Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2022

Feb 14, 2022

Current Affair 1:
News UNEP initiatives:


New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

The Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. Through the Global Commitment, businesses and governments commit to change how we produce, use, and reuse plastic. They will work to eliminate the plastic items we don’t need; innovate so all plastic we do need is designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything we use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.

The Global Commitment has already mobilised over 500 signatories that are determined to start building a circular economy for plastic. These include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, some of which are well-known consumer businesses such as L’Oréal; MARS; Nestlé; PepsiCo; The Coca-Cola Company; and Unilever; the world’s largest retailer – Walmart.

India has not yet joined the Global Commitment.

Playing for the Planet Alliance

More than 32 games studios have now joined the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-facilitated Playing for the Planet Alliance, planting over one million trees and engaging 130 million gamers on themes relating to the environment.

The Playing for the Planet Alliance was launched in 2019 during the Climate Summit at UN Headquarters in New York. In joining the Alliance, members have made commitments ranging from integrating green activations in games, reducing their emissions and supporting the global environmental agenda through initiatives ranging from planting millions of trees to reducing plastic in their products.

Current Affair 2:
“SMILE - Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise” Scheme


The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated an umbrella scheme “SMILE - Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise”, which includes two sub-schemes –

  1. Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons
  • It provides Scholarships for Transgender Students studying in IX and till  post-graduation to enable them to complete their education.
  • It has provisions for Skill Development and Livelihood under PM-DAKSH scheme.
  • Through Composite Medical Health it provides a comprehensive package in convergence with PM-JAY supporting Gender-Reaffirmation surgeries through selected hospitals.
  • The Housing facility in the form of ‘Garima Greh’ ensures food, clothing, recreational facilities, skill development opportunities, recreational activities and medical support etc. to the Transgender community and the people engaged in the act of begging.
  • The Provision of Transgender Protection Cell in each state will monitor cases of offences and to ensure timely registration, investigation and prosecution of offences.
  1. ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging’.

It will focus on Survey and identification, Mobilisation, Rescue/ Shelter Home and Comprehensive resettlement.

Current Affair 3:
SpaceX loses 40 satellites to geomagnetic storm


SpaceX has lost dozens of satellites after they were hit by a geomagnetic storm a day after launch, causing them to fall from orbit and burn up.

Such solar "storms" are caused by powerful explosions on the sun's surface, which spit out plasma and magnetic fields that can hit the Earth.

What is a geomagnetic storm?

The Earth's magnetosphere is created by our magnetic field and protects us from most of the particles the sun emits.

(Earth is surrounded by a system of magnetic fields, called the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere shields our home planet from harmful solar and cosmic particle radiation, as well as erosion of the atmosphere by the solar wind – the constant flow of charged particles streaming off the Sun.)

A magnetic storm is a period of rapid magnetic field variation. It can last from hours to days.

Magnetic storms have two basic causes:

  • The Sun sometimes emits a strong surge of solar wind called a coronal mass ejection. This gust of solar wind disturbs the outer part of the Earth's magnetic field, which undergoes a complex oscillation. This generates associated electric currents in the near-Earth space environment, which in turn generates additional magnetic-field variations -- all of which constitute a "magnetic storm."
  • Occasionally, the Sun's magnetic field directly links with that of the Earth. This direct magnetic connection is not the normal state of affairs, but when it occurs, charged particles, traveling along magnetic-field lines, can easily enter the magnetosphere, generate currents, and cause the magnetic field to undergo time-dependent variation.

Sometimes the Sun emits a coronal mass ejection at a time when the magnetic-field lines of the Earth and Sun are directly connected. When these events occur, we can experience a truly large magnetic storm.


Current Affair 4:
Discriminatory Nature of Section 15, The Hindu Succession Act,1956


The struggle of a Hindu woman to achieve equality in matters of succession has been going on for decades with major landmarks being the Hindu Women's Rights to Property Act, 1937, The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as 'HSA'), and The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Women in India have come a long way from not being entitled to hold property, to having life interest in the property, to finally being the absolute owner of the property.

However, this is a battle half won. Several other issues are there in the existing law that needs to change to bring gender equality in matters of succession. One such issue is the order of succession given under Section 15 of The HSA 1956.

Discriminatory Nature of Section 15

On 31 January 31, this year, the Supreme Court of India has finally ordered that the Writ Petition filed under Article 32 challenging the constitutional validity of Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, shall be heard by a three- judges bench of the Court.

Section 15 deals with female succession.

Section 15(1) is a general provision that provides a list of heirs who would inherit in case a woman dies intestate. Section 15(2) is more specific; it provides that if a woman inherits property from her mother or father and if she dies issueless then that property would revert to the heirs of her father and would not follow the order provided under Section 15(1). Similarly, if a woman inherited a property from her husband or father-in-law and she dies issueless then that property would revert to the heirs of her husband.

The plain reading of both the clauses of Section 15 may not give an impression that how discriminatory this provision is. However, a combined reading of Section 8 and Section 15 will bring the problem to the surface.

The order of succession given under Section 15 is discriminatory for two primary reasons.

  1. One, in complete contrast to Section 15, Section 8 of the HSA provides the order of succession for a Hindu male dying intestate and there is no concept of property reverting to the source. There is a schedule to the Act providing a list of class I class II and class III heirs for a male. and none of the lists makes any mention of heirs of the wife.
  2. Second, even under the order of succession provided in Section 15(1) husband and his heirs are given priority over the wife's parents. the order of succession under clause one is (i) children (ii) husband and his heirs (iii) parents and so on.
  3. Section 16 clearly says that only in absence of (i) category (ii) will inherit, similarly (iii) category will inherit in absence of (i) and (ii) and so. So if a widow dies intestate and issueless any of her property except what she has inherited from her parents or husband/father-in-law would go to the husband's heir to the exclusion of even her parents.

