Topic 1: Guru Tegh Bahadur
Context: The Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs was celebrated recently.
About Tegh Bahadur:
- As a boy, Tegh Bahadur was called Tyag Mal because of his ascetic nature.
- He spent his early childhood in Amritsar under the tutelage of Bhai Gurdas.
- Baba Budha trained him in swordsmanship, archery, and horse-riding.
- At the age of 13, Tegh Bahadur distinguished himself in a battle against a Mughal chieftain. that earned him the name of Tegh Bahadur.
- “Tegh” is ‘sword’ in Punjabi.
- The times of Guru Tegh Bahadur
- Aurangzeb was the ruling Mughal emperor at the time of his guruship.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur first came into conflict with the authorities when he started questioning the tradition of worshipping at the graves of pirs and faqirs.
- He preached against this practice, and urged his followers to be ‘nirbhau’ (fearless) and ‘nirvair’ (without envy).
- His sermons were delivered in a mix of Sadukhri and Braj languages.
- The Guru and the Raja of Amer
- A local chieftain at Dhamtan near Jind in present-day Haryana picked him up on fabricated charges of collecting revenue from villagers, and took him to Delhi.
- But Raja Ram Singh of Amer, whose family was a long-time follower of the Gurus, intervened and kept him in his house for about two months, until he convinced Aurangzeb that the Guru was a holy man with no political ambitions.
- Raja Jai Singh of Amer had donated land for a dharamshala where the Gurus could rest while visiting Delhi.
- The present-day Bangla Sahib gurdwara is built on this site.
- The martyrdom of the Guru
- In Anandpur Sahib, the Guru was approached by Kirpa Das, a Kashmiri Brahmin who sought his protection with a group from the Valley.
- Kirpa Das told Guru Tegh Bahadur that local chieftains had told him to convert or face retribution.
- The Guru assured Kirpa Das and his group of his protection and told them to tell the Mughals that they should first try to convert the Guru.
- Aurangzeb considered this an open challenge to his authority.
- In 1797, the Guru himself went to Delhi where he revealed his identity, and was arrested by the Mughals.
- Aurangzeb ordered the public execution of the Guru in 1675 after the Guru refused to embrace Islam.
- Gurdwara Sis Ganj was built on the site on which they were executed in 1783.
Topic 2: Mankading
Context: Bowler Harshal Patel fumbled his Mankad attempt against Lucknow Super Giants tail-ender Ravi Bishnoi, costing his team the game.
What is mankading:
- In the sport of cricket, Mankading is the informalname given to running out the non-striking batter whilst they are backing up, which is when they begin to leave the crease while the bowler is in their final delivery stride.
- It is named after Indian cricketer Vinoo Mankad
- This kind of run-out is part of the Laws of Cricket.
- The bowler or team should warn a player first before performing the run out attempt.
- This warning could be given verbally, or the bowler can perform the run out before withdrawing the appeal.
- The first batter to be dismissed such a way in first class cricket was George Baigent of Sussex in 1835.
- The bowler was Thomas Barker.
Topic 3: Good Friday Agreement
Context: US President Joe Biden is to visit Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
- The Good Friday Agreement ended 30 years of the violence known as ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Irelend.
- It fetched a joint Nobel peace prize for David Trimble and John Hume, then leaders of the two opposing parties in Northern Ireland.
- The Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10, 1998, between factions of Northern Ireland, and the governments of Britain and Ireland.
- It ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland among those who wished to remain with the United Kingdom (UK) and those who wanted to join Ireland.
Topic 4: Saudi Arabia’s quest for strategic autonomy
Context: Saudi Arabia is now reaching out to old rivals, holding talks with new enemies and seeking to balance between great powers, all while trying to transform its economy at home
How is Saudi foreign policy changing?
- The main driver of Saudi foreign policy was the kingdom’s hostility towards Iran.
- This has resulted in proxy conflicts across the region.
- Saudi Arabia announced a deal, after China-mediated talks, to normalise diplomatic ties with Iran.
- There were reports that Russia was mediating talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria, which could lead to the latter re-entering the Arab League before its next summit.
- A Saudi-Omani delegation travelled to Yemen to hold talks with the Houthi rebels for a permanent ceasefire.
- This is happening at a time when Saudi Arabia is also trying to balance between the U.S., its largest arms supplier, Russia, its OPEC-Plus partner, and China, the new superpower in the region.
Why are there changes now?
- The Kingdom’s recent regional bets were either unsuccessful or only partially successful.
- In Syria, Mr. Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, has won the civil war.
- In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition failed to oust the Houthis them from the capital.
- In parallel, the U.S.’s priority is shifting away from West Asia.
- So the choices Saudi Arabia is faced with, is to:
- either double down on its failed bets seeking to contain Iran in a region which is no longer a priority for the U.S., the kingdom’s most important security partner, or
- undo the failed policies and reach out to Iran to establish a new balance between the two.
- When China, which has good ties with both Tehran and Riyadh, offered to mediate between the two, the Saudis found it as an opportunity and seized it.
Saudi’s relation with other nations:
- Saudi-US relations:
- The U.S. would continue to play a major security role in the region.
- For Saudi Arabia, the U.S. remains its largest defence supplier.
- Unlike most other American allies, Saudi Arabia refused to join anti-Russia sanctions.
- Saudi Arabia has placed orders for Boeing aircraft worth $35 billion and entered into conditional talks with the U.S. on normalising ties with Israel.
- Saudi-Russia relations:
- Despite protests from Washington, Saudi Arabia joined hands with Russia to effect oil production cuts twice since the Ukraine war began, aimed at keeping the prices high which would help both Moscow and Riyadh.
- Why high oil prices?
- Saudi Arabia is currently undertaking massive infrastructure projects aimed at transforming its economy and to sustain those projects and meet its economic goals, the Kingdom needs high oil prices.
- Saudi-China relations:
- It has also built stronger trade and defence ties with China.
- The Iran reconciliation deal, under China’s mediation, announced Beijing’s arrival as a power broker in West Asia.
- At the same time, De-Americanisation of West Asia is not a Saudi goal.
- Rather it is trying to exploit America’s weakness in the region to establish its own autonomy by building better ties with Russia and China and mending relations with regional powers without completely losing the U.S.
What are the implications for the region?
- If Syria rejoins the Arab League, it would be an official declaration of victory by Mr. Assad in the civil war and would help improve the overall relationship between Damascus and other Arab capitals.
- If the Saudis end the Yemen war through a settlement with the Houthis (which would probably split Yemen), Riyadh would get a calmer border.
- Such agreements may not radically alter the security dynamics of the region but could infuse some stability across the Gulf.
Challenges before Saudi Arabia:
- The Israel-Palestine challenge:
- While the Saudis are trying to build cross-Gulf stability, another part of West Asia remains tumultuous.
- It was evident in the Israeli raid at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest place of worship recently.
- This triggered rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza and in return Israeli bombing of both territories.
- Israel also keeps bombing Syria with immunity.
- The impact of escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran on cross-Gulf stability remains to be seen.
- The U.S. angle:
- Another challenge before Saudi Arabia is to retain the course of autonomy without irking the U.S. beyond a point.
- Though the U.S. publicly welcomed the Saudi-Iran rapprochement it complained Saudi Arabia about being “blindsided” on the Iran deal.
- The U.S. would also not be happy with Syria, where it once sought regime change, being re-accommodated into the West Asian mainstream.
- Changing regional dynamics:
- In post-War West Asia, the U.S. had been part of almost all major realignments — either through force or talks, from the Suez war to the Abraham Accords.
- But now, when China and Russia are mediating talks between rivals successfully and Saudi Arabia, a trusted ally, is busy building its own autonomy, the U.S., despite its huge military presence in the region, is reduced to being a spectator.
|The Arab LeagueThe Arab or the League of Arab States, is a regional organization in the Arab world.It is located in Northern Africa, Western Africa, Eastern Africa, and Western Asia.Established:The Arab League was formed in Cairo in 1945, initially with six members:Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.Currently, the League has 22 membersDecision making:Each member state has one vote in the Council of the Arab League, and decisions are binding only for those states that have voted for them.
Topic 5: Zojila tunnel
Context: Union Road Transport and Highways Minister inspected the under-construction Zojila tunnel, which will establish all-weather connectivity between the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
About the Zojila tunnel
- The Zojila tunnel will be India’s longest road tunnel, and is expected to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel, boasting a length of 14.15 km.
- A connecting tunnel from Z-Morh on NH1 to the Zojila tunnel will be built in the Zojila Ghats between Sonmarg and Kargil.
- This involves the development and expansion of the 18.475-km highway between Z-Morh to Zojila.
- The highway will have two twin-tube tunnels, five bridges, and two snow galleries.
Need of the tunnel:
- Currently, the commute between Srinagar and Leh, the largest city in Ladakh, takes over 10 hours through the Zojila Pass.
- During harsh winters, this route is closed due to fears of avalanches, landslides and slippery roads for at least five months.
- The upcoming Zojila tunnel will provide perennial connectivity between Ladakh and the rest of the country
- Apart from providing perennial connectivity, the tunnel also promises to cut travel time between Kashmir and Ladakh.
