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Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th December 2023) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955

Context: In recent news, a Constitution Bench, led by the Chief Justice of India, has delved into a series of petitions contesting the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The primary focus of this scrutiny remains on evaluating the legitimacy of Section 6A, not the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Unraveling Section 6A: Its Origin and Significance

  • Background: Section 6A was incorporated as part of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 1985, emerging after the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985. This historic accord aimed to quell the inflow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, involving the Central Government, the State Government of Assam, and Assam Movement leaders.
  • Purpose: Exclusive to Assam, Section 6A addresses the issue of extensive migration before the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. It mandates the detection and deportation of foreigners who entered Assam after March 25, 1971, the date of Bangladesh's creation, acknowledging the unique historical and demographic challenges faced by Assam.

Provisions and Implications of Section 6A

Citizenship Criteria:

  • Persons of Indian origin arriving from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966, were considered Indian citizens from that date.
  • Those arriving between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, deemed foreigners, were required to register and could acquire citizenship after ten years of residency under specific conditions.
  • Individuals entering Assam post March 25, 1971, were to be identified and deported according to the law.

Constitutional Challenges and Criticisms

Violation of Constitutional Articles:

  • Article 6: Petitioners argue Section 6A contravenes Article 6 of the Constitution concerning the citizenship of those who migrated during the partition, raising concerns about its legality.
  • Article 14: Critics perceive Section 6A as discriminatory, violating the right to equality, given its exclusive application to Assam, sparking worries about fairness compared to other states facing similar migration issues.

Demographic and Cultural Impact:

  • Concerns persist about Section 6A's alleged role in fostering illegal migration from Bangladesh, impacting Assam's demographics. Critics fear it contributes to a shift in cultural identity and demographic patterns, raising cultural concerns.

Understanding Citizenship in India

Constitutional Framework:

  • Articles 5 to 11 in Part II of the Indian Constitution outline various aspects of citizenship, encompassing acquisition, naturalization, and renunciation.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955, amended multiple times, governs citizenship matters, with the latest amendment in 2019 providing citizenship to specific illegal migrants from neighboring countries.
  • Exploring Citizenship: A Crucial Aspect of Indian Governance Citizenship defines the legal relationship between an individual and the state, entailing specific rights and duties. Governed by constitutional provisions and parliamentary acts, citizenship remains a cornerstone of India's governance structure.

Conclusion

Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, underpins a complex and contentious aspect of Indian citizenship law, especially concerning Assam. The ongoing constitutional deliberations will likely shape the future landscape of citizenship laws, impacting not just Assam but India's broader socio-political fabric.

World Soil Day 2023

Context: Every year, the United Nations designates December 5th as World Soil Day (WSD) to honor the legacy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, a staunch advocate for sustainable soil management.

  • The theme for 2023, "Soil and Water, a Source of Life," spotlights the crucial link between soil micronutrients and human nutrition.

Significance of World Soil Day

  • WSD, established by the International Union of Soil Sciences in 2002, aims to emphasize the importance of soil management for food security and poverty alleviation.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supports WSD as a global platform within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, under Thailand's leadership.

Understanding the Soil-Nutrition Connection

  • The recent study by US and Australian researchers in Scientific Reports underscores the correlation between soil micronutrient levels and individual nutritional well-being in India.
  • Soil composition directly influences essential micronutrients like zinc and iron in crops, impacting human health.

Impact on Human Health

  • Low soil zinc levels correlate with increased rates of stunting and underweight conditions in children, crucial for growth and immune system function.
  • Soil iron availability is linked to the prevalence of anemia, necessary for hemoglobin production and oxygen transport in the body.

Status of Soil Nutrient Deficiency in India

  • India's soil faces widespread deficiencies in zinc, iron, boron, copper, and manganese, as highlighted by research from the All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Micro- and Secondary Nutrients and Pollutant Elements in Soils and Plants (AICRP-MSPE).

Potential Solutions and Interventions

  • Application of zinc-enriched fertilizers has shown promising results in enhancing soil nutrients and increasing crop yields sustainably.
  • Embracing conservation agriculture techniques, innovative farming methods, and restoration approaches can help restore soil health and address nutrient deficiencies.

Shifting Towards Soil-Centric Agriculture

  • Advocating conservation agriculture techniques, embracing diversity and innovation, and implementing restoration methods are crucial steps toward sustainable soil-centric agriculture.
  • Encouraging precision farming with technology, embracing diverse crop practices, and integrating organic manures can significantly improve soil health.