One very common explanation provided for preferential treatment of men in order of succession is to "ensure family unity" which would mean blood relations. Interestingly, when a woman's property is inherited by her husband's heir, there is no blood relation. Since there is no specific provision for the succession of self-acquired property of a female it ends up going to the heirs of a husband over a woman's blood relatives as close as parents or siblings. Thus, it is safe to say that priority to blood relative only applies to males and not females and is therefore discriminatory.

Current Affair 5:
Constitutional And Legal Sanctity of Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Source Link


The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed hastily in the Parliament last month without adequate discussion in both houses. The amendment intends to streamline electoral rolls by removing duplicate entries and false voters from the list. However, its practical implications entail concerns around the infringement of the right to privacy of the citizens, undermining of the principle of secret ballots and further disenfranchisement of the voters.

Mass disenfranchisement

  1. The project to link Aadhaar with voter ID cards was first initiated in Telangana in 2015. However, the fallout of this project was witnessed in the 2018 Telangana state assembly elections where lakhs of voters were unable to cast their votes due to the wrongful deletion of their names from the electoral rolls.
  2. As per an RTI application, it was revealed that the State Election Commission had deleted nearly 30 lakh names from the voters' list through a software that used Aadhaar cards for identifying duplicate entries.
  3. The exclusion of weaker sections and discrepancy concerns have also been apparent in the past attempts to link Aadhaar with MGNREGA or Public Distribution System schemes.
  4. A 2020 study shows that more than 90% of entries deleted during the attempts to link Aadhaar to ration cards in Jharkhand were in fact of genuine households.
  5. In 2018, even the CEO of UIDAI had noted that Aadhaar authentication failures for government services is as high as 12%. This translates into millions of affected persons.

These experiences reveal the deleterious impact of applying technology in the absence of an understanding of societal complexities. If the processes of such technological application are not sensitive to the social heterogeneities of caste, gender, religion, language and region, then the natural implication is often the exclusion of the vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Undermining secrecy of votes and violation of the right to privacy

Political parties may access voters' data from public databases, such as electoral rolls, as well as from dark data markets where phone numbers and caste data are openly traded. Further, there also exists beneficiary data from the state and central government databases. However, to build a complete picture of a voter, one needs a common connector to link all these databases. This is where Aadhaar becomes immensely useful.

Linking Aadhaar with voter IDs would generate a common ID across all databases. Any political outfit getting access to this database can build a complete profile of a voter, including not just their caste, religion, location and family, but their economic and social profile and a history of government benefits availed by them.

Access to such data can offer a much better statistical estimate of the individual's voting preference, leading to the undermining of the very essence of secret ballots.

Political parties can misuse this sensitive information about the voters gathered from accessing all the government databases using the Aadhaar numbers to swing elections in their favour. The 2018 election report from Karnataka where names of multiple adults were deleted from electoral rolls is apt evidence of this concern.

Linking of multiple databases leading to mass-scale profiling of people also causes concerns around violation of the right to privacy of the citizens.

India currently does not have any data protection law and the proposed Bill has wide exemptions for the government to access the personal data of the citizens.

For instance, Clause 35 of the Draft Data Protection Bill, 2021 (The Bill) permits State access to personal data on grounds of 'necessity or expedience'. This means that the State can curtail civil liberties simply because it is 'expedient'.

Furthermore, with only executive representation in the selection committee of the Data Protection Authority (DPA) under Clause 42 of The Bill, and with the DPA being bound by all the directions of the Central government vide clause 87(2), executive dominance in the privacy governance framework is explicit. Such legislative loopholes coupled with the use of technology without adequate oversight leads to concerns of mass surveillance and commercial exploitation of personal sensitive data without the informed consent of the data principals.

Inconsistency with the Puttaswamy mandate

In 2018, Supreme Court in Aadhaar judgement, [Puttaswmy (II)], held that Aadhaar could be made mandatory to only avail any benefits or services under the Consolidated Fund of India. While the court did not explicitly opine on the legality of linking Aadhaar with voter data, a preliminary examination of the judgement indicates that this is impermissible since Aadhaar's mandatory use was only permitted while availing government 'benefits' and not during the exercise of a legal right.

Moreover, the Apex Court in Puttaswamy I privacy judgement (2017), laid down a four-fold test for impinging upon the right to privacy of the citizens. These conditions include the existence of a legitimate aim, suitability or rational nexus between the infringement of the right and the purpose of the restriction, necessity to test if there is a less restrictive alternative means of achieving the goal and proportionality to check if the benefit that the State gains by restricting the right outweighs the impact of the loss of the right.

To satisfy the necessity test, the state ought to show that linking Aadhaar to electoral ID is the only option to remedy false entries in the voters' list. However, the Election Commission of India has not demonstrated that their traditional methods of door-to-door verification have not worked and if they have conducted any experiment that proves the success of Aadhaar linking. Accordingly, the proportionality test also stands defeated given that there is proof of the ability of this move to successfully weed out bogus entries while multiple studies and the example from Telangana has shown its impact of disenfranchising millions of marginalised community voters.

The way ahead: Protecting democracy & fundamental rights

The technical discrepancies in the Aadhaar database coupled with the examples of the failure of such projects in the past highlight the need to reconsider the feasibility of the new amendment. This is even more critical given that free and fair elections compose the fundamental essence of any constitutional democracy. Hence, any measure that has dire implications for the fairness of elections or that impinges upon the right to vote of the citizens must be strongly obviated.

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