THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 16TH FEBRUARY 2020

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the
President of India.
1. The President does not exercise his/her
discretion on the advice given by the Council of
Ministers.
2. All members of the Parliament of India and the
Legislative assemblies of the States of India and
the Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry
take part in electing the President.
3. The President’s ordinance making power is not
a discretionary power.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 3 only
c) 1, 3
d) 2, 3

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding
Dividend Distribution Tax.
1. Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) is the tax
imposed by the Government on domestic
companies which pay dividends to their
investors.
2. DDT is part of and included in the income tax
liability of a Company.
3. Dividend distribution tax is not applicable on
mutual funds.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 1 only
c) 1, 3
d) 2, 3

Q.3 Consider the following statements.
1. The energy required for the life within the
biosphere comes only from the sun.
2. Ecotone is larger than a biome.
3. A well-developed ecotone may contain some
unique organisms which might be absent in the
adjacent ecosystems.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 1, 3
c) 2, 3
d) 3 only

MASOOD AZHAR

NEWS: 

Pakistan has informed the global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that Masood Azhar, founder of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and his family are “missing”.

Azhar was listed as a designated terrorist by the United Nations Security Council 1267 Committee on May 1, 2019.

Pakistan has said 5,500 bank accounts of individuals and members of groups listed by the UN committees were frozen but added that “these individuals were allowed to work for wages,” unless arrested in criminal cases. Pakistan has claimed that it had achieved 222 convictions of terrorist financiers but most were imprisoned for only a few days, a source said.

The FATF is now reviewing Pakistan’s case to see if it fulfils the global standards criteria to combat terror-financing. The FATF is chaired by China.

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

J&K PUBLIC SAFETY ACT

NEWS: 

J&K People’s Movement chief Shah Faesal was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on Saturday, becoming the eighth prominent mainstream politician to face the stringent law.

Mr. Faesal, who had quit the IAS to join politics, was detained at the Delhi airport in the second week of last August following his interviews to several media channels, expressing strong views against the Centre’s move to revoke J&K’s special status.

Mr. Faesal came first in the IAS examination in 2009 and emerged as a poster boy for Kashmir students to prepare for such competitive examinations.

He launched his party last year after quitting the government job.

Other mainstream leaders booked under the PSA are Farooq Abdulla, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Sartaj Madani, Hilal Lone and Naeem Akhtar.

What is the J&K PSA?

  1. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA)received the assent of the J&K Governor on April 8, 1978.
  2. The law allows the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
  3. The PSA allows for administrative detention for up to two years“in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  4. Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates.
  5. Section 22 of the Actprovides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act: “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this Act.”
  6. Under Section 23 of the Act, the government is empowered to “make such Rules consistent with the provisions of this Act, as may be necessary for carrying out the objects of this Act”.

KAMBALA

  • Kambala is an annual traditional Buffalo Race (he-buffalo) held in coastal districts of Karnataka to entertain rural people of the area.
  • Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala.
  • The sports season generally starts in November and lasts till March.
  • The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race in two separate wet rice fields tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
  • In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing is non-competitive and buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
  • Besides, there is also ritualistic approach also as some agriculturists race their he-buffaloes for thanks giving to god for protecting their animals from diseases.

AGEING INDIA

NEWS:

India is ageing much faster than previously thought and is expected to have nearly 20% population of the world’s 60 years and above by 2050 with the largest number of older adults in the world.

Existing health system for the elderly is not commensurate with the felt-needs, especially to actively screen and manage various age-related complex health problems like fall, frailty, dementia and multi morbidity.

Currently six medical institutes — AIIMS, New Delhi; Madras Medical College, Chennai; Christian Medical College, Vellore; Amrita Institute of Medical Science, Kochi; Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, Pune and Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi provide postgraduate training in geriatric medicine.

Ageing population could be a demographic dividend but due to non-preparation the dependency ratio would increase exponentially.

As per World Population Ageing Report by UN, older adults aged 65 and above would be expected to be more than the children aged 5 years or less the by end of 2019.

INCREASE IN ELEPHANT DEATHS

Three States in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country — West Bengal, Odisha and Assam — account for about half of both human and elephant deaths in the overall human-elephant conflict in the country, according to the latest data provided by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Over the past five years, from 2014-15 to 2018-19, 2,361 human deaths were recorded in elephant attacks across the country, of which 1,132 (48%) fatalities were from these three States, as per the data tabled in the Rajya Sabha. West Bengal had the highest number of human casualties: 403, followed by Odisha with 397, Jharkhand with 349, and Assam with 332 deaths.

