10, January 2018

  1. Microbeads ban takes effect

Source: The Hindu

A UK-wide ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads has come into force on 9 January. Manufacturers can no longer add tiny pieces of plastic to wash-off cosmetic and personal care products (such as exfoliating scrubs, shower gels and toothpaste).

However, this isn’t a complete ban – ‘leave-on’ products (such as sunscreen and makeup) will still be allowed to contain microbeads following the cosmetic industry’s resistance.

Microbeads

  • In a nutshell, microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic found in many beauty products, such as exfoliating scrubs, toothpastes and more.

Microbeads bad for the environment

  • Evidence has shown that microbeads can find their way from your bathroom to the sea. Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain.
  • The United States passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which required companies to stop using microbeads in beauty and health products by July 2017, and Canada’s ban on manufacturing the pellets took effect at the beginning of this year. New Zealand’s ban on microbeads is to take effect in June. Several countries in the European Union have campaigned for a similar ban.

  1. Madhubani paintings

The folk painting of Madhubani will soon be seen decorating the walls of various government buildings in Bihar, the eastern Indian state where the art hails from. The idea behind painting the town in Madhubani is to give visitors a firsthand experience of how the paintings are blended with the region’s culture.

Madhubani paintings:

  • Madhubani, which means ‘forest of honey’, is a style of folk painting old enough to find mention in some of the ancient Indian texts like the holy Ramayana. It is also known as Mithila, for its origin is said to be the Mithila region in Bihar.
  • Traditionally, the Madhubani paintings are created using fingers and twigs, and items like matchsticks have come to be used in their creation in recent times.
  • Their various styles include Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar, which would historically be painted only by women from the upper strata in the caste system, who would make them on mud walls on special occasions.
  • The norms have now changed and the paintings can be enjoyed by anyone and in various forms. Madhubani is now found on apparel, paper, canvas, and other products, which boast of designs inspired by Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswati, all of whom have been painted in Madhubani since ancient times. Other subjects of Madhubani paintings include peacocks, fish and human connection with nature.

  1. The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA)

A one-day National Conference on Welfare of Laboratory Animals was recently organised by CPCSEA, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, with the theme of “Implementation of 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) while using animals in academic research and regulatory testing in India.

  • The conference laid emphasis on the issue of ethical use of animals in academics and regulatory testing in India. The discussions were focussed on evaluating the possibilities of exemption of animal experiments in academics and regulatory testing.

CPCSEA:

  • The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals(CPCSEA) is a statutory Committee, which is established under Section 15(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. All establishments engaged in research and education involving animals, are required to comply with the various guidelines, norms and stipulations set out by CPCSEA.
  • India is one of the pioneering countries to institute Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1960 whereas such Act was instituted in France in 1963 and in USA in 1966. The detailed rules for experimentation on animals were first enacted by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1968 and were implemented by CPCSEA.

The main functions of CPCSEA are:

  • Registration of establishments conducting animal experimentation or breeding of animals for this purpose.
  • Selection and appointment of nominees in the Institutional Animal Ethics Committees of registered establishments.
  • Approval of Animal House Facilities on the basis of reports of inspections conducted by CPCSEA.
  • Permission for conducting experiments involving use of animals.
  • Recommendation for import of animals for use in experiments.
  • Action against establishments in case of violation of any legal norm/stipulation.

  1. No viable alternative to hanging, Centre tells court

Source: The Hindu

Considering the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death, the court had asked the government to explore viable methods other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners.

Centre’s response:

The centre has said that there is no viable method at present other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners.

Need for review:

  • The court has favoured a re-look at the practice of hanging to death as “the Constitution of India is an organic and compassionate document which recognises the sanctity of flexibility of law as situations change with the flux of time”. The court notes that a condemned convict should die in peace and not in pain. A human being is entitled to dignity even in death.
  • Also, execution was not only “barbaric, inhuman and cruel”, but also against the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Background:

  • The court is hearing a writ petition which has sought the court’s intervention to reduce the suffering of condemned prisoners at the time of death. The petitioner notes that a convict should not be compelled to suffer at the time of termination of his or her life. When a man is hanged to death, his dignity is destroyed, the petition says.
  • The petitioner has also referred to Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution and said it also included the right of a condemned prisoner to have a dignified mode of execution so that death becomes less painful.

Constitutionality of death penalty:

  • Constitutionality of death penalty has been well-settled by the apex court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980. Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging, of the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been upheld.

Law commission’s observations:

  • The Law Commission in its 187th Report had noted that there was a significant increase in the number of countries where hanging has been abolished and substituted by electrocution, shooting or lethal injection as the method of execution. It had categorically opined that hanging is undoubtedly accompanied by intense physical torture and pain.

Alternatives:

  • The present procedure can be replaced with intravenous lethal injection, shooting, electrocution or gas chamber in which death is just a matter of minutes. While in hanging, the entire execution process takes over 40 minutes to declare prisoner to be dead, the shooting process involves not more than few minutes. In case of intravenous lethal injection, it is all over in 5 minutes.



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