Cost of the project
- The tunnel is being built at a cost of more than Rs 4,600 crore.
- It is expected to be completed by December 2023
Topic 6: SC to review 1992 judgement barring police custody beyond 15 days
Context: The Supreme Court said that its existing position on whether an accused can be detained in police custody beyond a period of 15 days from the initial date of arrest needs a review.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had moved the Supreme Court seeking additional custody of an accused.
- The investigative agency’s claim is that it requires fresh custody since he could not be interrogated by the CBI earlier despite police custody remand.
- The accused opposed this fresh demand for police custody citing a 30-year-old precedent of the court which has ruled that police custody which shall be beyond the period of 15 days from the date of arrest is not permissible.
- The Supreme Court in Central Bureau of Intelligence vs Anupam J. Kulkarni held that an accused cannot be detained in police custody after the lapse of 15 days from the date of arrest.
What does the law say about police custody?
- Although magistrates mechanically grant police custody in virtually every case, the law allows police detention only in special circumstances.
- Police custody is granted by a magistrate for reasons that must be recorded in the order.
- Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure governs how this works.
- It gives power to the Magistrate to authorise the detention of the accused in such custody as such Magistrate thinks fit, for a term not exceeding fifteen days in the whole.
- This provision, the SC said is intended to protect the accused from the methods which may be adopted by some overzealous and unscrupulous police officers.
Why is police custody allowed only at the time of arrest?
- After the 15-day police custody, further remand during the period of investigation can only be in judicial custody.
- Judicial custody is in a central jail under the supervision of a magistrate, whereas police custody would be in a police station for officers to interrogate an accused.
- The law is a check on the state’s power to restrict an individual’s liberty so when the police know that they only have fifteen days, it will strive to finish the investigation on time.
- However, this is routinely circumvented using an exception to the 15-day rule.
- The exception:
- The 15-day bar does not apply if the accused is involved in a different case arising out of a separate cause of action.
- Then, even if he is in judicial custody in one case, he can formally be arrested in the other case and the police can seek custody again, starting another 15-day cycle.
Judicial custody vs police custody
- In police custody, the investigating authority can interrogate a person while in judicial custody, officials need the permission of the court for questioning.
- In police custody, the person has the right to legal counsel, and the right to be informed of the grounds which the police have to ensure.
- In judicial custody, the person is under the responsibility of the magistrate, while the Prison Manual comes into the picture for the routine conduct of the person.
What happens after the 15-day custody?
- The CrPC allows an accused to be released on bail if the investigation is not completed within the prescribed number of days.
- This is usually referred to as ‘default bail’ or ‘statutory bail’.
- The first limit is 24 hours.
- Then, this can be extended by a magistrate to a maximum of 15 days.
- This cannot be further exceeded beyond 60-90 days.
- In its 1975 ruling in “Matabar Parida vs. State of Orissa”, the Apex Court held that if it’s not possible to complete the investigation between the 60-90 day period, then even in “erious and ghastly types of crime the accused will be entitled to be released on bail.
- The objective of this provision is to ensure the investigating agency completes its investigation expeditiously within a reasonable time.
Topic 7: Doctrine of Promissory estoppel
Context: Supreme Court dismissed petitions challenging the Delhi High Court judgment which upheld the Agnipath scheme for recruitment to the armed forces.
What was the case?
- Some of the petitioners included candidates who were shortlisted in the earlier recruitment process to Army and Air Force.
- They told the apex court that their names appeared in a provisional list for recruitment to Air Force but the recruitment process was cancelled when Agnipath scheme was notified.
- They argued that the government must be directed to complete the old process citing the doctrine of promissory estoppel.
What is the doctrine of promissory estoppel?
- Promissory estoppel is a concept developed in contractual laws.
- A valid contract under law requires an agreement to be made with sufficient consideration.
- A claim of doctrine of promissory estoppel essentially prevents a “promisor” from backing out of an agreement on the grounds that there is no “consideration.”
- The doctrine is invoked in court by a plaintiff (the party moving court in a civil action) against the defendant to ensure execution of a contract or seek compensation for failure to perform the contract.
- Application of the doctrine:
- In a 1981 decision in Chhaganlal Keshavalal Mehta v. Patel Narandas Haribhai, the SC lists out a checklist for when the doctrine can be applied.
- First, there must be a clear and unambiguous promise.
- Second, the plaintiff must have acted relying reasonably on that promise.
- Third, the plaintiff must have suffered a loss.
- In a 1981 decision in Chhaganlal Keshavalal Mehta v. Patel Narandas Haribhai, the SC lists out a checklist for when the doctrine can be applied.
How does it relate to the Agnipath case?