When it comes to unnatural deaths of elephants (mainly due to poaching, train accidents, electrocution and poisoning), the country recorded 510 deaths in the same period (2014-15 to 2018-19). Of these, 259 (53%) occurred in these three States alone. The figures were tabled in the Rajya Sabha on February 10, in response to a question by Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Majoj Kumar Jha.

The data assumes significance when India is moving to include Asian Elephants in the list of species that merit heightened conservation at the 13th Conference of Parties on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals scheduled to be held at Gandhinagar later this month.

ABOUT CMS (Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals)

Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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.

LORCASERIN

NEWS: 

Indian doctors have cautioned against the use of lorcaserin (brand name Belviq or Belviq XR), a weight-loss drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently said is linked to a “possible increased risk of cancer.”

The FDA requested the drug manufacturer to voluntarily withdraw lorcaserin, after a post-marketing trial with more than 12,000 subjects revealed an increased occurrence of cancer. The agency also said that healthcare professionals should stop prescribing the drug to patients.

The decision is based on the agency’s review of the five-year trial which was designed to evaluate cardiac health risk with the drug and ended in 2018. There was one additional cancer observed for every 470 patients treated for a year.

UNSTARRED QUESTIONS 

NEWS:

A total of 118 members, 52% of the effective strength of the House, raised 1,120 unstarred questions, which are not discussed during Question Hour.

Thirty-five members accounted for 50% of the unstarred questions.

Of them, Mr. O’Brien posed 18 questions, followed by Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy with 17 and Parimal Nathwani with 16.

Starred questions are asked during Zero Hour. Ministers give an oral reply, and other members can ask supplementary questions.

TYPES OF QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

(i) Starred Questions- A Starred Question is one to which a member desires an oral answer from the Minister in the House and is required to be distinguished by him/her with an asterisk. Answer to such a question may be followed by supplementary questions by members.
(ii) Unstarred Questions- An Unstarred Question is one to which written answer is desired by the member and is deemed to be laid on the Table of the House by Minister. Thus it is not called for oral answer in the House and no supplementary question can be asked thereon.
(iii) Short Notice Questions- A member may give a notice of question on a matter of public importance and of urgent character for oral answer at a notice less than 10 days prescribed as the minimum period of notice for asking a question in ordinary course. Such a question is known as ‘Short Notice Question’.
(iv) Questions to Private Members- A Question may also be addressed to a Private Member (Under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha), provided that the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, Resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that Member is responsible. The procedure in regard to such questions is same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a Minister with such variations as the Speaker may consider necessary.

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS (NCPCR)

NEWS:

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairman Priyank Kanoongo has said he has no information of illegal detention of children in jails or abuse by policemen either in Uttar Pradesh or anywhere in the country.

The NCPCR has been criticised by activists for allegedly turning a blind eye to police brutalities following the crackdown on protesters holding demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, in U.P. and Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Centre, the NCPCR and its arms in New Delhi and U.P. to submit a report on detention of children in jails, calling such actions as a violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

ABOUT NCPCR

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is an Indian governmental commission, established by an Act of Parliament, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act in December 2005, thus is a statutory body.

The commission works under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child development, GoI.

The Commission began operation a year later in March 2007.

The Commission considers that its Mandate is “to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

As defined by the commission, child includes those up to the age of 18 years.

NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo.

NCLT

NEWS:

More than half of the cases admitted to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) are been liquidated as recovery through resolution continues to elude creditors, latest data released by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) showed.

A total of 3,312 cases were admitted in the insolvency courts till the end of the third quarter of the financial year, of which 561 were during the Oct-Dec period. This was the second highest number of cases admitted in a quarter after the July-September period of the current financial year when 565 cases were admitted.

The note also pointed out that the average duration of resolution was over 350 days for all resolved cases till December, while more than 30% of cases have crossed 270 days.

ABOUT NCLT

Central government has constituted NCLT under section 408 of the companies Act 2013 w.e.f 1st June 2016.

