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Daily Current Affairs

14-October-2023

1. Israel tells Palestinians to leave northern Gaza

Topic: GS2 – International relations

Context:

  • Palestinians in northern Gaza were ordered to evacuate towards the southern part of the territory by Israel’s military, in preparation for an expected ground invasion against Hamas.

Additional information on the news:

  • The United Nations expressed concern over this mass exodus, as it involved almost half of Gaza’s population and could lead to a calamity.
  • Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza, dismissed the evacuation order as a ploy and encouraged people to remain in their homes.
  • The evacuation order, including Gaza City, caused widespread panic among civilians and aid workers already dealing with Israeli airstrikes and a total siege of Gaza.
  • Israel’s actions included cutting off food, water, and supplies, as well as causing a blackout across the territory.
  • The situation has created extreme hardships for the people of Gaza, with concerns about basic survival overshadowing all other needs.
  • The conflict has resulted in over 3,000 casualties on both sides and has heightened tensions in the region.

2. SC raps Maharashtra Speaker for ‘disregarding’ court order.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity.

Context:

  • The Supreme Court criticized Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar for reducing anti-defection proceedings against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other MLAs to a “”
  • Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, leading a three-judge Bench, expressed concern that the Speaker was deferring hearings and not following the court’s order to prepare a timeline for disqualification proceedings against the Shinde camp.

Issues with power of Speaker regarding anti-defection law:

  • Lack of Timely Decision: Speakers may delay or defer decisions on anti-defection cases, leading to prolonged uncertainty and political instability.
  • Potential Bias: The Speaker, who is a member of a political party, may face allegations of bias when adjudicating cases involving their own party members.
  • Partisan Influence: The Speaker’s decisions can be influenced by the party in power, undermining the neutrality of anti-defection proceedings.
  • Legal Ambiguity: Ambiguity in the anti-defection law may allow for different interpretations, leading to inconsistent decisions by Speakers.
  • Limited Accountability: Speakers may not be held accountable for their decisions, and there is a lack of a robust mechanism for appeals or review.
  • Political Pressure: Speakers may face political pressure to rule in favor of their party’s interests, compromising the integrity of the process.
  • Delayed Disqualification: The delay in disqualifying defectors can allow them to enjoy the benefits of office despite violating party lines.
  • Lack of Transparency: The process lacks transparency, making it challenging for the public to understand the basis of Speaker decisions.

Question: Examine the challenges and concerns associated with the role and powers of Speakers in anti-defection proceedings in parliamentary democracy. Suggest reforms to ensure a more impartial and efficient adjudication of such cases

3. India’s abortion law is pro-choice, liberal, ahead of other nations: CJI

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud stated that India’s abortion law is liberal and pro-choice, surpassing the laws of other countries.
  • The CJI’s remarks were made during a case involving a married woman seeking to medically terminate her 26-week pregnancy.

Information about India’s abortion law::

  • India’s abortion law, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP Act), was amended in 2021 to expand the grounds on which abortion is legal.
  • Under the amended law, all women, regardless of their marital status, are entitled to a safe and legal abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. For pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks, the approval of two registered medical practitioners is required.
  • The MTP Act also allows abortion up to 24 weeks in the following cases:
    1. If the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or sexual assault
    2. If the pregnancy poses a grave risk to the life of the woman
    3. If the fetus has a substantial abnormality
  • The MTP Act also safeguards registered medical practitioners by laying down certain conditions under which they can terminate the pregnancy. For example, the abortion must be performed in a registered medical facility by a qualified doctor.
  • It is important to note that abortion is still technically a crime in India under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes “voluntarily causing miscarriage.” However, the MTP Act provides an exception to this law by allowing abortion under certain conditions.

Question: Critically examine the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, and its amendments in 2021. Discuss the challenges and opportunities for improving access to safe and legal abortion services in India.

4. Govt. mulls partnerships to make semiconductor chips

Topic: GS3 – semiconductor industry

Context:

  • Six working groups have submitted the first edition of their report on the Indian government’s artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap.

