- A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (TH)
- B) Art, Culture and History
- Indian Pottery (TH)
- Mughal Tamasha (TH)
- C) International Relations
- International Criminal Court and War Crimes (TH)
- D) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
- What are Bypolls or By-elections? (TH)
- Motion of Thanks on President’s Address (TH)
- All about Pardoning power of President and Governor (TH)
- E) Miscellaneous
- Ninox40 (TH)
A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (TH)
- Context: The government’s maternity benefit scheme, or Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, has crossed 1.75 crore eligible women till financial year 2020, the Centre informed Parliament.
- Under PMMVY, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive ₹5,000 on the birth of their first child in three instalments, after fulfilling certain conditionalities. The direct benefit cash transfer is to help expectant mothers meet enhanced nutritional requirements as well as to partially compensate them for wage loss during their pregnancy.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- It has been launched by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development.
- Under the scheme, pregnant women and lactating mothers are offered a cash incentive of ₹6,000 for the birth of their first child as partial compensation for wage loss, to reduce maternal mortality and malnutrition levels among children.
- Cash incentive of Rs 5000 is provided in three instalments i.e. first instalment of Rs 1000/ – on early registration of pregnancy at the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) / approved Health facility, second instalment of Rs 2000/ – after six months of pregnancy on receiving at least one ante-natal check-up (ANC) and third instalment of Rs 2000/ – after child birth is registered and the child has received the first cycle of BCG, OPV, DPT and Hepatitis – B, or its equivalent/ substitute.
- The eligible beneficiaries would receive the incentive given under the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) for Institutional delivery and the incentive received under JSY would be accounted towards maternity benefits so that on an average a woman gets Rs 6000/-.
- Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, all pregnant women (except those already receiving similar benefits under other laws) are entitled to maternity benefits of ₹6,000 per child.
- In this context, the modalities of the scheme violate the NFSA: benefits are restricted to the first living child, and to ₹5,000 per woman.
- The Scheme covers all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers, excluding those who are in regular employment with the Central Government or the State Governments or PSUs or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.
- In case of miscarriage/still birth, the beneficiary would be eligible to claim the remaining installment (s) in event of any future pregnancy.
- In case of infant mortality, she will not be eligible for claiming benefits under the scheme, if she has already received all the installments of the maternity benefit under PMMVY earlier.
- The scheme will provide Aadhaar linked, Direct Benefit Transfer in beneficiary’s bank/post office account in three installments
- at the stage of early registration of pregnancy,
- after six months of pregnancy on at least one antenatal check-up and
- registration of child birth & first cycle of immunization of the child.
- The PMMVY is Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
- The States are bound to implement this Scheme because the scheme is a by-product of the National Food Security Act.
B) Art, Culture and History
2.Indian Pottery (TH)
- Context: The pandemic and a renewed interest in boosting immunity by adopting mindful eating and safe cooking methods has seen a surge in demand for traditional cookware.
- Khurja pottery is historic Indian pottery work manufactured in Khurja of the Bulandshahr district in Uttar Pradesh.
- A huge portion of the ceramics used in the country is supplied by Khurja supplies hence it is sometimes called “The Ceramics City.”
- Khurja pottery history goes back to around the old century when few wounded soldiers (army man) from Timur’s (Mughal emperor) army decided to remain behind.
- A number of these soldiers become potters and they brought this technique with them.
- Painting in ceramic pottery divided into 2 categories, Mughal art (old art) and normal painting with motifs on the outer surface.
- Mughal art (traditional art) is painted with cobalt (Cb)-bluish color followed by a colorless lead (Pb) glazing, whereas another category is drawing motifs like floral or geometric patterns on the pottery.
- Khurja pottery has been given GI tag under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999.
- This Act seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
Other popular pottery in India
- Ceramics is one of the oldest materials used by various civilizations (starting from Harappan Civilisation) to make crockery and decorative items.
- Khurja pottery is the most popular glazed pottery forms in India, the process involves a range of labour-intensive tasks such as clay churning, moulding, colouring, followed by glazing.
Longpi Pottery, Manipur
- Originating in the Longpi villages of Ukhrul district of Manipur, Longpi pottery has gained international prominence owing to its sturdy nature.
- Made from black serpentine stone and a form of clay which is found only in this area, the classic black exterior with bamboo/cane woven around handles give the clay-wares a unique identity.
- Longpi pottery can also be used for baking and is microwave-friendly.
- Khavda Pottery, Gujarat
- Jaipur Blue Pottery, Rajasthan also has GI tag.
