Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam

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20th January 2014 TO 26th January 2014

 

A GLINT OF INDIA

Bharat Ratna Award

  • India has produced a legacy of brave hearts since times immemorial. Probably there is not enough space to measure their sacrifices. However, we cannot close our eyes to those people who have made our country proud by excelling in their own fields and bringing us international recognition. Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award, given for exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of Public Service of the highest order. It is also not mandatory that Bharat Ratna be awarded every year.

  • The original specifications for the award called for a circular gold medal, 35 mm in diameter, with the sun and the Hindi legend “Bharat Ratna” above and a floral wreath below. The reverse was to carry the state emblem and motto. It was to be worn around the neck from a white ribbon. This design was altered after a year.
  • The provision of Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954. The first ever Indian to receive this award was the famous scientist, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. Since then, many dignitaries, each a whiz in varied aspects of their career has received this coveted award.
  • In fact, our former President, Shri A. P. J Abdul Kalam is also a recipient of this esteemed honour (1997). There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only. The award has been awarded to a naturalized Indian citizen, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990).
  • In 2009, the award was conferred on famous Indian vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi. Recently, the PMO has decided to confer the award on eminent scientist Prof C.N.R. Rao and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

HERE IS THE ENTIRE LIST OF RECIPIENTS OF BHARAT RATNA AWARDEES TILL DATE :

1. Shri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in 1954 
2. Dr. Sarvapali Radhakrishnan in 1954 
3. Dr. Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman in 1954 
4. Dr. Bhagwan Das in 1955 
5. Dr. Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya in 1955 
6. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955 
7. Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant in 1957 
8. Dr. Dhondo Keshave Karve in 1958 
9. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy in 1961 
10. Shri Purushottam Das Tandon in 1961 
11. Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1962 
12. Dr. Zakir Hussain in 1963 
13. Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane in 1963 
14. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri (Posthumous) in 1966 
15. Smt. Indira Gandhi in 1971
(Courtesy: NATIONAL PORTAL OF INDIA)

