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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 18TH FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the
Legislative Powers of the President.
1. He can send messages to the Houses of
Parliament with respect to a bill pending in the
Parliament.
2. He decides on questions as to disqualifications
of members of the Parliament, in consultation
with the Prime Minister.
3. In the case of Puducherry, the President can
legislate by making regulations but only when
the assembly is suspended or dissolved.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 1, 3
c) 2, 3
d) 1, 2, 3

Q.2 Consider the following events during India’s
freedom struggle:
1. Chauri-Chaura Outrage
2. Minto-Morley Reforms
3. Dandi March
4. Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
Which of the following is the correct chronological order
of the events above?
a) 1, 3, 2, 4
b) 2, 4, 1, 3
c) 1, 4, 2, 3
d) 2, 3, 1, 4

Q.3 Consider the following statements with reference to
Central Indian paintings.
1. They take inspiration from Indian epics and
religious texts.
2. They developed as an anti-Sanskrit cult to
promote culture of tribal regions.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS: B, B,A 

PERMANENT COMMISSION FOR WOMEN OFFICERS

NEWS: 

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the Union government’s submissions that women are physiologically weaker than men as a “sex stereotype” and declared that Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are eligible for permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.

The verdict came on a nearly 10-year-old appeal filed by the government against a March 12, 2010 decision of the Delhi High Court to grant SSC women officers permanent commission. The Supreme Court ordered the government to implement its judgment in three months.

The order castigated the government for submitting a note containing written submissions portraying women as physiologically unfit for answering the “call beyond duty” of the Army. The note had shown women officers in a poor light, saying isolation and hardships would eat into their resolve and they would have to heed to the call of pregnancy, childbirth and family. The note had mentioned that women ran the risk of capture by enemy and being taken prisoner of war.

 

HIGH PROPORTION OF SC/ST OBC IN TIHAR

Over 50% inmates in Tihar prison belong to Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe and from Other Backward Classes (OBC), as per Prison Statistics 2018.

The data was recently shared by the Ministry of Home Affairs in response to a question in Rajya Sabha.

The data show that in 2018, there were 3,724 SC, 540 ST, and 4,063 OBC prisoners in Tihar jail out of a total of 15,468 inmates — accounting for 53.65% of the jail population. In 2017, there were 3,725 SC, 215 ST, and 4,156 OBC prisoners — accounting for 53.4% of the jail population. In 2016, the percentage was 51.2; in 2015, it stood at 46.9%.

The data was shared by the MHA in response to a question on whether the government maintains data based on the caste and religion of inmates, and what is the percentage change in the figures.

The data also showed that in 2018, there were 4,275 inmates from the minority community, out of which 84% were Muslims; the rest included 289 Sikhs, 348 Christians and 42 others. In 2017, Muslims accounted for 83.9% of the total inmates from the minority community, and in 2016, it was 84.1%.

There has been marginal change in the percentage of inmates from the minority community since 2014, the data showed.

KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK

  1. Hosts two third of the world’s one horned rhinoceros
  2. UNESCO World Heritage Site
  3. Brahmaputra river flows through this national park

MO SARKAR INITIATIVE

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced that by August 15 this year, the people of the State will have the freedom not to visit government offices for any services. They will have the option of online services or professionally run common service centre or door delivery, he said.

Mr. Patnaik announced that April 1 was set as deadline for shifting all wage payments through banks for all line departments. All government transactions across Departments will be done through the Integrated Financial Management System by April 1.

ABOUT MO SARKAR INITIATIVE

The objective of the ‘Mo Sarkar’ programme is to provide service with dignity to people who are coming to government offices for different purposes. The phone numbers of people who are coming to government offices will be collected randomly with the purpose to improve the governance system by collecting feedback on behaviour and professionalism of government officers.

The employees will be ranked as good or bad on the basis of the feedback and those with good rank will get out-of-turn promotion and action will be taken against employees with bad rank.

DECLINE IN INDIA’S BIRDS POPULATION

NEWS: 

Over a fifth of India’s bird diversity, ranging from the Short-toed Snake Eagle to the Sirkeer Malkoha, has suffered strong long-term declines over a 25-year period, while more recent annual trends point to a drastic 80% loss among several common birds, a new scientific report jointly released by 10 organisations said on Monday.

The State of India’s Birds 2020 (SoIB) assessment raises the alarm that several spectacular birds, many of them endemic to the sub-continent, face a growing threat from loss of habitat due to human activity, widespread presence of toxins, including pesticides; hunting and trapping for the pet trade.

Of 101 species categorised as being of High Conservation Concern — 59 based on range and abundance and the rest included from high-risk birds on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List — endemics such as the Rufous-fronted Prinia, Nilgiri Thrush, Nilgiri Pipit and Indian vulture were confirmed as suffering current decline, and all except 13 had a restricted or highly restricted range, indicating greater vulnerability to man-made threats.

Migratory shorebirds, along with gulls and terns, seem to have declined the most among waterbirds, the report states, consistent with population trends among Arctic-breeding shorebirds based on independent assessments.

Habitats need help

Forward-looking actions suggested by the report include an update to the Red List of endangered species published by IUCN using the SoIB, collaborative research by scientists and citizens and urgent emphasis on habitats of species of high concern, notably grasslands, scrublands, wetlands and the Western Ghats.

CHANGES IN MILITARY STRUCTURE

NEWS:

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Monday spelled out a road map for restructuring the Armed Forces that would holistically counter threats along the borders with China and Pakistan as well as in the Indian Ocean, backed by logistical agreements with other countries.

General Rawat said that an Indian Ocean-centered Peninsular Command, possibly formed by merging the Eastern and Western Naval Commands, should start shaping up by the end of next year.

Gen. Rawat pointed out that the Chief of Naval Staff must look at the “big picture”, and stressed that the “Indian Ocean region is one entity”.

He added that military diplomacy also must be prioritised — an observation that coincided with the departure of the Naval Chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, to Myanmar on Monday.

Gen. Rawat said India has signed several logistics agreements with a number of countries, which should be leveraged for operational turnaround. “We will work with other Navies to see how we can work with them…for logistical support,” he observed.

The CDS clarified that the Navy should focus on submarines, and a third aircraft carrier was not an immediate priority. In response to a question on the IAF’s tender for 114 fighter jets, Gen. Rawat said, “It has to be staggered.”

He added that the government was not inclined to look at single big-ticket purchases. “I feel you should never go in for large numbers in one go,” he said.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL : MESS IN THE TELECOM SECTOR

The telecom industry is in turmoil unable to pay up its dues as per the Supreme Court verdict on adjusted gross revenues delivered in October last.

Supreme Court has declined to give any further relief to the telecom companies.

Following the Supreme Court stricture Bharti Airtel paid ₹10,000 crore on Monday with the promise of paying the rest before mid-March when the court will hear the case next. Vodafone Idea, the one hit the most by the judgment,paid ₹2,500 crore by the evening.

WHO IS TO BE BLAMED FOR THIS MESS?

The two companies, as indeed the others in the industry, have only themselves to blame for the predicament that they find themselves in now. They could have paid up their annual dues over the years — which were not material in relation to their respective turnovers — under protest even as they litigated the case in the top court. That would have obviated the need to pay interest and penalties now which are higher than the actual dues.

WHAT COULD BE THE CONSEQUENCE OF THIS ACTION?

DUOPOLY AND LOSS OF JOBS: Due to this Vodafone-Idea will have to shut their shop and industry be reduced to a duopoly, with all the attendant consequences for customers but it will also lead to loss of about 15,000 direct jobs and several thousand more indirect ones.

IMPACT ON BANKS: the cascading effect will be felt across the economy as lenders face the consequences of the company going bankrupt — non performing assets will rise.

Telecom equipment suppliers may also go down as their dues will not be paid.

IMPACT ON DIGITAL ECONOMY: The industry is critical to the government’s plans for a digital economy not to mention its revenues, including from the upcoming 5G spectrum auctions.

WHAT GOVERNMENT CAN DO?

  1.  Legislation to offer a staggered payment schedule that ensures that the net present value of future payments is equal to the dues is one option experts are suggesting.
  2. There could be other options that can be considered in conjunction with the industry, including reducing the adjusted gross revenue-based licence fees and spectrum usage charges.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN INDIA

WHY IN NEWS?

Author has highlighted the way children and their parents have been treated in the SEDITION CASE IN BIDAR. Mother of a student who contributed to the script of an apparently seditious primary school play was imprisoned, the the principal has been arrested for allowing it to be performed in her school, and the children of age 11 years were interrogated by uniformed police officers in the absence of any child welfare workers.

Not only did the arrest of the mother, a single parent, leave the child in the care of a neighbour but the arrest of the principal of their school left all the children without their trusted headmistress.

VIOLATION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

These traumatic experiences are not only a violation of the fundamental rights of the child but are severely damaging to their mental health.

LOCKDOWN ON KASHMIRI CHILDREN

Perhaps the most vicious example is unfolding in Kashmir where, after two decades of living in a context suffused with the fear of violence from one side or the other, children have been subjected to six months of a lockdown, losing their fundamental rights of freedom to learn, play and be carefree.

MUZAFFARPUR VIOLENCE

In Muzaffarpur, Bihar, young girls were kept locked up for most of the day and raped, after being sedated, at night.

Separation of children from their parents causes grievous psychological harm and lays the foundations for lasting and profound mental health problems in later life.

CONLCUSION

We need to provide our children an environment free of fear from violence of both state and non state actors.

SECOND ARTICLE: PERMANENT COMMISSION FOR WOMEN IN ARMY

WHY IN NEWS?

The Supreme Court has delivered a sharp rebuke to the government by asking it to adhere to its own stated policy, articulated on February 25, 2019, on granting permanent commission to women in the Short Service Commission (SSC).

Furthering the principle of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Constitution, the Court has at the same time come down heavily on the stereotypes of women and their physiological features that were consistently put across in the government’s submissions to deny equal opportunity to women who fulfil the same criteria their male counterparts do.

ARGUMENTS GIVEN BY THE GOVERNMENT IN OPPOSING PERMANENT COMMISSION FOR WOMEN

Government submitted that deployment of women officers was not advisable in conflict zones where there was “minimal facility for habitat and hygiene.

CONCLUSION

Given the inherent flaws in the structure, implementation and change are not likely to happen soon, even given the Court’s deadline of three months.

OP-ED PAGE

FIRST ARTICLE: PROTECTING CHILDREN’S RIGHT TO PROTEST

WHY IN NEWS?

Supreme Court’s has taken suo motu cognisance of children taking part in demonstrations in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.

An infant died in the cold during the protests earlier this month. But criminalising the mother and putting the onus of the child’s death on her negligence rather than questioning and examining the economic and political reasons for poverty is a travesty of justice.

Author highlights that INSTEAD OF CRIMINIALIZING THE MOTHER FOR NEGLIGENCE we need to ask some important questions.

Q.1  Why is it that Indian mothers, especially from migrant labouring families, have to carry their children where ever they go?

Q.2 How can women then voice their dissent against a law which is going to affect them directly?

Q.3 And if they do voice their dissent by going to a protest, where are they supposed to leave their children?

Q.4 What infrastructure does the state provide by way of crèches or day care centres?

Q.5 What kind of housing does the state provide for migrant workers?

WHAT COULD BE ITS IMPACT?

This has a direct impact on children’s right to protest as well as on their mothers’ right to protest, specifically since the enforcement of the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act could render both mother and child stateless.

WHAT DOES CONSTITUTION SAYS ABOUT CHILD’S RIGHT TO PROTEST?

Implicit in the freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms under Article 19 of the Constitution is the right to protest. This right is guaranteed to all citizens of India regardless of age.

A PLACE FOR LEARNING

While many schools encourage children to read newspapers and watch news channels, attending a protest is also a way for children to receive information and ideas. At a protest they get to witness expressions of discontent against acts or omissions of the government that have prejudicial and even violent impacts on people’s lives. A protest is also a space where children get to experience and assert citizenship. It’s a space for them to comprehend what ‘We The People of India’ encompasses; it is where they get to see people from all walks of life. It could also be a space for children to celebrate their unity as Indians.

SECOND ARTICLE: REVISITING THE FUNCTIONING OF CRPF

Author highlights that there in post independent India there was a question mark over continuance of CRPF. Since law and order was the responsibility of state many leaders were in favor of not having Central Police Force.

But Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, argued vehemently and boldly in favour of having central police force.

SITUATION AT PRESENT

From having just two battalions as the CRP, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has now expanded to being a three-and-a-half lakh-strong force consisting of specialist wings like the Rapid Action Force, the COBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), and the Special Duty Group. It is the largest paramilitary force in the world and no other security force of the country has seen expansion at such a rapid rate.

PROBLEMS AT PRESENT FOR CRPF

PRESSURE ON SOLDIERS: 

The frequent movements lock, stock and barrel are taking its toll.

There are increasing cases of suicides and fratricides.

The anguish caused because of prolonged periods of duty away from one’s family members adds to the pressure experienced the soldiers having their fingers constantly on the trigger guard, where a delay in response by even seconds can cost them their lives.

Though the Home Minister recently stated that CRPF jawans would get to spend 100 days with their families every year, considering the present levels of commitment, 100 days of leave is an impossible dream for a soldier.

SOLUTIONS OFFERED BY THE AUTHOR

It should be compulsory for recruits to all Central Police Forces to be deployed to anti-insurgency roles during their first 15 years of service, when they are newly trained and fighting fit. They can be shifted, in the next 10 years, to border duties. The last phase of their career should be in static duties. That way, the present system of a soldier ending up performing a high-risk job till the last day of his service, just because he happened to be allotted to CRPF after a common selection process, can be avoided and he can look forward to easier duties during the later phase of his career.

Also, as the Force is deployed to the last man, the welfare and morale of the soldiers needs to be taken care of. A large number of personnel are taking voluntary retirement, but there is no rehabilitation policy. The creation of a Welfare and Rehabilitation Board has not made any impact. Provision of canteen facilities, without tax exemption, hardly gives the soldiers any relief. Another demand that needs to be considered is that of a One Rank, One Pension scheme.

FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE

NEWS:

As officials from the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of the 39-member Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meet in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the risk rating for Pakistan and Iran, India plans to raise the repeated “politicisation” of the process by Pakistan, which is aiming to avoid being “blacklisted” by the group for its actions on countering terrorism.

In particular, Indian officials are expected to point to statements by the leaders of Turkey and Malaysia, who have gone public on their plans to back Pakistan, instead of going by the regulations of the FATF that evaluates countries on the basis of technical parameters and maintains confidential proceedings. In the past two weeks, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have issued statements promising to support Pakistan at the FATF, as well as on Kashmir.

At the last meeting of the Asia Pacific Group in Beijing last November, Pakistan had been judged as having cleared 14 of the 27-point action plan checklist it was given by the group on countering terror financing and black money laundering.

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.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA (SEBI)

NEWS:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has amended the regulatory framework for investment advisers to introduce a cap on the maximum fee such entities can charge to investors while segregating the advisory and distribution activities to minimise conflict of interest issues.

The board of the capital markets watchdog, which met in Mumbai, approved the amendment in the SEBI (Investment Advisers) Regulations 2013, which also stipulated that a person dealing in distribution of securities cannot use the nomenclature ‘Independent Financial Adviser ‘ or ‘Wealth Adviser’ without registering as an Investment Adviser with the regulator.

While the regulator did not specify the upper limit of fees, a consultation paper floated by SEBI in January had proposed capping the fees at 2.5% of the assets under advice or a fixed fee of ₹75,000 per year per family.

ABOUT SEBI

SEBI was constituted on 12th April 1988 as an interim administrative body under the Finance Ministry.

Four years later, on 4th April 1992 a notification awarding statutory powers to SEBI was issued (Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992).

All decisions taken by Securities and Exchange Board of India are collectively taken by its Board that consists of a Chairman and eight other members.

Securities and Exchange Board of India is a quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial and quasi-executive body. It can draft regulations, conduct inquiries, pass rulings and impose penalties.

SEBI is capital markets regulator. A capital market is a financial market in which long-term debt (over a year) or equity-backed securities are bought and sold.

SPORTS

 

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