Wearing Hijab Is Not Essential Part of Religion: Karnataka HC


The Karnataka High Court upheld the ban on the wearing of hijab (head scarf) by students in schools and colleges in the State.


GS II- Polity (Executive & Judiciary)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. Key takeaways from HC Judgement:
  2. How is religious freedom protected under the Constitution?
  3. How have courts ruled so far on the issue of a hijab?

Key takeaways from HC Judgement:

  • The judgment was delivered by a three-judge bench, while rejecting all the petitions filed by nine Muslim girl students of two government pre-university colleges in Udupi district.
  •  It held that wearing the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and is not, therefore, protected under by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • The court said it was a reasonable restriction that was constitutionally permissible.
  • The Bench also upheld the legality of the order prescribing guidelines for uniforms in schools and pre-university colleges under the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983.
  • The court stated that if hijab is permitted, the school uniform will no longer be a uniform.

How is religious freedom protected under the Constitution?

  • Article 25(1) of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”.
  • It is a right that guarantees a negative liberty — which means that the state shall ensure that there is no interference or obstacle to exercise this freedom.
  • However, like all fundamental rights, the state can restrict the right for grounds of public order, decency, morality, health and other state interests.
  • Over the years, the Supreme Court has evolved a practical test of sorts to determine what religious practices can be constitutionally protected and what can be ignored.
  • In 1954, the Supreme Court held in the Shirur Mutt case that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion.

How have courts ruled so far on the issue of a hijab?

  • In 2015, at least two petitions were filed before the Kerala High Court challenging the prescription of dress code for All India Pre-Medical Entrance which prescribed wearing “light clothes with half sleeves not having big buttons, brooch/badge, flower, etc. with Salwar/Trouser” and “slippers and not shoes”.
  • Admitting the argument of the Central Board of School Education (CBSE) that the rule was only to ensure that candidates would not use unfair methods by concealing objects within clothes, the Kerala HC directed the CBSE to put in place additional measures for checking students who “intend to wear a dress according to their religious custom, but contrary to the dress code”.
  • “If the Invigilator requires the head scarf or the full sleeve garments to be removed and examined, then the petitioners shall also subject themselves to that, by the authorised person. It is also desirable that the C.B.S.E issue general instructions to its Invigilators to ensure that religious sentiments be not hurt and at the same time discipline be not compromised,” Justice Vinod Chandran ruled.
Amna Bint Basheer v Central Board of Secondary Education (2016),
  • The Kerala HC examined the issue more closely. Justice P B Suresh Kumar, who allowed the plea by the student, held that the practice of wearing a hijab constitutes an essential religious practice but did not quash the CBSE rule.
  • The court once again allowed for the “additional measures” and safeguards put in place the previous year.
  • But both these cases involve restrictions placed on the freedom of religion for a specific purpose — to ensure a fair examination process — and the CBSE had cited a resource crunch to check every candidate if they allowed autonomy in choosing their dress.
Fathima Tasneem v State of Kerala (2018) 
  • A single Bench of the Kerala HC held that collective rights of an institution would be given primacy over individual rights of the petitioner.
  • The case involved two girls, aged 12 and 8, represented by their father who wanted his daughters to wear the headscarf as well as a full-sleeved shirt.
  • The school that refused to allow the headscarf is owned and managed by the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) under CMI St Joseph Province.
  • The father appealed before a division Bench of the High Court. The division Bench headed by Justice Vinod Chandran dismissed the appeals as it was “submitted that the appellants-petitioners are not now attending the School and are no more in the rolls of the respondent-School.”

India’s Solar Capacity: Milestones and Challenges


India has surpassed 50 GW of cumulative installed solar capacity. This ranks the country fifth in solar power deployment.

  • This is a milestone in India’s journey towards generating 500 GW from renewable energy by 2030, of which 300 GW is expected to come from solar power.

GS III- Indian Economy (Energy)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. Why is India falling short in roof-top solar installations?
  2. What are the challenges to India’s solar power capacity addition?
  3. What’s the state of India’s domestic solar module manufacturing capacity?

Why is India falling short in roof-top solar installations?

