CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/05/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/05/2023

Tamil Nadu’s amended law on jallikattu valid: SC

Youngsters celebrating the Supreme Court verdict on jallikattu at Tamukkam in Madurai on Thursday. Ashok. R

Court terms it a “type of bovine sport” existing in T.N. for at least a century; it also found similar laws passed by Karnataka and Maharashtra, allowing bullock cart races and buffalo racing, valid

The Supreme Court on Thursday termed jallikattu a “type of bovine sport” existing in Tamil Nadu for at least a century, and did not interfere with the State legislature’s finding that the bull-taming event is part of the cultural heritage and tradition of the people.

A Constitution Bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph upheld the validity of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017, and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017. “The Amendment Act has received the Presidential assent. We do not think there is any flaw in the State action,” the judgment held.
The court also found similar laws passed by Karnataka and Maharashtra, allowing bullock cart races and buffalo racing ‘kambala’, valid.
“Our decision on the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act also guides the Maharashtra and Karnataka Amendment Acts and we find all three legislation valid,” the Bench declared.
The Constitution Bench held that the jallikattu law “substantially minimises” the pain and suffering of the animals participating in the event.
The judgment, authored by Justice Aniruddha Bose, however directed that the district administrations and competent authorities in Tamil Nadu would be responsible to ensure that jallikattu events are conducted in strict compliance of the safeguards laid out in the 2017 Amendment Act and Rules.
“Jallikattu is a type of bovine sport and we are satisfied that it has been present in Tamil Nadu for at least a century,” Justice Bose observed.

The court described jallikattu as an event during which “a bull is set free in an arena and human participants are made to grab its hump to score in the game”.

Banned in 2014

Justice Bose said jallikattu was banned in 2014 by the top court in the A. Nagaraja case and called “cruel”. But that was before the State passed the Amendment Act in 2017, introducing several measures to prevent any abuse to the participating bulls or loss of human life. “The Amendment Act overcomes the defects pointed out in the A. Nagaraja judgment,” the court concluded.
“The Tamil Nadu Amendment Act is not a mere piece of colourable legislation… It minimises cruelty to animals and allows the continuation of the traditional sport,” Justice Bose held.
The Bench held that the State was empowered to enact the 2017 law. The court dismissed the arguments made by petitioners, who included animal welfare activists and organisations, that jallikattu harmed bulls as they were not built to run and be grabbed at. They had argued that the sport was against the fundamental nature of bovine animals.
The Constitution Bench found that the Division Bench of the court in the A. Nagaraja judgment had erred in concluding that jallikattu was not part of the cultural tradition of Tamil Nadu without sufficient material to back its finding.

The bull-taming sport is popular in Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts known as the Jallikattu belt.

Jallikattu is a sport conducted as a part of Mattu Pongal. The Mattu Pongal is the 3rd day of the four-day-long festival Pongal. It is also known as  Manju Virattu or Eru Thazhuvuthal. ‘Jallikattu’ is evolved from the words ‘Calli’ (coins) and ‘Kattu’ (tie), which denotes a bundle of coins is tied to the bull’s horns

It’s history can be traced back to Tamil Classical Age (400-100 BC).

Some examples- a cave painting which is said to be 2500 years old depicts a man controlling a bull.

There are references to people enjoying observing and partaking in Jalikattu in Silappatikaram the great epics of Tamil classical period and two other ancient literary works like Malaipadukadaam and Kalithogai.

Some other names –

  • Yeruthazhuvuthal
  • Madu Pidithal
  • Pollerudhu Piditha

Legal battle-

The subject of preventing animal cruelty falls in the Concurrent list of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.

The primary question was whether Jallikattu should be granted constitutional protection as a collective cultural right under Article 29 (1).

  • Article 29 (1)is a fundamental rightguaranteed under Part III of the Constitution to protect the educational and cultural rights of citizens.
  • Jallikattu first came under legal scrutiny in 2007 when the Animal Welfare Board of India and the animal rights group PETA moved petitions in the Supreme Court against Jallikattu as well as bullock cart races.
  • In May 2014 the Supreme Court banned the bull-taming sport, ruling on a petition that cited the 2011 notification(ban on any form of sports where animals are involved).
  • In 2018,the Supreme Courtreferred the Jallikattu case to a Constitution Bench.
  • The bone of contention is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017, which had re-opened the gates for the conduct of the popular bull-taming sport in the name of culture and tradition despite a 2014 ban by the Supreme Court.

Situation of animal welfare in India?

  • Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)– Article 48Astates that the State shall endeavour to protect, improve the environment and surroundings and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • Fundamental duty-  Article 51A(g) – Protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures
  • In 1960, Union government enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960that criminalised several different types of actions resulting in cruelty to animals.
  • However, the act also defined a set of exceptions. They are,
  • The performance of experiments on animals aimed purportedly at advancing discovery of drugs
  • Concession for “killing any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community”
  • The Supreme Court in A. Nagaraja, affirmed that jallikattu falls within the boundaries of the actions forbidden by the PCA Act.

A long-drawn test for India’s diplomatic skills

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a week-long journey to Japan, Papua New Guinea and Australia from May 19, a number of substantive global issues are on the anvil in his discussions with leaders of the G-7 outreach in Hiroshima, Japan, as well as during his travels from there, with bilateral issues taking a back seat to India’s position in the multilateral sphere. These mandate a very careful balance between the two ends of an increasingly polarised world that has been blown apart after the Russian war in Ukraine. This is also a world that looks uneasily at facing the geopolitical challenge from China, worries over trade access, supply chain reliability, and food and energy security.

Although the Quad Summit (Australia, India, Japan, U.S.) due to be held in Sydney has been cancelled in the wake of U.S. President Joe Biden’s domestic troubles, all four Quad leaders will meet on the sidelines of the G-7. Following this foray with the Indo-Pacific “coalition of democracies”, Mr. Modi will be in Washington in June for a state visit — a rare honour accorded by the U.S. President, that has been reserved for only two Indian leaders in the past, President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1963) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2009). This visit will be marked by many strategic forays to bring India-U.S. ties closer.

Almost immediately after his return, Mr. Modi will need to pivot to the opposing coalition however, hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit scheduled for July 3-4, where he is expected to receive China’s President Xi Jinping, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, leaders of central Asian states, the soon-to-be added SCO members, the President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, and the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and other guests.

The world of the SCO

The composition of the SCO, which includes those being inducted as observers such as Myanmar, gives the impression of it being a largely anti-western grouping, with practically every country sanctioned by the West as a part of it. With the SCO, a grouping that represents most of the world’s population, GDP growth, and energy reserves, India has comfort in its common stand against unilateral sanctions such as those against Russia.

A lesson or two may also be learnt from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council for Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM) held in Goa earlier this month, where India’s bilateral relations with mainly Pakistan, but China and even Russia, were allowed to overshadow more substantive multilateral outcomes. This is of particular annoyance to Central Asian countries, that have always insisted that no bilateral issues are brought up at the SCO, lest it go the way of the other regional South Asian grouping, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

A week after the SCO summit, Mr. Modi will pivot back to the European Union, as chief guest at France’s national “Bastille day” parade; visits to other European capitals are likely. August will see yet another turn, with the BRICS summit in South Africa. Mr. Modi will engage with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa on an alternative BRICS payment mechanism to the dollar-dominated international system, along with other ideas on the agenda seeking to build a counter-narrative to the U.S.-European Union combine. In September, as Mr. Modi hosts every global leader at the G-20 summit in Delhi, his diplomatic skills will be tested again — not since 2010 have leaders of all permanent members of the UN Security Council visited Delhi in the same year, let alone at the same time.

Striking a balance

The timing of these engagements is no accident; nor is it explained by India’s traditional adherence to the principle of non-alignment. If anything, Mr. Modi has consistently refused to attend Non-Aligned Movement in-person summits thus far, and has preferred his own version of “multi-directional engagements”. In 2017, the same year that India took part in reviving the Quad in the face of overt belligerence from Beijing, India also joined the SCO as a full member, agreeing to host the summit this year. New Delhi also exchanged places with both Italy and Indonesia in order to host the G-20 in 2023. If it is hosting the two major summits in the same year,it is by choice, not coincidence.

It is to India’s credit that it continues to maintain this balance, and is being courted by countries across the global divide, even as it seeks to hold out against two nuclear-armed land neighbours at its frontiers. Mr. Modi has even managed to maintain India’s “sweet spot” without needing to follow Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s example in travelling to Kiev, or inviting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and its Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to address the G-20, in order to strike a balance on the war.

While India’s attempts at being a “balancing force” (as a senior official put it) are playing out much more visibly, it is also setting off a trend — many countries in South East Asia and the Global South, not to mention countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Israel, are managing their ties with the West without joining its stand on Ukraine or sanctions. France’s latest reiteration of “Strategic Autonomy” after French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Beijing indicates that even the western coalition has its fissures on this point. Clearly, autonomous strategy or multi-alignment has paid off for India in this critical year.

