Daily Analysis: 4th October 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

1. Biomarkers: Types, Examples, Functions (PIB)

B) Art, Culture and History

2. Dekho Apna Desh Webinar on Gandhiji (PIB)

C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

3. Elephant Corridors (TH)

4. Mangrove Migration (TH)

5. Rohtang Tunnel (TH)

6. Biodiversity Hotspot (PIB)

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

7. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act (TH)

A) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

1. Biomarkers: Types, Examples, Functions (PIB)

Context: Scientists have found a method for early diagnosis of bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) that causes peptic ulcer, with the help of a biomarker called ‘BreathPrint’ found in semi-heavy water (HDO) in human exhaled breath.

  • Water exists in nature as four isotopes.
  • It is believed that any kind of impaired or unusual water absorption in our gastrointestinal (GI) track may be associated with various gastric disorders or abnormalities like ulcer, gastritis, erosions and inflammation.

Analysis

  • Biomarker is a naturally occurring molecule, gene, or characteristic by which a particular pathological or physiological process, disease, etc. can be identified.
  • A biomarker may be used to assess or detect a specific disease as early as possible, the risk of developing a disease, the evolution of a disease and it can be predictive too.
  • Biomarkers can take a wide variety of forms.
  • For example, some biomarkers can be used to indicate the presence of certain organisms, including a history of their presence even if they no longer exist.
  • A classic example of such a biomarker is an antibody, a substance developed by the body to help it fight disease.
  • Biomarkers can also be used to differentiate cells; some cancer treatments, for example, are designed to target specific cells, using their biomarkers like a tag.
  • There are two major types of biomarkers:
  1. Biomarkers of exposure, which are used in risk prediction, and
  2. Biomarkers of disease, which are used in screening and diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression.
  • Potential biomarkers include proteins and protein fragments, metabolites, carbohydrate biomarkers, genomic biomarkers (RNA and DNA), cellular biomarkers (captured as the cell pellet from body fluids), and imaging biomarkers. 

Functions of biomarkers

  • Biomarkers assays (the testing of a metal or ore to determine its ingredients and quality) are becoming increasingly important in clinical development.
  • Biomarker assays are also useful for identifying intermediate endpoints of success to decrease follow-up time.  
  • The use of a specific biomarker assay can provide early indication of drug efficacy.
  • Biomarkers depicting prodromal signs enable earlier diagnosis or allow for the outcome of interest to be determined at a more primitive stage of disease.
  • Blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid provide the necessary biological information for the diagnosis.
  • Biomarkers play a critical role in improving the drug development process as well as in the larger biomedical research enterprise.
  • The biomarkers can help in knowing if the tumour is at an initial stage (low-grade) or advanced stage (high-grade) and also the chances of survival of patients in certain diseases.

B) Art, Culture and History

2. Dekho Apna Desh Webinar on Gandhiji (PIB)

  • The objective of Ministry of Tourism’s “Dekho Apna Desh” webinar series is to create awareness about and promote various tourism destinations of India – including the lesser known destinations and lesser known facets of popular destinations.
  • The presentation started with Gandhiji’s attire of three-piece suit when he was a lawyer in South Africa. 
  • When he returned to India in 1915, he started donning typical Gujarati attire.
  • Though Rabindranath Tagore hailed him as a ‘Mahatma’ in 1915, it was Madurai (famed for its temples and the cotton Sungudi sarees) which made Gandhi into a Mahatma, in the full sense of the term.
  • For, it was here that he discarded the western clothing, and donned the khadi, which remained his signature look, till his death.
  • On his second visit to Madurai in September 1921, Gandhi stayed in the West Masi Street and when he saw the daily wage labourers going to work without a shirt he was deeply moved by their plight, he removed his attire and adorned the four metre Khadi dhoti.
  • An interesting anecdote is the reluctant invite to afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace by King George V to Gandhi and all Indian delegates to the Round Table Conference; reluctant, because Gandhi’s poor man’s dress was simply against the court etiquette.
  • But Gandhi was also equally adamantby pre-announcing that he would not re-clothe even to meet the King.
  • His stand was simple that the Indian poor were still naked because of Britain.
  • Later, when asked if he was not wearing enough clothes to meet the King, Gandhiji is reported to have famously remarked, “The king had enough on for both of us”.
  • In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi started his movement for Khadi as relief programme for the poor masses living in India’s villages.
  • Spinning and weaving was elevated to an ideology for self-reliance and self-government.
  • Gandhi saw it as the end of dependency on foreign materials and thus giving a first lesson or real independence.
  • Raw materials at that time were entirely exported to England and then re-imported as costly finished cloth, depriving the local population of work and profits on it. 
  • It was for economic, cultural and social reasons and not merely political that Gandhi established the Khadi Movement.
  • In 1934-35, he expanded the idea from helping the poor individual to self-reliance of whole villages.
  • In 1942-43 he had sessions with workers groups and village organizers to re-organize the whole programme on a bigger country-wide scale. Thus, Khadi became not mere a piece of cloth but a way of life.

