CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/07/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/07/2023

Modi raises aspirations of Tamils with Ranil

PM calls for implementation of 13th Amendment and provincial elections in the island country;

 Sri Lankan President lauds India for support offered during financial crisis over the past year

India expects Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment and ensure a “life of dignity and respect” for its Tamil population, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.

Welcoming Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India, Mr. Modi said both sides had held talks on a number of infrastructure projects that could ensure greater connectivity between the two countries.

He also announced a development assistance package for the Tamils of Indian origin who are marking the 200th anniversary of their arrival in the island nation.

“We also talked about reconstruction and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. President Wickremesinghe presented his inclusive approach. We hope that Sri Lanka will fulfil the aspirations of the Tamils. We expect that Sri Lanka will take forward the process of rebuilding for equality, justice and peace. We hope that Sri Lanka will fulfil its commitment to implement the Thirteenth Amendment and to hold Provincial Council elections,” Mr. Modi said delivering his remarks in Hindi.

President Wickremesinghe expressed his government’s “profound appreciation” for the support that India has extended to Sri Lanka over the past year, which he described as the “most challenging period in Sri Lanka’s modern history”.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Wickremesinghe spoke at the end of bilateral talks held at Hyderabad House where the two sides exchanged documents on cooperation in the field of animal husbandry, renewable energy, development projects in Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka, and online payment services between the two sides.

Modi raises aspirations of Tamils with Ranil

The MoU on Trincomalee is aimed at developing the port and its nearby areas as a “regional hub for industry, energy, including renewable energy,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said while briefing the media about the ongoing visit. The agreement on digital transactions was signed between Lanka Pay and ECI International to facilitate acceptance of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Modi announced a package of ₹75 crore for various development projects for the Tamil community of Indian origin. India will also contribute additionally for development programmes in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister noted the financial difficulty that Sri Lanka has been facing since last summer when the country was brought to a standstill by an unprecedented energy crisis which was accompanied by high inflation and near depletion of its foreign currency reserve. He said the security and development of Sri Lanka are connected to each other. “We should work together while recognising each other’s security and developmental needs,” he added.

The two sides adopted a vision document to enhance maritime, energy and people-to-people connectivity. Mr. Modi announced that a passenger ferry service will be launched soon to connect Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and northern Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai. “We have decided to fast-track the work of connecting the electricity grids of both countries,” he announced.

President Wickremesinghe said that his plan will “benefit all segments of Sri Lankan society”.

Mr. Wickremesinghe said he has invited leaders of all political parties to come forward to work towards “consensus”. The visiting President said Sri Lanka is focused on an economic growth path. He welcomed the Chennai-Jaffna air connectivity.

Facts about the News

  • It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then PM Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene, in an attempt to resolve the ethnic conflict and civil war.
  • The 13th Amendment, which led to the creation of Provincial Councils, assured a power-sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country, including Sinhala majority areas, to self-govern.
  • Subjects such as education, health, agriculture, housing, land and police are devolved to the provincial administrations.
  • But because of restrictions on financial powers and overriding powers given to the President, the provincial administrations have not made much headway.
  • In particular, the provisions relating to police and land have never been implemented.

Why is it contentious?

  • The 13th Amendment carries considerable baggage from the country’s civil war years. It was opposed vociferously by both Sinhala nationalist parties and the LTTE.
  • The opposition within Sri Lanka saw the Accord and the consequent legislation as an imprint of Indian intervention.
  • It was widely perceived as an imposition by a neighbour wielding hegemonic influence.
  • The Tamil polity, especially its dominant nationalist strain, does not find the 13th Amendment sufficient in its ambit or substance. However, some find it as an important starting point, something to build upon.

Why is it significant?

  • Till date, the Amendment represents the only constitutional provision on the settlement of the long-pending Tamil question.
  • In addition to assuring a measure of devolution, it is considered part of the few significant gains since the 1980s, in the face of growing Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism.

