DAILY HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 5TH FEBRUARY 2020

Q.1 Which of the following reasons prompted British to promote English Education in India?
1. Need to ensure a cheap supply of educated Indians to man an increasing number of subordinate
posts in administration.
2. Educated Indians would help expand market for British manufactures in India.
3. Western education would reconcile Indians to British rule.
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 2 and 3 only

B. 1, 2 and 3
C. 3 only
D. 1 and 3 only

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Vernacular Press Act, 1878
1. The magistrate’s action was final and no appeal could be made in a court of law.
2. Surendranath Banerjea became the first Indian journalist to be imprisoned after enactment of Act.
3. Lord Curzon repealed the act
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 only
C. 1 and 3 only
D. 2 and 3 only

Q.3  Consider the following statements
1. James Augustus Hickey in 1780 started The Bengal Gazette.
2. Press Act, 1835 required a printer/publisher to give a precise account of premises of a publication
and cease functioning.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS: B,A,C

NATIONAL REGISTER OF CITIZENS

NEWS:

The government informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that till now it “has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the national level”.

While replying to another question, Mr. Rai said the “government is in discussion with the States having concerns in regard to the preparation of National Population Register (NPR)”.

Mr. Rai said in a written reply that “during the exercise of updation of NPR, no verification is done to find individuals whose citizenship is doubtful”.

ABOUT NRC

What is National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

  • National Register of Citizens, 1951 is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein.
  • The NRC was published only once in 1951.

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.

ANTI DEFECTION LAW

NEWS:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Tamil Nadu Speaker P. Dhanapal a week’s time to inform when he will take cognisance of the disqualification petitions filed under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) against Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and 10 other AIADMK MLAs for voting against the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami in February 2017.

What is Anti-defection law?

The anti-defection law was passed by parliament in 1985 strengthened in 2002. The 52nd amendment to the Constitution added the Tenth Schedule which laid down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection.

Conditions of Disqualification If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  1. Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party.
  2. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  3. If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  4. If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature
  5. The decision on questions are to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.
  6. All proceedings in relation to disqualification under this Schedule are deemed to be proceedings in Parliament or in the Legislature of a state.

91st Amendment Act

  • It omitted paragraph three from the Tenth Schedule that allowed one-third of the parliamentarians/legislators to split from their parent party.
  • However, it left paragraph four in place, which allows two-thirds of the members of a parliamentary/legislative party to merge with an existing political party or form a new political party.
  • Essentially what this constitutional amendment did was raise the wholesale defection bar from one-third to two-thirds

The law also made a few exceptions:

  • Any person elected as speaker or chairman could resign from his party, and re-join the party if he demitted that post.
  • A party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds (Initially one-third) of its party legislators voted for the merger.

CORONA VIRUS 

NEWS: 

Two persons who had returned from China recently and were under observation for novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection in Kozhikode, Kerala, have left the country for Saudi Arabia, violating the State Health Department’s instructions to remain under home quarantine till the end of the 28-day incubation period of the virus.

District Medical Officer V. Jayasree said efforts were being made to trace the two persons.

ABOUT CORONA VIRUS

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Symptoms:

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Transmission:

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  1. the air by coughing and sneezing.
  2. close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  3. touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  4. rarely, fecal contamination

NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL

NEWS:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has restrained a real estate developer from constructing a housing complex next to Delhi University (DU) campus in north Delhi.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “While accepting prayer for adjournment, we direct that the project proponent may not proceed with any further activity till further consideration of the matter by this Tribunal.”

ABOUT NGT:

National Green Tribunal was formed under the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010. Act was enacted under the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21 which assures the citizens of India the right to healthy environment.

Tribunal has been created for effective and expeditious disposal of the cases relating to environmental protection and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

Tribunal is mandated to make endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals filing within 6 months of the filing of the same.

Chairman of the tribunal must be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or judge of the Supreme Court of India. 

The tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. 

New Delhi is the principle place of sitting of the tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkatta and Chennai are other four places of sitting of the tribunal.

Present NGT Chairperson is Justice (Retired) Adarsh Kumar Goel.

UNESCO CERTIFICATE FOR JAIPUR

NEWS: 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will dedicate the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) world heritage site certificate for Jaipur to the people at a function here on Wednesday. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will be felicitated on the occasion.

