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DAILY HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 7TH FEBRUARY 2020

Q.1 Consider the following statements
1. The Indian Factory Act, 1881 provided weekly holiday for all
2. Indian Factory Act, 1891 dealt primarily with the problem of child labour
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

Q.2 Consider the following statements
1. Warren Hastings was the first to bring into existence and organise the civil services.
2. Lytton introduced the statutory civil service.
3. In 1803, Satyendra Nath Tagore became the first Indian to qualify for the Indian Civil Service.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 1 and 3 only

Q.3 Aitchison Committee constituted during the British time is related to
A. Judicial Reforms
B. Public Service Reforms
C. Police reforms
D. None of the above

ANSWERS: D, B, B

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS: 

Putting up a strong defence of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in both Houses of Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cautioned that the ongoing protests might lead to a situation of anarchy and asked what would happen if people in the Opposition-ruled States refused to obey laws enacted by their own Assemblies.

Replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks to the President for his address to Parliament, he accused the Opposition of instigating people and sought to assure the members that no Indian citizen would be impacted by the CAA.

WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?

The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.

The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram , Manipur and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

ACT has reduce the time period required for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for members of these communities.

RBI MONETARY POLICY REVIEW

NEWS:

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided at a meeting on Thursday to keep the interest rates unchanged in the wake of a rise in inflation, but emphasised that there would be space for rate reduction.

This is the second straight policy review meeting where the rates have been kept unchanged. The RBI reduced the rates by 135 bps between February and October 2019 before pressing the pause button in the December policy review.

The MPC also decided to continue with an accommodative stance as long as it is necessary to revive growth.

The central bank took two measures that could ease lending rates further. One, it opened a window to extend ₹1 lakh crore to the commercial banks at the repo rate, which is 5.15%. Second, banks have been exempted from maintaining the cash reserve ratio — which is 4% of the net demand and time liabilities now — for home, auto and MSME loans that are extended from January 31 to July 31.

ABOUT MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE

  • Decisions regarding Monetary Policy are taken by Monetary Policy Committee.
  • RBI Act has been amended by Finance Act 2016 to provide for STATUTORY and institutionalized framework for a MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE for maintaining price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • MPC is entrusted with the task of setting benchmark policy rate (repo rate) required to contain inflation within the specified target level.
  • Meeting of MPC shall be held at least four times a year.
  • MPC has six members: three from the RBI (Governor of RBI as Chairperson, Deputy Governor of RBI in charge of Monetary Policy, One Officer of the RBI to be nominated by the Central Board) and three members appointed by Central Government.
  • Three members appointed by the Central Government holds office for period of four years.
  • Government of India in consultation with RBI has published inflation target at 4(+-2)%.

J&K PUBLIC SAFETY ACT

NEWS: 

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday slapped the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

By virtue of these PSA notices, the detention of PDP leader Ms. Mufti and NC leader Mr. Abdullah is extended by three months, and could be extended further, first up to six months and then one year without trial.

What is the J&K PSA?

  1. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA)received the assent of the J&K Governor on April 8, 1978.
  2. The law allows the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
  3. The PSA allows for administrative detention for up to two years“in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  4. Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates.
  5. Section 22 of the Actprovides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act: “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this Act.”
  6. Under Section 23 of the Act, the government is empowered to “make such Rules consistent with the provisions of this Act, as may be necessary for carrying out the objects of this Act”.

MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT

NEWS:

The Election Commission sent a notice to U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday for saying that the BJP did not have the “habit of serving biryani to terrorists as the Congress was doing in Kashmir and the Aam Aadmi Party in Shaheen Bagh”.

In another case of alleged model code violation, the EC has sent a notice to AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on a complaint that he told a news agency that the BJP would cause “major trouble” at the sites of anti-CAA protests in Delhi – Shaheen Bagh and Jamia. The poll panel has asked Mr. Singh to respond by Friday noon.

WHAT IS MCC?

These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.

AIM: To ensure free and fair elections.

WHEN DOES IT COMES INTO FORCE?

  • The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission.
  • Election Commission (EC) has announced that Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately in states where legislative assemblies have been dissolved prematurely.
  • The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.

 EVOLUTION:

  • The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971(5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
  • The MCC is not enforceable by law. However, certain provisions of the MCC may be enforced through invoking corresponding provisions in other statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • The Election Commission has argued against making the MCC legally binding; stating that elections must be completed within a relatively short time (close to 45 days), and judicial proceedings typically take longer, therefore it is not feasible to make it enforceable by law.