Its criticism

  • Critics argue that in a small country, the provinces could be effectively controlled by the Centre.
  • The opposition camp also includes those fundamentally opposed to sharing any political power with the Tamil minority.
  • All the same, all political camps that vehemently oppose the system have themselves contested in provincial council elections.
  • The councils have over time also helped national parties strengthen their grassroots presence and organisational structures.

An Internet ban will not restore peace in Manipur

Manipur is burning but the rest of India did not care. The violence in the State began on May 3, 2023, but the nation was in deep slumber till July 19. It took a video clip of sexual violence by a mob to surface and go viral on social media that day and 78 days for the Prime Minister of India to break his silence. During this period an Internet shutdown has continued in the northeast State. What was its propriety and its role in our national apathy?

Blanket order, no supportive data

Data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India show that the people of Manipur access the Internet primarily through their smartphones; and wired Internet users primarily constitute institutional, commercial and higher socio-economic groups. Out of a total pie of 0.05 million wireline and 2.36 wireless million users, about 2.2 million connect to the Internet. The Internet shutdown in Manipur, first enforced on May 3, is a case of blanket prohibition. The entire State is affected, and it is not a case of some of a total of 16 districts being affected; it covers all web traffic and mediums of connectivity.

The orders issued by the Commissioner (Home) of Manipur under the Telecom Suspension Rules use vague language in order to “thwart the design and activities of anti-national and anti-social elements… by stopping the spread of disinformation and false rumours, through various social media platforms”. There is an absence of data or specific instances of violence being prevented due to the jamming of Internet connectivity. Before the weekly deadline lapses, a fresh order is passed, where each order is a mere reproduction of the earlier one but with minor changes in dates, thus making it clear that this could be indefinite. One may wonder about compliance following the reported Supreme Court of India judgment on Internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir. There is a breach of directions that was made clear in Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India.

In this period, reports have filtered in — these are besides the protests in Delhi and the information flow here — that document the injury being caused to the people of Manipur. The news is of extremes — from students from Manipur pursuing their education in the metropolitan cities running out of money to residents being unable to apply for their evacuation to relief camps. Around May 19, petitions challenging these orders — such as Aribam Dhananjoy Sharma vs State of Manipur — were filed in the High Court of Manipur. This case in particular is vital to understand evolving jurisprudence of “limited internet shutdowns” not only in Manipur but also the rest of India. After 10 dates of hearing on July 7, a direction was issued for partial restoration. The primary objective as framed by the High Court has been to assess “whether it is possible to provide limited usage of internet service to the public”. This is constitutionally incongruent to judicial review for it avoids determining the legality of impugned orders. However, this follows an institutional grammar on Internet shutdowns.

In Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India, the Supreme Court failed to adjudicate on even one Internet shutdown order. The decision by itself did not result in restoration of access but for “State/competent authorities to review all orders suspending internet services”. Its directions for transparency (such as publication of orders) have not been implemented as yet — as seen in the flurry of cases and recent joint report by Human Rights Watch and the Internet Freedom Foundation. Bringing lasting damage, this case carved out greater flexibility for, “limited internet shutdowns”, with the possibility of access only to, “government websites, localized/limited e-banking facilities, hospitals services and other essential services, in those regions, wherein the internet services are not likely to be restored immediately.”.

Judicial response

The High Court of Manipur has acted in congress with judicial doctrine and practices by its order on July 7. It directs provisional access for leased lines (primarily used by public departments and corporate offices), wired line services (with signed undertakings, a ban on social media, virtual private networks or VPNs and physical monitoring), and a technical trial for whitelisting of mobile Internet determined by the Home Department. There are no clear definitions on terms such as “social media” or examining continuing prohibition for Internet usage primarily through smartphones. Hence, in effect, a ban on Internet access continues in Manipur. The response of the Supreme Court has been one of judicial avoidance. The top court had an opportunity twice to adjudicate when a petitioner challenged the Internet shutdown and later when the State government itself appealed the order of the High Court for partial restoration. Even otherwise, it is peculiar as the Supreme Court is examining a broader issue regarding violence in Dinganglung Gangmei vs Mutum Churamani Meetei. In this case, Internet shutdowns are an inherent element. For instance, the State government has in its Status Report dated July 10 before the Supreme Court, cited the Internet suspension as a security measure. Also, the Chief Minister on July 20, 2020, has in a media interview, stated, “[t]here are hundreds of similar cases and that is the reason why the internet is shut off in the state.”

