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THE HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 14TH DECEMBER 2019

Q.1 Settlement of boundary dispute between India and another country requires which of the following?

  1. A constitutional amendment under the Article 368
  2. Parliament’s approval by simple majority under Article 3
  3. An executive order
  4. Referendum across India

 

Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. The ideal of justice in the Preamble has been taken from the French Revolution
  2. The preamble ensures only political and economic justice to the citizens

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

 

Q.3 The term Dark Sky Reserve is often seen in news is

  1. An area in space with high concentration of artificial satellites
  2. An area kept free of light pollution
  3. An area of high ozone layer depletion
  4. An area with carbon di oxide sequestration

 

BORIS JOHNSON

NEWS: Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a crushing election victory, ending three years of uncertainty since the country decided to leave the European Union.

Results pouring in from the 650 parliamentary constituencies showed that Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party had trounced its main opponent, winning 365 seats to the Labour Party’s 203. The Scottish National Party won 48, while Liberal Democrats got 11 seats.

A vindication for Mr. Johnson and his simple campaign message “Get Brexit Done”, the result represented the biggest House of Commons majority for the Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 triumph.

ABOUT BREXIT

Brexit refers to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

It follows the referendum held on 23rd June 2016 when 51.9% of those who voted supported the withdrawal of UK from European Union.

On 29 March 2017 UK Government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (also known as LISBON TREATY).

The UK was due to leave European Union on 29th March 2019 at 11pm when the period for negotiating a withdrawal agreement will end unless an extension is agreed.

However exit was delayed as UK and EU failed to reach an agreement over exit.

 

SABRIMALA TEMPLE

NEWS:The Supreme Court on Friday advocated patience to women of menstruating age fighting for their right to enter and worship at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The law was in their favour and any judicial order at this time may spark violence. The situation was already “explosive,” it said.

On November 14, a Bench of five judges, sitting in review of the judgment, referred the question of whether a woman’s right to worship was subservient to age-old religious customs, faith and traditions, however unequal, to a seven-judge Bench.

The Review Bench, however, did not stay the verdict allowing women in the 10 to 50 age to enter the temple.

ABOUT SABRIMALA TEMPLE

Sabrimala temple is a  Hindu pilgrimage center located in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat region of Pathanamthitta District of Kerala.

The famous pilgirmage is located in the 18 hills.

The shrine at Sabrimala is ancient temple of Ayyappan.

Sabarimala deity is a Naishtika Brahmachari

ARGUMENTS GIVEN IN FAVOR OF TEMPLE ENTRY:

  • Under Article 51A(h) it is the fundamental duty of citizens to develop scientific temper, humanism, spirit of inquiry and reform.
  • Exclusion of menstruating women was akin to treating them as children of lesser god. Exclusion especially based on biological attribute amounted to untouchability an abolished social evil.
  • Discriminates on the ground of sex.
  • Courts can set aside religious practices which violates fundamental rights like dignity of women.

ARGUMENTS GIVEN AGAINST TEMPLE ENTRY:-

  • Article 51A (e) says that it is the fundamental duty of the citizens to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood.
  • Exclusion was not based on gender or sex but on religious faith and in character of deity.
  • Tantra Samuchayam does not consider mensuration as impurity and court was misled.
  • Every devotee has fundamental right to worship in a temple in a manner which is in sync with the character of the deity.

 

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019

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.

These amendments will enable acquisition of Indian citizenship by persons who were forced to seek shelter in India due to persecution or fear of it on grounds of religion and will extend the facility to the class of persons presently facing hardships and difficulties in acquiring citizenship.

Amended act says that 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.

Amended act will 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 and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Citizens of other States require ILP to visit the three States as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

 

AIR QUALITY INDEX:

NEWS: Heavy overnight rain lashed the city on Friday bringing down the temperatures during the day, causing waterlogging at several parts of the city. The Capital recorded its highest December rainfall in a 24-hour period in over a decade, the Met department said.

The air quality is likely to remain in the “poor” category on Saturday and is expected to deteriorate slightly on Sunday, according to government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research.

