Prelims Objective Practices Questions
(I.) Consider the following statements regarding Mauryan Empire.
1. Mauryan government had equal control over all the regions of its empire.
2. Slavery was completely absent in Mauryan Empire.
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
c) None of the above
(II.) Curzon brought in the Indian Universities Act which–
a) Nationalized all higher educational institutions in India
b) Removed social sciences from the curriculum of private universities to curb nationalism
c) Brought all the universities in India under the control of the government
d) Did away with the territorial jurisdiction of the Universities
(III.) By the time Gandhiji arrived in India–
1. He had already forged the technique of Satyagraha in South Africa
2. The first Swadeshi movement had already been waged
3. Indian National Congress (INC) was already established in India
Select the correct answer code:-
a) 1, 2
b) 2, 3
c) 1, 3
d) 1, 2, 3
Question of the Day
Ques.- President should not merely remain a rubber stamp in Indian Republic. What role should president play.
Prelims Specific Facts
1) The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has launched “Jagriti”.
- What is Jagriti ?
- Jagriti is a mascot for empowering consumers and generating awareness of their rights. It will be projected as an empowered consumer who is spreading awareness about consumer rights & addressing solutions to the problems faced by the consumers.
- Aim: To strengthen its consumer awareness campaign presence in digital and multimedia and reinforce a young empowered and informed consumer as a top-of-mind consumer rights awareness recall brand.
- Themes: The Jagriti mascot will be used to generate consumer awareness about various themes of the Department like provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Hallmarking, National Consumer Helpline toll-free number 1915, and provisions of the weights & measures Act among others.
2) India-Bhutan Relations: A backgrounder
- India and Bhutan have had long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural relations.
- Bhutan and India relations are governed by a friendship treaty that was renegotiated only in 2007, subjecting the Himalayan nation’s security needs to supervision.
- Treaty of Friendship in 2007, which brought into the India-Bhutan relationship “an element of equality.”
- The Treaty provides for perpetual peace and friendship, free trade and commerce, and equal justice to each other’s citizens.
- What is the Treaty of Friendship?
- On August 8, 1949, Bhutan and India signed the Treaty of Friendship, calling for peace between the two nations and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
- India re-negotiated the 1949 treaty with Bhutan and signed a new treaty of friendship in 2007.
- The new treaty replaced the provision requiring Bhutan to take India’s guidance on foreign policy with broader sovereignty and not require Bhutan to obtain India’s permission over arms imports.
- Under the 2007 India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty, the two sides have agreed to “cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests.”
- Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other Various facets of ties.
- (1) Commercial Relations
- India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner.
- India and Bhutan have signed an Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit on in 2016, which provides for a free trade regime between the two countries.
- Tourism is another point of convergence.
- (2) Energy Cooperation
- A scheme titled “Comprehensive Scheme for Establishment of Hydro-meteorological and Flood Forecasting Network on rivers Common to India and Bhutan” is in operation.
- The network consists of 32 Hydro-meteorological/ meteorological stations located in Bhutan and being maintained by the Royal Government of Bhutan with funding from India.
- The data received from these stations are utilized in India for formulating flood forecasts.
- Significance of Bhutan to India
- Buffer to China: Bhutan is a buffer state between India and China. Bhutan shares a 470 km long border with China.
- Vital connectivity through chicken’s neck: The Chumbi Valley is situated at the tri-junction of Bhutan, India and China and is 500 km away from the “Chicken’s neck” in North Bengal.
- Security in North-East: Bhutan has in the past cooperated with India and helped to flush out militant groups in NE.
- Chinese inroad in Bhutan: China is interested in establishing formal ties with Thimphu, where it does not yet have a diplomatic mission.
3) The Reserve Bank of India has relaxed norms for companies raising external commercial borrowings (ECBs), as part of a set of measures to stem the slide in the rupee.
- What are ECBs taken by Indian companies?
