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17th March Current Affairs

Wearing hijab is not essential religious practice, says Karnataka High Court

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

The verdict has come on petitions filed by Muslims girls seeking the right to wear hijabs or head scarves along with uniforms inside classrooms.

What has the court ruled?

An essential religious practice: Wearing of the hijab by Muslim women does not make up an essential religious practice in Islamic faith.

A reasonable restriction: The prescription of a school uniform is a reasonable restriction constitutionally permissible which the students cannot object to.

The government has the power to restrict the wearing of hijabs in colleges where uniforms are prescribed.

Therefore, the prescription of school uniform does not violate the petitioners fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19 1 a of the constitution that is freedom of expression and article 21 that is privacy.

What constitutes an essential religious practice? Who decides on it?

Shirur Mutt case in 1954: The doctrine of “essentiality” was invented by the Supreme Court. The court held that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion, and took upon itself the responsibility of determining the essential and non-essential practices of a religion.

What constitutes a reasonable restriction?

  • Sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • Security of the state.
  • Friendly relations with foreign states.
  • Public order.
  • Decency or morality.
  • Contempt of court.
  • Incitement to an offence.

What are Kerala High Court’s rulings on Hijab?

In Amna Bint Basheer v Central Board of Secondary Education (2016), the Kerala High Court held that the practice of wearing a hijab constitutes an essential religious practice but did not quash the dress code prescribed by CBSE. It rather provided additional safeguards, such as examining students wearing full sleeves when needed.

In Fathima Tasneem v State of Kerala (2018), Kerala HC held that collective rights of an institution would be given primacy over the individual rights of the petitioner. The case involved two girls who wanted to wear the headscarf. The school refused to allow the headscarf. However, the court dismissed the appeal as students were no longer in the rolls of the respondent-School.

India plans Rs 24,000 crore sovereign green bond issuance

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

India will issue at least Rs 24,000 crore ($3.3 billion) in sovereign green bonds as the country marks a shift towards a low-carbon economy.

Need for:

India’s maiden foray into the green bond space comes as it plans to fund renewable energy projects that will help meet its goal of net-zero emissions by 2070.

The planned issuance comes amid a global boom in sustainable investments.

India is the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and plans to more than quadruple its renewable power generation capacity by 2030.

What Is a Green Bond?

A green bond is a type of fixed-income instrument that is specifically earmarked to raise money for climate and environmental projects.

These bonds are typically asset-linked and backed by the issuing entity’s balance sheet, so they usually carry the same credit rating as their issuers’ other debt obligations.​

Green bonds may come with tax incentives to enhance their attractiveness to investors.

The World Bank is a major issuer of green bonds. It has issued 164 such bonds since 2008, worth a combined $14.4 billion. In 2020, the total issuance of green bonds was worth almost $270 billion, according to the Climate Bond Initiative.

How Does a Green Bond Work?

Green bonds work just like any other corporate or government bond.

Borrowers issue these securities in order to secure financing for projects that will have a positive environmental impact, such as ecosystem restoration or reducing pollution.

Investors who purchase these bonds can expect to make as the bond matures.

In addition, there are often tax benefits for investing in green bonds.

What is the Significance of Sovereign Guarantee to Green Bonds?

Sovereign green issuance sends a powerful signal of intent around climate action and sustainable development to governments and regulators.

It will catalyze domestic market development and provides impetus to institutional investors.

It will provide benchmark pricing, liquidity and a demonstration effect for local issuers, helping to support the growth of a local market.

Green Bonds Vs Blue Bonds:

Blue bonds are sustainability bonds to finance projects that protect the ocean and related ecosystems.

This can include projects to support sustainable fisheries, protection of coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems, or reducing pollution and acidification.

All blue bonds are green bonds, but not all green bonds are blue bonds.

Green Bonds Vs Climate Bonds:

“Green bonds” and “climate bonds” are sometimes used interchangeably, but some authorities use the latter term specifically for projects focusing on reducing carbon emissions or alleviating the effects of climate change.

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

(GS-III: Internal security related issues)

In News:

The Assam Government has formed a cabinet subcommittee to look into the problem of 19 lakh people, whose names were not included in the supplementary list National Register of Citizens (NRC), published in August, 2019.

What’s the issue?

The biometric details of these people are locked and could not get Aadhaar cards thereby they are not able to get welfare scheme benefits. Therefore, there’s a need to resolve the issue at the earliest.


More than 19 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants in Assam were excluded from the final draft register published on August 31, 2019, which cost ₹1,220 crore.

The government had rejected the NRC in its current form and demanded re-verification of at least 30% names in areas bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the State.


The Supreme Court had monitored the exercise of updating the NRC of 1951 in Assam. About 19.06 lakh out of 3.3 crore applicants were excluded from the updated draft.

About NRC:

At its core, the NRC is an official record of those who are legal Indian citizens. It includes demographic information about all those individuals who qualify as citizens of India as per the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently.

NRC in Assam:

So far, such a database has only been maintained for the state of Assam.

The exercise was a culmination of Assam Accord of 1985 signed between the Centre and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) for detection, disenfranchisement and deportation of foreigners.

Why was NRC updated for Assam?

In 2013, the SC ordered the updation of the NRC, in accordance with Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003 in all parts of Assam. The process officially started in 2015.

Issues present:

Lakhs of people were left out of the complete draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in 2018.

As per the Supreme Court mandated rules, those left out of the draft NRC list had to mandatorily submit their biometrics during the hearings of ‘claims’ (to include themselves in the NRC) and ‘objections’ (to object to someone else’s inclusion) process.

27 lakh people who were left out from the list published in 2018 submitted their biometric details and amongst these only 8 lakh people made it into the draft list published in 2019. However, these 8 lakh people are struggling to get Aadhaar, and concerned about benefits linked to it

Lack of clarity and inability to enjoy the full benefits emanating from Aadhar has caused significant mental pressure on individuals.

This situation has arisen primarily due to the lack of clarity over the NRC exercise since the government is withholding assigning Aadhar to these newly added individuals since the complete and final NRC list is yet to be published.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

(GS-II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections)

In News:

The Rural Development Ministry has taken the following initiatives to ensure timely completion of the houses under PMAY-G:

Regular review of progress at the level of the Ministry to ensure timely completion of targeted houses.

Daily monitoring on various parameters like gaps in sanction of houses, cleaning of PWL of PMAY-G.

Timely allocation of targets to the States/UTs and release of adequate funds at the level of the ministry.

Promotion of eco-friendly & innovative technologies for house construction.

Steps are being taken to increase the coverage of Rural Mason Training (RMT) programme which would increase the availability of trained masons leading to faster construction of quality houses.

Performance of the scheme:

Under the scheme, 2.28 crore houses have been sanctioned to the beneficiaries, out of which 1.75 crore houses have been completed as on 9 March 2022.

About PMAY- G:

Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development.

The erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas yojana (IAY) has been restructured into Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana –Gramin (PMAY-G) from 01.04.2016.

PMAY-G aims at providing a pucca house, with basic amenities, to all houseless householder and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated house, by 2024.

Target: Construction of 2.95 crore houses with all basic amenities by the year 2024.

Cost sharing:

The cost of unit assistance in this scheme is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90: 10 for North Eastern and Himalayan States.

The scheme envisages training of Rural Masons with the objective of improving workmanship and quality of construction of houses while at the same time, increasing availability of skilled masons and enhancing employability of such masons.

Selection of beneficiaries:

Based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13 point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification.