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25th September Current Affairs

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

(GS-III: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security)

In News:

The Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights, United Nations, has expressed its concerns over the ongoing use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act throughout India and has called the situation as ‘worrying.

What’s the issue?

Referring to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has remarked that the state has the highest number of cases registered under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] across the Counrty.

It also flagged concerns regarding the cases of Journalists who are under detention “for exercising their right to the freedom of expression”.

However, it does acknowledge the Government’s efforts to counter terrorism and promote development in the region (J&K), but also cautioned that such restrictive measures can result in human rights violations and foster further tensions and discontent.

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.

Delhi High Court defines the contours of UAPA:

In June 2021, delivering a judgment defining the contours of the otherwise “vague” Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA), the Delhi High Court laid down some important principles upon the imposition of Section 15, 17 & 18 of the Act.

Sections 15, 17 and 18 of UAPA:

  1. 15 engrafts the offence of ‘terrorist act’.
  2. 17 lays-down the punishment for raising funds for committing a terrorist act.
  3. 18 engrafts the offence of ‘punishment for conspiracy etc. to commit a terrorist act or any act preparatory to commit a terrorist act’.

Key observations made by the court:

“Terrorist Act” Should not be used lightly so as to trivialise them.

Terrorist activity is that which travels beyond the capacity of law enforcement agencies to deal with under ordinary penal law (Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Hitendra Vishnu Thakur).

Chang’e-5 probe

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Early-stage findings of Chang’e-5 probe, which use geological mapping to link ‘exotic’ fragments in the collected samples to features near the landing site, were recently presented by China.

Background:

Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the moon had begun its journey back to Earth in December 2020, putting China on course to become the first country to successfully retrieve lunar samples since the 1970s.

Where was it landed?

The Chang’e-5 landing site is located on the western edge of the nearside of the Moon in the Northern Oceanus Procellarum. This is one of the youngest geological areas of the Moon with an age of roughly two billion years. The materials scraped from the surface comprise a loose soil that results from the fragmentation and powdering of lunar rocks over billions of years due to impacts of various sizes.

Latest findings:

Ninety percent of the materials collected by Chang’e-5 likely derive from the landing site and its immediate surroundings, which are of a type termed ‘mare basalts’.

These volcanic rocks are visible to us as the darker gray areas that spilled over much of the nearside of the Moon as ancient eruptions of lava.

Yet ten percent of the fragments have distinctly different, ‘exotic’ chemical compositions, and may preserve records of other parts of the lunar surface as well as hints of the types of space rocks that have impacted the Moon’s surface.

Potential sources of beads of rapidly cooled glassy material: Researchers have traced these glassy droplets to now extinct volcanic vents known as ‘Rima Mairan’ and ‘Rima Sharp’ located roughly 230 and 160 kilometers southeast and northeast of the Chang’e-5 landing site. These fragments could give insights into past episodes of energetic, fountain-like volcanic activity on the Moon.

What Next?

A successful landing in Inner Mongolia made China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.

The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of samples, although it has not been disclosed how much was actually gathered.

When was it launched?

The Chang’e-5 was launched on Nov. 24 and a lander vehicle touched down on the moon on Dec. 1. The mission was expected to take around 23 days in total.

The objective of the mission was to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.

About Chang’e-5 probe:

It is an unmanned spacecraft by China. The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.

The rocket comprises four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.

The Chang’e-5 mission is expected to realize four “firsts” in China’s space history:

  • The first time for a probe to take off from the surface of the Moon.
  • The first time to automatically sample the lunar surface.
  • The first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.
  • The first time to return to Earth with lunar soil samples in escape velocity.

Rashtriya Gokul Mission

(GS-III: Economics of animal rearing)

In News:

A review meeting on the performance of the Rashtriya Gokul Mission was held recently.

What is the Rashtriya Gokul Mission?

‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ was launched in 2014 to conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds, under the National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBD).

Key objectives of the mission:

Development and conservation of indigenous breeds.

Undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock.

Enhance milk production and productivity.

Upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi.

Distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service.

Implementation:

It is being implemented through the “State Implementing Agency’ Livestock Development Boards, i.e., SIA’s (LDB’s).

State Gauseva Ayogs are mandated to sponsor proposals to the SIA’s (LDB’s) and monitor implementation of the sponsored proposal.

The “Participating Agencies” like CFSPTI, CCBFs, ICAR, Universities, Colleges, NGO’s, Cooperative Societies and Gaushalas with best germplasm.

What are Gokul Grams?

The Rashtriya Gokul Mission envisages the establishment of integrated cattle development centers, ‘Gokul Grams’ to develop indigenous breeds including up to 40% nondescript breeds.

Gokul Grams will be established in:

The native breeding tracts and

Near metropolitan cities for housing the urban cattle.

Objectives:

Promote indigenous cattle rearing and conservation in a scientific manner.

Propagate high genetic merit bulls of indigenous breeds.

Optimize modern Farm Management practices and promote Common Resource Management.

Utilize animal waste in an economical way i.e. Cow Dung, Cow Urine.

Key features of Gokul Grams:

They will be self-sustaining and will generate economic resources from sale of A2 milk organic manure, vermi-composting, urine distillates, and production of electricity fraom bio gas for in house consumption and sale of animal products.

They will also function as state of the art in situ training centre for Farmers, Breeders and MAITRI’s.

Gokul Grams act as Centres for development of Indigenous Breeds and a dependable source for supply of high genetic breeding stock to the farmers in the breeding tract.

The Gokul Gram will maintain milch and unproductive animals in the ratio of 60:40 and will have the capacity to maintain about 1000 animals.

Nutritional requirements of the animals will be provided in the Gokul Gram through in house fodder production.

Naga peace process

(GS-III: Internal security related issues)

In News:

Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has resigned as interlocutor for the Naga peace process to prevent it from derailing.

Background:

Ravi is the Governor of Nagaland and has been crossing swords with the extremist Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland or the NSCN (I-M) for almost two years.

The process has been ongoing since mid-1997 when the NSCN (I-M) declared a ceasefire with the armed forces. Other groups began opting for talks in 2001. However, it has been put in a cold storage” since the Framework Agreement was signed on August 3, 2015.

How old is the Naga political issue?

Pre- independence:

The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”.

In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947.

The NNC resolved to establish a “sovereign Naga state” and conducted a “referendum” in 1951, in which “99 per cent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.

Post- independence:

On March 22, 1952, the Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA) were formed. The Government of India sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Agreement in this regard:

The NSCN (IM) entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997 and the two have been holding talks since then, while a conglomerate of seven different Naga national political groups (NNPGs) also got into separate talks with the Centre since 2017.

The Centre signed a “framework agreement” with NSCN (IM) in 2015, and an “agreed position” with the NNPGs in 2017. However, the NSCN (IM)’s demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution has been a delaying factor in signing a final deal on the protracted Naga political issue.