 THE MAIN POINTS OF THE CODE ARE:

  • Government bodies are not to participate in any new recruitment process during the electoral process.
  • The contesting candidates and their campaigners must respect the home life of their rivals and should not disturb them by holding road shows or demonstrations in front of their houses. The code tells the candidates to keep it.
  • The election campaign rallies and road shows must not hinder the road traffic.
  • Candidates are asked to refrain from distributing liquor to voters. It is a widely known fact in India that during election campaigning, liquor may be distributed to the voters.
  • The election code in force hinders the government or running party leaders from launching new welfare programmes like construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc. or any ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
  • The code instructs that public spaces like meeting grounds, helipads, government guest houses and bungalows should be equally shared among the contesting candidates. These public spaces should not be monopolised by a few candidates.

SURAJKUND FESTIVAL: The World’s Largest International Crafts Fair

NEWS: 

Location: Surajkund, Faridabad

Organised By: Surajkund Mela Authority in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture, External Affairs, Department of Tourism, Government of Haryana and Haryana Tourism Corporation
First Hosted In: 1987

PARTNER NATION: Uzbekistan

PARTNER STATE: HIMACHAL PRADESH

LOCUST ATTACK IN HARYANA

NEWS:

Haryana Agriculture Minister Jai Parkash Dalal on Thursday said that after the reports of locust attack in Punjab and Rajasthan, the State has also been put on high alert.

The Union Agriculture Ministry’s Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), headquartered in Jodhpur, has launched efforts on a war footing to control locusts. Teams carrying equipment were rushed to the villages this month to spray high-intensity malathion insecticide to prevent the spread of locusts to other areas.

About Locust

  • A locust is a large, mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.
  • Locusts are generally seen during the months of June and July as the insects are active from summer to the rainy season.
  • Locusts have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively large distances (they can fly up to 150 km per day). They can rapidly reproduce and increase some 20-fold in three months.
  • Threat to Vegetation: Locust adults can eat their own weight every day, i.e. about two grams of fresh vegetation per day. A very small swarm eats as much in one day as about 35,000 people, posing a devastating threat to crops and food security.
  • FAO provides information on the general locust situation to the global community and gives timely warnings and forecasts to those countries in danger of invasion.
  • Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Locust Warning Organization is located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

22ND INTERNATIONAL SEA FOOD SHOW

CORONA VIRUS

NEWS: 

The Indian armed forces are maintaining tight vigil along the borders with China and Nepal in view of the coronavirus outbreak in China, the Director-General of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Anup Banerji said on Thursday.

The government has sanctioned 10 research laboratories to screen and test samples of various pathogens, including the coronavirus, Lt. Gen. Banerji said.

He said the AFMS has responded to this national call and all stakeholders in the government and the defence are also pitching-in.

He also said that several Indians evacuated from Wuhan in China’s Hubei province were being provided all medical help at the quarantine facilities set up by the Army and ITBP.

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

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: MONETARY POLICY ANNOUNCEMENT BY RBI

Editorial highlights due to high inflation RBI was forced to find the other ways to reduce the rates drifting away from the customary REPO RATE.

RBI unleashed several measures that had an electric effect on the markets, driving down bond yields by 10-20 basis points in a matter of a minutes.

The exemption to banks from providing for cash reserve ratio on fresh retail loans disbursed after January 31 to purchase automobiles and residential houses, and to MSMEs, will help banks shave off a part of their costs.

Second, the introduction of one- and three-year term repos at policy rate of 5.15% for a total of ₹1 lakh crore is also aimed at prodding rates downward as banks now pay 6%-6.5% on deposits.

Third, the RBI has fine-tuned its liquidity management process in a manner designed to help banks manage their interest costs better.

Whether banks really do what the RBI has signalled to them — transmit lower rates to borrowers — depends on various factors, not the least of which is demand for credit.

By explicitly saying that there is “policy space available for future action”, the RBI has signalled that there could be at least one more cut in the months ahead in this rate-easing cycle.

The decision to extend the one-time restructuring of MSME loans, linking pricing of loans to medium enterprises to an external benchmark, and the nod for permitting extension of date of commencement of commercial operations for loans to commercial real estate are all welcome measures that raise questions of excessive forbearance but will certainly help the industry.

CONCLUSION

The RBI has gone on the front foot to boost growth in this policy after the conservative Budget presented last week. It is to be hoped that these steps will change the sentiment in the economy.

LEAD ARTICLE : INFORMAL SECTOR OF INDIAN ECONOMY

Author’s central argument in this article is that the informal sector should not be stigmatized and government should not push for unnecessary formalization.

