THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 11TH FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1 Attlee’s statement got lot of importance in India’s Freedom Struggle. What is the significance of it?
A. It declared the British intention of leaving the Indian subcontinent.
B. It transferred the power completely to the princely states.
C. Release of political prisoners of Freedom struggle
D. None of the above

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Mountbatten Plan
1. Independence for princely states was granted in the Plan.
2. Accession of Hyderabad to Pakistan was ruled out in the Plan.
3. A boundary commission to be set up if partition was to be effected.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 2 only
B. 1 and 3 only
C. 3 only
D. 2 and 3 only

Q.3 Which of the following personalities defended INA prisoners in the court of law
1. Dr. Ambedkar
2. Jawharlal Nehru
3. Asaf Ali
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 1 and 3 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 2 and 3 only

ANSWERS: A,D,D

SC/ST ACT AMENDMENT  

NEWS:

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a 2018 amendment which barred persons accused of committing atrocities against those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes from getting anticipatory bail.

But two of the judges on the Bench, Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran, held in their joint opinion that a High Court would also have an “inherent power” to grant anticipatory bail in cases in which prima facie an offence under the anti-atrocities law is not made out.

The two judges held that a High Court, in “exceptional cases”, could quash cases to prevent the misuse of the anti-atrocities law.

The judge said the express provisions of the Constitution and statutes like the Act, meant to protect the oppressed classes, underline the social or collective resolve to ensure that “all humans are treated as humans, that their innate genius is allowed outlets through equal opportunities and each of them is fearless in the pursuit of her or his dreams”.

SURAJKUND FESTIVAL: The World’s Largest International Crafts Fair

NEWS: 

Uzbekistan has participated in the ongoing 34th edition of the Surajkund International Crafts Mela here as the ‘partner nation’ in a big way. A number of artisans, craftspersons and performers have come to this mega event from this country and presented a bouquet of their art and craft.

Uzbekistan has a unique position in the world of handicrafts, as the Uzbeks themselves say that their crafts are the soul of their identity and culture. Artistic crafts occupy a special place in Uzbekistan’s cultural heritage.

ABOUT SURAJKUND FAIR

Location: Surajkund, Faridabad

Organised By: Surajkund Mela Authority in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture, External Affairs, Department of Tourism, Government of Haryana and Haryana Tourism Corporation
First Hosted In: 1987

PARTNER NATION: Uzbekistan

PARTNER STATE: HIMACHAL PRADESH

 

GAGANYAAN

NEWS:

The four Indian pilots chosen as candidate-astronauts on Monday began their 12-month training at the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Moscow, Russian space business company Glavkosmos has announced.

The four candidates are fighter pilots from the Indian Air Force and were chosen from among hundreds of applicants over the last few months. At the end of all training modules in India and Russia, one or two of the four will be finally named to circle the earth in the first crewed Gaganyaan, which is planned around 2022.

The Mission

  • Under the Gaganyaan schedule, three flights will be sent in orbit. Of the three, there will be two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight.
  • The human space flight programme, called the Orbital Module will have three Indian astronauts, including a woman.
  • It will circle Earth at a low-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from earth for 5-7 days.
  • The payload will consist of:
    • Crew module – spacecraft carrying human beings.
    • Service module – powered by two liquid propellant engines.
  • It will be equipped with emergency escape and emergency mission abort.
  • GSLV Mk III, also called the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
  • The mission is expected to cost around Rs 10,000 crore.

DRAFT POLICY ON RARE DISEASES

NEWS:

After being directed by the Madras High Court on January 6 to consider the issue of providing medical care to those suffering from the rare Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSD) as a “national emergency”, the Centre on Monday informed the court of having notified a draft national policy on rare diseases.

Draft policy envisages provision of ₹15 lakh to those suffering from certain LSDs.

He said the draft policy had categorised rare disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment such as Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation and disorders that were amenable to organ transplantation into one group, and states that they could be provided with financial support.

It further added that a maximum of ₹15 lakh could be provided to each patient under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arokya Nidhi and that the beneficiaries would not be limited to families below the poverty line.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: RESERVATION AS RIGHTS 

WHY IN NEWS?

A recent Supreme Court judgment, that there is no fundamental right to claim reservation in promotions.