- ECBs are commercial loans that eligible resident entities can raise from outside India, i.e. from a recognized non-resident entity.
- ECBs can be buyer’s credit, supplier’s credit, foreign currency convertible bonds, foreign currency exchangeable bonds, loans etc.
- ECBs can be raised via the automatic route where cases are examined by the Authorized Category Dealer, or the approval route where borrowers are mandated to forward their request to RBI through their authorized dealers.
- Borrowers must follow norms on minimum maturity period, maximum all-in-cost ceiling, end-uses etc.
- What is the relaxation offered by the RBI?
- RBI earlier had raised borrowing limit under the automatic route from $750 million or its equivalent per financial year to $1.5 bn up till up to 31 December, 2022.
- Why such move?
- The objective was to increase the supply of foreign exchange reserves.
- This in turn would thereby prevent the fast depreciation of the rupee witnessed over the last few months.
4. Minority status in India is State-dependent,
- Every person in India can be a minority in one State or the other. Minority status of religious and linguistic communities is “State-dependent”, the Supreme Court said.
- “Every person in this country can be a minority. I can be a minority outside my State, Maharashtra. Similarly, a Kannada-speaking person may be in minority in States other than Karnataka… Every person in this country can answer this description,”.
- The Centre has finally constituted a committee headed by former Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal here on Monday to look into the issue of minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural produce, as promised to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) earlier in January. The panel has three unfilled posts for representatives of the SKM, which will be filled as and when the Centre receives the recommendations from the umbrella body of farmers.
- The Reserve Bank of India has recommended a ban on cryptocurrencies citing ‘destabilising effects’ for the country’s monetary and fiscal health, but a law to regulate or ban cryptocurrencies can only be effective once there is some form of inter national agreement in place, the Finance Minister said.
- “Cryptocurrencies are by definition border less and re quire international collaboration to prevent regulatory arbitrage,”
- Value solely speculative
- “Further, the value of fiat currencies is anchored by monetary policy and their status as legal tender, however the value of cryptocurrencies rests solely on the speculation and expectations of high returns that are not well anchored, so it will have a destabilising effect on the monetary and fiscal stability of a country,”.
Editorial of the Day
Cart Before the horse
- The Supreme Court, in Satender Kumar Antil vs CBI, has sought to expand the scope for the grant of early bail to those arrested without sufficient cause, the CJI, N.V. Ra mana, has bemoaned the injury to personal liberty caused by hasty arrests, hurdles in the way of releasing suspects on bail and the prolonged incarceration of those under trial. The expressions of concern are a timely reminder to regimes that have been using their police powers to crack down on critics, activists and those not politically aligned with them.
- For instance, the Bench has called for standing orders to adhere to the Arnesh Kumar (2014) principles, based on Sections 41 and 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure under which a police officer is required to record reasons for arresting an accused and is expected to issue a notice of appearance in cases involving offences that at tract a prison term of less than seven years.
- The verdict has other positive aspects: setting time limits for the disposal of bail and anticipatory bail applications and underscoring that an arrest must be made only when actually required, or to prevent the accused from fleeing justice or tampering with evidence. In an interesting contribution, the Bench has mooted a separate ‘Bail Act’ on the lines of the one in the United Kingdom to streamline the bail process.
- The state of the magistracy also requires an overhaul. Magistrates seem conditioned to authorising mechanical remand whenever someone is produced before them, and to decline bail as soon as the prosecutor opposes it. Therefore, it is indeed welcome that the Court has made it clear that bail can be considered even without a formal application at the stage of production before the court, or when a person res ponds to a summons or warrant. More than the law, the police must first put an end to the practice of reflexively arresting first and then fishing for a possible offence.
- Arnesh Kumar Guidelines or Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (2014) is a landmark judgement of the Indian Supreme Court, stating arrests should be an exception, in cases where the punishment is less than seven years of imprisonment. The guidelines asked the police to determine whether an arrest was necessary under the provisions of Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Police officers have a responsibility to guarantee that the principles established by the Supreme Court in its numerous decisions are followed by the investigating officers.
