THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 17th DECEMBER 2019

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Q.1 What was the purpose of the formation of Peel Commission after the Revolt of 1857

A. To look into military affairs of India

B. To facilitate entry of more Indians in the Civil Services by lowering the age

C. To lay down the blueprint for the future relations between Crown and Princely states

D. To lay down the foundation for Western Education in India

 

Q.2 Which of the following was the primary task taken up by the Paramhans Mandali?

A. Propagate the teachings of the Vedas

B. Revolutionary activities during the freedom struggle

C. Check British Missonary Activities

D. To abandon caste restrictions

 

Q.3 Who was the Governor General of India when Congress was formed?

A. Lord Dufferin

B. Lord Lytton

C. Lord Rippon

D. Lord Mayo

 

 

PRIVILEGE MOTION

NEWS: Congress member of the Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore has given a notice of privilege against Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani for allegedly misleading the House on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks about rape.

 

ABOUT PRIVILEGE MOTION?

What is a privilege motion?

Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”. When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.

Who can move it? How?

A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege. Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.

 

What are the rules governing privilege?

Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook governs privilege. It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof. The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House. Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.

 

What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?

The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motionThe Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament. If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

 

What is the privileges committee?

In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths. A report is then presented to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may permit a half-hour debate while considering the report. The Speaker may then pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.

A resolution may then be moved relating to the breach of privilege that has to be unanimously passed. In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, that consists of 10 members.

 

GST COUNCIL

NEWS: The Centre released ₹35,298 crore to the States in Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation on Monday, just two days before a crucial meeting of the GST Council.

The decision comes at a time when several States had urged the Centre to transfer the compensation payments, which have been pending for several months, with the Punjab government warning that it was prepared to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

 

ABOUT GST COUNCIL
GST council is a CONSITITUIONAL BODY. It has been formed under Article 279A of the Constitution.

For making recommendations to the Union and State Governments on issues related to the Goods and Service Tax.
GST Council is chaired by Union Finance Minister and other members are Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation in all other states.

 

DECISION MAKING POWER

  1. One third voting power: Centre
  2. Two Third Voting Power: States
  3. 75% support for taking any decision.

 

SMOG

The Supreme Court on Monday gave three months’ time to the Centre and Delhi government for the pilot project of setting up a ‘smog tower’ at Connaught Place here to deal with the problem of air pollution, while brushing aside their request seeking nine months for the same.

ABOUT SMOG

  • Smog = smoke + fog (smoky fog) caused by the burning of large amounts of coal, vehicular emission and industrial fumes (Primary pollutants).
  • Smog contains soot particulates like smoke, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other components.
  • At least two distinct types of smog are recognized: sulfurous smog and photochemical smog.

SULFUROUS SMOG

  • Sulfurous smog is also called “London smog,” (first formed in London).
  • Sulfurous smog results from a high concentration of SULFUR OXIDES in the air and is caused by the use of sulfur-bearing fossil fuels, particularly coal (Coal was the mains source of power in London during nineteenth century. The effects of coal burning were observed in early twentieth century).
  • This type of smog is aggravated by dampness and a high concentration of suspended particulate matter in the air.

PHOTOCHEMICAL SMOG

  • Photochemical smog is also known as “Los Angeles smog”.
  • Photochemical smog occurs most prominently in urban areas that have large numbers of automobiles (Nitrogen oxides are the primary emissions).
  • Photochemical (summer smog) forms when pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (primary pollutant) and organic compounds (primary pollutants) react together in the presence of SUNLIGHT. A gas called OZONE (Secondary pollutant) is formed.

 

CBI

NEWS: A Delhi court, which on Monday found former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar guilty of raping a minor in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao in June 2017, pulled up the CBI for the delay of almost a year in filing the chargesheet in a separate case of gang-rape of the victim.

