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25th January Current Affairs

UAPA

In News:

Peoples Democratic Party leader Waheed Para has been booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.

It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.

Key points:

Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.

It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.

Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.

As per amendments of 2019:

The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.

The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.

It also included the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist.

Mughal history whitewashed in texts, say two educationists

In News:

At its meeting on textbook reforms, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education heard presentations from right-wing organisations and educationists.

Details:

Few experts at the meeting argued that Mughal history is being whitewashed in Indian textbooks, and crowding out space for history from the Vedic era.

Why this meeting was convened?

  • To remove “references to un-historical facts and distortions about our national heroes”,
  • To ensure “equal or proportionate references to all periods of Indian history” and
  • To highlight the role of great women in Indian history.

The arguments:

The amount of space given to the Mughal era versus the reign of Hindu kings needed to be balanced.

The Indian history was falsely written as though foreign rule existed only for 200 years of the British Raj, without taking into account the 1,000 years before that.

The Mughal era had been whitewashed, and their role as invaders had been muted.

There was a need for children to be taught “Indian culture” from the Vedic era onwards.

NCERT revision:

The NCERT is currently in the process of revising textbooks, and is likely to complete the process by 2024. Recommendations have been given to change higher education syllabi as well, to ensure that it aligns with the changes in school textbooks.

Polar Vortex Threatens To Send US, Europe Into Deep Freeze

In News:

Meteorologists have predicted that the polar vortex, which is splitting into two and swirling southward, will send the US and European countries into a chilling deep freeze.

Previously, such vortex Developed in 2014.

Implications:

Polar vortex is losing stability and its splitting causes dramatic, extreme weather implications across the western nations such as the US and Europe. With a ‘disrupted’ polar vortex in 2021, the colder air is expected to spill out of the Arctic and result in the onset of extremely harsh winters.

What exactly is a polar vortex?

It is described as a whirling cone of low pressure over the poles that is strongest in the winter months due to the increased temperature contrast between the polar regions and the mid-latitudes, such as the US and Europe.

Features:

The polar vortex spins in the stratosphere.

Usually, when the vortex is strongest, cold air is less-likely to plunge deep into North America or Europe. In other words, it forms a wall that protects the mid-latitudes from cold Arctic air.

But occasionally, the polar vortex is disrupted and weakens, due to wave energy propagating upward from the lower atmosphere. When this happens, the stratosphere warms sharply in an event known as sudden stratospheric warming, in just a few days, miles above the Earth’s surface.

The warming weakens the polar vortex, shifting its location somewhat south of the pole or, in some instances, ‘splitting’ the vortex up into ‘sister vortices’.

Effects of Polar Vortex:

The split higher up in the atmosphere can give rise to both, sudden and delayed effects, much of which involves declining temperatures and extreme winter weather in the eastern US along with northern and western Europe.

A sudden stratospheric warming also leads to a warm Arctic not only in the stratosphere but also in the troposphere as well.

A warmer Arctic, in turn, favours more severe winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes including the eastern US.

Keep adultery a crime in the armed forces’: SC agrees to examine Centre’s plea

In News:

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the Central government’s request to keep adultery a crime in the armed forces.

Details:

The matter has been referred to Chief Justice S A Bobde for setting up of a five-judge Constitution Bench which can clarify the position.

What’s the issue?

The Centre, in its plea, said the 2018 verdict should not apply to armed forces where personnel can be cashiered from service on the grounds of unbecoming conduct for committing adultery with a colleague’s wife.

Need for:

Personnel of the Army, Navy and the Air Force were a “distinct class”. They were governed by special legislation, the Army Act, the Navy Act and the Air Force Act.

September 2018 Supreme Court verdict:

In September 2018, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that makes adultery a punishable offence for men.

The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court said:

The 158-year-old law was unconstitutional and fell foul of Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (Right to equality).

Section 198(1) and 198(2) of the CrPC, which allows a husband to bring charges against the man with whom his wife committed adultery, are unconstitutional.

While adultery could be a ground for civil issues, including dissolution of marriage, it could not be a criminal offence.