Ms. Azoulay’s visit to Jaipur assumes significance after the UNESCO declared the Walled City, famous for its grid plan-based architecture and buildings constructed with the pink facade, as a world heritage site in July last year.

The capital city of Jaipur, included in the list of world heritage sites, was founded in 1727 by the then Kachwaha Rajput ruler of Amber, Sawai Jai Singh II. The city was established on the plains and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture.

ABOUT UNESCO

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the UN based in Paris.

Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the UN charter.

It is the successor of the League of Nations International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Set up on 16 November 1945.

UNESCO has 195 member states and ten associate members.

UNESCO secures international cooperation agreements to secure the worlds cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites).

FOREST FIRES

LACK OF ANGANWADI SERVICES IN URBAN AREAS

NEWS: 

For every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in the country, only seven are in urban areas, according to the government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) query from The Hindu.

This is primarily because of a severe lack of anganwadis in cities, leading to poor coverage of the government’s flagship programme in early childhood development.

ABOUT ANGANWADIS

Anganwadis or day-care centres are set up under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by the Women and Child Development Ministry to provide a package of six services.

The services include:

  • supplementary nutrition;
  • pre-school non-formal education;
  • immunisation,
  • nutrition and
  • health education;
  • as well as referral services.

The aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition.

Beneficiaries include children in the age group of six months to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.

As per Census 2011, 32% of India’s 1.2 billion population live in cities, though experts have said that if the definition of an urban settlement was broadened, the share of urban population will be much higher.

CONDITION OF MALNUTRITION IN INDIA

A recent first-of-its kind pan-India study on nutrition status, the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18, found that 35% of children under five were stunted and 17% were wasted.

It also said 22% of children in the age group of 5-9 years were stunted and 23% were thin for their age. Also, 20% of those in the 10-19 years age group were thin for their age.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: RECOMMENDATIONS OF 15TH FINANCE COMMISSION

WHEN WAS 15TH FINANCE COMMISSION APPOINTED?

The appointment of the Fifteenth Finance Commission by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution was notified on November 27, 2017. It was required to submit the report by October 30, 2019 for five years for the period 2020-21 to 2024-25.

WHY IT IS IN NEWS?

The first report submitted by the Commission was placed in Parliament by the Union Finance Minister before presenting the Union Budget on February 1, 2019.

EXTENSION OF TENURE

It was required to submit the report by October 30, 2019 for five years for the period 2020-21 to 2024-25. However, due to various political and fiscal developments, notifications were issued first, on July 27 extending the tenure of the Commission up to November 30, 2019, and again on November 29 requiring it to submit two reports, one for 2020-21 and the second covering the period of five years beginning April 1, 2021 and further extending the tenure up to October 30, 2021.

WHY EXTENDED?

First, the abolition of Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir required the Commission to make an estimation excluding the Union Territory.

Second, the deceleration in growth and low inflation has substantially slowed down the nominal GDP growth which is the main tax base proxy; making projections of tax revenues and expenditures based on this for the medium term could have posed serious risks.

Finally, poor revenue performance of tax collection and more particularly Goods and Services Tax combined with the fact that the compensation agreement to the loss of revenue to the States was effective only two years of the period covered by the Commission’s recommendations posed uncertainties.

WHAT ARE THE CRITERION USED BY FINANCE COMMISSION FOR DEVOLVING TAXES?

  • income distance 45%
  • population 15%
  • area 15%
  • forest cover 10%
  • Demographic performance 12.5%
  • tax effort 2.5%

MAJOR LOSERS

In terms of relative shares in tax devolution, among the major States the biggest loser is Karnataka followed by Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The major reason for Karnataka and Kerala losing on devolution is that their per capita income growth has been faster than most other States.

GRANTS FOR LOCAL BODIES

The recommended grants for local bodies amount to ₹90,000 crore comprising ₹60,750 crore for panchayats and the remaining ₹29,250 crore for municipal bodies. All the three layers of panchayats will receive the grant and 50% of the grant is tied to improving sanitation and supply of drinking water; the remaining is untied. In the case of municipal bodies, ₹9,229 crore is allocated to cities with a million-plus population and the remaining ₹20,021 is allocated to other towns.

REMAINING CHALLENGE

The challenge, however, will be to design and dovetail sectoral and performance grants with the existing plethora of central sector and centrally sponsored schemes.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: INDIA’S NEGLECT OF INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION

WHY IMO IS IN NEWS?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency tasked with regulating shipping, had mandated that merchant ships should not burn fuel with sulphur content greater than 0.5% beginning January 1.

