1. INDIA ABSTAINS ON SRI LANKA VOTE AT UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
THE CONTEXT: Recently India abstained from voting on a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council, while observing that Sri Lanka’s progress in implementing commitments on the 13th Amendment, meaningful devolution and early provincial elections remains “inadequate”.
- According to India’s statement,“Achieving prosperity for all Sri Lankans and realising the legitimate aspirations of Tamils of Sri Lanka for prosperity, dignity and peace are two sides of the same coin”.
- As an immediate neighbour, India has “substantively contributed” to the relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction process in Sri Lanka after 2009 and more recently provided “unprecedented assistance” to the people of Sri Lanka to face the challenges of the recent economic crisis, India had abstained last year, too (2021).
- Further, India has “taken note” of the Sri Lankan government’s commitments on the implementation of commitments “in the spirit of the 13th Constitutional Amendment”, meaningful devolution and the early conduct of provincial elections, Also, underscoring India’s long-standing concern over power devolution in Sri Lanka, an issue that also found mention in the resolution.
What is the legislation?
- It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene, in an attempt to resolve Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict that had aggravated into a full-fledged civil war, between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which led the struggle for Tamils’ self-determination and sought a separate state.
- The 13th Amendment, which led to the creation of Provincial Councils, assured a power sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country, including Sinhala majority areas, to self-govern.
- Subjects such as education, health, agriculture, housing, land and police are devolved to the provincial administrations, but because of restrictions on financial powers and overriding powers given to the President, the provincial administrations have not made much headway.
- In particular, the provisions relating to police and land have never been implemented. Initially, the north and eastern provinces were merged and had a North-Eastern Provincial Council, but the two were de-merged in 2007 following a Supreme Court verdict.
Why is the 13th Amendment significant?
- Till date, the 13th Amendment represents the only constitutional provision on the settlement of the long-pending Tamil question. In addition to assuring a measure of devolution, it is considered part of the few significant gains since the 1980s, in the face of growing Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism from the time Sri Lanka became independent in 1948.
ENVIRONMENT, ECOLOGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
2. WHAT IS GRAP AND HOW ARE ITS MEASURES TO COMBAT DELHI-NCR’S AIR POLLUTION DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?
THE CONTEXT: Recently, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) that measures under ‘Stage-1’ of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) will be enforced in the NCR with immediate effect.
- The order came after Delhi’s AQI deteriorated to be in the ‘poor’ category .Other parts of the NCR, including Gurgaon, Noida and Greater Noida, also recorded ‘poor’ air quality.
What is the Graded Response Action Plan?
- GRAP is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold. Stage 1 of GRAP is activated when the AQI is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), and for instance, the AQI in Delhi was 211.
- The second, third and fourth stages will be activated three days ahead of the AQI reaching the ‘very poor’ category (301 to 400), ‘severe’ category (401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ category (above 450) respectively. For this, the CAQM is relying on air quality and meteorological forecasts by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
- Measures being imposed under the previous categories will continue even when the subsequent category is activated, that is, if measures under Stage-2 are activated, measures under Stage-1 will continue to remain in place.
How is the GRAP different this year?
- The CAQM revised the Graded Response Action Plan earlier this year. The GRAP was first notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. This was based on a plan that was submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2016.
- According to the notification, the task of implementing the GRAP fell on the now dissolved Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the NCR. From 2021 onwards, the GRAP is being implemented by the CAQM.
- In the version of the GRAP that was notified in 2017, measures kicked in after pollution concentrations reached a certain level. This year, measures are pre-emptive and will kick in based on forecasts in an attempt to prevent the AQI from deteriorating further. The older version of the GRAP was enforced based only on the concentration of PM2.5 and PM10.
- This year, GRAP is being enforced based on the AQI, which takes other pollutants also into account, such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
What are the measures that will be enforced this year?
- Some of the measures in the revised GRAP are also different this year. For the first time, it specifies that State governments in the NCR may impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four wheelers under Stage-3, or when the AQI is likely to reach the ‘severe’ category.
- In the ‘severe +’ category, GRAP imposes a ban on plying of four-wheelers in Delhi and NCR districts bordering Delhi, except for BS-VI vehicles and those plying for emergency or essential services. Under this category, there will also be a ban on the movement of Delhi registered, diesel-operated medium and heavy goods vehicles in Delhi, with exceptions for those carrying essential commodities or providing essential services.
