Current Affair – May 29, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

The Rwanda massacre

  • French President Emmanuel Macron asked for forgiveness for his country’s role in the 1994 Rwandan massacre in which about 8,00,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed.
  • He said France chose “silence over examination of the truth” for too long, but stopped short of issuing an apology.

History of Hutu-Tutsi relations

  • The majority Hutus and minority Tutsis have had a troubled relationship in Rwanda that goes back to the German and Belgian colonial period.
  • Colonialists ruled Rwanda through the Tutsi monarchy. Tutsis were appointed as local administrative chiefs and the ethnic minority enjoyed relatively better educational and employment opportunities, which led to widespread resentment among the majority Hutus.
  • In 1959, Rwanda saw violent riots led by Hutus in which some 20,000 Tutsis were killed and many more were displaced. Amid growing violence, the Belgian authorities handed over power to the Hutu elite. King Kigeli V fled the country. In the 1960 elections, organised by the Belgians, Hutu parties gained control of nearly all local communes.
  • In 1961, Hutu leader Grégoire Kayibanda declared Rwanda an autonomous republic and the next year, the country became independent. Kayibanda became Rwanda’s first elected President, while the Tutsis who fled the country formed armed insurgencies. Since then, Rwanda had been con trolled by Hutus, until their genocidal regime was top pled by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1994.

What led to the killings?

  • The crisis escalated in the 1990s when the RPF, led by Paul Kagame, the current President, grew in strength and posed a serious challenge to the regime of President Habyarimana, who was backed by France and had defence ties with Israel.
· In1993, Habyarimana, who rose to power in 1973, was forced to sign a peace agreement (Arusha Accords) with the RPF. This led to resentment among Hutu militias, backed by the government, towards local Tutsi population, who were accused of collaborators of the RPF.
  • On April 61994, a jet carrying Habyarimana was shot down near Kigali International Airport. The Hutu led government blamed the RPF for the attack on the presidential jet.
  • The military and Hutu militias, mainly Interahamwe, unleashed violence against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Mr. Kagame has denied any involvement in shooting down the plane. The RPF says Hutu extremists ordered the attack to use it as an excuse for the genocide (which they were preparing for long be fore the plane downing) as well as to capture power.

Mass Killings

  • The killings were a pre-planned extermination campaign. The militias, with support from the government, launched a premeditated violent campaign on April 7, aimed at eliminating the entire Tutsi communities.
  • Interahamwe militants went to cities and villages across the country, hunting down Tutsis, and asking Hutus to join the campaign, killing at a pace of 8,000 people a day. The Hutus who opposed the killings were also targeted.
  • Bodies were dumped in the Nyabarongo River.

·  France, which had backed the Hutu government, did nothing to stop the massacre.

  • Thousands were slaughtered in churches where they sought refuge. The Catholic Church had deep ties with the ruling Hutu elites. Many priests were involved in the killings.
  • In a visit to Rwanda in 2017, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the Church’s role in the killings. The violence continued for three months.

How did it end?

  • The killings came to an end after the RPF captured Kigali and toppled the Hutu regime.
  • While the RPF put an end to the Hutu campaign to exterminate Tutsis, the rebels were also accused of carrying out revenge killings during the civil war.
·  When it was evident that the RPF was winning, an estimated 2 million Hutus fled Rwanda, mainly to the neighbouring Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo), where Hutu militias are still operating from.
  • The RPF initially went about establishing a multi ethnic government. In 2000, Mr. Ka game assumed the Presidency and continues to be in power till today.
Source: The Hindu

GST Council Meet highlights

  • A special session of the Council will be held to discuss with the States how long the Compensation Cess levied under the GST regime needs to be extended beyond its current sunset date of July 2022.
  • For this year’s estimated shortfall in compensation cess collections to meet States’ dues, the Centre will raise ₹1.58 lakh crore to recompense States via back to back loans, like it was done last year. The same formula adapted last year will be used this year.The council did not agree to the demand from some States for a waiver on GST for COVID vaccines and other supplies to tackle the pandemic.
· Council agreed to extend the GST exemption granted on relief material received free from abroad for donations to State approved entities, to those who want to make such donations by purchasing the material from over seas. The period for availing this exemption has also been extended to August 31.
  • With the rising cases of Black Fungus, a particular medicine required for it — amphotericin B — has also been included in the exemption list (for tax-free imports).

