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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 13TH FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1) Consider the following statements:
1. The relative loss of energy due to
respiration is progressively greater in
higher trophic levels.
2. Organisms at higher trophic levels are
‘generalists’ in their feeding habit.
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) Why is the phenomenon of
Acidification a cause for concern?
1. It will negatively affect the growth and
survival of calcareous phytoplankton.
2. It has a negative impact on the growth
and survival of coral reefs.
3. It adversely affects the ability of some
fishes to sense predators.
4. It has a negative effect on cloud seeding
and formation of clouds.
Select the correct answer using the code
given below:
a) 1, 2 and 3 only
b) 2 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.3) Which of the following can be
considered as the impacts of
eutrophication on the environment?
1. Algal Bloom
2. Rise in pH of ocean water
3. Reduce water quality
4. Increase in percentage of oxygen
5. New species invasion

Select the correct answer using code given
below:
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
c) 1, 2 ,4 and 5 only
d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

ANSWERS: C,D,B

HAFIZ SAEED

NEWS:

Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people and injured hundreds more, has been sentenced to jail in Pakistan for five-and-a-half years on terror finance charges.

Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist and head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), was found guilty of “being part of a banned terrorist outfit” and for “having illegal property” by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore.

Saeed, Abdul Ghaffar, Hafiz Masood, Ameer Hamza and Iqbal were indicted in December 2019.

This is the first time that Saeed, who has a $10 million bounty on his head by the U.S. government, has been formally convicted of an offence.

Legal experts say Saeed can appeal the verdict but he will be sent to jail immediately. He is currently lodged at Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail. The government prosecutor, Abdul Rauf Wattoo, confirmed the news of Saeed’s conviction to the media.

The sentencing comes days ahead of a crucial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organisation combating money laundering and terror financing, that has put Pakistan on its grey list.

ABOUT FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE

FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of

G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.

In 2001 its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.

HQ: Paris

FATF has included Pakistan in its GREY LIST.

FATF has 2 types of lists;

  • Black List
  • Grey List
  • Black List:Only those countries are included in this list that FATF considers as unco-operative tax havens for terror funding. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). In other words; countries which are supporting terror funding and money laundering activities are listed in the Black list.

The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror funding.

The FATF updates the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

  1. Grey List:Those countries which are not considered as the safe heaven for supporting terror funding and money laundering; included in this list. The inclusion in this list is not as severe as black listed.

Now Grey list is a warning given to the country that it might come in Black list (Just like a yellow card in a football match). If a country is unable to curb mushrooming of terror funding and money laundering; it is shifted from grey list to black list by the FATF.

When a country comes in the Grey list, it faces many problems like;

  1. Economic sanctions from international institutions (IMF, World Bank, ADB etc.) and countries
  2. Problem in getting loans from international institutions (IMF, World Bank, ADB etc.) and countries
  3. Overall Reduction in its international trade
  4. International boycott

 

BIMSTEC AWARENESS DRILL

ABOUT BIMSTEC:-

  • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic

Cooperation is an international organization involving a group of

countries in South Asia and South East Asia.

  • Members: Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
  • It was established on 6 June 1997.

· Secretariat: Dhaka, Bangladesh

VISIT OF FOREIGN AMBASSADORS TO KASHMIR
NEWS:

Twenty-five foreign Ambassadors arrived here on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the situation after the Centre’s August 5 decision to revoke the erstwhile State’s special status.

They sought inputs from locals, including select politicians, elected grass-roots representatives, editors, traders and members of the civil society, on the measures required to move ahead.

Around 100 local delegates formed separate groups and met the envoys, including 10 from the European Union (EU). They were the same who met the Members of the European Parliament in October last and 17 foreign envoys in January this year.

No politician from the regional parties, such as the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), figured on the list of delegates drafted by the administration.

he visit assumes significance because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to India, and the EU’s plan to discuss the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and reading down of Article 370 in the European Parliament in March.

Because of the inclement weather, the delegation cancelled its visit to Baramulla in north Kashmir.

RISE IN NUMBER OF MLA’S WITH CRIMINAL CASES IN DELHI

The seventh Delhi Assembly, which was elected on Tuesday, will have almost double the number of MLAs who have declared criminal cases against them compared to the sixth Assembly that was elected in 2015.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 62 out of the 70 seats while the BJP won the remaining eight seats. In 2015, AAP had won 67 seats and the BJP had got three.

According to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 43 out of the 70 newly elected MLAs, or 61%, have declared criminal cases.

After the 2015 Assembly elections, 34%, or 24 out of 70 MLAs, had declared criminal cases, stated the report by the ADR.

