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26 January Current Affairs

70th Republic Day

In News:

India is celebrating 70th Republic Day.

Theme:

‘life of Gandhi’ which is a tribute to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

Chief guest:

President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa. This is the second time a South African leader is Chief Guest at Republic Day — Nelson Mandela was the chief guest in 1995.

Significance:

Republic day in India is celebrated every year on 26th of January to honour the Constitution of India as it came into force on the same day in the year 1950.

Highlights of the republic day- key facts relevant for Prelims and Mains:

The 70th Republic Day parade will have the highest number of women officers participating in the celebrations with Lt. Bhavana Kasturi leading a contingent of 144 male personnel. This is the first time in the history of Indian Army that a woman will lead the Army services corps.

An all-women contingent of Assam Rifles, India’s oldest paramilitary force, will be participating for the first time. The contingent was opened for women in 2012.

The weapons which will be showcased for the first time in a Republic day parade are M777 and K-9 Vajra ultra light howitzers along with the Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) missile of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

For the first time in the Republic Day parade, An-32 aircraft will be flying using a mix of traditional and biofuel.

Four former Indian National Army (INA) soldiers will participate for the first time in the parade. INA was an armed force formed by Indian nationalist Rash Behari Bose in 1942 in Southeast Asia during World War II.

`Sankhnaad’, a martial tune created for the Indian armed forces, will be played for the first time on the 70th Republic Day parade. Since Independence, the Indian defence forces have been playing ‘martial tune’ created by the Britishers. `Sankhnaad’ is based on Indian classical music.

Why January 26th?

The Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, a date specially chosen to coincide with the anniversary of ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’. January 26, 1930 was marked as ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’, or the day the nation would attain complete freedom from its colonisers by the Congress.

The members of the drafting committee felt that the birth of the constitution should be observed on a day that held some significance in their fight for independence. When India was ultimately granted freedom by the British in 1947, but on August 15 and not January 26, the date was instead assigned to celebrating India’s Republic Day.

This was the day the Indian Independence Act was consequently repealed and India was established as a democratic republic, no longer a dominion of the British Crown.

Source: The Hindu

SC issues contempt notices to RBI

In News:

The Supreme Court has issued contempt notices to the RBI for failing to reveal under the Right to Information Act intelligence received on loan defaulters and details of action taken against banks in connection with fraud.

Details:

In India, the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, divides contempt into civil contempt and criminal contempt.

Civil contempt is a ‘wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a Court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to the court’.

‘Criminal contempt’ is ‘the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:

  • Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court.
  • Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.
  • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.’

Significance:

Judiciary ensures justice and equality to every individual and institutions, therefore, the makers of the constitution upheld the sanctity and prestige of the revered institution by placing provisions under articles 129 and 215 of the constitution, which enables the courts to hold individuals in contempt if they attempt to demean or belittle their authority.

Is criticism allowed?

Yes. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, very clearly states that fair criticism of any case which has been heard and decided is not contempt.

2016 Amendment:

The statute of 1971 has recently been amended by the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006 to include the defence of truth under Section 13 of the original legislation.

Section 13 that already served to restrict the powers of the court in that they were not to hold anyone in contempt unless it would substantially interfere with the due process of justice, the amendment further states that the court must permit ‘justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.’

Source: The Hindu

Report on ‘e-waste’ by UN

In News:

To highlight the rising challenge posed by mountains of discarded electronics worldwide, seven UN entities have come together to launch the report- “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot”- at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a bid to offer some solutions to a behemoth-sized problem that is making the world sicker and adding to environmental degradation.

Details:

The joint report calls for a new vision for e-waste based on the “circular economy” concept, whereby a regenerative system can minimize waste and energy leakage.

International convention in this regard:

E-waste export, though, is regulated under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which has been ratified by 188 nations.

So where is the crisis?

It lies in the fact that globally, only up to 20% of e-waste is recycled. The rest is undocumented and experts predict that it gets buried under the ground in landfills for centuries as it is not biodegradable.

“From lead-lined, cathode ray tubes to old TVs, to lead and chromium in circuit boards (of various devices), e-waste contains substances that are hazardous to human health, including, mercury, cadmium and lead. E-waste can pollute water sources and food-supply chains.”

