GS Paper I
Protests against the demolition of Guru Ravidas temple in South Delhi
Yielding to the protests against the Supreme Court-directed demolition of a Guru Ravidas temple in south Delhi, the Centre has commissioned the allotment of the same site to the devotees to construct a new temple.
Who is Guru Ravidas?
- Shri Guru Sant Ravidas Ji was a great Saint, philosopher, poet, social reformer and follower of the God in India during the 15th century.
- Guru Ravidas was born in Harijan caste in the Varanasi in the Seer Goverdhanpur village, Varanasi, U.P., India in the 15th century.
- He is believed to be a disciple of the bhakti saint-poet Ramananda and a contemporary of the bhakti saint-poet Kabir.
- Most famous and leading star of the Nirguna Sampradaya ie., Sant Parampara and lead the North Indian Bhakti movement.
- His contribution to the Indian society through his writings, poetry and variety spiritual and social messages to reform the young minds and unfair practices and to show abundance love to God was enormous.
- Sant Guru Ravidas Ji is considered as a spiritual Guru of the Meera Bai who was the queen of Chittoor, daughter of Rajasthan king.
- He worked against the caste system and was a great reformer of untouchability.
- His padas, devotional songs, and other writings (around 41 verses) are mentioned in the Sikh Scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib which was compiled by the 5th Sikh’s Guru, Arjan Dev. The followers of Guru Ravidas Ji’s teachings are commonly called as Ravidassia and collection of teachings are called Ravidassia Panth.
- After the bloody battle of Panipat, 1526, Babur once visited Guru ji and got blessings from the spiritual leader, who since then involved in social works and development of people in Delhi and Agra.
GS Paper II, Paper III
37.7% of processed milk samples unsafe
The country’s food regulator Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) released a national milk quality survey that shows that milk samples from Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala accounted for the highest cases of adulteration.
Findings from the report
- More than 40% of the samples fell short of one or more parameters out of the 6432 samples collected and analysed across 1103 towns and cities. However, the authority says that 93% of the milk is safe for human consumption.
- 37.7% of the processed milk failed to comply with the norms set by the FSSAI and in the safety parameters.
- About 40.5% of the total samples was processed, while the rest was raw milk.
- 10.4% of the processed milk samples ( of the total 2607) failed to comply with the standard norms of the hallmark authority owing to the presence of contaminants like Alfatoxin- M1, antibiotics and pesticides. Out of 6432 samples, 368 (5.7 per cent) were contaminated with Alfatoxin beyond the permissible limits for which Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Kerala topped the list.
- In case of raw milk, the non-compliance was at a higher rate of 47% out of the total 3825 samples and the regulator reasoned the cause to be the dilution of milk with water, poor quality species, food and fodder.
- The adulteration was found more in case of processed milk, where maltodextrin, sugar and fats are added to raise the levels of fat or/and solid non-fat (SNF) artificially. It could be avoided with rich quality of feed and fodder along with safe storage practices of the same.
- Among 12 adulterated samples, six were found to contain hydrogen peroxide, while others had the presence of detergent, urea or neutralisers and were deemed to be unfit for consumption. 9 of them were collected from Telangana, 2 from Madhya Pradesh and 1 from Kerala.
- There were 77 samples that had residues of antibiotics above the permissible limits.
FSSAI states that it is committed to zero tolerance for any adulteration and contamination of milk and will intensify efforts for surveillance and enforcement in hotspots identified through the survey and has now directed the organized dairy sector to start complying with the quality norms by January 1, 2020.
What is Alfatoxin?
- Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts.
- They are carcinogenic in nature (cancer-causing toxins).
- The main fungi that produce aflatoxins are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which are abundant in warm and humid regions of the world.
- Aflatoxin-producing fungi can contaminate crops in the field, at harvest, and during storage.
- Contaminated plant products
- Ill storage practices of food and animal fodder
- Dairy products
- Farmers and other agricultural workers may be exposed by inhaling dust generated during the handling and processing of contaminated crops and feeds.
Alfatoxin and death
According to FSSAI standards, the permissible limit of aflatoxins in milk is 0.5 µg/kg.
