Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the Project SURE:
- It aims to set a sustainable pathway for India’s food processing industry.
- It would help in reduction of carbon emissions.
Which of the above statements 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 regarding the World Skills Competition:
- The 45th World Skills Competition was held at New Delhi, India.
- It is the biggest vocational education and skills excellence event in the world which is organised every two year.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Consider the following Statements regarding India’s child well-being index:
- This Report is released by World Bank.
- Kerala topped the chart in the child wellbeing index.
- The index captures the performance of each state and union territories.
Which of the above statements are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday issued a notice to the Rajasthan government in connection with the deaths of over 100 children at the government-run J.K. Lon hospital in Kota in December.
Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, the Commission issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, asking for a detailed report within four weeks.
India, enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, with a view to bring about greater accountability and strengthen the dominion of human rights in the country. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established on October 12, 1993.
NHRC was constituted under Section 3 of the 1993 Act .
It is autonomous i.e. it has been created by an Act of Parliament.
It has powers of a civil court.
The Chairperson and the Members of the Commission are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendations of a Committee consisting of:
The Prime Minister (chairperson)
The Home Minister
The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha
The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office under certain circumstances.
LIMITATIONS OF THE COMMISSION
NHRC can only make recommendations, without the power to enforce decisions. This lack of authority to ensure compliance can lead to outright rejection of its decision too.
It is often viewed as a post-retirement destinations for judges, police officers and bureaucrats with political clout. Bureaucratic functioning, inadequacy of funds also hamper the working of the commission.
Under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, human rights commissions cannot investigate an event if the complaint was made more than one year after the incident. Therefore, a large number of genuine grievances go unaddressed.
PROHIBITION OF CHILD MARRIAGE ACT 2006
The anti-child marriage law does not intend to punish a male aged between 18 and 21 years for marrying a “female adult,” the Supreme Court has held in a recent judgment.
The Supreme Court set aside the HC order, saying the intent behind Section 9 was not to punish a child for contracting a child marriage.
Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- This Act replaced the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 which was enacted during the British era.
- It defines a child to mean a male below 21 years and female below 18 years.
- “Minor” is defined as a person who has not attained the age of majority as per the Majority Act.
- The legal status of Child Marriage is Voidable if so desired by one of the parties. However, if the consent is obtained by fraud, deceit or if the child is enticed away from his/her lawful guardians, and if the sole purpose is to use the child for trafficking or other immoral purposes, marriage would be void.
- There is also a provision for maintenance of girl child. Husband is liable to pay maintenance in case he is a major. In case, the husband is also a minor, his parents would be liable to pay maintenance.
- It envisages preventing child marriage with punishments of rigorous imprisonment for two years and/ or fine of Rs. 1 lakh.
- The Act also provides for the appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officer whose duties are to prevent child marriages and spread awareness regarding the same.
NEWS: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put off his visit to India due to the continuing crisis caused by wildfires in his country. Mr. Morrison was due to visit India for a three-city tour to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru from January 13-16, and was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and deliver the keynote address at the Ministry of External Affairs’ annual Raisina Dialogue conference.
About the Raisina Dialogue:
This is an annual geo-political event, organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
It is designed to explore prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world. It is predicated on India’s vital role in the Indian Ocean Region and how India along with its partners can build a stable regional and world order.
Participants: The conference is a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral meeting involving policy and decision-makers, including but not limited to Foreign, Defence and Finance Ministers of different countries, high-level government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia.
Significance of the event: The Raisina Dialogue was born in 2016, in the belief that the Asian century that the world was talking about was not about any exclusive geographical region. It was rather about the engagement of global actors with Asia and of Asia with the world. So this dialogue took birth as a platform, where the old and the new could work together, to discover their connections, their inter-dependence.
CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT
More than 20 days after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) was passed by Parliament, the government is treading cautiously on framing the rules that will govern the law.
A senior official said that though the Act had the provision to grant citizenship to members of six communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India illegally, the applicants would have to prove that they entered the country before December 31, 2014.
India is facing diplomatic isolation because of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), former National Security Adviser and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here on Friday.
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.
Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force who was killed in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Friday, had an illustrious career as a spymaster and military strategist. Always a defender of the Islamic revolution, Soleimani was so close to Spreme Leader Ali Khamenei that he once called him “the living martyr of revolution”.
Soleimani joined the Iranian Army immediately after the revolution. He was on the frontlines during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. His commanders were so impressed by his bravery during the war that they promoted the young soldier, in his 20s, to head the 41st Tharallah Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In 1990, he was named the IRGC commander of Kerman Province.
Defender of revolution
Soleimani was a hardliner of the hardliners. He never hid where he stood in Iran’s complex power dynamics, in which the hardliners, moderates and reformists compete for influence through elections and other means.
Enemy of IS
The main challenges Soleimani faced in the final years of his career and life, besides the threats from the U.S., were the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State (IS).
In 2011-13, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad kept losing territories to the rebels. Mr. Assad’s Syria was the only national ally of Iran in the region and is also a critical link between itself and Hezbollah in Lebanon. If Mr. Assad falls, Tehran would be weakened.
Soleimani ’s mission was to stop it from happening. “The Syrian Army is useless,” he once told an Iraqi politician, according to the New Yorker profile of the General. What he did was to build and train Shia militias and send them to Syria to fight the rebels along with the regime.
The IS Caliphate is now destroyed. The Syrian regime has survived the civil war. But the man who played a pivotal role in both these feats has been assassinated by the U.S. Iran may not take it lightly. The risks of a major conflict are at an all-time high now.
FIRST EDITORIAL: KERALA GOVERNMENT OPPOSING THE CAA
WHAT KERALA HAS DONE?
The Kerala Assembly has passed a resolution calling upon the Centre to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan have denounced the adoption of such a resolution, the former arguing that all States had a constitutional duty to implement central laws.
Rather than treat it as a controversy over the question whether a State Assembly is competent to question the law on a matter under the Union government’s domain, the Centre should reflect on the core issue: that the CAA may be in violation of the equality norm and secular principles enshrined in the Constitution.
The resolution reflects a legitimate concern that in enacting the CAA, the Centre has written a patently discriminatory norm into the law. There is justified opposition across India on the amendment’s implications, especially in combination with the expected follow-up action in the form of establishing a citizenship register.
The Centre must make an effort to understand the underpinnings of the ongoing protests against its amendments, of which the Kerala resolution is surely a part.
Voicing support for the CAA and disapproval of Kerala’s resolution are also valid political opinions, but these should not translate into any ill-advised action such as hauling up the Chief Minister before the Privileges Committee of Parliament.
LEAD ARTICLE: HOW GOVERNMENT IS LYING ON NRC ISSUE?
Government spokespersons have repeatedly asserted that the recently approved National Population Register (NPR) is not new, not related to the NRC, and not something to worry about. Only the first of these three claims is partially true, and only in a literal sense.
It is indeed true that the NPR is envisioned in the Citizenship Act of 1955, and that it was revived by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government when it amended the citizenship Act and rules in 2003.
It is also true that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) first implemented it in 2010 along with the 2011 Census.
However, to say that there is nothing new about the NPR in today’s transformed context is to speak in bad faith. The addition of unnecessary intrusive questions — on the place and date of birth of each parent, place of last residence, and Aadhaar, PAN (Permanent Account Number), driving licence, voter card and mobile phone numbers – makes it far more potent as an instrument of surveillance and harassment.
WHY THIS COLLECTION OF DATA IS WRONG?
Norms of good governance dictate that the scope of individuating data be restricted, and that, on the other hand, databases with universal or wide coverage be confined to aggregated data that cannot identify individuals. The government’s relentless effort to push for maximum individuation along with maximum coverage violates and reverses established norms regulating the collection of social statistics.
WEAKENING OF ANONYMITY BY THE NEW NPR
Section 11 of the Census Act 1948 imposes penalties on officials who falsify or disclose census data – they may also be jailed for three years. In fact, unpublished census data cannot be accessed by government departments, and Section 15 of the Census Act exempts it from the Indian Evidence Act so that it cannot be used in courts of law.
To appreciate the full significance of this commitment to anonymity, consider the fact that the 2011 Census revealed that, between 2007 and 2011, 74 lakh Indians were married below the legal age of 18. Under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, those responsible are liable to be fined up to ₹1 lakh and/or imprisoned for up to two years. And yet the Census data cannot be used to identify them — it can only tell us, at best, that the incidence of under-age marriages is the highest in districts like Bhilwara and Chittorgarh, Rajasthan.
In sharp contrast, the NPR, and especially the NRC offer no anonymity while collecting actionable personal data, but nevertheless impose coercive, census-like universal coverage.
The nation-wide protests tell us that the story is far from finished. They remind those who think they are our rulers of two crucial truths. First, that civil liberties and democratic rights are defined by the inconvenient fact that they must also be granted to those whom we may fear, hate or despise. And second, that the most rudra of rudraavatars are a people who have lost faith in their state.
SECOND ARTICLE: GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS OF KILLING OF MAJOR GENERAL OF IRAN
WHEN WAS THE GENERAL KILLED?
On 3rd of January 2020 Major General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was assassinted by American Forces.
WHY IT COULD HAVE IMPLICATIONS?
Unlike Abu Musaib al-Zarqawi (leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq), Osama bin Laden (founder of the al-Qaeda) and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, (founder of the Islamic State, or the IS), Gen. Soleimani, 62, was a state actor. Second, unlike the previous three, he was not past his prime. Both these factors could lead to more substantive fallout.
WHO WAS GENERAL SOLEIMANI?
Gen. Soleimani hailed from a modest background in Kerman, far from the country’s traditional power centres. He was a child of the revolution, fought with distinction as a member of the IRGC in the Iraq-Iran war and was from 1998 the founder-commander of its Qods Force, formed for extra-territorial operations. During the past decade, he managed to leverage the disarray to enhance Iranian influence in Arab countries with a significant Shia population such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
He astutely created a network of local sympathisers and proxies and waged effective asymmetric wars. Unlike many Iranian public figures, he was untainted by corruption. His accomplishments earned him a cult-like following among most Iranians and their regional proxies.
WHAT COULD BE THE IMPLICATIONS?
This tit-for-tat between the U.S. and Iran could easily go out of hand and lead to a major confrontation in a pyretic and fragile region, with unpredictable consequences.
The event is likely to re-polarise Iraqi society along sectarian lines and intensify the Iran-U.S. competition for influence. In a worst case scenario, Iraq could turn into the new Syria. The popular Iraqi clamour for political reforms and transparency may be eclipsed by the demand for eviction of the U.S. presence itself.
At a regional level, anxiety may rise about Gen. Soleimani’s death being avenged by a thousand cuts at the interests of the U.S. and its allies. This may involve resumed attacks on oil tankers and other low hanging but high value economic targets, particularly in the oil sector. Global oil prices have already seen a 4% rise within hours of the incident due to the “fear premium”;
IMPACT ON INDIA
Apart from a rise in our oil import bill and difficulties in supplies, the safety of an estimated eight million expatriates in the Gulf may be affected. Iran has the capacity to influence the U.S.-Taliban peace process in Afghanistan, a neighbouring country. Last but not the least, after Iran, India has perhaps the largest number of the world’s Shia population and the possibility of some of them being radicalised by this event cannot be ruled out.
CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF
India on Friday strongly condemned acts of vandalism at the Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and urged the neighbouring country to ensure safety of the Sikh community there.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called upon the Pakistan government to ensure safety of the Sikh community and protection of the holy Gurudwara, which was targeted by a mob on Friday afternoon.
According to media reports, the crowd also threw stones at pilgrims and whipped up communal frenzy in the area.
ABOUT GURUDWARA NANKANA SAHIB
Adani Ports and Logistics and Special Economic Zone Ltd. (APSEZ) will be acquiring 75% stake in Krishnapatnam Port Co. Ltd. (KPCL) in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh for a total consideration of ₹13,572 crore from the CVR Group, the company said in a filing.
The balance stake will be held by the CVR Group.
The acquisition is in line with APSEZ’s strategy of expanding its footprint in Andhra Pradesh. The transaction would accelerate APSEZ’s move towards handling 400 million tonnes (MT) of cargo by 2025, said APSEZ in its statement.
KPCL is the second-largest private sector port in the east that handled 54 MT of cargo during FY19. Mundra Port, on the west coast, which also belongs to the Adani Group, has been handling over 100 MT of cargo for the past few years consecutively.
MAJOR PORTS OF INDIA
There are thirteen major ports in the country that handle a lot of volume of container and cargo traffic.
On the west coast, there are the ports of Mumbai (Largest Natural Port and Harbor in India, Busiest port in India), Kandla (known as Tidal Port, Largest port by volume of Cargo handled) , Mangalore, JNPT (Largest artificial port), Mormugao and Cochin.
The ones on the east coast are the ports at Chennai, Tuticorin, Vishakhapatnam (deepest port of India) , Paradip, Kolkata (located on the Hugli river Known as Diamond Harbour) and Ennore (India’s first corporatized port).
107TH SCIENCE CONGRESS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called upon students to “innovate, patent, produce and prosper”, in his inaugural speech at the 107th Indian Science Congress here.
“New India” needed technology and a “logical temperament” to invent and disseminate technological solutions.
He urged everyone to find technological solutions for stubble burning (a cause of winter pollution in north India), maintaining the groundwater table, preventing communicable diseases, and undertaking environment-friendly transportation. He stressed that science and technology had a major role in contributing to making India a $5 trillion economy.
The theme for the congress this year is ‘science and technology: rural development’.
About Indian Science Congress Association:
Indian Science Congress is organised by the Indian Science Congress Association every year in the first week of January.
The Indian Science Congress Association was started in the year 1914 in Kolkata and has a membership of more than 30,000 scientists.
Origin: It owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P. S. MacMahon. It occurred to them that scientific research in India might be stimulated if an annual meeting of research workers somewhat on the lines of the British Association for the Advancement of Science could be arranged.
- To advance and promote the cause of science in India.
- To hold an annual congress at a suitable place in India.
- To publish such proceedings, journals, transactions and other publications as may be considered desirable.
- To secure and manage funds and endowments for the promotion of Science including the rights of disposing of or selling all or any portion of the properties of the Association.
- To do and perform any or all other acts, matters and things as are conductive to, or incidental to, or necessary for, the above objects.
PRESCRIPTION FOR REMOVING POVERTY
NEWS: Economics Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee said instead of cutting corporate taxes, the government should be putting it in the hands of poorer people who will spend it immediately and kick-start demand in the economy. He was speaking at the launch of his book, Good Economics for Hard Times, on Friday, along with his co-author and fellow prize winner Esther Duflo.
He noted that the corporate sector is not acting to boost demand. “The clear fact is that the corporate sector is actually sitting on cash and is not investing. Why is it not investing? Because every sign of a demand problem is there,” said Dr. Banerjee.
Dr. Banerjee also weighed in on the CAA. Apart from the issue of religious discrimination, he noted that local officials in border districts would have the power to extort large sums from people whose lives hang in the balance. “The governance problem is a frightening one,” he said.
NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL
NEWS: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought action taken reports from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Delhi related to two separate pleas — one claimed illegal dumping of garbage while the other alleged operation of a ready mix concrete plant in Rajokri protected forest.
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.
ALL INDIA JUDICIAL SERVICE
Most of the reasons for creation of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for appointing lower court judges “no longer exist or have been resolved through changes in rules, regulations and practices”, a report by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy said.
Currently, the appointments of District Judges and Subordinate Judiciary are done by the respective State governments. But in recent years, there have been an invigorated push for creation of a unified pan-India judicial service for appointing them.
AIJS has been pitched as a solution to judicial vacancies, lack of representation for the marginalised and the failure to attract the best talent.
The idea for AIJS was first proposed by the 14th Report of the Law Commission of India in 1958, aimed at creating a centralised cadre of District Judges that would draw better talent.
One of the recent justifications for creation of AIJS has been that a centralised service would help fill the approximately 5,000 vacancies across the District and Subordinate Judiciary in India.
The report,however, said it is only certain High Courts which account for a majority of the approximately 5,000 vacancies.
“In our opinion, rather than proposing an AIJS as a solution for judicial vacancies, it may be more prudent to investigate the reasons and causes for the large number of vacancies in the poorly performing States,” the report authored by Prashant Reddy T., Ameen Jauhar and Reshma Sekhar said.
The report also highlighted that many of the communities who currently benefit from the State quotas, may oppose the creation of AIJS. This is because the communities recognised as Other Backward Classes (OBC) by State governments may or may not be classified as OBCs by the Central government.
While AIJS has been pitched as a solution to lack of representation for the marginalised on the Bench, the report said many States are already reserving posts for marginalised communities and women.
Another argument made against creation of AIJS is that judges recruited through this process will not know the local languages of the States in which they are posted. This becomes important considering that the proceedings of civil and criminal courts are to be conducted in a language prescribed by the respective State governments.
“The issues of local language and customs are issues that deserve serious consideration before moving ahead with the creation of the AIJS,” the report said.
NATIONAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday handed over non-truncated copies of 122 witness statements to the defence in the 2008 Malegaon blasts trial.
The agency had earlier refused to share information about several “sensitive” witnesses with the accused — BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni, Major (retd.) Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ajay Rahilkar.
It is the central agency established by the Government of India to combat terror in India.
Agency came into existence with the enactment of the NIA Act 2008.
NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.Y C Modi is chairman of NIA.
NIA works under Ministry of Home Affairs.
Priyadarshini Govind: Bharatnatyam Exponent
The classical dance forms recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Ministry of Culture are:
- Bharatanatyam, from Tamil Nadu.
- Kathak, from Uttar Pradesh.
- Kathakali, from Kerala.
- Kuchipudi, from Andhra Pradesh.
- Odissi, from Odisha.
- Sattriya, from Assam.
- Manipuri, from Manipur.
- Mohiniyattam, from Kerala.
Chairman emeritus of Tata Sons Private Limited, Ratan N. Tata, moved the Supreme Court on Friday against the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s (NCLAT) judgment restoring Cyrus Mistry as its chairman, saying the verdict had virtually pulled down the governance and corporate structure painstakingly built by the founders of the Indian multinational conglomerate.
Tata Sons has already moved the apex court against the NCLAT’s decision of December 18.
- National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.
- NCLAT hears appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
- NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY BOARD OF INDIA under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
- NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA (CCI).