Headline : SC reserves verdict on changes to SC/ST law
- Recently, the Supreme Court has reserved its judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018.
The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- Objective: to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
- A person accused of such a crime cannot get anticipatory bail, but soon after his arrest, he can get regular bail even in offences where the punishment is just six months.
- On 20 March 2018, Supreme Court gave its judgment banning registration of criminal cases and automatic arrests under the SC/ST Act and allowing anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against the SCs and the STs
- The verdict triggered a nationwide protest by the Dalit community costing loss of lives and property.
- The government filed a review petition and subsequently amended the 1989 Act back to its original form through the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018.
- Several petitions were filed last year challenging the amendments. However, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the implementation of the amendments.
Changes in Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 after the March 20 Supreme Court Judgement
- The top court banned registration of criminal cases and automatic arrests under the SC/ST Act.
- The public servants cannot be prosecuted without the approval of the appointing authority and private citizens can be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.
- A preliminary inquiry under the Act would be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to be certain that the allegations are not superficial.
- The amendment in the law was a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.
- Earlier provisions in the Act provided for taking immediate action in respect of any complaint relating to harassment of a victim, informant or witness, etc. Any such complaint shall be tried separately from the main case and be concluded within two months.
The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018
- The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018 nullified a controversial March 20 Supreme Court judgment.
For amendment Act : There had been no decrease in the atrocities committed on the SCs/STs despite the laws meant to protect their civil rights and they continue to face the same social stigma, poverty and humiliation. Thus it is necessary to safeguard their rights by restoring original act.
Against amendment act: Article 21, the fundamental right of an individual cannot be protected if an innocent is jailed on a complaint without its prior scrutiny.
Section : Polity & Governance
Headline : Why the latest Ebola outbreak in Congo is a growing concern?
- Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has become the second-deadliest in history with 1,220 confirmed and probable cases, including 772 deaths, since Aug 2018.
- However, despite a worsening Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization has decided not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency.
Note: The deadliest Ebola outbreak was in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia) from 2014-16, that killed more than 11,300 people.
- Ebola is a virus that can spread quickly and can be fatal in up to 90% of cases.
- Symptoms: Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.
- Incubation period (time before the symptoms of a viral infection appear): 2- 21 days
- Spreading of the virus: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- The virus is most often spread by close contact with the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms and with objects such as sheets that have been contaminated.
- Health care workers are often at risk of being infected, and burial practices that call for close contact with Ebola victims can spread the disease.
- Treatment: There is no licensed treatment for Ebola, however, receiving early care such as rehydration and treatment of other symptoms helps to improve survival chances.
- However, recently, a new experimental Ebola vaccine has been shown to be effective.
- Presently affected areas: North-eastern provinces of Congo sharing borders with Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
Why WHO has not declared Ebola a global health emergency?
- According to WHO, the epidemic does not meet the global emergency criteria because it has remained limited to two northeastern provinces and has not reached other countries, even though the affected areas share borders with Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
- Also, the WHO experts are moderately optimistic that the outbreak could be contained within a foreseeable time.
Challenges in containing Ebola:
- This is the first Ebola outbreak to occur in a war zone, where multiple rebel groups are active in Congo’s northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent years.
- Attacks have led to a traumatized population that can be cautious of outsiders, which makes it difficult for health workers to treat the affected population and explain them about the importance of safe burials and other preventative measures.
- The health teams often faced attacks from the people and in some cases had to shut down their clinics
Headline : AIIMS doctors develop application to help in timely diagnosis of autism
- In the backdrop of the World Autism Awareness Day, doctors at AIIMS have developed a mobile app for early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
- World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2 every year.
About the App
- The app developed is called PedNeuroAiimsDiagnostics.
- It is a questionnaire-based app which has 2 sections of questionnaire
- Section A has questions to assess the social interaction and communication skills
- Section B has questions to analyse the response given to questions in section A.
- Based on the response to the questionnaire the app analyses if the child has any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Accordingly the following cases are considered to be suffering with ASD
- A child who cannot babble or point or gesture by 12 months
- Couldn’t say single word by 16 months
- Couldn’t say any two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
- Loss of language or social skills at any age.
- The App is easy to use with even a paediatrician can assess the test results.
- The app is very sensitive in that detects 98% of cases.
- It is also very specific in that it predicts specifically which of the ASD in 92% of the cases.
In focus: Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Autism is a developmental disorder associated with the neurological condition of the child.
- It shows signs in the first 3 years of child development.
- Autism is a brain malfunction mainly associated with impairments in 3 main areas
- Communication skills
- Social interactions
- Repetitive and restricted activities
- Autism mainly occurs due to abnormalities in brain structure and function which can occur due to varied reasons.