The latest judgment is a reminder that affirmative action programmes allowed in the Constitution flow from “enabling provisions” and are not rights as such. This legal position is not new.

Major judgments — these include those by Constitution Benches — note that Article 16(4), on reservation in posts, is enabling in nature. In other words, the state is not bound to provide reservations, but if it does so, it must be in favour of sections that are backward and inadequately represented in the services based on quantifiable data.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

The idea that reservation is not a right may be in consonance with the Constitution allowing it as an option, but a larger question looms: Is there no government obligation to continue with affirmative action if the social situation that keeps some sections backward and at the receiving end of discrimination persists?

Reservation is no more seen by the Supreme Court as an exception to the equality rule; rather, it is a facet of equality.

LEAD ARTICLE: LIBERTY AT GOVERNMENT WHIMS

In this article author has highlighted the case of Mian Abdul Qayoom v. State of J&K which challenged the Public Safety Act in the HC of Jammu and Kashmir.

CASE OF MIAN ABDUL QAYOOM

76-year-old Mian Abdul Qayoom, is the president of the High Court’s Bar Association at Srinagar. He was arrested originally in the lead-up to the Union government’s decision on Article 370 of the Constitution and has since been detained for more than six months in a jail at Agra, with a view, the government says, to “preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.

Mr. Qayoom submitted in court that the grounds for his detention were not only indistinct and arbitrary but that the government’s order invoked a brace of first information reports lodged way back in 2008 and 2010, for which he had already faced detention.

WHAT DOES J&K HC RULED?

HC held that preventive detention laws stand alone, that they are compelled by a “primordial” requirement to maintain order in society. In their absence, the court said, the right to personal liberty would lose all its meaning. And the need for such laws, the judgment added, is so intensely felt that the political executive ought to enjoy complete immunity in deciding when to invoke these powers.

WHAT DOES THIS JUDGEMENT MEANS?

Judgment places liberty at the pleasure of government. It reduces the Constitution’s core guarantees to a trifle.

CONCLUSION

In reducing judicial review to an irrelevance, the judgment, therefore, stands as an antithesis of the Constitution’s basic function. To understand the dangers inherent in vesting unbridled power of this kind, we do not need to see J&K as exemplifying a state of exception. Nor do we need to apprehend that the model employed will likely be adopted in other States. For, as Gopalan’s lawyer, M.K. Nambyar, told the Supreme Court all those years ago: no amount of fine phrasing can disguise the fact that detention without trial is repugnant to the “universal conscience of civilized mankind”.

SECOND ARTICLE: CRITICISM OF THE AYUSHMAAN BHARAT SCHEME

BLINDLY FOLLOWING THE US MODEL

In India, multiple policy pronouncements over the last few years have expressed an implicit intent to emulate certain features of the U.S. health system, enhance private initiative, and uphold the insurance route as the way to go for health care. These are being largely envisaged while riding on the back of the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS), which aims to provide insurance cover to nearly 50 crore poor Indians.

Recently, 171 hospitals were reported to have been de-empanelled from the AB-NHPS on charges of fraud, which also included the issuance of fake e-cards and the manipulation of claims. A first information report was lodged against a few hospitals and multiple show cause notices were issued. This was almost within a year of the programme being launched with the promise of offering a religious check on fraudulent practices.

INADEQUATE FUNDING

Gupta and Roy have shown how the allocation for the AB-NHPS for 2019-20 would have covered less than a quarter of the targeted beneficiaries. For 2020-21, there has been a paltry increase in health-care sector allocation (5.7% above 2019-20 RE), while the allocation for the AB-NHPS is unchanged. It is very possible that the AB-NHPS continues to remain insufficiently funded and incapable of extending considerable financial risk protection to the poor.

CONCLUSION

One persistent habit that has characterised Indian health care since inception is of leaping onto the next, more aspirational position or endeavour before doing sufficient justice with the previous one, thus leaving the basics unattended. The AB-NHPS, in the presence of this vice, can only be another precarious rung in the ladder.

SECOND EDITORIAL: PROTECTING THE CAUVERY DELTA ZONE

WHY IN NEWS?

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has announced that Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl comprising eight districts, will be declared as ‘Protected Special Agricultural Zone’ (PSAZ).

