Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that all women in the country, regardless of marital status, can have an abortion up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy.
What is the Supreme Court's decision?
Ruled over an ancient law:
It has ruled on a 51-year-old abortion law (The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971) that prohibits unmarried women from terminating pregnancies up to 24 weeks.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 and its Rules of 2003 make it illegal for unmarried women between 20 and 24 weeks pregnant to abort with the assistance of registered medical practitioners.
The MTP Act was most recently amended in 2021.
Right to Choose under Article 21: The Court ruled that the rights to reproductive autonomy, dignity, and privacy guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution give an unmarried woman the same right as a married woman to choose whether or not to bear a child.
Article 14 guarantees the right to equality: Prohibiting single or unmarried pregnant women with pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks from accessing abortion care while allowing married women with the same gestational age to do so was a violation of the right to equality before the law and equal protection (Article 14).
A single woman may have experienced the same "change in material circumstances" as a pregnant married woman. She could have been abandoned, unemployed, or a victim of violence during her pregnancy.
Not Constitutionally Sufficient: The artificial distinction between married and unmarried women is unconstitutional.
The advantages of the law apply equally to single and married women.
Increasing the Ambition of Reproductive Rights: The term Reproductive Right refers to more than just having or not having children. Women's reproductive rights included a "constellation of rights, entitlements, and freedoms for women."
Reproductive rights include the right to access contraception education and information, the right to choose safe and legal abortion, and the right to reproductive health care.
Opinions on Marital Rape: For the sole purpose of the MTP Act, the meaning of rape must include marital rape to marshal a woman’s right to reproductive and decisional autonomy.
The ruling's significance:
On the same level: The ruling would put unmarried women on the same level as distressed women with pregnancies less than 20 weeks old.
Both face similar dangers: Unmarried women are at risk of having a mental breakdown because they became pregnant due to the failure of "family planning devices or methods."
Both married and unmarried women face the same medical risks.
Our country has been concerned about safe abortion practise, and with this decision, we can expect a reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with unsafe abortion practise.
International importance: The significant decision came months after the US Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, overturned the historic 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which made abortion a constitutional right in the country.
What is the Abortion Law in India?
Abortion was illegal in India until the 1960s, and a woman could face three years in prison and/or a fine under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The government formed the Shantilal Shah Committee in the mid-1960s and asked the group, led by Dr. Shantilal Shah, to investigate abortions and determine whether India needed a law prohibiting them.
A medical termination bill was introduced in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha based on the Shantilal Shah Committee's report and was passed by Parliament in August 1971.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 went into effect on April 1, 1972, and applied to all of India except Jammu and Kashmir.
Furthermore, Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, makes it a crime to voluntarily "cause miscarriage," even if the miscarriage is with the pregnant woman's consent, unless the miscarriage is caused to save the woman's life.
This means that the woman, or anyone else, including a medical professional, could be charged with having an abortion.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 allowed a medical practitioner to terminate a pregnancy in two stages:
Abortions up to 12 weeks after conception required only one doctor's opinion.
Before agreeing to terminate the woman's pregnancy, the opinion of two doctors was required to determine if the continuation of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the pregnant woman's life or grave injury to her physical or mental health, or if there is a substantial risk that the child would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously "handicapped."
Parliament amended the law in 2021 to allow abortions based on the advice of a single doctor for pregnancies up to 20 weeks.
For pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks, the modified law requires the advice of two doctors.
Furthermore, for pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks, rules specified seven categories of women who would be eligible to seek termination under section 3B of the MTP Act's rules.
Victims of sexual assault, rape, or incest,
Change in marital status during a pregnancy (widowhood and divorce),
Women with physical handicaps (major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016)
Women with mental illnesses, including mental retardation
The foetal malformation that has a high risk of being incompatible with life, or if the child is born with such physical or mental abnormalities that it is severely handicapped, and
Pregnant women in humanitarian settings, disasters, or emergencies may be declared by the government
The MTP Act's Importance
Article 21 of the Indian constitution guarantees personal liberty, including reproductive choice.
