Jahangir looked upon them as a potential threat and he ordered the execution of Guru Arjan in 1606.
- The Sikh movement began to get politicised in the seventeenth century, a development which culminated in the institution of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 and defined its five symbols: uncut hair, a dagger, a pair of shorts, a comb and a steel bangle.
- The community of the Sikhs, called the Khalsa Panth, became a political entity.
- Under him the community got consolidated as a socio-religious and military force.
- The changing historical situation during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries influenced the development of the Sikh movement.
- The ideas of Baba Guru Nanak had a huge impact on this development from the very beginning.
- He emphasized the importance of the worship of one God.
- He insisted that caste, creed or gender was irrelevant for attaining liberation.
- His idea of liberation was not that of a state of inert bliss but rather the pursuit of active life with a strong sense of social commitment.
- He himself used the terms nam, dan and isnan for the essence of his teaching, which actually meant right worship, welfare of others and purity of conduct.
- His teachings are now remembered as nam-japna, kirt-karna and vandchhakna, which also underline the importance of right belief and worship, honest living, and helping others.
- Thus, Baba Guru Nanak’s idea of equality had social and political implications.
- This might partly explain the difference between the history of the followers of Baba Guru Nanak and the history of the followers of the other religious figures of the medieval centuries, like Kabir, Ravidas and Dadu whose ideas were very similar to those of Baba Guru Nanak.
B) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
2. All three species of crocodiles found in Nature (TH)
- Context: The Odisha government has decided to compensate fishermen for the loss or damage of nets if gharials get entangled during fishing in the Mahanadi river.
- For close to five decades, the Odisha government has been involved in conservation of three crocodile species by establishing 3 rearing centres — Tikarpada for gharial in Angul, Ramatirtha for muggers in Mayurbhanj and Bhitarkanika for saltwater crocodile in Kendrapara district.
- Odisha is the only state in India having all three species of crocodiles (Gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile) found in nature.
- There are three species of crocodilians—saltwater (least concern), Mugger (vulnerable) and Gharial (Critically Endangered)
- It is the largest of all living reptiles.
- It listed as least concern by IUCN.
- It is found throughout the east coast of India.
- Unlike other crocodiles, estuarine crocodiles lay eggs by creating a mound made of leaves of a particular mangrove species, which are plentifully available in Bhitarkanika National Park (which is also the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India).
- Other crocodile species dig the soil for laying eggs.
- Mugger Crocodileis a medium-sized crocodile, mainly a freshwater species only found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
- The mugger are ambush hunters that mostly inhabits freshwater lakes,rivers, marsh and swamps forest of India.
- The Mugger Crocodiles are the India’s most commonly seen river predators.
- It is the most uniquely evolved crocodilian in the world, a specialized, river-dwelling, fish-eater reptile.
- Habitat: Clean rivers with sand banks.
- Status: Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List
- Distribution: Only viable population is in the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in India.
- Small non-breeding populations exist in Son, Gandak, Hoogly and Ghagra rivers.
- Gharials, which were abundant in the main rivers and tributaries of the Indus, Ganga, Brahmaputra and Mahanadi-Brahmani, are now limited to only 14 widely spaced and restricted locations in India and Nepal.
- Now extinct in Myanmar, Pakistan, Bhutan.
- Presently, the wild populations of gharials can only be found in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
National Chambal Sanctuary
- It is listed as an important bird area (IBA) and is a proposed Ramsar site.
- National Chambal Sanctuary supports the largest population of Gharials in the wild.
- National Chambal Sanctuary is the only known place where nesting of Indian Skimmers is recorded in large numbers (although a new breeding site was discovered in Odisha, India, in 2016).
Bhitarkanika National park
- It is a protected wetland under the Ramsar Convention.
- It is said to house 70% of India’s estuarine or salt water crocodiles.
- The Bhitarkanika National Park is a place where the rivers Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra and Pathsala meet the Bay of Bengal.
- It hosts a large number of mangrove species, and is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
- Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lies in this park.
C) Indices, Reports, Committees and Organisations
3. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (TH)
- Context: India ‘strongly’ rejected the criticism of its Kashmir policy by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
- OIC Secretary General in his report pointed to the situation in J&K and said, “The decision of the Indian government on 5 August 2019 towards changing the demographic and geographic composition of the territory, and the continuous blockade and restrictions together with human rights abuses, had awakened renewed efforts of the international community towards a resolution of the conflict.”
