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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 17TH FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding State
emergency.
1. It can be revoked any time by the President,
without the approval of Parliament.
2. President rule was imposed on all the states in
India except Telangana.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both
d) None
Solution: a)

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding New
Development Bank.
1. The New Development Bank (NDB) is a
multilateral development bank established by
the BRICS states.
2. The state governments in India can seek loan
assistance from NDB.
3. India is the second largest shareholder of the
NDB.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 1, 3
c) 1, 2
d) 1, 2, 3
Solution: c)

Q.3 Which of the following activities releases carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere?
1. Respiratory activities of the producers and
consumers.
2. Processing of waste materials by Decomposers.
3. Forest Fire
4. Combustion of organic matter
5. Volcanic activity
Select the correct answer code:
a) 1, 2, 3, 4
b) 1, 3, 4, 5
c) 2, 3, 4, 5
d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Solution: d)

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS: 

Despite international pressure, the government will continue to stand by its decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and introduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted on Sunday.

He said the country had “awaited” these decisions for many years. “In national interest, these decisions were necessary,” Mr. Modi said at an event in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi.

WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?

The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.

The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram , Manipur and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

ACT has reduce the time period required for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for members of these communities.

MADHAV NATIONAL PARK

The Madhav National Park has claimed denotified land is unavailable for allotment to 39 tribal families displaced 20-years ago to make way for a tiger corridor, even though hundreds of others compensated for to vacate the Park continue to farm and encroach upon the corridor unchecked. Moreover, tigers are yet to be reintroduced in the park, let alone the corridor’s development.

Madhav National Park is situated in Shivpuri District of Gwalior division in northwest Madhya PradeshIndia.

It was set up in 1958.

BODO PEACE PACT

NEWS:

The third Bodo Accord signed with a set of extremist groups more than a fortnight ago appears to have unsettled another set of extremists who signed the second accord in February 2003 and went on to rule the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

The Centre had on January 27 signed the peace accord with all factions of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) and two other organisations including the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU).

The political ambitions of the leaders of ABSU and NDFB appears to have rubbed the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has been ruling BTC since 2003 and is a partner in the BJP-led coalition government in Assam, the wrong way.

FIRST BODO ACCORD

The first accord, signed in 1993, was considered toothless.  It led to the creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) with some limited political powers.

SECOND BODO ACCORD

The second Bodo Accord, signed in 2003, led to the creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), but Vajpayee, considered its catalyst, could not attend the ceremony to mark its formal signing that year.

THIRD BODO ACCORD 2020

  • Bodoland Territorial Region would include the villages which are dominated by Bodos but are outside BTAD presently. Villages with non-Bodo population would be excluded from it.
    • A committee will be formed to decide the exclusion and inclusion of new areas. Subsequently, the total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
    • Both the representatives of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be present in the committee.
    • Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council will be set up for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD.
  • Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • Bodo language with Devanagari script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.
  • However, the agreement has not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD yet.
  • Around 1500 cadres of NDFB will be rehabilitated and assimilated by the Central and the state governments.
    • The criminal cases registered against factions of NDFB members for non-heinous crimes shall be withdrawn and the cases of heinous crimes will be reviewed.
  • Comprehensive solutions have been made to redress the grievances of the people.
    • Families of the people killed during the Bodo movement would get ₹5 lakh each.
    • Special Development Package of ₹1500 crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

WAYANAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

NEWS: 

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, though home to more than half the number of tigers present in Kerala, may not be notified as a tiger reserve as the proposal lacks public support.

The attempts of the Kerala Forest Department to push forward the proposal for notifying the sanctuary as the third Tiger Reserve in the State came a cropper at the recently held State Wildlife Advisory Board. Citing the public resistance against the earlier attempts, the Board rejected the proposal.

The Status of Tigers in India report released last year had estimated the tiger population of Wayanad as between 75 and 80 individuals. Periyar Tiger Reserve, the first one in Kerala, has an estimated population of 30 to 35 big cats whereas Parambikulam, the second reserve, has a population of 20 to 25 tigers.

ABOUT WAYANAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

  1. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala.
  2. Established in 1973, the sanctuary is now an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
  3. It is bounded by protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the North East and on the south east by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.
  4. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary comes under PROJECT ELEPHANT.
  5. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the safest heavens for different species of vultures like the White rumped Vultures and the Red headed Vultures. However in recent years population of vultures has been declining due to banned drug Diclofenac.

GISAT-1

NEWS: 

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to launch GISAT-1, a new earth observation satellite, in the first week of March.

GISAT-1 — Geo Imaging Satellite — will be the first of two planned Indian EO spacecraft to be placed in a geostationary orbit of around 36,000 km. It will apparently be in a fixed spot looking over the Indian continent at all times.

All Indian EOs have been placed so far in a 600-odd-km orbits and circle the earth pole to pole. GISAT-1 will be launched from the Sriharikota satellite launch centre.

ABOUT ISRO 

  1. ISRO was formed on 15 August 1969.
  2. It superseded the Indian  National Committee for Space Research formed in 1962.
  3. It is managed by Department of space which reports to the PM of India .
  4. ISRO launched India’s first satellite Aryabhataon 19 April 1975 from Soviet Union.
  5. Rohini was the first satellite to be launched on Indian launch vehicle.
  6. Headquarter: Bengaluru
  7. Chariman: K Sivan

NEO-NATAL DEATHS

NEWS: 

Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest percentage of newborn deaths of 11.5% against the total admissions to government-run sick newborn care units (SNCUs) in the past three years across the country, a rate ominously spiralling since 2017, according to the National Health Mission (NHM). The country’s average is 7%.

Although admissions of neonates (under 28 days) in the State have dropped from April 2017 to December 2019 — remaining lower than West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — the percentage of deaths at 12.2% surpassed Bihar’s last year.

Several factors

Staff crunch, low community referrals, absence of a special neonatal transport service to health centres, and the non-availability of enough units to cater to increasing institutional deliveries had contributed to the spike in the percentage of deaths.

The crunch is magnified as only one against the requisite five (82% shortfall) of surgeons, gynaecologists, physicians and paediatricians is available at hospitals.

Madhya Pradesh has also recorded an abysmal sex ratio in admissions. Even with a sex ratio of 931 as per the 2011 census, 663 girls were admitted against 1,000 boys in the three years, against the country average of 733.

INDIA RUSSIA DEFENSE DEALS

NEWS: 

In a step forward towards addressing the issue of regular spares and support for Russian military equipment with the armed forces, 14 MoUs were signed between Indian and Russian companies for setting up joint ventures covering a range of equipment from modern T-90 tanks to legacy Pechora air defence systems.

The MoUs were signed during the 5th India Russia military industry conference held during the Defexpo 2020 in Lucknow. They come under the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on joint manufacturing of spares in India signed last September for mutual cooperation in manufacturing of spares, components, aggregates and other material related to Russian or Soviet-origin arms and defence equipment.

One important MoU was signed between the Bharat Dynamics Limited and the Almaz Antey of Russia for exploring the feasibility of a joint venture in India for the production of various sub systems of “air defence missile systems like Tunguska, Kavadrat, the OSA-AKA, Pechora air defence system as well as the Shilka self-propelled air defence gun system”.

There are also agreements on emerging technologies — Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain and robotics based on Russian technologies under the proposed Indo-Russian Joint Venture ICT Center of Excellence.

FIRST EDITORIAL: MISUSE OF NATIONAL SECURITY ACT

WHY IN NEWS?

Uttar Pradesh government has invoked NSA against Dr. Kafeel Khan within days of his being granted bail.

This shows the perverse zeal with which Uttar Pradesh government is hounding the suspended government doctor.

It seems that the flawed approach that treats criticism of government policy as some anti-national activity is at work.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

That the authorities invoked a stringent preventive detention law meant only for booking those whose activities constitute an imminent threat of violence shows that they are not content with prosecuting him.

The resort to preventive detention as soon as a person is granted bail, with the perverse purpose of continuing his imprisonment, is not uncommon in the country, but the practice is condemnable.

It normally indicates mala fide targeting by the administration concerned, and one does not need to look beyond the case of Dr. Kafeel himself to conclude that the latest instance of the resort to the NSA is aimed at inflicting disproportionate punishment on him for expressing political dissent on a supposedly forbidden subject.

CONCLUSION

Taking the cue from growing opinion, most recently articulated by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court, that protest and criticism directed at government policy do not amount to being anti-national, officials should pause before they are seen as enablers of the excesses of an authoritarian dispensation. To invoke the NSA in cases where sections of the IPC would suffice is to undermine its efficacy as a tool to protect national security.

ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY ACT

National Security Act (NSA): 

    • acting in any manner prejudicial to national security.
    • disrupting public order or for maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
      The National Security Act (NSA), 1980 empowers the Centre or a State government to detain a person to prevent him from
    • The maximum period for which one may be detained is 12 months. But the term can be extended if the government finds fresh evidence.
    • The act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

LEAD ARTICLE: MEDIA IN CHINA 

Author highlights that it was because of some independent journalists that Corona Virus news came out in the public.

TWO CONTRASTING COVERAGE: ONE OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA AND OTHER OF GOVERNMENT’S MOUTHPIECE 

On February 3, Caixin, a Chinese magazine known for its independent reporting — at least as independent as a media outlet can get in China — published the first of a four-part investigation. The article, headlined “How Wuhan lost the battle”, laid bare how a month-long cover-up allowed the novel coronavirus outbreak to spread, while the Chinese public remained completely unaware.

That very same day, the lead story on the front page of the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, reported breathlessly on how a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to a village in Qinghai province had transformed its fortunes. That visit, incidentally, was in August 2016.

WHAT DOES THIS REPORTAGE SIGNIFY?

The Wuhan outbreak has served a reminder that below the surface, the media landscape in China remains a contested terrain, and that when given the space to work, Chinese journalists can play a much-needed watchdog role.

Independent media is required for KEEPING CHECK ON GOVERNMENT AND EXPOSING THE WRONGDOING.

POLITICAL IMPACT OF THIS CRISIS

The current crisis is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the Party in the Xi era. The Party taking the unprecedented steps of showing, for the first time, videos of leaders speaking at usually secretive Politburo Standing Committee meetings, and subsequently releasing on February 15 an internal speech by Xi, suggest it is more than a little concerned about how the public is looking at its response.

Author concludes by hoping that this episode might mark the beginning of independent journalism in China.

SECOND ARTICLE: HOW SOCIAL MEDIA IS ALLOWING TARGETING OF VOTERS?

ALLOWING THE PARTIES TO FOCUS ON INDIVIDUAL

In today’s world, online presence, which ensures greater outreach, is a key source of competitive advantage. This realisation gave rise to strategic efforts by political parties to tap into the fragmented political discourse by catering to the individual. Earlier, the idea was to capture mass issues. But in the present day and age, the focus of the campaign is the individual.

Political parties are increasingly employing data-driven approaches to target individual voters using tailor-made messages.

WHY THIS ISSUE HAS BECOME IMPORTANT?

Over the years, political advisory and advertising firms have devised sophisticated tools to gather voter data and made proper campaign products out of it. The politicians of today’s age leave no stone unturned while canvassing for votes. The reason why this issue becomes important is that the passive users are just not aware of what they are being subjected to.

AUTONOMY OF VOTER BEING COMPROMISED

The informational autonomy of the voter is under serious threat because the entire business of collecting personal data continues to remain unregulated and is also proprietary in nature. It is extremely difficult to trace the methods used by such firms to scrutinise the personal life and intimate details of the individual. This threat becomes imminent in light of the rising number of political firms which are making most use of the right to freedom of speech and expression.

There is serious harm to the country’s democratic nature resulting on account of loss of informational autonomy.

CONCLUSION

The electoral process in India is becoming increasingly advanced in terms of use of data. It is highly likely that within a few years, Indian political parties may start using the same tactics as used by their U.S. counterparts in targeting individual voters. It remains to be seen as to how the privacy law responds to the implications of political micro-targeting.

SECOND EDITORIAL: WHAT KEJRIWAL SHOULD FOCUS IN COMING YEARS?

WHY KEJRIWAL IS IN NEWS?

Arvind Kejriwal took oath as Chief Minister of Delhi for a third time in six years.

WHAT HE SHOULD DO?

Work closely with center.

IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

With local sources of pollution remaining largely unaddressed, apart from court-ordered steps such as the permanent closure of the Badarpur thermal power plant in 2018 and the Graded Response Action Plan, the shortage of public buses remains one of the biggest concerns — for reducing pollution as well as improving urban mobility.

IMPROVE QUALITY OF PIPED WATER: 

The scheme of 20,000 litres of free water to every household every month will be continued, but the quality of that supply needs to be consistent.

ADDRESS HOUSING SHORTAGE:  Delhi has a huge housing shortage, and both governments must get their act together in implementing the long overdue land pooling policy that will provide a roof over the head for lakhs and to kick-start the sluggish sector.

OP-ED PAGE 

THIRD  ARTICLE:  REVAMPING OF MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?

MEA has empowered seven different Additional Secretaries along different themes.

Identifying areas of longer-term impact, empowering Additional Secretaries to oversee integrated tasks and giving Secretaries more time to strategise are laudable objectives of the organisational change. Inducting outside expertise in areas such as trade and economics, and cultural power and development partnerships is also needed as the contours of these issues are more technical than diplomatic.

WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE?

That apart, negotiations in international organisations require understanding the negotiating strategy of others; listing compromises made in the past to secure lost ground; and assessing in advance implications of the inevitable trade-offs that are made at the final stage. But India’s civil service tenure rules do not recognise the importance of negotiation history and global trends.

It is also unclear why we are focusing to this extent on ‘soft power,’ or on shaping the preferences of others in terms of culture, instead of sharing the technology layer powering Aadhaar, in which many other countries have been showing an interest.

The missing piece in the restructuring is silence on the role of the Public Policy and Research Division, now headed by an outstanding officer. It was central in an earlier round of restructuring with inclusion of military officials and consultants from academia and think-tanks.

CONCLUSION

In a fast-changing global environment, resources need to be concentrated on a limited number of objectives, to be achieved within a defined time-frame.

As the diplomats and the Chief of Defence Staff work out their new roles, they need to recognise that rearranging silos does not dilute the role of politicians and of officials in working across departmental boundaries.

PERSON IN NEWS

ARVIND KEJRIWALAam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal took oath as the Chief Minister of Delhi for the third time at a swearing-in ceremony held at the Ramlila Maidan grounds on Sunday. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal administered the oath of office and secrecy at the ceremony attended by thousands of AAP supporters.

 

 

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