Conclusion: Promoting Sustainable Soil Management

  • World Soil Day advocates for sustainable land management, biodiversity preservation, and educational outreach to emphasize the pivotal role of soil in sustaining life on Earth.
  • Collaborative efforts in preserving and restoring soil health are essential for ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future for generations.

UNEP's Action Plan for Cooling Sector

Context: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently unveiled a groundbreaking action plan aimed at revolutionizing the global cooling sector. Titled “Keeping it Chill: How to meet cooling demands while cutting emissions,” this strategic proposal embodies a visionary approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 60% by 2050. Let’s delve into the comprehensive plan that could redefine our approach to sustainable cooling and its multifaceted implications for the future.

Innovative Strategies Unveiled by UNEP

Nature-Based Solutions

  • The action plan advocates for passive cooling measures such as shading, ventilation, green roofs, and reflective surfaces, alongside reintroducing nature into urban landscapes. These initiatives aim to curtail the necessity for mechanical cooling, consequently conserving energy and reducing emissions.

Efficiency Standards

  • Emphasizing the significance of higher energy efficiency in cooling equipment like air conditioners, refrigerators, and fans, this approach is poised to significantly curtail energy consumption and emissions, thus benefiting both users and utilities.

Phasedown of Refrigerants

  • The proposal highlights the pivotal shift from using greenhouse gas-intensive hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) towards alternative substances like hydrocarbons, ammonia, or carbon dioxide. This move is crucial as HFCs possess potent greenhouse gas properties, accelerating global warming.

The Imperative Need to Address the Cooling Sector

  • The cooling sector, while vital for various industrial processes and food safety, poses an imminent threat due to surging electricity consumption and escalating emissions. Without intervention, projections indicate a potential doubling of electricity consumption by 2050, contributing significantly to global emissions.

Benefits of Sustainable Cooling Practices

Implementing sustainable cooling techniques could lead to monumental savings, amounting to USD 17 trillion between 2022 and 2050. Moreover, it's anticipated to decrease peak power requirements by 1.5-2 terawatts, evading the need for substantial power generation investments. Integrating low-global warming potential technologies and decarbonizing power grids could slash HFC emissions by 50% in 2050 and reduce sectoral emissions by a staggering 96%.

Initiatives Driving Sustainable Cooling Globally and in India

Global Initiatives

  • National Cooling Action Plans (NCAPs): Over 40 countries, including India, have developed NCAPs, signaling a global commitment to this cause.
  • Global Cooling Pledge: Backed by over 60 countries, this pledge strives to mitigate the climate impact of the cooling sector and foster global cooperation.
  • Kigali Amendment Acceleration: This international agreement seeks to curtail the production and consumption of HFCs, potentially preventing massive emissions and temperature rise.

India's Contributions

  • India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP): India's strategic roadmap to tackle cooling-related challenges.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) Star Rating Programme: A notable initiative fostering energy-efficient cooling solutions within India.

Conclusion

UNEP's action plan serves as a beacon of hope in combating climate change. With concerted efforts and global collaboration, embracing sustainable cooling practices holds the key to a more energy-efficient, environmentally conscious future. It's imperative for nations, industries, and individuals to unite in implementing these transformative strategies, heralding a paradigm shift towards a cooler, greener planet.

Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Bill and J&K Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill 2023

Context: The recent passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 by the Lok Sabha has sparked considerable discourse. These legislative maneuvers aim to address historical disparities and provide representation for displaced individuals within the region.

Background: Pre and Post Article 370 Revocation

Before the annulment of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir possessed distinct rules for delineating Lok Sabha and Assembly seats. Post its abrogation and the region's transition into a Union Territory, a Delimitation Commission was constituted in March 2020. Tasked not only with delimiting J&K's seats but also those of other states, the commission concluded its process recently, leading to a noteworthy increase in J&K's legislative assembly seats from 107 to 114.

Understanding the Amendment Bills

  • Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023: This bill seeks to amend Section 2 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, replacing the nomenclature of "weak and underprivileged classes (social castes)" with "other backward classes." It broadens the scope of reservation in jobs and admission to professional institutions.
  • Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023: This bill, amending the 2019 Act, aims to grant representation in the Legislative Assembly to Kashmiri Migrants and displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It proposes to increase the total number of assembly seats to 114, with specific reservations for scheduled castes and tribes. Additionally, 24 seats will remain vacant until the situation in PoK changes.