- Restrictions on some construction activities will also set in earlier in the revised GRAP. A ban on construction activities (except for those involving railways, projects of national security, hospitals, metro services, and linear public projects like highways, roads) will be imposed under the ‘severe’ category. In the previous plan, the construction ban was implemented only in the ‘severe +’ category.
- Construction activities on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines and power transmission, will be banned under the ‘severe +’ category this year.
What are some other measures being considered
- Under the ‘severe +’ category, State governments may consider additional emergency measures like the closure of schools, plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis, and decide on allowing public, municipal and private offices to work on 50% strength and the rest to work from home.
What are citizens required to do?
- The revised GRAP also has a set of measures for the public to follow – under the ‘poor’ category, this includes keeping vehicle engines tuned, ensuring PUC certificates are updated and switching off vehicle engines at red lights. Under the ‘very poor’ category, it is suggested that citizens use public transport and replace air filters in their automobiles.
- Under the ‘severe’ category, a recommendation is made to work from home if possible, and not use coal and wood for heating. Under the ‘severe +’ category, GRAP advises people with chronic diseases and children and the elderly to avoid outdoor activities.
About the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):
- The Commission was first formed by an ordinance in October 2020.
- The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA had been dissolved to make way for the Commission.
- The Commission will be a statutory authority.
- The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.
- In 2021, the Parliament approved the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill.
Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.
- The chairperson will hold the post for three years or until s/he attains the age of 70 years.
- It will have members from several Ministries as well as representatives from the stakeholder States.
- It will have experts from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Civil Society.
GOVERNMENT SCHEMES IN NEWS
3. ANIMAL ADOPTION SCHEME
THE CONTEXT: Recently, the National Zoological Park has come up with an amazing animal adoption scheme which will offer the animal lovers to participate in wildlife conservation. In this scheme, zoos offer the zoo animals/animal species in their collection to the general public for taking care of them.
How does an Animal Adoption Scheme Work?
- To adopt an animal, there is a form available on the official website of National Zoological Park. Any interested individual can choose which animals would interest them and pay for their care by entering into an agreement with zoo management after filling up the application form. The payment may be paid by Account Payee Cheque, Demand Draft, Credit or Debit Card to the National Zoological Park, New Delhi.
- After the successful registration, the adapter will get a membership card mentioning his name and animal name. After getting the membership card, the adopter will be allowed to enter the zoo during visiting hours once every month on showing the card. It should be noted that visits of adopters may be stopped during any outbreak of a pandemic or zoonotic disease, etc.
What is the rate list for adopting animals?
- The rates for adopting animals will be depending on the species and the approval for the same is still awaited. The starting range for adopting birds can be from Rs. 700 and Rs 6,00,000 for lions, tigers, rhinos and elephants while the cost for adopting leopards is Rs. 3,60,000 per year.
What is the validity of an adoption membership card?
- According to the notice released by the zoo authorities, the adoption of zoo animals will be for one or two years which can be withdrawn but the payable amount will not be refunded. The revenue generated from the animal adoptions scheme will go back to the zoo on a quarterly basis for the welfare activities for the animals and its personnel.
THE PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE
4. WHAT IS MOONLIGHTING?
THE CONTEXT: In July 2022, Kotak Securities said in a study that at least 60% of 400 employees surveyed said they themselves had or knew someone who had engaged in moonlighting.
What is meant by Moonlighting?
- Moonlighting or employees working for remuneration with entities other than their employers — has been a hot topic in recent months. During the pandemic, those with desk jobs had more time on their hands and thus it was easier to take on a few projects outside of work.
What does the law say?
- Moonlighting is not defined in any of the statutes in India, no Constitutional Court has rendered a decision on the subject”.
- However, there are enactments that deal with double employment. Section 60 of the Factories Act deals with restriction on double employment stating that “No adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in any factory on any day on which he has already been working in any other factory, save in such circumstances as may be prescribed”. However, this enactment is applicable only to employees working in factories.
- There are State enactments which deal with employment of persons working in offices, banks, shops, etc. In Tamil Nadu, it is termed as “The Tamil Nadu Shops & Establishments Act, 1947”. However, there is no provision wherein dealing with dual employment.