Women's Reproductive Rights: The laws give women more reproductive rights and dignity because abortion is regarded as an important aspect of women's reproductive health.
Right to Privacy: The Privacy Clause also benefits rape victims and vulnerable victims.
Encouragement for Safe Abortion: The deaths and injuries caused by unsafe abortions are largely avoidable if services are provided legally by trained practitioners.
If the procedures are done in a hospital, they are done under proper medical and surgical supervision.
If the pills are taken at home, they must be taken under medical supervision and followed up on.
What are the issues?
Unsafe Abortions: According to the United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) State of the World Population Report 2022, unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India, with close to 8 women dying each day from causes related to unsafe abortions.
Women who are not married and come from low-income families have no choice but to abort unwanted pregnancies in unsafe or illegal ways.
Rural India has a medical expert shortage: According to a 2018 Lancet study, 15.6 million abortions were performed in India in 2015.
The MTP Act mandates that abortions be performed only by doctors trained in gynaecology or obstetrics.
India's abortion legal framework is widely regarded as progressive, particularly in comparison to many countries, including the United States, where abortion restrictions are severely restricted — both historically and currently.
Furthermore, a serious rethinking of public policy is required, as is accommodating all stakeholders to focus on women and their reproductive rights, rather than drawing red lines that medical practitioners cannot cross while performing abortions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently released guidelines to address mental health issues in the global workforce.
What exactly is work-related stress?
Long hours, a heavy workload, job insecurity, and conflicts with coworkers or bosses are just a few of the many causes of work-related stress.
Symptoms include decreased work performance, depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.
WHO and ILO Major Highlights
Economic and workforce losses
According to the WHO, depression and anxiety account for 12 billion lost workdays each year, costing the global economy close to $1 trillion.
Countries that have National Programmes
Only 5% of the working-age population had mental illness, and only 35% of countries had national programmes in place to promote work-related mental health.
Anxiety and despair are on the rise.
COVID-19 increased anxiety and despair by 25%, demonstrating how poorly governments anticipated its effects on mental health.
The pandemic highlighted a global shortage of mental health resources.
In 2020, governments worldwide allocated only 2% of their health budgets to mental health, with lower-middle-income countries allocating less than 1%.
Individual well-being is sufficient reason to act, but poor mental health can also have an impact on performance and productivity.
An unhealthy work culture exacerbates broader socioeconomic issues such as inequality and discrimination, both of which have an impact on mental health.
Bullying or psychological assault, also known as mobbing, is a common form of workplace harassment.
Other significant challenges include:
Pay is low.
There are few opportunities for advancement or growth.
Work that is not interesting or challenging
Inadequate social support
Inadequate control over job-related decisions
Competing demands or ambiguous performance expectations
Advantages of Stress Prevention in the Workplace
Reduced symptoms of mental and physical illness
Fewer injuries, illnesses, and time lost
Reduced the use of sick leave, absences, and staff turnover; increased productivity
Improved job satisfaction
Increased employee engagement lowers employer costs Improved employee health and community well-being
Manager training has been recommended by WHOto avoid stressful work environments and to assist distressed employees.
Investments: We must invest in reshaping the workplace to eliminate stigma and social exclusion and to ensure that employees suffering from mental illnesses feel protected and supported.
Return to your workplace: The guidelines also recommended better approaches to meeting the needs of workers suffering from mental illnesses, as well as interventions to encourage their return to work.
Mechanisms for paid employment: It also provided paid employment opportunities for people suffering from severe mental illnesses. The guidelines emphasised the importance of safeguarding medical, humanitarian, and emergency personnel.
Workplace stress is a management problem: Maintain a secure working environment. Ascertain that everyone is properly trained for their position.
De-stigmatize work-related stress by openly admitting it to be a genuine issue.