Before the ban, fuel had a comfortable sulphur content limit of 3.5%, which was applicable to most parts of the world. Despite the industry gradually gearing up to introduce the new fuel, many industry professionals feared that the new very-low-sulphur fuel would be incompatible with the engines and other vessel equipment.

IMO has announced an ambitious project to decarbonise shipping in order to reduce carbon emissions. These regulations are triggering massive technological, operational and structural changes; they come at a price which will have to be borne to a large extent by developing countries such as India.

The IMO currently lists India as among the 10 states with the “largest interest in international seaborne trade”. But India’s participation in the IMO to advance its national interests has been desultory and woefully inadequate.

ABOUT IMO

Shipping, which accounts for over 90% by volume and about 80% by value of global trade, is a highly regulated industry with a range of legislation promulgated by the IMO.

The IMO currently has 174 member states and three associate members; there are also scores of non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations.

Structurally, maritime matters are dealt by the committees of the IMO — the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), Technical Cooperation Committee, Legal Committee and the Facilitation Committee. Each committee is designated a separate aspect of shipping and supported by sub-committees. Working groups and correspondence groups support the subcommittees.

NEGLECT BY INDIA

To ensure that their maritime interests are protected, the European countries move their proposals in unison and voting or support are given en bloc. China, Japan, Singapore, Korea and a few others represent their interests through their permanent representative as well as ensuring that a large delegation takes part and intervenes in the meetings.

While these countries have fiercely protected their interests, India has not. For example, its permanent representative post at London has remained vacant for the last 25 years. Representation at meetings is often through a skeletal delegation, approved by the Ministry. Participation in IMO meetings is seen more as a junket. A review of IMO documents shows that the number of submissions made by India in the recent past has been measly and not in proportion to India’s stakes in global shipping.

The IMO’s demarcation resulted in half the Arabian Sea and virtually the entire south-west coast of India being seen as piracy-infested, despite the presence of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard.

The “High Risk Area” formulation led to a ballooning of insurance costs; it affected goods coming into or out of India. It took great efforts to revoke the promulgation and negate the financial burden. The episode highlighted India’s apathy and inadequate representation at the IMO. There was also great difficulty in introducing the indigenously designed NavIC (NAVigation with Indian Constellation) in the worldwide maritime navigation system.

CONCLUSION

So far, India’s presence and participation in the IMO has been at the individual level. India should now make its presence felt so that its national interests are served. It is time India regained its status as a major maritime power.

SECOND EDITORIAL: POLICE HIGH HANDEDNESS IN BIDAR

WHY IN NEWS?

The action taken by the police against a private school in Bidar district of Karnataka must rank among the worst instances of the misuse of the sedition provision in penal law in recent times.

It is unbelievable that the police would waste their time in pursuing a complaint by a right-wing activist about a play performed by children between the ages of nine and 12. That primary schoolchildren are being subjected to sustained harassment with utter disregard for child-friendly laws and procedures is an egregious violation that the police seem to be committing with impunity.

RECENT SUPREME COURT COMMENT

It was only a few days ago that a Supreme Court Bench observed that words such as ‘anti-national’ and ‘sedition’ were being bandied about loosely these days. The incident in Bidar exemplifies this trend. And it also confirms that the law is often used to silence political comment on matters deemed sensitive by the rulers.

REMOVE SEDITION

Sedition, an outdated provision which deserves no place in a modern penal code, has been invoked to portray political dissent as promotion of disaffection. Often forgotten is the fact that it cannot be invoked without the essential ingredients for invoking the section, namely, an imminent threat to public order and incitement to take up arms or resort to violence.

CONCLUSION

Given the pervasive misuse of the sedition provision as well as the power to arrest, it may be time to strengthen conduct rules to provide for exemplary punishment to police personnel who violate constitutional guarantees of free speech and personal liberty in an arbitrary way.

OP-ED PAGE

FIRST ARTICLE: HOW TO REDUCE NRC ADMINISTRATIVE BURDENS

The Once-Only Principle

The European Union countries, as part of the 2017 Tallinn Declaration on e-Government, have come together to enact the ‘The Once-Only Principle (TOOP)’.

