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THE HINDU CURRENT AFFAIRS 6TH DECEMBER 2019

 

Q.1   Who among the following was a prominent leader of the

Congress Socialist Party ?

(a) M. N. Roy

(b) Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi

(c) Pattam Thanu Pillai

(d) Acharya Narendra Dev

 

Q.2  Who among the following suggested the winding up of the

Indian National Congress after India attained independence?

(a) C. Rajagopalachari

(b) Acharya Kripalani

(c) Mahatma Gandhi

(d) Jayaprakash Narain

 

Q.3   The power of the Supreme Court of India to decide disputes

between the Centre and the States falls under its

(a) advisory jurisdiction

(b) appellate jurisdiction

(c) original jurisdiction

(d) constitutional jurisdiction

 

 

RBI POLICY RATE

NEWS: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) surprised the market by keeping the policy interest rate unchanged at 5.15% at the fifth bimonthly monetary policy review meeting, despite slowing economic growth, citing inflation concerns.

All six members of the monetary policy committee voted for keeping the rate unchange

The accommodative stance of the monetary policy was retained.

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)%.

 

TRUIBUTE TO AMBEDKAR ON HIS DEATH ANNIVERSARY

Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar is celebrated for his immense vision and contributions to the legal and social framework of our Republic, but many forget that he was, by training, one of the foremost Indian economists of his time.

VIEWS ON  SMALL AND MARGINAL FARMERS

Armed with a double PhD from Columbia University in New York, and the London School of Economics, he first set his mind to the emancipation of smallholder farmers, who were trapped in cycles of debt, with access to inputs restricted to those of privileged castes.

 Babasaheb was in favour of pooling of land among small farmers with cooperative management of land. However, he was more concerned with the factors of production and productivity.

VIEWS ON ECONOMICS

In 1934, the Hilton Young Commission was set up to debate India’s monetary policy.

Every member of this Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance held a copy of Ambedkar’s book, The Problem of the Rupee, as Ambedkar argued his case for fiscal stability. As a result, the committee drafted the Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934 with the express purpose of protecting markets from currency fluctuations through state control. 

Babasaheb’s vision that strong monetary policy and robust institutions were required to ensure economic growth in India still rings true.

VIEWS ON REVENUE SHARING

 He concluded that a system where fiscal powers were shared between the two entities would be the most stable, an idea which is enshrined in the Constitution. His key finding was that leaving all fiscal powers with either entity had led to more corruption and weaker linkages between revenue and development of a province. 

ENSURER OF WOMEN RIGHTS

The idea of women as a potent force for economic change owes its legal existence in India solely to Ambedkar. He was instrumental in drafting specific laws to protect the rights of women in mines and factories, as well as recognising maternity in the law. Maternity rights in modern India owe their existence to Babasaheb.

He was also the driving force behind Employees’ State Insurance and the collection of industrial and labour statistics to track the progress of labour. 

Under his leadership, the Central Water Commission and the Central Electricity Authority were convened, and until this day ensure that large-scale water and power management projects account for the needs of all Indians.

CONCLUSION

Ambedkar was a leader, reformer, constitutionalist and economist whose contributions have touched every aspect of life of modern India.

 

CHANDRASHEKHAR AZAD

Chandra Shekhar Azad (1906, Alirajpur (MP)–27 February 1931) was a great freedom fighter.

His fierce patriotism and courage inspired many others of his generation to enter freedom struggle.

Chandrasekhar Azad was the mentor of Bhagat Singh, another great freedom fighter.

Azad was born as Chandra Shekhar Tiwari in Bhavra village, in the present-day Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh.

On the insistence of her mother Jagrani Devi, Chandra Shekhar Azad went to Kashi Vidyapeeth, Benaras for studying Sanskrit.

Azad was deeply troubled by the Jallianwala Bagh incident.

When Gandhi launched NonCooperation Movement in 1921, Azad participated actively and was also arrested.

It is said that on being produced before a judge, he gave his name as ‘Azad’, father’s name as ‘Swatantrata’ (independence) and residence as ‘Jail’. From that day he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad among the people.

