THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 10TH FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the development of judiciary system in India
1. The Supreme Court and the Sadar Adalats were merged into three High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay
and Madras in 1865.
2. The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for a Federal Court which could settle disputes
between governments.
Which of the statements given above 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 Government of India Act, 1919
1. The Indian Legislative Council at the Centre was replaced by a bicameral system consisting of a
Council of State.
2. The Act separated for the first time the provincial and central budgets
3. Dyarchy in the provinces was abolished and provinces were given autonomy
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3

Q.3 Consider the following statements.
1. In the first Lok Sabha, the single largest party in the opposition was the Swatantra Party.
2. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya as its founder-President.
3. Congress won a majority of seats in all the states including Travancore-Cochin, Madras and Orissa
in first general elections
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 2 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 1 only
D. None

ANSWERS: C,A,D

ATTRACTING INVESTORS IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

NEWS: 

The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration is highlighting good quality air and low crime rate in the newly created Union Territory to attract investors.

As per the J&K Information Technology (IT) Policy 2020, the administration is offering an incentive to IT companies to operate in three-shifts and to facilitate women working during the night by providing transportation and security.

The document, shared with investors, says that two IT parks with an area of 5,00,000 sq ft are being developed in Jammu and Srinagar, which will have “dedicated and uninterrupted broadband connectivity and WiFi access”.

Internet has been snapped in the Union Territory since August 5 last year after Home Minister Amit Shah moved two Bills in the Rajya Sabha to revoke the special status under Article 370.

Following the Supreme Court’s directions, 2G mobile connectivity was restored last month with access only to 301 government-approved websites.

The Real Estate Policy states that a vast land bank owned by the government would be disbursed to “private developers” through a transparent bidding process.

The developers will have to reserve 20% dwelling units in group housing projects for the economically weaker sections and the lower income groups. The UT of J&K is offering 100% exemption on stamp duty, land use charge, permission, construction and processing fee for the housing for the economically weaker sections and LIG groups.

The policy says that the government will persuade the National Housing Bank, HUDCO, financial institutions, commercial banks and the insurance sector to extend operations in J&K to provide affordable housing credit to people.

CORONA VIRUS

NEWS: 

The death toll from the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak in China rose to 811 on Sunday, as authorities geared up for millions of people returning to work after the extended Lunar New Year break.

Many cities have almost become ghost towns over the past two weeks as Beijing ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools.

In a letter written to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Modi offered India’s assistance to face the challenge. PM offered condolences at the unfortunate loss of lives,” said a source confirming that Mr. Modi also conveyed appreciation for China’s support in the evacuation of Indian nationals from Wuhan.

ABOUT CORONA VIRUS

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Symptoms:

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Transmission:

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  1. the air by coughing and sneezing.
  2. close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  3. touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  4. rarely, fecal contamination

DARKNET

NEWS: 

The Narcotics Control Bureau ( NCB) on Sunday said it has arrested the country’s first ‘darknet’ narcotics operative, who allegedly shipped hundreds of psychotropic drug parcels abroad in the garb of sex stimulation medicines.

Dipu Singh, 21, son of a retired Army officer, was arrested by the sleuths of the Delhi zonal unit of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) from Lucknow recently.

The NCB was part of a global ‘Operation Trance’, launched in December last year, entailing a joint intelligence gathering action on international postal, express mail and courier shipments containing psychotropic drugs (which can only be purchased on a doctor’s prescription) that are abused as sedatives and painkillers.

ABOUT DARKNET

Darknet refers to the deep hidden internet platform that is used for narcotics sale, exchange of pornographic content and other illegal activities by using the secret alleys of the onion router (ToR) to stay away from the surveillance of law enforcement agencies.

Owing to its end-to-end encryption, darknet is considered very tough to crack when it comes to investigating criminal activities being rendered over it.

 

VAN VIHAR NATIONAL PARK

GURU RAVIDAS

NEWS:

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Sunday said if voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, her party will rename Bhadohi as Sant Ravidas Nagar.

The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s assertion to rename Bhadohi as Sant Ravidas Nagar came close on the heels of a proposal to change the name of Basti, a district located in the eastern parts of the State, after Maharishi Vashishth.

Maharishi Vashishth, who, according to Hindu mythology, was the guru of Lord Ram and his brother Lord Lakshman.

The District Magistrate of Basti, Ashutosh Niranjan, had said the proposal to change the district’s name was sent to the revenue board and the expenditure for it was pegged at around ₹1 crore.

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has changed the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj and that of Faizabad to Ayodhya.

ABOUT RAVIDAS

Ravidas was an Indian mystic poet-saint of the Bhakti movement during the 15th to 16th century CE. Venerated as a guru in the region of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the devotional songs of Ravidas have had a lasting impact upon the bhakti movement.

