Current Affairs (22nd June 2021)
- A cross-sectional survey by Indian Council of Medical Research- National Institute of Virology to study the prevalence of Nipah virus (NiV) in bats of India has picked up samples with the presence of antibodies against the Nipah virus in some bat species from a cave in Mahabaleshwar, a popular hill station in Satara district, Maharashtra.
Cases in India:
- NiV is on the top-10 priority list pathogens identified by the World Health Organization.
- Till date, India has experienced four episodes of NiV outbreaks with CFR ranging from 65% to 100%.
- The first evidence of NiV infection was reported in Siliguri district, West Bengal in 2001, followed by Nadia district in West Bengal in 2007.
- The presence of NiV antibodies were detected inAssam and Cooch Behar of West Bengal, both places situated close to Bangladesh border.
- A third outbreak occurred in Kozhikode district of Kerala state in 2018 with 18 case fatalities, followed by another outbreak in the same state in 2019.
- A study in 2018 has identified many Southeast Asian countries including Indian states as potential hotspots for the NiV disease.
- These are large fruit-eating bats and are the incriminated reservoir for NiV in India as both NiV RNA and antibodies were detected in the samples of these bats collected during previous NiV outbreaks.
- Studies on other species of bats as potential NiV reservoirs in India are very limited.
- Recently, the Centre released the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 to the public for comments until July 2, 2021.
- The new draft proposes to amend the Cinematograph Act of 1952 with provisions that will give the Centre “revisionary powers” and enable it to “re-examine” films already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
Revision of certification
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposes to add a provision to the Act that will equip the Centre with revisionary powers on account of violation of Section 5B(1) (principles for guidance in certifying films).
- The current Act, in Section 6, already equips the Centre to call for records of proceedings in relation of a film’s certification.
- The Ministry explained that the proposed revision “means that the Central Government, if the situation so warranted, has the power to reverse the decision of the Board”.
- Currently, because of a judgment by the Karnataka High Court, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2020, the Centre cannot use its revisionary powers on films that have already been granted a certificate by the CBFC.
Why it is significant?
- The draft comes shortly after the abolition of the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, which was the last point of appeal for filmmakers against the certificate granted to their film.
- The draft proposes to introduce age-based categorisation and classification. Currently, films are certified into three categories — ‘U’ for unrestricted public exhibition; ‘U/A’ that requires parental guidance for children under 12; and ‘A’ for adult films.
- The new draft proposes to divide the categories into further age-based groups: U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. This proposed age classification for films echoes the new IT rules for streaming platforms.
Provision against piracy
- The Ministry noted that that at present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
- The draft proposes to add Section 6AA that will prohibit unauthorised recording. The proposed section states, “notwithstanding any law for the time being in force, no person shall, without the written authorisation of the author, be permitted to use any audio-visual recording device in a place to knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy of a film or a part thereof”.
- Violation shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term “which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to three years and with a fine which shall not be less than Rs 3 lakh but which may extend to 5 per cent of the audited gross production cost or with both”.
- The draft proposes to certify films for perpetuity. Currently a certificate issued by the CBFC is valid only for 10 years.
Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir
- The Union government’s invitation to 14 key political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for a meeting with the Prime Minister in the national capital has led to speculation about possible scheduling of the Assembly elections.
- On Independence Day last year, Prime Minister had said elections would be held in J&K after the delimitation process in the Union Territory was over. Delimitation is crucial for kick-starting the political process in J&K.
What is delimitation and why is it needed?
- Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time.
- This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court.
- The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the data of the last Census) in a way so that the population of all seats, as far as practicable, be the same throughout the State.
- Aside from changing the limits of a constituency, the process may result in change in the number of seats in a state.
How often has delimitation been carried out in J&K?
- Delimitation exercises in J&K in the past have been slightly different from those in the rest of the country because of the region’s special status — which was scrapped by the Centre in August 2019.
- Until then, delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India, but the delimitation of the state’s Assembly seats was governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
- Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995. The last exercise was conducted by the Justice (retired) K K Gupta Commission when the state was under President’s Rule and was based on the 1981 census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.
- There was no census in the state in 1991 and no Delimitation Commission was set up by the state government after the 2001 census as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on the fresh delimitation of seats until 2026.
- This freeze was upheld by the Supreme Court. The J&K Assembly, at that time, had 87 seats — 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and 4 in Ladakh.
- Twenty-four more seats are reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The freeze, some political parties argue, has created inequity for Jammu region.
Why is it in the news again?
- After the abrogation of J&K’s special status in 2019, delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the newly created Union Territory would be as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution.
- On March 6, 2020, the government set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, which was tasked with winding up delimitation in J&K in a year.
- As per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, the number of Assembly seats in J&K would increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to benefit the Jammu region.
- Although the Commission was tasked to finish delimitation on March 4, 2021, it was granted a year’s extension due to COVID-19.
International Yoga Day
- The international community observes June 21 as International Yoga Day, recognising the many benefits of the ancient Indian practice of yoga. The year 2021 marks the 7th annual International Yoga Day.
- The United Nations theme for this year is “Yoga for well-being”, which considers how the practice can promote the holistic health of every individual.
- Although yoga has long been recognised as India’s gift to the global culture of wellness, the official UN recognition came after a push by Prime Minister in 2014.
- The UN proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga by passing a resolution on December 11, 2014 during the 69th session of the General Assembly.
- The first Yoga Day celebrations were held in 2015 at Raj Path in New Delhi and Modi, along with other dignitaries, had created two Guinness World Records.
- The first record was set for housing 35,985 people and being the world’s largest yoga session. The second one was for having the most number (84) of nationalities participating in it.
- The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of a person’s body and consciousness.
- “Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.”
- Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.
- In its ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ from 2019, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) lists Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhās and Mudrās, Ṣaṭkarmas,Yuktāhāra, Mantra-japa,Yukta-karma as popular yoga ‘sadhanas’.
- The AYUSH protocol describes the folding hands logo of Yoga Day as reflecting “the union of individual consciousness with that of universal consciousness, a perfect harmony between mind and body, man and nature, the holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
- The brown leaves in the logo symbolize the earth element, the green leaves of nature, blue the fire element while the sun symbolises the source of energy and inspiration.”