The vital role of information flow

In an Internet ban, misinformation spreads rather than abates. For instance, a press report dated June 1, by Hoineilhing Sitlhou, and published by the online portal, NewsClick, points out in chilling detail that disinformation served as a pretext for the perpetration of sexual violence against Kuki-Zo women. For Manipur, the video clip is a vital moment for a national awakening that must be achieved without any reputational and social harm to survivors of sexual violence and communal hatred. Information flows are also necessary to ensure the accountability of the State and central governments in taking steps to ensure truth, justice and reconciliation. Accountability can only come when the courts improve on the precedent of the Anuradha Bhasin case and demand it from the State and central executive. So the question that needs to be asked again is: what was the propriety of the Internet shutdown and role in our national apathy? We will never have these answers till we hear the voices of Manipur.

There is an absence of data or specific instances of violence being prevented due to the jamming of Internet connectivity.

The right approach

Bail should not be denied merely because police object to it strongly

Courts should adopt a clear-headed and common sense approach while considering the grant of bail, and should eschew the tendency to keep someone in prison merely because the police oppose bail with great vehemence. In granting regular bail to activist Teesta Setalvad, the Supreme Court of India has effectively rebuffed the Gujarat police stand that the purported gravity of the offence she is accused of is enough to deny her bail. As the case depends mainly on documentary evidence, all of it forming part of the charge sheet filed in the case, the Court really saw no need for her to be in judicial custody. Further, Ms. Setalvad had been subjected to custodial interrogation during a seven-day police remand shortly after her arrest in June 2022, and she was not called in for any further questioning ever since she was given interim bail by the Supreme Court in September. In effect, the three-judge Bench headed by Justice B.R. Gavai saw no real need to imprison someone during trial solely because the police strongly argued that she had allegedly fabricated evidence and goaded victims of the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat to level false charges against political leaders in a bid to implicate them in the communal carnage.

The Court posed some pertinent questions to the Gujarat police. The case of forgery and fabrication of evidence was registered shortly after the Supreme Court, while rejecting a riot victim’s plea, had observed that those who had sought to malign the State government and its functionaries should be put in the dock. Ms. Setalvad had been arrested within a day, and the Court had questions about what investigation it had conducted within such a short time to justify her arrest. Notably, the apex court Bench was of the view that the High Court order refusing bail to her contradicted itself, as it had initially observed that it cannot go into the existence of a prima facie case, but had gone on to consider statements of witnesses against her. The ruling is yet another reminder that an order of bail must be the norm after considering whether the accused is likely to flee justice or will be available for trial, and if, once freed, will be in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence. While the gravity of the offence is a factor, it need not be the sole consideration. The trial in this case is set to begin soon in a Sessions Court in Ahmedabad. One hopes it will settle the question whether activists assisting victims ought to have been proceeded against on the charge of trying to implicate innocent political leaders.

Facts about the News

  • The Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) recommended nearly five decades ago, the setting up of a NCW to fulfil the surveillance functions to facilitate redressal of grievances and to accelerate the socio-economic development of women.
  • Successive Committees/Commissions/Plans including the National Perspective Plan for Women (1988-2000) recommended the constitution of an apex body for women.
  • Under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990, the NCW was set up as a statutory body in January 1992.The First Commission was constituted on 31st January 1992 with Mrs. Jayanti Patnaik as the Chairperson.

  * The commission consists of a chairperson, a member secretary and five other members. The chairperson of the NCW is nominated by the Central Government.