- However, moonlighting is subject to law of the land. Experts refers to the Supreme Court’s observation in the case of Glaxo Laboratories (I) Limited vs Labour Court, Meerut and others. The apex court held that “The employer has hardly any extra territorial jurisdiction. He is not the custodian of general law and order situation nor the Guru or mentor of his workmen for their well-regulated cultural advancement.
- If the power to regulate the behavior of the workmen outside the duty hours and at any place wherever they may be was conferred upon the employer, contract of service may be reduced to contract of slavery.” This case was not specifically about moonlighting but the court’s observation gives us an idea as to how the law may view such cases. Moonlighting is subject to law of the land.
- The sphere of employment cannot be extended by the employer beyond working hours and outside his place of employment, which is the principle laid down in the above judgment. In other words, the employee can choose to arrange his affairs as he pleases beyond the working hours of the employer.
5. WHO WAS BEGUM SAMRU, THE NAUTCH-GIRL TURNED RULER OF SARDHANA
THE CONTEXT: The first week of October is said to mark the 200th anniversary of the completion of the Basilica of Our Lady of Graces, one of India’s minor basilicas situated in Sardhana in Uttar Pradesh.
- It was constructed in 1822 by Begum Samru, a woman of humble origins that came to be popularly known as the only Catholic queen of India. For the bicentennial celebration of the church’s completion, the life and times of this remarkable figure that began her life as a concubine, and died as one of India’s richest and most powerful women.
Who was Begum Samru?
- Begum Samru (1750’s – 1836) was a figure that defied any fixed identity. She was a Muslim who converted to Catholicism, a nautch-girl (dancing girl) who became a warrior and an aristocrat, and was described by her contemporaries as dressing more like a man than a woman, sporting a dark turban and ever-puffing away at a hookah.
- She was a shrewd leader who was able to find a favourable position in the ever-dynamic political terrain of 18th century northern India. While she had first supported the waning Mughal empire, from the 1790’s the Begum began to provide service to the rising Marathas, before joining the British to ensure that she could maintain her landholding rights if they emerged victorious.
- Some sources claim that Begum Samru, birth name Farzana, was born to a second wife of a poor noblemen in present day Meerut, while others claim she was of Kashmiri descent. She spent her early years as a nautch (dancing girl) in a tawaif’s (courtesan) kotha (household) in Delhi.
6. NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE 2022: ANNIE ERNAUX, BEARING WITNESS TO WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES AND MEMORY
THE CONTEXT: The Nobel Prize for Literature 2022 has gone to French author Annie Ernaux, for, according to the Swedish Academy, “the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.
- Ernaux, 82, has seen a sharp increase in popularity in the English-speaking world since 2019, after her seminal work ‘The Years’, translated by Alison L Strayer, was shortlisted for the Man Booker international prize. Her book on her illegal abortion in the 1960s, ‘Happening’ (first published in 2001) has also been in the limelight after abortion rights were curtailed in the US.
- As the Nobel citation says, Ernaux’s work — ranging from a history of France to her first sexual experience and the shame around it to her mother’s illness and death to her abortion to her class-linked shame – meticulously mines her own memory and life experiences with “courage and clinical acuity”.
- Her treatment of her memories is unsparing but unembellished – she travels back to the moment she is writing about as completely as possible, without giving herself the benefit and wisdom of hindsight, putting on paper the raw vulnerability of the moment. As anchors, she uses songs, slogans, meals from the time she is writing about, which many say blurs the line between fiction and autobiography.
THE PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
QUESTION OF THE DAY
1.Consider the following statements about Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil):
- It is a statutory body.
- It is set up by Ministry of Commerce and Industry for promotion of pharmaceutical exports from India.
- Its headquarter is located in Hyderabad.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1 and 3 only
Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil)
- It is the authorized agency of the government of India for promotion of pharmaceutical exports from India.
- It was set up under the provisions of Foreign Trade Policy by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in May 2004.
- Various pharmaceutical products, namely, bulk drugs, formulations, Biotech Products, Indian Systems of medicines, herbal products, diagnostics, clinical research, etc. are covered under its purview.
- Pharmexcil takes up several external trade promotion activities by organizing trade delegations outside India, arranging buyer-seller meetings, international seminars, etc.
- The agency’s headquarters is located in Hyderabad.