Ravidas was COBBLER by caste.

He was the disciple of Ramananda.

ABOUT BHAKTI MOVEMENT

Bhakti means mystical devotion to one God.

Bhakti had its seed in Vedas but was not much emphasized during the earlier period.

It became popular with the rise of Mahyana Buddhism.

Bhakti movement became popular in south India during 7th-12th century.

In north India it became popular during 14th-15th century.

Namdeva, Ramananda, Kabir, Ravidas, Sena, Sadhana, Nanak Dev are the important Bhakti saints.

Bhakti movement played an important role in spread of vernacular languages.

RIGHT TO PROTEST UNDER CHALLENGE

NEWS: 

Several organisations, which are up in arms against the Bengaluru police’s decision to have them sign indemnity bonds of up to ₹10 lakh as a precondition for permission to stage protests, are planning to challenge this in court. The move has been criticised as a “clampdown on the fundamental right of legitimate and peaceful assembly and dissent”.

Earlier, the police used to seek a bond of up to ₹10,000 and only in special cases. But four months ago, when a rally caused large-scale damage to public property, the order was amended to allow for a bond up to ₹10 lakh.

Article 19(1) in The Constitution Of India 1949

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(f) omitted
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

 

DRDO

NEWS:

The government wants to increase indigenous production in the defence sector up to 70% and reduce imports, said Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chairman G. Satheesh Reddy.

He, along with NITI Aayog member V.K. Saraswat, launched the EPluto 7G vehicle by Pure EV in the premises of the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-H), on Sunday.

Mr. Saraswat said during 2020-2021, five to six 2 GWh battery manufacturing plants would come up and the NITI Aayog was ready to encourage those who come up with proposals.

He said India is also considering getting lease of lithium mines abroad so that manufacturing cells will be easy, which costs 40% of the battery, in India.

He also advised Pure EV to join hands with the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI).

ABOUT DRDO

  • DRDO works under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
  • It is working to establish world class science and technology base for India and provides our Defence Services decisive edge by equipping them with internationally competitive systems and solutions.
  • Dr G. Satheesh Reddy is the incumbent Chairman of DRDO.

Genesis & Growth

  • DRDO was established in 1958 after combining Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO).

Mission

  • Design, develop and lead to production state-of-the-art sensors, weapon systems, platforms and allied equipment for our Defence Services.
  • Provide technological solutions to the Services to optimise combat effectiveness and to promote well-being of the troops.
  • Develop infrastructure and committed quality manpower and build strong indigenous technology base.

FIRST EDITORIAL: BODO PEACE PACT

Peace accord was signed on January 27. Editorial highlights that this is the third such agreement signed by the government of India.

The new deal offers more hope than the 1993 and 2003 accords; some of the most potent factions of the National Democratic Front of Boroland that had stayed away from earlier agreements are now on board. More significantly, the stakeholders have agreed that the updated political arrangements would remain confined to the realm of wider autonomy within the State of Assam, giving statehood and Union Territory demands a final burial.

MAIN CLAUSES OF THE 2019 AGREEMENT

The generous terms promise an expanded area to be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region, a ₹1,500-crore development package, and greater contiguity of Bodo-populated areas. There is also an offer of general amnesty for militants, with heinous crimes likely to be benignly reviewed, and ₹5 lakh each to the families of those killed during the Bodo movement — it claimed nearly 4,000 lives.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

With newer claimants to a share of spoils, the current bonhomie could be severely tested when the expanded Bodoland Territorial Council goes to the polls soon. It has been dominated since inception in 2003 by the Bodoland Peoples Front, comprising former Bodo Liberation Tigers cadre, but the new batches of surrendered militants as well as the All Bodo Students’ Union intend to enter the fray. Of greater concern are inter-tribal and community ties.

CONCLUSION

The accord’s success will lie in the stakeholders working out a power-sharing arrangement in the proposed BTR that privileges equity over hegemony.

LEAD ARTICLE: NEED FOR A REFUGEE LAW

In his historic address to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda declared, “I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”

Author highlights that it is ironical that about 127 years later,Indian government has restricted citizenship to people on the grounds of both religion and nation.

Author highlights that Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, or CAA, 2019  reminds us urgently of the moral imperative of an expansive and humane refugee law.

WHY SUCH A LAW?

It may be legitimately asked that if in practice India has been hospitable to refugees, why does it need a refugee law which conforms to the Refugee Convention?

The answer lies in discrimination in the recognition of refugees and the award of citizenship, embedded sometimes in laws and rules, and at other times in official practice. These include the morally indefensible, indeed shameful decision of the Indian government to send back Rohingyas to conditions which the International Court of Justice has recently deemed to be genocidal, and changes in passport rules even prior to the passage of the CAA which in effect discriminated between people on the basis of their religion.