Consumption of food containing aflatoxin concentrations of one milligram/kilogram or higher has been suspected to cause aflatoxicosis, the prognosis of which consists of acute liver failure, jaundice, lethargy and nausea, eventually leading to death, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study in February 2018.
GS Paper II
Venezuela wins seat on the UN Human Rights Council
What is the UNHRC?
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
Headquarters: The UN Office at Geneva, Switzerland.
Creation history: It was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006.
Members of the Council:
- Members of the UN Human Rights Council are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot.
- The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
- The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows:
- African States: 13 seats
- Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
- Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
- Western European and other States: 7 seats
- Eastern European States: 6 seats
- Term: Three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
Presidency and Bureau:
- The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups.
- Term: One year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.
Working of the body:
- The Council adopted an “Institution-building package” to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms.
- Universal Periodic Review: Mechanism which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States.
- Advisory Committee: It serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues.
- Complaint Procedure: This allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
Anniversary celebrations are carried out through several events in June every year.
- The UNHRC also works with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.
GS Paper II
Appoint of new Chief Justice of India
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has recommended Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde as his successor as the 47th Chief Justice of India in keeping with convention and the seniority norm.
Procedure involved in the appointment of the CJI of India
To one’s surprise, the Constitution of India has no such provision for criteria and procedure for the appointment of the CJI.
Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution says there “shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India”. The nearest mention is in Article 126, which deals with the appointment of an acting CJI and in the absence of a constitutional provision, the procedure relies on custom and convention of the time.
When the incumbent CJI retires (all Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65), the senior-most judge in the SC becomes the CJI as per the recommendation of the retiring CJI. Seniority, here, is not defined by age, but by the number of years an individual has been serving as a judge of the apex court.
Brownie points for selection is during the determination of the seniority of the judges:
- The date of swearing-in as the judge to the Supreme Court.
- If two judges are elevated to the status of a Supreme Court judge on the same day, the one sworn in first and the one with the higher number of service as a High Court judge would trump the other.
- If the person has been directly nominated by the bar, the selection chances are higher.
What is the procedure?
It is laid out in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) between the government and the judiciary:
- The Law Minister initiates the procedure by seeking a recommendation of the outgoing CJI at the ‘appropriate time’, near to the date of retirement of the incumbent CJI.
- The CJI sends his recommendation to the Law Ministry; and in the case of any qualms, the CJI can consult the collegium regarding the fitness of an SC judge to be elevated to the post.
- After receiving a recommendation from the CJI, the law minister forwards it to the Prime Minister who then advises the President on the same.
- The President administers the oath of office to the new CJI.
Removal of the CJI of India
Article 124(4) of Constitution of India lays down the procedure for removal of a Judge of Supreme Court which is applicable to Chief Justice as well.
Once appointed, the Chief Justice remains in the office until the age of 65 years. He can be removed only through a process of impeachment by Parliament as follows:
“A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity”.
Does the government get a say?
- Except for the law minister seeking the recommendation from the incumbent CJI, and forwarding it to the Prime Minister, the government has no say in the appointment of the CJI.
- Vis-à-vis the appointment of the CJI and the appointment of SC judges, the key difference is that in the former, the government cannot send the recommendation of the CJI (or the collegium) back to them for reconsideration; while in the latter, the government can do so. However, if the collegium reiterates those names, then the government cannot object any further.
- There is no provision in the MoP for any event of the government disagreeing with the incumbent CJI’s recommendation on the new on.
Since the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1950, there have been 46 CJIs, including the incumbent Ranjan Gogoi. In all cases, the convention and the procedure was duly followed, except for two – Justice AN Ray and Justice MH Beg during the time when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.
- Justice AN Ray was appointed as CJI in 1973 despite being fourth in terms of seniority after Justices JM Shelat, KL Hegde and AN Grover. The reason was the involvement of these three judges in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case, which had held that Parliament cannot make amendments to the Constitution that would alter its “basic structure”.
- Similarly, Justice MH Beg was appointed as the CJI in 1977 despite Justice HR Khanna being senior. This was because of Justice Khanna’s minority judgment in the ADM Jabalpur case. Justice Khanna had pronounced that he did not agree with the government’s argument that detention of persons during the Emergency cannot be questioned, even if mala fide and without the authority of law.