Ministry of External affairs

Official Visit of the PM of Japan to India

  • The Prime Minister of Japan, H.E. Shinzo Abe was on an official visit to India on 25-27 January 2014 at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India, H.E. Dr. Manmohan Singh as chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. The two Prime Ministers held extensive talks during their Annual Summit on bilateral, regional and global issues on 25 January 2014 in Delhi.
  • The two Prime Ministers welcomed that the State Visit of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan to India from 30 November to 6 December 2013 further strengthened the long-lasting historically close ties and friendship between the peoples of India and Japan.
  • The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their resolve to further deepen the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan as two democracies in Asia sharing universal values such as freedom, democracy and rule of law, and to contribute jointly to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world, taking into account changes in the strategic environment.
  • Prime Minister Abe elaborated his policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace”. Prime Minister Singh appreciated Japan’s efforts to contribute to peace and stability of the region and the world.
  • Welcoming the successful outcome of the visit by Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera to India, the two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their determination to further strengthen bilateral defense cooperation. In this connection, they welcomed the decision of the two defense ministers to realize the visit of Indian Defense Minister to Japan within 2014. They also expressed satisfaction that the Trilateral Dialogue between India, Japan and the US has been held on a regular basis and also that the 3rd two plus two dialogue and the 4th Defense Policy Dialogue are to be held before the end of the year. They confirmed to hold the 2nd meeting of India-Japan Bilateral Talks on Cyber-affairs in spring 2014 with a view to further exploring possible areas of cooperation.
  • The two Prime Ministers welcomed the successful conduct of the second bilateral exercise between the Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in December 2013 off the coast of Chennai and shared their intention to conduct the joint exercise in the Pacific Ocean in 2014. They reaffirmed the importance of such exercises, and renewed their resolution to continue to conduct them on a regular basis with increased frequency. Prime Minister Abe appreciated India’s invitation to JMSDF for the next “Malabar” maritime exercise.
  • The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction with the holding of the 1st meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the US-2 amphibian aircraft in December 2013 in Delhi and welcomed the 2nd meeting of the JWG which is scheduled for March 2014 in Japan.
  • Welcoming the expansion of the bilateral currency swap arrangement from 15 to 50 billion US dollars and signing of the contract for its entry into force in January 2014, the two Prime Ministers expressed their expectation that this expansion will further strengthen financial cooperation and contribute to the stability of global financial markets including emerging economies.
  • Prime Minister Singh appreciated the relaxation of Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) of Ethoxyquin on the shrimps imported to Japan to 0.2ppm by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.
  • The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of investment for driving economic growth and job creation in their economies and ways to create enabling environments to mobilize investment and give a fillip to economic relations. They agreed to continue working towards a greater understanding of all financial and taxation related issues including Indian rupee denominated finance by JBIC and establishing a consultative mechanism between the two countries. They appreciated JETRO’s business matching activities to strengthen business partnership and consolidate supply chains between the two countries. They expressed their expectation for introducing Japanese technologies and expanding investment through the implementation of “the Action Plan for India-Japan Investment Promotion” agreed between the Minister of Commerce and Industry of India and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan in September 2013.
  • Welcoming that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) has deepened the bilateral economic relations, the two Prime Ministers expressed their expectation that both countries would continue to work closely to further expand trade in goods and services as well as investments.
  • The two Prime Ministers appreciated that both countries have signed the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Japanese Industrial Standards Committee (JISC). They expressed their hope to strengthen their cooperative relationship in this field further in order to facilitate trade and to harmonize activities within international standardization and conformity assessment.
  • The two sides welcomed the outcomes of the first India-Japan Joint Working Group on IT and Electronics held in New Delhi by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of India and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. The two Prime Ministers expressed their hope for the cooperation being further developed between IT and electronics industries of both countries through the framework. They expressed their intention to explore the proposal for setting up of Japanese Electronics Industrial Township in India. Both sides also expressed satisfaction with the ongoing cyber security dialogue between the CERT-In and JPCERT, Japan and emphasized further collaborative and proactive response against cyber-attacks at international level.
  • The two Prime Ministers appreciated the progress of zoning and planning of National Investment Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs) stipulated in National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) of India. They expressed their expectation for investment by Japanese companies in NIMZs in general and in India-Japan joint projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) in particular.
  • The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Abe stressed the importance of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date. Prime Minister Singh reiterated India’s commitment to its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. They also reaffirmed their commitment to working together for immediate commencement and an early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). Both sides expressed their commitment to work together for India to become a full member in the international export control regimes: the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, with the aim of strengthening the international non-proliferation efforts.
  • The two Prime Ministers acknowledged that there is a high potential to be explored in the area of people-to-people exchanges between India and Japan and expressed their intention to make utmost effort for the expansion of exchange of peoples in various fields.
  • The two Prime Ministers welcomed Japan’s participation as a partner country in the India International Trade Fair in Delhi and the International Film Festival of India 2013 in Goa. They also expressed their expectation to enhance cooperation between the two countries on development of human resources, and matching activities in the area of content industry.
(Courtesy: Ministry of External affairs)

Planning Commission of India

NATIONAL GANGA RIVER BASIN AUTHORITY

  • National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) is a financing, planning, implementing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the River Ganga, functioning under the Ministry of Environment of India. The mission of the organization is to safeguard the drainage basin which feeds water into the Ganges by protecting it from pollution or overuse.

