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Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th March 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

Sustainable Funding for Research and Development

Context: Annually on February 28th, National Science Day commemorates the discovery of the Raman Effect by Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman and recognizes the invaluable contributions of scientists to India's advancement.

  • Emphasizing the Role of Science in Promoting Sustainable Development.

What Exactly is National Science Day?

Overview:

  • National Science Day is marked on the anniversary of Indian Physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman's groundbreaking discovery of the Raman Effect.
  • The Raman Effect elucidates how light scatters when traversing a transparent substance, resulting in alterations in wavelength and energy.
  • On February 28, 1928, CV Raman uncovered the Raman Effect.
  • His notable contribution to Physics led to his Nobel Prize win in 1930.
  • Theme: Indigenous Technologies for Viksit Bharat (Developed India)

Significance:

  • The day serves to raise awareness about the vital role of scientific innovations in our daily routines.
  • It also serves as a platform to honor and recognize scientists' endeavors and accomplishments in enhancing human welfare.
  • The most effective way to commemorate National Science Day is by comprehending the progression of science and technology and identifying areas necessitating further advancement.

How much is India Spending on Research and Development (R&D)?

India’s Declined R&D Expenditure:

  • India's expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) has declined to 0.64% in 2020-21 of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), down from 0.8% in 2008-2009 and 0.7% in 2017-2018.
  • This decrease is concerning, especially considering repeated calls from government agencies to double R&D spending.
  • The 2013 Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy aimed to increase Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) to 2% of GDP, a goal reiterated in the 2017-2018 Economic Survey.
  • However, the reasons for the reduction in R&D spending are unclear. Potential factors may include insufficient coordination among government agencies and a lack of strong political will to prioritise R&D expenses.

Developed Countries’ R&D Expenditure:

  • Comparatively, most developed countries allocate between 2% and 4% of their GDPs to R&D.
  • In 2021, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member-countries averaged 2.7% of GDP on R&D, with the U.S. and the U.K. consistently exceeding 2% over the past decade.
  • To drive meaningful development through science, experts advocate for India to allocate at least 1%, ideally 3%, of its GDP annually to R&D until 2047.

What are the Hurdles in Ensuring Sustainable Funding for R&D?

Budget Underutilization:

  • Despite budget allocations, key departments such as the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST), and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) consistently fail to fully utilize their allocated funds. In the fiscal year 2022-2023, DBT utilized only 72% of its allotted budget, DST utilized just 61%, and DSIR expended 69% of its allocation.

Delayed Disbursements:

  • The inadequate capacity within these departments also leads to delays in disbursing grants and salaries, hampering the progress of scientific research and development projects. This issue is compounded by India's overall underinvestment in research and development, necessitating both increased funding and enhanced efficiency in expenditure.

Unpredictable Government Budget Allocations:

  • Government funding for scientific endeavors is often uncertain and subject to fluctuations driven by political priorities, economic conditions, and competing demands from various sectors. The lack of prioritization for R&D funding within government budgets results in insufficient allocations compared to other sectors, possibly stemming from a lack of appreciation for the pivotal role of scientific research in national development and innovation.

Inadequate Private Sector Investment:

  • In the fiscal year 2020-2021, the private sector contributed only 36.4% of Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD), while the Union government's share was 43.7%. This stands in contrast to economically developed nations where the private sector typically contributes around 70% of R&D investment. Reluctance from private investors may be attributed to challenges such as the lack of robust mechanisms to evaluate R&D initiatives, unclear regulatory frameworks that deter investment, limited exit options for investors, particularly in sectors like biotechnology, and concerns regarding intellectual property rights protection.

How Can India Enhance Its R&D Expenditure?

Sustained Investment:

  • To yield significant results, scientific endeavors necessitate consistent and substantial investment. India should prioritize increased spending on R&D to achieve 'developed nation' status, surpassing the investment levels of developed countries which sustain their status quo.

Promotion of Philanthropic Support:

  • Encouraging affluent individuals, corporations, and foundations to contribute to R&D through philanthropy can substantially augment funding. Establishing dedicated funds or grants for scientific research can attract donations from those interested in advancing societal progress.

