Topic 1 : Exercise AUSTRAHIND-23
Why in news: Indian Armed Forces contingent departs for Australia to take part in second edition of AUSTRAHIND-23
- Exercise AUSTRAHIND was instituted in 2022 and the first edition was conducted in Mahajan, Rajasthan.
- It is planned to be an annual training event to be conducted alternatively in India and Australia.
- The exercise is aimed to foster collaborative partnership and share best practices between the two sides.
- The exercise will also promote interoperability while undertaking multi-domain operations.
- The joint exercise will promote the exchange of ideas and jointly rehearse tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting tactical operations.Topic 2 : Humanitarian pause in Gaza
Why in news: Qatar announced the success of mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas, resulting in an agreement for a humanitarian pause.
- Facilitated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, the pause will last for four days, subject to extension.
- While expected to provide much needed respite to war-torn Gaza, this is not the same as a ceasefire.
Difference between humanitarian pause and a ceasefire:
- What is a humanitarian pause?
- The United Nations defines a humanitarian pause as a temporary cessation of hostilities purely for humanitarian purposes.
- Such pauses are usually limited to a defined period, and to a specific area where the humanitarian activities are to be carried out.
- The pause will allow the entry of a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, including fuel designated for humanitarian needs.
- Thus, the humanitarian pause will simply provide some relief amidst the relentless hostilities, hopefully help civilians in distress, while at the same time allowing Israel to continue its military assault.
- What is a ceasefire?
- A ceasefire, on the other hand, goes much further.
- The UN defines it as a suspension of fighting agreed upon by the parties to a conflict, typically as part of a political process.
- The goal being to allow parties to engage in dialogue, including the possibility of reaching a permanent political settlement.
- Simply put, unlike a humanitarian pause, which is fairly limited in its scope, a ceasefire is a longer-term arrangement to stop fighting in order to arrive at a political/diplomatic solution.Topic 3 : The Emmy Awards
Why in news: Comedian Vir Das won an International Emmy Award for his Netflix show. Das is the first Indian to win in the comedy category.
What are the Emmy Awards?
- The Emmy Awards are the most renowned accolades given to television and emerging media performances.
- Unlike Oscars and Golden Globe awards, they aren’t given for films.
- The Emmy Awards were conceived in 1948 and the first ceremony took place on January 25, 1949.
- The word “Emmy” doesn’t stand for anything and only refers to the award.
- It was supposed to be named “Immy,” which was a nickname for the image-orthicon camera tube instrumental in the technical development of television.
- It was later modified to a more feminine name, “Emmy”.
Different kinds of Emmy Awards:
- Apart from the International Emmy Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Emmys are also given in the following categories:
- news and documentary,
- technology and engineering, and
- Primetime Emmy Awards honour television shows produced only in America and aired during primetime.
- International Emmy Awards are for international shows.
- Daytime Emmy Awards are given to American shows aired during late-morning and afternoon.
- Regional Emmy Awards are for regional television markets, including state-to-state programming, local news and locally produced shows.
Who gives the Emmy awards?
- These awards are given by three sister organisations.
- The Television Academy, which administers the Primetime Emmy Awards.
- The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which oversees daytime, sports, news and documentary categories.
- The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which is responsible for International Emmys.
- Each organisation maintains its own membership of television professionals who vote and decide who will get the award.Topic 4 : Ghol fish
Why in news: The black-spotted croaker, or the ghol fish was declared the state fish of Gujarat recently.
About the ghol fish:
- Ghol fish is one of the largest fish found in India.
- It is a species of marine ray-finned fish belonging to the family Sciaenidae.
- It is the only species in the monospecific genus Protonibea.
- The fish is found in the marine areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra in a golden-brown colour.
- It is also known as Black Spotted Croaker fish (Protonibea diacanthus) in many parts of the world.
- Ghol fish is not only considered a delicacy but is valued for its medicinal properties in many countries.
- Ghol fish bladder is among Gujarat’s high-value exports.
- The fish is valuable and is in demand because of its meat and air bladder.
- Ghol fish is used to make beer and wine and its air bladder is used in pharmaceuticals.
- The length of the Ghol fish is around one-and-a-half meters.
- The longer the Ghol fish, the higher its price.
- The price of the Ghol fish per unit length can go up to Rs 5 lakh.
- Ghol fish is widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific region from the Persian Gulf to the Pacific Ocean.
Why was the ghol chosen?
- The Gujarat government chose the ghol because of its economic value and its uniqueness.
- The declaration will enable Gujarat to be a part of its conservation efforts.
- Factors that led to the declaration:
- Uniqueness of the fish species as the fish is not easily available.
- Economic value of the fish
- Need for conservation and prevent it from over-exploitation.
Commercial importance of the fish:
- Being an expensive fish, the local consumption of this variety is not widely heard of.
- The fish has a huge market in China and other countries.
