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Current Affairs August 29, 2023: Indian vs French Model of Secularism, Scholarships for Religious Minorities, Bharat NCAP, Caste Based Survey, SHIVASHAKTI Point, Bright Star-23, Chikuwa Rice, ORON Aircraft, NABHMITRA, Somatic Genetic Mutation, Asiatic Lion

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{GS1 – Secularism – 2023/08/29} Indian vs French Model of Secularism

  • Context (TH | TG): France to ban girls from wearing abayas in state schools.
  • The French Government said that the ban is in the spirit of secularism.

Not All Headscarves Are Burqas: Decoding The Different Types of Veils ...

Other Such Religious Ban by France

  • In 2004, banned the wearing of ostensibly religious symbols in schools (included the Islamic headscarf, Jewish kippas, Sikh turbans, and Christian crosses).
  • In 2010, it banned wearing the burqa and niqab in public.

Challenges for France from Religious Bans

  • Encroachment on civil liberties
  • Discrimination on religious grounds
  • Increase radicalisation of religious minorities
  • Increase social disharmony and polarization

French Secularism and Indian Secularism

French Secularism (laïcité)

Indian Secularism

Developed during the French Revolution; a French law separated the church and the state. The word secular was included in the Indian constitution by 42nd Consitutional Amendment. But the spirit of secularism was inherent earlier also.
Refers to the freedom of citizens and public institutions from the influence of organized religion. Based on ‘Sarva Dharama Sambhav (means destination of all religions is same, though the paths followed are different).
Emphasizes on strict separation of religion and state. Relies on the Principled Distance approach (means the state does not interfere in religious matters and also does not promote any particular religion)
Follows ‘Negative Secularism’ (considers religion as purely a private affair; does allow the display of religion in public places). Follows ‘Positive secularism’ (which means the state plays an enabler role in the exercise of fundamental rights and the religious freedoms of all communities).

{GS2 – MoMA – Schemes – 2023/08/29} Scholarships for Religious Minorities

  • Context (TH): The Ministry of Minority Affairs has been steadily reducing funding for scholarships for religious minorities in recent years.
  • The decision to discontinue these scholarships is especially concerning for Muslim students.
  • The highest proportion of out-of-school children belong to Muslims (4.43%), followed by Hindus (2.73%), Christians (1.52%) and others (1.26%), according to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan data.
  • As per the All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-2021, of the total 4.13 crore college students, less than 20 lakh Muslims are enrolled in higher education
  • The survey represented a divide between North and South regarding minority representation.
  • Kerala and Telangana showed an increase in Muslim student enrolment, while UP and J&K had the lowest numbers. 

Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA)

  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) was established in 2006 by the GoI to address the specific needs and issues of the notified minority communities in the country.
  • The MoMA was carved out of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which was previously responsible for the welfare of all disadvantaged groups.
  • The objective of the MoMA is to ensure a more focused approach towards educational and economic empowerment and infrastructure development.
  • One of the major initiatives of the MoMA is the revision of the 15-point programme for the Welfare of Minorities, launched in 1983.
  • As part of educational empowerment, the Revised 15-point programme includes a provision for scholarships for minority communities at pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means levels.
  • The MoMA also implements various schemes and programmes, such as:
    • Nai Roshni
    • Nai Manzil
    • Seekho aur Kamao
    • Ustad
    • Hamari Dharohar etc.

Revised 15-Point Programme

  • The programme has four broad objectives:
    1. Enhancing opportunities for education;
    2. Ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities and employment;
    3. Improving the conditions of living and infrastructure; and
    4. Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence.
  • The programme covers initiatives of different ministries and departments.
  • The programme provides that 15% of targets and outlays under various schemes should be earmarked for minorities.

Religious Minorities in India

  • India is home to over 30 crore people (20% Population) from religious minority communities.
  • These include six religions notified under the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992.
    1. Muslims (14.2%)
    2. Christians (2.3%)
    3. Sikhs (1.7%),
    4. Buddhists (0.7%),
    5. Jains (0.4%)
    6. Zoroastrians (around 57,000).

