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15th February Current Affairs

Why is Haryana bringing an anti-conversion law?

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Haryana government is set to enact legislation to prevent unlawful religious conversions.

So far Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have enacted legislations to prevent unlawful religious conversions.

About the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Bill, 2022:

Aimed at prohibiting religious conversions which are affected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage by making it an offense.

Punishment: The Bill provides for greater punishment for such conversions in respect of minor, women, Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

The burden of proof: It also provides for that the burden of proof as to whether a conversion was not affected through misrepresentation, use of force, under threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage for the purpose of carrying out conversion lies on the accused.

Declaration: Every individual converting from one religion to another shall submit to the prescribed authority a declaration that the conversion affected through was not misrepresentation, use of force, under threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage and such authority shall make an inquiry in such cases.

Rationale behind the introduction of this Bill:

The Constitution confers on each individual the fundamental right to profess, practice and propagate his religion.

However, the individual right to freedom of conscience and religion cannot be extended to construe a collective right to proselytize; for the right to religious freedom belongs equally to the person converting and the individual sought to be converted.

Still, there have been umpteen cases of religious conversions, both mass and individual.

Rationale behind the enactment of anti-conversion laws:

  • Threats of forceful conversion.
  • Problem of Inducement or allurement.
  • Religious conversion is not a Fundamental Right.

What do critics say?

Such laws have come under sharp criticism from several legal scholars who had contended that the concept of ‘love jihad’ did not have any constitutional or legal basis.

They have pointed to Article 21 of the constitution which guarantees individuals the right to marry a person of one’s choice.

Also, under Article 25, freedom of conscience, the practice and conversion of religion of one’s choice including not following any religion, are also guaranteed.

Supreme Court on Marriage and Conversion:

The Apex Court of India in its several judgments has held that the state and the courts have no jurisdiction over an adult’s absolute right to choose a life partner.

The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefit do not hold water.

Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case of Allahabad High Court 2020: The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty (Article 21).

Need of the hour:

There is a need for uniformity: Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights mentions everyone has the right to freedom of religion including changing their faith. Since it is a state subject, the Centre can frame a model law like Model law on contract farming etc.

States while enacting anti-conversion laws should not put any vague or ambiguous provisions for the person who wanted to convert of his own will.

The anti-conversion laws also need to include a provision to mention the valid steps for conversion by minority community institutions.

People also need to be educated about the provisions and ways of Forceful conversions, Inducement or allurement, etc.

HelioSwarm and MUSE

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

NASA has selected two science missions – the Multi-slit Solar Explorer (MUSE) and HelioSwarm – to help improve our understanding of the dynamics of the Sun, the Sun-Earth connection, and the constantly changing space environment.

Details:

These missions will provide deeper insights into our universe and offer critical information to help protect astronauts, satellites, and communications signals such as GPS.

About MUSE:

The MUSE mission will help scientists understand the forces driving the heating of the Sun’s corona and the eruptions in that outermost region that are at the foundation of space weather.

The mission will offer deeper insight into the physics of the solar atmosphere by using a powerful instrument known as a multi-slit spectrometer to observe the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet radiation and obtain the highest resolution images ever captured of the solar transition region and the corona.

HelioSwarm:

The HelioSwarm mission is a constellation or “swarm” of nine spacecraft that will capture the first multiscale in-space measurements of fluctuations in the magnetic field and motions of the solar wind known as solar wind turbulence.

The Sun’s outermost atmospheric layer, the heliosphere, encompasses an enormous region of the solar system.

Solar winds spread through the heliosphere, and their interactions with planetary magnetospheres and disruptions such as coronal mass ejections affect their turbulence.

‘Chintamani Padya Natakam’

(GS-I: Indian Art and Culture)

In News:

The Andhra Pradesh government has banned a 100-year-old play named ‘Chintamani Padya Natakam’.

What is ‘Chintamani Padya Natakam’?

The play was written in 1920 by playwright Kallakuri Narayana Rao, who was also a social reformer.

The play is about Chintamani, a courtesan and a devotee of Lord Krishna, who finds salvation by singing bhajans.

She is courted by Subbi Shetty, a businessman from the Arya Vysya community, who loses his wealth and family due to his attraction to Chintamani.

The play is exhibited across the state, mainly in rural areas, during festivals and fairs.

Why is there a controversy surrounding it?

The original play had a social message, but over the years, it has been modified purely for entertainment.

Much of the play sees central character Subbi Shetty made fun of, especially for losing all his wealth to his vices.

Also, the content and dialogues are offensive, and the Central character is always portrayed as a short and dark-coloured person.

Due to the way Shetty’s character is portrayed, the entire community is stigmatised.

Why has it been banned?

The Arya Vysya community has been petitioning governments for several years to ban the play, saying it portrays them in a negative light.

Could the ban have been avoided?

The state government explored the possibility of taking out Shetty’s character from the play instead of putting a blanket ban on it, but found him to be a central character.

EOS-04 launch, ISRO’s first of 2022

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Isro has successfully launched earth observation satellite EOS-04, two other satellites (INSPIREsat-1 and INS-2TD) onboard PSLV recently.

Details:

It was launched from the first launch pad at the country’s only spaceport in Sriharikota – Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Andhra Pradesh.

Significance:

This is ISRO’s first launch in 2022.

It was the first mission since the failure of the GSLV F10 mission in August 2021.

This was the first mission of the space agency under the chairmanship of S Somanath.

Orbit:

The three satellites were injected successfully into a sun-synchronous polar orbit of 529 km.

About EOS-04:

EOS-04 is a radar imaging satellite capable of providing high-quality images under all weather conditions.

It can be used to capture images for agriculture, forestry, flood mapping, soil moisture and hydrology.

The satellite has a mission life of 10 years.

Advantages of radar imaging over optical instruments:

Radar imaging is unaffected by weather, cloud or fog, or the lack of sunlight. It can produce high-quality images in all conditions and at all times.

INS-2DT:

INS-2DT is a technology demonstrator satellite, which has a thermal imaging camera and can help in the assessment of land and water surface temperatures apart from mapping vegetation.

InspireSat-1 satellite:

This satellite will use two instruments to study ionosphere dynamics and the Sun’s coronal heating process.

Difference between PSLV and GSLV:

India has two operational launchers- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

PSLV was developed to launch low-Earth Orbit satellites into polar and sun synchronous orbits. It has since proved its versatility by launching geosynchronous, lunar and interplanetary spacecraft successfully.

On the other hand, GSLV was developed to launch the heavier INSAT class of geosynchronous satellites into orbit. In its third and final stage, GSLV uses the indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage.

How many satellites does India have in space?

India currently has 53 operational satellites, of which 21 are earth observation ones and another 21 are communication-based.

EOS-4 launch would be the 54th flight of the PSLV rocket, and the 23rd of its most powerful XL-version that has six strap-on boosters.