More information on this news:

  • The report recommends the use of public-private partnerships (PPP) to produce semiconductors for AI applications.
  • It also suggests leveraging the PPP model to create “GPU clusters” for AI applications, making them available to Indian start-ups and researchers.
  • The report covers various AI use cases, including agriculture, healthcare, education, fintech, security, and governance.
  • The India Dataset Platform is planned to become one of the largest and most diverse collections of anonymized datasets for Indian researchers and startups to train their multi-parameter AI models.
  • The draft National Strategy on Robotics, aimed at transforming various sectors through robotics technology, is also in progress and emphasizes the adoption of robotics for economic benefits.
  • The strategy suggests fiscal interventions, the establishment of demonstration facilities for testing technologies, and capacity building in the robotics sector.
  • The government sees robotics as a means to improve quality assessment and efficiency rather than solely as a cause of job losses due to automation in manufacturing.

5. SC imposes ₹5 lakh fine for ‘frivolous’ PIL; dismisses plea on evolution theory

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • The Supreme Court ordered a PIL petitioner, Ashok Pandey, to deposit ₹5 lakh as costs for his “frivolous” plea, which claimed that the Bombay High Court Chief Justice did not use the word ‘I’ during his oath of office.
  • In another case, a petitioner questioned the theories of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul advised the petitioner to either re-educate himself or develop his own theories to challenge the established ones.

Issue of frivolous PILs:

  • Frivolous PILs (Public Interest Litigations) are a growing concern in the Indian judicial system.
  • These PILs are often filed for personal or publicity-seeking reasons rather than genuine public interest.
  • Frivolous PILs waste judicial time and resources, diverting attention from more critical matters.
  • They can clog the court system, leading to delays in addressing important cases.
  • Such cases may lack legal merit and are often filed without adequate research or justification.
  • Frivolous PILs can undermine the credibility of the judiciary and erode public trust in the legal system.
  • To address this issue, the courts have started imposing costs on petitioners who file frivolous PILs.
  • Legal reforms and guidelines for the filing of PILs have been suggested to discourage such practices.
  • The judiciary’s role is to strike a balance between protecting the right to access justice and preventing the abuse of the PIL mechanism.
  • The issue highlights the need for legal literacy and awareness among those who seek judicial remedies through PILs.

Question: Frivolous PILs have become a concern for the Indian judicial system. Discuss the impact of frivolous PILs on the legal system and suggest measures to deter their misuse.

6. In SC, questions of foetal viability and rights of unborn child

Topic: GS2-Polity

Context

  • A married woman seeking to terminate her 26-week pregnancy is being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • The case has been heard by two distinct SC benches, raising important issues about a woman’s decisional autonomy over abortion and the legislative framework.

What is the case about?

  • The 27-year-old married woman, who has two boys already, claims that the pregnancy was unintended. After the birth of her second child, she admitted that her family’s income was insufficient to afford a third kid and that she was taking medicine for postpartum depression.
  • On October 9, a two-judge bench of justices approved the pregnancy termination after speaking with the petitioner via videoconference.
  • According to the court, an unintended pregnancy brought on by the failure of contraceptive techniques is equivalent to a forced pregnancy for which termination is permitted up to 24 weeks.
  • Although the foetus is “currently viable,” AIIMS, Delhi petitioned to the SC requesting a directive on whether a foeticide (stopping the foetal heart) can be performed before termination.
  • After the AIIMS report, on October 11, the same Bench was divided on whether to permit the abortion, and the case was then heard by a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud.
  • The Bench requested a new medical report on Friday to indicate the woman’s health and the health of her unborn child.

What is the law on abortion?

Pregnancy termination is permitted in three phases under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act).

  • Pregnancy termination is permitted up to 20 weeks if one doctor recommends it.
  • If a pregnancy lasts between 20 and 24 weeks, two licensed medical professionals may provide an exception allowing for the request of an abortion, but only in limited circumstances.
  • Seven forms of forced pregnancies are listed in Section 3B of the Rules under the MTP Act, including statutory rape in cases involving children or sexual assault, women with impairments, or when a woman’s marital status changes while she is pregnant.
  • After 24 weeks, a medical board that can “allow or deny termination of pregnancy” must be set up in “approved facilities” only if there is significant foetal abnormality.

7. india-UK trade pact talks in final stages: Commerce Secy

Topic: GS2-IR

Context:

  • The negotiations between India and the UK for a free trade agreement are at an advanced stage, and both parties are striving to resolve any outstanding issues.

Details:

  • Negotiations for the planned FTA between the two nations began in January 2022, and it contains 26 chapters of policy issues.
  • Protracted negotiations are still ongoing on matters of relevance to India, such as:
    • expanded market access for its trained people from industries like IT
    • healthcare in the UK,
    • market access for a number of items at no customs tariffs.

The UK, on the other hand, is requesting a big reduction in import taxes on products, including scotch whiskey, cars, lamb meat, chocolates, and some confectionary items.

  • In areas like telecoms, legal, and financial services (banking and insurance), Britain is likewise seeking greater prospects for UK services.

Significance:

  • India has significant economic and business ties with the UK.
  • India and the UK’s bilateral trade climbed to $20.36 billion in 2022–2023 from $17.5 billion in 2021–2022

Way Forward:

  • If the discussions are successful, India would have its first free trade agreement with a developed nation, which might serve as a model for additional deals of a similar nature that it is seeking, such as with the EU.

8. World Bank and MDBs jointly seek to boost lending power

Topic: GS3-Economy

Context:

  • The World Bank announced that it is stepping up cooperation with nine multilateral development banks (MDBs) to advance its goal of a world free from poverty.

Details:

  • It stated that policies currently in place or being considered by the MDBs may result in $300 billion to $400 billion in increased lending capacity to aid developing nations in addressing “a perfect storm of interlinked issues, ranging from:
    • climate change
    • food security.
    • pandemics and conflicts
    • shocks and rising debt.
  • A fundamental component of the World Bank’s new playbook is increased collaboration across multilateral development banks, which was also endorsed in a statement by G20 finance chiefs at the annual meetings of the Bank and IMF.

Which MDBs joined the collaboration agreement?

  • The African Development Bank,
  • the Asian Development Bank,
  • the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,
  • the Council of Europe Development Bank,
  • the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,
  • the European Investment Bank,
  • the Inter-American Development Bank,
  • the Islamic Development Bank,
  • the New Development Bank

Way Forward:

  • By uniting for a common goal, such collaborations can contribute more experience, expertise, knowledge, and funding to the enormous challenges the world faces today.

9. In joint statement, Speakers condemn all forms of terror, including xenophobia

Topic: Polity

Context:

  • The joint statement, which was approved at the P20 summit denounced terrorism in all of its manifestations, including acts motivated by racism, xenophobia, and other kinds of intolerance, while also recognizing the commitment of all religions to world peace.
  • On October 13, 2023, the 9th G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit (P20), which was held in New Delhi, was a key gathering of world leaders to debate global objectives and initiatives.

About P20:

  • P20, or Parliament-20, is an event that brings together the Speakers and presiding officers of the Parliaments of the G20 nations as well as invitee countries.
  • The P20 group was created in 2010 when Canada held the G20 Presidency.
  • The P20 provides a forum for interactions and partnerships amongst the heads of the largest economies of the globe.
  • It offers a chance to honor the G20 members’ contributions to international cooperation.
  • Discussions on recent problems that the international community is facing are permitted during the conference.
  • India’s capital city of New Delhi hosted the 2023 conference.
  • Parliaments for One Earth, One Family, One Future is the theme of the P20 conference this year.
  • This theme highlights shared responsibility for the planet and its inhabitants as well as global cooperation.
  • Sessions on vital subjects including, “Transformation in People’s Lives through Public Digital Platforms,” “Women-led Development,” “Accelerating SDGs,” and “Sustainable Energy Transition” are included in the conference.

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