NCLT is a QUASI JUDICIAL body in India that has the power under Companies Act to adjudicate on

proceedings Initiated before the COMPANY LAW BOARD under the previous Companies Act of 1956,

Cases pending before BOARD FOR INDUSTRIAL AND FINANCIAL RECONSTRUCTION including those pending under the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act 1985, and

Case pertaining to claims of OPPRESSION AND MISMANAGEMENT OF COMPANY, winding up of companies and

all other powers prescribed under the Companies Act.

NCLT was set up on the recommendation of JUSTICE ERADI COMMITTEE on law relating to insolvency and winding up of companies.

NCLT is adjudicating authority under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.

NCLT has thirteen benches including Principle Bench at New Delhi.

Justice MM Kumar is the current President of NCLT.

 

ISSUE:NEW FACEBOOK ENCRYPTION RULES

WHY IN NEWS?

Facebook announced end-to-end encryption for Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

What is end-to-end encryption?

It is a system of locking messages wherein only those who are communicating can view them. Encryption kicks in the minute the message is sent, and only unravels for the intended recipient. No third party can decrypt the message, including platform administrators and law enforcement agencies. It can only be shared through screenshots. The advantage with this kind of encryption is that it ensures online privacy.

Why is there opposition to it?

Child safety activists are aghast as they believe that as far as child safety goes, this could well be a misstep. The U.K.-based John Carr, who has anchored the campaign against such encryption, is a leading authority on the use of the Internet by children and young people.

This decision would reduce child safety online, because such a move will not allow the due process of monitoring for content that is not safe for children, including online grooming or uploading of child pornographic content.

The Rajya Sabha ad-hoc committee that went into the issue of pornography on social media and its effect on children has called specifically to permit breaking of end-to-end encryption to trace distributors of child pornography. It has also suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi take the lead in building a global alliance to combat child pornography on social media.

What’s the future?

The process of securing end-to-end encryption is not easy. Meanwhile, the coalition has also pledged its support to work with Facebook to embed safety mechanisms. Ultimately, the true test will be to pick that mode of encryption that will ensure privacy but address concerns of online safety too.

ISSUE: WHY INCREASE IN LPG PRICES?

WHY IN NEWS?

On February 12, LPG prices, which are revised on a monthly basis, went up again. The rate for unsubsidised, 14.2 kg cylinders has risen by a steep ₹144.50 in Delhi, at ₹858.50.

What influences LPG prices in India?

Domestic prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are based on a formula — the import parity price (IPP), which is based on international LPG prices. Saudi Aramco’s LPG price acts as the benchmark for the IPP and includes the free-on-board price, ocean freight, customs duties, port dues and the like.

This dollar-denominated figure is converted into rupees before local costs — such as local freight, bottling charges, marketing costs, margins for oil marketing firms and dealer commissions and the Goods and Services Tax — are added. This helps the government arrive at the retail selling price for LPG.

The government resets the LPG price every month, the decision being influenced by international prices and how the rupee has behaved against the dollar in the immediately preceding weeks.

Who will the price rise affect?

The price increase will affect retail consumers who have given up the subsidy.

The government has said that for those who avail subsidy, the increase would be mostly absorbed by the rise in subsidy. The Centre said the price of an unsubsidised cylinder would increase from ₹714 to ₹858.50 in Delhi, for example, and that the subsidy offered would go up from ₹153.86 to ₹291.48. Of the 27.76 crore retail consumers, 26.12 crore consumers avail LPG subsidy. Likewise, for Ujjwala consumers, the subsidy would go up from ₹174.86 to ₹312.48 per cylinder.

What is the outlook?

With international crude prices on the downtrend, it is plausible the LPG prices too would see a slump. Aramco has lowered its propane price for February to $505 per metric tonne. Assuming we receive no surprises from the rupee-dollar tango, a softening of LPG prices in the domestic context may be expected.

What are the implications for the broader economy?

At a time when consumer demand, in general, for goods and services in the country has slumped, more cash in the hands of the retail consumer may have helped spur demand. It is ironic that the government has had to raise LPG prices now.

This sucks away even more disposable income from those consumers who pay market rates for LPG. As a result, household budgets are bound to go up, especially for those not availing the subsidy. The increase in LPG price could spur headline inflation even further. As it is, the consumer price index inflation has seen a rise over the past few months. For January, it had accelerated to 7.59%, compared with 7.35% in December 2019. The January inflation metric was the highest since May 2014, when the figure was at 8.33%.

