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Sonam Wangchuck on fast: Why the Ladakh-based engineer is protesting

GS-2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Sonam Wangchuck, a Ladakhi engineer and educator, has accused the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Ladakh of promoting militancy in the peaceful region. He stated that the region would be better-off if it were still part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Wangchuck is demanding that Ladakh be included under Schedule 6 of the Indian Constitution to protect the environment and the rights of the indigenous people. 

Ladakh and the Himalayas are known as the “Third Pole” and are of significant environmental importance.


Why is Sonam Wangchuck protesting?

  • According to Wangchuck, the demand for the inclusion of Ladakh in Schedule 6 has been a recurring issue. 
  • He established the Leh Apex Body of Peoples Movement for Sixth Schedule to address this matter. 
  • During the 2020 Ladakh Hill Council elections, Ladakhi leaders threatened to boycott the polls. 
  • Wangchuck claimed that the people of Ladakh believe that lower levels of bureaucracy may have been influenced by industrial powers and business houses who aim to exploit the region through mining
  • He drew comparisons to China's exploitation of Tibet, which has threatened the livelihoods and survival of the tribal population, as well as caused water scarcity due to increased industrialization. 
  • Wangchuck emphasized that Ladakh, being a sensitive area from a military perspective, needs to be safeguarded.
  • Recently, the main organizations leading the demands announced that they would not attend any meetings of the high-powered committee formed by the Centre on this matter due to the absence of a clear mandate. 
  • The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) and Apex Body Leh (ABL) members rejected the committee for this reason.

The Sixth Schedule

  • The 6thSchedule of the Indian Constitution is a provision that provides for the administration of tribal areas in the northeastern states of Assam(A), Tripura(T),Meghalaya(M) and Mizoram(M)[Hint: No Mani(pur) in ATM2]
  • It outlines the constitutional safeguards for tribal communities and their traditional rights to land and resources.

The notable features of the 6thSchedule and its advantages

  • The 6thSchedule provides for the creation of Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), which have the power to make laws and regulations regarding the preservation of tribal customs, language, and religion.
  • This autonomy allows the tribes to govern their own affairs and maintain their cultural heritage.
  • It provides for the protection of tribal lands from alienation and ensures that the tribe has control over their resources.
  • This helps in preserving the traditional livelihoods of the tribes and their relationship with the land.
  • It provides for the protection of the tribal rights with regard to the administration of justiceLand revenue and forest laws
  • This helps to ensure that justice is delivered in a manner that is sensitive to the cultural and customary practices of the tribes.
  • In addition, it helps to ensure that the forests, which are critical to the livelihoods of the tribes, are protected from exploitation and degradation.
  • It aims to preserve the unique cultural identity of the tribal communities and ensures that their rights are protected from outside interference.
  • This helps to maintain the cultural diversity of the country and ensures that the cultural heritage of the tribes is not lost.
  • It provides constitutional safeguards for tribal communities and their traditional rights to land and resources.
  • This provides a framework for the protection of the rights of the tribes and helps to ensure that they are not exploited or marginalized.
  • It protects the rights of tribal communities, including their right to their traditional lands, resources, and cultural practices.


Autonomous District Councils (ADCs)

  • The Sixth Schedule in the Indian Constitution, outlined in Article 244, allows for the creation of self-governing areas known as ADCs. 
  • These regions have some independence in terms of legislation, judicial procedures, and administrative decisions within a state. 
  • The councils consist of up to 30 members with a five-year term.
  • They have the authority to establish laws, rules, and regulations regarding land, forests, water, agriculture, health and sanitation, local policing, and more. 
  • Currently, this provision applies to the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, each having three councils and one council respectively.


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Fact File 

Radioactive capsule lost – and found – in Australia: Here’s what happened

A tiny radioactive capsule containing Caesium-137 was recovered in Australia's Outback after a week-long search by 100 people. The capsule was found using a vehicle equipped with detection equipment, even while traveling at 70 km/h.

Use of Radioactive capsule

  • Capsules containing caesium-137 are used industrially as fixed radiation gauges to measure the density and flow of materials, often in the mining and oil and gas industries. 
  • The gamma rays emitted by the radioactive caesium penetrate through a pipe and are picked up by a detector. 
  • In the past, caesium-137 was also used in radiotherapy.
  • The radioactive source can remain detectable for 300 years.

