1. Inter-country removal & retention of children
Context: Committee headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal has submitted its report on legal issues related to Inter-country removal & retention of children to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
‘Inter Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’:
The Committee has recommended that the Government may establish an ‘Inter Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’.
Composition of the authority:
The Authority may be chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with Members from Legal and Social sector background along with representatives from key Ministries.
Functions of the authority:
- The authority has been envisaged to provide a one window solution in cases of inter country removal and retention of Children.
- The Authority may examine the inter country cases of removal and retention of children vis-a-vis the cultural context, merit of the case, and the best interest of the Child.
Concerns associated with Inter Country Child Abduction:
Over three crore Indians living abroad have cross-border marriages. When such a diverse family unit breaks down, children suffer as they are dragged into an international legal battle between their parents. Inter-spousal child removal is one of the most unfortunate outcomes of such break ups. Children are “abducted” by one parent and taken to a country with a different culture. This can be traumatic as they are also cut off from the other parent.
International Child Abduction Bill:
The Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016 seeks to address the issue. The Bill is in consonance with the principles of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, which seeks to protect a child from the harmful effect of wrongful removal and secure prompt return and reintegration of the child in an environment of his/her ‘habitual residence’.
Definition: The Bill defines ‘wrongful removal or retention’ as an act in breach of custody to a person or an institution or any other body under the law of the country in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention. The law will be applicable to those wrongfully removed or retained children in India who have not completed 16 years.
Central Authority: The Bill recommends the setting up of a Central Authority tasked with discovering the whereabouts of the child. The Authority will further act to prevent harm to the child, secure the voluntary return of the child to his or her habitual residence, exchange information relating to the child with the appropriate authorities of the contracting state, institute judicial proceedings in the High Court concerned to secure the return of the child, provide free legal aid advice, and make administrative arrangements for the return of the child.
Return of the Child: The court can order the return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained in India and if a period of one year has not elapsed from the date of removal or retention. However, the one-year cap is not final. The court can order return if it is established that the child is not settled in his/her new environment. It can refuse to order return if returning would expose the child to harm or if the child, on attaining an age and level of maturity, refuses to go back, among other conditions.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980):
- The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty whereby the contracting states will have to cooperate with each other in expeditiously sending back the runaway parent and the child to the country of the child’s ‘habitual residence’.
- It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.
- The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.
2. International SME Convention-2018
Context: First Ever International SME Convention-2018 is being held in New Delhi. 150 participants from 31 countries and 400 entrepreneurs from India participated in the convention. The convention has specific focus on inclusion of MSMEs in the Make in India program & empowering women entrepreneurs.
- Organizers: The SME International Convention – 2018 is being organised by the Ministry of MSME and National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) along with KVIC and Coir Board.
- Theme: “Business beyond Borders”.
About SME Convention:
The International SME Convention 2018 is a platform for intensive business discussion, progressive interaction and trade association between progressive entrepreneurs from all over the world and offers a special focus on business and trade opportunities in India for International Entrepreneurs.
The platform facilitates exchange of relevant business partnerships and trade opportunities for India’s Best Small and Medium Enterprises.
Significance of MSMEs:
India is home to more than 60 million MSMEs, majority of who are in low-tech areas and serve the local domestic markets. Of these, a small percentage, have the ability and capability to derive access to International Markets, with the vast majority of enterprises working as ancillaries. Together the MSMEs constitute a single largest employer after the Agriculture sector in India. Highly developed economies have banked on their small and medium enterprises for both GDP Growth as well as higher employment resulting in higher per capita incomes.
3. Earth BioGenome Project
Context: Scientists have proposed Earth BioGenome project, a massive project to sequence, catalog and analyze the genomes of all eukaryotic species on the planet.
What are Eukaryotes?
Eukaryotes include all organisms except bacteria and archaea. It includes plants, animals, fungi and other organisms whose cells have a nucleus that houses their chromosomal DNA. There are an estimated 10-15 million eukaryotic species on Earth.
About the project:
- The central goal of the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) is to understand the evolution and organization of life on our planet by sequencing and functionally annotating the genomes of 1.5 million known species of eukaryotes.
- The project also seeks to reveal some of the estimated 10 to 15 million unknown species of eukaryotes, most of which are single cell organisms, insects and small animals in the oceans.
- The Project also plans to capitalize on the “citizen scientist” movement to collect specimens.
- The initiative is led by a coordinating council with members from the United States, the European Union, China, Brazil, Canada, Australia and some African countries.
- This will take 10 years, cost $4.7 billion and require more than 200 petabytes of digital storage capacity.
Significance of the project:
- The benefits of the project promise to be a complete transformation of the scientific understanding of life on Earth and a vital new resource for global innovations in medicine, agriculture, conservation, technology and genomics.
- The project is also being seen essential for developing new drugs for infectious and inherited diseases as well as creating new biological synthetic fuels, biomaterials, and food sources for growing human population.
- The project will likely enable the development of new technologies, such as portable genetic sequencers and instrumented drones that can go out, identify samples in the field, and bring those samples back to the laboratory.
4. Adilabad Dokra and Warangal Durries get GI tag
Context: Two craft forms that are unique to Telangana were recently granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the GI registry in Chennai.
- It is an ancient metal craft that is popular in the state’s tribal regions.
- The uniqueness of this art form is that no two sculptures are the same, as they are not made out of a pre-designed cast.
- The craftsmen of this art form belong to the Woj community, commonly referred to as Wojaris or Ohjas in the rural areas of Telangana.
- They use brass as their main material and an ancient casting technique called ‘cire perdue’. As part of this technique, the craftsmen use clay and design a model of the sculpture that they want to create. They wrap the clay with wax threads before baking the mould, so that the wax melts away and the molten metal is poured into the mould.
- The common items made by the craftsmen include small idols and statues of tribal deities, jewellery, bells, small-scale animal sculptures and others.
- In this style of durries, weavers create beautiful patterns and dye them using vegetable colours, which are washed in flowing water after the printing process.
- Warangal district became a renowned hub for weaving these rugs due to the availability of cotton, which is grown by farmers in the area.
About GI tag:
What is it?
A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Significance of a GI tag:
Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
5. AFSPA lifted in Meghalaya
Context: The Centre has removed the AFSPA from Meghalaya, from April 1 onwards. Earlier, the Act was effective in the State in the 20 km area along its border with Assam. In Arunachal Pradesh, the AFSPA has been restricted to eight police stations, instead of 16 earlier.
What does the AFSPA mean?
In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law. If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.
What is a “disturbed area” and who has the power to declare it?
A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area. A suitable notification would have to be made in the Official Gazette. As per Section 3, it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.
What’s the origin of AFSPA?
The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958. It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
Which States are, or had come under this Act?
It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The Centre revoked it in Meghalaya on April 1, 2018. Earlier, the AFSPA was effective in a 20 km area along the Assam-Meghalaya border. In Arunachal Pradesh, the impact of AFSPA was reduced to eight police stations instead of 16 police stations and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam. Tripura withdrew the AFSPA in 2015. Jammu and Kashmir too has a similar Act.
How has this Act been received by the people?
It has been a controversial one, with human rights groups opposing it as being aggressive. Manipur’s Irom Sharmila has been one if its staunchest opponents, going on a hunger strike in November 2000 and continuing her vigil till August 2016. Her trigger was an incident in the town of Malom in Manipur, where ten people were killed waiting at a bus stop.