Linking Legislative Changes with the Zero Terror Plan

The Zero Terror Plan, a strategic initiative to eliminate terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir, has shown promise since the abrogation of Article 370. Notably, there has been a discernible decline in terrorism within the region post this constitutional change.

Understanding Delimitation

Delimitation involves redrawing the boundaries of territorial constituencies, determining the number of seats in a state, and allocating these seats based on population size. The Delimitation Commission, an independent body, carries out this exercise, ensuring fair representation.

Insights from Previous Year’s Questions (PYQs)

Exploring previous year's UPSC Civil Services Examination questions sheds light on the intricacies of the Delimitation Commission, emphasizing the finality of its orders and its significance in the country's electoral framework.

Conclusion

The passage of these bills marks a significant stride towards inclusive representation and fair opportunity for displaced communities in Jammu and Kashmir. It also signifies the evolving legislative landscape post the revocation of Article 370, setting the stage for a more equitable political structure in the region.

Looking Ahead: Future Prospects

  • While these bills address immediate concerns, the evolving nature of Jammu and Kashmir’s political landscape will continue to generate discussions about the region's integration and representation within the Indian polity.
  • In conclusion, the 2023 amendments are pivotal in reshaping Jammu and Kashmir's political landscape, offering renewed hope for fair representation and inclusive governance within the region.

PM-JANMAN Scheme

Context: In a significant move towards empowering India's Tribal communities, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs recently unveiled the Pradhan Mantri-Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM-JANMAN) Scheme. This initiative, aimed at uplifting Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), carries immense potential in addressing their unique challenges and providing essential infrastructure for a brighter future.

Unveiling PM-JANMAN Scheme

The PM-JANMAN Scheme, a governmental initiative, seeks to integrate tribal communities into the mainstream. This comprehensive program, comprising Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes, is a joint effort by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, State governments, and PVTG communities.

Key Objectives and Focus Areas

The scheme revolves around 11 crucial interventions overseen by 9 line Ministries. It ensures the implementation of existing schemes in villages inhabited by PVTGs, focusing on various sectors:

  • Infrastructure Development: Providing safe housing under the PM-AWAS Scheme.
  • Basic Amenities: Ensuring access to clean drinking water and improved healthcare.
  • Education and Nutrition: Enhancing educational facilities and nutritional support.
  • Connectivity: Building roads and telecommunications connectivity.
  • Livelihood Opportunities: Creating sustainable livelihood opportunities.
  • Economic Empowerment: Establishing Van Dhan Vikas Kendras for trading in forest produce.
  • Clean Energy: Introducing off-grid solar power systems for households and street lights.

The scheme's overarching goal is to elevate the quality of life and well-being of PVTGs by addressing their various forms of discrimination and exclusion while recognizing their invaluable contribution to national and global development.

Challenges in Implementation

The successful execution of PM-JANMAN faces several hurdles:

  • Data Gap: The lack of updated population data on PVTGs since the 2001 census impedes accurate needs assessment.
  • Incomplete Census: Omission of PVTG populations in certain states like Maharashtra, Manipur, and Rajasthan from official records further complicates data gathering.
  • Complex Needs: The diverse needs and capacities of PVTGs across regions necessitate customized approaches and interventions.
  • Social Stigma: Overcoming societal stigmatization and discrimination towards PVTGs requires widespread sensitization and awareness campaigns.
  • Coordination Challenges: Ensuring effective collaboration between central and state government schemes for efficient resource utilization.

Understanding Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

Initially termed Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs), these communities, recognized for their declining population, pre-agrarian technology usage, economic backwardness, and low literacy, were later renamed as PVTGs in 2006. Spread across 18 States and Union Territories in India, they face challenges due to remote locations and inadequate infrastructure.

Recognizing PVTGs: Statistics and Geographical Distribution

With 75 PVTG communities across various states, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Gujarat harbor the majority. These communities also exist in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Tripura, Manipur, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands.

Insights from Previous Years' Questions

The significance of initiatives addressing discrimination against Scheduled Tribes (STs) and the constitutional provisions for their upliftment have been key themes in the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

Conclusion

  • The PM-JANMAN Scheme stands as a beacon of hope for the holistic development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups. Despite challenges, its comprehensive approach signals a paradigm shift in addressing the multifaceted issues faced by these communities, paving the way for a more inclusive and empowered future.
  • Through sustained efforts and collaborative actions, the scheme aims to bridge the gaps and empower PVTGs, ensuring their rightful place in the nation's progress.
The document Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th December 2023) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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