Disturbing the balance

There are a few unlikely “black swan” events that could jolt India off its careful tightrope walk and force a rethink of its policies one way or the other. A sudden success for Ukraine in its much-delayed, upcoming spring offensive, for example, would require New Delhi to reconsider its unalloyed ties with Moscow. Any major aggression by China across any part of the Line of Actual Control would be another such event requiring a strategic overhaul. India may also be forced to rethink if Russia turns more belligerent over the payment problem or withhold supplies of defence hardware to India under pressure from China. Equally, any decision by the U.S. and Europe to “force a choice” on India: to go forward with unilateral sanctions for the increase in Russian oil inflows processed at the Rosneft-owned refinery in Gujarat, or through the old threat of Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act-Related Sanctions (CAATSA) for India’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile systems. In the absence of these ‘at present unlikely’ scenarios, India is likely to continue to try to work its interests on both sides of the geopolitical fence.

India’s tasks ahead will be made more difficult if New Delhi fails to ensure at the SCO summit in July or during the BRICS summit in August, that Moscow and Beijing accede to a consensus on a joint communique at the G-20 summit in September. The U.S.-led G-7 bloc seems sanguine in allowing the differences in text to continue, suggesting that the “two outliers” can be ignored, or even omitted from the group. For India, tasked with forging a consensus, which has accompanied every G-20 summit in the past, the failure to issue a joint statement would be an ignoble distinction. Given the high stakes involved, the next 100 days will decide whether India can retain its reputation in forging a fair balance between its conflicting interests across the global divide, while remaining a gracious and successful host as the world comes home for the G-20.

Walking the tightrope seems to have paid off for India, but the multilateral challenges it faces will multiply.

What are RBI regulations on green deposits?

What does the framework say? Can green deposits help the environment in any way?

The story so far:

Last month, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came up with a regulatory framework for banks to accept green deposits from customers. Under the new framework, banks that accept green deposits will have to disclose more information on how they invest these deposits.

What are green deposits?

Green deposits are not very different from the regular deposits that banks accept from their customers. The only major difference is that banks promise to earmark the money that they receive as green deposits towards environment-friendly projects. For example, a bank may promise that green deposits will be used towards financing renewable energy projects that fight climate change. A bank may also avoid using green deposits to invest in fossil fuel projects that are considered harmful to the climate. A green deposit is just one product in a wide array of other financial products such as green bonds, green shares, etc., that help investors put money into environmentally sustainable projects.

What does the RBI’s regulatory framework say?

The RBI’s framework for the acceptance of green deposits lays down certain conditions that banks must fulfill to accept green deposits from customers. Firstly, banks will have to come up with a set of rules or policies approved by their respective Boards that need to be followed while investing green deposits from customers.

These rules need to be made public on the banks’ websites and banks will also have to disclose regular information about the amount of green deposits received, how these deposits were allocated towards various green projects, and the impact of such investments on the environment. A third-party will have to verify the claims made by banks regarding the projects in which the banks invest their green deposits as well as the sustainability credentials of these business projects.

The RBI has come up with a list of sectors that can be classified as sustainable and thus eligible to receive green deposits. These include renewable energy, waste management, clean transportation, energy efficiency, and afforestation.

Banks will be barred from investing green deposits in business projects involving fossil fuels, nuclear power, tobacco, gambling, palm oil, and hydropower generation.

The new rules are aimed at preventing greenwashing, which refers to making misleading claims about the positive environmental impact of an activity. For example, a bank may advertise that their green deposits will have a huge positive impact on the environment, while the actual impact may be minimal. A bank could also invest in projects that are not environment-friendly, perhaps because such projects offer higher returns, under the guise of green investing.

Will green deposits help depositors/investors and the environment?

Depositors who care about the environment may get some satisfaction from investing their money in environmentally sustainable investment products. However, there are challenges, for the range of projects in which green funds can be invested by the bank is limited by design.

When it comes to protecting the environment, green investing enthusiasts believe that putting money into green projects may be one of the best ways to help the environment. Critics, however, argue that green investment products are often just a way to make investors feel good about themselves and that these investments don’t really do much good to the environment.

Noted finance expert Aswath Damodaran, for instance, calls green investing “a feel-good scam” that enriches only consultants.

Second, in a complex world where any action involves second-order effects that are difficult to see, it can be extremely hard to know if a project is really environmentally sustainable.


Banks promise to earmark the money that they receive as green deposits towards environment-friendly projects.

Banks will have to come up with a set of rules or policies approved by their respective Boards that need to be followed while investing green deposits from customers.

The new rules are aimed at preventing greenwashing, which refers to making misleading claims about the positive environmental impact of an activity.

‘Operation Dhvast’: three held after NIA holds raids in States

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested three persons in connection with the raids conducted on Wednesday as part of a nationwide drive codenamed ‘Operation Dhvast’, in terrorist-gangster-drug smugglers network cases.