- Black pottery and terracotta, Madhya Pradesh
- Andretta pottery, Himachal Pradesh
Mughal Tamasha (TH)
- Context: Each year, Bhadrak in Odisha sees a 250-year-old folk theatre called Mogal Tamasha bring Hindus and Muslims together on stage and in life
- Mogal Tamasha was first established to maintain communal harmony and it has survived only in this
- This town always played a big role in Odisha’s history. Bhadrak-Strategically located on the erstwhile Grand Trunk Road that passes via Jajpur, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, connecting Kolkata with Puri, it has held an important position in the administrative, military, commercial, religious and cultural affairs of the State.
- Odisha was Mughal territory for nearly 200 years until the Marathas took over in 1751.
- Poet Bansi Ballav was adept in six languages —and the Tamashas he scripted and directed were multi-lingual.
- Although he wrote a large number of Tamashas, just seven scripts have survived, of which only Mogal Tamasha is staged now.
Folk drama of Odisha
- Types of folk drama of Orissa include Suanga, Leela, Mughal Tamasha, Jatra,
- Mughal Tamasha
- The word “Tamasha” is originally from Persian, meaning a show or theatrical entertainment of some kind.
- It is said that Late Bansiballav Goswami had initiated the Mughal Tamasha in 1728 A.D. The Mughal Tamasha is divided into two parts, i.e., ‘Badasahi’ and ‘Soudagari’ Tamasha.
- Nowadays only the Badasahi Mughal Tamasha script is available and being staged. The dialogue is in a hybrid language of Oriya mixed with Urdu language and Persian.
- Mughal Tamasha is a pure interpretation of the then governance of Mughal and Maratha. It is unique way of satire to the ministers. It emphasises atrocities of rulers on the people and highlights corruption prevalent during that era. Tamasha gives a vivid picture of the social, political and religious condition during the Mughal period.
- The Mughal, Maratha officers were very much corrupt and addicted to various intoxicants by which they failed to execute their due duties. Their torture and maladministration threat the higher human values which causes anarchy and discontent
- Mughal Tamasha consists of Urdu, Hindi, Odia and Bengali languages.
C) International Relations
4.International Criminal Court and War Crimes (TH)
- Context: The International Criminal Court convicted a Ugandan child soldier-turned-Lord’s Resistance Army commander of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Dominic Ongwen, 45, was found guilty of 61 charges over a reign of terror in the early 2000s, including the first conviction by the ICC for the crime of forced pregnancy.
- The United Nations says the LRA killed more than 1,00,000 people and abducted 60,000 children in a campaign of violence that spread to three other African nations — Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
The International Criminal Court
- The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court.
- Earlier international criminal courts were established to try crimes committed only within a specific time-frame and during a specific conflict.
- The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system.
- Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands.
- Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties to the Rome Statute, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
- It is mandated with investigating and prosecuting (four) crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, crime of aggression, and war crimes.
- The Court may exercise jurisdiction over such international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a State Party or by one of its nationals.
- Matters referred to ICC by the United Nations Security Council, whose resolutions are binding on all UN member states, are also tried
- ICC can initiate an investigation or prosecution in three different ways: „
- States Parties to the Statute of the ICC can refer situations to it
- United Nations Security Council can request ICC to launch an investigation
- It may initiate investigations proprio motu (on its own initiative) on the basis of information received from reliable sources.
- No immunity is granted to any person acting in an official capacity as a head of state, member of government or parliament or as an elected representative or public official
- In no way, ICC exempts a person from prosecution or criminal responsibility.
- However, the ICC cannot prosecute persons who were under the age of 18 at the time a crime was allegedly committed.
- For the first time in the history of international criminal justice, victims have the right to participate in proceedings and request reparations.
- This means that they may not only testify as witnesses, but also present their views and concerns at all stages of the proceedings
- The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court. Rome Statute then took effect in 2002, upon ratification by 60 States
- The ICC has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, when committed after 1 July 2002.
- Each of these crimes is clearly defined in the Rome Statute and other relevant texts.
- Under the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court (ICC) can only investigate and prosecute for international crimes in situations where states are “unable” or “unwilling” to do so themselves; the jurisdiction of the court is complementary to jurisdictions of domestic courts.
- This fundamental principle is known as the principle of complementarity.
- The court has jurisdiction over crimes only if they are committed in the territory of a state party or if they are committed by a national of a state party.
- The ICC has jurisdiction over the gravest instances of atrocity crimes and targets only the highest priority perpetrators of these crimes.
- The ICC prosecutes individuals, not organizations or governments.
- The ICC is not part of the United Nations.
- The UN Security Council is empowered, under the Rome Statute, to refer complaints against non-member nations to the International Criminal Court.
- Cases are referred to the court by national governments or the United Nations Security Council.
- The 18 judges of the Court serve nine-year terms.
- The governing body of ICC, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), currently consists of 123 countries that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute: largest number of countries are from the Africa region.
- Kiribati recently became the latest country to ratify Rome Statute in November 2019.
- Burundi withdrew from the ICC effective October 2017, and the Philippines gave notice of withdrawal in March 2018, which goes into effect one year later.
