Topic 1 : Khap Panchayat
Context: Demanding immediate arrest of Wrestling Federation of India chief over the allegations of sexual harassment, khap leaders decided to send a delegation to meet the President.
What is a ‘khap?
- Khaps are mainly gotra (clans tracing their paternal lineage to a common ancestor) and region-based social outfits.
- They derive their name either from the number of villages/clusters of villages or the gotras they represent.
- Khaps used to have three kinds of functions in the past:
- settle familial/village disputes,
- maintain/protect the tenets of the faith, and
- protect the area from outside invasion.
- The major function of khaps today is to settle disputes and ensure that social and religious custom is enforced in their area.
- With regards to leadership and succession, a defining feature of khaps is that they do not have a set organisation.
How many khaps are currently functional?
- There are nearly 300 main khaps in north India – in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
- Most khaps are active in Jat areas and several of them belong to the gotras of this community.
- However, other castes including Gujjars and Rajputs as well as Muslims, too might have khaps.
Their social importance
- In several rural parts of north India, khaps have tremendous influence among villagers because of their role in resolving local social disputes including marital problems, land disputes, and other family matters.
- Khaps can impose a number of penalties, including social boycotts and monetary fines.
Where do khaps draw their power from?
- Khaps draw power from the large number of people who are associated with them, by virtue of their gotra or place of residence.
- They also draw legitimacy from their actions – on different occasions, they play the role of pressure groups, mobilising people for political issues.
- Promotion of Honor Killing:
- There are many incidents of murder and other offenses committed against marriage in same gotra or in the other lower caste.
- Because of this the freedom and other life making opportunities are also missed by the young generation for their bright future.
- Promotion offorced marriages:
- Khaps mentioned and believed that marriage between two adults fitting in with the same village or gotra was illegal and obliged female accomplices to marry another person who has a spot with different gotra.
- It is not advisable to interfere in marriages of adults who are willingly getting married in inter-caste or same caste or same gotra.
- It is widely explained in constitution and laws such as the Hindu marriage act 1955.
- In a case – Arumugam Servai vs. State of Tamil Nadu (2011), the Supreme Court strictly passed an order to abolish Khap Panchayats because they are taking the law in their own hands.Topic 2 : Necrophilia
Context: The Karnataka High Court held that having sexual intercourse with a woman’s dead body will not attract the offence of rape, punishable under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, as there is no provision in the IPC for it.
What is necrophilia?
- The Karnataka High Court in “Rangaraju Vajapeyi vs State of Karnataka” observed that “necrophilia” is a morbid fascination with death and the dead and more particularly, an erotic attraction to corpses.
- A psychosexual disorder, classified under the DSM-IV, among a group of disorders, called “paraphilias,” including paedophilia, exhibitionism, and sexual masochism, necrophilia could be the result of rage, experimentation, or lust rather than sexual necessity or habit.
Is necrophilia an offence in India?
- As of date, the IPC does not list “necrophilia” as a specific offence under sexual offences mentioned in the code.
- The court mentioned that it could be brought under Section 297 as causing indignity to any human corpse if someone trespasses into a place for performing funeral rites or a depository for the remains of the dead.
- However, Section 297 requires the act of causing indignity to be accompanied by an intention to wound the feelings or insult the religion of any person.Topic 3 : Adverse possession
Context: “There is no justification for introducing any change in the law relating to adverse possession,” the 22nd Law Commission has said in its recent report.
What is adverse possession?
- The concept of adverse possession:
- The concept of adverse possession stems from the idea that land must not be left vacant but instead, be put to judicious use.
- Adverse possession refers to the hostile possession of property, which must be continuous, uninterrupted, and peaceful.
- The rationale:
- According to the Law Commission’s report, the rationale behind this comes from considerations that:
- the title to land should not long be in doubt,
- society will benefit from someone making use of land the owner leaves idle, and
- persons who come to regard the occupant as owner may be protected.
- According to the Law Commission’s report, the rationale behind this comes from considerations that:
- It was the Property Limitation Act, 1874, in England, that set the period of limitation at twelve years from when the cause of action first arose, which laid the groundwork for the limitations model inherited by colonial India.
- The first attempt to bring the law of limitation was the “Act XIV of 1859”, which regulated the limitation of civil suits in British India.
- After the passage of the Limitation Act in 1963, the law on adverse possession underwent significant changes.
Provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963
- The 1963 Act fortified the position of the true owner of the land, as he now had to merely prove his title.
- The burden of proof of adverse possession shifted to the person claiming it.
- Any person in possession of private land for over 12 years or government land for over 30 years can become the owner of that property, relating to suits for possession of immovable property.
- A person in adverse possession of immovable property acquires title to that property.
- However, the possession must be open, continuous, and in defiance of the title of the real owner for twelve years.