EVIDENCE FOR SAYING SO?

In a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, economist Seema Jayachandran argues that there is no strong evidence from studies conducted in many developing countries that formalisation improves business outcomes.

In the second article, a background paper for the International Labour Organisation (ILO), economist Santosh Mehrotra calls formalisation an evolutionary process during which small, informal enterprises learn the capabilities required to operate in a more formal, global economy. He says they cannot be forced to formalise.

WHO BENEFITS FROM THE FORMALISATION OF FIRMS?

Formalisation does reduce the last-mile costs for banks.

The state finds it easier to monitor and to tax the firms that adopt its version of formality.

DEMERITS OF FORMALIZATION

Ms. Jayachandran’s study reveals that most of the formalities imposed from above, while making it easier for the state and the formal sector to do business with the informal sector, add to the costs of the firms that outweigh the benefits of formalisation.

She also finds that informal firms are able to improve their ability to do business in various ways. For example, small entrepreneurs gain from forming effective associations with their peers. They benefit greatly from ‘mentoring’. Skills of small entrepreneurs and their employees are best developed on-the-job. This is because they cannot afford the loss of income by taking time off for training.

Primary motivation of multinational companies for expanding their global supply chains is to tap into lower cost sources of supply. Supply chains compete with each other. When wages and costs increase in their source countries, they look for other lower cost sources. The lowest cost firms at the end of supply chains are generally informal. Thus, the push by the state to formalise firms is countered by the supply chain’s drive to lower its costs.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

The thrust of the Indian government’s policies should not be to reduce the size of the informal sector. Rather, it must be to improve working conditions for the citizens who earn incomes in the sector. Their safety at work, their dignity, and their fair treatment by employers must be the thrust of any reform.

Indeed, even in developed industrial countries, the informal sector is growing with advances in technologies, emergence of new business models, and growth of the gig economy.

First, the government and its policy advisers must stop denigrating the informal sector and trying to reduce its size.

Second, policymakers must learn how to speed up the process of learning within informal enterprises.

Third, policymakers must learn to support informal enterprises on their own terms. And they should not impose their own versions of formality on them for their own convenience.

Fourth, networks and clusters of small enterprises must be strengthened. They improve the efficiency of small firms by enabling sharing of resources; they give them more clout to improve the terms of trade in their favour within supply chains;

Fifth, the drumbeat for labour reforms must be changed. A vocal crowd has been harping on the need for bold reforms to make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers. These hire and fire laws are already not applicable to the small sector, where the vast majority of enterprises employ less than 10 persons. Hence, there is an urgent need for labour reforms in other ways. The laws should be simplified, and their administration improved. And, their thrust should be to improve the conditions of workers.

Finally, the social security framework for all citizens must be strengthened, especially for those who have to scramble for work in the informal sector. Health insurance and availability of health services must be improved, and disability benefits and old-age pensions must be enhanced.

SECOND ARTICLE: ANALYSIS OF THE NEW TAX SYSTEM

Author highlights that in her Budget speech Finance Minister announced new tax system. New system, as claimed by Minister, is said to be simpler and more efficient.

Author argues that this new announcement has more complicated the entire tax system.

Now taxpayers are tasked with double the amount of work — they now have to compare the two systems and make a decision on which one is more favourable for them.

Another factor complicating the taxpayers’ filing process is that it isn’t clear now which exemption will be scrapped in the near term and which one will continue in the long term. The new system, therefore, leaves taxpayers worse on both counts.

The new taxation system also marks a departure from a scenario where the state used direct taxes and exemptions to incentivise investment in key sectors.

Another important issue with the new tax system is that it removes all incentives to save in an economy that is already seeing a steady decline in our household savings rate, fuelled by unemployment.

Nobel-winning behavioural economist Richard Thaler, a favourite of Narendra Modi and who applauded the Prime Minister for his work on Swachh Bharat, has worked extensively on encouraging Americans to save for retirement. It was his research that persuaded American lawmakers to reform the retirement scheme.

This change encouraged employers to enrol workers automatically for the retirement savings plan, increasing participation rates among young American workers. Our government seems to be encouraging the young taxpayers to do the opposite.

CONCLUSION

Finally, it was disappointing that the Budget gave such a disproportionate emphasis on tax reform, considering the fact that taxpayers constitute hardly 2.5% of the population. With 60% of the population engaged in agriculture and allied activities, any real demand stimulation would have had to begin with the rural sector. Hence, the low allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and PM-KISAN was unfortunate.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: LEAK OF MEDICAL DATA

WHY IN NEWS?