ABOUT AIR QUALITY INDEX:

Air Quality Index is a number used by the government agencies to communicate

to the public how polluted air currently is and how polluted it is expected to

become.

There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted,

Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.

AQI considers eight pollutants

  1. PM10,
  2. PM 2.5,
  3. NO2,
  4. SO2,
  5. CO,
  6. O3,
  7. NH3, and
  8. Pb

 

Air Quality Index was launched by Central Pollution Control Board under Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

 ABOUT CPCB :-

Central Pollution Control Board is a statutory organization under Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974.

It serves as field formation and also provides technical services to the MOEFCC under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1986.

It coordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards and guide them and resolves disputes between them.

CPCB is generally led by the career civil servant. Current acting chairman is S P Singh Parihar.

 

SOLUTION FOR WATER CRISIS

NEWS: Ramon Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh, better known as ‘The Waterman of India’, on Friday said that community-driven, and decentralised water management solutions were the answers to the country’s water crisis, adding that the democracy today was not people-driven, but corporate-driven.

He said that the problem was global, but the solution to it was local.

DATA RELATED TO WATER CRISIS

In the current year, 190 districts were flooded while 365 districts across 17 districts faced drought.

72% of India faced high to extremely high water stress.

Water in 2.65 lakh villages across the country was not fit for drinking.

WATER HARVESTING

In reply to a query from the audience, Dr. Singh asserted that solution did not lie in the linking of the rivers, but in water harvesting.

He said that in metro cities such as Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad and Meerut, where the problem of depleting groundwater was even more severe, rain water should be harvested and not allowed to be mixed with sewage.

WATER LITERACY

He also advocated the need for “water literacy” movement in the urban areas to create awareness.

SUITABLE CROPPING PATTERN

He emphasized the need for congruity between the crop and the rain patterns since around 80% of the water was used in agriculture.

 

AP DISHA ACT

NEWS: Days after the rape and murder of the 26-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad, which sparked off national outrage, Andhra Pradesh became the first State to enact a law aimed at awarding capital punishment to the guilty in specified offences against women and to complete trial in such cases within 21 days of the crime.

The A.P. Assembly on Friday unanimously passed two Bills, Andhra Pradesh Disha Act — A.P. Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children Act 2019, and A.P. Disha Act — Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Act 2019, to constitute special courts in every district for speedy trial of specified offences against women and children and for amending sections in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, adding new sections and awarding capital punishment to those convicted of rape. Minister for Home M. Sucharita introduced the Bills in the afternoon.

 

KOLAM TRIBALS

Kolam are a designated Scheduled Tribe in the Indian states of Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. They belong to the sub-category Particularly vulnerable tribal group.

 

ACCESSIBLE INDIA CAMPAIGN

NEWS: The deadline for the government’s Accessible India campaign that aims at making public spaces friendly for persons with disabilities has been extended due to “slow progress,” the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has informed the Lok Sabha.

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishanpal Gurjar said “due to slow progress, revised deadlines have been extended to March 2020.”

The original deadlines under the Accessible India campaign were July 2016 for conducting an accessibility audit of 25-50 of the most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them completely accessible and March 2018.

ABOUT ACCESSIBLE INDIA CAMPAIGN

What is it? Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Aim: The aim of the Campaign is to make a barrier free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country. The campaign has the vision to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.

Implementation: For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three verticals: Built Environment; Transport and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.

Targets:

  1. Completing accessibility audit of at least 25-50 most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them fully accessible by the end of this year.
  2. Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018.
  3. Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States not covered in targets (i) and (ii) by December 2019.

 

Facts for Prelims:

Accessible India Campaign is in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) to which India is a signatory since 2007.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: THE DAY OF BORIS

ISSUE: BORIS JOHNSON WINNING THE ELECTION IN UK

The decisive victory the Conservative Party clinched in Thursday’s elections to Parliament gives British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who built his campaign around the promise to “get Brexit done”, a clear mandate to take the U.K. out of the European Union without further delay.

Initial results show that his party is set to win 364 seats in the 650-member House of Commons, the greatest performance of the Conservatives in over three decades.