Function and Power of NGRBA

  • The Government of India has given Ganga the status of a National River and has constituted the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) on 20th February 2009 under Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection Act, 1986). The NGRBA is a planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating body of the centre and the states. The objective of the NGRBA is to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach for comprehensive planning and management The Authority has both regulatory and developmental functions. The Authority will take measures for effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga in keeping with sustainable development needs. These include;
  • Development of a river basin management plan
  • Regulation of activities aimed at prevention, control and abatement of pollution in Ganga to maintain its water quality, and to take measures relevant to river ecology and management in the Ganga basin states
  • Maintenance of minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga
(Courtesy: Planning Commission of India)

NATIONAL EVENTS

First ‘milk ATM’ in India

  • Automatic teller machines not only dispense money, ATM-like machines also vend other products such as chocolates and soft drinks. But Amul has gone a step further as it is going to sell milk through “Any Time Milk” vending machines.
  • The pilot project of this 24×7 ATM began with the installation of a vending machine at the gate of Amul Dairy in Anand town of Gujarat.
  • In Anand and Kheda towns, these ATMs will be installed at different public places to enable the consumers to buy milk whenever needed.
  • For a Rs 10-currency note, which this machine will read through a sensor, the ATM would dispense a 300 ml pouch of Amul Taaza milk. The ATM, fitted with refrigeration facility, has a capacity to hold 150 pouches at a time.
  • While Kheda Union, which owns the Amul brand, markets milk in Anand and Kheda district, it is marketed by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) elsewhere. GCMMF is also likely to follow suit after a review of the project.

Agni-IV missile

  • India’s nuclear deterrence programme received a boost when its Agni-IV, a surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 4,000 km, was successfully test-fired from the Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.
  • The Agni-IV is a strategic missile which can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which developed the missile, did the test-firing. This was the third success in a row for Agni-IV. Its first success came in November 2011 and the second in Sepetmber 2012.
  • Agni-IV is a two-stage missile. It weighs 17 tonnes and is 20 metres long.

INS Arihant

  • India’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant would be going to sea trials within “a few weeks or months” as its preliminary harbor acceptance trials are over and various systems, including nuclear propulsion, have proceeded satisfactorily and as per the time schedule.
  • The submarine would undergo sea trials, during which all the systems, including its ballistic missiles, would be tested before it is finally commissioned into the Indian Navy.
  • The sub-surface ballistic nuclear missile (SSBN) submarine would be indigenously designed, built, operationalized and maintained.
  • Once the sea trials, which would test the capability of various systems in real deep sea scenario, are over the Navy would announce its arrival.

PIL against Kejriwal refused

  • The Delhi High Court refused to entertain an NGO’s plea seeking quashing of the nomination of Arvind Kejriwal for alleged illegalities in his affidavit filed before the Election Commission before the 2013 Assembly polls.
  • A bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the NGO, Maulik Bharat Trust, to approach the magisterial court for appropriate action.
  • In its petition, the NGO had alleged that Mr. Kejriwal has violated provisions of the Representation of People Act by submitting an incorrect affidavit, regarding details of his assets and income, at the time of filing his nomination.
  • Apart from cancellation of Mr. Kejriwal’s nomination, the NGO had also sought a CBI inquiry of the allegations they had leveled against him as well as directions to the government

Anomalies in Lokpal Bill

  • Pointing out some “anomalies and legal inconsistencies” in the Lokpal Act, the CBI has raised a question as to whether the entire probe agency will be divested of all powers if any of its officer was found guilty of corruption or tampering with evidence.
  • The CBI Director Ranjit Sinha while highlighting the “anomalies” in the Lokpal Act and amended Central Vigilance Commission Act in connection with its working has sought clarifications from the Union Government.
  • The much awaited Lokpal Bill, which was passed during the Winter Session of Parliament last month, got the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee on January 1.
  • The CBI Director referred to Section 25 whereby Lokpal shall have powers of superintendence over CBI and give directions to it in respect of Preliminary Enquiry and investigations provided by it.
  • The CBI Director also highlighted a situation wherein same complaint is referred to Lokpal and CVC and both issue directions to CBI.
  • He said Section 15 of the Lokpal Act provides that in case any matter under Prevention of Corruption Act has been pending before any court or committee or authority prior to commencement of this Act such matter of proceeding shall continue before the same bench.