Sabarmati Ashram and Khadi

  • The birth of khadi as a symbol of India’s freedom struggle took place at Sabarmati Ashram.
  • One of the objects of the Ashram was that all inmates should wear hand-woven cloth made from Indian yarn.
  • The question was how to make the hand-spun yarn. The spinning wheel was not available nor was there any person who could teach spinning.
  • Gangaben Majumdar, whom Gandhiji met at the Broach Educational Conference and expressed the difficulty that the Ashram was facing, solved the problem.
  • She found the spinning wheel for Gandhiji in Vijapur in Baroda State. Thus, the spinning wheel came to the Ashram and the production of khadi began.
  • Dharwad is the only place in Karnataka where coloured cotton is grown.  
  • After his death, when the Centre decided to establish a museum in memory of Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister after Independence, suggested the name of Madurai.
  • Accordingly, the palace of Rani Mangammal was selected and construction work was undertaken to convert the complex into a museum.
  • When Gandhi visited Madurai in 1946, the British government operated a special train for him and he travelled all alone in the train.

Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti

  • Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS) was formed in September 1984 by the merger of Gandhi Darshan at Rajghat and Gandhi Smriti, at 5, Tees January Marg as an autonomous body, and is functioning under the constructive advice and financial support from the Ministry of Culture.
  • The Prime Minister of India is its Chairperson and it has a nominated body of senior Gandhians and representatives of various government departments to guide it in its activities.
  • The basic aim and objective of the Samiti are to propagate the life, mission and thought of Mahatma Gandhi through various socio-educational and cultural programmes.

Gandhi Smriti

  • Gandhi Smriti, housed in the Old Birla House on 5, Tees January Marg, New Delhi, is the sacred place where Mahatma Gandhi’s epic Life ended on 30 January 1948.
  • Mahatma Gandhi had lived in this house on September 9, 1947, to January 30, 1948. 

Gandhi Darshan

  • Gandhi Darshan, the second campus, is situated adjacent to the Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat.
  • It came into existence in 169 to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi.

C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

3. Elephant Corridors (TH)

Context: The Forest Department has installed cameras to monitor elephants passing through the ecologically important Kallar elephant corridor.

Analysis

  • The Kallar corridor is significant as it connects the Brahmagiri-Nilgiris-Eastern Ghats elephant population range with the Nilambur-Silent Valley-Coimbatore population range.
  • Furthermore, researchers have assessed that the corridor is the only possible transit route for large mammals to move between the forests of the Silent Valley National Park-Mannarkad-Palakkad Forest Divisions and the Nilgiri North Forest Division-Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
  • The movement of elephants between the two ranges facilitates genetic exchange, dispersal and access to a variety of seasonal foraging grounds.