- As a result Autism is grouped under a spectrum of disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Common behavior pattern
- In general autistic individual s have different ways of ‘sensing’ their world
- Lack of emotional connection
- Lack of eye contact while communicating
- Not reacting or inconsistently reacting when their name is called out
- Hypersensitivity to noise
- Lost in own thoughts
- Hitting or biting themselves
- Lack of non-verbal communication
- Inability to follow objects visually
- Inability to make friends
- Repetitive body movements
- Repeating their own sentences
- There is no single cause for Autism.
- Different children suffering from Autism are due to different causes.
- Some commonly identified factors include
- Gene mutations: No single gene is associated with Autism.
- Environmental stresses
- Parental age at the time of conception
- Maternal illnesses during pregnancy
- Mother who is a victim of drug and alcohol abuse
- Oxygen deprivation to the child’s brain etc
- However it should be noted that there is no conclusive direct correlation with any of the factors above listed.
- Since no two individual suffer from Autism due to same cause, different conditions are grouped under ASD.
- It can vary between mild learning and social disability, to more complex emotional and physical disabilities.
- Mild form of Autism
- Obsessive interest in a particular object or subject
Pervasive developmental disorder
- This is more severe than Asperger’s syndrome
- No two people suffering from the disease will exhibit the same symptoms
- Common symptoms include
- Poor social interaction
- Impaired language skills
- Most severe form of ASD.
- Multiple impairments
- Mental retardation and seizures
Note: Rett syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder are rare ASDs
China destroys maps showing ‘wrong’ border
- Chinese Customs officials have destroyed 30,000 world maps printed in the country for not mentioning Arunachal Pradesh and Taiwan as part of its territory.
- China claims the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and persistently objects to Indian leaders visiting Arunachal Pradesh.
- However, India maintains that the State of Arunachal Pradesh is integral and inalienable part of the country and the leaders frequently visit the state.
- The two countries have so far held 21 rounds of talks to resolve the border dispute covering 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh but with no conclusions.
- According to a report in Global Times, a Chinese media house, customs officials in China have destroyed 30,000 world maps, which were printed by China for export to an unspecified country.
- The 30,000 World maps were “incorrect” according to the officials as they were showing Taiwan as a separate country and had wrong depiction of the Sino-Indian border.
- They destroyed the maps as it didn’t mention Arunachal Pradesh and Taiwan as part of China’s territory.
- They consider this step as legitimate and necessary to maintain their sovereignty and territorial integrity, considering both Taiwan and South Tibet as integral parts of Chinese territory.
About India China border Dispute
- The entire disputed Sino-Indian border is depicted below.
- The border stretches from the Aksai Chin plateau in the west (administered by China but claimed by India), through Sikkim in the middle, and across to the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (administered by India but claimed by China as ‘South Tibet’).
- The dispute originatedin 1914, at the Anglo-Tibetan Simla Conference, where the British colonial authorities drew the McMahon Line, which established the boundary between British India and Tibet.
- Although Chinese representatives were present at Simla, but they refused to sign or recognise the simlaconvention ‘on the basis that Tibet was under Chinese jurisdiction and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties’.
- After independence in 1947, India made the McMahon Line its official border with Tibet.
- Later, following the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet, India and China came to share a border with each other, which was demarcated by the McMohan line drawn by the same Simlaconvention.
- China viewed this McMahon Line as an illegal, colonial and customary borderline.
- After a brief period of soured relationship between India can China, armed conflict erupted between the two nations in 1962.
- During the conflict, Chinese forces advanced deep into Indian Territory in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, before withdrawing back to their previous positions.
- Since then, China maintains that the McMahon Line effectively sees India occupying some 90,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh whereas India says the State of Arunachal Pradesh is its integral and inalienable part.
- On the other hand, India claims that China is ‘occupying 38,000 square kilometres of land in Aksai Chin in the North Eastern corner of Jammu and Kashmir’ and a further ‘5180 square kilometres of land in Kashmir ceded to it by Pakistan in 1963’.
- Since then, both the countries are trying to resolve this dispute but despite over 30 years of regular dialogues, Sino-Indian border issues remain complicated and difficult.
About Arunachal Pradesh
- Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India created on 20 January 1972, located in the far northeast.
- It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Burma in the east, Bhutan in the west, and the China in the north.
- The majority of the territory is claimed by China as part of South Tibet.
- The northern border of Arunachal Pradesh reflects the McMahon Line, a 1914 treaty between the United Kingdom and the Tibetan government which was never accepted by the Chinese government.
- The treaty is also considered invalid by Tibetans due to unmet condition specified in the treaty, and not broadly enforced by the Indian government until 1950.
- This territory is administered by India.
Section : International Relation