Discuss issues and grievances with employees and, when possible, take appropriate action.
Create a stress management policy in collaboration with your employees.
Encourage an environment in which employees have more say over their duties, advancement opportunities, and safety. Make arrangements for a human resources manager.
Reduce the need for overtime by reorganising duties or hiring extra help.
Consider the personal lives of your employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes conflict with the demands of work.
If necessary, seek the advice of a health professional.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has launched 'Operation Garuda,' a multi-phase operation against an illicit drug trafficking network, registering 127 new cases, arresting 175 people, and seizing massive amounts of narcotic drugs.
Regarding 'Operation Garuda,'
It was established in close collaboration with Interpol and the Narcotics Control Bureau to combat the smuggling of illegal drugs and psychotropic substances, with a particular emphasis on the Indian Ocean region.
Drug trafficking networks with international connections necessitate international law enforcement cooperation.
It aims to disrupt, degrade, and dismantle international drug networks through the rapid exchange of criminal intelligence on drug trafficking and coordinated law enforcement actions across international jurisdictions via Interpol.
What is drug trafficking?
It is a global illegal trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of substances prohibited by drug laws. India's vulnerability
India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking due to its location between the world's two largest opium producing regions, the Golden Crescent in the west and the Golden Triangle in the east.
Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan make up South Asia's Golden Crescent region.
The Golden Triangle is the area where Thailand's, Laos', and Myanmar's borders meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers.
These two areas are known as the world's major opium production regions.
According to the World Drug Report 2022, India has the highest number of opiate users in the world, and this trend is expected to continue as trafficking increases.
By studying underground layers, China's Zhurong rover, which landed on Mars in 2021, discovered evidence of major floods that occurred billions of years ago.
The rover investigated its landing site, Utopia Planitia, which is a vast plain in Mars' northern hemisphere.
These are the first radar imager results from the rover. The radar's radio waves bounce off underground materials, revealing their grain size and ability to hold an electric charge. Larger objects are usually indicated by stronger signals.
What exactly is Zhurong Rover?
Zhurong, named after a Chinese mythical fire god, will be carried to Mars by China's Tianwen-1 spacecraft in 2021.
During the mission, Zhurong will investigate the massive Utopia Planitia basin on Mars' northern hemisphere, which was most likely formed by an impact early in the planet's history.
The 'Zhurong' rover weighs about 240 kilogrammes, which is slightly heavier than NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers but only one-fourth the weight of Perseverance and Curiosity (NASA).
It is equipped with seven primary instruments, including cameras, ground-penetrating radar, a magnetic field detector, and a weather station, and is powered by retractable solar panels.
The radar is used to search for ancient life as well as subsurface water.
What are the Results found?
The radar detected two horizontal layers with interesting patterns, but no evidence of liquid water down to 80 metres.
The reflection signals became stronger with increasing depth in a layer between 10 and 30 metres deep.
A similar pattern was seen in an older, thicker layer between 30 and 80 metres down.
The older layers (30 and 80 metres) are most likely the result of rapid flooding that transported sediments to the region more than three billion years ago, when Mars was teeming with water.
The upper layer (between 10 and 30 metres deep) could have been formed by another flood 1.6 billion years ago, during a period of intense glacial activity.
Radar data is insufficient to determine whether the underground materials were sediments or volcanic remnants.
What Are the Important Mars Facts?
It is the fourth planet from the Sun and the Solar System's second-smallest planet.
Mars is approximately half the size of Earth.
Earth-like characteristics (orbit and rotation):
Mars orbits the Sun once every 24.6 hours, which is roughly equivalent to one day on Earth (23.9 hours).
Mars' rotation axis is 25 degrees tilted with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. This is comparable to Earth's axial tilt of 23.4 degrees.
Mars has distinct seasons, just like Earth, but they last longer.
Sols are Martian days that are short for 'solar day.'
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