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Here are the topics covered for 15th November 2023:
GS-2:Inimical Witnesses, Transgenders in the Armed Forces
GS-3:Arrow-3 Missile Defence System, Decoding Cocoon Colors
Facts for Prelims: Zaglossus Attenboroughi, Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar Awards
- The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment, has delivered a significant ruling emphasizing that the testimonies of interested or inimical witnesses should not be summarily dismissed on the basis of their partisanship. The court asserted that such evidence demands scrutiny and circumspection, marking a departure from a categorical rejection solely based on the witnesses’ affiliations.
Scrutiny Over Dismissal:
- The court underscored that the mere status of a witness as interested or inimical does not warrant the complete dismissal of their evidence.
- It highlighted the need for a meticulous examination, urging greater care and circumspection in evaluating such testimonies.
Murder Convict’s Petition:
- The judgment stemmed from a petition filed by a murder convict seeking the commutation of his death penalty to life imprisonment.
- The case involved a 2003 incident in Muzzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, marked by indiscriminate firing due to local political rivalry, resulting in three fatalities.
Commuted Penalty and Rationale:
- The Supreme Court commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment without remission for 20 years, considering the convict’s advanced age and commendable conduct in prison.
- The decision rested on the court’s belief in the potential for the convict’s reformation.
Past Conviction and Rehabilitation:
- The court rejected the notion that a past conviction categorically implies an absence of remorse and an automatic qualification for the death penalty.
- It emphasized the prosecution’s failure to demonstrate the impossibility of the convict’s rehabilitation.
- While confirming the convict’s guilt, the Supreme Court, in its nuanced judgment, challenged the notion that the evidence’s inconclusiveness could be attributed to the rural background of the witnesses.
- It asserted that rustic witnesses, often lacking formal education and hailing from impoverished backgrounds, should have their evidence evaluated holistically.
- This verdict marks a commitment to a more nuanced and context-sensitive approach in assessing witness testimony, particularly when witnesses have vested interests or adversarial affiliations.
Transgenders in the Armed Forces
- In a significant development, the Indian Armed Forces are contemplating the integration of transgender individuals into their ranks. This initiative involves a thorough examination of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, and its potential implications for military service.
- A joint study group formed by the Principal Personnel Officers Committee (PPOC) has been entrusted with the task of recommending a viable approach for the implementation of the Act within the defence forces.
LGBT Rights in India:
- India has approximately 480,000 transgender people, according to the 2011 Census.
- Constitutional provisions under Article 15 prohibit discrimination based on various grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Despite advancements in LGBT rights, challenges persist, both socially and legally.
- The repeal and modification of colonial-era laws, such as Section 377 of the IPC, have contributed to progress.
- The landmark decision in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India (2018) decriminalised consensual homosexual intercourse.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019:
- The Supreme Court’s NALSA v. Union of India (2014) affirmed the constitutional right of self-identification of gender.
- The 2019 Act, enacted following the court’s directive and the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s recommendation, aims to prevent the marginalization and discrimination of transgenders.
- The Act safeguards transgender rights in various aspects, including healthcare, education, employment, and public services.
- It ensures equal opportunities for the transgender community.
- Definition of a transgender person: One whose gender does not align with the assigned gender at birth.
- Prohibition against discrimination: The act prohibits discrimination in education, employment, healthcare, etc.
- Certificate of identity: Transgender individuals can apply for a certificate of identity indicating their gender as ‘transgender.’
- Welfare measures: The government is mandated to implement measures for the full inclusion of transgender persons in society.
- Offences and penalties: The Act recognises various offences against transgender persons.
Possibilities of Transgender Persons’ Entry in the Armed Forces:
- Currently, the Armed Forces do not recruit transgenders or individuals identifying as homosexuals.
- The Standing Committee on Personnel, and Public Grievances proposed considering reservation benefits for transgender people in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).
- The joint study group, comprising top officers from the three services and the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), is evaluating the feasibility of employing transgenders in the forces.
- Multiple suggestions have been received, with discussions ranging from providing no special concessions to addressing administrative and logistical challenges.
- Questions regarding the identification of transgender individuals and their spouses, along with cultural integration with other military personnel, need careful consideration.
- The potential inclusion of transgender individuals in the Armed Forces marks a progressive step towards diversity and equality.
- The deliberations and considerations by the study group emphasise the complexities involved in this process, requiring a balanced approach that aligns with the principles of selection based on merit while ensuring inclusivity and respect for individual rights.
Arrow-3 Missile Defence System
- Israel’s deployment of the Arrow 3 missile interceptor against Iran-backed Houthi rebels has highlighted the sophistication of its missile defence capabilities.
About Arrow-3 Missile Defence System:
Exo-Atmospheric Defence Against Ballistic Threats
- Collaborative Development: Jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and the Missile Defence Agency in the US, emphasizing international cooperation in defence technology.
- Operational Since 2017: Deployed in 2017, Arrow-3 stands as the apex layer within Israel’s intricate air defence network.
- Strategic Design: Crafted to intercept ballistic missiles in the outer atmosphere, preventing their entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
- Utilizes two-stage solid-fueled interceptors for engaging short- and medium-range ballistic missiles effectively.
- Comprises a launcher, radar, and battle management system, forming a comprehensive defence infrastructure.
Impressive Range and Altitude:
- Boasts an extensive range of 2,400km and can intercept threats at an altitude of 100km, showcasing versatility in target engagement.
Advanced Radar System:
- Equipped with early warning and fire control radar, enabling extended-range acquisition and multi-target tracking capabilities.