- The limitation period for the State will be 30 years from the date of dispossession for land belonging to a private person where any public street or road or any part of it has been dispossessed and no suit has been moved for its possession by or on behalf of any local authority.
Main ingredients of adverse possession
- In the 2004 Apex Court ruling in Karnataka Board of Wakf v Government of India, the court dealt with the ingredients of adverse possession.
- A person who claims adverse possession should show:
- on what date he came into possession,
- what was the nature of his possession,
- whether the factum of possession was known to the other party,
- how long his possession has continued, and
- his possession was open and undisturbed.
- A two-judge SC bench, in its 2008 ruling observed that the law of adverse possession ousts an owner on the basis of inaction within limitation and is irrational, illogical, and wholly disproportionate.
- The law as it exists is extremely harsh for the true owner and a windfall for a dishonest person who has illegally taken possession of the property.
- The court recommended the government to seriously consider and make suitable changes in the law of adverse possession.
- The 19th Law Commission concluded that the present provisions afforded sufficient protection to the land’s true owner and there was no need to amend the law.
- The present Law Commission’s opinion was that the law on adverse possession should stay the same.
Topic 4 : The Kavach system
Context: The death of over 288 passengers in the ghastly train accident recently at Bahanaga Bazaar railway station in the Balasore district of Odisha has brought into sharp focus the safety mechanisms needed to prevent such tragedies.
What is Kavach?
- The KAVACH is an indigenously developed Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system.
- It is a state-of-the-art electronic system with Safety Integrity Level-4 (SIL-4) standards.
- It is meant to provide protection by preventing trains to pass the signal at Red (which marks danger) and avoid collision.
- It activates the train’s braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per speed restrictions.
- It prevents the collision between two locomotives equipped with functional Kavach systems.
- The system also relays SoS messages during emergency situations.
- An added feature is the centralised live monitoring of train movements through the Network Monitor System.
- ‘Kavach’ is one of the cheapest, SIL-4 certified technologies where the probability of error is 1 in 10,000 years.
Topic 5 : The ‘interlocking’ system in Railways
Context: Minister for Railways said that a change in the “configuration” of the track had led to the Coromandel Express smashing into the stationary goods train from behind, triggering the three-way train accident in Odisha in which 275 people have died so far.
What is meant by ‘interlocking’ in railways?
- Interlocking in railway signalling systems is a crucial safety mechanism used in the operation of train movements on railway tracks.
- It ensures that train movements continue without any conflicts with each other, preventing accidents.
- There are three main components that comprise an interlocking system:
- the point,
- the track occupancy sensing devices, and
- the signal.
- The Interlocking system coordinates the functions of these three components to control train movements.
Function of each of these three main components
- Signals (which are lights of green, red, and yellow colour) are installed along the tracks to indicate the status of the track ahead.
- Track circuits are electrical circuits (also known as track-occupancy sensing devices) that detect the presence of trains.
- Points allow trains to change tracks.
How safe is this system?
- If any of the three components (signals, points, and track occupancy sensors) does not correspond to the overall ‘safe’ logic fed into the computer, the system will work to stop the oncoming train.
- This means if the point is not locked, or not set to the desired direction, and/ or if the sensing device detects that the track is not clear, the signal will automatically turn red.
- This is called a “fail safe” system — one that errs on the side of safety.
Who operates and monitors the interlocking signalling system?
- The interlocking system is usually operated and monitored by trained personnel from the signalling and telecommunications department in Railways, often known as ‘signallers’ or signal operators.Topic 6 : Acinetobacter baumannii
Context: In a major breakthrough for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the field of medicine, scientists from the United States and Canada have found a new antibiotic – powerful enough to kill a superbug – using AI.
What are superbugs?
- Superbugs are bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics. Each year these drug-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people in the US and kill at least 23,000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The dealt with the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii.
- In 2017, the bacterium was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the world’s most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- A. baumannii can cause pneumonia, meningitis and infect wounds, all of which can lead to death.
- A. baumanni is usually found in hospital settings, where it can survive on surfaces for long periods.
How do bacteria become resistant to drugs?
- Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections.
- Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
- This ultimately threatens the ability of medicines to treat common infectious diseases.
How did researchers use AI in this case?
- Narrowing down the right antibacterial chemicals against bacteria can be a long, difficult process.
- This is where algorithms come in because the concept of AI is based on the process of machines being given large amounts of data and training themselves on identifying patterns and solutions based on them.
- The researchers first exposed A. baumannii grown in a lab dish to about 7,500 different chemical compounds, to see which ones could help pause the growth of the bacterium.
- Then they fed the structure of each molecule into the machine-learning model.
- They also told the model whether each structure could prevent bacterial growth or not.
- This allowed the algorithm to learn chemical features associated with growth inhibition.
