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17 Mar, 2021

31 Min Read

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 passed in Rajya Sabha

GS-I : Social issues Women

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020

What is the news?

  • The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which increases the time period within which an abortion may be carried out.
  • Opposition MPs said the Bill still did not give women the freedom to decide since they would need a nod from a medical board in the case of pregnancies beyond 24 weeks.
  • Currently, abortion requires the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception, and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks. The Bill allows abortion to be done on the advice of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and two doctors in the case of certain categories of women, between 20 and 24 weeks.
  • For a pregnancy to be terminated after 24 weeks in case of substantial foetal abnormalities, the opinion of the State-level medical board is essential.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 or Abortion Law

  • It is related to abortion, procedures and conditions of abortion.
  • India does not allow free abortions, only when there is a risk of life or substantial abnormalities of the child. Hence certification of Medical practitioner.

Amendements to MTP Act, 1971

  • It seeks to enhance the upper gestation period from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women that will be defined. The extension is important as in 1st 5 months of pregnancy, some women realise the need for abortion very late.
  • Usually, a foetal anatomy scan is done during the 20-21st week of pregnancy.
  • It will include vulnerable women including survivor of rape, victims of incest.

Difference between 1971 Act and 2020 Bill

  • 1971 Act allowed termination of pregnancy for 20 weeks. But the 2020 Bill says 24 weeks.
  • If substantial physical and mental injury to a child, or if pregnancy risks or is a grave injury to the life of the mother, then she can abort.
  • If the termination is for < 12 weeks then 1 Medical practitioner’s permission is required. If it is in between 12 to 24 weeks, 2 Medical practitioners. If > 24 weeks then Medical Board's permission is needed.
  • According to Section 3(2); Abortion extended to only the failure of married women or husbands. This is replaced by "A woman and her partner".
  • Her identity should not be disclosed except to a person who is authorised by the law. If it is breached then penalty of 1 year or fine or both.
  • MTP Act divides the regulatory framework for allowing abortions into categories, according to Gestational age of foetus.

Issues in 1971 Act:

  • Reports show that > 10 women die everyday due to unsafe abortions in India and backward abortion laws only contribute to weomen seeking illegal and unsafe options.
  • In 2008, a petition was filed by Haresh and Niketa.= Mehta to abort in 22 week.
  • High Court does not provide women in final say unlike 67 countries where women can get an abortion on request with or without a specific gestation limit (usually 12 weeks).
  • Prejudice against unmarried women - According to Section 3 (2) pregnancy because of failure of any birth control device
  • Issue is that some child's abnormalities is found > 20 weeks.

Still there are issues in 2020 Bill

  • It does not allow abortion on request at any point after pregnancy.
  • It does not take a step towards removing the prejudice against unmarried women.
  • It enhances the gestation limit from 20 to only 24 weeks in certain cases of women like rape survivors, victims of incest and minors.
  • The question of abortion needs to be decided on the basis of human rights. In the landmark, US SC judgement Roe vs Wade, the judges held that US constitution protects a women's right to terminate her pregnancy. Ultimately nations will have to decide the outer limit also based on the capacity of their health systems to deliver based on the capacity of their health systems to deliver care without danger to life of mother, there is no uniform gestation viability for abortion.

Source: TH

U.K. turns to Indo – Pacific in post-Brexit foreign policy

GS-II : International Relations Indo Pacific Region

The U.K. turns to Indo – Pacific in post-Brexit foreign policy

What is Indo Pacific?

  • The term Indo Pacific was first time used by Shinzo Abe in Japan in 2007.
  • The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07.
  • One of the reasons behind the popularity of this term is an understanding that the Indian Ocean and the Pacific are linked strategic theatres.
  • Also, the centre of gravity has shifted to Asia. The reason is maritime routes, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific provide the sea lanes. The majority of the world’s trade passes through these oceans.
  • There was a time before the cold war when the centre of gravity of the universe was across the Atlantic i.e. trade was actually transiting from the Atlantic but now it has shifted.
  • The earlier term used to be Asia-Pacific, from which India was excluded.
  • This term was prevalent during the cold war time.
  • The shift to the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ shows the salience of India in the new construct.
  • Terrorism and the fear of assertion by a particular country in the region are major threats to the Indo-Pacific region.

What are the regions under the Indo-Pacific region?

  • The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct.
  • The Indo-Pacific region includes the world’s four big economies: the USA, China, Japan and India.
  • The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is interpreted differently by different stakeholders.
  • India considers the region as an inclusive, open, integrated and balanced space.
  • India continuously emphasises strategic inter-connections, common challenges and opportunities between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
  • The U.S. considers it to be a free and open Indo-Pacific, highlighting the importance of rules or norms of conduct in the region, thus trying to contain the role of China in the region.
  • The ASEAN countries look at Indo-Pacific as a consociational model, thus bringing in China not only for the sake of giving it some stakeholdership but looking for ways to cooperate with it in the region.
  • Britain wants to expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China’s global dominance, a document laying out post-Brexit foreign and defence policy priorities said on Tuesday.
  • The document sets out a planned increase of Britain’s nuclear warhead stockpile by more than 40% to weigh against evolving global security threats, and underlines the importance of strong ties with the U.S. while naming Russia as the top regional threat.
  • Britain’s biggest foreign and defence policy review since the end of the Cold War sets out how Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to be at the forefront of a reinvigorated, rules-based international order based on cooperation and free trade.
  • Calling the Indo-Pacific “increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world”, the government highlighted a planned British aircraft carrier deployment to the region.
  • “China and the U.K. both benefit from bilateral trade and investment, but China also presents the biggest state-based threat to the U.K.’s economic security,” the report said.
  • Britain, the world’s sixth-largest economy, is dwarfed economically and militarily by China, but believes through soft power and strategic alliances it can help persuade Beijing to play by the rules of a new, more dynamic international system.
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the U.K.’s attempts to influence Beijing had been marginal so far, saying it was better to act “in concert with clusters of like-minded countries... to have the maximum and moderating impact on China.”

