Prelims Booster

1st August – Prelims Booster

Muslim Women Rights Day

1st August is a day which made Muslim women free from the social evil of ‘Triple Talaq’. It is recorded in the country’s history as “Muslim Women Rights Day”.

What is Triple Talaq?

Also known as ‘Talaq-e-biddat’, if a man belonging to the religion of Islam pronounces talaq thrice either orally or in written form to his wife, then the divorce is considered immediate and irrevocable.The only way to reconcile the marriage is through the practice of nikah halala, which requires the woman to get remarried, consummate the second marriage, get divorced, observe the three-month iddat period and return to her husband.

About ‘Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019’ –

  • It is applicable in whole of India.
  • Any pronouncement of “talaq” by a Muslim husband to his wife in any manner, spoken or written, will be void and illegal.
  • Any Muslim husband who communicates the “talaq” orally or in writing may face punishment up to three years in jail. The punishment may be also extended.
  • If a Muslim man pronounces “talaq” to his wife, then the woman and her children are entitled to receive an allowance for subsistence. Such an amount can be determined by a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class.
  • A Muslim woman is entitled to the custody of her minor children even if her husband has pronounced “talaq” to her.
  • The offence is also compoundable (i.e. the parties may arrive at a compromise), if the Muslim woman insists for the same and the Magistrates allows certain terms and conditions which he may determine.
  • A person accused of this offence cannot be granted bail unless an application is filed by the accused after a hearing in the presence of the Muslim woman (on whom talaq is pronounced) is conducted and the Magistrate is satisfied with the reasonable grounds for granting bail. Hence, the offence is nonbailable i.e. only a Magistrate and not the police can grant bail.

Why was it banned?

The Triple Talaq was held to be violative of Article 14 (the right to equality), which is held by the Supreme Court from Shah Bano case 1986 to Shayara Bano case in 2017. Triple Talaq is already banned in more than 20 Islamic countries including Pakistan.

Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi (1929-2013) was a mathematician who was not formally educated, and was far from exceptional in cognitive tests, and yet she could perform calculations with large numbers in a few seconds, sometimes instantly.

What were her skills?

  • It began with extracting cube roots of large numbers in her head, which she could do in her head rapidly while still a child in the 1930s.
  • She calculated the 7th root of 455,762,531,836,562,695,930,666,032,734,375 (answer 46,295) in 40 seconds.
  • At Imperial College on June 18, 1980, Shakuntala Devi was asked to multiply two 13-digit numbers: 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779. She got the answer in 28 seconds — 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730.

Where did she learn these skills?

By all accounts, Shakuntala Devi was entirely self-taught. Daughter of a circus performer, she travelled with her parents since she was three years old, and is said to have cultivated her calculating abilities while performing card tricks. Once she began to extract cube roots rapidly in her head, she became a performer exhibiting her skills. By the time she was a teenager, she was already travelling around the world, usually before audiences in colleges and universities.

Smog Towers

Recently, a Supreme Court bench had sharp words for authorities in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh for failing to control the practice of stubble-burning on farms, which contributes to air pollution in Delhi at the beginning of every winter.

The Bench directed authorities to take measures, including asking the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to submit a comprehensive plan on setting up “smog towers” in the capital.

What is a ‘smog tower’?

  • A smog tower is a structure designed to work as a large-scale air purifier, fitted with multiple layers of filters which trap fine dust particles suspended in the air as it passes through them.
  • The large-scale filters expected to be installed in the towers in Delhi would use carbon nanofibres as a major component, and would be fitted along the peripheries of the towers and the height of the towers would be 20 metres.
  • Smog towers have been experimented with in recent years in cities in the Netherlands, China, South Korea and Poland. The first such tower was erected in 2015, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, created by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.
  • The towers to be installed in Delhi were to be the result of a collaboration between the IITs at Mumbai and Delhi, and the University of Minnesota. The university has helped design a 100-metre high permanent smog tower in the Chinese city of Xian. This tower was completed in 2017, and is supposed to be the world’s biggest air purifier.

