Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Mahatma Ayyankali on his Jayanti.
Who is Mahatma Ayyankali?
- Ayyankali is a firebrand Dalit leader.
- He was born on August 28, 1863 at Venganoor, which is now in Thiruvananthapuram district. The caste discrimination he faced as a child turned him into a leader of an anti-caste movement and who later fought for basic rights including access to public spaces and entry to schools.
- Ayyankali in 1893 rode an ox-cart challenging the ‘ban‘ on untouchables from accessing public roads by caste-Hindus. This is celebrated as one of the major achievements in the history of Dalit movements in Kerala.
- He also led a rally to assert the rights of ‘untouchables’ at Balaramapuram. An ‘upper caste’ mob attacked them and a fight broke out. The walk Ayyankali took came to be known as ‘walk for freedom‘ and the consequent riots as ‘Chaliyar riots’.
- Though Pulayars gained the right to access roads, temples and schools were still inaccessible. Ayyankali had a three-level solution for this. First, to ask the government for help, second to fight with upper caste landlords and third – to start own schools. All three were enabled which partially helped them to realise their dream.
- On March 1, 1910, just 44 years before Kerala state was born, the Travancore government ordered that Pulaya children be admitted to ‘all schools which Ezhava (a numerically dominant caste in Kerala which currently comes in the OBC list) children have access’.
- Inspired by Sree Narayana Guru, a social reformer from Ezhava caste, Ayyankali started Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham (association for the protection of the poor) which later raised funds to start their own schools.
Union Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology has launched “Chunauti”- Next Generation Startup Challenge Contest to further boost startups and software products with special focus on Tier-II towns of India.
- The government has earmarked a budget of Rs. 95.03 Crore over a period of three years for this programme.
- It aims to identify around 300 startups working in identified areas and provide them seed fund of upto Rs. 25 Lakh and other facilities.
Areas covered –
Under this challenge the Ministry of Electronics and IT will invite startups in the following areas of work –
- Edu-Tech, Agri-Tech & Fin-Tech Solutions for masses
- Supply Chain, Logistics & Transportation Management
- Infrastructure & Remote monitoring
- Medical Healthcare, Diagnostic, Preventive & Psychological Care
- Jobs & Skilling, Linguistic tools & technologies
- The startups selected through Chunauti will be provided various support from the Government through Software Technology Parks of India centres across India.
- They will get incubation facilities, mentorship, security testing facilities, access to venture capitalist funding, industry connect as well as advisories in legal, Human Resource (HR), IPR and Patent matters.
- Besides seed fund of upto Rs. 25 Lakh, the startups will also be provided cloud credits from leading cloud service providers.
- Start-ups who are in the ideation stage may be selected under the pre-incubation programme & mentored for up-to six months to evolve their business plan & solution around the proposed idea. Each intern (start-up under pre-incubation) will be paid Rs. 10,000/- per month upto a period of 6 months.
Subcategorisation – Quota within quota
Recently, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations, or what is commonly referred to as ‘quota within quota’ for SCs and STs.
What was the argument?
While the Bench ruled in favour of giving preferential treatment to certain Scheduled Castes over others to ensure equal representation of all Scheduled Castes, it referred the issue to a larger Bench to decide. This was because in a 2005 ruling, also by a five-judge Bench, the Supreme Court had ruled that state governments had no power to create sub-categories of SCs for the purpose of reservation.
What is sub-categorisation of SCs?
- States have argued that among the Scheduled Castes, there are some that remain grossly under-represented despite reservation in comparison to other Scheduled Castes. This inequality within the Scheduled Castes is underlined in several reports, and special quotas have been framed to address it.
- For example, in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, special quotas were introduced for the most vulnerable Dalits. In 2007, Bihar set up the Mahadalit Commission to identify the castes within SCs that were left behind.
What is the Presidential list?
- The Constitution, while providing for special treatment of SCs and STs to achieve equality, does not specify the castes and tribes that are to be called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This power is left to the central executive — the President.
- As per Article 341, those castes notified by the President are called SCs and STs. A caste notified as SC in one state may not be a SC in another state. These vary from state to state to prevent disputes as to whether a particular caste is accorded reservation or not.
- According to the annual report of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, there were 1,263 SCs in the country in 2018-19. No community has been specified as SC in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
- In the 2005 decision in E V Chinnaiah v State of Andhra Pradesh and Others, the Supreme Court ruled that only the President has the power to notify the inclusion or exclusion of a caste as a Scheduled Caste, and states cannot tinker with the list. Andhra Pradesh had submitted that the law was enacted as states had the power to legislate on the subject of education, and reservation in admission fell within its legislative domain. The court, however, rejected this argument.
