Civil Union versus Marriage

In News

  • CJI clarified that the hearing’s scope would be limited to developing a notion of a “civil union” that finds legal recognition under the Special Marriage Act.

What is Civil Union?

  • A civil union (also known as a civil partnership) is a legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage, created primarily as a means to provide recognition in law for same-sex couples.
  • Civil unions would be accompanied by rights such as inheritance rights, property rights, parental rights, employment benefits to spouses, joint parenting right to abstain from testifying against one’s partner — similar to the spousal privilege given under Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Differences between the Civil Union and Marriage

  • Civil partners cannot call themselves ‘married’ for legal purposes and Married couples cannot call themselves ‘civil partners’ for legal purposes.
  • Civil partnerships are ended by a dissolution order. Marriage is ended by divorce, by obtaining a final order.
  • Civil union is considered a step towards formal recognition of legal right to marry.
  • In the wake of the legalization of same sex marriages, several civil unions were converted into marriages. For instance, In Austria, same-sex couples could form civil partnerships between the years 2010-2017. However, this changed with a court ruling that deemed civil unions discriminatory in January 2019, when such marriages were legalized.

Which other countries allow civil unions?

  • In the year 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) legalized same-sex marriages across the nation with its landmark ruling in “Obergefell v. Hodges”
  • From 1993, couples in Norway enjoyed the right to enter into civil unions, which gave way to a new law 15 years later, allowing such couples to marry, adopt and undergo state-sponsored artificial insemination.
  • Similarly, countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Andorra, and Chile had also recognized the right of same sex couples to enter into civil unions, even before they formally recognized their legal right to marriage.
Special Marriage Act of 1954About:All marriages in India can be registered under the respective personal law Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Marriage Act, 1954, or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India with provision for civil marriage for people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of religion or faith followed by either party.The couples have to serve a notice with the relevant documents to the Marriage Officer 30 days before the intended date of the marriage.Applicability: Any person, irrespective of religion. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, or Jews can also perform marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.Inter-religion marriages are performed under this Act.This Act is applicable to the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.For further reading on Special Marriage Act

Source: IE

Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023

In News

  • The Central Government has notified the Animal Birth Control Rules, under Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 and after superseding the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001.

Key highlights of Rules

  • Animal Birth Control programme for the sterilization and immunization of stray dogs are to be carried out by the respective local  bodies/municipalities/Municipal Corporations and Panchayats.
  • Animal Birth Control Programme needs to be carried out by AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) recognized organization.
  • The Municipal Corporations need to implement the ABC and Anti Rabies Program jointly. 
  • Also, the Cruelty involved for carrying out the ABC programme needs to be addressed.
  • The Rules also provide guidelines on how to deal with the human and stray dog conflicts without relocating the dogs in an area.


  • It will help in reducing the stray dog population addressing the animal welfare issues.
  • It also addresses new challenges such as cat population management and resolution of conflict.

Issue of stray dogs 

  • India has more than 1.5 crore stray dog population.
  • Over the last five years, more than 300 people — mostly children from poor and rural families — have been killed by dogs. 
  • Worse still, dogs are responsible for over 20,000 rabies deaths.

Other Steps taken by government 

  • Vaccination drives to protect stray dogs against diseases such as rabies. For example, Vaccination drive in Chennai in 2020
  • Collaboration with NGOs like Blue Cross Society in Maharashtra, to conduct sterilization and vaccination drives for stray dogs.
  • Awareness campaigns like “Be a Human, save a Life” by Delhi government to encourage people to adopt stray dogs and help control their population.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA), 1960It is the first enacted law for safeguarding the rights and protecting the animals from pain and suffering inflicted by humans. Definition:The Act has established the definition of animals to include any living creature other than human beings and different forms of animals. Offences & punishments:In order to protect the animals from lifetime agony and pain, the Act has set forth punishments for offenders who cause unnecessary suffering and cruelty towards animals. The Act further discusses different forms of cruelty inflicted on animals, its exceptions and the process of killing a suffering animal, when cruelty has been imposed, to avoid any further suffering for that animal. Guidelines for experimenting on an animals:The Act underlines the guidelines to be followed while experimenting on an animal for scientific purposes and exhibition of performing animals along with their offences.Animal Welfare Board of India:One of the features that the Act specifies is the establishment of the Animal Welfare Board of India (hereinafter AWBI)

Source: PIB

International Day for Monuments and Sites

In Context

  • World Heritage Day/International Day for Monuments and Sites is celebrated on April 18th every year.

More about the World Heritage Day

  • About:
    • World Heritage Day, also known as the International Day for Monuments and Sites, is an annual observance held on April 18th.
  • Significance:
    • It is celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of cultural heritage and to celebrate the diversity of our shared human history.
    • The day is dedicated to preserving human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the organisations that support it. 
    • The ancient buildings and monuments are an asset for us and for the world. Therefore, World Heritage Day represents a collective effort to preserve heritage around the world.
  • Theme:
    • The World Heritage Day 2023 theme is “Heritage Changes”.
      • Each year, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) proposes a theme for activities to be organised by its members and partners – and anyone who wants to join in marking the day. 
      • A different theme is featured each year, and events and activities are organized around the world to promote the protection and preservation of cultural heritage.
  • History of the day:
    • The day was established by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in 1982 during a seminar in Tunisia and was later approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1983 at the 22nd session of the UNESCO Conference.
    • The ICOMOS organization was established on the principles put down in the Venice Charter, also known as the 1964 International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites.