Promotion of Industry-Academia Collaboration:

  • Facilitating partnerships between academia and industry can harness resources and expertise from both sectors. Industry can provide funding, equipment, and real-world challenges for research, while academic institutions offer scientific knowledge and talent. Government incentives or tax incentives can incentivize such collaborations.

Support for Venture Capital and Angel Investors:

  • Promoting investment by venture capital firms and angel investors in R&D projects with high commercialization potential can provide a significant funding stream. Startups and small enterprises are often at the forefront of innovation and can benefit from private investment to scale their research endeavors.

Government-Led Initiatives:

  • Accelerating the implementation of initiatives like the Anusandhan National Research Foundation is crucial, ensuring adequate funding and efficient utilization to support R&D activities.

Conclusion

  • Addressing challenges related to sustainable funding for science requires coordinated efforts from government agencies, policymakers, research institutions, and the private sector to streamline funding mechanisms, improve capacity-building initiatives, and foster a culture of innovation and research excellence.
  • Additionally, there needs to be a sustained commitment to prioritizing science funding and recognizing its critical role in driving socioeconomic development and addressing global challenges.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the current level of India's expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) as a percentage of GDP?
View Solution


Article 371A and Its Impact on Coal Mining in Nagaland

Context: In Nagaland, the presence of Article 371A in the Indian Constitution presents a significant hurdle to the regulation of coal mining activities. This provision, which upholds Naga customary law, complicates government efforts to oversee small-scale mining operations, particularly in light of recent fatalities resulting from a rat-hole mine explosion.

What Exactly is Article 371A of the Indian Constitution?

  • Article 371A was incorporated into the Constitution (Part XXI) through the 13th Amendment in 1962, providing special provisions for Nagaland (then known as Naga Hills and Tuensang Area).
  • Article 371A stipulates that no parliamentary legislation shall be applicable to Nagaland concerning the religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedures, administration of civil and criminal justice based on Naga customary law, and the ownership and transfer of land and its resources, unless otherwise decided by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly through a resolution.
  • This implies that the state government's authority and jurisdiction over land and its resources are limited, as they are owned and managed by local communities according to their customary laws and traditions.

How is Rat-Hole Mining Regulated in Nagaland?

Coal Mining in Nagaland:

  • Nagaland possesses significant coal reserves totalling 492.68 million tonnes, but dispersed erratically and inconsistently in small pockets spread over a large area.
  • The Nagaland Coal mining policy, established in 2006, permits rat-hole mining due to the scattered nature of coal deposits, making large-scale operations unfeasible.
  • Rat-hole mining is a method of extracting coal from narrow horizontal tunnels or rat-holes, which are often dug by hand and are prone to accidents and environmental hazards.
  • Rat-hole mining licences, known as small pocket deposit licences, are exclusively granted to individual landowners for limited durations and specific conditions.
  • According to Section 6.4(ii) of the Nagaland Coal Policy (First Amendment) of 2014, these licences are restricted to mining areas not exceeding 2 hectares, with an annual coal production cap of 1,000 tonnes and a prohibition on heavy machinery usage.
  • Rat-hole mining operations necessitate consent from relevant departments, including Forest and Environment, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Despite proper clearances and defined mining plans issued by the State government, instances of illegal rat-hole mining persist in Nagaland.
  • The dependence of local communities on coal mining for sustenance further complicates regulatory efforts, as stringent regulations may impact livelihoods, necessitating a delicate balance between economic interests and environmental concerns.

Article 371A and Controlling Rat-Hole Mining in Nagaland:

  • This Article 371A grants Nagaland special rights over its land and resources, making it difficult for the governments to impose regulations that might be perceived as infringing on these rights.
  • The Nagaland government struggles to effectively regulate small-scale mining operations, particularly those practised by individual landowners due to the limitations posed by Article 371A.
  • The recent deaths in a rat-hole mine highlight the safety risks associated with unregulated mining practices. These incidents raise concerns about the lack of proper safety measures and highlight the urgency for effective regulations.

