Current Affair-Feb 19, 2021

Amendments in Justice Juvenile Act

Union Cabinet ushered in some major amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 in a bid to bring in clarity and also entrust more responsibilities on bureaucrats when it comes to implementing provisions of the law.

What is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2015?

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was introduced and passed in Parliament in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000.
  • It allowed the trial of juveniles in conflict with law in the age group of 16-18 years as adults, in cases where the crimes were to be determined.
  • The nature of the crime, and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child, was to be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board. This provision received an impetus after the 2012 Delhi gangrape in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile.
  • It brought a more universally acceptable adoption law instead of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) and Guardians of the ward Act (1890) which was for Muslims, although the Act did not replace these laws.
  • The Act streamlined adoption procedures for orphans abandoned and surrendered children and the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
  • Most heinous crimes have a minimum or maximum sentence of seven years. According to the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, juveniles charged with heinous crimes and who would be between the ages of 16-18 years would be tried as adults and processed through the adult justice system.
Amendment passed by Union Cabinet:
  • It has included for the first time the category of “serious crimes” differentiating it from heinous crimes while retaining heinous crimes. Both heinous and serious crimes have also been clarified for the first time, removing any ambiguity.
  • It means that for a juvenile to be tried for a heinous crime as an adult, the punishment of the crime should not only have a maximum sentence of seven years or more, but also a minimum sentence of seven years.
  • This provision has been made to ensure that children, as much as possible, are protected and kept out of the adult justice system. Heinous crimes with a minimum imprisonment of seven years pertain mostly to sexual offenses and violent sexual crimes.
  • At present, with no mention of a minimum sentence, and only the maximum seven-year sentence, juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years could also be tried as adults for a crime like the possession and sale of an illegal substance, such as drugs or alcohol, which will now fall under the ambit of a “serious crime’’.
Expanding the purview of district and additional district magistrates

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani Wednesday announced that district magistrates (DMs) along with additional district magistrates (ADMs) will monitor the functioning of various agencies under the JJ Act in every district. This includes the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, the District Child Protection Units and the Special juvenile Protection Units.

  • The amendment has been brought in based on a report filed by the NCPCR in 2018-19 in which the over 7,000 Child Care Institutions (or children’s homes) were surveyed and found that:
  • 1.5% of CCIs do not conform to rules and regulations of the JJ Act
  • 29% of them had major shortcomings in their management
  • Not a single Child Care Institution in the country was found to be 100 per cent compliant to the provisions of the JJ Act
  • No new children’s home can be opened without the sanction of the DM.
  • DM’s are also responsible now for ensuring that CCIs falling in their district are following all norms and procedures.
  • The DM will also carry out background checks of CWC members, who are usually social welfare activists, including educational qualifications, as there is no such provision currently to check if a person has a case of girl child abuse against him.
  • DM will also now be in charge of sanctioning adoptions, removing the lengthy court process.

While the amendments have been welcomed by most, in its attempt to provide better protection to children in need of care, the challenge perceived is that of having given too many responsibilities to the DM.

Source – Indian Express

Why is Mars so interesting to scientists? And to the explorer-adventurer in all of us?

There are two primary reasons.

  • Mars is a planet where life may have evolved in the past. Life evolved on Earth 3.8 billion years ago.
    • Conditions on early Mars roughly around 4 billion years ago were very similar to that of Earth. It had a thick atmosphere, which enabled the stability of water on the surface of Mars.
    • If indeed conditions on Mars were similar to those on Earth, there is a real possibility that microscopic life evolved on Mars.
  • Mars is the only planet that humans can visit or inhabit in the long term.
    • Venus and Mercury have extreme temperatures – the average temperature is greater than 400 degrees C, or hotter than a cooking oven.
    • All planets in the outer solar system starting with Jupiter are made of gas – not silicates or rocks – and are very cold.
    • Mars is comparatively hospitable in terms of temperature, with an approximate range between 20 degrees C at the Equator to minus 125 degrees C at the poles.
The mission of Perseverance on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance addresses both the critical themes around Mars – the search for life, and a human mission to that planet.