- The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has 57 members, 56 of which are also member states of the United Nations, the exception being Palestine.
- Some members, especially in West Africa and South America, are – though with large Muslim populations – not necessarily Muslim majority countries.
- Out of 57 members 53 countries are Muslim-majority countries, A few countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Russia and Thailand, sit as Observer States
- The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
- The official languages of the OIC are Arabic, English, and French.
- Note: India despite having a sizable Muslim population is not a member of OIC.
- According to its charter, the OIC aims to:
- preserve Islamic social and economic values;
- promote solidarity amongst member states;
- increase cooperation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas;
- uphold international peace and security; and
- advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology.
- In March 2008, the OIC conducted a formal revision of its charter.
- The revised charter set out to promote human rights, fundamental freedoms, and good governance in all member states.
- The revisions also removed any mention of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.
- In 1990, the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law.
- Within the revised charter, the OIC has chosen to support the Charter of the United Nations and international law, without mentioning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
D) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
4. Ordinance making power of Governor (TH)
- Context: The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, has been cleared by the State Governor.
- The ordinance makes religious conversion a cognisable and non-bailable offence, inviting penalties of up to 10 years in prison if found to be effected for marriage or through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means.
- Governor can promulgate an ordinance only when:
- the legislative assembly (in case of a unicameral legislature) is not in session or
- (in case of a bicameral legislature) when both the Houses of the state legislature are not in session or
- when either of the two Houses of the state legislature is not in session.
- The last provision implies that an ordinance can be promulgated by the governor when only one House (in case of a bicameral legislature) is in session because a law can be passed by both the Houses and not by one House alone.
- He can promulgate an ordinance only when he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.
- His ordinance-making power is co-extensive with the legislative power of the state legislature.
- This means that he can issue ordinances only on those subjects on which the state legislature can make laws.
- An ordinance issued by him has the same force and effect as an act of the state legislature.
- An ordinance issued by him is subject to the same limitations as an act of the state legislature.
- This means that an ordinance issued by him will be invalid to the extent it makes any provision which the state legislature cannot make.
- He can withdraw an ordinance at any time.
- His ordinance-making power is not a discretionary power.
- This means that he can promulgate or withdraw an ordinance only on the advice of the council headed by the chief minister.
- An ordinance issued by him should be laid before the legislative assembly or both the Houses of the state legislature (in case of a bicameral legislature) when it reassembles.
- An ordinance issued by him ceases to operate on the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of the state legislature.
- It may cease to operate even earlier than the prescribed six weeks, if a resolution disapproving it is passed by the legislative assembly and is agreed to by the legislative council (in case of a bicameral legislature).
- He cannot make an ordinance without the instructions from the President in three cases:
- (a) If a bill containing the same provisions would have required the previous sanction of the President for its introduction into the state legislature.
- (b) If he would have deemed it necessary to reserve a bill containing the same provisions for the consideration of the President.
- (c) If an act of the state legislature containing the same provisions would have been invalid without receiving the President’s assent.
5. Farmer’s Protest (TH)
Context: Thousands of farmers have assembled at the Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana to protest against the Centre’s new farm laws.
Constitutional Protections available to Right to Protest
- Article 51A makes it a fundamental duty for every person to safeguard public property and to avoid violence during the protests and resorting to violence during public protests.
- Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution elucidates that right to free speech and expression. It includes that every person has right to express their personal opinions but subjected to reasonable restrictions.
- Article 19(1)(b) states about the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. Thereby, right to peaceful protest is bestowed to Indian citizens by our Constitution.
- Freedom of Assembly [Article 19(1)(b)]
- Every citizen has the right to assemble peaceably and without arms.
- It includes the right to hold public meetings, demonstrations and take out processions.
- This freedom can be exercised only on public land and the assembly must be peaceful and unarmed.
- This provision does not protect violent, disorderly, riotous assemblies, or one that causes breach of public peace or one that involves arms.
- This right does not include the right to strike.
- Article 19(2) imposes reasonable restrictions on the right to assemble peaceably and without arms and to freedom of speech and expression as none of these rights are absolute in nature.
- The reasonable restrictions are imposed by the state on 8 grounds namely: in the interests of the sovereignty & integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
Can a State restrain citizens from exercising Right to Protest?