Way Forward

  • Enhance monitoring and enforcement measures to crack down on illegal mining activities, including increased surveillance, inspections, and penalties for violators.
  • Conduct outreach programs to educate local communities about the adverse effects of unregulated mining, emphasizing the importance of compliance with safety and environmental standards.
  • Foster collaboration between government agencies, local communities, mining license holders, and environmental organizations to develop comprehensive strategies for sustainable and responsible mining practices.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
Why is it challenging for the Nagaland government to regulate small-scale mining operations in the state?
View Solution


Marriage Can't be Grounds to Sack Women from the Military

Context: The Supreme Court (SC) recently issued a directive to the Ministry of Defence, instructing them to pay Rs 60 lakh in compensation to a former permanent commissioned officer in the Military Nursing Service (MNS).

  • The ruling stated that the officer was erroneously discharged from service in 1988 on the basis of her marriage.

Key Details of the Case:

Background:

  • The former permanent commissioned officer of the MNS was discharged from her position in 1988 due to her marriage, as outlined in Army Instruction No. 61 of 1977 titled "Terms and Conditions of Service for the Grant of Permanent Commissions in the Military Nursing Service." This instruction was later rescinded by a letter dated August 9, 1995, governing the terms and conditions of the MNS.
  • Clause 11 of the instruction addressed the termination of employment on specific grounds, including being declared unfit for further service by a medical board, marriage, misconduct, breach of contract, or unsatisfactory service.
  • In 2016, she sought recourse through the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), established under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act of 2007 to resolve disputes related to commission, appointments, enrollment, and terms of service. The AFT deemed her termination "illegal" and ordered her reinstatement with back wages.
  • However, the Central government challenged this decision by appealing to the Supreme Court in the case titled 'Union of India & Others vs. Ex. Lt. Selina John'.

Observations of the SC:

  • The Supreme Court declared that her dismissal from service was "incorrect and unlawful."
  • The court dismissed the Centre's argument based on a rule that was in effect at the time.
  • This rule was evidently arbitrary, as terminating employment due to a woman's marriage constitutes blatant gender discrimination and inequality.

How has the SC Acted in Favour of Women Officers in the Armed Forces?

Union of India v. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja Case, 2015:

  • In 2015, seventeen women officers who had joined the Indian Navy as Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers in various cadres (such as Logistics, Law, and Education) filed writ petitions before the Delhi High Court.
  • These officers had completed fourteen years of service as SSC officers but were not considered for the grant of Permanent Commissions (PCs) and were subsequently discharged from service.
  • In 2020, the SC held that serving women Short Service Commission Officers in the Indian Navy were entitled to Permanent Commission at par with their male counterparts.

Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya Case, 2020:

  • In February 2020, SC upheld the demands of women in the SSC, stating that seeking a Permanent Commission (PC) or a full-length career was “justified”.
  • Before the ruling, only male officers on Short Service Commission (SSC) could opt for PC after 10 years of service, leaving women unable to qualify for a government pension.
  • The court's decision brought women officers in 10 streams of the Army at par with men.

Government's Arguments:

  • The Centre argued that the issue was a matter of policy, adding that Article 33 of the Constitution allows fundamental rights to be restricted when it comes to the armed forces.
    • It also argued that there were “dangers involved in serving in the army” and adverse service conditions including “absence of privacy in field and insurgency areas, maternity issues and child care”.
    • The case was first filed in the Delhi HC by women officers in 2003 and the HC awarded Permanent Commissions to women officers in all branches where they were serving in 2010.

Following the 2020 Ruling:

  • Following the 2020 ruling, the Army constituted the Number 5 Selection Board, directing the Army to induct all eligible female officers as Permanent Commission (PC) officers.
  • The special board came into effect in September 2020, led by a senior general officer. It also includes a woman officer of the rank of brigadier.
  • Here, women officers qualifying for the screening process will be granted PC status, subject to being in the acceptable medical category.

Permanent Commission for Women In Indian Coast Guard:

  • In Priyanka Tyagi v. Union of India Case, 2024, SC underscored the necessity for the Central government to ensure that eligible women officers receive permanent commission in the Indian Coast Guard.
  • The Attorney General presented arguments citing operational challenges in granting permanent commissions to women officers.
  • However, the Court dismissed these arguments, emphasising that in the year 2024, such justifications hold no merit.
  • The SC further urged the Centre to develop a gender-neutral policy on this matter, calling for a departure from patriarchal norms.
  • This instance underscores the ongoing struggle for gender equality and the necessity for proactive measures to ensure women's inclusion and empowerment in all spheres of society, including the armed forces.
  • What is the Significance of Increasing the Representation of Women in the Armed Forces?

