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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 27TH FEBRUARY 2020

ISSUE: MH 60 ROMEO HELICOPTERS AND APACHE HELICOPTERS

The India-US Joint Statement issued at the end of the presidential visit noted that “President Trump welcomed India’s recent decision to procure MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters”.

MH-60 Romeo helicopters

The incoming 24 multirole MH-60 Romeo helicopters are expected to boost the Indian Navy’s efforts to expand its role in the Indian Ocean Region. The Navy had long asked for these helicopters, and the $2.2 billion deal was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security last week.

The MH-60 Romeo Seahawk, made by defence giant Lockheed Martin, is one of the most advanced naval helicopters in the world, used by the US Navy among others. It will be purchased directly from the US government under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the US Department of Defence (DoD).

It is the most capable and mature Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) multi-mission helicopter available in the world today, the makers say.

The MH-60 is designed to hunt down submarines and will add to the strategic depth and combat capability of the Indian Navy. It is capable of launching Hellfire missiles from the right and left extended pylons.

It also has an advanced system for passive detection, location, and identification of emitters. It can not only track and hunt ships, but is also used by the US Navy as an anti-submarine weapon.

MH-60 Romeo Seahawks have equipped with anti-submarine Mark 54 torpedoes and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, along with precision-kill rockets.

Apache helicopters

The Army will receive six Apache helicopters that will cost approximately $800 million.

The six choppers for the Army will be in addition to the 22 Apache helicopters that have already been ordered for the Air Force. This will be a direct commercial sale.

The Apaches can operate at high altitudes, and will be deployed along the Pakistan border. The Army is likely to get the helicopters armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles and Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles.

Among the Apache’s modern capabilities are the ability to shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets, and other munitions. It also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility in network-centric aerial warfare.

The choppers are all-weather capable and have high agility and survivability against battle damage. They can be easily maintained in field conditions as well as during operations in the tropical and desert regions.

ISSUE: CENTRAL CONSUMER PROTECTION AUTHORITY

LAST WEEK, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan announced that a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be established by the first week of April. This was after the Minister held consultations with industry representatives about the role and functioning of a proposed CCPA.

What is the CCPA?

The authority is being constituted under Section 10(1) of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The Act replaced The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and seeks to widen its scope in addressing consumer concerns. The new Act recognises offences such as providing false information regarding the quality or quantity of a good or service, and misleading advertisements. It also specifies action to be taken if goods and services are found “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe”.

The CCPA, introduced in the new Act, aims to protect the rights of the consumer by cracking down on unfair trade practices, and false and misleading advertisements that are detrimental to the interests of the public and consumers.

The CCPA will have the powers to inquire or investigate into matters relating to violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices suo motu, or on a complaint received, or on a direction from the central government. Sources said the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is in the process of finalising the rules relating to the composition and functioning of the CCPA, and these are expected to be notified by April.

What can the possible structure be?

Sources said the proposed authority will be a lean body with a Chief Commissioner as head, and only two other commissioners as members — one of whom will deal with matters relating to goods while the other will look into cases relating to services. It will be headquartered in the National Capital Region of Delhi but the central government may set up regional offices in other parts of the country.

The CCPA will have an Investigation Wing that will be headed by a Director General. District Collectors too, will have the power to investigate complaints of violations of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and false or misleading advertisements.

What kind of goods, and food items in particular, can be classified as “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe”?

This is not specified in the notification of the Act. Regarding food, an official said the CCPA will ensure that all standards on packaged food items set by regulators such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are being followed.

What will the CCPA do if any goods or services are found not meeting these standards?

Under Section 20 of The Consumer Protection Act, the proposed authority will have powers to recall goods or withdrawal of services that are “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe; pass an order for refund the prices of goods or services so recalled to purchasers of such goods or services; and discontinuation of practices which are unfair and prejudicial to consumer’s interest”.

For manufacture, selling, storage, distribution, or import of adulterated products, the penalties are:

* If injury is not caused to a consumer, fine up to Rs 1 lakh with imprisonment up to six months;
* If injury is caused, fine up to Rs 3 lakh with imprisonment up to one year;
* If grievous hurt is caused, fine up to Rs 5 lakh with imprisonment up to 7 years;
* In case of death, fine of Rs 10 lakh or more with a minimum imprisonment of 7 years, extendable to imprisonment for life.

How will it deal with false or misleading advertisements?

Section 21 of the new Act defines the powers given to the CCPA to crack down on false or misleading advertisements. According to these provisions, if the CCPA is satisfied after investigation that any advertisement is false or misleading and is harmful to the interest of any consumer, or is in contravention of consumer rights, the CCPA may issue directions to the trader, manufacturer, endorser, advertiser, or publisher to discontinue such an advertisement, or modify it in a manner specified by the authority, within a given time. The authority may also impose a penalty up to Rs 10 lakh, with imprisonment up to two years, on the manufacturer or endorser of false and misleading advertisements. The penalty may go up to Rs 50 lakh, with imprisonment up to five years, for every subsequent offence committed by the same manufacturer or endorser.

CCPA may ban the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making endorsement of any products or services in the future, for a period that may extend to one year. The ban may extend up to three years in every subsequent violation of the Act.

What other powers will the CCPA have?

While conducting an investigation after preliminary inquiry, officers of the CCPA’s Investigation Wing will have the powers to enter any premise and search for any document or article, and to seize these. For search and seizure, the CCPA will have similar powers given under the provisions of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The CCPA can file complaints of violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It will issue safety notices to alert consumers against dangerous or hazardous or unsafe goods or services.

ISSUE: ANALYSIS OF TRUMP’S VISIT TO INDIA

HIDING THE TRUTH

The spectacle put up at huge public expense by the Narendra Modi government to welcome President Donald Trump in Gujarat speaks volumes about the penchant for exhibitionism and the utter servility of the people in power towards the US. A most gross act was to construct a wall to hide a slum that fell on the route that Trump’s cavalcade followed. The Modi regime, instead of wiping out poverty, chose to hide poverty-stricken people out of sight to make a false impression on a visiting dignitary. The action is an affront to the dignity and poise of the people of India.

WASTING MONEY AT THE TIME OF SLOWDOWN

The splurge of public funds at a time when the Indian economy is going through an unprecedented slowdown is unacceptable. Even President Trump’s visit to the sacred Sabarmati Ashram, where in the visitors’ book he expressed thanks to Prime Minister Modi but failed to mention Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated across the nation, was in contrast to the ethos and legacy of the Ashram: Sabarmati was the nursery of satyagraha and the nucleus of the freedom movement till 1930, the year of the epoch-making Salt Satyagraha. The chest-thumping and muscular mannerism that dominated the welcome accorded to President Trump in Gujarat constituted an affront to Gandhian grace and decency.

The whole extravaganza made it appear that a lord and master was being welcomed by a serf. By any yardstick, India stood diminished in stature.

CONCLUSION

Whatever the deals clinched between the US and India, Trump has succeeded in getting the Modi government to boost the American economy at a time when the Indian economy is in shambles. Now, Delhi has joined a global comprehensive strategic partnership with the US, thereby undermining India’s independent foreign policy.

We, the people of India, have to stand up to defend the country and its interests. That is the only hope for the future.

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