Current Affairs (19th April 2021)
World Heritage Day, 2021
- World Heritage Day is celebrated across the globe on April 18. It is also known as International Day for Monuments and Sites.
- Globally, the day is promoted by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
- This aimed at restoring and preserving the diverse cultural heritage that makes the world what it is.
- Each country and community has its own history that is deemed interesting to study. The remnants of the same are still present, either in the form of monuments or items in a museum. Monuments form a very important part of this.
- Therefore, it is extremely important to conserve and protect them from any kind of harm that can tamper with its integrity.
- Originally, this day was suggested by the International Council of Monuments and Sites in 1982.
- UNESCO accepted their proposal in 1983 during their 22nd General Conference.
- This year, the day’s theme is ‘Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures.’
- The history of a place can involve many points of view. The conservation of cultural heritage requires careful examination of the past, and its practice demands provision for the future. In recent years, debates on certain narratives, and particular stories over others, have come to the forefront. Addressing difficult and often contested histories involves complex conversations with different stakeholders, avoiding biased views and interpretations of the past.
- Acknowledging global calls for greater inclusion and recognition of diversity, this day invites all of us to reflect on, interpret and review existing narratives.
- The day’s aim and significance are not just limited to the various historical monuments and sites.
- It also plays an important role in preserving the cultural integrity of a community or country.
- Having a rich and diverse culture, the onus is also on us to save it from any kind of harm. When we will come together to do this, then only our history has a chance to survive on its own.
World Heritage Sites in India
- Currently, there are 38 World Heritage Sites located in India, out of the 1121 such spots identified around the world. So far, only China, Italy, Spain, Germany, and France have more locations on the list than India.
- Of these 38 World Heritage Sites in India, 30 are ‘cultural’, such as the Ajanta Caves, Fatehpur Sikri, Hampi monuments and the Mountain Railways of India, and 7 are ‘Natural’, including Kaziranga, Manas and Nanda Devi National Parks. One is classified as ‘Mixed’, the Khangchendzonga National Park.
- In 2019, ‘Jaipur City’ became the 38th addition to the India list under Culture.
Tatya Tope’s death anniversary
- April 18 marks the death anniversary of Ramachandra Pandurang Yawalkar, a general in the Indian rebellion of 1857.
- Also known as Tantia Tope or Tatya Tope, the notable Indian freedom fighter was tried and executed in Maharashtra’s Shivpuri in 1859 by the British.
- Tatya Tope was born in Maharashtra’s Nashik in 1814. He was a Maratha Brahman and the only son of Pandurang Rao Tope and his wife Rukhmabai.
- He was a close aide of Nana Sahib, the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao Ballal, who was also prominent in the 1857-58 Indian mutiny.
- Tatya Tope took command of the rebel forces of the state of Gwalior in November 1857.
- He forced British general CA Windham into his entrenchments in Kanpur on November 27–28. Although, he was defeated by Sir Colin Campbell in December that year.
- He moved to Jhansi in March 1858 and collaborated with Rani Lakshmi Bai to seize Gwalior back.
- When Rani Lakshmi Bai died in June 1858, Tope cremated her body and performed the last rites.
- He fought about 150 battles against the Britishers with no formal military training and was known as a guerrilla fighter.
Bat with sticky discs
- Meghalaya has yielded India’s first bamboo-dwelling bat with sticky discs, taking the species count of the flying mammal in the country to 130.
- The disc-footed bat (Eudiscopusdenticulus) was recorded in the northeastern State’s Lailad area near the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, about 1,000 km west of its nearest known habitat in Myanmar.
- The newly recorded bat was presumed to be a bamboo-dwelling species, but its flattened skull and adhesive pads helped in identifying it as the disc-footed known from specific localities in southern China, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.
- flattened skull and sticky pads enabled the bats to roost inside cramped spaces, clinging to smooth surfaces such as bamboo internodes. The disc-footed bat was also found to be genetically very different from all other known bats bearing disc-like pads.
- Scientists analysed the very high frequency echolocation calls of the disc-footed bat, which was suitable for orientation in a cluttered environment such as inside bamboo groves.
- The disc-footed bat has raised Meghalaya’s bat count to 66, the most for any State in India. It has also helped add a genus and species to the bat fauna of India.
Goa’s Civil Code
- Chief Justice of India S A Bobde recently appreciated the uniform civil code (UCC) in Goa, the only state to have one.
- This brought the spotlight back on the UCC debate, although the Law Commission had concluded in 2018 that a UCC is neither desirable nor feasible.
- No expert committee on the lines of the Hindu Law Reforms Committee of 1941 has ever been constituted, nor has any blueprint for a UCC been prepared.
- A UCC is desirable, but in a piecemeal manner. Each state in the US has a separate Constitution and separate criminal laws, and the plurality of laws has not weakened that country.
- The UCC has no role in maintaining the integrity of the country.
- The CJI urged intellectuals to seriously study the Goa UCC. Even the Supreme Court, in its judgment on Jose Paulo Coutinho (2019), had referred to Goa as the “shining example of UCC”.
Example of plurality
- Goa’s Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 is basically an alien code given by the Portuguese. Its continuance — and non-enforcement of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Hindu Succession Act, 1956 or Indian Succession Act, 1925 or Shariat (Application) Act, 1937 and Dissolution of the Muslim Marriage Act,1939 etc. in Goa — is an example of legal pluralism, and negation of the very idea of one nation, one law.
- Under Article 1 of the Decree of Gentile Hindu Usages and Customs of Goa, 1880, customs of Hindus were preserved and exemptions from the Civil Code were given to gentile Hindus.
- This decree continued the institution of Hindu joint family, named in Portuguese as sociedade, which technically is closer to a partnership rather than the concept of a Hindu joint family.
- The Shariat Act has not been extended to Goa; Muslims are governed by the Code as well as Shastric Hindu law. Those who favour love jihad laws would be surprised to know that under Article 1090 of the Goa Code, marriage cannot be annulled on the ground of religion.
- Goa’s Civil Code has four parts, dealing with civil capacity, acquisition of rights, right to property, and the breach of rights and remedies.
- It begins in the name of God and Dom Luis, King of Portugal and Algarves. India’s Constituent Assembly had rejected H V Kamath’s proposal of a similar invocation of God in the Constitution.
- The Code has survived by virtue of Section 5(1) of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act, 1962 that permitted its continuance. On the contrary, the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 has repealed laws based on local Hindu customs; even Kashmiri Muslims were being governed by such non-Islamic laws and customs.
- Goa’s Code provides for the registration of marriages. This lacks uniformity between Catholic and non-Catholic marriages.
States, different laws
- In fact, not all Hindus in the country are governed by one law. Marriage amongst close relatives is prohibited by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 but is considered auspicious in the South.
- The Hindu Code Bill recognises customs of different Hindu communities. Even the Hindu Succession Act, 1955 could not make the daughter a coparcener until 2005. The wife is still not the coparcener.
- There is no uniform applicability of personal laws among Muslims and Christians either. The Constitution protects the local customs of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
- Even land laws in a number of states are discriminatory, and daughters do not inherit landed properties in the presence of sons.
- With a 2006 amendment in UP, only an unmarried daughter gets a share in agricultural property. The distinction between married and unmarried daughters is arbitrary. These laws have been exempted from judicial scrutiny by including them in the Ninth Schedule.
- Let the secular laws first be made gender-just before the country undertakes reforms in religious laws. Piecemeal reform rather than enactment of the UCC in one go is the only way forward. In fact, a just code is preferable to a uniform code.