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21st October Current Affairs

Mount Harriet renamed after Manipur

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

The Centre has rechristened Mount Harriet, a historical tourist spot in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, as ‘Mount Manipur’.

What is Manipur’s connection to Mount Harriet?

After the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891, several Manipuris who had fought the British in the war, including Maharaja Kulachandra Dhwaja Singh, were exiled to the British penal colony in the Andaman Islands.

Since the cellular jail (Kalapani) was yet to be built, Kulachandra and the prisoners were kept on Mount Harriet, a hillock in what is now the Ferragunj tehsil of South Andaman district.

Anglo-Manipur War of 1891- Causes:

Considered an epoch in the history of Manipur, the Anglo-Manipur War was fought between the kingdom of Manipur and the British over a month in 1891.

The battle was triggered by a coup in the palace of Manipur, which had been marked by internal factionalism in the years leading up 1891.

The British government took advantage of the “internal dissension” among the princes of the royal family.

Significance of the war:

Many say the war was described as a “blow to British prestige”. Despite their victory, it had led to the death of five important officers.

In India, it was viewed as being part of the general uprising against British rule in the country, soon after the Revolt of 1857.

The war led to Manipur officially becoming a princely state under the indirect rule of the British crown.

About Mount Harriet:

Mount Harriet is the third highest peak in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and served as the summer headquarters of the Chief Commissioner during British Raj.

It is believed to be named after British artist and photographer, Harriet Christina Tytler, who was the wife of Robert Christopher Tytler, a soldier who served in the British Indian Army.

Bhumiputra Bill in Goa

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

In News:

Goa CM has clarified that the Bhumiputra Bill won’t be sent to Governor.

What’s the issue?

The Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021 that was passed in the Goa Assembly on July 30 had since been at the centre of a political storm.

The Bill was aimed at giving the status of ‘Bhumiputra’ to a person residing in Goa for at least 30 years and to enable him or her to stake claim to ownership of their house of up to 250 sq m built before April 1, 2019.

However, activists said that it had hurt the sentiments of the state’s tribal population.

Highlights of the Bill:

It recognises anyone living in the state for 30 years or more as a ‘Bhumiputra (son of the soil)’ and gives such a person the right to own his or her ‘small dwelling unit’ if ownership was undetermined so far.

Once recognised as a Bhumiputra, an individual can stake claim to ownership of their house of not more than 250 sq m, built before April 1, 2019.

Implementation:

The Bill provides for the constitution of the Bhumiputra Adhikarini — a committee consisting of the Deputy Collector as its Chairperson, and officials from the departments of Town and Country Planning, Forest and Environment , and Mamlatdars of respective talukas as its members.

The Bhumiputra may apply to the committee if his house has been built before the cut-off date.

The committee will invite objections within 30 days, including from the land owner which could also be a local body, and then take a decision of granting ownership to the Bhumiputra.

An appeal against the Bhumiputra Adhikarini’s decision can be filed before the Administrative Tribunal within 30 days.

Can the courts intervene?

No court shall have jurisdiction “to entertain, decide or deal with any question which is to be decided by the Bhumiputra Adhikarini and Administrative Tribunal under this Act”.

Need for these measures:

In the last so many years there have been cases of homes built by a person or his parents but the land is not in his name. There is always a sword dangling over their head that someone will file a case against them (over ownership).

Therefore, the objective of the Bill is to give ownership right to the self-occupied dweller of a small housing unit to enable him to live with dignity and self-respect and exercise his right to life.

Concerns:

The biggest concern is that the bill may give rise to regularisation of illegal structures. This might also open the floodgates for the migrant population that has been staying in densely populated areas in Goa and has no legality.

Kushinagar, a Buddhist pilgrimage town

(GS-I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times)

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the Kushinagar international airport.

Details:

The airport in eastern UP, the third international airport in the election-bound state, will mainly service the Buddhist tourism circuit.

The Sri Lankan Airlines flight carrying monks and dignitaries was the first to land at the airport.

Historical significance of Kushinagar:

Among the most important of Buddhist pilgrimages, Kushinagar was where The Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (ultimate salvation) in c. 483 BC.

