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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 19TH DECEMBER 2019

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Q.1 Global Gender Gap Report is released by

  1. World Economic Forum
  2. IMF
  3. World Bank
  4. International Labour Organization

 

Q.2 Consider the following statement about Home Rule League

  1. Tilak’s Home Rule League was formed earlier than Beasant’s Home Rule League.
  2. Tilak’s Home Rule League was more organized than Beasant’s Home Rule League

Which of the above statement is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

 

Q.3 Bharat Mata was the journal of

  1. Ajit Singh
  2. Veer Savarkar
  3. Lala Lajpat Rai
  4. Bal Gangadhar Tilak

 

 

CYRUS MISTRY

NEWS: Three years after Cyrus Pallonji Mistry was unceremoniously removed from the post of executive chairman of Tata Sons, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday ruled that the decision was “illegal”, paving the way for his reinstatement.

The replacement of the present ‘executive chairman’ and the reinstatement of Mr. Mistry will, however, come into effect after four weeks, during which Tata Sons has the option to challenge the tribunal’s verdict before the Supreme Court.

It also declared as illegal the conversion of Tata Sons Limited from a ‘public company’ to a ‘private company’ by the Registrar of Companies.

The tribunal remarked that the decision to convert the company as private was “prejudicial” and “oppressive” to the minority shareholders, including the Shapoorji Pallonji Group.

ABOUT NCLAT

  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.
  • NCLAT hears appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY BOARD OF INDIA under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA (CCI).

 

 

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, which fast-tracks citizenship by naturalisation process for “illegal” migrants from six religious communities, other than Muslims, who have fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde instead orally suggested to the government to publicise the actual intent of the Act so that there was no confusion among the public about its objectives and aims.

The Supreme Court issued a formal notice admitting 59 petitions filed by people from all walks of life and faiths. The court said it would hear the petitions on January 22. This is its last working day before it closes for the winter vacation till January 1.

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 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.

 

 

GST COUNCIL

NEWS: The GST Council broke its tradition of taking decisions by consensus at its 38th meeting on Wednesday, with a first-time vote on a proposal to tax all lotteries at the uniform rate of 28%.

After Kerala pushed for a division, States voted 21-7 in favour of the proposal.

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.

 

 

GANGA POLLUTION

NEWS: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday came down heavily on authorities for failing to curb pollution in Ganga river and directed completion of all projects related to sewage treatment by June 30 next year.

The green panel also directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to assess the compensation to be levied on respective States, within one month, and recover the same.

Earlier, the Tribunal had pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to curb sewage discharge containing toxic chromium into the river and imposed a penalty of ₹280 crore on 22 tanneries for causing pollution.

ABOUT GANGA RIVER

The Ganga is the most important river of India both from the point of view of its basin and cultural significance.

It rises in the Gangotri glacier near Gaumukh (3,900 m) in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Here, it is
known as the Bhagirathi.

It cuts through the Central and the Lesser Himalayas in narrow gorges. At Devprayag, the Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda; hereafter, it is known as the Ganga.

The Alaknanda has its source in the Satopanth glacier above Badrinath.

The Alaknanda consists of the Dhauli and the Vishnu Ganga which meet at Joshimath or
Vishnu Prayag.

The other tributaries of Alaknanda such as the Pindar joins it at Karna Prayag while Mandakini or Kali Ganga meets it at Rudra Prayag.

The Ganga enters the plains at Haridwar. From here, it flows first to the south, then to the south-east and east
before splitting into two distributaries, namely the Bhagirathi and the Hugli.

The river has a length of 2,525 km.

It is shared byUttarakhand (110 km) and Uttar Pradesh
(1,450 km), Bihar (445 km) and West Bengal
(520 km). The Ganga basin covers about 8.6
lakh sq. km area in India alone. The Ganga
river system is the largest in India having a
number of perennial and non-perennial rivers
originating in the Himalayas in the north and
the Peninsula in the south, respectively. The
Son is its major right bank tributary. The
important left bank tributaries are the
Ramganga, the Gomati, the Ghaghara, the
Gandak, the Kosi and the Mahananda. The
river finally discharges itself into the Bay of
Bengal near the Sagar Island.

 

 

Sahitya Akademi Awards

NEWS: Novelist and former Asom Gana Parishad Rajya Sabha member Joyasree Goswami Mahanta on Wednesday said, “I am not as happy as I should be” with the news of winning the Sahitya Akademi Award. She also promised to distribute the prize money among the families of those killed during the anti-citizenship law protests in Assam.