  • Gender is not a Hindrance: As long as an applicant is qualified for a position, one’s gender is arbitrary. In the modern high technology battlefield, technical expertise and decision-making skills are increasingly more valuable than simple brute strength.
  • Military Readiness: Allowing a mixed gender force keeps the military strong. The armed forces are severely troubled by falling retention and recruitment rates. This can be addressed by allowing women in the combat role.
  • Effectiveness: The blanket restriction for women limits the ability of commanders in theatre to pick the most capable person for the job.
  • Tradition: Training will be required to facilitate the integration of women into combat units. Cultures change over time and the masculine subculture can evolve too.
  • Global Scenario: When women officially became eligible for combat positions in the American military in 2013, it was widely hailed as another step towards the equality of sexes. In 2018, the UK military lifted a ban on women serving in close combat ground roles, clearing the way for them to serve in elite special forces.

Way Forward

  • Implement comprehensive policy reforms to eliminate discriminatory practices and ensure equal opportunities for women officers, including granting them equal access to permanent commissions across all branches and ranks.
  • Conduct regular awareness programs and sensitivity training for military personnel to promote a culture of gender equality, respect, and inclusion within the armed forces.
  • Establish support systems and facilities tailored to the needs of women officers, including provisions for maternity leave, childcare assistance, and adequate medical facilities.

India's first Indigenous Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry

Context: Recently, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated India’s inaugural hydrogen fuel cell ferry boat virtually.

  • The hydrogen cell-powered inland waterway vessel was launched as part of the Harit Nauka initiative.

What are the Other Key Highlights About the Ferry?

Overview:

  • The flagging off of the vessel was a pivotal element of a significant program, which also included the laying of the foundation stone for a ₹17,300-crore project, encompassing the outer harbor at the V.O. Chidambaranar Port.
  • The construction of the vessel took place at the Cochin Shipyard.

Significance:

  • This vessel is expected to enhance urban mobility by facilitating smooth transportation through inland waterways. Moreover, it represents a pioneering stride towards adopting clean energy solutions and aligning with the nation’s commitments towards achieving net-zero emissions.

What is the Harit Nauka initiative?

About:

  • The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways unveiled the Harit Nauka guidelines for inland vessels in January 2024.
  • Guidelines:
  • As per the guidelines, all states have to make efforts to use green fuels for 50% of inland waterways-based passenger fleets in the next one decade, and 100% by 2045.
  • This is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as per the Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047.
  • Globally, the shipping industry is increasingly transitioning to green fuels due to environmental regulations, sustainability goals, and advancements in green fuel technologies.
  • Hydrogen and its derivatives are gaining attention for promising zero-emission fuels for the industry.

What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell?

About:

  • Hydrogen fuel cells are a clean, reliable, quiet, and efficient source of high-quality electric power.
  • They use hydrogen as a fuel to drive an electrochemical process that produces electricity, with water and heat as the only by-products.
  • Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth for a cleaner alternative fuel option.

Significance:

  • Zero Emission Solutions: It is one of the best Zero Emission solutions. It is completely environment friendly with no tailpipe emissions other than water.
  • Tailpipe emissions: Emission of something such as gas or radiation into the atmosphere.
  • Quiet Operation: The fact that the fuel cells make little noise means that they can be used in challenging contexts, such as in hospital buildings.
  • Initiatives Taken: The Union Budget for 2021-22 has announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) that will draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:Which court ruling emphasized the need for comprehensive policy reforms to ensure equal opportunities for women officers in the armed forces?
View Solution


Repealing of Assam Muslim Marriage Act

Context: The Assam Government recently sanctioned the Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024, effectively nullifying the Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act of 1935.

  • As a result of this decision, the registration of Muslim marriages or divorces will now be conducted solely through the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

What is the Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935?

