UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS-DAILY CAPSULE-AUG 15 2017
Centre likely to differ with J&K on Article 35A.
- The Centre is likely to take a divergent opinion from that of the Jammu and Kashmir government on Article 35A, on the grounds that it discriminates against women who marry outside the State from applying for jobs or buying property, which is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
- “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. It is added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 – issued by the President of India, “in exercise of the powers conferred by” clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution, with the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were apprehensions that any adverse order against the provision could give the separatists a chance to stoke violence in the Valley.
- The Supreme Court is hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A, which prohibits a non-Jammu and Kashmir resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for residents.
Largest volcanic region on earth lies in Antartica
- The largest volcanic region on Earth — with nearly 100 volcanoes — has been discovered two km below the surface of the vast ice sheet in west Antarctica.
- Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Britain found a staggering 91 previously unknown volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered over the previous century of exploring the region.
- The height of these newly discovered volcanoes range from 100 to 3,850 metres, with the highest almost as tall as Switzerland’s 3,970-metre Eiger mountain.
- These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system — which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.
- Geologists say this huge region is likely to dwarf east Africa’s volcanic ridge — currently rated as the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.
A great divide
- The incidents of protests and violence by tribal bodies in Nagaland earlier this year over 33% reservations for women in urban local bodies have once again highlighted the issue of women and representation.In this context, it is interesting to look at the case of Haryana which conducted elections to rural panchayat bodies in January last year.
- The State amended the State Panchayati Raj Act, even including criteria such as educational qualifications and standards for candidates to meet while seeking election to panchayat bodies.
- Academically, men from the general category had to be matriculates, women and Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates had to have passed out of middle school, while SC women should have passed standard five.
- This raised criticism as it disqualified 68% of SC women and 41% of SC men. But quite interestingly, women’s representation increased to an average of 42% across all levels in comparison to 36% in the fourth panchayat election held in 2010.
The child’s right to dignity
Recently, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court heard a petition on the constitutionality of the marital rape exception in the IPC (Exception 2 to Section 375).
- The petitioners pointed to the contradictions between the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), which defines “child” as a person below 18 years, and the marital rape exception in the IPC, which states that sexual intercourse between a man and his wife (who is not under 15 years) is not rape.
- The Bench apparently inquired whether the court must intervene to provide protection to married girls between 15 and 18 years from sexual exploitation by their spouse, given the legislative intention to exempt marital rape from prosecution.
- The technicality is easily answered because the POCSO Act does not carve out any exception in favor of marriage.
- The legislative intention is also evident from Section 42A of the POCSO Act, which provides that in case of inconsistency with the provisions of any other law, the POCSO Act will override.
Retail, WPI inflation accelerate
Retail inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI) accelerated to 2.36% in July after easing for three straight months.
- The gains in retail prices were driven by a hardening of prices in sugar and confectionery items, pan, tobacco and intoxicants.
- However, there was disinflation in the food basket.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which factors in CPI for arriving at its monetary policy, had earlier this month slashed the key interest rate (repo rate) by 25 basis points to 6%.
- Separately, skyrocketing tomato prices propelled inflation at the wholesale level to 1.88% in July from 0.9% in June, with the food category overall contributing significantly to the uptick in WPI terms.
- Inflation in the food segment of the primary articles category in July came in at 2.15%, snapping a two-month contraction.
- Within this, the fruits and vegetables segment contributed the most, with inflation coming in at 29%.
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