The Labour, led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, is expected to win 203 seats, its worst performance in decades.

Mr. Johnson is now confident that he could push his withdrawal agreement through Parliament at the earliest so that Britain could leave the union before the January 31 deadline.

 

FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR BORIS

His Brexit agreement itself is controversial; once implemented, it could erect an effective customs border between Britain and the island of Ireland.

The question is what impact Mr. Johnson’s deal will have on the Good Friday agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland and to the unity of the Kingdom in general.

Second, a more difficult part of the Brexit process is negotiating an agreement on the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU.

The poll results pose administrative and constitutional challenges to the Prime Minister. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party’s landslide victory — it is poised to win 48 out of the 59 Westminster seats — has already rekindled calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence. This will put the SNP on a warpath with the Tories who are opposed to a new referendum

 

CONCLUSION

Mr. Johnson might go down in history as the Prime Minister who took the U.K. out of the EU. But at what cost is the question. The answer will be known in bits and pieces in the coming days.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: TWIN TROUBLES

ISSUE: LOW GROWTH AND HIGH INFLATION IN INDIAN ECONOMY

Economic data released by the government on Thursday suggest that India may be stepping even closer to stagflation.

 

MEANING OF THE TERM STAGFLATION

In economics, stagflation, or recession-inflation, is a situation in which the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows, and unemployment remains steadily high. It presents a dilemma for economic policy, since actions intended to lower inflation may exacerbate unemployment.

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) contracted 3.8% in October, as against a healthy growth rate of 8.4% witnessed during the same month last year.

Industrial output, it is worth noting, had shrunk by 4.3% in September.

At the same time, retail inflation jumped to a 40-month high of 5.5% in November fuelled mainly by a sharp jump in food prices.

With inflation raising its ugly head now, the RBI, which held rates stable in its recent policy meet, is unlikely to cut rates aggressively in the next few months at least.

So it is entirely up to the government now to find ways to boost growth. Given the seriousness of the slowdown, the government cannot delay reforms.

The favourite defence of the government right now is that the slowdown in growth is merely a cyclical one that will end sooner than later.

But regardless of the nature of the current slowdown, it cannot be denied that the Centre has fallen short on its promise of bringing about major structural reforms to the economy.

 

WHAT COULD BE DONE?

The answer to the current slowdown lies in economic reforms that can first lift the potential growth rate of the economy. Otherwise, further rate cuts by the RBI will only add to the government’s troubles by stoking inflation in the wider economy.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: SAVINGS WITH A BONUS- FINANCIAL PEACE OF MIND

ISSUE: HOW GOVERNMENT CAN INCREASE CONSUMER’S CONFIDENCE IN SAVING INSTRUMENTS

 

WHY DECREASE IN CONFIDENCE?

First there was the scare about public sector banks being placed under prompt corrective action by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Then there were the defaults by AAA-rated non-banks.

Recently, the RBI’s strictures on Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank Limited (PMC) have opened a can of worms on the safety of co-operative banks, and the gaps in the working of deposit insurance.

 

SUGGESTION GIVEN BY THE GOVERNMENT

Author highlights that usually government suggest to the people that FINANCIAL LITERACY should be improved.

A survey on financial literacy among Indian savers by the Tarun Ramadorai committee in 2015, found that over 30% of savers did not grasp the concept of compound interest.

 

WHAT COULD BE DONE?

Indian savers should be provided with access to simple fixed return products that offer complete safety of capital without their having to dig into balance sheets.

One such example is  small savings schemes (also called national savings schemes) from India Post.

Government should allow small savers should be allowed to participate in Government of India securities (G-sec) auctions.

Indian savers should be provided with 10-year or 20-year fixed return instruments to park their long-term money.

Re-introducing National Savings Certificates in the 10, 15 and 20-year tenors can meet this need while helping the Central government source long-term funds for capital spending.

 

Today, most post office schemes offer tax breaks on the principal invested under Section 80C but their returns are taxed at income tax slab rates (the only exceptions being PPF and Sukanya Samriddhi). Reversing this position may render these schemes more attractive to small savers.