- An effort by the government of Kenya – at a time when its president and deputy president were facing charges before the court – to lead a mass withdrawal of African states from the treaty failed to materialize.
- Burundi is the first member-country to leave the ICC because, in September 2017, a UN commission investigating violence for over two years under President Pierre Nkurunziza recommended a criminal investigation by the court.
- Some notable countries like United States, Russia, India, China, Israel, Qatar, Iraq, and Libya – aren’t part of the ICC.
- The Rome Statute has been signed by 139 countries, and 123 have ratified it through their Parliaments and internal process.
- Although the U.S. was part of the founding movement to build the ICC to try cases of genocide and war crime, especially after the courts in Rwanda failed, it decided not to ratify the Statute in 2002.
- Countries like Russia, China and India, however, were never in favour of the Rome Statute or the ICC, and never signed on.
D) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
5.What are Bypolls or By-elections? (TH)
- Context: Byelections to three Rajya Sabha seats — two from Gujarat and one from Assam — would be held on March 1, the Election Commission said.
What are Bypolls?
- By-elections or bypolls are used to fill elected offices that have become vacant between general elections.
- Under the following circumstances, bypolls can occur for a seat:
- When the incumbent dies or resigns.
- When the incumbent becomes ineligible to continue in office.
- When a constituency election is invalidated by voting irregularities.
- When a candidate wins a seat after the bypolls he or she will remain in office till the Lok Sabha/Assembly dissolves.
Time limit for By-elections
- According to Section 151A of Representation of the People Act 1951, the time limit for a bypoll to fill vacancies either for parliament or legislative assembly is six months from the date of occurrence of vacancy provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply if –
- (a) the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is less than one year; or
- (b) the Election Commission in consultation with the Central Government certifies that it is difficult to hold the by election within the said period (the Election Commission had postponed Rajya Sabha polls, byelections and civic body elections in the wake of the pandemic).
- A Panchayat/Municipality reconstituted after premature dissolution (i.e. before the expiry of the full period of 5 years) shall continue for the remainder of the period.
- But if the remainder of the period is less than 6 months, it shall not be necessary to hold elections.
- A person cannot be a member of both Houses of Parliament at the same time under the Representation of People Act (1951).
- If a person is elected to both the Houses of Parliament, he must intimate within 10 days in which House he desires to serve.
- If a sitting member of one House is also elected to the other House, his seat in the first House becomes vacant.
- If a person is elected to two seats in a House, he should exercise his option for one, otherwise, both seats become vacant.
Motion of Thanks on President’s Address (TH)
- Context: The Lok Sabha witnessed repeated disruptions on Thursday as a united Opposition insisted on having a separate discussion on the farm laws instead of clubbing it with the motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament.
- All executive power is vested in the President of India.
- The Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister aids and advises the President who exercises his powers in accordance to such advice.
- Article 86(1) of the Constitution provides that the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members. However, since the commencement of the Constitution, there has not been any occasion when the President has addressed either House or both Houses assembled together, under the provision of this article.
- Article 87 of the constitution provides two instances when the President specially addresses both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
- Article 87(1) says: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”
- Thus, the President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget Session (1st session of the year) every year is a Constitutional requirement.
- This Address has to be to both Houses of Parliament assembled together. If at the time of commencement of the first session of the year, Lok Sabha is not in existence and has been dissolved, and Rajya Sabha has to meet, Rajya Sabha can have its session without the President’s Address.
- In the case of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha, the President addresses both Houses of Parliament assembled together after the members have made and subscribed the oath or affirmation and the Speaker has been elected.
- The provision for Address by the Head of State to Parliament goes back to the year 1921 when the Central Legislature was set up for the first time under the Government of India Act, 1919.
- Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”.
- This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
- When a session of Lok Sabha is not prorogued after being adjourned sine-die and subsequently re-convened to meet in the next calendar year, the President, in such cases, is not required to address both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
- The President reads the Address either in English or in Hindi.
- After the conclusion of the Address, there is a roll of drums followed by the National Anthem.
- Half an hour after the President has finished speaking, the two Houses assemble separately in their respective Chambers for the transaction of formal business.
- The Rajya Sabha Secretariat records one instance, in 2004, of the first session of the year not commencing with the President’s Address.
- It is drafted by the Cabinet, and provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.
- In this address, the president outlines the policies and programmes of the government in the preceding year and ensuing year.
- It also indicates the main items of legislative business which are proposed to be brought during the session to be held in that year.
- This address of the president, which corresponds to the ‘speech from the Throne in Britain’, is discussed in both the Houses of Parliament on a motion called the ‘Motion of Thanks’.
- The scope of discussion on the Address is very wide and the members are free to speak on all sorts of national or international problems.
- Even matters which are not specifically mentioned in the Address are brought into discussion through amendments to Motion of Thanks.