About Delhi High Court decision

On the Delhi High Court setting aside the 12% GST levy on imports of oxygen concentrators for personal use, It was clarified that the order has led to a situation where GST levies will be zero if the item is received as a ‘gift’, but 28% if purchased from abroad.

Source: The Hindu

Indian Administrative Service (cadre) Rules, 1954

  • The appointments committee of the Union Cabinet attached the West Bengal State’s Chief Secretary to the Centre.
  • The committee is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What does the rule say?

  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) invoked Rule 6(I) of the Indian Administrative Service (cadre) Rules, 1954 to place the services of West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay with the Government of India.
  • Rule 6(I) states that “provided that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.

The order asked the State government to relieve the officer with “immediate effect” and directed him to report to DoPT office

Source: The Hindu

World Health Assembly Meet

  • The decision making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Health Assembly, reviewed the findings of its special team on possible origin of novel corona virus.
  • India pushed for further studies on the origins of the novel corona virus at the meet.
  • Several countries at the Assembly’s ongoing annual meeting from May 24 to June 1 have raised the need for further studies

Path-ways

  • The report submitted by the WHO on March 31 had listed various hypotheses as possible origins, including the “lab leak” theory that it said was “extremely unlikely”.
  • The report concluded that there was need for further research.

Possible pathways

  • On April 1, the MEA issued a statement on the report, which had listed “four path ways” or possible options that led to the pandemic: a direct zoonotic transmission; the introduction of the virus through another inter mediate host or animal; the introduction through the cold chain or food chain; and a laboratory incident.
  • The inquiry by a joint WHO China study team had concluded that the first two theories were “likely to very likely”, the food chain theory “possible” and the lab incident theory “extremely unlikely”.
  • In its statement, India also called for “a comprehensive and expert led mechanism” to investigate the origin of COVID19 in cooperation with all stakeholders, and supported the possibility of an additional WHO mission to the Chinese sites to further study the issue.

USA Stand

  • U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary has called on the WHO to conduct a second and more transparent inves- tigation into the origins of COVID19.
  • U.S. President Joseph Biden has also tasked his National Security Advisor and intelligence agencies to redouble efforts to reach a conclusion on the origins of the virus.

Source: The Hind

Widened Scope of Section 304•B in dowry deaths by SC

  • The Supreme Court indicated in a judgment that a straitjacket and literal interpretation of a penal provision on dowry death may have blunted the battle against the “longstanding social evil”.
  • In 2019 alone, 7,115 cases of dowry death were registered under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Dowry deaths accounted for 40% to 50% homicides in the country for almost a decade from 1999 to 2018.

About the judgement

  • The judgment pronounced called dowry harassment a “pestiferous” crime where women are subjected to cruelty by “covetous” husbands and in-laws.
  • But the language used in Section 304B has always flummoxed courts. Courts have often opted for a strict and narrow reading of the provision, which was one of the many legal initiatives introduced against dowry.

It said courts should instead interpret Section 304B liberally while keeping in mind the law’s intention to punish dowry and bride burning.

What does the judgement say about the interpretation?

  • According to Section 304B, to make out a case dowry death, a woman should have died of burns or other bodily injuries or “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within seven years of her marriage. She should have suffered cruelty or harassment from her husband or in-laws “soon before her death” in connection with demand for dowry.
·  The judgement said ‘Over the years, courts had interpreted the phrase ‘soon before’ in Section 304B as ‘immediately before’. This interpretation would make it necessary for a woman to have been harassed moments before she died. Such “absurd” interpretations should be avoided.
  • It said the prosecution needed to show only a “proximate and live link” between the harassment and her death.
  • It is safe to deduce that when the legislature used the words ‘soon before’ they did not mean ‘immediately before’.

Rather, they left its determination in the hands of the courts.

  • The factum of cruelty or harassment differs from case to case. Even the spectrum of cruelty is quite varied, as it can range from physical, verbal or even emotional.
  • The phrase “otherwise than under normal circumstances” in the Section also calls for a liberal interpretation.
  • “Section 304B, IPC does not take a pigeonhole approach in categorizing death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental. The reason for such non-categorization is due to the fact that death occurring in ‘other than under normal circumstances’ can, in cases, be homicidal or suicidal or accidental,”.

Examining accused

  • The judgment also raised concern about the casual way in which trial courts examined accused persons in dowry death cases under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • The examination of the accused about the incriminatory material against him should be done in a fair manner.
  • The court must put incriminating circumstances before the accused and seek his response. He should be given sufficient opportunity to give his side of the story. The court should question the accused fairly, with care and caution.
Source: The Hindu

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