His decision comes weeks after he protested the Centre’s unilateral amendment of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, exempting prior environmental clearance and public consultations for oil and gas exploration. The delta, which produces 33 lakh tonnes of grains in 28 lakh acres, has seen multiple protests for a decade over methane, hydrocarbon, oil and natural gas projects, which required acquisition of fertile lands and well drilling — proposals which triggered fears of groundwater contamination.

Mr. Palaniswami has rightly sensed that the farmers’ emotive and intense opposition can be ignored only at a political cost. Agricultural scientists such as M.S. Swaminathan have for long mooted such zones similar to special economic zones; Uttarakhand and Kerala have them.

CONCLUSION

The latest decision may have implications for the State’s investment climate, what with the closure of the Sterlite Copper plant still fresh in memory. But the intent to prioritise farmer interests and food security is beyond reproach.

OP-ED PAGE

FIRST ARTICLE: SLOWDOWN IN INDIA’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

EVIDENCE OF SLOWDOWN

As India entered the 21st century, the Net National Income of the average Indian was ₹20,000. While this figure is not the actual earnings of an individual, it is a good proxy for the average Indian’s annual income. By 2015, it had grown to ₹90,000. Had it continued on the same trajectory, it should have been ₹1,65,000 today. Instead, as the recent Economic Survey shows, the Net National Income for the average Indian is ₹1,35,000. In other words, the average Indian has potentially lost ₹30,000 in net annual income.

MAJOR FACTOR AFFECTING INDIA’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

India’s economic performance is largely shaped by the ‘POW’ trinity — politics, oil and world economy. Political leadership and stability are critical determinants of domestic and foreign investment in India. Global oil prices play an inordinately large role in shaping India’s macroeconomy. World trade and global GDP drive India’s exports and industry.

Why did things go so wrong? The ongoing health catastrophe caused by the novel coronavirus in Hubei province of China offers meaningful parallels and lessons for India’s economic policy climate.

The coronavirus parallel

In a recent article, The New York Times reconstructed the events leading up to the novel coronavirus crisis. In early December, several shopkeepers in an open meat market in Wuhan started falling ill. Doctors in the hospital treating these patients raised alarms about a mysterious illness.

The Mayor of Wuhan, however, did not want any negative news about his city. He issued summons to the doctors who raised alarm about the illness and forced them to sign statements that their warnings were unfounded. Further, Wuhan’s healthcare authorities placed restrictions on discussing the illness in public. They assured the public that the disease was “entirely preventable and curable” and issued statements claiming that all was well. Ironically, at this time, the Mayor even held a “Health Expo” event to showcase Wuhan as a top healthcare destination.

Within days, there were hundreds of deaths and all hell had broken loose. It was no longer possible for the government to suppress this bad news.

The parallel with India’s unfolding economic crisis is striking. India’s government had dismissed, ignored, silenced or shunted all negative data, indicators, views and opinions about the economy. From the initial signs in 2015 of a banking stress to falling private investment to collapsing consumption demand to dormant exports and rising unemployment, there were ample signs and metrics of the rapidly deteriorating state of the economy. But these were either quickly buried or altered.

CONTRAST WITH INDIAN GOVERNMENT

However, there is now one major difference in the way the Wuhan novel coronavirus crisis is being handled vis-a-vis the Indian economic crisis. The Chinese government has acknowledged the enormity of the Wuhan crisis and is acting at lightening speed to salvage the situation. It built a brand new 1,000-bed hospital in just 10 days to accommodate patients and contain the virus. It is building two more hospitals. Experts from across the country are being sent to Wuhan. There is an all-out effort by the government to help China recover from this crisis.

India’s Finance Minister, in delivering the longest Budget speech in history recently, did not even seem to acknowledge the enormity of the economic crisis, much less outline concrete steps to revive the economy.

CONCLUSION

Health pandemics and economic crises cannot be draped and masked for too long. India’s $3 trillion market economy cannot be dictated and bullied into appropriate behaviour. It needs careful treatment by experts. It may be a cliché that desperate times call for desperate measures but worth repeating.

SECOND ARTICLE: STEPS TAKEN BY THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT TO CONTROL CORONA VIRUS

SWIFT RESPONSE

Swift diplomacy was at work during the Wuhan airlift. The External Affairs Ministry obtained permission and ground support from its Chinese counterparts and coordinated with Air India through the Civil Aviation Ministry. The Health and Family Welfare Ministry provided the team of medical personnel to accompany the students home, and arranged for their health check-ups and quarantine at special camps organised by the Armed Forces Medical Services in Manesar and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police facility in Delhi.