INTERNATIONAL

Nuclear activities in Iran curbed

  • IAEA confirmed that Iran took the first steps to limit its nuclear program under a deal with world powers, paving the way for the European Union and the United States to suspend some sanctions.
  • This is the first time that Iran has scaled back its nuclear program, 10 years after its secret activities came to light and prompted Western fears that Tehran was working on a nuclear weapon.
  • Iran agreed to a deal with six western powers on November 24, under which several sanctions on Iran will in turn be lifted for six months.
  • During this period, the two sides hope to reach a permanent solution to concerns that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon.
  • Iran is not building any new uranium enrichment plants and is no longer working to complete its Arak reactor, which would produce plutonium as a side-product once it operates.
  • The international community has been concerned that uranium enriched to 20 per cent or plutonium from Arak could be turned into material for nuclear warheads.
  • In return for Iran’s compliance, the EU and the U.S. have agreed to lift all sanctions on trading with Iran in petrochemical products, gold and precious metals. Companies will again be able to provide transport and insurance for crude oil shipments.

Naval drills in South China Sea

  • Chinese naval vessels including an island landing ship are staging drills in the South China Sea, where China and several other nations are locked in territorial disputes.
  • Two destroyers and China’s largest amphibious landing craft departed the naval base on the southern island province of Hainan. The ships also boast three helicopters and a company of marines.
  • The drills would focus on integrated combat missions involving ships, submarines and aircraft, suggesting other units may also be involved.
  • China has moved sharply to assert its claim to nearly the entire South China Sea and its island groups. The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also claim the entire sea or parts of it.

INDIA AND THE WORLD

U.S., India to move on

  • The United States and India are eager to move forward with high-level dialogues and exchanges soon to further their “indispensable” partnership, according to Secretary of State John Kerry.
  • Greeting India on the Republic Day on behalf of President Barack Obama, Kerry said the real magic of India lies as much in its promising future as it does in its rich heritage.
  • Indian diplomat Ms. Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges, strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.
  • The Energy Dialogue — initially scheduled earlier was cancelled amidst tension between the two nations.

ECONOMY

Panel to review governance of bank boards

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has constituted an expert committee to review governance of boards of banks under the chairmanship of P. J. Nayak, former Chairman and CEO of Axis Bank.
  • The committee would review the regulatory compliance requirements of banks’ boards in India, and judge what could be rationalized and where requirements needed to be enhanced.
  • The other terms of reference of the committee would be to analyze the representation on banks’ boards to see whether the boards have the appropriate mix of capabilities and the necessary independence to govern the institution, and to investigate possible “conflicts of interest” in board representation, including among owner representatives and regulators.

China’s slowest growth

  • China’s economy grew 7.7 per cent in 2013, the lowest in 14 years, with tapering growth in the last quarter underlining the challenges faced by the world’s second-largest economy as it grapples with rebalancing and reviving a slowing down economy.
  • This marks the slowest growth since 1999, when China grew 7.6 per cent. The previous decade saw record double-digit growth, with the country defying the global slowdown to grow 10.4 per cent in 2010 as it unveiled a massive $ 586 billion stimulus.
  • Growth slowed in the fourth quarter to 7.7 per cent, down from 7.8 per cent in the previous quarter. This brought annual growth to 7.7 per cent, down from last year’s 7.8 per cent.
  • The urban-rural income gap had narrowed to 3.03, from a highest level of 3.33 in 2009. Energy consumption per unit of GDP was also down from last year, by 3.7 per cent.

SCIENCE AND TECH

Cancer genomics

  • Targeted therapy, precision medicine and cancer genomics — this is the new vocabulary of cancer research and treatment that Harold Varmus, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize, advocated in his lecture ‘New directions in cancer research’ at the Indian Institute of Science.
  • While conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy targets cancer tissues, cancer genomics looks at the mutations the disease triggers, the proteins associated with it, therefore helping with more precise treatment.
  • The Cancer Genome Atlas (an initiative of the NCI) was now creating a ‘molecular atlas’ that maps genomic changes in 20 common cancers, in the hope that this would help improve cancer treatment.
  • The United States had spent $40 billion on cancer research in 10 years, but this had to be seen in the context of the money saved in terms of healthcare and treatment. Research had revealed that the density of mutations differs for each tumor: while childhood tumors, for instance, have lower mutations, those associated with external triggers — UV light or carcinogens — have greater mutations.

