1. Muslim women’s right to divorce
Why in news: The Supreme Court will examine a 2021 ruling of the Kerala High Court affirming a Muslim woman’s right to pronounce extrajudicial divorce by way of “khula”. Extrajudicial divorces are those that take place without the court’s intervention.
- The April 9, 2021 judgment by a two-judge HC Bench dealt with the conditions of khula.
- It said that a Muslim woman’s right to khula is absolute and does not depend upon the consent or assent of the husband.
- The question before the Kerala HC in its 2021 ruling, which the top court will now reconsider, was whether Muslim women lost their right to extrajudicial divorce after the passage of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.
What is khula?
- Khula refers to the right of a Muslim woman to unilaterally divorce her husband.
- This is similar to the right of talaq conferred upon Muslim men under Sharia law.
- The recognition of khula as a form of divorce stems directly from the Holy Qur’an.
- However, scholarsdiffer on the manner in which khula has to take place.
- The followers of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, believe that the husband’s consent is a prerequisite for a valid khula.
- The sitting Kerala H C judge Dr Justice Kauser Edappagath, have said that a wife’s right to khula is analogous to the husband’s right to pronounce talaq, on being convinced of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Three other ways of extrajudicial divorce available to Muslim women:
- This is contract-based divorce.
- Since Islam views marriage as a contract, the parties are free to choose the terms of their contract and decide how their marital lives will be regulated.
- If a husband violates any condition agreed upon at the time of marriage, the wife will be entitled to divorce without the court’s intervention.
- However, the conditions in the contract should be reasonable, and not go against public policy.
- For instance, if the husband marries again without the wife’s permission, or neglects her, etc., are valid grounds for divorce.
- This is a form of separation by mutual consent.
- The offer to dissolve the marriage may come from either side.
- Once both parties enter into mubara’at, all mutual rights and obligations of the spouses come to an end.
- Both Shi’a and Sunni sects deem this form of divorce to be irrevocable.
- This is divorce through the intervention of the court, or an authority like a qazi.
- While khula is given by one of the spouses and mubara’at by both spouses, faskh is decided by a third party or external authority like an arbitrator, mediator, or judge.
What does the Shariat Act say?
- What it recognizes?
- The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, recognises both judicial and extrajudicial divorce.
- The Act recognises all forms of extrajudicial divorce except faskh.
- Divorce through a third party:
- It allows the dissolution of marriage by court in certain circumstances, allows a district judge to dissolve a marriage based on the woman’s plea.
- However, despite the existence of the Sharia Act, the Hanafi school did not allow women to obtain a decree from the court to dissolve their marriage.
- To resolve this situation, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, was enacted.
The 1939 Act
- The 1939 Act was passed to clarify and consolidate the provisions of the law relating to the dissolution of marriage by Muslim women, and to remove doubts with respect to the effect of married Muslim women renouncing their faith.
- Bringing uniformity:
- The Act extended the right to extrajudicial divorce to all Muslim women, regardless of the school of Islamic jurisprudence they followed.
- Recognition to faskh:
- It also aimed to clarify the law around the faskh route of extra-judicial divorce.
- The 1939 Act recognised the faskh route of extrajudicial divorce.
- Grounds for obtaining decree removed:
- Section 5 of the Shariat Act was repealed and replaced by the 1939 Act, which laid down nine grounds for Muslim women to obtain a decree for dissolution of marriage.
- These grounds included cruelty, desertion, and husband’s imprisonment for seven years or more.
- The 1939 Act allowed a divorce decree to be obtained on any other ground which is recognised as valid for the dissolution of marriages under Muslim law.
- All other modes of extrajudicial divorce under the Shariat Act remained untouched.
2. Hepatitis C
Why in news: Recently, World Health Organisation announced that Egypt had made unprecedented progress towards eliminating hepatitis C.
- According to the WHO, Egypt became the first country to achieve gold tier status on the path to elimination of hepatitis C as per the global health body criteria.
- The “gold tier” status to reach the stated goal of eliminating hepatitis C includes meeting specific criteria such as:
- ensuring 100% blood and injection safety,
- maintaining a minimum of 150 needles/syringes per year for people who inject drugs (PWID),
- diagnosis of over 80% of people living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV),
- treating of over 70% of individuals diagnosed with HCV, and
- the establishing of a sentinel surveillance programme for hepatitis sequelae, including liver cancer.