 

ABOUT CBI:

  1. Central Bureau of Investigation was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. Establishment of CBI was recommended by Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962-64).
  3. CBI is not a statutory body and derives its power from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946.
  4. With the enactment of the CVC Act 2003 superintendence of the CBI vests with the central government save investigations of offences under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 in which the superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
  5. Director of the CBI has been provided with the security of two year tenure in office by the CVC Act 2003.
  6. Under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 central government shall appoint the Director of the CBI on the recommendation of a three member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, Leader of the opposition party in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or the judge of Supreme Court appointed by him.
  7. CBI acts as the National Central Bureau of Interpol in India.

 

 

INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF LOK SABHA SEAT

NEWS: Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday drew attention to the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a consensus builder, noting that the Indian electorate may have given strong majorities to different parties since 1952 but over 50% of them have never voted for one party.

He made a case for raising the number of Lok Sabha constituencies to 1,000 from the existing 543 and for a corresponding increase in the Rajya Sabha’s strength, arguing that India has a “disproportionately large size” of electorate for elected representatives.

 

ABOUT COMPOSITION OF LOK SABHA

Composition of Lok Sabha The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha is fixed at 552.

Out of this, 530 members are to be the representatives of the states, 20 members are to be the representatives of the union territories and 2 members are to be nominated by the president from the Anglo-Indian community.

At present, the Lok Sabha has 545 members.

Of these, 530 members represent the states, 13 members represent the union territories and 2 Anglo-Indian members are nominated by the President.

The president can nominate two members from the Anglo-Indian community if the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. Originally, this provision was to operate till 1960 but has been extended till 2020 by the 95th Amendment Act, 2009.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: THE WIDENING FISSURE IN INDIA’S RULE OF LAW

ISSUE: UNDERMINING OF THE RULE OF LAW BY INDIAN STATE AGENCIES

WHY AUTHOR IS SAYING THAT RULE OF LAW IS BEING UNDERMINED?

Last month, the news website Scroll revealed that more than 10,000 people in the Khunti district of Jharkhand had been chargesheeted by the police for sedition. These people are overwhelmingly Adivasis.

Then, in early December, a judicial probe completed a seven-year long investigation, finding that a so-called encounter of “Maoists” in Chhattisgarh by security forces, in 2012, had been a “fake encounter” all along. The people killed had not been Maoists, but innocent villagers.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE TERM RULE OF LAW?

The concept of ‘Rule of Law’,  was propounded by A.V. Dicey, the British jurist. His concept has the following three elements or aspects:

(i) Absence of arbitrary power, that is, no man can be punished except for a breach of law.

(ii) Equality before the law, that is, equal subjection of all citizens (rich or poor, high or low, official or non-official) to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts.

(iii) The primacy of the rights of the individual, that is, the constitution is the result of the rights of the individual as defined and enforced by the courts of law rather than the constitution being the source of the individual rights.

The first and the second elements are applicable to the Indian System and not the third one. In the Indian System, the constitution is the source of the individual rights.

The Supreme Court held that the ‘Rule of Law’ as embodied in Article 14 is a ‘basic feature’ of the constitution. Hence, it cannot be destroyed even by an amendment.

Author highlights that even after seven decades of Independence, the relationship between the individual and the state is marked by a deep and pervasive imbalance of power.

WHY SEDITION NEEDS TO BE SCRAPPED FROM THE LAW BOOKS?

Sedition is defined as “disaffection” against the government, or bringing it into “hatred or contempt”.

It should be immediately obvious that the scope of these words is boundless, and boundlessly manipulable. However, when the sedition law was challenged in 1962, the Supreme Court of India chose to uphold it, while claiming to “narrow it down”. The court noted that only acts that had a “tendency” to cause public disorder would fall within the scope of the section.

Sedition has been used by the state agencies to  to stifle protest and dissent

ANOTHER TOOL OF OPPRESSION: UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES (PREVENTION) ACT

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, for example, contains language that is as wide and vague, criminalising “membership” of terrorist gangs or unlawful organisations, without any explanation of what “membership” means. Under these provisions, journalists, activists, and human rights lawyers allegedly associated with events at Bhima Koregaon in 2018, were arrested later that year, and still remain in jail without a trial.