Genetic blueprint for limbs

  • In a study published this week in PLoS Biology, Woltering and colleagues have found some definitive clues about this transition.
  • By studying a group of ‘architect’ genes present in both fish and mammals – the Hox genes – the scientists were able to find out that the DNA structure and regulatory mechanism for limb and digit formation was present in fish even before the transition happened, but the enhancements required to activate digit formation evolved only in tetrapods (ie. four-legged land animals).
  • Limb formation in tetrapods is usually attributed to this ‘bimodal’ behaviour of Hox genes.
  • The team inserted fish Hox genes into mouse embryos and found that in the resulting mice, Hox genes were active only in the proximal part of the limbs, not in the digits.

ENVIRONMENT

Dolphin hunt in Japan

  • A Japanese government spokesman defended an annual dolphin hunt, a day after U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy tweeted that she was deeply concerned by the inhumanity of the practice.
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that dolphin fishing in Japan is carried out appropriately in accordance with the law.
  • Drive hunt refers to the practice of herding the dolphins into a cove, where they are trapped and later killed.
  • The hunt in the fishing village of Taiji in western Japan has come under international criticism and was the subject of the Academy Award-winning 2009 film “The Cove.”

SPORTS

Louis Philippe Cup

  • Jyoti Randhawa, one of India’s top professional golfers, will represent city-based Dec-Ellora Laqshya Mumbai team in the Rs 1.2 crore prize money Louis Philippe Cup tournament to be held in Mumbai from February 17-22.
  • Jeev Milkha Singh, Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Siddikur Rehyman, SSP Chowrasia, Rashid Khan and Himmat Rai, among others, are competing in the third edition of the event, featuring nine teams and offering Rs 36 lakh to the winning outfit and Rs 24 lakh to the losing finalist.
  • Incidentally, this is the first time Jeev would be playing in the metropolis as part of the Shubhkamna Delhi outfit.
  • The teams are Navratna Ahmedabad, Puravankara Bangalore, TAKE Chennai, DLF Gurgaon, Jaypee Greens Greater Noida, AVT Kolkata, Dev-Ellora Laqshya Mumbai, Krrish Colombo and Shubhkamna Delhi.
  • The tournament is sanctioned by the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and conceived and promoted by RN Golf Management (RNGM).

Hockey India League

  • The second edition of the Hero Hockey India League will get underway soon with Jaypee Punjab Warriors taking on Delhi Waveriders in the opening match at the newly-built International Hockey Stadium here under lights.
  • With the winner taking home a whooping Rs 2.5 crore, and the runner up getting Rs 1.25 crore, there is a lot at stake for teams to win the tournament and both Punjab and Delhi would aim to begin the tournament on a winning note.
  • In the previous edition of the HIL, the two teams faced each other in the semi-final, in which Delhi defeated Punjab 3-1.

Australian Open Winners 2014

  • For the men, Stanislas Wawrinka finished as the champion after a final against Rafael Nadal .
  • On the women’s side, as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka were sent home early, Li Na walked away with the title.
  • Daniel Nestor of Canada and Kristina Mladenovic of France combined to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title with a 6-3, 6-2 win over sixth-seeded Sania Mirza of India and Horia Tecau of Romania.
  • Poland’s Lukasz Kubot and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt have gone from never winning a top-level match together to winning the Australian Open men’s doubles title.
  • Top-ranked Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci rallied to win the last five games and successfully defended their Australian Open women’s doubles title with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Russian pair Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina on Friday.

