13th February 2021

Inter-marriages can reduce caste tensions, says court

  • The Supreme Court said in a recent judgment that the educated youngsters are showing the way forward to reduce caste and community tensions in India by tying the knot in inter-marriages.
  • Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners, which, in turn, is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community play a major role.

JUSTICE KAUL QUOTED FROM B.R. AMBEDKAR’S ANNIHILATION OF CASTE

  •  I am convinced that the real remedy is intermarriage.
  • Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling — the feeling of being aliens — created by caste will not vanish.
  • Currently there are more and more cases challenging religious conversion laws enacted by several States reach the Supreme Court.
  • Justice Kaul observed in the judgment recently that “consent of the family or community or clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy”.

 

A puppet master with a chip in the brain

  • When tradition meets modernity, the result can sometimes be amazing. A puppet with robotic movements may not sound very charming but in a melding of traditional art and cutting edge technology, a shadow leather puppet in Kerala’s famous temple art Tholpavakkoothu is being animated by a robot.

FIRST ROBOTIC LEATHER PUPPET

  • For the first time, the famous shadow leather puppets will tell stories of the epic Ramayana with the help of robots.
  • People from Harishree Kannan Tholpavakkoothu Kala Kendra, Koonathara, are set to animate their leather puppets using robotics with help from Inker Robotics.
  • The first robotic leather puppet was installed at the Palakkad District Heritage Museum, which was inaugurated by Minister for Museums Kadannappally Ramachandran recently.
  • Although there is a wide variety of art and cultural symbols showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Palakkad at the museum, the shadow leather puppets installed have been a big draw with visitors with their robotic movements.
  • The most difficult part of Tholpavakkoothu is the limb movements of the puppets. These are now being controlled through robotics.

 

Tholpavakkoothu

  • Tholpavakkoothu is a traditional temple art in Kerala having its roots in Palakkad and neighbouring regions.
  • It used to be performed in the Bhadrakali temples of Palakkad, telling tales from the Ramayana. It is also known as Nizhalkkoothu and Olakkoothu.
  • Tholpavakoothu or shadow puppetry is a temple art form which is prevalent in the Bhagavathy temples (mother Goddess) in Palakkad district and nearby regions in Kerala. 
  • Tholppava (Thol means leather, Pava means puppet) are moved with the help of strings, and their shadows are depicted on a screen with the help of a row of oil lamps in the background.
  • The story of Tholppavakoothu performance is from the Indian epic, Ramayana.
  • In the olden days it was performed elaborately over a period of forty-one days. The narrative used for the performance is a mixture of prose and poetry called Adalpattu.
  • Tholppavas are made of the skin of deer and the puppet forms are made by making small holes in the leather that is then attached vertically to a bamboo stick.
  • Accompanying instruments include Ezhupara, Chenda and Maddalam. The artists have to undergo several years of rigorous training to master this art form. The puppetry is staged on a special structure in temple premises called Koothumadam.

 

Excessive alcohol can cause irreversible changes to DNA’

  • A study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru has debunked the assumption that damage to health from excessive consumption of alcohol can be reversed if one stops drinking.

IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreversible changes to the DNA and these can persist even when alcohol is no longer consumed, revealed a study conducted by a team of researchers at NIMHANS.
  • The study has been published online in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
  • Although we inherit genes from our parents, their expression is regulated in a unique manner in each person, and may be influenced by their lifestyle.
  • Exposure to alcohol affects the pattern of gene expression, and may explain some of the systemic complications.
  • We find that the chemical changes in the DNA associated with excessive alcohol consumption may not be reversed.
  • Researchers analysed the DNA chemistry of individuals who had been drinking on an average of 10 drinks/day.
  • The effects of alcohol were more pronounced in those who had started drinking at an early age.
  • This suggests that starting to drink early may physically alter many genes, including those of the brain.

 

‘Governance and lawmaking should be left to legislature’

  • Law Minister recently told the Lok Sabha that just as independence of the judiciary is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, the principle of separation of powers is also a part of that basic structure.
  • He asserted that governance and lawmaking should be left to the elected members of the legislature.
  • Separation of powers is the division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government.
  • It minimises the possibility of arbitrary excesses by the government, since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws.
  • The constitutional demarcation precludes the concentration of excessive power by any branch of the Government.
  • In India, a separation of functions rather than of powers is followed. Unlike in the US, in India, the concept of separation of powers is not adhered to strictly.
  • However, a system of checks and balances have been put in place in such a manner that the judiciary has the power to strike down any unconstitutional laws passed by the legislature.
  • Today, most of the constitutional systems do not have a strict separation of powers between the various organs in the classical sense because it is impractical.

ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY

  • In his reply to a debate on the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2021, which was passed by the Lok Sabha, Minister also urged the judiciary to exercise its discretion in accepting public interest litigations.
  • The Law Minister said that there was a “rush to file PILs on almost every issue” nowadays.
  • He appealed to the judiciary to look at “genuine” issues such as compensation, working conditions of the working classes, and so on.
  • The amendment to the Arbitration Act proposes to empower courts to stay arbitration awards if they have been obtained through fraud or corrupt means.
  • Responding to the queries raised by several members on the need to amend the Arbitration Act retrospectively, and to be brought in the form of an ordinance, the Law Minister said it was necessary to ensure that some parties did not try to take advantage of an arbitral award that may have been obtained through fraud or corrupt means.
  • If an award [that] is given against the Union government or a State government is given by fraud and an investor wants to enforce it, is it fair that thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money be given away?

 

‘Bad bank’ idea: Govt guarantee for ARC paper likely

TO ENSURE THAT the ‘bad bank’ mechanism proposed in the Budget takes off, the Finance Ministry is planning to provide a guarantee against security receipts to be issued by the Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) to banks against the value of their bad assets being taken over.

ASSET RECONSTRUCTION COMPANY

  • The ARC, according to government officials, is likely to take over Rs 2-2.5 lakh crore of stressed assets that remain unresolved in around 70 large accounts.
  • Stressed loan accounts of more than Rs 500 crore each are expected to be transferred to the new entity.
  • Even though there will be no equity contribution by the government in the proposed ARC, the government will provide guarantee to ensure the success of this structure.
  • The proposed ARC will provide banks 15 percent cash and 85 percent security receipts against the value of bad assets that will be taken over from the banks.
  • The ARC will be set up by state-owned and private sector banks, and there will be no equity contribution from the government.
  • It will have an Asset Management Company (AMC) to manage and sell bad assets.

PROVISIONS

  • For the banks it will be a cash neutral kind of exercise, because for the capital they will contribute to the ARC, they will get some portion back as cash and rest as security receipts against transfer of the stressed assets.
  • For security receipts, the regulator requires some kind of provisioning, for which the banks are asking the government to provide guarantee that the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) requires.
  • For the 85 percent SRs portion, banks need provisioning of around 15 per cent. Banks are seeking sovereign guarantee for that, which we will provide as we go forward. We are going to give a sovereign backing to support the banks.
  • If the government guarantees the security receipts issued by the ARC, then banks can transfer stressed assets to the proposed entity without having to make additional provisions.
  • The RBI’s 2016 guidelines require banks to make provisions for assets assigned to ARCs.

TRANSFER OF ASSETS

  • Of the existing ARCs, only 3-4 are adequately capitalised, while more-than-dozen are thinly capitalised, necessitating the need to set up a new structure to resolve stressed assets urgently.
  • The transfer of stressed assets to the ARC will happen at net book value, which is the value of assets minus provisioning done by banks against these assets.
  • This structure will reduce the load of stressed assets on the bank balance sheet and look to resolve the bad debt in a market-led way.
  • With most banks expected to be on board this company, the resolution is expected to be faster.
  • Since most commercial loans are granted by a group of 8-10 banks, under the existing resolution mechanism some banks would typically oppose the resolution due to differences, which slowed the resolution process. The proposed structure is expected to resolve this.

Deadlock in collegium : CJI may retire without any appointment to SC

  • With just over a month left in his 14-month tenure as Chief Justice of India, the Justice S A Bobde-led collegium is yet to make its first recommendation of a judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court since he took office in November 2019.
  • The last time a CJI retired without a single appointment to the SC was in 2015 during the tenure of CJI H L Dattu when there was an unprecedented stand-off between the judiciary and the government over the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).

COLLEGIUM SYSTEM

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.’
  • There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
  • The Collegiums System of appointment of judges was born through “three judges case” which interpreted constitutional articles on October 28, 1998.
  • The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government; if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time.
  • The collegium of the Supreme Court judges is comprises of 5 senior most judges of Suprme Court.
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