Elephant Corridors

  • Of the available forest cover of 697,898 sq km in India (FSI 2015), only about 110,000 sq km (or 15.75%) is available to elephants.
  • Of this, about 65,000 sq km (59.1%) is notified as Elephant Reserves.
  • Only about 27% of Elephant Reserves are legally protected under the Protected Area network.
  • Of the identified corridors (about 101), 36.6% of the corridors are in North-eastern India and Northern West Bengal and 27.7% in Southern India.
  • There is an inverse relationship between forest cover available in elephant ranging states and the number of corridors in each state, indicating greater fragmentation of the smaller forest habitats.
  • In other words, the more the degradation of the habitats, the more the number of corridors.
  • On a zonal basis, the highest number of corridors is present in Northern West Bengal, which has one corridor for every 150 sq km of available elephant habitat.
  • Corridor lands vary from a maximum of 40-45 km in Surguja-Jashpur (Chhattisgarh) to a minimum of 0-100 metres in Chamrajanagar-Talamalai at Punjur (Karnataka).

Conservation of Elephant Corridors

  • To ensure that corridors are protected and secured, it is important that they are legally protected to prevent further fragmentation of habitat and increased human-elephant conflict.
  • To achieve this, state governments should first demarcate and notify these corridors as State Elephant Corridors, which could then be legally protected under appropriate sections of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It is important to engage local community-based organisations in corridor areas as ‘Green Corridor Champions’ (GCCs), who will work as the eyes, ears and voice of corridors.

Gaj Yatra

  • ‘Gaj Yatra’, an initiative of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), was rolled out from Tura, the principal town of Garo Hills.
  • ’Gaj Yatra’, a “journey celebrating India’s national heritage animal”, aims at securing 100 elephant corridors across India.
  • The Siju-Rewak corridor in Meghalaya is used by some 1,000 elephants to travel between the Balpakram and Nokrek National Parks in the State.

4. Mangrove Migration (TH)

Context: Presence of Mangrove plant – Sonneratia caseolaris (commonly known as mangrove apple) at the bank of river Hooghly inside Kolkata city.

  • It was quite unusual, as mangroves require a cyclic supply of saline water, and this growth at an upstream zone was remarkable.
  • This directly indicates changes in the micro-environment due to anthropogenic activities and climate change.

Analysis

Change in ecology

  • Recent Research has emphasised on the fact that the construction of Farakka Barrage in 1975 has increased fresh water flow in River Hooghly, thereby causing change in ecology and chemistry of the river.
  • It also found high chemical oxygen demand in the river because of increased release of harmful chemicals from multiple point and non-point sources.
  • Studies from China have shown that Sonneratia caseolaris grow well in the presence of high chemical oxygen demand of water.
  • This shows the potential of Sonneratia caseolaris to act as a bio-indicator of regional environmental changes.

What are Bioindicators?

  • Bioindicators include biological processes, species, or communities and are used to assess the quality of the environment and how it changes over time.
  • However, not all biological processes, species, or communities can serve as successful bioindicators. 
  • Bioindicator species effectively indicate the condition of the environment because of their moderate tolerance to environmental variability 
  • The use of bioindicators, however, is not just restricted to a single species with a limited environmental tolerance.
  • Entire communities, encompassing a broad range of environmental tolerances, can serve as bioindicators.

Functions of Bioindicators

  • There are three main functions of bioindicators:

1. To monitor the environment (i.e., physical and/or chemical changes),

2. To monitor ecological processes, or

3. To monitor biodiversity.

Examples of Bioindicators

  • Lichens (a symbiosis among fungi, algae, and/or cyanobacteria) and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) are often used to assess air pollution.
  • Lichens and bryophytes serve as effective bioindicators of air quality because they have no roots, no cuticle, and acquire all their nutrients from direct exposure to the atmosphere.
  • Their high surface area to volume ratio further encourages the interception and accumulation of contaminants from the air.
  • Cynophyta, a type of phytoplankton, is one particularly powerful bioindicator which is known to indicate rapid eutrophication of water bodies such as reservoirs, lakes, etc. via the creation of bloom formations.

What can the canary in the coal mine tell us?

  • Historically, canaries accompanied coal miners deep underground.
  • Their small lung capacity and unidirectional lung ventilation system made them more vulnerable to small concentrations of carbon monoxide and methane gas than their human companions.
  • The acute sensitivity of these birds served as a biological indicator of unsafe conditions in underground coal mines. 