- It is mainly exported to China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries where it is in high demand for its medicinal values,.Topic 5 : Investor Risk Reduction Access platform
Why in news: Investor Risk Reduction Access (IRRA) was launched recently by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
About the IRRA platform:
- IRRA has been jointly developed by all the stock exchanges – BSE, NSE, NCDEX, MCX and Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSE).
- The Investor Risk Reduction Access (IRRA) is a platform that will act as a ‘safety net’ for investors in case of technical glitches faced by a trading member or a stock broker registered with SEBI.
- IRRA platform is available to the trading members supporting internet-based trading and security trading through wireless technology for their investors.
- It would not be available for algo trading and institutional clients.
- It will provide investors an opportunity to close open positions and cancel pending orders in case of disruption at the stock brokers’ end.
- It is not meant for taking fresh positions or orders, but only to cancel the pending orders.
How will the IRRA platform work?
- IRRA can be invoked by trading members when they are faced with a technical glitch at their end impacting their ability to service clients across exchanges from both – the primary site and disaster recovery site.
- Even stock exchanges can also monitor parameters like connectivity, order flow and social media posts.
- Stock exchanges can also suo moto initiate the enablement of the IRRA service, irrespective of any such request by the trading member.
- This service shall be enabled by the exchanges, suo moto, only in case of disruption of trading services of trading member across all the exchanges, where the trading member is a member
- On invocation, after basic checks, the platform downloads trades of the trading member from all the trading venues and sends SMS/email to investors using internet trading or wireless technology along with a link to access IRRA.Securities and Exchange Board of India
- SEBI is a statutory body and a market regulator, which controls the securities market in India.
- The basic functions of Sebi is to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote and regulate the securities market.
- Sebi is run by its board of members.
- The board consists of a Chairman and several other whole time and part time members.
- The chairman is nominated by the union government.
- The others include:
- two members from the finance ministry,
- one member from Reserve Bank of India and
- five other members are also nominated by the Centre.
- The headquarters of Sebi is situated in Mumbai and the regional offices are located in Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.
- Before Sebi came into existence, Controller of Capital Issues was the regulatory authority.
- It derived authority from the Capital Issues (Control) Act, 1947.
- In 1988, Sebi was constituted as the regulator of capital markets in India.
- Initially, Sebi was a non-statutory body without any statutory power.
- Following the passage of the Sebi Act by Parliament in 1992, it was given autonomous and statutory powers.
Topic 6 : Exercise Vajra Prahar
Why in news: India-USA joint exercise Vajra Prahar commences in Umroi, Meghalaya.
- It is the 14th Edition of the Vajra Prahar Exercise.
- Exercise VAJRA PRAHAR is a joint exercise conducted between Indian Army and US Army Special Forces.
- It aims at sharing best practices and experiences in areas such as joint mission planning and operational tactics.
- The first edition was conducted in the year 2010 in India.
- The 13th edition of the Indo-US Joint Special Forces exercise was conducted in Himachal Pradesh.Topic 7 : Haryana’s employment reservation law
Why in news: The Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed a law enacted by the Haryana government in 2021 that guaranteed 75% reservation to locals in private sector jobs in Haryana.
Background of the reservation:
- When it was passed?
- In November 2020, the Haryana Assembly passed the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill.
- Obligation for the employers:
- It made it mandatory for employers in the State to reserve 75% of jobs paying a monthly salary of less than ₹30,000 (originally ₹50,000) for local residents of the State.
- The law is applicable to all private entities in the State including companies, trusts, societies, partnerships, and limited liability partnerships.
- It also covers any person employing 10 or more persons for the purpose of manufacturing or providing any service.
- Definition of local candidate:
- A ‘local candidate’ has been defined under the law as anyone domiciled in Haryana for the past five years.
- Such candidates will have to mandatorily register themselves on a designated portal in order to avail benefits.
- Employers have to make recruitments only through this portal.
- Companies can seek an exemption if they do not find local candidates of a desired skill or qualification, but this claim can be rejected by government officials if they doubt its legitimacy.
- Violations and penalty:
- Employers found to be violating the Act are liable to a fine between ₹10,000 and ₹2 lakh.
Challenges to the law:
- Violation of Article 19:
- Several industry associations challenged the validity of the law on the ground that it violates Article 19 of the Constitution.
- Article 19 guarantees the right to freedom, including to reside and settle in any part of the Indian territory and practise any profession, business or trade.
- Violation of Article 14 and Article 15:
- It is also contended that the law was an infringement of Article 14 (equality before the law) and Article 15, which prohibits discrimination on various grounds such as religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
- Discrimination between residents and non residents:
- The court was also apprised that the reservation creates a wedge between persons domiciled in different States and is contrary to the concept of common citizenship envisaged in the Constitution.
Defence of the state:
- The State government contended that the law intends to protect the right to livelihood of people domiciled in the State, and that the enactment was rooted in the rising unemployment in Haryana.