Are they effective?

  • The towers would create “clean air zones” in the city. An estimate made of their impact on air quality shows a tower would reduce 50% of the particulate matter load — fine dust particles suspended in the air — in an area of 1 kilometre in the direction of the wind, as well as 200 metres each along the sides of the tower and against the direction of the wind.
  • An assessment of Roosegaarde’s smog tower in Beijing by the Eindhoven University of Technology found that in an open field in calm weather, it can reduce particulate matter of 10 micrometres (PM10) up to 45%, and PM2.5 levels up to 25% in an area of 20 metres around the tower.

Gandhi-King initiative

A Bill authored by American civil rights leader and lawmaker John Lewis, which seeks to establish an exchange programme between India and the U.S. to study the work and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., passed an important committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

What is the bill?

  • The Bill, co-sponsored by Indian American Congressman from California Ami Bera will establish annual scholar and student exchange programmes for Indians and Americans to study the leaders’ legacies and visit historic sites in India and the U.S., relevant to the India’s freedom struggle and the U.S.’s civil rights movement.
  • The Bill also seeks to establish the Gandhi-King Global Academy, a conflict resolution initiative based on the principles of non-violence.
  • It proposes the establishment of the U.S.-India GandhiKing Development Foundation set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of India, organised under Indian law.
  • The Foundation, which has a proposed budget authorised of up to $30 million per year for five years through 2025, is tasked with administering grants to NGOs that work in health, pollution and climate change, education and empowerment of women.

About Martin Luther King Jr. –

  • Martin Luther King Jr. is the greatest American figure in the 20th century. A Baptist priest of vast intellectual depth and complexity, King was also a systematic political thinker. His thoughts on non-violence and his struggle against segregation and inequalities in the US influenced several generations of non-violent thinkers and activists.
  • Many around the world continue to consider King as the American Gandhi who through his method of non-violent direct action succeeded in arousing the American nation to the evils of racism and poverty and preparing the enactment of historic civil rights legislation.
  • He became Gandhi’s greatest disciple, by embracing Gandhi’s Satyagraha as a method of struggle for the emancipation of blacks in America.
  • He recognised Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence for the effectiveness of his own campaigns in areas such as integration and voting rights.
  • King’s insistence on God’s justice is the important connection between striving for Christian love and establishing the Gandhian strategy of non-violence.
  • King proclaimed: “All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasure of ideas and labour to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed.”

Natesa – Pratihara Style of architecture

A long-pending case of idol theft finally saw an important development as Natesa, a rare sandstone idol in the 9th century Prathihara style of Rajasthan, is returning to the country after 22 years. The Natesa icon, currently at the Indian High Commission, London, was originally from the Ghateswara Temple, Baroli, Rajasthan.

About Natesa –

The sandstone Natesa figure stands tall at almost 4 ft. in a rare and brilliant depiction of Lord Shiva in the late 9th century Prathihara style of Rajasthan. A beautiful depiction of Nandi is shown behind the right leg of the Natesa icon.

About Pratihara empire –

  • The GURJARA-PRATIHARAS were the earliest of the Rajput rulers
  • Its first great leader was HARISHCHANDRA
  • He conquered extensive territory in Rajputana and ruled with his capital at Bhinmal.
  • Gurjaras were in different branches. One branch ruled Gujarat and another at Avanthi.
  • Pratiharas involved themselves in a three cornered contest with the Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of Deccan.
  • Later the Pratiharas became weak.
  • They are credited with containing Arab armies moving east of the Indus river. The Arabs  could not expand their authority into India due to the presence of powerful PRATIHARA kingdom in western India
  • Gurjara-Pratihara are known for their sculptures, carved panels and open pavilion style temples.
  • The greatest development of their style of temple building was at Khajuraho, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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