Dr. Mahanta was chosen for the Sahitya Akademi award for her novel Chanakya. Twenty-two other writers and poets will receive the award, which comprises an engraved copper plate and ₹1 lakh cash prize, on February 25, 2020, in Delhi.

Dr. Mahanta has to her credit several books including Dronacharya, Sreshta Bideshi Galpo, Ekuki Dhemali Sadhu and some volumes on the Assam agitation.

  • Sahitya Akademi award established in 1954, is a literary honour that is conferred annually by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of letters.
  • Award is presented to the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the twenty-four major Indian languages recognized by the Akademi (including English).
  • Sahitya Akademi award is the second highest literary honour by the Government of India, after Jananpith award.
  • The award is presented in the form of a casket containing an engraved copper-plaque, a shawl and a cheque of Rs 1 lakh.
    • Indian film-maker Satyajit Ray is the designer of the plaque awarded by the Sahitya Akademi.

 

 

KALESHWARAM PROJECT

NEWS:The Telangana government has once again requested the Centre to treat Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) as a National Project and make adequate provision for it in the Union Budget for 2020-21.

ABOUT KALESHWARAM IRRIGATION PROJECT

The Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project is aimed to make Telangana drought proof by harnessing the flood waters of the Godavari. The project is an under-construction multi-purpose irrigation project on the Godavari River in Kaleshwaram, Bhoopalpally, Telangana.

  • The project starts at the confluence point of Pranahita River and Godavari River.
    • Pranahita river is a confluence of various other smaller tributaries like Wardha, Penganga and Wainganga Rivers.
    • The Godavari is India’s second longest river after the Ganga. Its source is in Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra. It flows east for 1,465 kilometres, draining the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Karnataka, ultimately emptying into the Bay of Bengal through its extensive network of tributaries.
    • The major tributaries of the river are classified as the left bank tributaries which include the Purna, Pranhita, Indravati and Sabari river and the right bank tributaries are Pravara, Manjira, Manair.
  • Waters of the Godavari will be tapped by reverse pumping and storage, thereby facilitating agriculture on over 38 lakh acres, helping rejuvenate thousands of tanks, providing water for industries, and supplying drinking water to Hyderabad and Secunderabad by creating a series of storage tanks and a network of pipelines.
  • Barrages have been constructed at Medigadda, Annaram, and Sundilla, from which water will be moved to fill Yellampalli and Sriram Sagar Projects.
  • The Kaleshwaram project will support Mission Kakatiya and Mission Bhagiratha schemes designed to provide drinking water to many villages and improve the capacities of tanks.

Mission Kakatiya

It is a flagship programme launched by the Government of Telangana which aims at rejuvenation of water tanks and other water storage structures to provide assistance and help to the small and marginal farmers of the state.

Mission Bhagiratha

It is a project for safe drinking water for every village and city household in Telangana State. It aims is to provide piped water to 2.32 crore people in 20 lakh households in urban and 60 lakhs in rural areas of Telangana. The ambitious project will supply clean drinking water to all households in the state through water sourced from River Godavari and River Krishna.

 

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: A DUTY TO PUBLISH

ISSUE: PROBLEMS OF RTI AND ISSUES RELATED WITH IT

WHY IN NEWS?

Comment by the CJI that the kind of queries that were sometimes being asked were not always in public spirit and were posed by people who had no “locus standi” in the matter regarding the queries.

WHY THIS ARGUMENT IS FALLACIOUS?

RTI Act explicitly rejects the need for locus standi in Section 6(2) — “an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information…”.

WHY LOGIC OF LOCUS STANDI IS BAD?

Seeking locus standi in order to respond to public requests could result in a chilling effect as public authorities (PAs) could choose to deny information to general citizens on subjective grounds.

Data on RTI requests since 2005 show that the yearly rejection rate (requests rejected as a percentage of those received) has come down steadily to 4.7% in 2018-19.

A change in the Act that seeks locus standi as a criterion could dramatically increase this number.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH RBI?

LACK OF PRO ACTIVE DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION: Section 4 of the Act calls for pro-active and voluntary dissemination of information, but only a few Central and State institutions have published relevant information; here, Rajasthan has taken a lead through its Jan Soochna portal.

PERSISTING VACANCIES: The other problem has been persisting vacancies in the State and Central Information Commissions, which was raised in a plea in the Supreme Court on Monday.