Sachar Committee’s on the Socio-economic and Educational Status of Muslims in India

  • Tabled in Parliament in 2006, it concluded that the minority was deprived and neglected and behind the mainstream in several social and economic sectors.
  • According to the report, by and large, Muslims rank somewhat above SC/ST but below Hindu OBCs, other minorities and Hindu General (mostly upper castes).

Welfare Schemes for the Educational Empowerment of Minorities and their Status

Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF)

  • A scheme to provide financial assistance to research scholars from minority communities pursuing an M.Phil and PhD from UGC-recognised institutions.
  • The scheme benefitted over 6,700 candidates between 2014-15 and 2021-22, with Rs 738.85 crore paid before it was cancelled in 2022.

Padho Pardesh

  • A scheme to provide interest subsidy on education loans for overseas studies to students from economically weaker sections of minority communities.
  • It was discontinued from 2022-23 and benefitted 20,365 beneficiaries since its inception.

Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship

  • A scholarship for meritorious girls from minority communities for higher secondary education provided by the MAEF. The scholarship had zero allocation in 2023-24.

Naya Savera

  • A scheme to provide free coaching to minority students for entrance and competitive examinations.
  • The scheme added a new component in 2013-14 for students of classes 11-12 with science subjects.
  • The scheme was discontinued in 2023, as the NEP 2020 does not support coaching programmes.

Nai Udaan

  • A scheme to support minority students preparing for the preliminary examinations conducted by the UPSC, SSC and State PSCs. The scheme had no funds allocated in 2023-24.

Scheme for Providing Education to Madarsas and Minorities (SPEMM)

  • A scheme to support quality education in madrasas by introducing modern subjects.
  • The scheme was allocated Rs 10 crore in 2023-24, more than 90% less than the allocation in 2022-23, which was Rs 160 crore.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)

  • A scheme to provide infrastructure in identified minority concentration areas, including education and skill development.
  • The budgetary allocation of the scheme was reduced from Rs 1,650 crore in 2022-23 to Rs 600 crore in 2023-24.

Way Forward

Niti Aayog Recommendation’s

  • It recommended that the government devise customised interventions for the development of minorities by identifying development gaps in minority-concentrated localities.
  • It recommended a 15% annual increase in the budget for scholarships from 2019-20.
  • Also increasing the number of scholarships for girls from minority communities by 10% yearly.

{GS2 – MoRTH – Schemes – 2023/08/29} Bharat NCAP

  • Context (TH): The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) launched the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (Bharat NCAP) to enhance road safety.
  • Bharat NCAP is an indigenous car crash testing programme modelled on the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP). It will come into effect from October 1, 2023.
  • Under the programme, cars voluntarily nominated by manufacturers will be crash-tested.

Objectives

  • To safeguard the lives of citizens
  • To make a comparative assessment of vehicle performance
  • To promote healthy competition among manufacturers
  • To create an ecosystem of competitive safety enhancements

Features

Applicability

  • Only the base model of a particular variant will be tested.
  • It applies to:
    • Passenger vehicles made/sold in India with up to eight seats (excluding the driver’s seat), and
    • Weight less than 3500 kg.

Voluntary

  • It is a voluntary programme (instead, it should have been made mandatory).
  • But, in some instances, cars may be subjected to a crash test. Such as:
    • For a base model of a popular variant (minimum clocked sale of 30,000 units) or
    • When the MoRTH recommends a model for testing in the interest of public safety.

Tests

  • Three tests will be conducted on a vehicle:
    1. Frontal Impact Test
    2. Side Impact Test
    3. Pole Side Impact Test

Global NCAP Reveals How They Get Cars For Testing And Who Pays The Bill

Rating

  • A rating from one star to five stars will be assigned to a vehicle after an evaluation of three parameters:
    1. Adult Occupant Protection (AOP)
    2. Child Occupant Protection (COP)
    3. Safety Assist Technologies (SAT)

Mandatory provisions for safety

  • The installation of six airbags
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Three-point seatbelts for every passenger
  • Improved emergency braking systems

Continental Automotive - Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Significance

  • Ensures fewer casualties and injuries.
  • Lessens the strain on healthcare and insurance sectors.
  • Fosters a positive societal impact by reducing trauma caused by road traffic injuries and deaths.
  • Enhances the brand reputation.