- The Constitution treats all Schedule Castes as a single homogeneous group.
Grounds for sub-categorisation –
- The Supreme Court has engaged with the argument on whether the benefits of reservation have trickled down to the “weakest of the weak”. The concept of a “creamy layer” within SCs was upheld by the court in a 2018 judgment in Jarnail Singh v Lachhmi Narain Gupta.
- The “creamy layer” concept puts an income ceiling on those eligible for reservation. While this concept applies to Other Backward Castes, it was applied to promotions of Scheduled Castes for the first time in 2018. The central government has sought a review of the 2018 verdict and the case is currently pending.
- In the E V Chinnaiah case in 2005, the court had held that special protection of SCs is based on the premise that “all Scheduled Castes can and must collectively enjoy the benefits of reservation regardless of interse inequality” because the protection is not based on educational, economic or other such factors but solely on those who suffered untouchability.
- The court had held that merely giving preference does not tinker, rearrange, sub-classify, disturb or interfere with the list in any manner since there is no inclusion or exclusion of any caste in the list as notified under Article 341.
Arguments against sub-categorisation –
- The argument is that the test or requirement of social and educational backwardness cannot be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The special treatment is given to the SCs due to untouchability with which they suffer.
- The petitioner’s argument against allowing states to change the proportion of reservation is also based on the perception that such decisions will be made to appease one vote-bank or the other. A watertight President’s list was envisaged to protect from such potential arbitrary change.
- In the Jarnail Singh case, the court held that the objective of reservation is to ensure that all backward classes march hand in hand and that will not be possible if only a select few get all the coveted services of the government.
Female mosquitoes to counter dengue
Two years ago, researchers infected mosquitoes with bacteria and released them into parts of an Indonesian city. In areas where such mosquitoes were deployed. dengue incidence was 77% lower than in areas where they were not.
How can mosquitoes bring down dengue?
- The key to this is a bacterium, Wolbachia, which occurs naturally in some species of insects. While such insects include some mosquitoes, Wolbachia does not occur naturally in Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species that spreads dengue and other diseases such as chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever.
- In 2008, the Australian-based research group World Mosquito Program (WMP) discovered that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can no longer spread dengue when they are carrying Wolbachia, This is because the dengue virus struggles to replicate inside the mosquito when these bacteria are present.
- Therefore, once you release mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacteria, they will interbreed with the local wild mosquitoes. Over time, several generations of mosquitoes will be carrying Wolbachia naturally. A stage will eventually be reached when those carrying Wolbachia represent a large proportion of the local mosquito population, so that a bite is less likely to transmit the virus to humans.
Great Andamanese Tribe
Five members of the Great Andamanese tribe, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal group (PVTG), have tested positive for COVID-19. The Great Andamanese are one of five PVTGs that reside in the Andamans archipelago and this is one of the first cases of COVID-19 infection among the endangered PVTGs of the region.
Tribes in Andaman –
- The Great Andamanese, who number just 74, speak Jeru among themselves. The five PVTGS residing in Andamans are Great Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Shompens and North Sentinelese.
- The four major tribes of Andaman are as follows –
- Great Andamanese – Strait Island is the part of North and Middle Andaman district which is the home to Great Andamanese tribe, Fewer than 50 Great Andamanese are alive today.
- Jarawa – South Andaman and Middle Andaman Islands is inhabited by the Jarawa tribes, there are only 300-400 people of this community alive today.
- Sentinelese –North Sentinel Island is part of North Andaman region which is home to the Sentinelese tribe, only 50-100 tribes are alive today.
- Onge – The Little Andaman Island is home to Ongetribes, these tribes are fewer than 100.
- The Andaman tribes including the Sentinelese are Negrito, where the Nicobar tribes are Mongoloid. Seafaring, Hunting, Forest dwelling are the predominant occupation of these tribes.
What are PVTGs?
- There are certain tribal communities who have declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward. They generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.
- These groups are among the most vulnerable section of our society as they are few in numbers, have not attained any significant level of social and economic development.
- 75 such groups have been identified and categorised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
Bureau of Police Research and Development
The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has recently celebrated its Golden Jubilee Anniversary.
About BPR&D –
- The Bureau of Police Research and Development was raised on 28th August, 1970, through a resolution of Ministry of Home Affairs with a mandate to promote excellence in policing, promote speedy and systematic study of police problems, apply science and technology in the method and techniques by the Police.
- It replaced Police Research and Advisory Council (1966), with the primary objective of modernisation of police force. The Government of India also decided to create National Police Mission under the administrative control of BPR&D to transform the police forces in the country.
- BPR&D is also ensuring the administration of prison reforms in India.