The number of MLAs who declared serious criminal cases, including crimes against women, murder, assault and corruption, has jumped from 14, or 20% of the total, in 2015, to 37, or 53%, in the newly-elected Assembly, the ADR added.

Of the 62 AAP MLAs, 38, or 61%, have declared criminal cases against themselves in their election affidavits.

Five of the eight BJP MLAs, or 63%, declared criminal cases against themselves, the ADR added.

Nine of the newly elected Delhi MLAs declared convictions in various cases.

JAL JEEVAN MISSION
NEWS: 
The Congress government in Rajasthan has sought changes in the norms for Central assistance for the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household by 2024, in order to reduce the financial burden on the States.
The flagship Central scheme at present stipulates the share in 50:50 ratio.
The Union Ministry of Jal Shakti is holding discussions with all the States in five phases for their action plans under the JJM.
Officers from Rajasthan’s Public Health Engineering Department held deliberations at a workshop in Odisha’s Puri.
ABOUT JAL JEEVAN MISSION
  • Under Jal Jeevan Mission, the government envisages renewed efforts to provide water supply to every household by 2024.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission is set to be based on various water conservation efforts like point recharge, desilting of minor irrigation tanks, use of greywater for agriculture and source sustainability.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission will converge with other Central and State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across the country.
  • The Prime Minister appealed to all states to generate maximum community participation in the form of ‘Jan Andolan’ to achieve the target of functional household tap connection by 2024.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household by 2024, in order to reduce the financial burden on the States.
  • The flagship Central scheme at present stipulates the share in 50:50 ratio.
PESTICIDES MANAGEMENT BILL 2020
NEWS: 
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020, which, the government claims will regulate the business of pesticides and compensate farmers in case of losses from the use of spurious agro chemicals.

Mr. Javadekar said farmers would also be empowered to get all information as the data would be in open source and in all languages.

In February 2018, the Centre released a draft of the pesticides Bill that aims to replace the existing Insecticides Act of 1968.

A key proposal in the 2018 version was to raise penalties on the sale of prohibited or spurious pesticides to ₹50 lakh and up to five years’ imprisonment, from the current ₹2,000 and up to three years’ imprisonment. It is unclear if these provisions have been retained in the latest version of Bill that was cleared by the Union Cabinet.

If there is any loss because of the spurious or low quality of pesticides then there is a provision for compensations … If required, the government will form a central fund which will take care of compensation,” Mr. Javadekar said.

MAJOR PORTS AUTHORITY BILL

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Major Ports Authority Bill 2020, which will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament, Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.

The Bill, approved by the Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will replace the existing regulations under a 1963 law, he said.

The 12 major ports in India would get a boost through the new law, he said, adding that disputes with private companies and PPP operators had been cropping up, but the existing law had no provisions to deal with them. The new law would also help in improving infrastructure, he added.

ABOUT 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).

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: TRUMP’S VISIT TO INDIA

Donald Trump will visit India on 24th and 25th February 2020.

Editorial highlights that  U.S. President Donald Trump can expect thronging crowds in Gujarat and perhaps a substantive discussion on trade policy in New Delhi, but more than anything, it is his growing bonhomie with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is expected to steal the limelight

FOCUS AREAS DURING THE UPCOMING VISIT

TRADE: Despite skirmishes surrounding tariffs in specific sectors, such as medical devices, and counter-tariffs following the U.S.’s termination of its Generalised System of Preferences toward India last year, there is hope for at least a limited trade deal — pegged at $10-billion — that could take a measure of stress out of the protracted closed-door negotiations.

DEFENSE COOPERATION: Prospects look brighter still on defence cooperation. India is reportedly moving toward approving a $2.6-billion deal for 24 Lockheed Martin-built MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. An agreement to buy a $1.867-billion integrated air defence weapons system is also on the cards.

CONCLUSION

Even if Mr. Trump wins a second term, deepening Congressional opposition to India-friendly White House policies could endanger bilateral prospects. In this sense, there are limits to how much India can peg its strategic plans on the personal chemistry between its leader and the U.S. President.

LEAD ARTICLE: AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Author highlights that when Donal Trump began as candidate everyone thought that he would not win the election. When he won the Presidential election in 2016 everyone thought that his evident venality and incompetence may lead to an early termination of his presidency.

But Trump proved his critics wrong and now it seems that Trump may continue into a second term. The U.S. President’s current approval rating (at 49%, in one poll) is the highest it has been since the day he took office.

NEW MEANING OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM

Where it once stood for the idea, at least among the patriotic faithful, that the United States was a beacon for democracy and human rights, a land of opportunity for all comers, and unvested in the social hierarchies of Europe, today it signifies a country that elected, and may re-elect, a bigoted, climate-change-denying carnival barker incapable of distinguishing public office from private pelf.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

A crowded field of contenders caught in a seemingly endless series of primaries and caucuses with arcane rules has meant no candidate has really pulled clear of the pack.