Isn’t it Called Biomonitoring?

  • Bioindicators qualitatively assesses biotic responses to environmental stress (e.g., presence of the lichen, Lecanora conizaeoides, indicates poor air quality) while biomonitors quantitatively determine a response (e.g., reductions in lichen chlorophyll content or diversity indicates the presence and severity of air pollution).  

Mangroves

  • Mangroves are salt-tolerant vegetation that grows in intertidal regions of rivers and estuaries in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.
  • They are characterized by halophytic (salt loving) trees, shrubs and other plants growing in brackish to saline tidal waters.
  • Mangroves are an intermediate vegetation between land and sea that grow in oxygen deficient waterlogged soils which have Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S).
  • These wetlands are often found in estuaries, where fresh water meets salt water.
  • Mangrove trees dominate this wetland ecosystem due to their ability to survive in both salt and fresh water.
  1. Red Mangrove is easily recognized by its distinctive arching roots.
  2. Black Mangrove, which often grows more inland, has root projections called pneumatophores, which help to supply the plant with air in submerged soils.
  3. White Mangroves often grow even farther inland with no outstanding root structures.
  • A wide diversity of animals is found in mangrove swamps.
  • Since these estuarine swamps are constantly replenished with nutrients transported by fresh water runoff from the land and flushed by the ebb and flow of the tides, they support a bursting population of bacteria and other decomposers and filter feeders. 
  • All mangroves have a root system that sticks up in the air so the plant can breathe. They have either prop roots; structures that extend midway from the trunk and arch downward; or pneumatophores-structures that extend upward from the roots into the air.
  • Mangroves begin as a seed, called a propagule, which germinates while still attached to the tree (vivipary). 
  • The mangrove “wall” between the land and the sea protects the shoreline from erosion and minimizes destruction from powerful waves.
  • Due to mangroves being a naturally flexible plant, they are able to withstand severe damage of winds, waves, and changing tides for thousands of years. Mangroves minimize the loss of property and human lives throughout the globe.
  • Mangroves are such an abundant species that in some areas they form their own islands called mangles.
  • Mangroves live in shallow water areas and gather sediments that support the root structures.
  • Mangrove forests help to build up soil along tropical coastlines.
  • Mangroves provide a home for many organisms, not only aquatic.
  • All of the different organisms that are found in the mangrove areas are all labelled as being euryhaline-able to withstand wide variations of salinity.
  • Oysters are abundant in these areas.
  • There are many species of birds that live in the mangrove areas.
  • Short-nosed Fruit Bat is believed to be the only pollinator of key mangrove trees.

Their adaptations include:

  1. Succulent leaves,
  2. Sunken stomata,
  3. Aerial breathing roots called pneumatophores’,
  4. Higher cellular salt concentration,
  5. Vivipary,
  6. Support structures like stilt roots and buttresses etc.
  • The complex root system facilitates accumulation of organic detritus and inorganic nutrients, thus acting as a breeding and nursing ground for various marine and pelagic species.
  • They act as zone of land accretion due to trapping of fine sediment and thereby arresting coastal erosion.
  • They protect coastal areas from storm surges and Tsunamis.
  • Recent studies have shown that mangroves store more carbon dioxide than most other forests.
  • They perform important ecological functions like nutrient cycling, hydrological regime, coastal protection, fish-fauna production, etc.
  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers. They reduce high tides and waves and help prevent soil erosion.
  • They also provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities.
  • So far, none of the mangrove species has been included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Mangroves in India and around the world

  • Asia has the largest amount of the world’s mangrove.
  • India’s contribution is about 46% of the mangrove in South Asia.
  • Mangroves are spread over an area of around 4900 sq km in India which is nearly 3.3% of the world’s mangrove vegetation and 0.15 % of the country’s total geographical area.
  • Mangroves are assessed regularly on a two-year cycle. There was an increase of about 180 sq km in the mangrove cover of the country as compared to 2015 assessment.
  • States where they are found in India (note: >/< order is also imp.)
  • In 1999 when coastal Odisha was battered by Super Cyclone, the rich mangrove forests had then acted as a bio-shield.
  • There was very little impact of the cyclone in the mangrove-forested regions.
  • Because of dense foliage and the close proximity of trees, the roots hold soil and mangrove vegetation become shields from cyclones.
  • Sundarbans in the Gangetic delta with an area of 2.12 lakh hectares (ha) supports some plant species of mangrove with a maximum height of more than 10 metres.
  • Pichavaram and Muthupet are (the biggest) mangrove forest in Tamil Nadu.

