Blog

DAILY HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 19TH FEBRUARY 2020

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Q.1 Consider the following statements.
1. No demand for a grant can be made except on
the recommendation of the President.
2. The President has the veto power over the bills
passed by the Parliament.
3. The President does not have veto power with
respect to state legislation.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 1, 2
c) 2, 3
d) 1, 3
Solution: b)

Q.2 Consider the following statements with reference to
Food chains.
1. The grazing food chain is found only in
terrestrial ecosystem.
2. The grazing and detritus food chains are not
interlinked.
3. The initial energy source for detritus food chain
is dead organic matter.
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
a) 1 only
b) 1, 3
c) 1, 2
d) 2, 3
Solution: c)

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding
‘Torana’.
1. Torana is a free-standing ornamental or arched
gateway.
2. Toranas are associated with Buddhist stupas
like the Great Stupa in Sanchi, as well as with
Jain and Hindu structures.
3. Jagannath Temple, Puri, is an example of
Kalinga architecture having torana.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 2, 3
c) 1, 3
d) 1, 2, 3
Solution: d)

PAKISTAN IN FATF GREY LIST

NEWS: 

The International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Tuesday recommended that Pakistan be retained on the ‘Grey List’, given its failure to completely implement the 27-point action plan to check terror financing.

The final decision would be announced on Friday, at the end of the five-day FATF Plenary session in Paris, sources aware of the proceedings said.

It is understood that most of the group members were in favour of continuing the pressure on Pakistan to execute all the measures suggested against funding to banned terror outfits and United Nations designated global terrorists operating from its soil.

According to the sources, Pakistan’s Minister for Economic Affairs Hamad Azhar assured the group that all the objectives would be achieved as early as June 2020. He claimed that since the last FATF plenary, the country had taken all possible measures against terror financing.

India countered Pakistan’s claims, saying the recent action taken by Islamabad against Saeed and others was an attempt to evade further FATF sanctions.

While the LeT chief was recently convicted of terror financing, the Pakistani authorities had claimed that a large number of terrorists were arrested, the accounts of banned outfits frozen and the institutions run by them were taken over by the government.

ABOUT FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE

FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.

In 2001 its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.

HQ: Paris

FATF has included Pakistan in its GREY LIST.

FATF has 2 types of lists;

  • Black List
  • Grey List
  • Black List:Only those countries are included in this list that FATF considers as unco-operative tax havens for terror funding. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). In other words; countries which are supporting terror funding and money laundering activities are listed in the Black list.

The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror funding.

The FATF updates the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

  1. Grey List:Those countries which are not considered as the safe heaven for supporting terror funding and money laundering; included in this list. The inclusion in this list is not as severe as black listed.

Now Grey list is a warning given to the country that it might come in Black list (Just like a yellow card in a football match). If a country is unable to curb mushrooming of terror funding and money laundering; it is shifted from grey list to black list by the FATF.

When a country comes in the Grey list, it faces many problems like;

  1. Economic sanctions from international institutions (IMF, World Bank, ADB etc.) and countries
  2. Problem in getting loans from international institutions (IMF, World Bank, ADB etc.) and countries
  3. Overall Reduction in its international trade
  4. International boycott

KARBIS AND BODOS DISPUTE IN ASSAM

NEWS: 

An Assam-based insurgent group of Karbis, which signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre, has demanded that the Bodos in the hill areas not be given the Scheduled Tribe status as it will affect the “identity of the Karbis”.

The Home Ministry, the Assam government and Bodo groups signed the pact on January 27 to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), spread over Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts.

Under the agreement, the Bodos in the hills will be given the Scheduled Hill Tribe status and villages dominated by the Bodos outside the BTAD will be included and those with non-Bodos excluded after the areas are redrawn.

The Bodos, an ethnic group in Assam, had been demanding a separate State since 1972, and are recognised as a Scheduled Tribe (Plain).

In Assam, there are 14 recognised Plains Tribe communities, 15 Hill Tribe communities and 16 Scheduled Caste communities.

NATIONAL COMPANY LAW APPELLATE TRIBUNAL (NCLAT)

NEWS:

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought response of the Centre on a petition claiming the appointments of ‘technical members’ to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) as illegal.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar asked the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the technical members of NCLAT concerned to respond to the petition filed by an NGO.

The NGO, India Awake for Transparency, in its petition, claimed that the appointment of all the technical members of the NCLAT was illegal.

ABOUT NCLAT

  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.
  • NCLAT hears appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY BOARD OF INDIA under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA (CCI).

KAMBALA

  • Kambala is an annual traditional Buffalo Race (he-buffalo) held in coastal districts of Karnataka to entertain rural people of the area.
  • Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala.
  • The sports season generally starts in November and lasts till March.
  • The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race in two separate wet rice fields tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
  • In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing is non-competitive and buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
  • Besides, there is also ritualistic approach also as some agriculturists race their he-buffaloes for thanks giving to god for protecting their animals from diseases.

FIRST EDITORIAL: DEPORTATION OF BRITISH LABOUR MP BY INDIAN GOVERNMENT 

WHAT IS THE STORY?

Government has  detained and deported British Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, saying that she had attempted to enter India on an “invalid visa”, as the government had revoked her e-business visa three days prior to her travel.

REAL REASON: The decision to revoke the visa was prompted by her frequent criticism of India on the issue of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, and a proclivity towards echoing Pakistan’s line on the issue.

QUESTION RAISED BY THE EDITORIAL:  The government has not explained, however, how someone it considers so inimical to Indian interests received a one-year business visa in the first place in October 2019, and why it took four months to cancel it. Eventually, its reaction to her arrival in New Delhi, detaining and questioning her before deporting her was nothing short of ham-handed.

GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TOWARDS OTHER COUNTRIES

Where governments like those in Turkey and Malaysia have themselves been critical, India’s response has been equally sharp: the démarche to the Turkish Ambassador this week and travel advisories issued earlier to Indians travelling to Turkey, or the trade restrictions on palm oil imports, most of which are from Malaysia, are notable examples.

CONCLUSION

The boycott or deportation of politicians, visa denials to foreign journalists, all appear to be a part of a pattern of whimsical behaviour not suited to a democracy like India that prides in its traditions of openness and debate.

LEAD ARTICLE: WHAT INDIA CAN DO IN US INDIA TRADE WAR?

Last week, the United States officially designated developing and least-developed countries for the purposes of implementing the countervailing measures provided by the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

According to the ASCM, developing countries are allowed to grant higher levels of subsidies as compared to the developed countries before countervailing duties (CVD) can be imposed.

US has placed India in the DEVELOPED COUNTRIES list.

This is the second instance in less than a year, when the U.S. has refused to extend to India the benefits enjoyed by developing countries under the multilateral trade rules. On May 31, 2019,U.S. President Donald Trump had announced that India would be taken off the list of beneficiary-developing countries under its scheme of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

The GSP is a special window provided by the U.S. and several other developed countries, through which they import identified products from developing countries at concessional rates of duties.

Importantly, GSP confers non-reciprocal benefits, implying that the developed countries cannot expect reciprocal market access from the beneficiary developing countries. Yet, the U.S. denied GSP benefits to India arguing that India was unwilling to offer better market access to its products.

WHAT COULD BE ITS IMPACT?

India would then lose the ability to use the special and differential treatment (S&DT) to which every developing country member of the WTO has a right. In short, S&DT lessens the burden of adjustment that developing countries have to make while acceding to the various agreements under the WTO.

SOLUTION SUGGESTED BY THE AUTHOR

India should remain the member of WTO as DEVELOPING ECONOMY.

Developed country members of the WTO have generally maintained very low levels of tariffs, and, therefore, India’s interests of maintaining a reasonable level of tariff protection would be well served through its continued access to S&DT, by remaining as a developing country member of the WTO.