  • The steep rise in large, ground-mounted solar energy is indicative of the strong push towards increasing the share of utility-scale solar projects across the country.
  • RTS deployment stands at 6.48 GW in 2021, far short on the Union Government’s target of 40 GW of RTS by end 2022.
  • The large-scale solar PV focus fails to exploit the many benefits of decentralised renewable energy (DRE) options, including reduction in transmission and distribution (T&D) losses.
    • One of the primary benefits of solar PV technology is that it can be installed at the point of consumption, significantly reducing the need for large capital-intensive transmission infrastructure.
  • This is not an either/or situation; India needs to deploy both large and smaller-scale solar PV, and particularly needs to expand RTS efforts.
Challenges in roof-top solar installations:
  • Limited financing for residential consumers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who want to install RTS.
  • Lukewarm responses from electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS) to supporting net metering, RTS continues to see low uptake across the country.
What can be done to increase roof-top solar installations?
  • Governments, utilities, and banks will need to explore innovative financial mechanisms that bring down the cost of loans and reduce the risk of investment for lenders.
  • Increased awareness, and affordable finance for RTS projects could potentially ensure the spread of RTS across the scores of SMEs and homes around the country.
  • Aggregating roof spaces could also help reduce overall costs of RTS installations and enable developing economies of scale.

What are the challenges to India’s solar power capacity addition?

  • Despite significant growth in the installed solar capacity, the contribution of solar energy to the country’s power generation has not grown at the same pace.
  • In 2019-20, for instance, solar power contributed only 3.6% (50 billion units) of India’s total power generation of 1390 BU.

The utility-scale solar PV sector continues to face challenges like

  • High land costs,
  • High T&D losses and other inefficiencies,
  • Grid integration challenges,
  • Conflicts with local communities and biodiversity protection norms.
  • Also, while India has achieved record low tariffs for solar power generation in the utility-scale segment, this has not translated into cheaper power for end-consumers.

What’s the state of India’s domestic solar module manufacturing capacity?

  • Domestic manufacturing capacities in the solar sector do not match up to the present potential demand for solar power in the country.
  • Crisil’s report on the subject highlights that as on March 31, 2021, India had 3 GW capacity for solar cell production and 8 GW for solar panel production capacity.
  • Moreover, backward integration in the solar value chain is absent as India has no capacity for manufacturing solar wafers and polysilicon.
  • In 2021-22, India imported nearly $76.62 billion worth solar cells and modules from China alone, accounting for 78.6% of India’s total imports that year.
  •  Low manufacturing capacities, coupled with cheaper imports from China have rendered Indian products uncompetitive in the domestic market.
  • This situation can, however, be corrected if India embraces a circular economy model for solar systems.

Draft Medical Devices Policy


The government is proposing a new Draft National Policy for Medical Devices, 2022 to reduce India’s dependence on import of high-end medical devices.


GS II- Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. Key focus areas of the draft policy
  2. Need for such a policy

Key focus areas of the draft policy


  • To reduce India’s dependence on import of high-end medical devices.
  • Adopting public-private partnerships to reduce the cost of healthcare, drive efficiency, and aid quality improvements in medical devices manufactured in the country.
  • Enabling a pricing environment with no price control on newly developed innovation in the sector.
Some of the proposals include
  • Incentivising the export of medical devices and related technology projects through tax rebates and refunds, Increasing government spending in “high-risk” projects in the medical devices sector,
  • Incentivising core technology projects and exports through tax refunds and rebates,
  • Creating a single-window clearance system for licensing medical devices,
  • Identifying critical suppliers,
  • De-risking and de-carbonising the supply chain,
  • Promoting local sourcing,
  • Encouraging cross-industry collaboration,
  • Creating a central pool of vendors and workers,
  • Establishing a dedicated mechanism for the local industry’s engagements with international regulatory agencies,
  • Increasing share of medical technology companies in research and development to around 50 per cent, among other things.
  • It also proposes to allot a dedicated fund for encouraging joint research involving existing industry players, reputed academic institutions and startups.
  • It will also incorporate a framework for a coherent pricing regulation, to make available quality and effective medical devices to all citizens at affordable prices.
  • NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) shall be strengthened with adequate manpower of suitable expertise to provide effective price regulation balancing patient and industry needs.
  • Pharmaceuticals Department will also work with industry to implement a Uniform Code for Medical Device Marketing Practices (UCMDMP)

Need for such a policy

  • Nearly 80 per cent of the medical devices currently sold in the country are imported, particularly high-end devices.
  • Indian players in the space have so far typically focussed on low-cost and low-tech products, like consumables and disposables, leading to a higher value share going to foreign companies.
  • With the new policy, the government aims to reduce India’s import dependence from 80 per cent to nearly 30 per cent in the next 10 years, and become one of the top five global manufacturing hubs for medical devices by 2047.
  • India’s medical devices sector has so far been regulated as per provisions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, and a specific policy on medical devices has been a long standing demand from the industry.
  • The policy also aims to increase India’s per capita spend on medical devices.
  • India has one of the lowest per capita spend on medical devices at $3, compared to the global average of per capita consumption of $47, and significantly lower than the per capita consumption of developed nations like the USA at $415 and Germany at $313.

