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13 August Current Affairs

Triple talaq bill

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved a few amendments in the instant triple talaq bill. The amended triple talaq bill will be tabled in Rajya Sabha for its approval.


In December, the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection Bill, 2017), which criminalises the practice of talaq-e-bidda. This came after the Supreme Court on August 22, 2017, struck down triple talaq, calling the Islamic practice unconstitutional.

Changes in the triple Talaq Bill- The Cabinet made three amendments to the triple talaq law:

1) Provision for bail:

While the proposed law will remain “non-bailable” offence, the accused can approach a magistrate even before the trial to seek bail. Under a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station. A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail ‘after hearing the wife’. “But the offence of instant triple talaq under the proposed law remains non-bailable.

The magistrate would ensure that bail is granted only after the husband agrees to grant compensation to the wife as provided in the bill. The quantum of compensation will be decided by the magistrate, as per the bill.

2) Check misuse:

Another amendment makes it clear that the police would lodge FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage. This would settle fears that even a neighbour can file FIR as is the cases in any cognisable offence. This would check misuse.

3) A compoundable offence:

The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq “compoundable”. Now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case. However, the jail term for a Muslim man who resorts to triple talaq remains three years and only a magistrate, and not a local police officer, can release the accused on bail.

Original Bill includes:

  • If a Muslim man resorts to triple talaq then he will face a jail term of three years, as instant triple talaq will now be considered a non-bailable, cognisable offence.
  • Opting for triple talaq could also attract fine and the amount would be the magistrate’s call who would be hearing the case.
  • A Muslim wife can also approach a magistrate and ask for subsistence allowance for herself and her minor children.
  • A victim of triple talaq can seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take the final decision on the issue. Only Jammu and Kashmir will be out of the ambit of the proposed law.

About instant triple talaq:

There are three forms of talaq (divorce) in Islam: Ahsan, Hasan and Talaq-e-Biddat (triple or instant talaq). Ahsan and Hasan are revocable but Biddat is irrevocable. Biddat is considered sinful but is permissible in Islamic law. It has been banned in more than 20 Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Source: The Hindu

Delhi Police gets India’s first all-women SWAT team

In News:

Delhi will be the first police force in the country to have an all-women SWAT team.

Key facts:

  • Trained by specialists from India and abroad, 36 women constables from northeastern states have been inducted into the squad after rigorous, 15-month training.
  • The maximum numbers of members (13) are from Assam and five each from Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Manipur.
  • These commandos will be stationed at strategic locations in central and south Delhi. Amids intel inputs of women fidayeens planning to target the capital, this all-women unit would helm the security apparatus around Red Fort and India Gate as well. Many of them would be posted in anti-terror vans called Parakram.
  • The women are trained to handle challenges unique to the capital—like climbing multi-storey buildings or carrying out hostage rescue operations at hotels, buses or metro.
  • The formation of this team is being considered a big achievement as most western countries do not have all-women SWAT teams due to the kind of training required to become one.

Source: The Hindu

Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018

In News:

The Lok Sabha has passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It will amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Act contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration, and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.

Key features of the Bill are:

Arbitration Council of India:  The Bill seeks to establish an independent body called the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) for the promotion of arbitration, mediation, conciliation and other alternative dispute redressal mechanisms.

Its functions include: (i) framing policies for grading arbitral institutions and accrediting arbitrators, (ii) making policies for the establishment, operation and maintenance of uniform professional standards for all alternate dispute redressal matters, and (iii) maintaining a depository of arbitral awards (judgments) made in India and abroad.

Composition of the ACI:  The ACI will consist of a Chairperson who is either: (i) a Judge of the Supreme Court; or (ii) a Judge of a High Court; or (iii) Chief Justice of a High Court; or (iv) an eminent person with expert knowledge in conduct of arbitration.  Other members will include an eminent arbitration practitioner, an academician with experience in arbitration, and government appointees.

Appointment of arbitrators:  Under the 1996 Act, parties were free to appoint arbitrators.  In case of disagreement on an appointment, the parties could request the Supreme Court, or the concerned High Court, or any person or institution designated by such Court, to appoint an arbitrator.

