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THE HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 21ST DECEMBER 2019

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Q.1 Which of these is Chinese Invention?

  1. Compass
  2. Gun Powder
  3. Decimal System
  4. Printing

Select the correct option

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1,2 and 4 only
  4. 1,2,3 and 4

 

Q.2 Consider the following statements about Pala’s

  1. Gopala was the founder of Pala dynasty
  2. Dharamapala was the founder of Vikramshila University

Select the correct option

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

 

Q.3 Annam is the ancient name of

  1. North Vietnam
  2. South Vietnam
  3. North Korea
  4. South China’

PROTEST AGAINST CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS:

At least seven people were killed in Uttar Pradesh as the protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) turned violent in many parts of the State on Friday.

As protests against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) continued across the country, the Home Ministry said there would be no discrimination against Muslims and undocumented people as feared.

ABOUT CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

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 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.

NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

NEWS:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) deputed a fact-finding team to inspect the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) premises on Friday to inquire into claims of human rights violations during the recent police crackdown at the university.

The NHRC is said to have received multiple complaints alleging illegal detention of students by the police and denial of legal and medical access to the injured students. A team led by Special Superintendent of Police Manzil Saini conducted a spot inquiry to find out “whether incidents in JMI involved violation of Human Rights”, the NHRC said in a statement.

About NHRC

  • NHRC of India is an independent statutory body established on 12 October, 1993 as per provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, later amended in 2006.
  • It is the watchdog of human rights in the country, i.e. the rights related to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by Indian Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  • It was established in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted for the promotion and protection of human rights in Paris (October, 1991) and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 December, 1993.

What are Human Rights?

  • As per UN definition these rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.
  • Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.
  • These are entitled to everyone, without any discrimination.
  • Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December, which is the anniversary of the UDHR.

Structure of the Commission

  • NHRC is a multi-member body which consists of a Chairman and 12 other members. Out of the 12 members, six are ex-officio member.
  • The chairman should be a retired chief justice or judge of Supreme Court of India, and members should be serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and three persons (one women) having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights
  • In addition to these full-time members, the commission also has seven ex-officio members—the chairmen of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for SCs, the National Commission for STs and the National Commission for Women, Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as deemed Members of the Commission;
  • President appoints the Chairman and members of NHRC on recommendation of high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister including Union Home Minister; Speaker, Lok Sabha and Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chairperson and the members of the NHRC are appointed for 3 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They can be removed only on the charges of proved misbehavior or incapacity, if proved by an inquiry conducted by a Supreme Court Judge.
  • Commission also has five Specialized Divisions i.e. Law Division, Investigation Division, Policy Research & Programmes Division, Training Division and Administration Division.
  • The chairman and the members of State Commission are appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Minister, Home Minister, Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly.

Functions and Powers of NHRC

  • NHRC investigates grievances regarding the violation of human rights either suo moto or after receiving a petition.
  • It has the power to interfere in any judicial proceedings involving any allegation of violation of human rights.
  • It can visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government to see the living conditions of the inmates and to make recommendations thereon.
  • It can review the safeguards provided under the constitution or any law for the protection of the human rights and can recommend appropriate remedial measures.
  • NHRC undertakes and promotes research in the field of human rights.
  • NHRC works to spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promotes awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, media, seminars and other means.
  • The Commission takes an independent stand while providing opinions for the protection of human rights within the parlance of the Constitution or in law for the time being enforced.
  • It has the powers of a civil court and can grant interim relief.
  • It also has the authority to recommend payment of compensation or damages.
  • NHRC credibility is duly reflected in large number of complaints received every year and the trust reposed in it by the citizens.
  • It can recommend to both the central and state governments to take suitable steps to prevent the violation of Human Rights. It submits its annual report to the President of India who causes it to be laid before each House of Parliament.

