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Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019

Paper : General Studies 1

Topic : Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Why in the news?

  • The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • It seeks to replace The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019

 

What does the ordinance say?

  • The Ordinance makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.  Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.
  • Offence and penalty: The Ordinance makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years imprisonment with a fine.  (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.) The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by: (i) the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage.  
  • The Ordinance provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused. The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  • The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared). Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.  The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.
  • Allowance: A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.  The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
  • Custody: A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

What are the issues regarding the bill/ordinance?

  • The bill/ordinance against triple talaq has been opposed as it is seen as a piece of class legislation i.e. a piece of legislation (law) that is directed against one section of society – muslims.
  • The bill can also be seen to discriminate between various sections of society and is hence in violation of the Constitutional rights under Article 14 and 15 as it stipulates a three-year jail term for Muslim men whereas a similar offence by a non-Muslim man attracted only a year in jail.

 

Earlier, a five-judge Supreme Court bench had concurred that triple talaq violated “constitutional morality”, and talents of holy book Quran and had declared it unconstitutional. The bill was being brought in to give effect to this judgement by providing a redressal mechanism with punishments and other provisions.

 

Trafficking in Persons Report, 2019

Paper : General Studies 1

Topic: Social empowerment

Why in the news?

  • The US State Department has released its 2019 trafficking in Persons report highlighting the need for action against domestic trafficking.
  • The report categorises countries into three groups based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), US legislation enacted in 2000. India is placed in Tier 2 on the country trafficking scale which comprises governments which do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
  • Recommendations for India include amending definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code and to establish Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts with funding and clear mandate.

 

Southwest Monsoon

Paper : General Studies 1

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,

Why in the news?

The Southwest Monsoon has advanced into Odisha on Friday and is expected to cover the entire state within the next 48 hours.

How does the Monsoon Progress?

  • The normal date of arrival of the Monsoon on the southern tip of the Indian peninsula is June 1. After that it forms two branches – Arabian Sea branch and Bay of Bengal branch.
  • The Arabian Sea Branch is divided into three distinct streams on arriving in mainland India – the first stream impinges on the western coast of India giving heavy rainfall in excess of 250cm, the second stream enters Narmada-Tapi troughs and reaches central India and the third stream moves in a north-easterly direction parallel to the Aravali Range to reach North West India.
  • The Bay of Bengal branch is divided into two distinct streams – the first stream crosses the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta and reaches Meghalaya causing the heaviest rainfall and the second stream goes to the Himalayan foothills and after reaching there is deflected to the west by the size and orientation of the Himalayas.
  • These branches converge over north-western region and provide rainfall to this region.

 

BREXIT

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Why in the news?

EU leaders have warned that there will be no renegotiation on Brexit but discussions should now focus on future of UK-EU relations.

What is Brexit?

  • A portmanteau of the words “Britain” and “exit,” Brexit is shorthand for Britain’s split from the European Union, changing its relationship to the bloc on trade, security and migration.
  • In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a national referendum on European Union membership with the idea of settling the question once and for all. The options it offered were broad and vague — Remain or Leave. Britons voted on June 23, 2016, as a refugee crisis made migration a subject of political rage across Europe and amid accusations that the Leave campaign had relied on lies and broken election laws. An ill-defined Brexit won 52 percent of the vote.
  • Parliament of Britain gave formal notice in 2017 to quit, under Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, a legal process setting it on a two-year path to departure. That set March 29, 2019, as the formal divorce date.
  • However, since the kind of relations with the EU were not defined, the Brexit was pushed further and failure to get an agreement between the various parties to a Brexit deal led to the resignation of Theresa May as the Prime Minister of the UK.
  • Two options were floated since the Brexit referendum result of 2016 is whether the UK should embark on a ‘hard Brexit’ or ‘soft Brexit’.
  • The two different terms essentially refer to the kind of relationship and level of participation the country will have with the EU’s Single Market (the free movement of people, goods and services) and the Customs Union (the bloc’s trade and tax agreement.)
  • Hard Brexit means taking UK completely out of the EU i.e. both the customs union and the single market. It will give the UK more control over its borders and immigration
  • Soft Brexit would keep the UK closely aligned with the EU. The UK could gain special access to the single market but might have to, in return, compromise on immigration agreements. It aims to minimise the impact on trade and businesses by essentially staying in the customs union. The result would be that the UK would still be bound by some of the rules of the bloc, but it would have less of a say in how the rules are made. And it would be harder for the UK to sign its own new trade deals.

 

What is the European Union?

  • The European Union is a unified trade and monetary body of 28 member countries formed in 1993 under the Maastricht treaty. It eliminates all border controls between members. That allows the free flow of goods and people, except for random spot checks for crime and drugs. The EU transmits state-of-the-art technologies to its members. The areas that benefit are environmental protection, research and development, and energy.
  • Public contracts are open to bidders from any member country. Any product manufactured in one country can be sold to any other member without tariffs or duties. Taxes are all standardized. Practitioners of most services, such as law, medicine, tourism, banking, and insurance, can operate in all member countries.
  • The euro is the common currency for the EU area. It is the second most commonly held currency in the world, after the U.S. dollar. It replaced the Italian lira, the French franc, and the German deutschmark, among others.
  • Three bodies run the EU. The EU Council represents national governments. The Parliament is elected by the people. The European Commission is the EU staff. They make sure all members act consistently in regional, agricultural, and social policies. Contributions of 120 billion euros a year from member states fund the EU.
  • The EU’s 28 member countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
  • The Eurozone consists of all countries that use the euro. All EU members pledge to convert to the euro, but only 19 have so far. They are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. The Eurozone was created in 2005.
  • The Schengen Area guarantees free movement to those legally residing within its boundaries. Residents and visitors can cross borders without getting visas or showing their passports. In total, there are 26 members of the Schengen Area. They are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
  • Two EU countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have declined the Schengen benefits. Four non-EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland have adopted the Schengen Agreement.

 

H 1B visas

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Why in the news?

The US State department has clarified that it is not considering capping the number of visas for countries that adopt laws that restrict data being taken out of their borders.

What are H1B  visas?

  • The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers. For this visa, an employer must offer a job in the US and apply for the H1B visa petition with the US Immigration Department. This approved petition is a work permit which allows a person to obtain a visa stamp and work in the U.S. for that employer.
  • There is a cap of 65,000 visas under the general category and 20,000 for advanced degree holders. There are no country-wise caps.

 

Financial Action Task Force

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic: money-laundering and its prevention

Why in the news?

  • Pakistan has been warned by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to finish its stipulated action plan on terrorist financing by October to stay off the FATF black list.
  • Pakistan is currently placed on the FATF grey list.

What is the Financial Action Task Force?

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions by the G7 nations.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.  
  • The FATF is therefore a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.  In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
  • The FATF blacklist is the common shorthand description for the Financial Action Task Force list of “Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories” (NCCTs). The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, calling them “Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories” (NCCTs).
  • For a country to stay off the blacklist, the support of at least three of the total of 36 members (excluding the two regional organization members) is required. 15 members need to support the removal of a country from the grey list.

 

Prelims Specific

  • Code name of air strike by the Indian Air Force on a terrorist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan was Operation Bandar.
  • Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP), the world’s largest multi-stage and multi-purpose lift irrigation scheme was inaugurated in Telangana. It is meant to irrigate over 37 lakh acres of new and existing ayacuts and supply drinking water to Hyderabad and nearby villages.