- Egypt has diagnosed 87% of people living with hepatitis C and has provided 93% of those diagnosed with curative treatment.
- It exceeded the WHO gold tier targets of diagnosing at least 80% of people living with hepatitis C and providing treatment to at least 70% of diagnosed people.
- Egypt had undertaken the “100 Million Healthy Lives” initiative.
- Through this initiative, Egypt significantly reduced the prevalence of hepatitis C from 10% in 2016 to 5% in 2018 and an estimated less than 1% in 2019.
About Hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus.
- The virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness to a serious, lifelong illness including liver cirrhosis and cancer.
- The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus.
- Most infection occur through:
- exposure to blood from unsafe injection practices,
- unsafe health care,
- unscreened blood transfusions,
- injection drug use and
- sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.
- Globally, an estimated 58 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, with about 1.5 million new infections occurring per year.
- There is currently no effective vaccine against hepatitis C.
- The highest burden of disease is in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and European Region
3. India-Sri Lanka ferry service restarted after 40 yrs
Why in news: An age-old sea route between India and Sri Lanka has been rejuvenated with the inauguration of a passenger ferry service from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu to Kankesanthurai in Jaffna, Northern Sri Lanka.
- The initiative is aimed at bolstering bilateral ties, boosting tourism, and increasing people-to-people relations.
- It is expected to benefit local traders on both shores.
- The name of the vessel, a High Speed Craft, is ‘Cheriyapani’.
The previous route
- The Indo-Ceylon Express or Boat Mail ran between Chennai and Colombo via the Thoothukudi port from the early 1900s up until 1982.
- However, the civil war in Sri Lanka resulted in the halting of these services.
- Before the civil war erupted, one of the most popular routes was from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar.
Potential impact of the new service
- By providing a transportation option, the ferry can amplify religious tourism in the coastal regions of both countries.
- Indian pilgrim centres such as Nagapattinam, Nagore, Velankanni, Thirunallar, and temple towns such as Thanjavur, Madurai, and Tiruchi are expected to see an influx of Lankan tourists.
- Beyond religious tourism, the services would boost regional commerce and trade.
- Operational difficulties:
- Already, even as the inauguration of the ferry was being celebrated, the Shipping Corporation of India’s (SCI) initial plan to run services every day for 10 days has been rescheduled to operate thrice a week.
- Fare and ticketing system:
- The ticket fare, at approximately Rs 7,670, and poor ticketing systems are also a challenge.
- The ticket rates should be reduced and booking should be made available on popular travel sites if the service is meant to succeed.
4. Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
Why in news: Biodiversity technical body meets in Nairobi to gauge progress on Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
- Governments and biodiversity experts are gathered in Nairobi, Kenya to guide the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which was adopted at 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
- The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-25) is taking place currently.
- to meet the scientific, technical and technological needs of Parties, in their efforts to move from agreement to action towards our common vision of living in harmony with nature.
- Since its inception in 1995 in Paris, France, SBSTTA has produced a total of 250 recommendations to the Conference of the Parties.
- The recommendations made by SBSTTA-25 at this Nairobi meeting will be sent for agreement at COP16, scheduled to be held in 2024.
- Categorical indicators:
- Instead of simple binary indicators, categorical indicators could be created so that countries could provide a more nuanced report on progress.
- Online discussion board:
- Additionally, an online discussion board has also been created to help experts share their views on the monitoring framework and indicators.
About the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).:
- The UN Biodiversity conference COP15 in Montréal, Canada was joined by 195 countries and agreed upon the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
- It contains four goals and 23 targets that need to be achieved by 2030.
- This framework contains global goals and targets aiming to protect and restore nature for current and future generations, ensure its sustainable use as well as spur investments for a green global economy.
- Together with the Paris Agreement on climate, it paves the way towards a climate-neutral, nature-positive and resilient world by 2050.
- The Chinese-brokered deal is aimed at saving the lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and climate change.
- Signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a 1993 agreement, meet every two years to work on a global plan to halt biodiversity loss and restore natural ecosystems.