Limitations of NHRC

  • NHRC does not have any mechanism of investigation. In majority cases, it asks the concerned Central and State Governments to investigate the cases of the violation of Human Rights
  • It has been termed as ‘India’s teasing illusion’ by Soli Sorabjee (former Attorney-General of India) due to its incapacity to render any practical relief to the aggrieved party.
  • NHRC can only make recommendations, without the power to enforce decisions.
  • Many times NHRC is viewed as post-retirement destinations for judges and bureaucrats with political affiliation moreover, inadequacy of funds also hamper its working.
  • A large number of grievances go unaddressed because NHRC cannot investigate the complaint registered after one year of incident.
  • Government often out rightly rejects recommendation of NHRC or there is partial compliance to these recommendations.
  • State human rights commissions cannot call for information from the national government, which means that they are implicitly denied the power to investigate armed forces under national control.
  • National Human Rights Commission powers related to violations of human rights by the armed forces have been largely restricted.

SOCIETY OF BIOTECHNOLOGY OF INDIA

NEWS: Biotechnologists and technocrats — several of whom were once part of the Union Department of Biotechnology — launched a non-profit organisation called the Society of Biotechnology of India (SBPI) on Friday.

The founding members of SBPI include Dr. P.K. Ghosh, president; Dr. George John, vice-president; Divya Rajput, treasurer; Dr. Bindu Dey, general secretary; Dr. B.M. Gandhi, SL Govindwar and T.V. Ramanaiah. In a press statement, the organisation said it would promote transformation changes and approaches towards core research in modern biotechnology so that the outcome could lead to more products and technologies for economic and social gain.

WHAT IS BIOTECHNOLOGY?

Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use”

NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER

NEWS:

Following in the footsteps of West Bengal, the Kerala government has decided to put on hold the proceedings for updating the National Population Register (NPR).

The decision comes after The Hindu broke the news of updating of the NPR on Friday, and in the wake of apprehensions that the update would lead to the preparation of a National Register of Citizens (NRC).

A government notification stalling the proceedings was issued on Friday, sources confirmed.

The National Population Register (NPR) updation exercise will be undertaken alongside Census 2021.

  • It will be conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry.
  • Only Assam will not be included, given the recently completed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

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.
    • However, with the use of Aadhaar as the key vehicle for transfer of government benefits in the last few years, the NPR has taken a backseat.
  • Scope:
    • The NPR exercise is conducted at the local, sub-district, district, state and national levels.
    • The NPR will collect both demographic data and biometric data. Biometric data will be updated through Aadhar details.
      • In the 2010 exercise, the RGI had collected only demographic details.
      • In 2015, it updated the data further with the mobile, Aadhaar and ration card numbers of residents.
      • For the 2020 exercise, it has dropped the ration card number but added other categories.

APACHE ATTACK HELICOPTERS

NEWS: The deal for six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army, estimated to cost around $930 million, is likely to be signed early next year, Army sources said on Friday. These are in addition to 22 Apaches being inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In August 2017, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, approved the purchase of six Apache attack helicopters from the U.S. for the Army.

The IAF has recently inducted the first batch of eight Apaches based in Pathankot. All the 22 Apaches are expected to be delivered by 2020 and will replace the ageing Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters in service.

India is the 16th nation to select apache.

Built by Boeing Company.

Apache is the tribe of New Mexico in United States.

 

PINAKA

NEWS: India successfully conducted test firing of the indigenously developed Pinaka missile system for the second consecutive day on Friday from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur off the Odisha coast, sources said.

ABOUT PINAKA

  1. Multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the DRDO for the Indian army.
  2. System has a maximum range of 40km for Mark I and 75km for Mark II and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds.
  3. Pinaka saw the service during Kargil War when it was used to neutralize enemy positions on the mountain tops.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: WHITHER AMARAVATI?

ISSUE: THREE CAPITALS FOR ANDHRA PRADESH

WHY IN NEWS?

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy hinted on Tuesday that the South African model of three capitals was best suited in his State and that his government would work towards this.

In South Africa, the administrative capital is in Pretoria, its national legislature in Cape Town and its judicial capital in Bloemfontein.

Mr. Reddy’s idea seems to stem from the reasoning that a distribution of executive, legislative and judicial governance across Visakhapatnam, Amaravati (the current capital) and Kurnool would allow for “a decentralised development of the State”. The location choices are in the upper, central and lower geographical regions.

Such an arrangement follows the recommendations of the expert committee appointed by the Home Affairs Ministry in 2014 to study alternatives for a new capital.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

If the government limits Amaravati to hosting only the Assembly, it must take into account the concerns of affected farmers.