- Once the model was trained, the researchers used it to analyse a set of 6,680 compounds.
- This analysis took less than two hours and yielded a few hundred results.
- Of these, the researchers chose 240 to test experimentally in the lab, focusing on compounds with structures that were different from those of existing antibiotics.
- Those tests yielded nine antibiotics, including one that was very potent and effective at killing A. baumannii.
- This has been named abaucin.
Topic 7 : India rethinking its anaemia policy
Context: Questions related to anaemia are slated to be dropped from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-6) .
- The omission comes after health experts questioned the efficacy of the method being used to estimate haemoglobin levels.
- India’s anaemia burden has grown alarmingly with NFHS-5 (2019-21) finding that 57% of women in the age group 15-49 and 67% children between six months and 59 months are anaemic.
- The Health Ministry has noted that anaemia is a public health challenge and accurate estimates are needed to tackle the crisis.
- According to the Health Ministry, assessment of anaemia in India is being shifted to the new Diet and Biomarkers Survey in India (DABS-I), launched last year to map diet, nutrition and health status and provide the correct estimate of anaemia among the rural and urban population.
What causes anaemia?
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal.
- Haemoglobin is needed to carry oxygen and if there are too few red blood cells, or not enough haemoglobin, there will be a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.
- It results in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath among others.
- The most common nutritional cause of anaemia is iron deficiency.
What prompted the change?
- There is a danger of anaemia being over-diagnosed in India as it follows WHO cut-offs for haemoglobin which may not be suited to India, because the cut-off point depends on the age, gender, physiological status, altitude and other factors.
- How WHO defines anaemia?
- The WHO defines anaemia in children aged under five years and pregnant women as a haemoglobin concentration <110 g/L at sea level, and anaemia in non-pregnant women as a haemoglobin concentration <120 g/L.
- The study by the Indian team also pointed to differences in the way blood is drawn for sampling in NFHS.
- The NFHS survey measured haemoglobin in a drop of capillary blood that oozes from a finger prick.
- This, as per the report, can dilute the blood and give a falsely lower value.
- The recommended method of venous blood sampling gives a more accurate value.
What is DABS-I and will a dietary survey help?
- The Health Ministry says DABS-I is a comprehensive national-level dietary survey, which will define food and nutrient adequacy by collecting individual dietary intake data of different age-groups of people from all States and UTs across the country.
- The study will also provide nutrient composition data on cooked and uncooked foods from various regions of the country for the first time.
- On the other hand, NHFS provides information on population, health, and nutrition for India and each State/UT.
- Besides providing evidence for the effectiveness of ongoing programmes, the data from NFHS helps in identifying the need for new programmes with an area specific focus.
- Data on anaemia remains an important indicator of public health since anaemia is related to morbidity and mortality in the population groups usually considered to be the most vulnerable — pregnant women and children under five.
- A prevalence study on anaemia is useful to monitor the progress of reproductive health.
- Also, iron-deficiency anaemia reduces the work capacity of individuals and entire populations, with serious consequences for the economy and national development.
- The proposed method of screening under DABS-I is likely to provide better estimates of anaemia.
Topic 8 : Centre on structural safety of dams
Context: Jaipur to have centre on structural safety of dams
- Malviya National Institute of Technology (MNIT), Jaipur has been identified as the National Centre for Earthquake Safety of Dams.
- It is the first centre of its kind in the country.
- The centre will develop indigenous capabilities in making the country self-reliant in handling technology issues related to structural and earthquake safety of dams.Topic 9 : OPEC+
Context: OPEC and its allies began two days of meetings that may culminate in further output cuts of as much as 1 million barrels per day.
What is Opec+?
- Opec+ is a group of 23 oil-exporting countries which meets regularly to decide how much crude oil to sell on the world market.
- At the core of this group are the 13 members of Opec (the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries), which are mainly Middle Eastern and African countries.
- Opec was formed in 1960 as a cartel, with the aim of fixing the worldwide supply of oil and its price.
- Today, Opec nations produce around 30% of the world’s crude oil.
- Saudi Arabia is the biggest single oil producer within Opec, producing more than 10 million barrels a day.
- In 2016, when oil prices were particularly low, Opec joined forces with 10 other oil producers to create Opec+.
- Those new members included Russia, which also produces over 10 million barrels a day as well as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Mexico, and Oman.
- Together, these nations produce about 40% of all the world’s crude oil.
How does OPEC influence global oil prices?
- OPEC member states produce about 40% of the world’s oil, and their exports make up around 60% of global petroleum trade.
- In 2021, OPEC estimated that its member countries accounted for more than 80% of the world’s proven oil reserves.
- Venezuela holds almost a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves.
- Because of the group’s large market share, its decisions influence global prices.
- The group can also lower prices by pumping more oil into the market.