More importantly, Democrats are deeply divided in terms of a strategy to defeat Mr. Trump. One of the front runners, Bernie Sanders, is running on an explicitly socialist platform that clearly energises racial minorities, youth, poorer sections of society, women, and liberals looking for an alternative to a two-party system bereft of ideas in the face of global warming, endless war, and unprecedented polarisation of wealth.

EMERGENCE OF CARCERAL (PRISON) STATE

In a form of slow violence that has escaped the attention of many both domestically and abroad, the U.S., with just 5% of the world’s population is now home to about 25% of the world’s prison population (2015 data), the overwhelming majority of whom are black or brown minorities. A criminal justice system thoroughly vitiated by racism has interacted with a prison-industrial complex to produce a situation in which a young black man has a higher chance of ending up in prison than he does in college. In deindustrialising States across much of the U.S., one of the few growth industries is prisons staffed by poor whites guarding poorer blacks and Hispanics.

WHY TRUMP MAY AGAIN WIN THE ELECTION?

Besides the advantages of incumbency, Mr. Trump has a huge re-election war chest, the largest in U.S. history as a matter of fact; Republicans (like right-wing parties all across the world) have a pronounced advantage over Democrats in manipulating social media in their favour and against opponents; and polls indicate that as much as 63% of the electorate approves of the way Mr. Trump is handling the economy.

SECOND ARTICLE: FUNDS FOR NUTRITION IN BUDGET

WHY NUTRITION NEEDS TO BE FOCUSED UPON?

A few months ago, the Global Hunger Index, reported that India suffers from “serious” hunger, ranked 102 out of 117 countries, and that just a tenth of children between six to 23 months are fed a minimum acceptable diet.

MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS OF MALNUTRITION

There are multiple dimensions of malnutrition that include calorific deficiency, protein hunger and micronutrient deficiency.

SCHEMES TO COUNTER THE MALNUTRITION

An important approach to address nutrition is through agriculture. The Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh which was launched in 2019 by Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a recent attempt to bridge this gap.

POSHAN Abhiyaan, the National Nutrition Mission with efforts to track the status of 10 crore households.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.

Mid Day Meal Scheme

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

The following are suggestions to move forward:

Focus on nutrition-related interventions, beyond digitisation;

Intensify the convergence component of POSHAN Abhiyaan, using the platform to bring all departments in one place to address nutrition;

Direct the announcement to form 10,000 farmer producer organisations with an allocation of ₹500 crore to nutrition-based activities;

Promotion of youth schemes to be directed to nutrition-agriculture link activities in rural areas;

Give explicit emphasis and fund allocation to agriculture-nutrition linked schemes; and

Ensure early disbursement of funds and an optimum utilisation of schemes linked to nutrition.

CONCLUSION

Nutrition goes beyond just food, with economic, health, water sanitation, gender perspectives and social norms contributing to better nutrition. This is why implementation of multiple schemes can contribute to better nutrition.

 

OP-ED PAGE

FIRST ARTICLE: SITUATION OF J&K

NO SIGN OF NORMALCY

Author highlights that three months ago, Home Minister Amit Shah assured the Rajya Sabha that “normalcy” had been restored in Jammu and Kashmir. Yet, the leaders of the two main parties in J&K — Omar Abdullah of the National Conference (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — have not only been under detention for more than 200 days, but have also been slapped with the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.

NO SIGN OF ELECTIONS

An election in J&K is not going to take place any time soon, but proving that such an election is genuine, when it is held, will still be the main aim of this government. The steady chaperoning of foreign diplomats into the new Union Territory is an indication of this.

STUDENTS NOT ATTENDING THE SCHOOLS

In Kashmir, schools and colleges were open for months after the dilution of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, but nobody attended them.

INTERNATIONALIZATION OF KASHMIR ISSUE

The government has been conducting focused, narrowly guided tours in batches for foreign diplomats to assess and make a broad certification of the normalcy that prevails in J&K to their home constituencies.

The promotion of regular diplomatic tourism to Kashmir is apparently very different from the internationalisation of Kashmir, which happens, for example, when China intercedes on behalf of Pakistan at the UN and Indian diplomats exert themselves to temporarily dissolve that crisis.

CONCLUSION

The challenge for the government then is how to balance the semblance of peace, which is a result of detentions, deployments and restrictions, and provide a platform of very modest political activity that is sanctified by New Delhi, in a manner that can give the seething resentment controllable political vent over what has been done to J&K. This alone explains the calibrated release of minor political leaders. It is presumable that they have been set free on the implicit understanding that they will not be crossing any red lines drawn by New Delhi. The diplomatic tourists hear and see exactly what New Delhi wants them to hear and see.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: DATA BASED GOVERNANCE IN TRANSPORTATION

Transportation is one such critical area, where data-based governance is expected to provide a solution to the ever-growing threat of congestion to urban economies.