Small savers may like the predictability of a fixed return for the long term. But given their limited savings, they also need early exit options in case they are beset by an emergency.

 

CONCLUSION

If India Post can shed its half-hearted attempts to transform itself into a payments bank and convert itself into a digitally enabled, pure deposit-taking bank, it can render a yeoman service both to the government and small savers of this country.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: BRITAIN VOTES FOR BREXIT

ISSUE: BORIS JOHNSON WINNING THE ELECTION IN BRITAIN

Boris Johnson has won the election by huge majority. He has won 364 seats and 45% of the vote.

His conservative party has achieved their best result since Margaret Thatcher’s victory in 1987.

 

WHAT DOES THIS RESULT MEAN?

Result is an unambiguous signal that in the months and years ahead, the United Kingdom will become a very different country — politically, economically, possibly territorially but certainly in terms of its international standing.

Britain will leave Europe on January 31, 2020.

This result is clear indication of rejection of socialist policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Without doubt the Scottish Nationalists will demand a second referendum on independence for Scotland. They believe they have a mandate for it. Mr. Johnson, on the other hand, has already said he will not agree. With both politicians triumphant there’s a clear and unavoidable clash looming ahead.

 

For India

We, in India, can expect in Mr. Johnson a British Prime Minister with affection for and a substantive understanding of our country. Though separated from his wife Marina, who is half-Indian, his four children have Indian blood. He is a frequent visitor, including an unpublicised trip to Ranthambore last year.

The only concern could be his response to Mr. Narendra Modi’s policies like the National Register of Citizens, the Citizenship Amendment Act and the broad stress on Hindutva. He may not criticise in public but he could express disapproval behind closed doors.

 

PAUSE IN TRADE WAR BETWEEN US AND CHINA

NEWS:The U.S. and China cooled their trade war on Friday, announcing a “Phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for increased Chinese purchases of American farm goods.

In a press conference in Beijing, Chinese officials said the two countries have achieved major progress in their phase one trade negotiations, and agreed on the text of a phase one deal.

The U.S. has agreed to suspend tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese goods due to go into effect on December 15, Mr. Trump said on Twitter, and cut some existing tariffs to 7.5%.

A statement issued by the United States Trade Representative’s office did not mention the December 15 tariffs, but said that the U.S. would leave in place 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The U.S. will cut the tariff rate in half, to 7.5%, on another $120 billion list of Chinese imports that was levied on September 1.

China has also agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs, targeting goods ranging from corn and wheat to U.S. made vehicles and auto parts, that were due to take effect on December 15. It will import more wheat, corn, and rice after the deal, China’s Vice-Agricultural Minister said on Friday, but did not elaborate.

 

HIKE IN GST RATE

NEWS:The Finance Ministry has not yet discussed proposing, to the Goods and Services Tax Council, an increase in tax rates, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.

Last month, the Ministry had written to all States seeking suggestions on increasing GST revenues, including looking at the rates of tax and compensation cess on various items.

ABOUT GST

  • Goods and Services Tax is a comprehensive indirect tax which is to be levied on the manufacturesaleand consumption of goods and services in India.
  • GST eliminates the cascading effectof taxes because it is taxed at every point of business and the input credit is available in the value chain.
  • Francewas the first country to introduce GST system in 1954.
  • More than 140 countries have implemented the GST.

Features of GST

  • Single tax on supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer
  • It is a destination based tax.
  • It is a value based tax as credits of input taxes paid at each stage will be available in the subsequent stages
  • The final consumer will bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain
  • At the central level, following taxes are being subsumed under GST
    1. Central Excise Duty
    2. Additional Excise Duty
    3. Service Tax
    4. Countervailing Duty
    5. Special Additional Duty of Customs
  • At the state level, following taxes are being subsumed under GST
    1. State VAT/Sales Tax
    2. Entertainment Tax
    3. Central Sales Tax
    4. Octroi and Entry Tax
    5. Purchase Tax
    6. Luxury Tax
    7. Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling
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