  • The Act, aligned with Muslim Personal Law, was enacted in 1935 and outlines procedures for registering Muslim marriages and divorces.
  • An amendment in 2010 mandated the compulsory registration of Muslim marriages and divorces in Assam, replacing the term 'voluntary' with 'compulsory' in the original Act.
  • Under the Act, the state is authorized to issue licenses to individuals, irrespective of religion, to register marriages and divorces, with Muslim registrars deemed as public servants.
  • It delineates the application process for marriage and divorce registration and outlines the registration procedure.

What are the Reasons Behind the Repealing of Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act of 1935?

Alignment with Contemporary Standards:

  • The Act was deemed outdated and incongruent with modern societal norms, particularly regarding the legal marriageable age. It allowed marriage registration for individuals below the legal age of 18 for brides and 21 for grooms, contradicting current legal standards.

Combatting Child Marriage:

  • The government associated this decision with its ongoing campaign against child marriage. By nullifying the Act, which permitted the registration of underage marriages, the government aims to eradicate child marriage in Assam.

Addressing Informality and Abuse of Authority:

  • The Act facilitated an informal mechanism for marriage registration, potentially leading to misuse by kazis (government-registered officials responsible for conducting marriages). Allegations of facilitating underage marriages and divorces without proper grounds underscored the necessity for reform.

Progress towards Uniform Civil Code (UCC):

  • The decision to repeal the Act is seen as a stride towards implementing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Assam, akin to recent initiatives in Uttarakhand. This move aims to standardize marriage laws across diverse communities, subjecting them to a common legal framework.

What are the Arguments Against the Repeal of the Act?

  • The Act provided a simple and decentralised process for marriage registration (with 94 kazis spread across the state), whereas, there are complexities of the Special Marriage Act, which may deter some individuals, particularly the poor and illiterate, from registering their marriages.
  • The Act faced criticism and legal challenges from various quarters, including advocates and political parties.
  • Concerns were raised about the implications of complete repeal, including the likelihood of increased instances of unregistered marriages.

Why has the Muslim Personal Law been in the Public Eye in Recent Years?

Legal Reform and Judicial Intervention:

  • There have been significant legal reforms and judicial interventions in matters related to Muslim personal law.
  • Landmark cases such as the Triple Talaq case (Shayara Bano v. Union of India) in 2017 and subsequent cases have brought issues like instant divorce, polygamy, and women's rights in Muslim marriages into the spotlight.
  • These cases have prompted debates on the need for reform within Muslim personal law to align with constitutional principles of equality and justice.

Gender Justice and Women's Rights:

  • Concerns about gender justice and women's rights within Muslim personal law have gained prominence.
  • Debates focus on issues such as triple talaq, which allows husbands to instantly divorce their wives without legal proceedings, and the practice of nikah halala, where a woman must marry and divorce another man before remarrying her former husband.
  • These practices have faced criticism for being discriminatory and unjust towards women.

Societal Change and Activism:

  • Changing societal attitudes and increased activism around gender equality have contributed to greater scrutiny of Muslim personal law.
  • Women's rights activists, scholars, and civil society organizations have advocated for reforms within Muslim personal law to ensure gender equality and protection of women's rights in matters of marriage, divorce, maintenance, and inheritance.

Political Dynamics:

  • Muslim personal law has also become a political issue, with various political parties and interest groups taking positions on matters such as triple talaq and uniform civil code.
  • Debates around these issues often intersect with broader political agendas, leading to heightened public attention and discourse.

Constitutional Principles:

  • There is a growing recognition of the need to uphold constitutional principles of equality, justice, and non-discrimination in matters of personal law.
  • Calls for reform within Muslim personal law are often framed within the context of constitutional rights and the need to ensure equal treatment for all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation.

What is Muslim Personal Law?

About:

  • Muslim Personal Law refers to the body of laws that govern the personal matters of individuals who adhere to the Islamic faith.
  • These laws cover various aspects of personal life, including marriage, divorce, inheritance, and family relationships, among others.
  • Muslim Personal Law is derived primarily from the Quran, the Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad), and Islamic jurisprudence.

Issues with Muslim Personal Laws:

  • According to Sharia or the Muslim personal law, men are allowed to practice polygamy that is, they can have more than one wife at the same time, up to a total of four.
  • 'Nikah halala' is a process in which a Muslim woman has to marry another person and get divorced from him before being allowed to marry her divorced husband again.
  • A Muslim man can divorce his wife by uttering Talaq once for three months. This practice is called Talaq-e-Hasan.
  • "Triple talaq" allows a husband to divorce his wife by repeating the word "talaq" (divorce) three times in any form, including email or text message.
  • In Islam, talaq and khula are two terms for divorce for men and women respectively. A man can part ways through 'talaq' while a woman can separate with her husband through 'Khula'.

Application in India:

  • The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act was passed in 1937 with the aim to formulate an Islamic law code for Indian Muslims.
  • The British who were at this point in time governing India, were trying to ensure that Indians were ruled according to their own cultural norms.
  • When it came to distinguishing between laws made for the Hindus and those for the Muslims, they laid out the statement that “clear proof of usage will outweigh the written text of the law” in the case of Hindus. For the Muslims on the other hand, the writings in the Quran would be of foremost importance.
  • Since 1937 therefore, the Shariat Application Act mandates aspects of Muslim social life such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and family relations.
  • The Act lays out that in matters of personal dispute the state shall not interfere.

Personal Laws in Other Religions:

  • The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which lays out guidelines for property inheritance among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
  • The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 lays out rules to be followed by the Parsis according to their religious traditions.
  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 had codified laws related to marriage among Hindus.

Moving Forward

  • A step-by-step strategy towards modernizing personal laws, including those pertaining to Muslim personal law, is essential for aligning them with contemporary societal perspectives. This process necessitates thorough evaluation, engagement with stakeholders, and initiatives aimed at raising public awareness.
  • Legislative changes should uphold constitutional principles while acknowledging religious pluralism.
  • Empowering women and amplifying their autonomy, alongside advocating for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, stand as primary objectives.
  • Bolstering institutional capabilities and overseeing the implementation are crucial for ensuring the efficacy of reforms.

Karnataka's Temple Tax Amendment Bill

Context: The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024, has been successfully passed by the State Legislative Assembly and subsequently by the Council. It is now slated for approval from the Governor.

  • The primary objective of the Bill is to amend various provisions within the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act (KHRI& CE), 1997.

What are the Key Highlights of the Bill?

Revision of Taxation System:

  • The Bill aims to revise the taxation structure applicable to Hindu temples. It proposes diverting 10% of the gross income from temples generating over Rs 1 crore annually into a common pool designated for temple upkeep.
  • Previously, temples earning over Rs 10 lakh annually were required to allocate 10% of their net income to this purpose.
  • Net income signifies the profits of the temple after deducting expenses, while gross income refers to the total revenue generated by the temple.
  • Additionally, the Bill proposes allocating 5% of the income from temples earning between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore to the common pool.
  • These modifications are projected to yield an extra Rs 60 crore from 87 temples with incomes exceeding Rs 1 crore and 311 temples with earnings surpassing Rs 10 lakh.

Utilization of Common Fund:

  • The common fund may be utilized for various purposes, including religious studies and propagation, temple maintenance, and charitable endeavors.
  • The establishment of the common fund pool was initiated in 2011 through an amendment to the 1997 Act.
  • Composition of Committee of Management:
  • The Bill recommends the addition of a member proficient in Vishwakarma Hindu temple architecture and sculpture to the "committee of management" of temples and religious institutions.
  • According to Section 25 of the KHRI& CE 1997 Act, temples and religious institutions are mandated to form a “committee of management” consisting of nine individuals, including a priest, at least one member from a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, two women, and one member from the locality of the institution.

Rajya Dharmika Parishat:

  • The Bill grants authority to the Rajya Dharmika Parishat to appoint committee chairpersons and address religious disputes, temple statuses, and trustee appointments. Furthermore, it necessitates the establishment of district and state committees to supervise infrastructure projects for temples generating over Rs 25 lakh annually.

What are the Concerns Regarding the Bill?