Azad vowed that he would never be arrested by the British police and would die as free man.

After the suspension of non-cooperation movement Chandrashekhar Azad was attracted towards more aggressive and revolutionary ideals. He came in contact with Ram Prasad Bismil who had formed the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation. He then became an active member of HRA and collected funds through robbing government property.

In 1928, Azad reorganized the HRA into HSRA (the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association), along with Bhagvati Charan Vohra and other compatriots like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. HRSA was committed to complete independence for India and socialist principles for India’s future progress.

Chandrashekhar Azad was involved many revolutionary activities, the most significant of them being-Kakori Train Robbery (1926), the attempt to blow up the Viceroy’s train (1926), and the shooting of Saunders at Lahore (1928) to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpatrai.

On February 27, 1931 Chandrashekhar Azad went to meet two of his comrades at the Alfred Park, Allahbad. On this occasion, he was betrayed by an informer. Soon the police surrounded the park and ordered Chandrashekhar Azad to surrender. Azad fought alone valiantly and killed three policemen. But finding himself surrounded and seeing no route for escape, Azad shot himself dead with his last bullet. Thus he kept his pledge of not being caught alive.

The Colt pistol of Chandra Shekhar Azad is displayed at the Allahabad Museum.

His favourite verse was: Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge, Azad hi rahein hain, azad hi rahenge!

 

PM KISAN AND KALIA SCHEME

NEWS: The Odisha government has decided to merge its flagship scheme to provide assistance to farmers with the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) yojana, apparently due to financial constraint, a Minister said on Thursday.

 

ABOUT KALIA SCHEME:-
KALIA: Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation Scheme

KALIA scheme of Odihsa government  offers a direct cash transfer of 5000 rupees for a farm family over five seasons along with other benefits. 

All small and marginal farmers along with landless agricultural households, vulnerable agricultural household, landless agricultural labourers and sharecroppers/actual cultivators are eligible under different components of KALIA. 

Who is a small and marginal farmer?
A small farmer is a cultivator who owns 2.5 acres to 5 acres of arable land. A marginal farmer is one who owns less than 2,5 acres of arable land.

What are the benefits available to cultivators for cultivation under KALIA scheme?
Financial aid of Rs.25,000 per farm family over five seasons will be provided to small and marginal farmers so that they can purchase seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and use assistance towards labour. This scheme has come into effect from the ongoing (2018-19) Rabi season.

Is there any benefit for the landless agricultural household?
Yes, Financial assistance of Rs 12500/ will be provided to each landless agricultural household for agricultural allied activities such as goat rearing, small layer poultry units, duckery units, fishery kits for fishermen, mushroom cultivation, bee-keeping and so on. 

ABOUT PM KISAN SCHEME

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme launched in the Interim Budget of 2019-20. 
Under this scheme rupees 6000 will be provided to farmers holding cultivable land up to 2 hectare. 

INDIA BASED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY

NEWS: Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh, said all statutory norms were being followed in the implementation of the India-based Neutrino Observatory project

 

ABOUT INO

India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO)

  • INO Project is aimed at building a world-class underground laboratorywith a rock cover to conduct basic research on neutrino.
  • The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is the nodal institution. The observatory is to be built jointly with the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology.
  • The observatory will belocated underground so as to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation.
  • The operation of INO will have no release of radioactive or toxic substances. It is not a weapons laboratory and will have no strategic or defence applications.

ABOUT NEUTRINO

  • Proton, neutron, and electron are tiny particles that make up atoms. The neutrino is also a tiny elementary particle, but it is not part of the atom. Such particles are also found to exist in nature.
  • Neutrino has a very tiny mass and no charge. It interacts very weakly with other matter particles. So weakly that every second trillions of neutrinos fall on us and pass through our bodies unnoticed.
  • Neutrinos come from the sun (solar neutrinos) and other stars, cosmic rays that come from beyond the solar system, and from the Big Bang from which our Universe originated. They can also be produced in the lab.
  • TheINO will study atmospheric neutrinos only. Solar neutrinos have much lower energy than the detector can detect.

 

FUGITIVE ECONOMIC OFFENDERS

NEWS: A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court here on Thursday declared diamond trader Nirav Modi, an accused in the Punjab National Bank scam case, a fugitive economic offender.

Nirav Modi is the second person to be declared a fugitive economic offender, under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, after liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Now, the Union government can confiscate his assets.

 

ABOUT FUGITIVE ECONOMIC OFFENDERS ACT

  1. According to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 a fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for his or her involvement in economic offences involving at least Rs. 100 crore or more and has left India to avoid prosecution.
  2. The investigating agencies have to file an application in a Special Court under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person’s whereabouts.
  3. The Special Court will issue a notice for the person to appear at a specified place and date at least six weeks from the issue of notice.
  4. Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears. If not the person would be declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender based on the evidence filed by the investigating agencies.
  5. The person who is declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender can challenge the proclamation in the High Court within 30 days of such declaration according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

 

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

NEWS: Amnesty International India Private Limited, to which the Enforcement Directorate had earlier served a show-cause notice for alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) involving ₹51.72 crore, has sought more time to furnish its response.

ABOUT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

  • Amnesty International is a London based Non-Governmental Organisation founded in 1961.
  • The organization aims to create a world where every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsand other international human rights standards.
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in It recognized the fundamental human rights universally for the first time.
  • It also conducts research, generates action to prevent grave abuses of human rights and demands justice for those whose rights have been violated.
  • The organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prizein 1977 for its “Defence of human dignity against torture” and the United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights in 

 

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

NEWS: Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday pulled up members for skipping meetings of the standing committees. He said that only 18 members attended all the 41 meetings of the eight panels since their reconstitution in September last.

The reprimand comes in the backdrop of Opposition parties’ constant criticism that the government bypasses all parliamentary scrutiny by not routing key legislations via the standing committees. The committees are often described as mini Parliament, where the members are able to work outside of the party whip.

WHY COMMITTEES? 

  1. Given the volume of legislative business, discussing all Bills under the consideration of Parliament in detail on the floor of the House is impossible. Committees are PLATFORMS FOR THREADBARE DISCUSSION on a proposed law
  2. Allows MORE OPEN, INTENSIVE AND BETTER INFORMED DISCUSSIONS. Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips, which allows them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence.
  3. Allows DETAILED ANALYSIS of a piece of legislation.
  4. department standing committees go one step further and hear from SENIOR OFFICIALS of the government in a closed setting, allowing for more detailed discussions.
  5. This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to UNDERSTAND THE EXECUTIVE PROCESSES CLOSELY.

 

CONDITIONS FOR ANY COMMITTEE TO BE RECOGNIZED AS PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

  1. Is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker/ Chairman
  2. Works under the direction of Speaker/ Chairman
  3. Presents its report to the House or to the Speaker/Chairman
  4. Has a secretariat provided by the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha

 

TYPES OF COMMITTEES

  1. STANDING: existence is uninterrupted and usually reconstituted on an annual basis;
  2. SELECT COMMITTEES: formed for a specific purpose, for instance, to deliberate on a particular bill. Once the Bill is disposed of, that select committee ceases to exist.

 The three financial committees are the PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE, THE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC UNDERTAKINGS.

Parliament is not bound by the recommendations of committees.

The first Parliamentary Committee was constituted in 1571 in Britain

 

 

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2019

NEWS: Opposition parties, at the end of two rounds of meeting on Thursday, conceded that they do not have the numbers to counter the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in either House of Parliament, but decided that over the next four days till the legislation is tabled in Parliament, they will run an information campaign calling out the Bill as “unconstitutional”, “poisonous” and “anti-tribal”.

 

WHAT DOES THE BILL CONTAINS?

The Bill 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 purpose of the Bill says that it 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.

The Bill 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 Bill 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).

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

 

MALDIVES

NEWS: The Maldives will seek to restructure the $1.4 billion-debt it owes China, and the island nation’s “India first” policy will not come in the way of negotiations with the Asian giant, Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said on Thursday.

ABOUT MALDIVES

Country in South Asia located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.

Smallest Asian country by land area.

Male is the capital of Island.

Member of SAARC.

 

FOREX RESERVES

NEWS: The country’s foreign exchange reserves crossed the $450-billion mark for the first time ever on the back of strong inflows which enabled the central bank to buy dollars from the market, thus checking any sharp appreciation of the rupee.

“India’s foreign exchange reserves were at $451.7 billion on December 3, 2019 — an increase of $38.8 billion over end-March 2019,

The rise in foreign exchange reserves will give the central bank the firepower to act against any sharp depreciation of the rupee, currency analysts said.

During the taper tantrums of 2013, (or the collective reactionary panic after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would apply the brakes on its Quantitative Easing programme), India’s foreign exchange reserves fell to $274.8 billion in September of 2013, prompting the Centre and RBI to unleash measures to attract inflows. It has been a steady rise for the reserves since then, with $175 billion added in the last six years.

ABOUT FOREX

  • India’s forex reserves comprise Foreign Currency Assets (FCAs), gold reserves, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and India’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund

 

SMALL FINANCE BANKS

NEWS: Existing payments banks (PBs), which are controlled by residents and have completed five years of operations, are also eligible for conversion into small finance banks after complying with all legal and regulatory requirements of various authorities and if they conform to these guidelines,

The minimum capital for setting up an SFB has been mandated at ₹200 crore, the RBI said, addingm for primary (urban) co-operative banks (UCBs), which wish to become SFBs, the initial requirement of net worth will be ₹100 crore, which will have to be increased to ₹200 crore within five years from the date of commencement of business.

What are small finance banks?

The small finance bank will primarily undertake basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to unserved and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities.

What they can do?

  • Take small deposits and disburse loans.
  • Distribute mutual funds, insurance products and other simple third-party financial products.
  • Lend 75% of their total adjusted net bank credit to priority sector.
  • Maximum loan size would be 10% of capital funds to single borrower, 15% to a group.
  • Minimum 50% of loans should be up to 25 lakhs.

What they cannot do?

  • Lend to big corporates and groups.
  • Cannot open branches with prior RBI approval for first five years.
  • Other financial activities of the promoter must not mingle with the bank.
  • It cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities.
  • Cannot be a business correspondent of any bank.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL

ISSUE: BAIL CONDITIONS

BACKGROUND: Bail granted to P Chidambaram.

PROBLEMS HIGHLIGHTED BY THE EDITORIAL

In a case largely turning on documentary evidence — and one being probed by two agencies concerning the same transactions — it was quite astonishing that the former Minister was incarcerated for over 100 days, even after being subjected to prolonged custodial interrogation.

A disconcerting trend in the superior judiciary has emerged in recent times, wherein material provided in ‘sealed covers’ has been relied upon for adjudication, despite the content not being available to all parties.

The Supreme Court has now formally disapproved of courts using purported material contained in sealed cover to record one-sided findings. In a principled intervention, it has deprecated the High Court treating prosecution claims submitted in a sealed cover to make some observations on the merits of the case against Mr. Chidambaram. 

Supreme Court rightly observed that bail remains the norm and its refusal the exception. 

GROUNDS ON WHICH BAIL COULD BE REJECTED

The denial of bail is directly related to the possibility that a remand prisoner who has been released may not appear before the court to face trial

Another valid reason is the potential for a person to tamper with evidence or influence and threaten witnesses.

The apex court has conceded that sometimes the gravity of the offence may be an additional consideration, but underscored that it cannot be used to deny bail based on allegations yet to be tested in a trial.

SUGGESTIONS

 Investigative agencies would be better advised to focus on gathering relevant material and moving for an early trial. The legal system is already in place for expedited trial against political leaders through special courts. There is no necessity to vitiate the process through dramatic arrests and prolonged pre-trial imprisonment.

 

LEAD ARTICLE

ISSUE: CRITICISM OF THE SEEDS BILL

BACKGORUND: After passing through at least two versions, Seeds Bill 2019 is now under Parliament’s consideration. The earlier versions of the Bill, in 2004 and 2010, had generated heated debates. The present version promises to be no different.

WHAT IS THE NEED OF SUCH A BILL?

According to the government, a new Seeds Bill is necessary to enhance seed replacement rates in Indian agriculture, specify standards for registration of seed varieties and enforce registration from seed producers to seed retailers.

Certified seeds have higher and more stable yields than farm-saved seeds. 

PROBLEMS HIGHLIGHTED BY THE AUTHOR

  1. Policing by the private seed companies and forcing farmers to buy seed every year. Private seed companies prefer policing because their low-volume, high-value business model is crucially dependent on forcing farmers to buy their seeds every season.
  2. the Seeds Bill insists on compulsory registration of seeds. Assume a seed variety developed by a breeder, but derived from a traditional variety. The breeder will get exclusive marketing rights. But no gain will accrue to farmers as benefit-sharing is dealt with in the PPVFR Act, under which the seed is not registered.
  3. Seeds Bill, demands no information on passport data of the parental lines from which the seed variety was derived, including contributions made by farmers while registering a new variety. As a result, an important method of recording the contributions of farmers is overlooked and private companies are left free to claim a derived variety as their own.
  4. Seeds Bill is not based on an IPR like breeder’s rights, private seed companies can re-register their seeds an infinite number of times after the validity period. Given this “ever-greening” provision, many seed varieties may never enter the open domain for free use.
  5. disputes on compensation have to be decided as per the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Consumer courts are hardly ideal and friendly institutions that farmers can approach.
  6. according to the Seeds Bill, farmers become eligible for compensation if a plant variety fails to give expected results under “given conditions”. “Given conditions” is almost impossible to define in agriculture. Seed companies would always claim that “given conditions” were not ensured, which will be difficult to be disputed with evidence in a consumer court.

SUGGESTION

For the seed sector and its laws to be truly farmer-friendly, the public sector has to recapture its lost space.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL

ISSUE: HOLDING OF POLICY RATE BY RBI

Editorial has called it a strategic pause.

Though growth concerns are still paramount, a lot has changed between the earlier policies and now — inflation is rearing its head up again and the government’s approach to the fiscal deficit glide path is still unclear even as the macro numbers indicate a considerable slippage in the target of 3.3% for this fiscal

Monetary policy works with a lag and the 135 basis points cut since February needs to percolate down through the system and its impact analysed.

The RBI runs the risk of blunting the repo rate weapon if it continues to cut rates without the cuts being transmitted down the line. 

Acknowledging the dismal growth in the second quarter, the MPC has revised the growth projections for fiscal 2019-20 sharply downwards to 5% from the 6.1% it had projected in the October policy. 

All things considered, this seems to be a strategic pause by the MPC to watch how inflation moves and what the government does in the budget. The rate cut cycle still has some steam left.

 

DEBATE ON ELECTORAL BOND SYSTEM

BACKGROUND

 An investigative series on electoral bonds by independent journalist Nitin Sethi, with the help of Right to Information (RTI) activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd), exposed how the BJP leadership misled the Election Commission (EC) and Parliament on key features of the electoral bonds scheme and overruled the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s objections in its hurry to implement it

The Modi government had introduced the electoral bonds scheme with the promise of bringing in transparency in political funding. 

PROBLEMS

By their design, electoral bonds legitimise opacity in how elections are funded.

There is concern that electoral bonds could become vehicles for money laundering for shell companies, for foreign donations, which are prohibited. 

There was limited transparency in the earlier system but now even that transparency is gone as no one knows who is funding whom except government.

In the earlier system no company could donate more than 7.5% of its profits to a political party. Now that limit has been completely removed.

Today, a company can donate 100% of its profits… I would imagine there is no bar if the company also decides to donate its capital. This opens up the possibility of any foreign company or entity opening a shell company in India, with the money coming to it through a banking channel from Costa Rica or wherever, and then giving [that money] to the political party in power. Therefore the possibilities of unaccounted, illegal money controlling the policies and decision-making of the Indian government is now alive.

 

 

 

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