6. Rohtang tunnel (TH)

Context: Rohtang tunnel inaugurated by PM.

  • Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Ministry of Defense  completed the work on strategic Atal Tunnel in the Pir Panjal ranges of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The Rohtang Tunnel, which will connect Manali in Himachal Pradesh with Leh, Ladakh, and Jammu Kashmir, will be known as Atal Tunnel.
  • Atal Tunnel is being constructed since Manali-Sarchu-Leh road remains closed for six months every year due to Rohtang Pass being completely snow bound between November and May.

Analysis

Why Atal Bihari Vajpayee?

  • The decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

How long is the tunnel, and what is special about it?

  • Upon completion, the 8.8 km-long tunnel will be the world’s longest highway tunnel at an altitude of above 10,000 feet (3,000 metres).
  • It is a 10.5 m-wide single tube, a bi-lane tunnel with a fireproof emergency tunnel built into the main tunnel itself. 
  • Cutting through the mighty Pir Panjal range, the tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh/Lahaul Valley by 46 kilometres.
  • It will also provide all-weather connectivity to remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, which otherwise remained cut off from the rest of the country for about six months.
  • The project has significant strategic implications for the military.
  • Once the tunnel is operational, the forces will have access beyond the Rohtang Pass even in peak winter.

So, is all-winter connectivity to Ladakh around the corner?

  • No, that goal is still some years away. More tunnels will have to be built to tackle the high passes which fall beyond Rohtang.
  • Rohtang connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh.
  • While Rohtang Pass is at a height of 13,050 feet, the pass on the road to Leh is Baralacha La at 16,040 feet. A 13.2-km long tunnel would be required to bypass this pass.
  • Further down the highway comes Lachung La Pass at 16,800 feet, that will require a 14.78 km-long tunnel to provide all-weather connectivity. 
  • Thereafter falls the Tanglang La pass at 17,480 feet, which will need a 7.32 km-long tunnel.
7. Biodiversity Hotspot (PIB)

Context: Two new species of a plant group known for their varied medicinal properties have been discovered in the Western Ghats – one of the hot-spots of biological diversity in the world.

  • The plant group known as pipeworts (Eriocaulon), which completes their life cycle within a small period during monsoon, exhibits great diversity in the Western Ghats, having around 111 species in India. The medicinal properties of this newly discovered species are yet to be explored.
  • Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas, and around 70% of them are endemic to the country.
  • One species, Eriocaulon cinereum, is well known for its anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. Others are  used against liver diseases and also have anti-bacterial properties.

Analysis

  • The British biologist Norman Myers coined the term “biodiversity hotspot” in 1988 as a biogeographic region characterized both by exceptional levels of plant endemism and by serious levels of habitat loss.
  • There are places on Earth that are both biologically rich — and deeply threatened.
  • To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria:
  1. It must have at least 1,500 vascular plants (> 0.5% of the world’s total) as endemics.
  2. It must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened.
  • Around the world, 36 areas around the world qualify as hotspots.
  • They represent just 2.4% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemics — i.e., species found no place else — and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species as endemi World’s 36 Biodiversity Hotspots
  • Africa
  1. Cape Floristic Region
  2. Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa
  3. Eastern Afromontane
  4. Guinean Forests of West Africa
  5. Horn of Africa
  6. Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands
  7. Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany
  8. Succulent Karoo
  • Asia-Pacific
  1. East Melanesian Islands
  2. Himalaya
  3. Indo-Burma
  4. Japan
  5. Mountains of Southwest China
  6. New Caledonia
  7. New Zealand
  8. Philippines
  9. Polynesia-Micronesia
  10. Southwest Australia
  11. Forests of Eastern Australia (new)
  12. Sundaland
  13. Wallacea
  14. Western Ghats and Sri Lanka
  • Europe and Central Asia
  1. Caucasus
  2. Irano-Anatolian
  3. Mediterranean Basin
  4. Mountains of Central Asia
  • North and Central America
  1. California Floristic Province
  2. Caribbean Islands
  3. Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands
  4. Mesoamerica
  5. North American Coastal Plain
  • South America
  1. Atlantic Forest
  2. Cerrado
  3. Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests
  4. Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena
  5. Tropical Andes