  • The Bill may also be challenged on the grounds of discrimination, as it applies only to Hindu temples, and not to other religious institutions.
  • The Bill may also face scrutiny under Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of the laws, and prohibits arbitrary and unreasonable state action.
  • Critics argued that such interference could potentially infringe on the constitutional rights granted under Article 25.
  • Article 25 ensures individuals' freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion, subject to public order, morality, and health.
  • Article 25(2) (a) empowers the State to regulate or restrict those activities of any religious practice which are economic, political, financial in nature or any other activity which is secular.
  • Additionally, concerns were raised regarding the potential violation of rights guaranteed under Article 26.
  • Article 26 grants religious denominations autonomy to manage their religious affairs and establish institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
  • It is feared that the bill will lead to corruption and mismanagement of temple funds and assets by the government-appointed Rajya Dharmika Parishath.
  • It garnered criticism from the opposition, alleging governmental overreach and financial exploitation of temples.

What is the Historical Context of State Regulation of Temples?

  • The British government's Religious Endowments Act of 1863 aimed to secularize temple management by transferring control to local committees.
  • In 1927, the Justice Party enacted the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, marking one of the earliest efforts by an elected government to regulate temples.
  • In 1950, the Law Commission of India recommended legislation to prevent misuse of temple funds, leading to the enactment of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (TN HR&CE) Act, 1951.
  • This act established the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments for the administration, protection, and preservation of temples and their properties.
  • Although the TN HR&CE Act was enacted, its constitutional validity was challenged before the Supreme Court. In the landmark Shirur Mutt case (1954), the Court upheld the law overall, although it struck down some provisions. A revised TN HR&CE Act was legislated in 1959.

How are other Religious Institutions Managed in India?

The Places of Worship Act, 1991:

  • This act was enacted to preserve the status of religious places of worship as they existed on 15th August 1947, prohibiting their conversion and ensuring the maintenance of their religious character.
  • However, it excludes ancient and historical monuments, archaeological sites, and remains governed by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also does not cover settled cases, resolved disputes, or conversions before its implementation, specifically excluding the place of worship known as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, along with associated legal proceedings.

Constitution of India:

  • Under Article 26 of the Constitution, religious groups have the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage their own affairs in religious matters, and own, acquire, and administer property.
  • Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and other religious denominations utilize these constitutional guarantees to manage their institutions.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC):

  • The SGPC is a Sikh-led committee that manages Sikh Gurdwaras in India and abroad, directly elected by Sikh male and female voters over 18 years of age, as per the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.

Waqf Act of 1954:

  • The Waqf Act of 1954 established the Central Waqf Council, advising the Central Government on the administration of Auqaf (donated assets) and the functioning of state Waqf Boards.
  • State Waqf Boards exercise control over mosques, graveyards, and religious waqfs in their state, primarily ensuring proper management and utilization of properties and revenue dedicated for religious, pious, or charitable purposes under Muslim Law.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th March 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the primary objective of the Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024?
View Solution


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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th March 2024) Part - 1 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What is Article 371A and how does it impact coal mining in Nagaland?
Ans. Article 371A grants special provisions to the state of Nagaland, including autonomy in certain areas such as land and resources. This has implications for coal mining in Nagaland as it requires special considerations and permissions from the state government.
2. What is the significance of sustainable funding for research and development?
Ans. Sustainable funding for research and development is crucial for continuous innovation and progress in various fields. It ensures that projects are not abruptly halted due to lack of funds, enabling researchers to explore new ideas and technologies.
3. How does the repealing of the Assam Muslim Marriage Act impact the Muslim community in Assam?
Ans. The repealing of the Assam Muslim Marriage Act removes certain restrictions on Muslim marriages in the state, providing more freedom and autonomy to the Muslim community in Assam to follow their own customs and traditions.
4. What are the key features of India's first Indigenous Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry?
Ans. India's first Indigenous Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry is a sustainable mode of transportation powered by hydrogen fuel cells, reducing carbon emissions and promoting eco-friendly travel. It showcases India's capability in developing innovative technologies for a greener future.
5. How does the Karnataka's Temple Tax Amendment Bill impact the revenue generated from temples in the state?
Ans. The Karnataka's Temple Tax Amendment Bill aims to revise and streamline the taxation system for temples in the state, potentially impacting the revenue generated from temple donations and offerings. It may lead to changes in how temple finances are managed and utilized.
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