ISSUE: WHAT DOES DEVELOPED TAG MEANS FOR INDIA?

WHY IN NEWS?

On February 10, the U.S. removed more than a dozen countries, including India, from its list of countries that are classified as “developing” for trade purposes. These countries will now be classified instead as “developed” economies, thus stripping them of various trade benefits.

What is the “developing country” status?

The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) maintains a list of countries that it classifies as “developing”, “developed”, and “least-developed”. Countries that are classified as “developing” are allowed to export certain goods to the U.S. without being hit by punitive tariffs that are usually imposed on goods from “developed” countries.

It is worth noting that about two-thirds of countries that are members of the WTO classify themselves as “developing” countries and avail benefits.

Is such a classification justified?

Any classification of whether a country is “developing” or not is bound to be arbitrary. While the economic progress that India and China have achieved over the last few decades is seen by some as reason enough to get rid of their special status, others point to the various development indicators in which India and China still lag behind the rich world. Further, opinion on whether such a classification is required in the first place is divided.

Why is India being stripped of this status?

The U.S. administration under President Trump has repeatedly accused fast-growing countries such as India and China of wrongly claiming trade benefits that are reserved only for the truly developing countries. Therefore, Mr. Trump has sought to renegotiate trade deals with countries like China, essentially trying to make these deals more “fair” to the interests of the U.S. India has traditionally been one of the largest beneficiaries under the GSP, with over 2,000 goods having been exempted from import tariffs, until the Trump administration stripped it of the special benefit last year.

How will the U.S. decision affect global trade?

Any move to end duty-free access for foreign goods into the U.S., which becomes more likely after the change in trade status, will increase the overall tax burden on goods crossing international borders. This will add further pressure on the global economy, which has already witnessed a slowing of growth this year. The growth effects of a tariff war could rise further if countries that are stripped of their “developing” economy status decide to retaliate by imposing tariffs on goods that they import from the U.S.

 

ISSUE: WHY ARE OUR CITIES WARMER THAN RURAL AREAS?

WHY IN NEWS?

A recent study from IIT Kharagpur noted that the relatively warmer temperature in urban areas, compared to suburbs, may contain potential health hazards due to heat waves apart from pollution.

WHAT IS AN URBAN HEAT ISLAND?

An urban heat island (abbreviated as UHI) is where the temperature in a densely populated city is as much as 2 degrees higher than suburban or rural areas.

Why?

This happens because of the materials used for pavements, roads and roofs, such as concrete, asphalt (tar) and bricks, which are opaque, do not transmit light, but have higher heat capacity and thermal conductivity than rural areas, which have more open space, trees and grass.

Trees and plants are characterised by their ‘evapotranspiration’— a combination of words wherein evaporation involves the movement of water to the surrounding air, and transpiration refers to the movement of water within a plant and the subsequent lot of water through the stomata (pores found on the leaf surface) in its leaves.

Grass, plants and trees in the suburbs and rural areas do this. The lack of such evapotranspiration in the city leads to the city experiencing higher temperature than its surroundings.

AFFECT OF URBAN HEAT ISLANDS?

UHI s decrease air quality in the cities, thanks to pollution generated by industrial and automobile exhaust, higher extent of particulate matter and greater amounts of dust than in rural areas.

Due to this higher temperature in urban areas, the UHI increases the colonisation of species that like warm temperatures, such as lizards and geckos. Insects such as ants are more abundant here than in rural areas; these are referred to as ectotherms.

In addition, cities tend to experience heat waves which affect human and animal health, leading to heat cramps, sleep deprivation and increased mortality rates. UHIs also impact nearby water bodies, as warmer water (thanks to the pavements, rooftops and so on) is transferred from the city to drains in sewers, and released into nearby lakes and creeks, thus impairing their water quality.

HOW IT CAN BE CONTROLLED?

One of them is to use greener rooftops, using light-coloured concrete (using limestone aggregates along with asphalt (or tar) making the road surface greyish or even pinkish (as some places in the US have done); these are 50% better than black, since they absorb less heat and reflect more sunlight. Likewise, we should paint rooftops green, and install solar panels there amidst a green background.

The other is to plant as many trees and plants as possible.

 

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