Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 20 February 2023

The Special Marriage Act for interfaith couple

GS Paper - 1 (Society)

For several interfaith couples including actress Swara Bhasker, the choice to marry under a secular personal law is through the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Announcing her marriage, the actress hailed the legislation that provides an alternate route to religious laws for marriage.

What is the Special Marriage Act?

  1. The Special Marriage Act of 1954 (SMA) was passed by the Parliament on 9 October 1954. It governs a civil marriage where the state sanctions the marriage rather than the religion.
  2. Issues of personal law such as marriagedivorceadoption are governed by religious laws that are codified.
  3. These laws, such as the Muslim Marriage Act, 1954, and the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, require either spouse to convert to the religion of the other before marriage.
  4. However, the SMA enables marriage between inter-faith or inter-caste couples without them giving up their religious identity or resorting to conversion.
  5. The Indian system, where both civil and religious marriages are recognised, is similar to the laws in the UK’s Marriage Act of 1949.
  6. An earlier version of the SMA was enacted in 1872 and was later re-enacted in 1954 with provisions for divorce etc.

Who can get married under the Special Marriage Act?

  1. The applicability of the Act extends to the people of all faiths, including HindusMuslimsSikhsChristiansSikhsJains, and Buddhists, across India.
  2. Some customary restrictions such as parties not being within degrees of a prohibited relationship still apply to couples under SMA.
  3. In 1952, when the Bill was proposed, the requirement of monogamy was considered radical.
  4. Section 4 of the SMA requires that at the time of marriage, “neither party has a spouse living” or is “incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind”.
  5. Even if both parties are capable of giving valid consent, it requires that they do not suffer from “recurrent attacks of insanity” or any mental disorder that renders them “unfit for marriage and the procreation of children”.
  6. The minimum age to get married under the SMA is 21 years for males and 18 years for females.


‘Feathering’ is cause behind Nepal air crash
GS Paper - 3 (Technology)

preliminary report by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission of Nepal on the crash of Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500 in Pokhara says that the propellers of the plane were found in an unusual “feathered” position. Published on 17 February 2023, the report mentions that this might have happened due to human errorThe ATR 72-500 is a twin-engine turboprop.

There are various types of propeller engines:

  1. Fixed-pitch propeller: As the name suggests, the angle or pitch at which the propeller blades meet the airflow is fixed. The blade angle or pitch cannot be changed.
  2. Adjustable-pitch propeller: In this type, the propeller pitch can be changed but only on the ground, physically — not while the aircraft is in flight.
  3. Variable-pitch propeller: Both the fixed-pitch and adjustable-pitch propeller types have their limitations. Pilots wanted different propeller pitches for takeoff, climb, cruise, etc. — a small blade pitch is ideal for takeoff, medium pitch for climb and high pitch for cruise. They also wanted propellers whose pitch could be changed from the cockpit during the flight.
  4. This was achieved by the variable-pitch propeller. As the name suggests, the propeller pitch could be changed by the pilot from the cockpit to suit flight conditions.
  5. Constant-speed propeller: This is a more advanced variable-pitch propeller, in which the blade pitch changes automatically to maintain a constant aircraft speed.

What is ‘feathering’?

  1. During engine failure or an engine shutdown mid-air, a pilot flying an aircraft with variable-pitch propellers is able to change the pitch/ angle of the propeller blades so that they slice the airflow in a more or less parallel motion — like a knife — and not hit the air flatly.
  2. This has the effect of reducing the ‘drag’, increasing the gliding distance, and preventing airspeed from decaying below unsafe limits. This is called the ‘feathering’ of propellers.
  3. In fact, ‘feathering’ is part of the checklist if the crew, faced with an emergency, of such aircraft is planning a forced landing.
  4. ‘Windmilling’ propellers, unless ‘feathered’, can worsen an emergency during an engine failure at low heights. However, if the aircraft is quite high, the ‘windmilling’ nature of propellers, rotated by the force of air, can in fact help restart a failed engine.


Chandrayaan-3 lander completes key tests

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

Isro on 19 February 2023 said that the Chandrayaan-3 lander successfully underwent EMI/EMC (Electro - Magnetic Interference/ Electro-Magnetic Compatibility) test between 31 January and 2 February 2023.

More about the test

  1. The test, it said: "Is conducted for satellite missions to ensure the functionality of the satellite subsystems in the space environment and their compatibility with the expected electromagnetic levels. This test is a major milestone in the realisation of the satellites."
  2. Reiterating that the Chandrayaan-3 mission has three major modules: the Propulsion moduleLander module, and Rover, Isro said, the mission's complexity calls for establishing radio-frequency (RF) communication links between the modules.
  3. During the Chandrayaan-3 lander EMI/EC test, launcher compatibility, antenna polarization of all RF systems, standalone auto compatibility tests for orbital and powered descent mission phases, and lander & rover compatibility tests for post landing mission phase were ensured. The performance of the systems was satisfactory.


  1. Chandrayaan-3, unlike Chandrayaan-2 will not be carrying an orbiter as part of the mission — it’ll only have a propulsion module (PM) carrying the lander and rover until separation.
  2. While the PM will not carry any primary payload: It will have equipment that’ll be used to communicate with the lander and the ground station. The PM will be used to relay information.
  3. ISRO, which failed to soft-land Vikram (Chandrayaan-2 lander) which was carrying Pragyan (Rover) in September 2019, is carrying out exhaustive tests for Chandrayaan-3. Failure is not an option this time.
  4. The chairman has made it very clear that we need to test and retest until we are sure of everything on ground before moving ahead for launch preparations.

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