The report by a German cybersecurity firm that medical details of millions of Indian patients were leaked and are freely available on the Internet is worrying. The firm listed 1.02 million studies of Indian patients and 121 million medical images, including CT Scans, MRIs and even photos of the patients, as being available.

WHY THIS LEAK IS A CAUSE FOR WORRY?

Such information has the potential to be mined for deeper data analysis and for creating profiles that could be used for social engineering, phishing and online identity theft, among other practices that thrive on the availability of such data on the Darknet — restricted computer networks which exchange information using means such as peer-to-peer file sharing.

WHY SUCH A LEAK?

The reason for the availability of this data is the absence of any security in the Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) servers used by medical professionals and which seem to have been connected to the public Internet without protection.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

Government should come out with comprehensive Data Protection Act.

 

OP-ED PAGE 

FRIDAY DISCUSSION: CAN BUDGET PROVIDE STIMULUS TO GROWTH

The three themes — aspirational India, economic development, caring society were the right areas to focus up on.

But there were severe constraints when it came to actually giving any kind of a stimulus.

Announcement of the new tax slab will not attract much people and hence consumption spending will hardly improve.

The savings rate, the financial savings rate for households has been dropping quite sharply over the years. This trend will continue even after this budget.

To get back savings, to get back healthy macroeconomic variables, India need’s the investment climate coming back again, and a lot, lot needs to be done on the structural side before that happens.

POSITIVES FROM THE BUDGET

Whatever investment needs to happen, whatever risk capital needs to come into the country, primarily it is coming from offshore through foreign investors because domestic investors and institutions as of now, whether banks, mutual funds and to a large extent insurance companies, lack the risk appetite in terms of putting money, risk capital to work in the current context. And the only people who are willing to do that seem to be offshore investors. So, the Budget recognises that and to some extent offers a much cleaner, easier environment, from a tax perspective, and from an incentive perspective, for foreign investors to access local markets and provide risk capital.

SECOND ARTICLE: NEED TO REDUCE CUSTODIAL DEATH

WHY IN NEWS?

On October 13, 2019, Pradeep Tomar, a security guard, rushed with his 10-year-old son to Pilkhua police station in Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh. He had been summoned for interrogation in connection with a murder case. The son later said that his father was brutally tortured by the policemen in front of him for hours. When Tomar’s condition deteriorated he was rushed to hospital, where he died.

Custodial deaths have been on the increase in recent years. They increased by 9% from 92 in 2016 to 100 in 2017, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Since policemen responsible for custodial deaths rarely get punished, they feel emboldened to continue using torture as the tool to get to the truth. In 2015, for instance, the police registered cases against fellow police officers in only 33 of the 97 custodial deaths.

WHAT COULD BE DONE TO CHANGE THE SITUATION?

Police Complaints Authority where any citizen can lodge a complaint against policemen for any act of misdemeanour should be formed.

Until exemplary punishment is meted out to policemen who are responsible for custodial deaths after proper judicial inquiry, not much can be expected to ameliorate the situation.

Proper interrogation techniques coupled with use of scientific methods to extract the truth from suspects can go a long way in reducing custodial deaths.

BODO ACCORD

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kokrajhar on Friday to attend an event to celebrate the signing of the Bodo Accord.

FIRST BODO ACCORD

The first accord, signed in 1993, was considered toothless.  It led to the creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) with some limited political powers.

SECOND BODO ACCORD

The second Bodo Accord, signed in 2003, led to the creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), but Vajpayee, considered its catalyst, could not attend the ceremony to mark its formal signing that year.

THIRD BODO ACCORD 2020

  • Bodoland Territorial Region would include the villages which are dominated by Bodos but are outside BTAD presently. Villages with non-Bodo population would be excluded from it.
    • A committee will be formed to decide the exclusion and inclusion of new areas. Subsequently, the total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
    • Both the representatives of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be present in the committee.
    • Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council will be set up for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD.
  • Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • Bodo language with Devanagari script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.
  • However, the agreement has not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD yet.
  • Around 1500 cadres of NDFB will be rehabilitated and assimilated by the Central and the state governments.
    • The criminal cases registered against factions of NDFB members for non-heinous crimes shall be withdrawn and the cases of heinous crimes will be reviewed.
  • Comprehensive solutions have been made to redress the grievances of the people.
    • Families of the people killed during the Bodo movement would get ₹5 lakh each.
    • Special Development Package of ₹1500 crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

 

 

 

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