PROBLEMS OF INDIAN LAWS DEALING WITH REFUGEES

The first of these is that our law does not distinguish between “foreigners” and “refugees”. This means that refugees depend on state discretion, indeed “benevolence” rather than inherent rights.

The second is that these assume that the executive will act on principles of humanism and non-discrimination. This may have been true of an India led by Nehru.

CONCLUSION

India’s treatment of the Rohingya, and the discriminatory CAA must compel Indians committed to India as a humane inclusive country to fight not just for the abrogation of the CAA-NRIC-NPR trinity — CAA-National Register of Indian Citizens-National Population Register — but also for India to bring in a refugee law which conforms to international conventions.

SECOND ARTICLE: JUSTICE TO VICTIMS OF CRIMES

WHY IN NEWS?

The recent judgment in Rekha Murarka vs The State Of West Bengal (November 2019) has held that the victims’ private counsel cannot orally examine or cross-examine the witnesses.

It is a setback to the developing jurisprudence on victim justice.

Under our criminal justice system, victims find themselves removed from the proceedings. Their identities are reduced to being mere witnesses. The harm they suffer is reduced to being aggravating or mitigating factors at the time of sentencing. With the state appropriating their victimisation, the actual victims become mere stage props in a larger scheme.

EARLIER SUGGESTION OF THE LAW COMMISSION

In 1996, the 154th Law Commission Report suggested a paradigm shift in India’s criminal justice system towards a victim-centric notion of justice. The Code of Criminal Procedure(Amendment) Act, 2009 partially accepted this suggestion and granted some rights to the victims of crime. The Act introduced victims’ right to a private counsel under Section 24(8).

The Code of Criminal Procedure already allowed for pleaders engaged by private persons to submit written arguments with the permission of the court under Sections 301(2) and 302 allowed a person to conduct the prosecution with permission of the court. These sections were read together to partially secure the victims’ right to participation.

CURRENT SITUATION OF VICTIM’S PARTICIPATION

Presently, the victims’ advocate has an extremely limited role to play wherein he “assists” the prosecutor rather than represent the interests of the victim before the court. This is manifest from Section 301(2) under which the advocate can only air his views and concerns, not to the court, but to the prosecutor and must act under his directions thereafter.

The only substantial opportunity provided to a private counsel is after the closing of evidence when written arguments may be submitted to the court only after seeking the permission of the court.

WHAT ARE THE INTERNATIONAL PRECEDENTS?

In contrast, the proceedings under the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides for victim participation at the stage of first, a challenge to the jurisdiction of the ICC; second, framing of charges; third, opening and closing statements; fourth, making a written submission wherever the personal interests of the victims are affected; and finally, for presenting witnesses to give evidence on issues relating to the personal interests of the victims.

CONCLUSION

Effective and meaningful participation still eludes victims of crime. The Supreme Court in Rekha Murarka has missed the opportunity to forward the jurisprudence on victim justice and rectify the lacunae in our laws. Instead, the judgment goes against the jurisprudential current specified above.

There is an urgent need to strengthen victim participation by providing private counsels with a greater say in the conduct of the trial without prejudicing the interests of the accused. The cause of victim justice would be greatly served, if the Supreme Court decide to revisit its reasoning and assumptions to appropriately amend this provision in light of the above.

SECOND EDITORIAL: CHEETAHS

WHY IN NEWS?

The Supreme Court’s order enabling the introduction of exotic cheetahs to an Indian habitat on an experimental basis.

Editorial highlights that it is illogical to expect that a new population, whether from Africa or Iran, will fare better today than in the past. It is worth recalling that the same court observed in its 2013 order restraining the Environment Ministry from importing African cheetahs into Kuno, Madhya Pradesh, that there are many seriously threatened Indian species such as the lion, the Great Indian Bustard, Bengal florican, the dugong, and Manipur brow-antlered deer which deserve immediate conservation action

NEED FOR SCIENTIFIC ENQUIRY

While the Court has appointed an expert committee to guide and direct the experiment proposed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, it needs a broader scientific inquiry into the added pressures that a small group of introduced predators will impose on an ecosystem, crucially on the prey base that currently sustains tigers and leopards.

CONCLUSION

Restoring ecology and diverse species cannot be a serious goal in the absence of iron-clad protections to existing parks, sanctuaries, migratory corridors, and buffer areas. Preserving wild spaces with surviving species should be the first order priority.

OP-ED PAGE

ISSUE: MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY BILL 2020

WHY IN NEWS?

The Cabinet has recently approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (MTP Bill, 2020) which will soon be tabled in Parliament. It seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP Act) and follows the MTP Bills of 2014, 2017 and 2018, all of which previously lapsed in Parliament.