- Before authorising further detention, the judicial magistrate must read the police officer’s report and make sure they are satisfied.
The five-day work week might be fading away
- The call for fewer work hours itself is older than the Great Depression.
- John Maynard Keynes, predicted that his grand children would only work about 15 hours a week. Even though the prediction seems a little far fetched right now, the direction of change seems about right as companies from all over the world toy around with the idea of fewer working hours.
- Trial results show benefits
- The most recent and widespread adoption of a four-day work week was a trial run by Microsoft in Japan in 2019. The trial was conduct ed with a typical eight-hour work day for four days and a three-day weekend but a five-day week pay cheque. Microsoft was happy with the result as it saw a 40% increase in worker productivity, presumably due to increased job satisfaction and lower burnouts. Micro soft Japan also reported that a shorter work week led to higher efficiency in the form of lower office costs. It saw a massive 23% dip in electricity costs and a 60% fall in the number of pages printed in the office.
- The idea of increased productivity due to a fall in working hours has been carried along since Henry Ford. However, an increase in a worker’s productivity in a manufacturing firm with a decrease in work hours would not mean a similar increase in productivity for an employee in the service sectors such as education or health.
- In a larger view, fewer working days will lead to lower commuting and hence have a positive impact on the environment, including a fall in electricity consumption in offices. Lower work hours are also being seen as an important tool to revive employment rates after the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- Gains for women
- A shorter work week is seen as a welcome step toward gender equality and women’s career progression. A two-day weekend was often not enough for women, especially mothers with young children, as they would not have much time for themselves after all the care work.
- A three-day weekend may al so push men to take up more unpaid domestic work, which would give women more leeway. With enough work-life balance in a four day work week, women would be able to focus more on work, hence adding to their career prospects.
- Not always a virtue
- A four-day work week is not one that fits all. The service sector has challenges implementing a four day work week, especially for small firms. For example, a hair dresser cannot cut more hair by reducing hours; so too a musician in the context of more concerts. This limited applicability is also relevant in schools and hospitals. The sales and marketing departments of firms may also face this issue as there would be less time to chase leads, build customer relations and solve issues.
- It would cost at least £17 billion, assuming stable productivity but an expanded workforce.
- The Indian scene
- A study conducted between February 1 and March 7 across sec tors in 2022 by Genius Consultants, in India, found that among 1,113 employers it surveyed, 60% preferred a four-day work week and believed that it would positively affect employee productivity and well-being.
Explainer of the Day
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its stature in the modern world
- Iran and Belarus could soon become the newest members of the China and Russia-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). “In the Samarkand Summit”
- What is the SCO?
- Founded in June 2001, it was built on the ‘Shanghai Five’, the grouping which consisted of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They came together in the post-Soviet era in 1996, in order to work on regional security, reduction of border troops and terrorism. They endowed particular focus on ‘conflict resolution’, given its early success between China and Russia, and then within the Central Asian Republics.
- In 2001, the ‘Shanghai Five’ inducted Uzbekistan into its fold and named it the SCO, outlining its principles in a charter that promoted what was called the “Shanghai spirit” of cooperation. The charter, adopted in St. Petersburg in 2002, enlists its main goals as strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology, and culture. Its focus areas include education, energy, transport, tourism and environmental protection.
- It also calls for joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
- The grouping comprises eight member states – India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO also has four observer states Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia – of which Iran and Belarus are now moving towards full membership.
- How is this relevant to India?
- India acquired the observer status in the grouping in 2005 and was admitted as a full member in 2017.
- What is the organisational structure ?
- The SCO secretariat has two permanent bodies – the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent. Other than this, the grouping consists of the Heads of State Council (HSC), the Heads of Government Council (HGC) and the Foreign Ministers Council.