FAKE ENCOUNTERS

Third tool used by the state to undermine the rule of law is fake encounters.

It hardly needs to be said that “encounters” — and “fake encounters” — take place because there do not exist adequate structures of accountability. Without those structures, the police effectively operate in a zone of impunity.

CONCLUSION

The Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh incidents show that the rule of law and the Constitution continue to fail those who need it the most, and in the places where it is needed the most. And the root cause of this failure is the active complicity of the very actors who we most expect to maintain the rule of law: clearly, abusive laws are enacted by Parliament, upheld by courts, misused by the police, and sanctioned (again) by courts.

WAY FORWARD

If we are to ever fulfil the promises of freedom and equality that the Constitution of India guarantees to all, we must learn from the social movements that gave birth to the RTI and the FRA, and organise in similar ways against laws such as sedition and the UAPA.

 

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: CLIMATE OF INACTION

ISSUE: OUTCOMES OF THE CLIMATE SUMMIT HELD IN MADRID

Editorial highlights that this year’s outcome is all the more depressing because nearly 200 delegates representing rich and poor countries had the benefit of new scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning of near-certain catastrophic consequences of inaction, and an analysis from the UN Environment Programme on the gap between current greenhouse gas emissions and the limit over the coming decade.

Yet they could not agree on what action needs to be taken to counter this.

Editorial highlights that the final declaration was desultory, merely expressing serious concern at the emissions gap in seeking to limit temperature increase to 1.5° C.

WHAT WERE THE ISSUES THAT WERE TO BE NEGOTIATED?

Raising $100 billion a year from 2020 for developing countries,

Creating a strong framework to address loss and damage from climate events and

Transferring technology to poorer countries on reasonable terms

All these issues have been pushed for the next year summit.

GREEN DEAL MODEL OF EU

Editorial highlights that countries like USA and China should study the Green Deal model of USA.

Green Deal that has been announced by the European Commission, with binding targets for member nations to cut emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and go net zero by 2050.

WHAT INDIA CAN DO?

India has to involve its States in mitigation and adaptation efforts. Death and destruction by frequent storms, floods and droughts should lead to urgent cohesive action.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: UNFULFILLED PROMISE

ISSUE: DRAFT DATA PROTECTION BILL

India’s Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 starts encouragingly, seeking to protect “the privacy of individuals relating to their personal data”.

But by the end, it is clear it is not designed to deliver on the promise.

PROBLEMS OF THIS BILL

Bill disappointingly gives wide powers to the Government to dilute any of these provisions for its agencies.

In its report last July, the  B N Srikrishna committee, appointed for the purpose of drafting the Data Protection Bill,  noted that the dangers to privacy originate from state and non-state actors. It, therefore, called for exemptions to be “watertight”, “narrow”, and available for use in “limited circumstances”.

A related concern about the Bill is regarding the constitution of the Data Protection Authority of India, which is to monitor and enforce the provisions of the Act. It will be headed by a chairperson and have not more than six whole-time members, all of whom are to be selected by a panel filled with Government nominees. This completely disregards the fact that Government agencies are also regulated under the Act; they are major collectors and processors of data themselves.

The sweeping powers the Bill gives to the Government renders meaningless the gains from the landmark K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India case, which culminated in the recognition that privacy is intrinsic to life and liberty, and therefore a basic right.

That idea of privacy is certainly not reflected in the Bill in its current form.

 

OP-ED PAGE

INTERVIEW: BIBEK DEBROY

WHO IS BIBEK DEBROY?

Chairman of the PM-Economic Advisory Council

SUGGESTIONS GIVEN BY HIM TO IMPROVE THE ECONOMY

FASTER GROWTH IN STATES: If India has to grow faster, the States have to grow faster. If you remove the railways and defence and stuff like that, 90-95% of national income is generated in the States. The data on the States’ GSDP is slightly dated but half the States are growing at less than 6%. You can’t expect India to grow faster than that.