SECOND ARTICLE: IMPROVING HEALTH INFRASTRUCTURE IN INDIA

Author highlights that 18 months ago the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, launched the country-wide implementation of Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).

The scheme is currently being implemented in 32 of 36 States and Union Territories. It has provided 84 lakh free treatments to poor and vulnerable patients for secondary and tertiary ailments at 22,000 empanelled hospitals, countrywide. Under PM-JAY, there is one free treatment every three seconds and two beneficiaries verified every second.

WHAT MORE COULD BE DONE UNDER AYUSHMAN BHARAT SCHEME?

As the scale of this scheme grows, a key area of focus is to expand the secondary and tertiary hospitals empanelled under PM-JAY and ensure their quality and capacity while keeping the costs down.

At present, there is one government bed for every 1,844 patients and one doctor for every 11,082 patients. In the coming years, considering 3% hospitalisation of PM-JAY-covered beneficiaries, the scheme is likely to provide treatment to 1.5 crore patients annually.

This means physical and human infrastructure capacity would need to be augmented vastly. Conservative estimates suggest the we would need more than 150,000 additional beds, especially in Tier-2 and -3 cities.

INNOVATIONS

Artificial Intelligence platforms that aid in rapid radiology diagnoses in low resource settings, tele-ICU platforms to bridge the gap in high-skilled critical care personnel, centralised drone delivery of blood, medicines and vaccines to reach remote locations cost-effectively and reliably are all no longer just theoretical ideas. They are real solutions that are ready to be tested on the ground and potentially implemented. It is high time for transformative solutions to make their way into our hospitals, especially in Tier-2 and -3 cities, to turbocharge the way health care is delivered at scale.

Author concludes by  calling out to private sector health-care providers, health innovators, industry and start-ups to become equal partners in this movement.

The dream of an accessible, affordable and high-quality health-care system for all, will be achieved when we work in alignment to complement each other and jointly undertake the mission of creating an Ayushman Bharat.

SECOND EDITORIAL: DECLINE IN BIRD POPULATION IN INDIA

Birds are under increasing pressure from human activity, struggling to survive as habitat loss, pesticides, hunting and trapping for the pet trade push them closer to the edge. Once-thriving endemic or migrant bird populations have been decimated over the past quarter century in India, as the scientific report, ‘State of India’s Birds 2020’, points out.

Some bird species assessed as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN, were found in peril in India.

Remarkably, in spite of having a rich ornithological tradition, only 261 species out of 867 spotted qualified for a full analysis, based on robust long-term data; 52% of them are now classified as being of ‘high concern’.

India’s conservation community expects the Environment Ministry, which released the status report at the global conference of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, to secure a future for birds.

The latest report is refreshing as it taps into citizen science for good data and should serve as a foundation for further collaborative work.

It is essential to revive the Great Indian Bustard, now pushed to precariously low numbers. Coursers and floricans need help with their delicate habitat, as do neglected small birds such as the Green Munia that is widely trapped. Bird diversity makes India, Kerala in particular, a birdwatching destination. That variety must be protected not just for cultural reasons, but to improve the health of forests, wetlands, open country habitat and high mountains.

OP-ED PAGE 

FIRST ARTICLE : THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TERM SECULAR

WHAT IS THE SIMPLE MEANING OF SECULARISM?

Secularism is against discrimination on the basis of religion.

Secularism designates impartial public recognition to all religions.

HOW WESTERN SECULARISM EVOLVED?

Secular states did not emerge in Western Europe in the immediate aftermath of the religious wars. These wars were stopped by the establishment not of a secular but a confessional state in which people were forced to embrace the religion of the king. Those who did not comply faced death or expulsion. Every European society from then on became religiously homogenous — England became Anglican; Scandinavia, Lutheran; France, Catholic. Over time some dissenting groups were tolerated, but not without paying a price for their dissent.