TOOP aims to remove unnecessary administrative burdens on citizens by mandating that citizens are not required to provide the same information more than once to the government. TOOP requires the enacting of the legal and implementation framework that fully realises the individual liberties already bestowed by the Constitution and reiterated by the Supreme Court.

Under this law, the government first presents the full details of all the information which is already available with it to the citizen. It then requests that the individual verify and correct any errors, by providing multiple, non-coercive opportunities to furnish only further information or additional documents as necessary.

TOOP can set India on a time-bound path towards fulfilling the promise of a procedural rights-based democracy by elevating the rule-of-law standards for everyday governance to match other advanced democracies.

SECOND ARTICLE: CHANGES IN THE DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT 2005

Recent reports suggest that the Union Cabinet will be taking up the proposal to amend the Disaster Management Act of 2005, which largely focuses on improving preparedness, providing immediate relief, and protecting infrastructure. However, it neglects a key aspect of disaster management – long-term recovery.

HISTORY OF DMA 2005

The Disaster Management Act was enacted to effectively prevent, mitigate and prepare for disasters. It came into being on the heels of three major disasters in the Indian subcontinent: the 1999 super cyclone in Odisha, the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Act mandated the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority, State Disaster Management Authorities, and District Disaster Management Authorities.

It laid down the framework, roles and responsibilities of these bodies to formulate and implement disaster management plans at their levels.

The Act rightly emphasises the need to move from responding to disasters to effective preparedness, which has led to most States investing in resilient infrastructure, early warning systems and evacuation. However, steps towards recovery and rehabilitation of disaster-affected people are hardly discussed.

LONG TERM RECOVERY

Recovery measures should address inherent vulnerabilities pertaining to livelihoods, education, water, sanitation, health, and ecology of the disaster-affected communities. Intangible losses such as psychosocial needs of the communities should be given equal emphasis.

Long-term recovery needs to be thought of alongside development in an integrated and comprehensive manner by combining with health, skill building, and livelihood diversification schemes. This would ensure that communities have, at the very least, recovered to a new normal before the next disaster strikes. This understanding is crucial to the lawmakers looking to the amend the Act.

END OF FREE ENTRY FOR INDIANS IN BHUTAN

NEWS:

Ending decades of free entry to Indian tourists visiting Bhutan, the government in Thimphu has decided to levy a daily ₹1,200 ($17) fee for “regional tourists” from India, the Maldives and Bangladesh, beginning July 2020.

The fee, called a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), is meant to help the government deal with burgeoning numbers in tourist traffic, which it is seeking to regulate through a new tourism policy.

Indians mainly travel to the more developed western region of Bhutan. In a move to promote tourism in Bhutan’s eastern region as well, the government has decided to drop SDF charges for tourists visiting 11 of 20 total districts that fall in the east from Trongsa to Trashigang.

INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING

NEWS:

Thousands of LIC employees staged a walkout from their offices on Tuesday against the government’s plan for an initial public offer (IPO).

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, said the government would sell a part of its stake through an IPO.

ABOUT IPO

An initial public offering (IPO) refers to the process of offering shares of a private corporation to the public in a new stock issuance. Public share issuance allows a company to raise capital from public investors.

ABOUT LIC

  • LIC was established in 1956 by an act of Parliament of India which nationalised the private insurance industry in India.
  • LIC was created by merging around 245 insurance companies and other provident societies.
  • The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) handles the largest number of insurance policies in the world.
  • HQ: MUMBAI

GROWTH IN SHARE MARKET

NEWS: 

A firm trend in the global equity markets on the back of lower crude prices propelled the Indian benchmarks on Tuesday to clock their best-ever single day gain in over four months.

The 30-share Sensex gained 917.07 points, or 2.3%, to close at 40,789.38 as 28 of its constituents ended the day in positive territory.

Incidentally, crude prices last touched these levels almost 13 months ago and are currently 20% lower than the highs witnessed in January, thereby entering a bear market, by definition.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data released on Monday showed that the country’s manufacturing activity expanded in January at its quickest pace in nearly eight years.

ABOUT PURCHASING MANAGERS INDEX

Purchasing Mangers Indexes is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector.

PMI is based on five major indicators:

  1. New Orders
  2. Inventory Levels
  3. Production
  4. Supplier Deliveries
  5. Empolyment Environment

For India, the PMI data is published by Japanese firm Nikkei but compiled and constructed by Markit Economics.

 

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