Heat Wave


The Konkan region, including Mumbai, has been experiencing sweltering heat in the recent days, with the maximum temperatures touching the 40 degrees mark.


GS  III- Environment (Climate change)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About Heat Wave
  2. Health Impacts
  3. Why is Konkan experiencing heatwave conditions?
  4. What is the forecast?

About Heat Wave

  • A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South Central parts of India.
  • Heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.

Criteria for Heat Waves

  • The heat wave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition.
  • Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition. Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • Additionally, if the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heat wave is declared.

Health Impacts

  • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
  • It also causes heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
  • The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

Why is Konkan experiencing heatwave conditions?

  • The ongoing heatwave in Konkan, including Mumbai, is because it is under the direct influence of the prevailing heatwave in the adjacent Saurashtra-Kutch regions of Gujarat.
  • The hot and dry winds from northwest India are reaching parts of Konkan.
  • In addition, the slow movement of sea breeze along the Maharashtra coast and the overall clear sky conditions have together resulted in such hot conditions
What is the forecast?
  • The IMD has warned that heat wave to severe heat wave conditions will prevail over Kutch – Saurashtra
  • As the hot and dry winds continue to blow from these areas of Gujarat over Konkan, especially north Konkan districts including Mumbai, the maximum temperatures will remain around 38 degrees Celsius at least for the next two days.
  • The IMD has issued an ‘orange’ alert, warning that severe heat wave is likely to prevail over Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Palghar, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, and a ‘yellow’ alert over these coastal districts on Wednesday.

Rohingya Muslims in India


Six people were recently arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for reportedly being part of a conspiracy involved in the unlawful trafficking of Rohingya Muslims into Indian territory.


GS II- International Relations (India and its neighbourhood)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. Who are the Rohingya?
  2. What are Issues & Concerns to India’s Security?
  3. What is the National Investigation Agency?

Who are the Rohingya?

  • The Rohingya people are stateless, Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar, and the Rohingya Muslims represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar.
  • They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
  • They are described by the United Nations (UN) as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
  • But the government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognize them as a people. It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • Although Rohingya history in the region can be traced back to the 8th century, Myanmar law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the eight national indigenous races.
  • Despite mounting evidence and international pressure, Myanmar continues to deny it all. It says, it is just countering violent insurgent groups.
How does India view the Rohingya issue?
  • India maintains that Rohingyas are a threat to its national security and have links with international terror groups.
  • India has so far refused to exert any pressure on Myanmar for taking the Rohingyas back and giving them recognition as the citizens of Myanmar.

What are Issues & Concerns to India’s Security?

  • National Security Threat: The ongoing illegal immigration of Rohingyas into India, as well as their continued presence in India, has been discovered to have major national security implications and poses serious security dangers.
  • Conflict of Interests: It affects the interests of local residents in regions where large numbers of illegal immigrants are arriving.
  • Political Instability: When leaders start mobilising citizens against migrants in order to obtain political power, it creates political instability.
  • Militancy on the Rise: Persistent attacks on Muslims thought to be illegal immigration have resulted in radicalization.
  • Human trafficking: In recent decades, women’s trafficking and human smuggling have become widespread across international borders.
  • Disturbance in Law and Order: Illegal migrants who participate in illegal and anti-national activities jeopardise the country’s rule of law and integrity.

What is the National Investigation Agency?

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act of 2008 established it.
  • It is a primary agency tasked with investigating and prosecuting offences affecting India’s sovereignty, security, and integrity, as well as state security and friendly ties with other countries.
  • Opposition to atomic and nuclear power plants.
  • It carries out the United Nations’, its agencies’, and other international organisations’ international treaties, accords, conventions, and resolutions.
  • Its goal is also to fight terrorism in India.
  • It acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi.


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