STRUCTURAL REFORMS: are needed in  land, natural resources, labour, privatisation.

FISCAL STIMULUS: Sensible fiscal stimulus can only be a reduction in tax rates. Direct taxes have to have an element of progressivity.

GST RATE:  GST should have three rates — a standard rate, a higher rate for ‘luxury items’ and a lower one for merit goods.

 

 

SECOND ARTICLE: RESERVATIONS NEED TO CONTINUE FOR ANGLO INDIANS

WHY IN NEWS?

The Union Cabinet recently approved a proposal to end the constitutional provisions that guarantee the reservation of two seats for the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha and in State Assemblies.

The decision not to renew this provision was based on the view that the community is doing well and does not need these political reservations.

WHY RESERVATION SHOULD CONTINUE FOR ANGLO- INDIANS?

Based on surveys conducted among people belonging to the community in a number of cities, many Anglo Indians face poor economic and social conditions .

Among the major challenges and problems faced by people of the community, the report observed, the most significant ones related to identity crisis, lack of employment, educational backwardness, lack of proper facilities and cultural erosion.

While there certainly are success stories in the community, the existence of many not-so-successful ones must also be acknowledged.

It should also be noted that many success stories exist because of the work of dedicated community members, including those who serve or have served as MLAs and MPs.

 

THIRD ARTICLE: WHY INDIAN MUSLIMS SHOULD NOT OPPOSED THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ACT

First, there is a good chance that the Supreme Court will determine that the CAA is ultra vires of the Constitution because, prima facie, it discriminates on the basis of religion for the grant of citizenship.

In  this case the violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution appears to be so obvious that the court is unlikely to endorse the CAA without asking for major changes.

Second, the severe protests in the Northeast are likely to put a brake on the immediate implementation of the Act. Assam and West Bengal have exploded in opposition to the law, and the West Bengal government has made it clear that for principled as well as political reasons, the CAA is unacceptable to it.

Third, it is best that the fight against the CAA is led by secular-minded and pluralist segments among Hindus and Muslims jointly rather than be turned into a Hindu-Muslim issue. Portraying it as a Hindu-Muslim issue plays into the hands of extremist majoritarian elements thus defeating the purpose of opposition to the law.

As a result of these factors, it is imperative that Indian Muslims make every attempt to prevent the controversy surrounding the CAA from becoming a Hindu-Muslim issue.

 

 

ABUSE OF RTI

NEWS: Guidelines should be laid down to check the locus of the RTI applicant and put a “filter” on the kind of requests made under the 2005 Act, the Chief Justice said.

He said the court was not against the exercise of the right to information.

People who call themselves “RTI activists” and were in no way concerned with the issues on which they file RTI requests had impeded government functioning, the CJI observed.

Justice B.R. Gavai, on the Bench, remarked that “people write ‘RTI Consultant’ on their letterheads.”

Chief Justice Bobde said the court was willing to hear arguments on the locus of people who filed RTIs and also about setting up a “filter which can be rightfully employed.”

 

ABOUT RTI ACT 2005

An act to

  1. provide right of information to citizens
  2. to secure access to information under the control of public authorities
  3. in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
  4. The constitution of Central Information Commission and State Information Commission.

INFORMATION : means any material in any form, including recored, docuements, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, Contracts,Reports.

PUBLIC AUTHORITY: means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted by

  1. Constitution
  2. Parliament
  3. State Legislature
  4. Appropriate government
  5. Body owned controlled or substantially financed
  6. NGO substantially financed

IMPORTANT SECTIONS

     1.Section 3: RTI is for all the Indian Citizens

  1. Section4: IT is duty of every public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the RTI under this Act.
  2. Section 6: Application for seeking the information may be made in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area along with the fees prescribed by CPIO and SPIO
  3. Section 7: information has to be provided within 30 days. If information concerns the life and liberty of person then information should be provided within 48 hours.
  4. Section 8: Certain grounds on the basis of which information might be denied.
  5. Section 19: First Appeal (30 days) and Second Appeal (90 days) to CIC and SIC.
  6. Section 20: Empowers the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission as the case may be a penalty of Rs 250 each day till application is received or information is furnished, however total amount of such penalty shall not exceed 25,000 rupees.
  7. Section 24: Act does not apply to Intelligence and Security Agencies.