- The Montreal meeting was the 15th edition of this conference, hence the name COP15 — or the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD.
What does the Kunming-Montreal pact aim to achieve?
- It sets out targets for 2030 on:
- protection for degraded areas,
- resource mobilisation for conservation,
- compensation for countries that preserve biodiversity,
- halting human activity linked to species extinction,
- reducing by half the spread of invasive alien species (introduced plants and animals that affect endemic biodiversity),
- cutting pollution to non-harmful levels and
- minimising climate change impact and ocean acidification.
- The GBF goals and targets do not prohibit the use of biodiversity, but call for sustainable use, and a sharing of benefits from genetic resources.
- The GBF emphasises respect for the rights of indigenous communities that traditionally protect forests and biodiversity, and their involvement in conservation efforts.
- It advocates similar roles for women and local communities.
- The agreement calls upon members to adopt biodiversity-supporting methods such as agroecology and sustainable intensification.
- Complementing this, the GBF envisages that there will be access to justice and information related to biodiversity for indigenous peoples and local communities.
- The GBF is aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals, three of which directly deal with the environment and thus with biodiversity:
- Goal 13 on climate action,
- Goal 14 on life below water and
- Goal 15 on life on land.
- This acquires significance, since growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops is not favoured by agroecologists as they could contaminate nearby wild species of the same plants.
- One target also looks at turning cities into hosts of biodiversity, by expanding the area of and improving the quality and access to urban green and blue spaces.
- Urban planning should also be biodiversity-inclusive.
Key areas agreed in the agreement:
- Conservation, protection and restoration
- Delegates committed to protecting 30% of land and 30% of coastal and marine areas by 2030, fulfilling the deal’s highest-profile goal, known as 30-by-30.
- Indigenous and traditional territories will also count toward this goal, as many countries and campaigners pushed for during the talks.
- The deal also aspires to restore 30% of degraded lands and waters throughout the decade, up from an earlier aim of 20%.
- The world will strive to prevent destroying intact landscapes and areas with a lot of species, bringing those losses “close to zero by 2030”.
- Money for nature
- Signatories aim to ensure $200 billion per year is channelled to conservation initiatives, from public and private sources.
- Big companies report impacts on biodiversity
- Companies should analyse and report how their operations affect and are affected by biodiversity issues. The parties agreed to large companies and financial institutions being subject to “requirements” to make disclosures regarding their operations, supply chains and portfolios.
- This reporting is intended to progressively promote biodiversity, reduce the risks posed to business by the natural world, and encourage sustainable production.
- Harmful subsidies
- Countries committed to identify subsidies that deplete biodiversity by 2025, and then eliminate, phase out or reform them.
- They agreed to slash those incentives by at least $500 billion a year by 2030, and increase incentives that are positive for conservation.
- Pollution and pesticides
- Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030
- The agreement will focus on reducing the negative impacts of pollution to levels that are not considered harmful to nature, but the text provides no quantifiable target here.
- Other target areas:
- Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown)
- Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030
- Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste
- Sustainably manage areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry and substantially increase agroecology and other biodiversity-friendly practices
- Tackle climate change through nature-based solutions
- Reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030
- Secure the safe, legal and sustainable use and trade of wild species by 2030
- Green up urban spaces.
5. India to push developed nations to become ‘carbon negative’ before 2050
Why in news: India wants to push developed nations to become carbon negative rather than carbon neutral by 2050, arguing that would allow emerging market economies more time to use fossil fuels for development needs, two Indian government sources said.
- India, which is resisting calls to commit to a deadline for phasing out its own use of coal and other fossil fuels, is set to make its proposal at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.
- The rich countries should become net negative emitters before 2050 to enable the world to achieve the target of global net zero by that year while allowing developing nations to use the available natural resources for growth.
- Developed countries including the United States, Britain, Canada, and Japan are targeting net zero by 2050.
- China has committed to net zero by 2060 while India has committed to reaching that goal by 2070.
What is net zero?
- Net zero or carbon neutrality means the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through any activity is offset by an additional activity to remove an equivalent amount.
What is carbon negative?
- Carbon negative is a step forward and requires a country to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits.