Biodiversity Hotspots in India

  • Himalaya: Includes the entire Indian Himalayan region (and that falling in Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar).
  • Indo-Burma: Includes entire North-eastern India, except Assam and Andaman group of Islands (and Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China).
  • Sundalands: Includes Nicobar group of Islands (and Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines).
  • Western Ghats and Sri Lanka: Includes entire Western Ghats (and Sri Lanka).

Conservation International

  • It is an organization that works in more than 40 countries, especially developing ones, to protect biodiversity in land and marine ecosystems.
  • It was founded in 1987.
  • Its scientists study global biodiversity and have identified hot spots.
  • The organization works with governments, communities, farmers, and businesses in such places to adopt a wide variety of conservation measures.

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

  • CEPF grantees work in developing and transitional countries in the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
  • CEPF is a joint initiative of:
  1. l’Agence Française de Développement,
  2. Conservation International,
  3. the European Union,
  4. the Global Environment Facility,
  5. the Government of Japan, and
  6. the World Bank.
  • CEPF is an alliance of leading conservation donors that provides grants to non-profit and private-sector organizations that are working to protect the biodiversity hotspots and improve human well-being.
  • A new World Bank report, South Asia’s Hotspots, finds that average temperatures in the region have increased in the last sixty years and will continue rising.

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

8. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act (TH)

Context: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that Special Courts designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act alone are empowered to entertain anticipatory bail petitions in respect of offences under the Act. The Sessions Court cannot entertain such applications, the court said.

  • Additional Task (Revise Benches of all High Courts in India: Prelims Perspective)

Analysis

  • This Act has been enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and related matters and incidents.
  • The Act was recently amended in 2019, to make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child.
  • The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

  • The Act deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age, who are deemed as children.
  • The Act for the first time, defines “penetrative sexual assault”, “sexual assault” and “sexual harassment”.
  • Speedy trial of offences through appointment of Special Public Prosecutors and designated Special Courts.
  • The Act provides for stringent punishments which have been graded as per the gravity of offence. 
  • The Act deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-a-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor. 
  • The Act provides for a dedicated ‘Online Complaint System (e?baalnidaan)’ to ensure timely/speedy redressal of complaints of various violations and deprivation of child rights.
  • The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences.
  • The police are also required to bring the matter to the attention of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) within 24 hours of receiving the report.
  • It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child.
  • The Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.
  • The Act provides for the Special Court to determine the amount of compensation to be paid to a child who has been sexually abused, so that this money can then be used for the child’s medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Recent Amendments

  • The amended Act provides death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children and greater punishments for other crimes against minors.
  • The Act justifies this by referring to the judgments of the Supreme Court in Machhi Singh (1983) and Devender Pal Singh (2002) in which the court has held that the death penalty can be awarded only in rarest of rare cases.
  • It makes offences against children gender neutral.
  • The Act defines child pornography, making it punishable.
  • Under witness protection scheme, all measures such as doing threat assessment of the victim and witness and if required even changing their identity and others, were taken to ensure their safety.
  • If juvenile is involved in sexual offence against the children, that case will come under Juvenile Justice Act and the death penalty could be given only if he is above 16 years of age and juvenile justice board finds that he has adult mind.
  • The Act specifically defines what ‘child pornography’ is; ‘using a child for pornographic purposes’ and for ‘possessing or storing pornography involving a child’ is punishable. It has also widened the ambit of ‘Aggravated sexual assault’.

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