Today’s Kushinagar is identified with Kushinara, capital of the ancient Malla republic, which was one of the 16 mahajanapadas of the 6th-4th centuries BC.

The area went on to be part of the kingdoms of the Mauryas, Shungas, Kushanas, Guptas, Harshavardhana, and the Palas.

The first excavations in Kushinagar were carried out by Alexander Cunningham and ACL Carlleyle, who unearthed the main stupa and the 6-metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha in 1876.

Kushinagar is among the very few places in India where The Buddha is depicted in reclining form.

Significance of the move:

While Buddhism originated in India and seven of the eight main Buddhist pilgrimage sites are in India, our country gets not even 1 percent of Buddhist pilgrims in the world.

There is an awareness in the government that the absence of tourist infrastructure is a major reason why India loses out to Southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia and Thailand.

The hope is that world-class facilities will be able to attract Buddhist tourists to India, and boost revenues and employment generation.

Therefore, the latest move helps India promote important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country.

Buddhist Circuit:

In 2016, the Ministry of Tourism announced the Buddhist Circuit as the country’s first transnational tourism circuit, covering sites in Nepal and Sri Lanka alongside those in India.

The ministry’s map of the Buddhist Circuit includes Bodh Gaya, Vaishali, and Rajgir in Bihar, Kushinagar, Sarnath, and Shravasti in UP, and Lumbini in Nepal.

Electing a Speaker, Deputy Speaker

(GS-II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)

In News:

Hardoi MLA Nitin Agrawal has been elected Deputy Speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, which has barely five months left in its tenure.

How are they elected?

Article 93 for Lok Sabha and Article 178 for state Assemblies state that these Houses “shall, as soon as may be”, choose two of its members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

In Lok Sabha and state legislatures, the President/Governor sets a date for the election of the Speaker, and it is the Speaker who decides the date for the election of the Deputy Speaker.

The legislators of the respective Houses vote to elect one among themselves to these offices.

Is it mandatory under the Constitution to have a Deputy Speaker?

Constitutional experts point out that both Articles 93 and 178 use the words “shall” and “as soon as may be” — indicating that not only is the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker mandatory, it must be held at the earliest.

Their roles and functions:

The Speaker is “the principal spokesman of the House, he represents its collective voice and is its sole representative to the outside world”.

The Speaker presides over the House proceedings and joint sittings of the two Houses of Parliament.

It is the Speaker’s decision that determines whether a Bill is a Money Bill and therefore outside of the purview of the other House.

Usually, the Speaker comes from the ruling party. In the case of the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, the position has varied over the years.

The constitution has tried to ensure the independence of Speaker by charging his salary on the consolidated Fund of India and the same is not subject to vote of Parliament.

While debating or during general discussion on a bill, the members of the parliament have to address only to the Speaker.

Tenure:

Once elected, the Deputy Speaker usually continues in office until the dissolution of the House.

Under Article 94 (Article 179 for state legislatures), the Speaker or Deputy Speaker “shall vacate his office if he ceases to be a member of the House of the People”.

They may also resign (to each other), or “may be removed from office by a resolution of the House of the People passed by a majority of all the then members of the House”.

Powers of deputy speaker:

The Deputy Speaker has the same powers as the Speaker when presiding over a sitting of the House. All references to the Speaker in the Rules are deemed to be references to the Deputy Speaker when he presides.

States which have specified time-frame for holding the election:

The Constitution neither sets a time limit nor specifies the process for these elections. It leaves it to the legislatures to decide how to hold these elections.

For example, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh specify a time-frame.

In Haryana:

The election of the Speaker has to take place as soon as possible after the election. And then the Deputy Speaker is to be elected within seven more days.

The rules also specify that if a vacancy in these offices happens subsequently, then the election for these should occur within seven days of the legislature’s next session.

In Uttar Pradesh:

There is a 15-day limit for an election to the Speaker’s post if it falls vacant during the term of the Assembly.

In the case of the Deputy Speaker, the date for the first election is to be decided by the Speaker, and 30 days is given for filling subsequent vacancies.