In a coordinated crackdown with the police in Punjab and Haryana, the NIA raided 129 of the total 324 locations.

Following the searches in the two States, besides Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chandigarh and Madhya Pradesh, the agency has taken into custody Parveen Wadhwa from Bhiwani (Haryana), Irfan from New Seelampur (Delhi) and Jassa Singh from Moga (Punjab).

“Parveen Wadhwa was found liaising with certain notorious gangsters, including Lawrence Bishnoi, in jail. The NIA seized weapons from the house of Irfan, who is also associated with such gangsters. Jassa Singh was working at the behest of Canada-based ‘listed terrorist’ Arsh Dhalla,” said an agency official.

According to the NIA, Parveen Wadhwa was in regular touch with Lawrence Bishnoi and his gang members named Deepak aka Tinu and Sampat Nehra, along with other associates. “He was working as their special messenger from inside jails,” said the agency. The latest searches were part of the continuing NIA action against terror networks as well as their funding and support infrastructure.

All 23 police stations in Visakhapatnam likely to get e-Malkhana facility by June

All the 23 police stations under the Visakhapatnam Police Commissionerate are likely to get e-Malkhana, a scientific way of storing property and evidence recovered from crime scene, by June.

The work has started in some police stations like Kancharapalem Police Station (KPS) for inauguration by this month-end, while in other stations they will be ready by next month.
KPS Circle Inspector S. Vijay Kumar said, “We have almost completed the infrastructure work of e-Malkhana. We are following the instructions from Police Commissioner C.M. Trivikrama Varma and it is likely to be opened in the next one week.”
The facility was first commissioned in July 2021 at Narsipatnam Police Station (presently in Anakapalli district), by the then ASP of Narsipatnam Tuhin Sinha.
“As far as cities are concerned, Visakhapatnam will be the first in Andhra Pradesh to have such facility. However, in rural areas, we already had it in Narsipatnam,” a police officer said.
According to police officers, earlier recovered properties and evidence used to be stored in storerooms and it was difficult to find them.
The property seized and evidences collected from the crime scene can be stored in standard size cardboard boxes, which will be numbered with other details. A dynamic QR code will be generated and pasted on the box.
A dedicated website is also hosted and all details pertaining to the case and property will be uploaded. All one has to do is to scan the code to get the details.

Period poverty leaves 500 million people in menstrual oblivion

Menstruation is a natural biological process experienced by 24%-26% of the global population aged 15-49. With an average menstrual span of 35 years, individuals require approximately 15,000-20,000 disposable sanitary pads or vaginal tampons during their lifetime. This means approximately 300 million women and transgender, non-binary individuals menstruate daily, amounting to a staggering 1.8 billion monthly. Unfortunately, period poverty affects nearly 500 million individuals, particularly those in low-middle-income and low-income groups, due to limited access to safe menstrual products.

Addressing period poverty

Various factors, including lack of access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and inadequate sexual health education, perpetuate period poverty. The consequences of period poverty extend beyond health and become a complex public health, social, and environmental issue. To ensure equitable development, period poverty must be addressed alongside other health indicators such as maternal, neonatal, and infant health.

Menstrual stigma

Menstruation is often shrouded in myths, taboos, and patriarchal norms, leading to a negative perception in many societies. However, menstrual health is intrinsically linked to six of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: No poverty, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, all to be achieved by 2030. Recognising menstrual health as a significant population health indicator is essential to achieving these goals.

Impacts on education and health

Limited access to water and sanitation facilities hampers education, with nearly 25% of girls unable to attend school due to menstrual-related challenges. Additionally, approximately 50% of menstruating women in economically disadvantaged countries cannot afford safe menstrual products. Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to reproductive and urinary tract infections, resulting in infertility and complications during pregnancy. Educating communities about menstrual hygiene and providing free products by community health workers and nurses can alleviate these issues.

Environmental consequences

Disposable sanitary pads significantly contribute to environmental pollution, as each pad takes 500-800 years to degrade or must be incinerated, releasing toxic chemicals. With its limited land space and rising non-communicable diseases, advocating for reusable menstrual products has become imperative in India

Menstrual health as a rights issue

Gender inequality continues to persist as a challenge throughout the evolution of human civilisation. While progress has been made in areas such as voting rights, education, property ownership, work opportunities, and equal pay, menstruation remains an overlooked aspect in the fight for gender equality. It is crucial to recognise that menstrual health is not merely a health or environmental issue but a fundamental rights issue.

— Poongothai Aladi Aruna is a gynaecologist, MLA and a former

Minister in the Tamil Nadu government

Limited access to water and sanitation facilities hampers education, with nearly 25% of girls unable to attend school due to menstrual-related challenges