- COP28 discussions are taking place at a time when extreme weather-related events have lead to heatwaves and erratic monsoons and scientists have called for immediate action.
- India intends to continue resisting developed economies’ push to fix a deadline for fossil fuel phase-down and instead favours shifting focus to reducing overall carbon emissions through “abatement and mitigation technologies,”.
- India has committed to operating half of its installed power capacity with non-fossil sources and cutting the ratio of greenhouse emissions to gross domestic product to 45% of its 2005 level by 2030.
- Data shows that thermal power stations provide 73% of electricity consumed in India, even though the country has increased its non-fossil capacity to 44% of its total installed power generation capacity.
- At a summit in New Delhi G20 countries accepted the need to phase-down unabated coal power, but stopped short of setting a timeline or emission reduction goals.
- The declaration was a step forward in climate negotiations, with the 20 countries accounting for over 80% of global emissions agreeing to phase down coal for the first time.
6. New evolutionary law
Why in news: Scientists have proposed a new evolutionary law that can explain the evolution of living and non-living entities, from minerals to stars.
Biodiversity and mineral diversity:
- Natural systems, living and non-living entities, evolve to states of greater patterning, diversity and complexity.
- As life evolved from single-celled to multi-celled organisms.
- Earth’s minerals, for example, became more complex, creating diversity.
- This, in turn, drove biological evolution.
- Biodiversity leads to mineral diversity and vice-versa.
- The two systems, biological and mineral, interacted to create life as we know it today.
The mechanism of functions:
- The researchers proposed that evolution occurs when a new configuration or a new arrangement of atoms and molecules works well and functions improve.
- Selection of function is key to evolution.
- Darwindefined function as primarily with survival but the new study highlights at least three kinds of functions that occur in nature.
- The first function is stability, which means systems made up of stable arrangements of atoms or molecules will continue to survive.
- The second one includes dynamic systems with energy supply.
- The third is novelty, that is, the tendency of evolving systems to explore new configurations or arrangements that can give rise to new behaviours or characteristics.
- An example of novelty is when single-celled organisms evolved to use light to make food.
- Other examples include new behaviours among multi-cellular species such as swimming, walking, flying and thinking.
- Similarly, early minerals on Earth possessed a stable arrangement of atoms, which acted as foundations for the evolution of the next generations of minerals.
- These minerals were then incorporated into life.
- For example, minerals are present in living organisms’ shells, teeth and bones.
- For example, in the early years of the Solar System, Earth was home to 20 minerals, which evolved to almost 6,000 known minerals toda.
What about stars?
- As for stars, the first ones that formed after theBig Bang had two main ingredients:
- Hydrogen and
- Those earliest stars used these ingredients to make about 20 heavier chemical elements.
- The next generation of stars consequently produced almost 100 more elements.
- The law has implications for a wide range of complex evolving systems.
- Collaboration between various stakeholders will help to understand how their proposed law might apply to various domains of science, ranging from astrophysics to ecology to artificial intelligence.
7. Global Maritime India Summit 2023
Why in news: Prime Minister of India will inaugurate the third edition of the Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) 2023 in Mumbai.
- During the programme, Prime Minister will unveil ‘Amrit Kaal Vision 2047’, the long term blueprint for the Indian maritime blue economy.
- The blueprint outlines strategic initiatives aimed at:
- enhancing port facilities,
- promoting sustainable practices, and
- facilitating international collaboration.
- The summit is the biggest Maritime Event in the country.
- It will witness participation of Ministers from across the globe representing countries from Europe, Africa, South America, Asia (including central Asia, Middle East and BIMSTEC region).
- The summit will also be attended by Global CEOs, Business leaders, Investors, Officials, and other stakeholders from across the world.
- Several Indian states will also be represented in the summit by the Ministers and other dignitaries.
- The summit will also provide an excellent platform for attracting investment in the maritime sector of the country.
- Key issues that will be taken up:
- ports of the future;
- coastal shipping & Inland water transportation;
- repair and recycling;
- finance, insurance & arbitration;
- maritime clusters;
- innovation & technology;
- maritime safety and security; and
- maritime tourism.
- Previous summits:
- The first Maritime India summit was held in 2016 at Mumbai.
- The Second Maritime Summit was held virtually in 2021.