India issued its first advisory on January 17. The Emergency Medical Response Unit in the Health Ministry was activated, the National Centre for Disease Control opened a 24X7 helpline, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) worked to quickly put in place a testing facility at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.

Thermal entry screening of passengers from China is taking place in 21 airports. Universal screening at earmarked aerobridges for all flights from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand is carried out.

Screening at international seaports by the Shipping Ministry and border crossings by the Home Ministry is in place. Hospitals with isolation facilities near all international airports are prepared to meet any emergency requirements.

All the States have put together a robust system of contact tracing, community surveillance with community engagement, earmarking isolation facilities, sharing information, updating surveillance data, issuing daily health bulletins, skilling health workers with new guidelines, etc. The States bordering Nepal have even held special gram sabhas to empower people with information.

India has also offered help to other countries in the South Asia region as part of its Neighbourhood First policy. It evacuated seven Maldivian nationals from Wuhan. It has extended technical assistance to several countries to set up testing laboratories.

The public too has helped deal with the crisis, particularly by preventing the dissemination of wrong information. We should all observe good hygiene and sanitation practices to prevent infection, avoid crowding in public places and perhaps even replace the handshake with the traditional Namaste.

INTEGRATED AIR DEFENSE WEAPON SYSTEM

The U.S. Department of State has approved the potential sale of a $1.867 billion Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India. The potential sale, which is being processed via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, is now before the U.S. Congress for consideration, with a 30-day window for Congress to raise any objections to the sale.

The Integrated Air Defence Weapon System, also known as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS), provides integrated air missile defence and is currently deployed around Washington, DC

The IADWS system includes radar, launchers, targeting, and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles, and related equipment and support.”

Communications, testing and training equipment and documentation and technical and logistics support are also part of the package, as per the statement.

OSCAR AWARD

South Korean film Parasite — became the first non-English feature film to win the Best Film Oscar at the 92nd Academy awards.

Not just that, Parasite is also a rare film to have won both International Feature and Best Picture awards.

The acting Oscars went as expected. Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for playing a failing clown who finds fame through violence in the dark comic-book tale Joker.

Renee Zellweger was named Best Actress for her performance as an ageing Judy Garland in the musical biopic Judy.

Afghans took to social media Monday to celebrate a rare piece of good news for the war-torn country, after a film about girls skateboarding took home an Oscar for best documentary short at the Academy Awards.

CMS- CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY SPECIES OF WILD ANIMALS (aka BONN CONVENTION){Bonn is in Germany}(1983)

NEWS: 

India will be moving to include the Asian Elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list of species that merit heightened conservation measures. The list will be debated at the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The COP is scheduled to be organised from February 17 to 22 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. There are 130 parties to the convention and India has been a member since 1983.

India is home to several migratory species of wildlife, including the snow leopard, Amur falcons, bar- headed geese, black-necked cranes, marine turtles, dugongs and hump-backed whales.

The Union Environment Ministry reports India as having 29,964 elephants according to the Project Elephant Census in 2017. The pachyderm merits the highest level of protection, or Schedule 1, under the Wildlife Protection Act.

ABOUT CMS

CMS conserves terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range intergovernmental treaty under UNEP

only global convention specializing in conservation of migratory species, habitats, migratory routes

Appendix-I: species threatened with extinction-strict protection

Appendix-II: species that would benefit / need international cooperation

 

JRD TATA

NEWS:

In was on February 10, 1929 that India got its its first pilot in Jehangir R.D. Tata, who qualified with number 1 on his flying licence, giving birth to Indian aviation.

Though not the first to register, J.R.D was the first Indian to pass out with ‘No. 1’ endorsed on his flying licence. Purushottam Meghji Kabali is by various aviator accounts considered to be the first Indian pilot.

Born on July 29, 1904, in Paris, J.R.D. launched India’s first airmail service in 1932, when he flew into Mumbai in a De Havilland Puss Moth from Karachi’s Drigh Road Aerodrome to the Juhu Airstrip via Ahmedabad on the basis of this flying license. This later became the country’s national carrier, Air India.

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