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8th November Current Affairs

Why Tamil Nadu’s DMK govt is opposed to National Education Policy?

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

In News:

Chief Minister M K Stalin has said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will not be implemented in Tamil Nadu. An expert committee would be formed soon to prepare a new education policy of the state.

Why is Tamil Nadu opposed to NEP?

Tamil Nadu’s arguments:

NEP being recommended by the Centre was “for elites” and the education “will be confined and limited to a few sections”.

Besides the opposition to three-language policy, the state has also questioned the prominence given to Sanskrit over and above Tamil and other languages.

Above all, NEP intrudes into a crucial domain of the state – education.

Therefore, NEP is being viewed as a policy against social justice, federalism, pluralism and equality.

Is it possible for Tamil Nadu to not implement NEP and formulate its own education policy?

The very word ‘policy’ in the National Education Policy, 2020 indicates that it is only a recommendation, not binding on anything or anyone.

Also, education is in the concurrent list, not in the union list.

Previously, when Rajiv Gandhi brought in the second national education policy in 1986, many parties had opposed it. Like the agriculture policy, even after the law was passed by Parliament, a number of legislatures passed resolutions against it.

Extinction risk for leopards in North India

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

An international study we conducted that quantifies the threat posed by roads to the survival of animal populations around the world.

Key findings related to India:

The leopard faces an 83% increased risk of extinction in North India due to roadkill.

The leopard population of North India is at highest risk among four animal populations identified as being the most vulnerable to extinction in the next 50 years if observed roadkill levels persist.

Leopard is followed by the maned wolf and the little spotted cat, both of Brazil, and the brown hyena of southern Africa.

At an 83% increased risk, the study estimates the time to the North Indian leopard population’s extinction at 33 years.

Report on Leopards in India:

In August 2021, the Union Environment Ministry released a new report titled- Status of Leopards, Co-predators and Megaherbivores-2018.

The report was released on July 29, 2021 — World Tiger Day.

As per the report:

India’s official leopard count has increased 63 per cent from 2014-2018. There were 12,852 leopards in the country in 2018 (7,910 in 2014).

The largest number of leopards have been estimated in Madhya Pradesh (3,421) followed by Karnataka (1,783) and Maharashtra (1,690).

About Leopard:

  • Scientific Name- Panthera pardus.
  • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Included in Appendix I of CITES.
  • Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
  • Nine subspecies of the leopard have been recognized, and they are distributed across Africa and Asia.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

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

In News:

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has expressed shock over the Tripura police’s action of booking 102 people, including journalists, under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. This was for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the State.

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).

12-foot statue of Adi Shankaracharya unveiled at Kedarnath

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

In News:

A 12-foot statue of Adi Shankaracharya has been unveiled at Kedarnath, where the acharya is believed to have attained samadhi at the age of 32 in the ninth century.

About Adi Shankaracharya:

Born in Kaladi village on the bank of the Periyar, the largest river in

He was a disciple of the scholar

He was constantly on the move — bearing the flag of Advaita Vedanta, challenging prevailing philosophical traditions including Buddhism and Jainism.

He is believed to have established the ritual practices at the Badri and Kedar dhams.

Literary works:

Adi Shankara is generally identified as the author of 116 works — among them the celebrated commentaries (bhashyas) on 10 Upanishads, the Brahmasutra and the Gita, and poetic works including Vivekachudamani, Maneesha Panchakam, and Saundaryalahiri.

He also composed texts like Shankarasmrithi, which seeks to establish the social supremacy of Nambuthiri Brahmins.

What is Advaita Vedanta?

Advaita Vedanta articulates a philosophical position of radical nondualism, a revisionary worldview which it derives from the ancient Upanishadic texts.

According to Advaita Vedantins, the Upanishads reveal a fundamental principle of nonduality termed ‘brahman’, which is the reality of all things.

Advaitins understand brahman as transcending individuality and empirical plurality.

They seek to establish that the essential core of one’s self (atman) is brahman. The fundamental thrust of Advaita Vedanta is that the atman is pure non-intentional consciousness.

It is one without a second, nondual, infinite existence, and numerically identical with brahman.

Shankara’s contested legacy:

The essence of Adi Shankara’s philosophy is encapsulated in the much quoted formulation: “brahma satyam jagan-mithya, jivo brahmaiva naaparah” (brahman alone is real, this world is an illusion/ and the jiva is non-differential from brahman).

Custodians of the caste system cite from Shankara’s commentaries to justify the unequal and unjust social order, whereas others claim these are extrapolations and point to works like Maneesha Panchakam to suggest a different reading of the acharya’s outlook.

Among the interpreters of his philosophy would be those who suggested that the Advaita Vedanta borrowed the categories of Buddhist thinkers and called him the Prachhanna Buddha (Buddha in disguise), to Sri Narayana Guru who in the 20th century offered a radical reading of Advaita Vedanta to dismantle the theory and praxis of caste.