 

 

IMF’S VIEW ON INDIAN SLOWDOWN

NEWS: With economic growth slowing to a six-year low, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath says the government should undertake structural reforms such as a bank clean-up and labour reforms to address the slowdown in domestic demand.

Ms. Gopinath rooted for government policies focusing on managing a slowdown in domestic demand, and on boosting productivity growth and supporting employment creation in the medium term.

This should be driven by subsidy-spending rationalisation and tax-base enhancing measures,” she said.

ABOUT IMF

IMF is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty around the world.

IMF was founded on 27th December 1945.

Founders: John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

Headquarter: Washington DC.

IMF is considered as part of Bretton Woods Institution set up after the Second World War.

Current CEO: Christine Lagard.

Chief Economist: Gita Gopinath

PUBLICATIONS:

  1. World Economic Outlook
  2. Global Financial Stability Report

 

 

FINANCE COMMISSION

NEWS: Future revenues are the most critical issue for the 15th Finance Commission, chairperson N.K. Singh said on Monday, adding that revenues from the Goods and Services Tax are the ‘elephant in the room.

The Commission has submitted its recommendation report for 2020-21 to the Finance Minister and is now working on a ‘comprehensive’ report for the five year period of 2021-26, he said.

Jammu and Kashmir, he clarified that the erstwhile State was being treated like any other Union Territory (UT) in the 20-21 report, and would receive grants directly from the Home Ministry, along with the other newly created UT of Ladakh.

ABOUT FINANCE COMMISSION

Article 280 of the Constitution of India provides for FC as a quasi-judicial body.

It is constituted by the President of India every fifth year

Article 280(1) of Constitution lays down that FC should be constituted within two years from commencement of Constitution. Thereafter at expiration of every fifth year or at such earlier time as President considers necessary.

In keeping with this requirement, practice has generally been to set up next FC within five years of date of setting up of the previous Finance Commission.

The recommendations of 15th Finance Commission (FFC) will come into effect from 1 April 2020.

It consists of a chairman and four other members to be appointed by the president.

The recommendations made by FC are only advisory in nature and hence, are not binding on the government.

It makes recommendations about the following to the President of India:

  • Distribution of net proceeds of taxes between centre and states and allocation between states of respective shares of such proceeds.
  • Principles that should govern grants in aid to states by centre.
  • Measures needed to augment consolidated fund of states to supplement resources of local governments in states on basis of recommendations made by State Finance Commissions.
  • Any other method referred to it by President in interests of sound finance.

 

PERSON IN NEWS

MANOJ MUKUND NARVANE:

Vice-Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane, has been appointed the next Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Army officials confirmed late on Monday.

He will take over as the 28th COAS from incumbent General Bipin Rawat, whose term ends on December 31.

Lt. Gen. Naravane has served as the Eastern Army Commander and Commander Army Training Command. He is from the Sikh Light Infantry and has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in Kashmir, served in the Assam Rifles and has been posted as defence attache to Myanmar.

He will be the third Army chief from the Sikh Light regiment after Gen. V.P. Malik and Gen. Bikram Singh.

AMITABHA BAGCHI: the winner of DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019.

The $25,000 award went to Amitabha Bagchi for his 2018 novel, Half the Night is Gone.

The six shortlisted books included one translated work (Manoranjan Byapari’s There’s Gunpowder in the Air, translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha), a novel by Pakistan-born author Jamil Jan Kochai and another by Sadia Abbas, who grew up in Pakistan and Singapore, besides fiction by Indian authors.

The DSC Prize, instituted in 2010, awards fiction from the South Asian region, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as from the diaspora.

 

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