The fact that considerable work has been completed in Amaravati to utilise the fledgling city as a functioning capital must be taken into account before embarking upon the “decentralisation” idea, which was best served before the works in Amaravati began.

Abandoning the plan that is already in place will render the grand city an unviable one. As in politics, in governance, timing is everything.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: NET LOSS

ISSUE: SHUTTING DOWN OF INTERNET

WHY IN NEWS?

Central government has shut down Internet in Delhi, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh to quell demonstrations over Citizenship Amendment Act.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

BLACK SPOT ON INDIAN DEMOCRACY: Such ham-handed interventions have won for India a place at the head of the table among intolerant countries that routinely shut down the Internet to block criticism of the government. Jammu and Kashmir is now acknowledged globally as a dark spot on the Internet, with service there blocked since August 4.

A disruption is an extreme measure, and should be countenanced only for a specific threat, and as an interim measure as official communications fill the information vacuum.

The net blackout of the kind being witnessed now, however, has little to do with rumours, and is clearly aimed at muzzling the protests.

The NDA government should also be aware that the connectivity chokehold applied on J&K is proving lethal to entrepreneurship, crippling a new generation running start-ups and promoting women’s employment.

A disrupted Internet is dealing a blow to digital financial transactions across several States, to e-governance initiatives, and economic productivity.

It affects education and skill-building.

It seems to matter little that blunt interventions make the ambitious goal of growing into a $5-trillion economy even more unrealistic, or that India is losing face as a democracy because it chooses to sit with authoritarian regimes. That is the wrong road to take.

Reform and progress vitally need the net.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: THE VIRTUAL EFFACEMENT OF CIVIL LIBERTY

ISSUE: INTERNET BAN

WHY IN NEWS?

On 5th of August 2019 a total communication and information blockade was placed in Jammu and Kashmir.

The exercise was so clinically executed that even the orders imposing the restrictions were kept under wraps.

CURRENT SITUATION: While certain limited channels of communication have been opened up, access to the web remains elusive. By many accounts, this might well be one of the longest bans imposed on the Internet by an ostensibly democratic government.

WHAT RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED WHEN INTERNET IS BANNED?

The blackout of the Internet impinges on  right to freedom of expression.

Denial of access to the web poses a direct threat on the liberties of the press.

Denial of the right to health care caused by people’s inability, among other things, to access government schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, and a withdrawal of education to students at different levels, occasioned by the seemingly interminable closure of institutions.

WHAT COURTS CAN DO ACCORDING TO AUTHOR IN SUCH CASES?

To determine whether the limitations imposed in Kashmir meet this test, the court need not, as the state warns, perform the role of a super-executive. It merely needs to scrutinise whether a wide-ranging ban on the Internet on an entire populace is justifiable, when, even according to the government, it is only a “minuscule minority” who are likely to commit violence.

CONCLUSION

Stifling the mere hint of dissent through bans on the Internet will only send us racing towards a bottomless pit. Already, as a recent report in Live Mint underscores, 67% of the documented cases of web shutdowns around the world last year took place in India.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: A PREMATURE DENOUNCEMENT OF THE CITIZENSHIP ACT

ISSUE: WHY CRITICISM GIVEN BY P. VIJAYAN OF CITIZENSHIP ACT IS NOT RIGHT

WHY SUCH A BILL IS NEEDED?

The need for this Bill arose partly because the Islamic theocratic nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan have brutally persecuted non-Muslim minorities since 1947. This has led to a sharp fall in the proportion of the non-Muslim minorities in the total population of these countries.

Those who survived forcible conversion escaped and illegally entered India. They were Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Parsis and they were categorised as illegal migrants. As of December 31, 2014, they numbered 31,313: Hindus (25,447), Sikhs (5807), Buddhists (2), Christians (55), and Parsis (2).

No Muslims or Jews came to India over the last 70 years on grounds of religious persecution.

OTHER PARTIES WERE ALSO CONCERNED

The first authority to express concern over this state of affairs was the Working Committee of the united Congress Party. The Committee adopted a resolution on November 25, 1947 urging citizenship and “full protection to all those non-Muslims from Pakistan who have come over to India or may do so to save their life and honour”.