CONDITIONS FOR ABORTION IN MTP ACT 1971

UP TO 12 WEEKS Under Section 3, for foetuses that are aged up to 12 weeks, only one medical practitioner’s opinion is required to the effect that the continuance of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the life of the mother or cause grave injury to her physical or mental health; or there is a substantial risk that if the child is born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

12-20 WEEKS: But if the foetus is aged between 12 weeks and 20 weeks, at least two medical practitioners’ opinions conforming to either of the two conditions are required.

BEYOND 20 WEEKS: Beyond 20 weeks, termination may be carried out where it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.

ISSUES WITH THE CURRENT LAW

First, at all stages of the pregnancy, the healthcare providers, rather than the women seeking abortion, have the final say on whether the abortion can be carried out. This is unlike the abortion laws in 67 countries, including Iceland, France, Canada, South Africa and Uruguay, where a woman can get an abortion ‘on request’ with or without a specific gestational limit (which is usually 12 weeks).

Second, the MTP Act embodies a clear prejudice against unmarried women.

Third, due to advancements in science, foetal abnormalities can now be detected even after 20 weeks. However, the MTP Act presently allows abortion post 20 weeks only where it is necessary to save the life of the mother. This means that even if a substantial foetal abnormality is detected and the mother doesn’t want to bear life-long caregiving responsibilities and the mental agony associated with it, the law gives her no recourse unless there is a prospect of her death.

PROBLEMS IN THE MTP BILL 2020

First, it doesn’t allow abortion on request at any point after the pregnancy.

Second, it doesn’t take a step towards removing the prejudice against unmarried women by amending the relevant provision.

And finally, it enhances the gestational limit for legal abortion from 20 to 24 weeks only for specific categories of women such as survivors of rape, victims of incest, and minors. This means that a woman who does not fall into these categories would not be able to seek an abortion beyond 20 weeks, even if she suffers from grave physical or mental injury due to the pregnancy.

CONCLUSION

While it is hoped that MTP Bill, 2020 will not lapse in Parliament like its predecessors, it is evident that it does not do enough to secure women’s interests, and there is still a long road ahead for progressive abortion laws.

INDIA BANGLADESH RAIL LINK

NEWS:

The landmark rail line to connect the northeastern region with Bangladesh will be ready by the end of 2021, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Sunday.

Mr. Singh said the completion of the line between Agartala in Tripura and Akhaura in Bangladesh would pave the way for the first train to run from the northeastern region to Bangladesh on the eve of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022.

The line between Agartala and Akhaura would be completed before the end of next year, he said.

The link will connect Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India and from there to Agartala.

INCREASE IN IMPORT OF LI-ION BATTERIES

India has quadrupled its imports of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and more than tripled its import bill on the product, vital for powering a range of devices from cellphones to electric vehicles, from 2016-2018, the Union Science Ministry said in the Lok Sabha last Friday.

Responding to a query, the Ministry said 175 million such batteries were imported in 2016, 313 million in 2017, 712 million in 2018 and 450 million from January 1, 2019, till November 30 of that year. The cost of these imports rose from $383 million (₹2,600 crore approximately) in 2016 to $727.24 million (₹5,000 crore) in 2017, $1254.94 million (₹8,700 crore) in 2018 and $929 million (₹6,500 crore) in 2019.

Indian manufacturers source Li-ion batteries from China, Japan and South Korea and the country is among the largest importers in the world.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) manufactures such batteries but volumes are limited, and they are restricted for use in space applications.

In June 2018, the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI) in Tamil Nadu’s Karaikudi, under the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), and RAASI Solar Power Pvt. Ltd. signed a Memorandum of Agreement for transfer of technology for India’s first lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery project.

Electric vehicles are expected to account for a significant share in the growth of the Li-ion battery demand in India, though reports say this is unlikely at least until 2025 because electric cars are still significantly costlier than their combustion-engine counterparts. The government has announced investments worth $1.4 billion to make India one of the largest manufacturing hubs for electric vehicles by 2040.

WEST BANK

NEWS: 

Israel has begun to draw up maps of land in the occupied West Bank that will be annexed in accordance with U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.

Where is West Bank?

It is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.

What is the dispute settlements here? Who lives there?

The West Bank was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Israel snatched it back during the Six Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since.

It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years.

Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.

 

Are these settlements illegal?

The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court of Justice have said that the West Bank settlements are violative of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

Under the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court in 1998, such transfers constitute war crimes, as does the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.

U-19 WORLD CUP

NEWS: 

A sprightly bunch of Bangladesh boys created history by winning the country’s first global title, shocking defending champion India by three wickets in the summit clash of the ICC U-19 World Cup here on Sunday.

In a low-scoring final, Bangladesh restricted India to 177 in 47.2 overs and did well to score the revised target of 170 in 42.1 overs under the DLS method.

 

QUESTION FOR MAINS

Q.1 Governor should not be a mere rubber stamp. Comment

Q.2 Drugs menace should be treated as separate threat for internal security. Comment

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