- It was also asserted that the government is empowered to create such reservationsunder Article 16(4) of the Constitution.
- Article 16(4) stipulates that the right to equality in public employment does not prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
Have other States enacted such laws?
- States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have enacted laws providing reservations for their local residents in the private sector.
Why did the High Court quash it?
- Violation of Article 19(1)(g):
- The court ruled that the law was unconstitutional to the extent that a person’s right to carry on occupation, trade, or business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution was being impaired.
- It also highlighted that the law discriminates against individuals who do not belong to a certain State by putting up artificial walls throughout the country.
- Parliament’s power is supreme:
- Placing reliance on Article 35 of the Constitution, the court outlined that the provision bars the State legislature from legislating on matters that fall within the purview of Article 16(3) of the Constitution (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) since only the Parliament can pass laws on such subjects.
- Return of the Inspector Raj:
- Section 6 of the Act requires employers to submit quarterly reports with details of local candidates employed and Section 8, under which officers could call for documents to ensure the law was being implemented.
- The court said that these restrictions amounted to ‘Inspector Raj’ that furthered State control over private employers.Topic 8 : Rwanda deal
Why in news: The government policy of the U.K., of creating a mechanism for the transfer of asylum seekers not considered by the U.K. to Rwanda, has been ruled as unlawful by the U.K. Supreme Court.
What is the Rwanda deal?
- The Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) was announced in 2022 by the United Kingdom(UK).
- The objective of the deal is to create a mechanism for the transfer of asylum seekers not considered by the UK into Rwanda.
- The inadmissibility clause of the UK’s asylum system plays a key role in categorising people who enter the U.K. through irregular journeys such as the English Channel.
- According to the Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations:
- The U.K. will screen asylum seeker applications and arrange for safe transport to Rwanda.
- On arrival of the refugees, Rwanda is obliged to provide accommodation for every individual and protect them from ill-treatment and refoulement.
- Rwanda will be the sole authority to recognise or not recognise the refugee status of an individual.
- If an individual is not recognised, they will be moved to their country of origin.
- Rwanda offers three solutions for those sent out by the U.K.
- It facilitates returning them to their country of origin;
- Helps in moving them to a third country; or
- Helps them settle in Rwanda with decent housing, access to universal health insurance and the right to work.
- The U.K. will bear the accommodation and transit costs.
Why was it ruled unlawful?
- The ruling was based on two major issues:
- One, the Court of Appeal’s entitlement to intervene in the High Court’s ruling:
- The Supreme Court found the High Court decision to be “erred,” due to its failure to consider the evidence of the risk of refoulement.
- Under the European Court, it is the U.K.s responsibility as a removing state to protect the refugee from refoulement and ensure asylum.
- Instead, the High Court recognised the expertise and promise of Rwanda.
- Two, if the Court of Appeal had looked into the real risk for asylum seekers when moved to Rwanda.
- The Supreme Court found evidence that asylum seekers face a real risk of ill-treatment from refoulement.
- Rwanda’s track record on human rights and its non-compliance with assurances were taken as instances for considering the real risk of refoulement.
- While Rwanda has become a key partner of the U.K., the court highlighted the periods of violence in Rwanda since 1994 and how its human rights record was viewed as critical for the ruling.Topic 9 : PARAKH survey
- One, the Court of Appeal’s entitlement to intervene in the High Court’s ruling:
Why in news: The State Educational Achievement Survey by PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) was conducted recently.
- The successful completion of the State Educational Achievement Survey marks a significant achievement in the assessment of educational competencies among students at the block level in India at grades 3, 6, and 9.
- This extensive survey covered approximately 80 lakh students from 3 lakh schools.
- PARAKH has been set up as a body for setting norms, standards, and guidelines for student assessment and evaluation for all recognized school boards of India.
- It will also:
- guide the State Achievement Survey (SAS) and undertake the National Achievement Survey (NAS);
- monitor achievement of learning outcomes; and
- encourage and help school board to shift their assessment patterns towards meeting the skill requirements of the 21st century.
- To understand the baseline performance in the development of the competencies at the end of the foundational, preparatory, and middle stages.
- The primary focus was on Language and Mathematics.
- One of the noteworthy features of the State Educational Achievement Survey (SEAS) 2023 conducted by PARAKH was the expansion of the sample size to understand the learning gaps at the block level, a strategic shift from the district.
- This transition was inspired by the objective of catering to a larger number of students and effectively understanding the performance at a deeper level.
- This approach also encompassed teachers’ professional development programs at the block level.
- States/UTs that did not participate:
- Rajasthan and
- West Bengal
- Crucial insights into the strengths and potential areas for enhancement within the education system will be available.
- These insights will form the bedrock for evidence-based policies and initiatives directed towards enriching the quality of education for the students, he added.
- The successful administration of the SEAS represents a significant stride towards enhancing the quality of education in India.
- The insights gained from this survey lead to evidence-based decision-making and the implementation of initiatives aimed at improving the education system.