  • Its mission is to strive towards enabling women to achieve equality and equal participation in all spheres of life by securing her due rights and entitlements through suitable policy formulation, legislative measures, etc.
  • Its functions are to:

       – Review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women.

       – Recommend remedial legislative measures.

       – Facilitate redressal of grievances.

       – Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.

  • It has received a large number of complaints and acted suo-moto in several cases to provide speedy justice.
  • It took up the issue of child marriage, sponsored legal awareness programmes, Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats and reviewed laws such as:

        Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961,

        – Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994,

        – Indian Penal Code 1860.

       major Legal Framework for Welfare of Women

       – Constitutional Safeguards:

  • Fundamental Rights:
  • It guarantees all Indians the right to equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State on the basis of gender (Article 15(1)) and special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women (Article 15(3)).

       – Fundamental Duties:

  • It ensures that practices derogatory to the dignity of womenare prohibited under Article 51 (A).

        –Legislative Framework:

     – Women Empowerment Schemes:

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
  • One Stop Centre Scheme
  • UJJAWALA: A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
  • SWADHAR Greh (A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances)
  • Mahila police Volunteers
  • Mahila Shakti Kendras (MSK)

Use any Indian language as optional medium, says CBSE

Schools must lay the foundation for multilingual learning as the higher education sector has already started to respond to the recommendations of the National Education Policy, says letter

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has written to its affiliated schools that they may consider using Indian languages as an optional medium of instruction, in addition to the other options.

The CBSE has advised using an Indian language as an option from pre-primary classes to Class 12.

“Multilingual education has been widely recognised as a valuable approach to fostering linguistic diversity, cultural understanding, and academic success among students,” Joseph Emmanuel, Director (Academics), CBSE, said in the letter.

Mr. Emmanuel said the National Education Policy, 2020 emphasised the significant cognitive advantages of multilingualism for young learners, particularly when they were exposed to several languages from the foundational stage.

“The policy strongly advocates for utilising the home language, mother tongue, local language, or regional language as the medium of instruction whenever feasible, at least until Grade 5, but preferably extending till Grade 8 and beyond,” the letter said. It further listed the challenges in the implementation of multilingual education. “The utilisation of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction presents several challenges, including the availability of skilled teachers capable of teaching in multilingual settings, the creation of high-quality multilingual textbooks, and the limited time available, especially in two-shift government schools, as multilingual education demands additional instructional time allocation,” it said.

Mr. Emmanuel wrote that one of the major steps taken now is the direction by the Ministry of Education to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to prepare textbooks in the 22 Scheduled Languages of the country.

The letter also talked about the steps being taken to introduce textbooks in Indian languages for higher education, facilitate learning-teaching processes and offer exams in Indian languages.

Since the higher education sector has started responding to this need, schools must lay the foundation, Mr. Emmanuel suggested.

The approach towards medium of instruction should be in continuity from school education to higher education, the letter added.

Portal launched to report violation of ban on e-cigarettes

Despite the ban imposed by the Union government in 2019, e-cigarettes continue to be sold on e-commerce sites, even to children below 18, warn experts working in the area of tobacco control. Now to curb this, the Health Ministry has launched an online portal to facilitate reporting of violations under the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act (PECA).

The portal,, will allow faster action against any reported violations, the government said.

“The ban on electronic cigarettes was introduced to protect our younger generation from a new form of toxic addiction. It’s a welcome move by the Health Ministry to launch the online portal for strict enforcement, implementation and to ensure the ban is effective,” Binoy Mathew, programme manager, Voluntary Health Association of India, said.

The Ministry had earlier cautioned all States and Union Territories about the weak implementation of PECA, leading to easy availability of e-cigarettes through online, retail, convenient stores, stationery shops and near educational institutions.

The States were also directed to review the compliance of PECA and issue necessary instructions for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act, through special drives and random checking.

“Health Ministry also issued a public notice in view of e-cigarettes ban violations and its availability in the Indian market,’‘ Ranjit Singh, advocate, Supreme Court of India, said.