Significance of Indo-Pacific for India

  1. Natural resources, Market potential, Northeast States, Blue Economy aspirations, Freedom of navigation, counter China.
  2. It will provide the role of a Net security provider and security architecture.
  3. Help in Act East Asia Policy, multilateral groupings, the role of ports.
  4. This is a shift from Asia-Pacific (including Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania) where India was included as in APEC. India is still outside APEC.

India’s Vision for Indo-Pacific in the Shangri La Dialogue

  1. India embraced the concept of Indo-Pacific and said India stands for a free, open, inclusive region.
  2. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it.
  3. Southeast Asia is at its Centre. And ASEAN is central to its future.
  4. Evolve, through dialogue, a common rules-based order for the region. These rules and norms should be based on the consent of all, not on the power of the few.
  5. Rather than growing protectionism, India seeks a level playing field for all. India stands for an open and stable international trade regime.
  6. Connectivity is vital and India is doing its part, by itself and in partnership with others like Japan – in South Asia and Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, Africa, West Asia and beyond.
  7. India’s view can be summarized into five S in Hindi: Samman (respect); Samvad (dialogue); Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samridhi (prosperity).

India's role in Indo Pacific: India's goal is to

  1. Seek a climate of trust and transparency.
  2. Respect for international maritime rules and norms by all the countries.
  3. Sensitivity to each other's interests.
  4. Peaceful resolution of maritime security issues.
  5. Increase in maritime cooperation.

India's Initiatives

  1. Defence Exercises, Strategic Partnership with countries.
  2. Forum of India-Pacific Islands Cooperation.
  3. Asia- Africa Growth Corridor.
  4. SAGAR Approach and Project MAUSAM.
  5. Quad-plus- where India, Japan, Australia, U.S. and countries of ASEAN are collaborating.

Source: TH

Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Laws

Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

About Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991:

  • The Act was passed in 1991.
  • It seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947.
  • The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was exempted from the Act.

Key Provisions:

  • It says that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • All cases for converting the character of a place of worship that were pending on August 15, 1947 will stand abated with the enforcement of this act.
  • However, legal proceedings can be initiated if the change of status of religious character took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.
  • It prescribes 3-year imprisonment and a fine for breach of the provisions of the act.


  • It says that the Act shall not be applied to the Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid's dispute.
  • Act also exempts:
    • Any place of worship, is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site.
    • It must be covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958

Source: TH

Indian Collaborative Research in Antarctica

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Climate Change

Indian Collaborative Research in Antarctica

  • It is an Indo-Japanese project that was initiated during 2019 to reconstruct the past climate.
  • In 2019 India-Japan under the aegis of the National Center for Polar and Ocean Research and the National Institute of Polar Research signed an MoU to share and carry out R & D in Antarctica

Objective of SONIC

  • To understand the ice sheet variability at the Schirmacher Oasis to examine East Antarctic Ice Sheet sensitivity and its response to glacial-interglacial cycles
  • To assess the variability of biological community through the study of pigments and DNA

Similar expeditions in Antarctica by India

  • As it collaborated with Japan, India also collaborated with Norway in Antarctic Research
  • A major Indo-Norweigian collaborative field campaign, near Indian Maitri station, was undertaken during 2016–2019 to understand the ice shelf dynamics, mass balance and reconstruct past changes in atmospheric and sea ice dynamics under the joint project “Mass balance, dynamics, and climate of the central Dronning Maud Land coast, East Antarctica (MADICE)”.
  • Ice core drilling, ice-sheet modelling and satellite remote sensing-based studies were conducted to understand the future Antarctic contribution to the global sea-level rise.

National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR)

  • It is India’s premier R&D institution responsible for the country’s research activities in the Polar and Southern Ocean realms.
  • It was established as an autonomous R&D Institution of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • Mandate: Management and upkeep of the Indian Antarctic Research Bases “Maitri” and “Bharati”, and the Indian Arctic base “Himadri

Source: PIB

NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021

GS-II : Governance New Laws

NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021

The Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill,2021 in the Lok Sabha.

About NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021:

  • It seeks to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act,1991.
  • The main objective is to give overarching powers to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) in the functioning of Delhi.

Key Points of the proposed Bill:

  • The Bill provides that the term “government” referred to any law made by the Legislative Assembly will imply Lieutenant Governor (LG).
  • The Bill mentions that on certain matters, as specified by the LG, the government has to obtain LG’s opinion before taking any executive actions.
  • The Bill requires the LG to reserve bills for the President.
    • They are the bills that incidentally cover any of the matters outside the purview of the powers of the Legislative Assembly.
  • The bill provides that the rules made by the Delhi Assembly for regulating its procedure and conduct of business shall not be inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.

About Delhi as a Union Territory:

  • Delhi is a Union Territory with a legislature.
  • It came into existence in 1991 under Article 239AA of the Constitution.
  • This provision was inserted by the 69th Amendment Act,1991.
  • As per the existing Act, the Delhi Legislative Assembly makes laws in all matters except public order, police, and land

Source: TH

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