Once other religions were eliminated or tamed, a struggle began against a politically meddlesome and socially oppressive church. The demand to separate church and state (which later came to be called political secularism) was supported by those who favoured free markets, private property and personal liberties. The moment this separation was sufficiently achieved, it began to be taken for granted, and slowly receded into the background. In this sense, ‘secularism’ lost its political and social salience in these religiously homogenous societies.

WHY SECULARISM IS IMPORTANT?

Protects religious dissenters and minorities.

Prevents domination by the majority religious community.

Compels states to give impartial public recognition to all religions.

Reassures anyone threatened by religious or religion-based exclusion, discrimination or misrecognition that the state is committed to preventing all this.

CONCLUSION

In religiously homogenous societies, particularly where the importance of religion has weakened, liberal democratic states tend to be relatively indifferent to the term ‘secular’. However, in religiously strong and diverse societies such as India, ‘secular’ is indispensable. It cannot disappear from public and constitutional discourse.

SECOND ARTICLE: WHY ELECTIONS TO URBAN LOCAL BODIES SHOULD BE DONE ON NON PARTY LINES?

Author highlights that it is unrealistic to expect a high quality of governance as long as political parties have a complete grip over the way civic bodies function. It is time policymakers and political leaders began to seriously contemplate party-less elections to ULBs.

Already, in a majority of the States, the election for the posts of presidents and councillors of gram panchayats is done on non-party lines. At least in respect of rural local bodies (RLBs), there is some justification for the presence of political parties as, otherwise, caste alone might determine votes.

But in ULBs, the caste factor remains subdued, especially during elections. Besides, there is no sound rationale for holding polls for ULBs on party lines as these bodies neither legislate nor frame policies. Also, there is no scope for any political ideology to play a role in the affairs of ULBs. The main task of the bodies is to handle problems concerning sanitation, water supply and solid waste management.

There is also political justification for why elections to the ULBs should take place on non-party lines. Under the present scheme, Chief Ministers do not want strong ULB chiefs to emerge, especially if the person happens to be from his or her party. This explains why parties prefer indirect elections.

On the contrary, if the polls are held on non-party lines with direct elections for chiefs of ULBs, a new crop of leaders will emerge outside the political class. Well-educated and well-qualified youngsters will be encouraged to take part in the election process.

More importantly, municipal elections are bound to become cheaper as there will be no need for competitive spending by nominees of rival parties.

CONCLUSION

ULBs can have meaningful empowerment only if the concept of non-party elections is adopted. This is a prerequisite for the implementation of the ‘strong mayor’ model.

 

NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER

NEWS:

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday that he would not block the National Population Register (NPR) in Maharashtra.

He said he would “personally check the columns” in NPR forms. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are different and the NPR is different. No one has to worry if the CAA is implemented. The NRC is not there, and will not be implemented in the State,” he wrote on Twitter.

He said he would not allow the NRC to be implemented in the State. “If the NRC is implemented, it will affect not only Hindus or Muslims but also Adivasis. The NPR is a census, and I don’t think anyone will be affected as it happens every 10 years,” he said.

About National Population Register

  • Definition:
    • It is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
    • A “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
  • Legal Provisions:
    • The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
    • It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
  • Background:
    • The data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011.
    • In 2015, this data was further updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.

CHIEF VIGILANCE COMMISSIONER 

NEWS:

Sanjay Kothari, Secretary to the President of India, is tipped to be the next Chief Vigilance Commissioner. Former Information and Broadcasting Secretary Bimal Julka will be the Chief Information Commissioner.

Former CMD of Andhra Bank Suresh Patel has been chosen as a Vigilance Commissioner, while former member of Punjab Civil Services Commission Amita Pandove will be an Information Commissioner.

The meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitender Singh. The decision, however, was arrived at by a majority opinion as the Opposition leader objected to the process and pointed to “certain legal infirmities”.

ABOUT CVC

The CVC was set up by the Government in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam. In 2003, the Parliament enacted CVC Act conferring statutory status on the CVC.