Global NCAP

  • It is a major project of the Towards Zero Foundation (UK-registered charity).
  • It serves as a platform for cooperation among NCAPs worldwide.
  • It promotes the universal adoption of the UN’s motor vehicle safety standards worldwide.

{GS2 – Polity – IC – 7th Sch – 2023/08/29} Caste-Based Survey by Bihar

  • Context (TH): The SC refused to stay uploading data collected in the Bihar caste-based survey.
  • The Bihar Government conducted a caste-based survey in January 2023.
  • The Patna HC upheld the caste-based survey as it is aimed at Development with Justice.
  • The SC stated that the right to privacy is not affected when someone is asked to provide their caste or sub-caste information.
  • The decadal census’s responsibility rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (Ministry of Home Affairs).

Grounds on which the petition was filed in the Patna HC and later in the SC

Right to privacy

  • The petitioners argued that the right to privacy of those surveyed would be infringed due to the queries concerning their religion, caste, and monthly income.
  • The HC reiterated that permissible restrictions could be imposed on the fundamental right in the state’s legitimate interests, provided they are proportional and reasonable.
  • It clarified that the data is being collected to identify the economic, educational, and other social aspects of different communities which require further action by the State for their upliftment.

Powers of the state to carry out such a survey

  • The petitioner argued that Entry 69 of the Union List of Seventh Schedule of IC contains the Centre’s exclusive power to conduct a census.
  • However, Entry 45 of the Concurrent List confers power to both Centre and the states to collect statistics for any matter listed in List II and III of the Seventh Schedule.
  • Entry 20 of the Concurrent List provides for economic and social planning.
  • The court supported caste identification and ruled that the survey was needed for affirmative action according to Article 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of IC.

Central government’s view

  • In the SC, the Union government said that:
    • Census is a statutory process governed by the Census Act, 1948.
    • The subject of the census is covered on the Union List (Entry 69) in the 7th Schedule of the IC.
    • Only the Central government is entitled to conduct a census.
    • No other body is entitled to exercise either census or any action akin to the census.

Census Organisation

  • It was set up in 1949 in the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Registrar General of India and ex-officio Census Commissioner.
  • This organisation is entrusted with:
  • Preparing data on population figures, including vital statistics and census.
  • Implementation of the Birth and Death Registration Act, 1969.

Census Commissioner of India

  • The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India was established in 1961 under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It is the statutory authority vested with the responsibility of conducting the Housing and Population Census in India under the Census Act, 1948.

Registrar General of India (RGI)

  • Census Commissioner is also designated RGI under the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act, 1969. The office of RGI is primarily responsible for the following activities:
    • Housing and Population Census
    • Civil Registration System (CRS): Registration of births and deaths.
    • Sample Registration System (SRS): A large-scale sample survey of vital events is conducted half-yearly. It is an important source of vital rates like Birth Rate, Death Rate, Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate at the State level in the country.
    • National Population Register (NPR): It is prepared by collecting information relating to all persons usually residing in the country.
    • Mother Tongue Survey

Census and Caste data

  • 1931 Census was the last that officially collected full caste data.
  • Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but not on other castes.

Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC)

  • In 2011, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in rural areas and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) in urban areas started SECC.
  • The SECC data, excluding caste data, was finalised and published by the two ministries in 2016.

The Seventh Schedule of the IC

  • It has three lists dividing power between the Union and States concerning certain subjects:
    1. The Union List (97 Subjects)
    2. The State List (66 Subjects)
    3. The Concurrent List (47 Subjects)

{GS2 – Polity – UCC – 2023/08/29} Section 213 of Indian Succession Act

  • Context (TH): The Centre has informed the Madras HC that it would amend Section 213 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
  • Section 213 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 requires Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis in Chennai, Mumbai, or Kolkata to get court permission for inheriting property through a will.
  • Accordingly, people professing Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism could not inherit properties in the three metropolitan cities merely based on a will.
  • The subjects of “wills” and “succession” are in the Concurrent List.

