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14th October Current Affairs

Importance of Human rights

(GS-II: Governance)

In News:

The Vice President stressed that human rights are quintessential for the flourishing of democracy and urged every citizen to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of others at 30th Foundation Day celebration of the National Human Rights Commission.


Human rights are moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law.

Promotion and protection of human rights:

Article 51 A (g): Every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment and have compassion for living creatures.

Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993(as amended in 2019) provided for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission at the Union level, which steers the State Human Rights Commission in States and Human Rights Courts.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: It is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It establishes the rights and freedoms of all members of the human race.

Human Rights Dayis celebrated on 10th December all around the world.

Freedom in the World 2021report released earlier this year downgraded India’s status from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’.

Human Rights Council: The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights.

Amnesty International: An international organisation of volunteers who campaign for human rights.

Steps taken for the preservation of human rights:

Governance systemic reforms and affirmative initiatives: particularly in the Health and Economic sectors.

Inclusive growth: It is also antidotal to violation of human rights.

Banking network: 400 million getting into banking networks and over 200 million families benefiting out of free cooking gas connections.

Challenges to human rights:

Conflicting definition of what forms human rights:g. while the world has condemned Chinese persecution of the Uighur community for human rights violations, China sees it as anti-terror/ anti-separatist measures.

Silence: Silent and voiceless existence of the majority of our citizens

Corruption: Human rights get compromised in the face of corruption.

Importance of Human rights:

Flourishing of Democracy: Human rights are quintessential for flourishing democracy.

Democratic values: They are of no significance in the absence of human rights.

Dignity: Nurturing human rights is the nectar of dignity and dignified human existence.

Positive ecosystem: Flourishing human rights generates a positive ecosystem that facilitates optimal utilisation of human talent.

Development: It brings about holistic development.

Indian culture: The pro-human rights foundational spirit of Indian culture, is reflected in Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad.

Living Planet Report 2022

(GS-III: Biodiversity and Environment)

In News:

Recently WWF released its biennial Living Planet report 2022 showing trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet.

Key highlights of the report:

Population decline in wildlife: There has been a 69 per cent decline in the wildlife populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, across the globe in the last 50 years.

Freshwater species populations globally were reduced by 83 per cent.

Cycads — an ancient group of seed plants — are the most threatened species, while corals are declining the fastest, followed by amphibians.

Region-specific Assessment: The highest decline (94 per cent) was in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Africa recorded a 66 per cent fall in its wildlife populations from 1970-2018.

Mangroove: it continues to be lost to aquaculture, agriculture and coastal development at a rate of 13 per cent per year.

Mangrove loss represents a loss of habitat for biodiversity and the loss of ecosystem services for coastal communities.

Corals: About 50% of warm water corals have already been lost and warming of 5 degrees Celsius will lead to a loss of 70-90% of warm water corals.

Sharks: The global abundance of 18 of 31 oceanic sharks has declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

By 2020 three-quarters of sharks and rays were threatened with extinction.

Other highlights:

Rivers: Only 37% of rivers that are over 1,000 km long remain free-flowing in their natural state.

India-specific highlights:

The Himalayan region and the Western Ghats are the most vulnerable regions in the country in terms of biodiversity loss.

Sundarbans: 137 km of the Sundarbans mangrove forest have been eroded since 1985, reducing land and ecosystem services for people living there.

The country has seen a decline in the population of the likes of honeybees and 17 species of freshwater turtles in this period.

Challenges cited by Report:

Habitat loss and barriers to migration routes

Six Key threats to Biodiversity loss – are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease.

Land-use change is still the biggest current threat to nature.

Overexploitation and pollution: Many mangroves are also degraded by overexploitation and pollution, alongside natural stressors such as storms and coastal erosion.

Climate change will impact key areas, such as water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems, health and the food chain.

Agriculture is the most prevalent threat to amphibians whereas hunting and trapping are most likely to threaten birds and mammals.

What needs to be done?

Interlinkage: biodiversity loss and climate crisis should be dealt with as one instead of two different issues as they are intertwined.

All-inclusive collective approach: so as to put us on a more sustainable path and ensures that the costs and benefits from our actions are socially just and equitably shared.

A nature-positive future needs transformative, game-changing shifts in how we produce, how we consume, how we govern and what we finance.

What is the Living Planet Report?

Published by the international non-profit World Wide Fund for Nature every 2 years. Prepared in collaboration between WWF International and the Zoological Society of London. ZSL was founded in 1826 and is an international conservation charity.

Supreme Court delivers split verdict on Karnataka hijab ban

In News:

The Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on whether Muslim students should shed their hijabs at their school gates.

Key Highlights:

Split verdict: The split verdict means that the matter will now be placed before the Chief Justice of India for further directions

Ban to continue: The ban on the hijab in Karnataka classrooms will remain in place.

Justice H. Gupta upheld Karnataka’s prohibitive government order:

Apparent symbols of religious belief: cannot be worn to secular schools maintained from State funds.

Secularity’ meant uniformity: manifested by parity among students in terms of uniformity.

Not amount to the denial of education: However, if the students were refusing to attend classes, it would not amount to the denial of education by the state.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia:

Secularity: meant tolerance to “diversity”.

Wearing or not wearing a hijab to school: It is ultimately a matter of choice (Article 19(1)(a))

Asking the girls to take off their hijab:

It is an invasion of their privacy (Article 21)

It is an attack on their dignity

It is a denial to them of secular education.

Article 25:

It does not speak of Essential Religious Practice.

If the belief is sincere, and it harms no one, there can be no justifiable reasons for banning the hijab in a classroom.

Related Judgement:

Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State Of Kerala & Ors)(1986): The court allowed the claim of some students following the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith to remain silent during the singing of the national anthem in their school in Kerala on account of their religious belief.

Amendments in the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which seeks to amend the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002, to bring transparency in the sector and reform the electoral process.

Key Highlights:

97th Constitutional Amendment: The Bill will incorporate the provisions of the 97th Constitutional Amendment.

Improve the composition: It seeks to improve the composition of the board and ensure financial discipline

Raising of funds: Enabling the raising of funds in the multi-state cooperative societies.

Setting up of:

Cooperative Election Authority

Cooperative Information Officer

Cooperative Ombudsman

The amendments have been introduced to:

Improve governance

Reform the electoral process

Strengthen monitoring mechanisms

Enhance transparency and accountability.

97th Amendment Act:

Article 19(1) (c): The word “cooperatives” was added after “unions and associations” in Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution.

Article 43B: It was added in the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV) regarding the “promotion of cooperative societies”.