- It essentially means that the government’s actions of putting up a shortlist etc would be a “promise” made by it.
- The other party here — the candidatesacted based on that promise.
- They refused other jobs in CRPF, BSF etc and now must be compensated for their loss.
- However, the judgesquickly refused this argument.
- They pointed out that promissory estoppel is always subject to overarching public interest.
- It was added that this is not a contract matter where promissory estoppel in public law was applied, it is a public employment and that the question of applying this principle will not arise in this case.
What Is Agnipath Scheme?
- The scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the armed forces.
- It will provide an opportunity to the youth who are more in tune with contemporary technological trends and plough back skilled, disciplined and motivated manpower into the society.
- It is envisaged that average age profile of indian armed forces would come down by about 4-5 years by implementation of this scheme.
- Under the scheme, youth aged between 17.5 years to 21 years will be recruited directly from educational institutions or via recruitment rallies.
- They will be recruited under a contract.
- They will be subjected to a 6-month rigorous training regime and 3.5 years of active service.
Who are agniveers?
- The youth joining the armed forces under agnipath scheme will be known as agniveers.
- Agniveers will be given an attractive customized monthly package along with risk and hardship allowances as applicable in the three services.
- On completion of the engagement period of four years, agniveers will be paid one time ‘sevanidhi’ package.
- The ‘seva nidhi’ of approximately rs 11.71 lakh would aid the agniveer to pursue his/her future dreams without the financial pressure.
- The “seva nidhi” will be exempt from income tax.
- There shall be no entitlement to gratuity and pensionary benefits.
- Agniveers will be provided non-contributory life insurance cover of rs 48 lakh
- Post this stint of four years, the agniveers will be infused into the civil society where they can contribute immensely towards the nation building process.
- The skills gained by each agniveer will be recognised in a certificate to form part of his unique resume.
- The individuals, selected for enrolment in the armed forces as regular cadre, would be required to serve for a further engagement period of minimum 15 years and
- They would be governed by the existing terms and conditions of service of
- Junior commissioned officers/other ranks in indian army and
- Their equivalent in indian navy and indian air force and
- Non-combatant enrolled in the indian air force, as amended from time-to-time.
Benefits under the scheme
- Aside from a decent income, reportedly around rs 40,000 per month during the 4th year of service, the administration will also contribute to the fund’s corpus, which will offer retirement benefits of around rs 11 lakh upon exit.
- The government will also assist soldiers in obtaining educational loans.
- Agniveers will be given preference when recruiting for the central armed police forces.
- In each batch, 25% of agniveers will be chosen for the permanent cadre in the armed services.
- The remaining 75% of agniveers will have numerous opportunities to forge their own career path.
Topic 8: Draft ‘Sagarmala Innovation and Start-up Policy’
Context: Draft ‘Sagarmala Innovation and Start-up Policy’ issued for Stakeholder Consultation
- This draft policy aims at nurturing start-ups and other entities to co-create the future of India’s growing maritime sector.
- This entails intensive collaboration of the organizations to build a strong eco-system facilitating innovation and Startups in the country that will drive sustainable growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
- Key areas of focus:
- optimizing processes through data,
- maritime education,
- multi-modal transportation,
- alternate/ advance materials,
- maritime cybersecurity,
- smart communication and
- marine electronics.
- Key features:
- Digital Portal based selection of startups ensuring a transparent process
- Grants to create a minimum viable product/ services (MVP), commercialization of proprietary technology including market entry or scaling up
- Creation of ‘Launch pads’ at Ports for carrying out trials, facilitating pilot projects, establishing working space and adopting products and solutions
- Annual Start-up Awards in the maritime sector recognizing distinguished efforts of innovation
- Legal and accountancy back up to start-ups for IP-Patent filing, Company registration, annual filings and closures
- The promotion of start-ups shall be through development of Maritime Innovation Hubs (MIH) which shall perform the following functions:
- Develop incubators and accelerators with state of the art facilities to cover all aspects of the startup journey from idea to scaled product.
- Develop centralized repository containing all pertinent information to assist emerging entrepreneurs
- Attract investment for eligible start-up businesses and innovative maritime technology
- Entrepreneur development through ‘know-how’ sessions about the various aspects of the maritime industry and launching of innovation focused programs
|About Sagarmala projectThe Sagarmala project is a flagship initiative by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.It was launched in 2015.The main objective of this initiative is the integrated development of all maritime-related activities.It will provide infrastructure to facilitate quick transportation of goods to and from the ports.The vision of the Sagarmala project is to reduce the logistics costs for domestic and EXIM (export-import) and cargo through infrastructure investment. Four pillars of the projectPort modernisationPort connectivityPort-led industrialisationCoastal community development