Exemptions

  • This section does not apply to Muhammadan or an Indian Christian. (The word “Indian Christian” was added by the amendment in 2002.)
  • Britishers had exempted Muslims from Section 21 of the Succession Act because they were governed by the Sharia (Muslim personal law).

Way forward

  • The Law Commission, in its 209th Report (2008), recommended deleting Section 213, which discriminates between Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis on the one side and Christians and Muslims on the other for grant of probate or wills or Letters of Administration.
  • Reasonable and thoughtful application of the principles of the Uniform Civil Code can be explored.

UCC is explained in detail in the July Current Affairs

{GS3 – S&T – Space – 2023/08/29} Naming of Sites on the Moon

  • Context (IE | TH): Points where the Chandrayaan-3 lander touched down and Chandrayaan-2 crashed on the lunar surface will be named Shiv Shakti and Tiranga, respectively.
  • Earlier, India named the spot where the probe Chandrayaan-1 crashed as Jawahar Sthal.
  • GoI also announced that August 23rd, the day the Chandrayaan-3’s lander made a soft landing near the South pole of the Moon, will be commemorated as National Space Day.

INTERACTIVE - Moon landings India-1689244758

Who Names the Landing Sites on the Moon?

  • The Moon does not come under the jurisdiction of any one country.
  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is responsible for naming celestial objects, including features on the Moon. So, lunar features cannot be named by any country independently.
  • Initially, the lunar sites were named informally due to limited information about the lunar surface.
  • But as higher resolution pictures of the lunar surface are obtained by lunar missions, the countries responsible for the missions started to name lunar sites formally.
  • These names were submitted to the IAU for approval.
  • Article II of the Outer Surface Treaty (1967) states “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, through use or occupation, or by any other means.

How does IAU Consider Names for Celestial Objects?

  • IAU’s Working Groups handle the process of naming celestial objects.
  • Anyone can suggest a name to the Task Group without a guarantee of approval.
  • Names successfully reviewed by a Task Group are submitted to the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).
  • After approval of the WGPSN, names are approved as official IAU nomenclature.

IAU Norms for Naming Celestial Objects

  • Name should be simple, clear, and unambiguous.
  • It should not duplicate existing names.
  • It should not have political, military, or religious significance (names of political figures before the 19th century can be used).
  • If the name commemorates a person, the person must be deceased for at least three years before the proposal is submitted.

International Astronomical Union (IAU)

  • IAU is an international nongovernmental organisation.
  • Its objective is to promote the science of astronomy in all its aspects.
  • It was established in 1919, with its headquarters in Paris, France.
  • It is composed of:
    • National Members (adhering organisations)
    • Individual Members (adhering persons)
    • Junior Members (temporary adhering persons)
    • Honorary Members
  • Its members are spread across 92 different countries, which also includes India.

{Prelims – Defense Exercises – 2023/08/29} EXERCISE BRIGHT STAR-23

  • Context (PIB): Exercise BRIGHT STAR– 23 is scheduled to be conducted from 31 August to 14 September 2023 at Mohammed Naguib Military Base in Egypt.
  • It is a tri-services joint military exercise that will be led by US and Egyptian Army.
  • The first edition of the Exercise was conducted in the year 1980 in Egypt.
  • This year 34 countries will participate in Exercise BRIGHT STAR- 23.
  • It will be the largest-ever joint military exercise in the Middle East & North Africa region.
  • This is the first time that the Indian Armed Forces are participating in Exercise BRIGHT STAR.

{Prelims – GI Tag – Agri – 2023/08/29} Chokuwa rice

  • Context (TOI): Chokuwa rice recently earned a GI tag for its exquisiteness.
  • Chokuwa rice is a type of semi-glutinous winter rice cultivated in Assam, especially around the Brahmaputra River area.
  • It is also known as Magic rice or Komal Chaul (soft rice), as it can be consumed after soaking it in cold or lukewarm water without any cooking.
  • Chokuwa rice is a part of Assam’s culinary heritage and has been a staple of the troops of the mighty Ahom dynasty, who ruled Assam for six centuries.
  • It belongs to the Sali rice group, sown in June-July and harvested in Nov-Dec.