Right to Protest
- In Ramlila Maidan Incident v. Home Secretary, Union of India & Others (2012), the Supreme Court had ruled that, “Citizens have a fundamental right to assembly and peaceful protest that cannot be taken away by an arbitrary executive or legislative action.
Right to criticize
- In the case of Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram,it was affirmed that it is appropriate to form and convey an opinion in a manner which does not cause defamation to the other individual to whom such critique is addressed and is secured under the freedom of speech and expression.
- The decision added that democracy calls for open discussion and policy criticism.
By enforcing Article 19(2) of the Constitution, the State can enforce reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression based on eight grounds. These are:
- Defamation: Refers to statements which injures a man’s reputation.
- Contempt of court: Restriction may be instituted on the freedom of speech and expression if it surpasses the reasonable limit and amounts to contempt of court.
- Decency or morality: Sections 292 to 294 of the Indian Penal Code provide for situations where freedom of speech and expression is limited in the interests of dignity or morality.
- Security of the state: Under Article 19(2), fair limitations on the freedom of speech and expression can be placed in the context of State’s security.
- Friendly relations with other states: The intention behind the provision is to prevent unrestricted malicious publicity against a foreign friendly state that can disrupt India’s good ties with that state.
- Incitement to an offence: Added through the 1951 Constitution (First Amendment) Act. Freedom of speech and expression cannot provide citizens with a privilege to incite people in committing offence.
- Sedition: Sedition supports all those activities, whether through words or writing, determined to disrupt the State’s tranquility and drive misguided individuals to subvert the government.
- Public Order: Introduced by the Constitution Act (first amendment). That which perturbs public peace or tranquility perturbs public order. ‘In the interest of public order’ involves not only utterances meant explicitly but also those which appear to contribute to disorder.
- In addition to the above 8 limitations, the rights to freedom under Article 19 of the Indian constitution are revoked during the time of National Emergency proclaimed by the President of India.
- Furthermore, during the time of action of the National Emergency, the President is authorized to suspend citizens’ right to move to the Supreme Court to implement their personal freedom
- Peaceful Protest is not only a fundamental right granted by Indian Constitution but protesting against injustice is also a moral duty.
- Right to protest is the core on which India’s democracy survives but it cannot be absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions.
- Freedom of speech, right to assembly and demonstrations by holding ‘dharnas’ and peaceful agitation are the basic features of a democratic system, therefore, right to protest is a constitutional right.
Other Legal Provisions
- Under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (1973), a magistrate can restrain an assembly, meeting or procession if there is a risk of obstruction, annoyance or danger to human life, health or safety or a disturbance of the public tranquillity or a riot or any affray.
- Under Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code, as assembly of five or more persons becomes unlawful if the object is:
(a) to resist the execution of any law or legal process;
(b) to forcibly occupy the property of some person;
(c) to commit any mischief or criminal trespass;
(d) to force some person to do an illegal act; and
(e) to threaten the government or its officials on exercising lawful powers.
6. Andhra Pradesh to hand over 27 km Vizag coastline to Navy (TH)
- The Andhra Pradesh government has formally agreed to give a 27-km stretch of the coastline at Nakkapalli in Visakhapatnam district for setting up an Alternative Operating Base (AOB) of the Indian Navy.
- The Indian Navy had sought notification for a 97 km area as the limits of the proposed Rambilli port to facilitate the establishment of the AOB on the 27-km stretch.
- The AOB is designed to support a fleet of eight to 12 nuclear-powered ballistic missile vessels and submarines to be built for the Navy.
- The Navy plans to set up “submarine pens” (bunkers that help in hiding the submarines from spy satellites and protecting them from air attacks) in the AOB.
7. The Great Bend (TH)
- China’s media reported that authorities have given the go-ahead for a Chinese hydropower company to construct the first downstream dam on the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra river, or Yarlung Zangbo as it is known in Tibet, marking a new phase in China’s hydropower exploitation of the river with potential ramifications for India.
- Chinese hydropower groups have long campaigned to tap the “Great Bend” of the Brahmaputra and the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Medog county, where the river falls spectacularly over a 2,000 metre-drop and turns sharply to flow across the border into Arunachal Pradesh.
- A dam at the Great Bend, if approved, would raise fresh concerns, considering its location downstream and just across the border from Arunachal Pradesh.