Risks posed by Missing capsule

The missing capsule posed two main risks to humans –

  • Exposure is similar to getting UV radiation from the sun and can be limited by reducing time and increasing distance from the capsule. 
  • Spending an hour at one meter from the capsule is equivalent to receiving 17 chest X-rays. 
  • The capsule's steel container prevents radioactive material from escaping, but if it were to be broken, contamination would be a greater concern. 
  • Beta particles escaping from the container could cause serious damage to the skin and other tissues, including ulceration and tissue death. 
  • Ingesting the capsule would be very dangerous and result in the caesium going to the bones, causing continuous radiation. 
  • If swallowed, the capsule could cause local ulceration in the gut, potentially leading to a rupture.

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Centre sets up panels for complaints against online platforms: What they are, how they will work

  • The government established three Grievance Appellate Committees in accordance with the recently amended IT Rules 2021. 
  • The committees consist of three members each and provide a platform for addressing grievances outside of the court system.
  • The goal of the IT Rules 2021 is to ensure the rights of Indian citizens are protected and that big tech platforms are held accountable. 
  • The Grievance Appellate Committee(GAC)is a key component of this policy and legal framework, aiming to make the internet in India open, safe, trusted, and accountable
  • The virtual GAC platform will operate solely online and users can appeal decisions made by grievance officers of social media intermediaries and other online platforms. 
  • The Committee has 30 days to address an appeal and the platform will be operational starting March 1st, 2023
  • The performance of GACs will be reviewed periodically and the orders will be disclosed.

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Who is a puisne judge, and what does the term mean?

The Collegium, led by the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, announced that it has nominated two individuals for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court.

The statement from the Collegium noted that the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges was taken into account during the selection process.

Puisne Judges 

  • The term puisne is derived from French and means "later born" or junior. 
  • This term is commonly used in reference to judges and indicates their ranking seniority.
  • A puisne judge is any judge who is not the Chief Justice of a court.

Common Law

  • Common law is a legal system that is established through the written opinions of judges, rather than by statutes or constitutions. 
  • Common law is also referred to as case law and is based on the principle of judicial precedent
  • The United Kingdom (UK) and many Commonwealth countries, such as India, follow the common law legal system.

Puisne Judges: India VS UK 

  • In the UK, puisne judges are any judge of the High Court except for the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice of England, and Master of the Rolls. 
  • In India, all judges have equal judicial power, with the Chief Justice having an additional administrative role
  • In India, the term puisne judge is used for the purpose of determining seniority, but does not impact a judge's judicial power.

Collegium on Puisne Judge

  • The Supreme Court collegium recommended two Chief Justices for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court. 
  • The recommendation was based on seniority, which is one of the criteria used for appointments to the higher judiciary. 
  • The 1998 Third Judges Case established that the Chief Justice of India must consult with four senior puisne Judges of the Supreme Court when making appointments or transfers.

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Economic Survey: What is it and what to expect in 2023

  • The Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) will unveil the 2022-23 Economic Survey on 31st January, a day before the Union Budget presentation for 2023-24on February 1.

Economic Survey

  • The Economic Survey is an annual report on the state of the national economy for the current financial year
  • It is prepared by the Economic Division of the Department of Economic Affairs under the guidance of the Chief Economic Adviser and approved by the Finance Minister
  • Historically, it was presented in a single volume covering different sectors of the economy (such as services, agriculture, and manufacturing) and key policy areas (such as fiscal developments, state of employment and inflation) with a detailed statistical abstract. 
  • However, between 2010-11 and 2020-21, the survey was presented in two volumes, with the second volume including the intellectual imprint of the CEA. 
  • In the last year, it returned to a single volume format.


  • The Economic Survey is significant as it is the most authoritative and comprehensive analysis of the national economy conducted within the Union government. 
  • Despite being released a day before the Budget, its observations and recommendations are not binding
  • However, the survey provides an official framework for analyzing the Indian economy and serves as an important reference for policymakers and analysts.

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