Role of courts: Under the Bill, the Supreme Court and High Courts may now designate arbitral institutions, which parties can approach for the appointment of arbitrators.  For international commercial arbitration, appointments will be made by the institution designated by the Supreme Court.  For domestic arbitration, appointments will be made by the institution designated by the concerned High Court.  In case there are no arbitral institutions available, the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court may maintain a panel of arbitrators to perform the functions of the arbitral institutions.  An application for appointment of an arbitrator is required to be disposed of within 30 days.

Relaxation of time limits:  Under the 1996 Act, arbitral tribunals are required to make their award within a period of 12 months for all arbitration proceedings.  The Bill proposed to remove this time restriction for international commercial arbitrations.

Completion of written submissions:  Currently, there is no time limit to file written submissions before an arbitral tribunal.  The Bill requires that the written claim and the defence to the claim in an arbitration proceeding, should be completed within six months of the appointment of the arbitrators.

Confidentiality of proceedings:  The Bill provides that all details of arbitration proceedings will be kept confidential except for the details of the arbitral award in certain circumstances.  Disclosure of the arbitral award will only be made where it is necessary for implementing or enforcing the award.

About Arbitration:

Arbitration is a settlement of dispute between two parties to a contract by a neutral third party i.e. the arbitrator without resorting to court action. The process can be tailored to suit parties’ particular needs.

Arbitrators can be chosen for their expertise. It is confidential and can be speedier and cheaper than court. There are limited grounds of appeal. Arbitral awards are binding and enforceable through courts.

Significance of ADR:

It is felt that a reliable and responsive alternative dispute resolution system is essential for rapidly developing countries like India. While business disputes need speedy resolution, litigation is the least favoured method for that. The Indian judicial system is marred by delays because of which businesses suffer as disputes are not resolved in a reasonable time period. Therefore, need for alternative dispute resolution processes like negotiation, mediation conciliation and arbitration is felt from time to time.

Source: The Hindu


In News:

A UN human rights committee has heard there are credible reports that China is holding a million Uighurs in “counter-extremism centres”.


The Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority mostly based in China’s Xinjiang province. They make up around 45% of the population there. Xinjiang is officially designated as an autonomous region within China, like Tibet to its south.

About Beijing accused:

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have submitted reports to the UN committee documenting claims of mass imprisonment, in camps where inmates are forced to swear loyalty to China’s President Xi Jinping.

The World Uyghur Congress said in its report that detainees are held indefinitely without charge, and forced to shout Communist Party slogans.

It said they are poorly fed, and reports of torture are widespread. Most inmates have never been charged with a crime, it is claimed, and do not receive legal representation. China is said to carry out the detentions under the guise of combating religious extremism.

Reasons for unrest:

  • Over the decades, waves of Han Chinese migrants arrived in the region, displacing Uighurs from their traditional lands and fueling tensions.
  • Xinjiang is now home to more than eight million Han Chinese, up from 220,000 in 1949, and 10 million Uighurs. The newcomers take most of the new jobs, and unemployment among Uighurs is high.
  • They complain of discrimination and harsh treatment by security forces, despite official promises of equal rights and ethnic harmony.

Why is China concerned about the Uighurs?

Beijing says Uighur groups want to establish an independent state and, because of the Uighurs’ cultural ties to their neighbours, leaders fear that elements in places like Pakistan may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang.

Facts for Prelims:

Xinjiang shares borders with Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Source: The Hindu

Iris Scan Authentication feature for Aadhaar-based transactions by Axis bank

In News:

Axis Bank has become the first bank in the country to introduce Iris Scan Authentication feature for Aadhaar-based transactions through its micro ATM tablets.


The bank has deployed highly secure iris powered micro ATM tablets which are STQC certified and UIDAI compliant registered devices with completely integrated iris sensors.

Micro ATMs completely eliminate the requirement of debit cards, passwords, PINs, and user IDs, and empower consumers to avail banking services using only their Aadhaar numbers and biometrics (iris scan/fingerprint scan).


This service, which requires a customer to scan their iris on a tablet, will boost the bank’s financial inclusion efforts by making Aadhaar authentication process hassle-free and offering easier access to digital banking for consumers especially in the rural parts of the country.

Significance of iris technology:

Iris scan technology is completely contactless and provides up to 98.2% authentication success rate (as per study conducted by the International Centre for Biometric Research) and offers an edge over other prevalent biometric modes.

Source: The Hindu

Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT)

In News:

Astronomers have used an Indian telescope to discover the most distant radio galaxy ever known, located at a distance of 12 billion light-years. The galaxy, from a time when the universe was only 7% of its current age was found using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune.