IN THE NEWS (PERSONS)

Rakesh Khurana

  • Indian-American professor Rakesh Khurana has been appointed Dean of the prestigious Harvard College, becoming the latest addition to a long list of Indian-origin academicians assuming leadership roles at renowned global universities.
  • Khurana, 46, is currently the ‘Marvin Bower’ Professor of Leadership Development at Harvard Business School (HBS), professor of sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and co—master of Cabot House at Harvard.
  • He succeeds Evelynn Hammonds, Professor of History of Science and of African and African American Studies at Harvard and will assume his new role on July 1.
  • Khurana earned his Ph.D. through a joint programme between HBS and Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1998.
  • Harvard President Drew Faust described Khurana as a “faculty leader who embodies the interconnectedness” of Harvard.

Sachin Pilot

  • Union Minister for Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot assumed charge as the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president.
  • He took a pledge to work along side party workers and face challenges as a team to win seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
  • The new PCC president said the Congress formed the “soul of [the] nation” which could never be destroyed. He asked the members of the party to shed their differences and put up a united fight against “divisive and communal forces”.

Heena Sidhu

  • World Cup Final gold medallist Heena Sidhu recaptured her form to snatch victory by 0.1 point from another World Cup gold medallist Rahi Sarnobat in women’s air pistol in the National shooting trials.
  • In rapid fire pistol, Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar dominated yet again, even though he qualified in the fourth place with 576. National championship silver medallist Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre missed the final by two points.

Selected Editorials of Importance

Stamp out kangaroo courts

The incident in Subalpur village in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, in which a 20-year-old tribal woman was gang-raped by a dozen men as punishment for alleged immoral conduct, is shocking in its unimaginable brutality and points to a larger malaise. The order by a kangaroo court led by a village headman is proof that a section of rural India is outside the pale of the country’s constitutional values and judicial system. Ill-informed men with medieval social attitudes and patriarchal prejudices are allowed to adjudicate on the conduct and morality of women and pass unconscionable forms of punishment, such as social ostracism, payment of arbitrary fines and, as in this case, sexual violence in lieu of monetary penalty. The Supreme Court and the National Commission for Women have taken suo motu cognisance of the incident, which has caused widespread outrage and revulsion. The West Bengal government, which has been sharply criticised in recent times for callousness and insensitivity towards crimes against women, has seen to it that the village headman and the 12 men who raped the hapless woman for a whole night have been arrested. And Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, upset that the police did not seek custody of the accused for questioning and allowed them to be sent to prison directly, has ordered the suspension of the Superintendent of Police. It is disturbing that the entire village, including women, backed the kangaroo court by whose verdict the man could get away with a fine, but the woman was punished for not having the means to do so.
Outposts of feudalism still thrive in vast swathes of rural India, ranging from khap panchayats in the north to caste-based gatherings of village elders in the south. In 2011, the Supreme Court wanted illegal khap panchayats that encourage ‘honour killings’ or other institutionalised atrocities to be stamped out ruthlessly. Over a year has elapsed since the country voiced its anger against sexual violence targeted at women and seemed to take a collective vow to ensure the protection of all women. The penal law on sexual violence and harassment has been strengthened significantly since then. Yet, India’s cities and villages continue to be unsafe for women. The locus of sexual violence is everywhere: in public spaces and private homes, under the cloak of darkness and in the open, and perpetrated by well-acquainted persons as also as by strangers. The Birbhum incident is a chilling reminder that legal processes, security measures and stringent laws are not enough. Social attitudes need to change, reflecting liberal and humane values, if the country is to ensure gender equality and protection for all its women.
(Courtesy: THE HINDU)

MCQs

Q1.

i) The aim of legal clinics or legal care centres, that has been launched recently is to ensure that people get their legal rights enforced and “no citizen starves of hunger of justice.”
ii) India 360 , a new program launched on AIR will profile a country each week and its relations with India.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii

Q2.

i) The Election Commission (EC) recognised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a State party after the party fulfilled the eligibility conditions set by the EC for granting the status.
ii) To get the EC’s recognition as a “State party,” all the candidates set up by the party together should get a minimum of eight per cent of the valid votes polled in the entire State or secure a minimum of six per cent of the total votes polled and one Assembly seat for every 25 seats in that State.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii
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