Precision-Based Defence Strategy
- Employs precision-based hit-to-kill technology for the destruction of incoming missiles, minimizing collateral impact.
- Vertical missile launch followed by directional adjustments towards the estimated interception point.
- Utilizes a high-resolution electro-optical sensor for target acquisition, guiding the kill vehicle to hit the target and destroy the warhead.
- The Arrow-3 Missile Defence System, operational since 2017, stands as a testament to cutting-edge missile interception technology.
- Its strategic design, advanced features, and collaborative development make it a pivotal component in Israel’s air defence strategy, providing a robust shield against potential ballistic threats.
Decoding Cocoon Colors
- Researchers delve into the intricacies of silk production, uncovering genetic factors behind the diverse colours of silk cocoons. The study sheds light on the evolution of silk moths, the types of silk, and the economic landscape of India’s silk industry.
Understanding Silk Cocoon:
Protective Silk Layer:
- A silk cocoon is a protective layer of fine, strong, and lustrous silk thread spun by silkworms around themselves.
- The oval or round-shaped cocoon serves as the raw material for silk fabric.
- Domesticated silk moths, originating from the wild silk moth over 5,000 years ago in China, reveal genetic adaptations.
- The domesticated silk moth (Bombyx mori) has become globally prevalent, while its ancestral counterpart exists in regions like China, Korea, Japan, and far-eastern Russia.
Diversity in Silk Types:
Wild Silk (Non-mulberry Silks):
- Includes muga, tasar, and eri silks obtained from moth species like Antheraea assama, Antheraea mylitta, and Samia cynthia ricini.
- Thrives independently, foraging on a variety of trees.
- Represents 30% of silk production in India, characterized by shorter, coarser threads.
- Accounts for 90% of global silk production.
- Derived from the domesticated mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori), exclusively feeds on mulberry leaves.
- Features long, smooth, and lustrous fibres suitable for various applications.
- Ancestral mulberry moths produce uniformly brown-yellow cocoons.
- Domesticated silk moth cocoons showcase a vibrant palette of yellow-red, gold, flesh, pink, pale green, deep green, or white.
- Colours result from carotenoids and flavonoids in mulberry leaves, absorbed by silkworms and bound to silk protein in silk glands.
- Pigment quantity and type in silk glands dictate thread colour and intensity.
India’s Silk Industry:
- Second-largest raw silk producer globally, yielding 33,739 MT in fiscal year 2020-21.
- Diverse silk types contribute to India’s economic landscape, with Karnataka leading silk production at 32%.
- Exports to over 30 countries, major importers include the USA, UAE, China, UK, Australia, and Germany.
- Employs approximately 9.76 million people in rural areas, spread across 52,360 villages.
Central Silk Board (CSB) Initiatives:
- A comprehensive initiative fostering the holistic development of the sericulture and silk industry.
North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS):
- A scheme focusing on sericulture revival, expansion, and diversification in North Eastern States, emphasizing Eri and Muga silks.
- The study into silk cocoon colours provides a genetic roadmap of silk moth adaptations, enriching our understanding of silk diversity.
- India’s thriving silk industry, with its varied silk types and economic contributions, remains a vital player in the global silk market.
- The initiatives by the Central Silk Board further underscore the commitment to advancing sericulture and sustaining the rich tradition of silk production
Facts for Prelims:
Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar Awards
- The Central Government introduces 56 prizes in various categories of Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar to honour outstanding contributions to science.
Vigyan Ratna Awards:
- Recognizing lifetime achievements and significant contributions across diverse fields of science and technology.
Vigyan Shri Awards:
- Acknowledging distinguished contributions in any domain of science and technology.
Vigyan Team Awards:
- Honouring teams of three or more scientists, researchers, or innovators for exceptional collaborative contributions to science and technology.
Vigyan Yuva-Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (VY-SSB):
- The highest multidisciplinary science awards in India for young scientists (up to 45 years).
- Named after Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, the visionary founder and director of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
Eligibility for PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin):
PIOs are now eligible for the new awards, with specific allocations:
- One PIO may receive the Vigyan Ratna.
- Three PIOs each can be selected for the Vigyan Shri and VY-SSB.
- PIOs, however, are not eligible for the Vigyan Team awards.
Inclusivity and Recognition Across Disciplines:
- The awards span various scientific fields, fostering recognition of achievements in both individual and collaborative efforts.
- VY-SSB awards focus on nurturing young scientists and encouraging groundbreaking contributions by individuals under 45 years of age.
- The awards pay homage to Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, an eminent chemist and founder of CSIR, reinforcing a legacy of scientific excellence.
- These revamped awards aim to celebrate and encourage scientists, promoting innovation, collaboration, and advancements in the diverse landscape of science and technology in India.
- Scientists recently rediscovered Zaglossus attenboroughi, a long-beaked echidna named in honour of naturalist David Attenborough, in Indonesia’s Papua region.
- Echidnas, belonging to the monotreme group, are unique mammals that lay eggs instead of giving live birth. They are commonly known as spiny anteaters due to the sharp spines on their bodies.
- Particularly, the Zaglossus attenboroughi species are nocturnal and shy, adding to the challenge of discovering and studying them.
- This elusive echidna species was found in the remote Cyclops Mountains, highlighting its limited and specific habitat.
- The conservation status of Zaglossus attenboroughi is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, emphasizing the urgency of conservation efforts.
- Furthermore, it is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), acknowledging the need for international cooperation to protect this rare species.