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03 August Current Affairs

Amarnath yatra pilgrims and tourists

In News:

The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration issued a security advisory for the Amarnath yatra pilgrims, citing terror threat in the Kashmir Valley.

Details:

In view of the “prevailing security situation in Kashmir”, the J&K government advisory said that the pilgrims may curtail the Amarnath yatra. It also asked the pilgrims and the tourists to leave the Kashmir Valley as soon as possible.

They said that the Amarnath yatra is “over” in view of the security threat to the pilgrims and the tourists. “The Amarnath yatra was supposed to continue till August 15 but in view of the security threat, it has been curtailed”.

About Amarnath Yatra:

Key data’s:

The Amarnath yatra 2019 will begin from July 1 to August 15. The registration starts for both the Baltal and Chandanwari routes, through 440 designated branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank and YES Bank all over the country.

Amarnath cave:

Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India, situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

The shrine forms a significant part of Hinduism, and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is open for pilgrims, during the summer.

Thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave on challenging mountainous terrain to see an ice stalagmite formed inside the cave.

The Shiva Linga inside the cave is a stalagmite formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. The stalagmite have round tip.

A grama sabha meets to fight giant African snails

In News:

The Tavanur grama panchayat in Malappuram district has become the first local body in the country to convene a grama sabha meeting exclusively to tackle the giant African snail menace.

Details:

Tavanur panchayat, particularly Koorada ward, has been infested with giant African snails. There are thousands of them in fields, wells, ponds, on walls, gates and trees. Repeated attempts by the local people to drive them off had failed.

Key Facts:

GALS (Achatina fulica) is gregarious, nocturnal and can be aggressive in its feeding frenzy.

Their length ranges from 7 cm to 20 cm and the Goa University specimens are identical at 11 cm in length.

They are known to be dangerous, as they can reproduce faster and take over entire ecosystems.

Potential threat:

  • To agro-horticultural crops and local flora in Goa
  • Could also displace local land snails species (Xetatle Konge).
  • Pose a health threat as they are vectors of human disease such as brain fever (eosinophilic meningitis).

IIT-Madras, DU, BHU among 14 institutes to get eminence tag

In News:

The Union government granted the institute of eminence (IoE) status to 14 more higher educational institutions, including Indian Institute of Technology, Madras; Shiv Nadar University and O.P Jindal Global University.

Details:

The move allows these institutions greater academic, administrative and financial autonomy.

Since the (IoE) scheme has only provided for (10) public and (10) private institutions, the UGC has examined the list of (15) public and (15) private institutions using transparent and verifiable criteria.

While private institutes will enjoy the autonomy, public institutes in the list will also get an assistance of ₹1,000 crore each over a period of five years to improve their growth in India and in global rankings.

About Institutions of Eminence scheme:

  • The institutes of eminence scheme under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
  • The selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
  • The government will run 10 of these and they will receive special funding.
  • The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
  • Eligibility: Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
  • The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

In News:

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 that empowers the Union Home Ministry to designate individuals as terrorists was passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Details:

In the 240-member House, 147 members voted in favour of the Bill and 42 against.

Key features of the Bill:

The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.  The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.

Approval for seizure of property by NIA: If the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of properties that may be connected with terrorism.

Investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).  The Bill adds another treaty to the list.  This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Background:

The UAPA – an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed in 2004 — was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Eventually amendments were brought in under the successive United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments in 2004, 2008 and 2013.

Kapil Mishra disqualified under anti-defection law

In News:

Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel disqualified rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra under the anti-defection law.

Details:

Anti-Defection Law:

  • The anti-defection law was passed by parliament in 1985.
  • The 52nd amendment to the Constitution added the Tenth Schedule which laid down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection.

Who is considered as defected?

  • A Member of Parliament or state legislature was deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily resigned from his party or disobeyed the directives of the party leadership on a vote.
  • Independent members would be disqualified if they joined a political party.
  • Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member.

The law also made a few exceptions:

  • Any person elected as speaker or chairman could resign from his party, and rejoin the party if he demitted that post.
  • A party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds of its party legislators voted for the merger (Initially it was one third 91st amendment act made it two third).
  • The law initially permitted splitting of parties, but that has now been outlawed.

Census may skip caste count

In News:

Census 2021 is unlikely to collect “caste wise” data as a similar exercise conducted in 2011 by another ministry threw up about 40 lakh caste names that were difficult to tabulate.

Details:

The decennial exercise would involve 31 lakh trained enumerators, with data collected digitally using Android based mobile phones.

The Census data would be available by the year 2024-25 as the entire process would be conducted digitally and data crunching would be quicker.

The 2011 caste data, collected as part of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), is yet to be released by the Centre. As per the National Commission for Backward Classes, there are 2,479 entries in the Central list of the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

The digitisation will ensure there is not much delay and most parameters will be available by 2024-25. In many countries, census is collected in one day.

Article 35A

In News:

J&K parties warned the Centre against any dilution in the constitutional status of J&K, and sought the government’s clarification on the current “hysteria” in Parliament.

Details:

Article 35A of the Indian Constitution

Article 35A empowers the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.

Genesis of the Article 35A:

Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.

The Article 35A was incorporated based on the 1952 Delhi Agreement entered between then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah. The agreement extended Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Presidential order was issued under Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution which allows the President to make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.

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