About Monuments of National Importance (MNI) of India

  • About:
    • The MNIs are officially conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which functions in accordance with The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 2010 (AMASR Act 2010).
  • Issues:
    • According to a 2013 audit conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General, there are 24 “untraceable” monuments that are still being considered as the MNIs. the number might actually be higher due to a lack of proper documentation.
    • This and many other problems with India’s monuments are the subject of a recent government report titled ‘Report on Monuments of National Importance: The Urgent Need for Rationalization‘.
      • The report identifies various problems with India’s MNIs and suggests ways to fix them.

Report on Monuments of National Importance: The Urgent Need for Rationalization

  • The report identifies three main problems with the MNIs:
    • Selection issues; 
    • Skewed distribution of monuments across the country; and 
    • Inadequate expenditure used for protecting MNIs.
  • Selection issues:
    • A key issue with the current list of monuments is the criteria based on which a number of monuments were considered of national importance, with nearly 2,584 monuments in the current list having been shifted en masse from the colonial era lists with most never having been reviewed for cultural significance, historical relevance or even national importance, over the years.
      • The report calls for these monuments to be visited and reevaluated in order to be placed on the new lists.
    • Selection of the MNIs is also flawed because the existing criteria for declaring a monument as a “monument of national importance” in India is not well defined.
      • Neither the AMASR Act 1958 nor the National Policy for Conservation, 2014 has a proper definition for what ‘national importance’ stands for. 
      • In the absence of any well-defined principles, the selection process is rather arbitrary.
  • Geographically skewed distribution of monuments:
    • Another overarching issue with the current MNI list is the overall imbalance in geographical distribution of the MNIs. 
    • Nearly 60% (2,238 out of 3,695) of them are located in just five states: Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
      • While it is possible that a historically significant city like Delhi will have a cluster of sites, large forts, and palaces which may count as one site, it does not translate to why culturally and historically significant states like Bihar (70), Odisha (80), Chhattisgarh (46) and Kerala (29) have disproportionately fewer MNIs.
  • Inadequate expenditure for the protection of MNIs:
    • India’s total expenditure on the MNIs is very little and inadequate to take care of these large-scale monuments. 
    • What’s more, a significant proportion of the allocated amount is mostly spent on peripheral activities and annual maintenance. 
    • Furthermore, there is also an imbalance in the distribution of these resources across the country.

The remedies & way ahead

  • After identifying the problems, the report offers some recommendations. 
  • Review and rationalize the list:
    • First, the ASI should review and rationalize the existing list periodically. It should also publish a list of notifications with detailed information on the monuments that do make it into the list.
  • Delegation of work:
    • Another important recommendation is that the ASI should hand over the protection and upkeep of each monument to the respective states and should denotify any standalone antiquities. 
    • These antiquities can be moved to a museum.
  • Increasing funds:
    • The funds allocated for the preservation of the MNIs should be increased and the ASI should make an effort to retain the revenue generated from tickets, events, fees and other sources.
  • Defining criteria for MNIs:
    • The ASI should also create a comprehensive list of criteria and procedures for declaring a monument an MNI. 
    • The criteria should include:
      • historical significance and provenance; 
      • geographical description; 
      • cultural and architectural significance; 
      • importance in the development of civilization or culture; and 
      • significance as a source of inspiration or education.


In News

  • At least one person died and around a 100 were confirmed or suspected to be infected of blastomycosis in the US. 


  • About: 
    • It is an infection caused by a fungus called Blastomyces. The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in moist soil and in decomposing matter such as wood and leaves. 
  • Transmission: 
    • People can get blastomycosis after breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air. 
    • Blastomycosis doesn’t spread between people or between people and animals through the air. In extremely rare cases, blastomycosis has been spread between infected people or animals through needlestick injuries, bites, or sexual contact.
  • Symptoms:
    • Fever, Cough, Night sweats, Muscle aches or joint pain.
  • Prevention:
    • No vaccine to prevent blastomycosis.
    • Itraconazole is a type of antifungal medication that is typically used to treat mild to moderate blastomycosis.

Wheat Blast

In News

  • A new study shows that wheat, the world’s most important food crop, is threatened by a blast disease pandemic.

What is Wheat Blast?

  • The wheat blast is a fungal disease that affects wheat production in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • It is caused by Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum (MoT). It was identified in Brazil in 1985.
  • The fungus infects wild and cultivated grasses, most notably rice and wheat.
  • It spreads through infected seeds, and crop residues as well as by spores that can travel long distances in the air.
  • It spread to major-wheat producing areas in the country and then to other South American countries like Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina.
  • Asia’s first outbreak of this pathogenic wheat blast was reported in Bangladesh in 2016.

About Wheat

  • It is the main cereal crop in India. It is the second most important cereal crop in India after rice.
  • Wheat grown in central and western India is typically hard, with high protein and high gluten content.
  • It is Rabi Crop which is  sown in October-December and harvested during April-June.
  • Temperature: Between 23±3°C and for good tillering temperature should range between 16-20°C. 
  • Rainfall: 50 cm to 100 cm rainfall.
  • Soil Type: Soils with a clay loam or loam texture, good structure and moderate water holding capacity are ideal for wheat cultivation.
  • Wheat growing states in India:  Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat.


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