- The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.
- Amendments to Motion of Thanks on President’s Address: Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters which, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention.
- If any of the amendments is accepted then the Motion of Thanks is adopted in the amended form.
- There have been only three instances so far, when the Motion of Thanks was adopted by Rajya Sabha with amendments.
- At the end of the discussion, the motion is put to vote. This motion must be passed in the House. Otherwise, it amounts to the defeat of the government.
- This inaugural speech of the president is an occasion available to the members of Parliament to raise discussions and debates to examine and criticise the government and administration for its lapses and failures.
All about Pardoning power of President and Governor (TH)
- Context: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has refrained from taking a call on a plea for the early release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A.G. Perarivalan. He said the President was the “appropriate competent authority” to deal with Perarivalan’s request for freedom.
- The power to grant pardon, as envisaged in Articles 72 and 161 of Indian Constitution can achieve its aim and object only when they are exercised with a sense of responsibility.
- The purpose of these powers is to provide a human touch to the judicial process. If this human touch is not exercised properly, the very purpose of mercy provisions is defeated.
- In Kehar Singh v. Union of India, the Court justified the existence of a ‘Pardon’, by acknowledging the fallibility of human judgment being undeniable even in a supremely legally trained mind and therefore, any such errors can be remedied by entrusting power to a higher authority, which shall “scrutinize the validity of the threatened denial of life or the continued denial of personal liberty.
- But, the pardoning power of the governor differs from that of the President in following two respects:
- The President can pardon sentences inflicted by court martial (military courts) while the governor cannot.
- The President can pardon death sentence while governor cannot. Even if a state law prescribes death sentence, the power to grant pardon lies with the President and not the governor.
- However, the governor can suspend, remit or commute a death sentence. In other words, both the governor and the President have concurrent power in respect of suspension, remission and commutation of death sentence.
- The Supreme Court examined the pardoning power of the President under different cases and laid down the following principles:
- The petitioner for mercy has no right to an oral hearing by the President.
- The President can examine the evidence afresh and take a view different from the view taken by the court.
- The power is to be exercised by the President on the advice of the union cabinet.
- The President is not bound to give reasons for his order.
- The President can afford relief not only from a sentence that he regards as unduly harsh but also from an evident mistake.
- There is no need for the Supreme Court to lay down specific guidelines for the exercise of power by the President.
- The exercise of power by the President is not subject to judicial review except where the presidential decision is arbitrary, irrational, mala fide or discriminatory.
- Where the earlier petition for mercy has been rejected by the President, stay cannot be obtained by filing another petition.
- With respect to the stages at which the various forms of pardoning power can be exercised under the Constitution, the following conclusions have been reached by the Courts:
- (a) Pardon can be granted at any stage after commission of the offence, that is, before or after conviction.
- (b) Pardon can be granted during pendency of an appeal to a higher court.
- (c) A sentence cannot be suspended during pendency of appeal to the Supreme Court.
- In Devender Pal Singh Bhullar v. State (NCT) of Delhi, the Court held that if there is undue, unexplained and inordinate delay in execution due to pendency of mercy petitions or the executive as well as the constitutional authorities have failed to take note of/consider the relevant aspects, this Court is well within its powers under Article 32 to hear the grievance of the convict and commute the death sentence into life imprisonment on this ground alone, only after satisfying that the delay was not caused at the instance of the accused himself.
- However, the Court held that when the accused are convicted under TADA, there is no question of showing any sympathy or considering supervening circumstances for commutation of sentence.
Process of making a mercy petition:
- There is no statutory written procedure for dealing with mercy petitions, but in practice, after extinguishing all the reliefs in the court of law, either the convict in person or his relative on his behalf may submit a written petition to the President.
- The petitions are received by the President’s secretariat on behalf of the President, which is then forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs for their comments and recommendations.
- A convict under the sentence of death is allowed to make the petition within a period of seven days after the date on which the Superintendent of jail informs him about the dismissal of the appeal or special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court.
- The Home Ministry in consultation with the concerned State Government discusses the merits of the petition. After the consultation, recommendations are made by the Home Minister and then, the petition is sent back to the President for his decision.
- Context: SpearUAV, developers and suppliers of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for defence and homeland security applications from Israel, has signed a pact with Paras Aerospace to unveil Ninox40.
- It is a micro-tactical drone for military and paramilitary forces, internal security and law enforcement agencies.
- This micro-tactical drone system was specifically designed for single-user operation and can be launched manually or from a standard grenade launcher.
- Ninox 40 weighs under 250g – and is lightweight enough to be incorporated into the soldier’s vest and carried on the person during combat. Ninox -40 has up to 40- minutes’ flight capacity, extensive ISTAR capabilities, a day and night camera for enhanced situational awareness.
- Build to withstand harsh battle conditions, the ruggedized system is ideal for tactical urban environments.
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