  • Sample Return Mission: Is there life on Mars?
    • Perseverance is the first step in a multi-step project to bring samples back from Mars. The study of the returned rock samples in sophisticated laboratories all over the world will hopefully provide a decisive answer on whether life existed on Mars in the past.
  • Producing oxygen on Mars: A critical requirement
    • Without a robust way to manufacture oxygen on Mars, human missions to Mars will be very expensive, and unrealistic.
  • Testing a helicopter to fly on Mars
    • The Mars Helicopter is a small drone. It is a technology demonstration experiment to test whether the helicopter can fly in the sparse atmosphere on Mars. The low density of the Martian atmosphere makes the odds of actually flying a helicopter or an aircraft on Mars very low.

Source – Indian Express

Elderly abuse a growing concern in India, shows LASI

Abuse of the elderly is a growing international problem with several manifestations in different countries and cultures. It is a fundamental violation of human rights and leads to several health and emotional problems. The abuse can be classified as physical, sexual, psychological or financial.

Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) is a national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population aging in India.

Survey Findings:
  • At least five percent of India’s elderly population (aged 60 years and above) stated they experienced ill-treatment in 2020.
  • A lot of women lose support as they lose their partners to old age. This group of people generally has no income source or economic activity.
  • The ill-treatment is relatively more frequent among elderly women and those living in rural areas.
  • Among the elderly who felt ill-treated, 77.3% complained of verbal/emotional ill-treatment that can harm their self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name-calling, causing embarrassment, destroying property or not letting them see friends and family. The emotional harm that may emerge from verbal or emotional abuse encompasses torture, sorrow, fear, perverse emotional discomfort, loss of personal pride or sovereignty.
  • Almost a fifth experienced physical ill-treatment (23.7%).
  • Close to a quarter experienced economic exploitation (26%), which means misuse of an elderly person’s money, property, and assets.
  • More than half experienced neglect (52.6 per cent).
Statewise statistics:
  • Victims of physical ill-treatment were the highest in Arunachal Pradesh (45 percent), Uttar Pradesh (43 percent), Tamil Nadu (40 percent), and Puducherry (41 percent).
  • Elderly respondents experiencing verbal/emotional ill-treatment was the highest in the states of Uttarakhand (100 percent), Chhattisgarh (97 percent), Tripura (94 percent), Tamil Nadu (89 percent), and Andhra Pradesh (85 percent)
  • More elderly experienced economic exploitation in Chhattisgarh (53 percent), Delhi (52 percent), and Uttar Pradesh (48 percent).
  • They experienced neglect more in southern states such as Andhra Pradesh (87 percent), Telangana (68 percent), and Tamil Nadu (69 percent).

The obstacle of elder abuse cannot be adequately solved if older people’s essential needs for food, shelter, protection, and access to healthcare are not met.

Source – Downtoearth

Hyderabad – Tree city

  • Hyderabad has won a green contest among cities in India and emerged one of the ‘Tree Cities of the World’.
  • The title has been bestowed by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
  • Hyderabad has been selected for its commitment to growing and maintaining urban forestry.
  • With the recognition, the city joins 120 others from 23 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
  • Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department applied for consideration with an online submission citing State government’s Haritha Haram programme and its Urban Forest Parks plan.
  • The city was evaluated on five metrics: ‘Establish Responsibility’, ‘Set the Rules’, ‘Know What You Have’, ‘Allocate the Resources’, and ‘Celebrate the Achievements’.

Source – The Hindu

H5N8 detected in crows, bird flu alert in Bihar

Avian Influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease, affecting a variety of birds including those connected with human consumption — chickens, ducks, turkeys, quails — as well as pet birds and wild birds. It is also known as bird flu.

Key Facts:
  • The World Organization for Animal Health, which collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), says HPAI virus strains H5N1, H5N2, H5N8, H7N8 have been identified in outbreaks, indicating active circulation. Infection histories point to H5N1 and H7N9 viruses posing a threat to human health as well.
  • The FAO says wild birds act as a natural reservoir of AI viruses.
  • The WHO, in its literature on avian influenza, states that humans can be infected with virus subtypes H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2.
  • The two virus types identified so far in the outbreaks in India — H5N1 and H5N8 — come under the category of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which is of major concern to those keeping birds, because it leads to disease and death of fowl and causes economic havoc.
  • While it can prove lethal for birds, the H5N8 strain of avian influenza has a lower likelihood of spreading to humans compared to H5N1.

The bird flu outbreak has been reported from at least 13 Indian states so far, including Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Infection in humans has not been reported in India, though the disease is zoonotic.

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