Chokuwa Rice of Assam

{Prelims – S&T – Defence – 2023/08/29} ORON Aircraft

  • Context (HT): ORON aircraft is a state-of-the-art Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) mission aircraft that was developed by Israel.
  • ORON aircraft is capable to locate and track targets in all weather conditions.
  • It is equipped with advanced algorithms and AI that allow it to process and analyze large amounts of data in real-time and create a comprehensive intelligence picture of the situation.
  • It is expected to become operational in 2024.

Lockheed P-3 Orion (Don’t Confuse it with!)

  • Lockheed P-3 Orion is a four-engined, turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s.

{Prelims – S&T – ISRO – 2023/08/29} Nabhmitra device

  • Context (TH): ISRO developed a satellite-based communication system, Nabhmitra, for fishermen.
  • Nabhmitra enables two-way messaging services, allowing fishermen to communicate with the shore authorities and receive information on weather, cyclones, maritime boundaries etc.
  • The device also facilitates distress messaging and emergency response.
  • Fishermen can Press a Button on the device and send an alert to the control centre, which will receive the precise location of the boat and respond immediately.
  • Nabhmitra provides weather and cyclone warnings in the local language of the fishermen, enabling them to make informed decisions.

Nabhmitra Device Functioning

{Prelims – Sci – Bio – 2023/08/29} Somatic Genetic Mutation

  • Context (TH): An explosion in the amount of data regarding somatic genetic variants.
  • A genetic mutation refers to a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene.

DNA

  • The particles in nucleus of the cell, responsible for heredity, are called chromosomes.
  • Chromosomes are made up of proteins and a type of biomolecules called nucleic acids.
  • Nucleic acids are responsible for the transfer of characters from parents to off springs.
  • There are two types of nucleic acids, DNA and RNA.
  • A nucleic acid containing deoxyribose is called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) while that which contains ribose is called ribonucleic acid (RNA).
  • A gene is a segment of DNA and is the basic unit of heredity.
  • Genes control the physical characteristics of an organism.

Cell, Nucleus, Chromosome, DNA, Gene

Somatic Mutation vs Germline Mutation

Illustrations of germ-line and somatic mutations

Characteristic

Somatic Mutation

Germline Mutation

Location Somatic cells ( in body’s tissues/organs) Reproductive cells (egg and sperm)
Occurence After conception During conception
Inheritance Not passed on to offspring Passed on to offspring
Cause Spontaneous or environmental factors Spontaneous or inherited from a parent
Effects Contribute to the development of some diseases like cancer Cause diseases that are passed down from parents to children

{Prelims – Species – 2023/08/29} Asiatic Lions Population Rising

  • Context (TH): The Asiatic lion population is growing in the Saurashtra region.
  • To accommodate the growing population, suggestions given are:
    • New wildlife sanctuary along the Shetrunji River in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.
    • Limits of the Purna Wildlife Sanctuary in Dangs district be extended.
  • Purna Wildlife Sanctuary: It forms the northern and eastern limits of the Western Ghats.
  • It is the habitat of leopards, barking deer, and four-horned antelopes.

Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks in Gujarat and Dadra and Nagar Havelii

Asiatic Lions in India

  • The only population of Asiatic lions in the world is restricted to the Gir-Saurashtra region.
  • In the Gir-Saurashtra region, 50% of the lion population is recorded outside the protected areas (PAs). Most lions counted outside PAs are sighted in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.

Asiatic lion's population in Saurashtra Region of Gujarat

{Prelims – Sports – 2023/08/29} Neeraj Chopra’s Gold Medal

  • Context (TH): Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw event at the 2023 World Athletics Championships. Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem won a silver medal.
  • Neeraj became the first-ever Indian to secure gold in the World Athletics Championships.
  • He had secured a silver medal in the 2022 World Athletics Championships.
  • He also became only the third in history to simultaneously hold the sport’s Olympics and World Championships titles.

Gold medal at Tokyo 2020

  • Neeraj became the first and only athlete from India to win an Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.
  • His gold medal at Tokyo 2020 was India’s second individual Olympic gold medal after shooter Abhinav Bindra’s 10m air rifle glory at Beijing 2008.
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