Solutions to the crisis- Highlights of the report by UN:

The report calls for systematic collaboration with major brands, small and medium-sized enterprises, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a deliberative process to reorient the system and reduce the waste of resources each year with a value greater than the GDP of most countries.

To capture the global value of materials in e-waste and create global circular value chains, use new technology to create service business models, better product tracking and manufacturer or retailer take-back programmes.

The report notes that material efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials to meet the needs of electronics supply chains will all be essential for future production.

The producers should also have buy-back or return offers for old equipment, and plans to incentivise the consumer financially. The report also advocates a system of ‘urban mining’ by strengthening the extended producer responsibility provision.

Job potential: If the electronics sector is supported with the right policy mix and managed in the right way, it could lead to the creation of millions of decent jobs worldwide.

E-waste Coalition:

The report supports the work of the E-waste Coalition, which includes International Labour Organization (ILO); International Telecommunication Union (ITU); United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); United Nations University (UNU) and Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions.

Why worry about e-waste?

Organic and easily recyclable metal, glass and plastic waste need not permanently remain in landfills. But hard-to-recover substances from e-waste like mercury make their home in landfills and keep leaching into ground water.

In recent years, its e-waste has grown faster than earlier anticipated. The Greenpeace study found e-waste growing at 15% annually and projected it to go up to 800,000 tonnes by 2012. But it stood at 1.7 million tonnes in 2014, the fifth highest in the world, according to a UN study.

In India, e waste accounts for 4% of global e-waste and 2.5% of global GDP (2014 figures) – so it has a higher share of e-waste than its share of gross domestic product (GDP). For China, the two ratios are about the same. The US, on the other hand, accounts for a lower share of global e-waste than its share of GDP.

According to a 2011 Rajya Sabha secretariat study, e-waste accounts for 70% of Indian landfills. If penetration of electronics and electrical products in India by 2030 have to grow even to today’s average world capita which leads to e waste of 6 kg per capita, the absolute e waste generation for India will grow five times the current level to 9 million tonnes in 2030.

Why it is difficult to manage e waste in India?

The producers/manufacturers do not have adequate information on their website regarding e waste management.

Customer care representatives do not have inkling about any take back or recycling programme and even if they have set up collection centres, they are simply not enough for a geographically vast country like India.

India being a vast country, setting up collection mechanism is a big challenge. If any of the brands try individually to reach out to all corners of the country, it will economically not be sustainable or feasible.

Improper enforcement of the existing laws is another hurdle.

Source: Down to Earth

Bandar Abbas to host IONS next month

In News:

Navy commanders of the Indian Ocean littoral states will convene in Bandar Abbas (IRAN) next month for participating in Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

About IONS:

IONS, the 21st century’s first significant international maritime security initiative launched in February 2008, provides a forum for discussion of regional maritime issues and promotes friendly relationships among member nations.

It is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead.

Under the charter of business adopted in 2014, the grouping has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and anti-piracy now renamed as maritime security.

The 35 member nations of the IONS are grouped into four sub-regions- South Asian, West Asian, East African and South East Asian and Australian.

There are nine states with observer status.

Source: The Hindu

Various Awards

Bharat Ratna:

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. The provision of Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954.

Eligibility: Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for these awards.

There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only.

It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science and public services but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011.

In terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name. However, should an award winner consider it necessary, he/she may use the expression in their biodata/letterhead/visiting card etc. to indicate that he/she is a recipient of the award.

About Padma Awards:

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. They were instituted in the year 1954. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

Categories:

Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service;( it is a second degree honour).

Padma Bhushan is awarded for distinguished service of high order. (it is a third degree honour).

Padma Shri is awarded for distinguished service in any field. (it is a fourth degree honour).

The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.

Strategic programme between India and South Africa

In News:

India and South Africa have sealed a three-year strategic programme covering all aspects of bilateral ties.

Details:

The strategic programme will cover cooperation in a range of areas, including defence and security, trade and investment, the blue economy, tourism, IT and agriculture.

Facts: Strategic Partnership has been established between India and South Africa through the Red Fort Declaration of March 1997 and the Tshwane Declaration of October 2006.