THREE REASONS GIVEN BY KERALA CM TO OPPOSE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

First, that it is ultra vires the Constitution of India, especially Articles 5 to 11 and also 14.

Second, that it is divisive, and violative of human rights because it discriminates against Muslims.

Third, that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s aim is to establish a Hindu nation and that aim underlies the CAA.

The first reason is baseless. Articles 5 to 10 have nothing to do with the CAA. Article 11 in fact empowers Parliament to bring such an amendment as the CAA. As for the CAA violating Article 14, we need to look at the letter of Article 14 but also at judgments galore of the Supreme Court of India on the interpretation of this Article.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that equality before law is only for those equally placed. Here on religious persecution, the Muslims of Pakistan etc., are not similarly placed.

It should be made clear that there are five ways a foreigner can become a citizen of India under the Citizenship Act, 1955, namely, by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and incorporation of territory. The CAA, 2019 adds a country-specific exception to the naturalisation section. However, any Muslim can become an Indian citizen under the naturalisation section.

Unfortunately, the present Indian Constitution cannot be amended beyond the Basic Structure of the Constitution as defined by the Supreme Court of India. So there is no need for anyone to unduly worry about it.

Hindutva is already incorporated in large measure in the present Constitution. For example, the use of Sanskrit vocabulary [Article 351], official promotion of the Devanagari Script and its modified numerals [Article 343], the ban of cow slaughter [Article 48], the uniform civil code [Article 44], and faith as part of the unamendable basic structure. This is enough to usher in a Hindu Nation, because Hinduism is the only religion that formally accepts that all religions lead to God (Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava). Hence Hindutva is not contradictory to secularism.

BREXIT

NEWS: Prime Minister Boris Johnson won approval for his Brexit deal in Parliament on Friday, the first step towards fulfilling his election pledge to deliver Britain’s departure from the European Union by January 31 after his landslide victory.

More than three years since Britain voted to exit the EU in a 2016 referendum, the deep uncertainty over Brexit has now been replaced by the firm deadline of the end of January.

After leaving, Britain will need to secure new trading arrangements with the EU — a future friendship, the Prime Minister said, that would see the country agree a trade deal with no alignment with the bloc’s rules.

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.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

NEWS:

The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) on Friday approved plans to auction over 8,300 MHz of spectrum, including airwaves to be used for offering 5G services, with a reserve price of ₹5.22 lakh crore.

However, in a setback to the telecom service providers (TSPs), there has been no reduction in the reserve price, as demanded by them, for the airwaves that will be put to bid in March/April 2020.

ABOUT DIGITAL COMMUNICATION COMMISSION

The Digital Communications Commission consists of a Chairman, four full time members, who are ex-officio Secretaries to the Government of India in the Department of Telecommunications and four part time members who are the Secretaries to the Government of India in the concerned Departments.

The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Telecommunications is the ex-officio Chairman of the Digital Communications Commission.

The full-time Members of the Digital Communications Commission are Member (Finance), Member (Production), Member (Services) & Member (Technology).

The part-time Members of the Digital Communications Commission are Cheif Executive Officer, NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, Secretary (Department of Economic Affairs), Secretary ( Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology) and Secretary (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion).

The Chief Executive Officer, NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog has been nominated as a (part-time) Member of the Digital Communications Commission.

  • The Digital Communications Commission is responsible for:

    1. Formulating the policy of Department of Telecommunications for approval of the Government;
    2. Preparing the budget for the Department of Telecommunications for each financial year and getting it approved by the Government; &
    3. Implementation of Government’s policy in all matters concerning telecommunication.
OPERATION TWIST

NEWS:Yields on government bonds dropped sharply on Friday after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced purchasing of long-term securities and selling of short tenure ones simultaneously through open market operations.

On Friday, the yield on 10-year government benchmark bond dropped 15 bps on Friday to close at 6.60% — the biggest fall since October 9, thus narrowing the gap with the repo rate. The yield on 2020 paper jumped 5 bps.

Operation Twist was undertaken by the U.S. Federal Reserve in 2011-12 to make long term borrowing cheaper.

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