Congestion caused an estimated loss of $87 billion to the U.S. economy and $24 billion to the four metro cities in India in 2018. Given the limited land resources available, the key to solving congestion lies in improving the efficiency of existing transportation systems.

IMPORTANCE OF EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

An efficient transportation system would help ease congestion, reduce travel time and cost, and provide greater convenience. For this, data from multiple sources such as CCTV cameras, automatic traffic counters, map services, and transportation service providers could be used.

EXPERIMENT IN HYDERABAD

Hyderabad Open Transit Data, launched by Open Data Telangana, is the country’s first data portal publishing datasets on bus stops, bus routes, metro routes, metro stations, schedules, fares, and frequency of public transit services.

The objective is to empower start-ups and developers to create useful mobility applications. The datasets were built after an intensive exercise carried out by the Open Data Team and Telangana State Road Transport Corporation to collect, verify and digitise the data.

The Hyderabad example shows that governments can make their departments data-centric by institutionalising data collection, building technology platforms and helping the departments develop capacity to handle the insights generated from the data. Command and control centres under the ‘smart cities’ initiative can be an ideal starting point. Such interventions, however, also need to address genuine concerns around data security and privacy.

EBOLA VIRUS

NEWS:

UN health agency experts meet on Wednesday to decide whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo should still be considered a global health emergency, following a sharp decline in reported cases.

The World Health Organization last July declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” — a designation that gives the WHO greater powers to restrict travel and boost funding.

The outbreak was first identified in August 2018 and has since killed more than 2,300 people in eastern DR Congo.

ABOUT EBOLA VIRUS

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses.

It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

Fruit bats are natural host of this virus.

It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. It also spreads through sexual transmission.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

NEWS:

A day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman listed a recovery in industrial output as one of the “green shoots” in the economy, government data showed industrial production contracted again in December 2019, even as retail inflation surged to an almost six-year high of 7.59%.

This is the highest inflation rate since the NDA government came to power at the Centre in May 2014.

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) recorded a negative growth of 0.3% in December in comparison to the same month the previous year, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO). The IIP had shown a positive growth of 1.8% in November, after three consecutive months of contraction. IIP contraction came largely on the back of a 1.2% slump in the manufacturing sector. In fact, 16 out of 23 industry groups in manufacturing saw negative growth. The production of capital goods fell by 18.2% in comparison to the previous year.

ABOUT CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Consumer Price Index expresses the current prices of basket of goods and services in terms of prices during the same period in a previous year to show the effect of inflation on purchasing power.

RETAIL INFLATION IS MEASURED BY CPI

Consumer Price Index released at National Level are:

  1. CPI for Industrial Workers (Released by Ministry of Labor and Employment)
  2. CPI for Agricultural Labors and Rural Labors (Released by the Ministry of

Labor and Employment) and

  1. CPI (Rural/ Urban/ Combined) (Released by

CSO under Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation).

RBI uses the CPI released by CSO to measure inflation.

Base year for the CPI is 2011-2012.

ABOUT IIP

  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which details out the growth of mining (14.373%), electricity (7.994%) and manufacturing (77.633%) sectors.
  • The all India IIP is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period.
  • It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) six weeks after the reference month ends.
  • The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of IIP. Eight Core Industries are: Coal, Crude oil, Natural Gas, Refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity.
  • Base year for IIP is 2011-12.

DIRECT TAX CODE: VIVAD SE VISHWAS BILL

NEWS:

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved changes in the ‘Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020’ with a view to increase its scope to cover litigation pending in various debt recovery tribunals (DRTs). The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha earlier this month with the aim of reducing litigation related to direct taxes.

It was proposed to cover tax disputes pending at the level of commissioner (appeals), Income Tax Appellate Tribunals, high courts and the Supreme Court.

Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme: Salient Features

 The Vivad Se Vishwas scheme offers to settle pending direct tax-related disputes.

 The scheme aims to resolve 483,000 direct tax-related disputes pending in various appellate forums.

 The scheme offers waivers on interest and penalty if the disputed tax amount is paid before March 31, 2020.

 If a taxpayer is not able to pay direct taxes by March 31st then, he will get further time till June 30th. However, in that case, he would have to pay 10 percent more on the tax.

 In case it is just the interest and the penalty which is being disputed, the taxpayer will have to pay 25 percent of the disputed amount till March 31, after which, it will be 30 per cent.

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