The distance to this galaxy was determined using the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii and the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona.

What are radio galaxies?

  • Radio galaxies are very rare objects in the universe. They are colossal galaxies with a supermassive black hole in their centre that actively accretes gas and dust from its surroundings.
  • This activity initiates the launch of high-energy jet streams, which are capable of accelerating charged particles around the supermassive black hole to almost the speed of light.
  • The discovery of such galaxies at extremely large distances is important for our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies.

About GMRT:

  • The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), located near Pune in India, is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45 metre diameter, observing at metre wavelengths.
  • It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
  • At the time it was built, it was the world’s largest interferometric array offering a baseline of up to 25 kilometres (16 mi).
  • One of the aims for the telescope during its development was to search for the highly redshifted 21-cm line radiation from primordial neutral hydrogen clouds in order to determine the epoch of galaxy formation in the universe.

Source: The Hindu

India’s first genetic bank for wildlife conservation

In News:

In a step that would further the cause of conservation of endangered and protected animals, India has got its first scientific and most modern national wildlife genetic resource bank.


It is located in Hyderabad at the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), a research wing of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Key facts:

  • The state-of-the-art bank is equipped with sophisticated equipment to preserve the genetic resources that could be utilised to virtually resurrect an animal species in case it goes extinct.
  • The bank that contains genetic resources of about 250 wildlife species.
  • The Genetic Resource Bank will store genetic material of Indian species. It will also help in protecting India’s biodiversity and environment.

Achievements of Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES):

It is India’s only research facility engaged in conservation and preservation of wildlife and its resources. It was established in 1998 with the help of Central Zoo Authority of India, CSIR and the government of Andhra Pradesh.

LaCONES has helped the Mouse Deer Conservation Breeding Centre at Nehru Zoological Park to increase the population of mouse deer in Telangana forests. Amrabad forest, for instance, ran out of mouse deer and through the efforts of LaCONES, the animal is now reintroduced in Amrabad Tiger Reserve.

Earlier, LaCONES has developed universal DNA based marker for identification of wild animals from parts and remains. It has a DNA banking of more than 250 species of mammals, birds and reptiles.

Source: The Hindu

Parker Solar Probe

In News:

NASA has launched the Parker Solar Probe – the space agency’s first mission to the sun – that will explore the sun’s atmosphere and its outermost atmosphere, the corona. The project, with a $1.5 billion price tag, is the first major mission under Nasa’s Living With a Star program.

About the mission:

NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

  • Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
  • Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
  • Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.

Why study corona?

The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.

Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?

  • The sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying this star we live with, we learn more about stars throughout the universe.
  • The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed.
  • The sun also affects Earth in less familiar ways. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).
  • Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts, part of a set of changes in near-Earth space known as space weather.
  • Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on.
  • The solar wind also fills up much of the solar system, dominating the space environment far past Earth. As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean.

Facts for Prelims:

  • The previous closest pass to the Sun was by a probe called Helios 2, which in 1976 came within 27 million miles (43 million km).
  • By way of comparison, the average distance from the Sun for Earth is 93 million miles (150 million km).

Source: The Hindu

Caspian Sea

  • The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.
  • It is an endorheic basin (a basin without outflows) located between Europe and Asia.
  • It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southeast..
  • Recently the five nations which shares borders with Caspian Sea has signed a deal to share the resource-rich Caspian Sea after more than two decades of dispute.

Ischemic Stroke

  • Deprived of oxygen and other nutrients, the brain suffers damage as a result of the stroke.
  • Ischemic stroke is a condition caused by a dysfunction in the supply of blood to the brain.
  • Ischemic stroke can be divided into two main types:
  1. Thrombotic stroke – It occurs when diseased or damaged cerebral arteries become blocked by the formation of a blood clot within the brain.
  2. Embolic strokes – It is caused by a blood clot or plaque debris that develops elsewhere in the body and then travels to one of the blood vessels in the brain through the bloodstream.

Parker Solar Probe

  • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is the mankind’s first mission to ‘touch’ the Sun.
  • Parker Solar probe will perform the closest-ever observations of the Sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona.
  • Corona is a region of the Sun only seen from Earth when the Moon blocks out the Sun’s bright face during total solar eclipses.
  • This probe will take a seven-year long journey to unlock the mysteries of Sun’s fiery outer atmosphere and its effects on space weather.