The CVC is not controlled by any Ministry/Department. It is an independent body which is only responsible to the Parliament.

Functions

  • The CVC receives complaints on corruption or misuse of office and to recommend appropriate action. Following institutions, bodies, or a person can approach to CVC:
    • Central government
    • Lokpal
    • Whistle blowers
      • A whistleblower is a person, who could be an employee of a company, or a government agency, or an outsider (like media, higher government officials, or police) disclosing information to the public or some higher authority about any wrongdoing, which could be in the form of fraud, corruption, etc.
  • It is not an investigating agency. The CVC either gets the investigation done through the CBI or through chief vigilance officers (CVO) in government offices.
  • It is empowered to inquire into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 by certain categories of public servants.
  • Its annual report gives the details of the work done by the commission and points to systemic failures which lead to corruption in government departments.

AFGHAN ELECTIONS

Ashraf Ghani secured a second term as President of Afghanistan on Tuesday, but his rival Abdullah Abdullah immediately challenged the final election figures and said he was forming his own government.

The results of the September 28, 2019 poll were released after lengthy delays following vote-rigging allegations by Mr. Abdullah that led to a recount.

Mr. Abdullah, who serves as Afghanistan’s ‘Chief Executive’ under Mr. Ghani in a tense power-sharing arrangement, said his team was “the victor”.

His intent to try to form a separate government brought back memories of the 2014 election, which also saw Mr. Ghani declared winner and Mr. Abdullah protest. That time, Mr. Abdullah’s supporters held violent demonstrations before the U.S. finally intervened to broker an awkward deal between the two rivals.

FOODGRAIN PRODUCTION

NEWS: 

Total foodgrain production is projected to scale an all-time high of almost 292 million tonnes in 2019-20, propelled by record production of both rice and wheat, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s second advance estimates released on Tuesday.

Production of several crops, including rice and major pulses, was lower than targeted in the kharif or the monsoon season. However, the abundance of late monsoon rains resulted in cumulative rainfall that was 10% higher than the long-period average for the season.

This helped farmers rake in rabi or winter harvests that were larger-than-expected in almost all crops.

Thus, the estimate for total foodgrain output of 291.95 million tonnes is more than six million tonnes higher than the 285.21 million tonnes produced in 2018-19.

MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE

NEWS:

The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has procured more than 60 lakh bales of cotton so far this season at Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Chairman and managing director of CCI P. Alli Rani told The Hindu that 60% of the estimated cotton production had come into the market so far this season, which started in October 2019. Of this, the CCI had procured 28%. The Cotton Advisory Board’s provisional cotton production estimate for this season is 360 lakh bales.

ABOUT MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE 

An MSP is the minimum price set by the Government at which farmers can expect to sell their produce for the season. When market prices fall below the announced MSPs, procurement agencies step in to procure the crop and ‘support’ the prices.

 

Who announces?

The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces MSP for various crops at the beginning of each sowing season based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

 

The following factors are taken into account while determining MSP for foodgrains:

  • Cost of production
  • Changes in input prices
  • Input-output price parity
  • Trends in market prices
  • Demand and supply
  • Inter-crop price parity
  • Effect on industrial cost structure
  • Effect on cost of living
  • Effect on general price level
  • International price situation
  • Parity between prices paid and prices received by the farmers.
  • Effect on issue prices and implications for subsidy

 

Why is it important?

Price volatility makes life difficult for farmers. Though prices of agri commodities may soar while in short supply, during years of bumper production, prices of the very same commodities plummet. MSPs ensure that farmers get a minimum price for their produce in adverse markets. MSPs have also been used as a tool by the Government to incentivise farmers to grow crops that are in short supply.

COTTON CORPORATION OF INDIA

Established: 1970 under the Companies Act 1956

HQ: Mumbai

Governed by Textile Policy 1985.

CCI is a public sector agency responsible for equitable distribution of cotton among the different constituents of the industry and aid imports of cotton.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
%d bloggers like this: