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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (2nd July)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. A 216-foot-tall celebration of Ramanuja

  • In the twelfth century, Ramanuja, who was born at Sriperumbudur near modern Chennai, preached Visishtadvaita.
  • Vishishtadvaita literally means the Unique Advaita, that is, Advaita with some amendments
  • Brahman alone exists but is characterized by multiplicity.
  • Brahman exists and his manifestations or attributes are real. Attributes (living and nonliving) are real but are controlled by Brahman.
    • Brahman only exists. Manifestations are temporary. They are the result of ignorance. When ignorance is removed there is no second.
  • According to him God is Sagunabrahman. The creative process and all the objects in creation are real but not illusory as was held by Sankaracharya.
  • He was enormously influenced by the Tamil Bhakti Saints called Alvars.

Advaita or Monism

  • Adi Shankaracharya is considered the propagator of this philosophy. This is the oldest school of Vedanta, and it states that Brahman is the only reality and the world is illusory (Maya).
  • He was born in Kaladi in Kerala.
  • It states that both the individual self (Atman) and Brahman are the same, and knowing this difference causes liberation.
  • The quintessence of Shankara’s philosophy is “Brahma satya jagat mithyajivo Brahmaiva na aparah“. meaning Brahman (the absolute) alone is realthis world is unreal, and the jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman.
  • human suffering is due to Maya or illusion (also known as Mithya or Vaitathya). Only knowledge of Brahman can destroy Maya. When Maya is removed, Satyam or the truth that “the individual is none other than God” is realised.
  • Moreover, there was a reaction against the Advaita concept of Nirgunabrahman (God without attributes i.e. formless aspect of divinity) with the emergence of the idea of Sagunabrahman (God with attributes) which believed in incarnation.

Dvaita or Dualism

  • Madhvacharya propounded this philosophy. It considers Brahman and Atman as two different entities, and Bhakti as the route to eternal salvation.
  • According to Dvaita, Jivatma are many and Paramatma is one.
  • Concerning the soul Madhvacharya says that no two souls are alike. They each have different characteristics, different states of happiness/sorrow…the soul becomes similar to God in some respects when it is liberated, yet even in these respects it is much inferior to God.
  • According to his philosophy, the world is not an illusion but a reality.
  • God, soul, matter is unique in nature.

2. More than 19,500 mother tongues spoken in India: Census

  • There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in India, which has a population of 121 crore
  • The 121 languages are presented in two parts — languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, comprising 22 languages and languages not included in the Eighth Schedule, comprising of 99 languages plus the category “total of other languages”, which includes all other languages and mother tongues which returned less than 10,000 speakers each at the all-India level or were not identifiable on the basis of the linguistic information available.
  • The number of scheduled languages was 22 at the time of presentation of the 2001. The same 22 languages are maintained in 2011 census also.
  • The non-scheduled languages are 99 in 2011 against 100 in 2001. The decrease in the number is due to exclusion of Simte and Persian, which were not returned in sufficient numbers as 2011, and inclusion of Mao, which has returned more than 10,000 speakers at the all-India level at 2011 census.
  • Of the total population of India, 96.71 percent have one of the scheduled languages as their mother tongue, the remaining 3.29 per cent is accounted for other languages.

3. Govt forms panel to upgrade norms for state, district level economic data collection

  • The government has set up a 13-member committee to upgrade the norms for computation of economic data at states and districts level in the backdrop of plans to revise the base year for National Accounts or GDP calculation

Details

  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) will change the base year to 2017-18 for the calculation of GDP and IIP numbers from the current 2011-12 with an aim to capture changes in the economy.
  • The panel has been asked to “review the concepts, definitions, classifications, data conventions, data sources and data requirements for preparation of State Domestic Product (SDP) and District Domestic Product (DDP) and to lay down revised guidelines”.
  • It will also suggest measures for improving SDP and DDP in the country taking into consideration availability of data and requirements of the Centre and states/union territories.

Base Year

  • The Central Statistics Office (CSO), MOSOPI, revises the base year of the macroeconomic indicators, as a regular exercise, to capture structural changes in the economy and improve the quality and representativeness of the indices.
  • The CSO had last updated base year for GDP calculation to 2011-12 from January 2015, replacing the old series base year of 2004-05.

4. Bhima-Koregaon and the fault in our laws

  • In the Constituent Assembly(CA) debates K.T. Shah said acts like “Public Safety Acts” and “Defence of India Acts” had wide range of restrictions, they have been imposed to curtail the fundamental rights

Present Context

  • The arrest of five individuals, ostensibly for instigating the riots at Bhima-Koregaon at the beginning of the year, throws the fears expressed in the CA
  • The accused, who include activists and lawyers, have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

UAPA Definition

  • The UAPA authorises the government to ban “unlawful organisations” and “terrorist organisations” (subject to judicial review), and penalises membership of such organisations.

Issue Area

  • The definition of “unlawful activities” includes “disclaiming” or “questioning” the territorial integrity of India and causing “disaffection” against India.
    • These words are staggeringly vague and broad, and come close to establishing a regime of thought-crimes
  • The problem of excessive breadth is then carried over into the “membership clauses”, which are the heart of the UAPA.
    • “Membership” of unlawful and terrorist organisations is a criminal offence, and in the latter case, it can be punished with life imprisonment.
    • But the Act fails entirely to define what “membership” entails.
    • Are you a “member” if you possess literature or books about a banned organisation? If you express sympathy with its aims? If you’ve met other, “active” members? These are not theoretical considerations: charge sheets under the UAPA often cite the seizure of books or magazines, and presence at “meetings”, as clinching evidence of membership.
  • Section 43D (5) of the Act prohibits courts from granting bail to a person if “on a perusal of the case diary or the [police] report … [the court] is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie true.”
    • But with inordinately slow pace at which criminal trials progress, Section 43D(5) of the UAPA is effectively a warrant for perpetual imprisonment without trial.
    • on more than one occasion in recent years, terror accused have been acquitted after spending more than a decade in jail.
    • This is something for which there can be no compensation or restitution; and it is only made possible because the law places an unbreakable shackle upon personal liberty.
  • the traditional argument in defence of laws such as the UAPA — that the state must be given a strong hand to control terrorist and other violent and disruptive activities
    • It proves too much because it subordinates every other constitutional value — freedom of speech, personal liberty, the right to a fair trial — to the overarching concern of order.
    • Such an attitude can be justified only in times of war or Emergency (and even then, subject to safeguards). But what the UAPA does is to normalise this “state of exception”, and make it a permanent feature of the legal landscape.

Supreme Court

  • In 2011, the Supreme Court attempted to narrow the scope of these provisions, holding that “membership” was limited to cases where an individual engaged in active incitement to violence.
  • Anything broader than that, it ruled, would violate the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and of association.
  • The application of this ruling, however, has been patchy and arbitrary
    • One judge of the Bombay High Court invoked it to grant bail to some members of the Kabir Kala Manch music troupe,
    • Another judge ignored it and refused bail to other members of the same troupe (they were ultimately granted bail by the Supreme Court).

Way Forward

An examination of the UAPA shows how, in one overarching “anti-terrorism law”, vast discretionary powers are conferred upon state agencies, judicial oversight is rendered toothless, and personal liberty is set at naught.

  • So, the Constitution exists to protect us from the consequences of those imperfections.
  • Civil and political rights are based upon the understanding that at no point should so much power, and so much discretion, be vested in the state that it utterly overwhelms the individual.
  • The purpose of a Constitution and Fundamental rights should be to establish a “culture of justification” where the state cannot abuse its power.
  • The power to keep citizens incarcerated for long periods of time, on vague charges, and without affording them an opportunity to answer their accusers in a swift and fair trial, is an anathema to democracy and the rule of law.
  • The UAPA’s stringent provisions should go the way of its predecessors — the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. They should be removed by Parliament, and, in the alternative, struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • And if that is not feasible, then there must at least be a change in the legal culture, with the courts following the example of the Bombay High Court in the first Kabir Kala Manch case, and granting bail unless the state can produce some cogent proof of criminality.

5. Gearing up for space wars: on America’s plans to build space weapons

  • U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces

Historical background

  • The imperative by America to build space weapons, which is nothing new, goes back to the Cold War, an example being the Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan Administration.

Why is this important for USA?

  • The intention is to see that the U.S. establishes and maintains dominance in space.
  • The purpose being to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space.
  • There is exponential growth in China’s space military capabilities over the last two decades.

Issue Area

  • What advantages it will bring to American war-fighting capabilities are still unclear.
  • U.S. Air Force — historically a major constituency and votary for space weapons — is not entirely enthusiastic about this new service, which could take resources away from it and the prestige
  • Adding another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
  • Objections have also emerged from within the Administration.
    • First, it could undercut ongoing missions
    • Second, it could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
    • Third, a space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.
  • Nevertheless, the fundamental difficulty of a space corps is that the physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris. And despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.

China and Russia’s responses

  • China has reiterated it opposes the weaponisation of space
    • With a range of terrestrial interests in direct conflict with the Americans, Beijing will be in no mood to allow U.S. space dominance.
  • Russia for its part has been shriller in its response, making it clear that it will vigorously take on the U.S.
    • However, given its lack of the resources for competition, it will in all probability, for tactical reasons, align itself with China.

Implications for India

American military goals, which are still undefined in space, could still have consequences for India.

  • India is officially committed to PAROS, or the prevention of an arms race in outer space, it is yet to formulate a credible official response
  • India has yet to establish a credible space command of its own.

Way forward

  • India should come out with an official white paper on space weapons.
  • The government needs to engage with multiple stakeholders directly about the role space weapons will play in India’s grand strategy. More than their war-fighting attributes, space weapons have one principal function — deterrence.

6.  India gets its 37th WORLD UNESCO World HERITAGE SITE.

  1. India’s nomination of the “Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai” has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
  2. The decision was taken at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Manama in Bahrain today.
  3. This achievement is especially remarkable in the view of the successive inscription of another Indian city after Ahmedabad last year

About the Ensembles

  1. Together, this architectural ensemble represents the most remarkable collection of Victorian and Art Deco buildings in the world which forms the unique character of this urban setting, unparalleled in the world.
  2. The Ensemble consists of 94 buildings primarily of 19th century Victorian Gothic revival and early 20th century Art Deco style of architecture with the Oval Maidan in the centre.
  3. The 19th century Victorian buildings form part of the larger Fort precinct situated to the east of the Oval Maidan.
  4. These public buildings include the Old Secretariat (1857-74), University Library and Convention Hall (1874-78), the Bombay High Court (1878), the Public Works Department Office (1872), Watson’s Hotel (1869), David Sasoon Library (1870), the Elphinstone College(1888), etc.
  5. The Art Deco styled buildings to the west of the Oval Maidan were raised in early 20th century on the newly reclaimed lands at Marine Drive and symbolised the shift in expression to represent contemporary aspirations.

Criteria for Inscription:

  1. The inscription has been done under Criteria (ii) and (iv) as defined in the UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines.
  2. Criterion (ii) refers to the important interchange of human values, over a span of time on development of architecture, monumental arts, town planning and landscape.
  3. Criterion (iv) refers to being an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage (s) in human history.

UNESCO World Heritage Properties in India

  1. In the past 5 years alone, India has managed to get inscribed seven of its properties/sites on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
  2. India now has overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, 07 Natural and 01 Mixed sites.
  3. While India stands second largest in number after China in terms of number of World Heritage properties in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region, it is overall sixth in the world.

Benefits of this International Recognition

This achievement is expected to give a tremendous fillip to domestic and international tourism leading to increased employment generation, creation of world-class infrastructure and augmentation of sale of local handicrafts, handlooms and heritage memorabilia.

UNESCO

  1. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
  2. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms etc.
  3. UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.
  4. It designates projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
  • Global Geoparks Network
  • Biosphere reserves (Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971)
  • City of Literature
  • Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects
  • Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
  • Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
  • Water resources management (International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965)
  • World Heritage sites
  • World Digital Library

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

  1. The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  2. It monitors the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
  3. It is composed of 21 states parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
  4. India is NOT a member of this Committee.
  5. Recently, its 42nd meeting in 2018 was held in Manama Bahrain.

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