CIC has four vacancies and 33,000 pending cases.

CONCLUSION

After the top court’s directions, this lacuna should be addressed by governments quickly.

 

 

LEAD ARTICLE: THE LAST BASTIONS OF SECULAR INDIA

ISSUE: GOVERNMENT REPRESSION OF ANTI CAA PROTESTS IN AMU AND JAMIA

WHY UNIVERSITIES SHOULD RESIST?

Our universities are now the last remaining line of resistance to the complete fascist takeover of our democratic polity and its myriad institutions.

UNDERMINING OF DEMOCRACY BY MODI GOVERNMENT

KASHMIR ISSUE: Normal life was openly suspended at first in Kashmir, starting with the announcement of the dilution of Article 370 and abrogation of Article 35A on August 5.

Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh suddenly lost their combined statehood; the entire political and civil society leadership of the Valley of Kashmir was placed under preventative detention, where it continues to be four-and-a-half months later; and 50,000 more troops were sent in to occupy the region that already has close to three quarters of a million stationed there. At 136 days, Kashmir has had one of the longest Internet shutdowns in any democracy, ever.

NORTH EAST: Suspension is now encroaching on several States of the Northeast, with complete communications blackouts, curfew, and massive paramilitary deployment becoming alarmingly commonplace measures.

NRC: the entire Muslim population of India, numbering close to 200 million, has now been presented with an existential threat in the form of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the National Register of Citizens.

This process of systematic exclusion that points towards the ultimate elimination of hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the count of citizens, from property ownership, from the electoral rolls, and from any kind of legal recognition as Indians, began in Assam but is now on the verge of being imposed nation-wide.

UNIVERSITIES: Meanwhile, the state’s assault on universities has been ongoing since Mr. Modi’s first term in office. A few different agendas of Hindutva ideology were unleashed on campuses like the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, Hyderabad Central University, and Jadavpur University in West Bengal, among others.

HOW UNIVERSITIES ARE BEING DISMANTLED?

One, dismantling public institutions of higher education and privatising this sector;

Two, disenfranchising the humanities and social sciences because they encourage critical thinking (and especially targeting the discipline of history);

Three, gutting the bastions of left, liberal and secular intellectuals;

Fourth, retracting the opportunity for education from weaker sections of society, including Dalits, women, minorities, backward castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the poor;

Fifth, undoing the gains of egalitarian struggles like the feminist, Ambedkarite and left-wing movements; and

Lastly, shutting down spaces for free speech, dissent and resistance, so threatening to all authoritarian governments.

CONCLUSION

As batons and bullets rain down on India’s students, Muslims and Hindus alike, all those who care for democracy must stand with them and stand up to the fascist behemoth. The alternative is too terrifying to contemplate.

 

OP-ED PAGE

LEAD ARTICLE: ARE FEARS OVER THE CAA MISPLACED

ISSUE: ANALYSIS OF THE STATEMENT THAT CAA WILL NOT IMPACT MUSLIMS?

Author’s argument is that it is unfair to dismiss without careful consideration the government’s claim that Indians have nothing to fear from the CAA.

Not even its critics can deny that all that the CAA does is to offer a benefit: citizenship. It does not take away anything from anyone. And, it offers the benefits of citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

True, it doesn’t offer this benefit to persecuted Ahmadiyyas or Shias from these countries. It is discriminatory towards persecuted non-Indians who are Muslims. But what has that got to do with Indians, or Indian Muslims, for that matter? As has been pointed out umpteen times by Home Minister Amit Shah, the CAA doesn’t even refer to Muslims. So why is it being said that this law targets Indian Muslims?

THREAT OF OMISSION FOR MUSLIMS?

It’s simple arithmetic: add all the religious groups under threat of exclusion by the NRIC (Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Parsis). Subtract from this set all the religious groups secured by the CAA (Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Parsis). We are left only with Muslims as the remainder. They will be the only community excluded from the ‘legislative benevolence’ of the Indian state as incarnated in the CAA. Ready to be scooped up, like so many gasping fish, by the NRIC net.

ENCOURAGES GENOCIDE

Even if the government were to announce that it won’t implement the CAA, the very existence of this legislation is a danger to the social fabric of the country, for it is a tremendous enabler of hate speech. The world’s foremost experts on Genocide Prevention consider hate speech the prime harbinger of genocide. “The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started long before with hate speech,” observed Adama Dieng, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Prevention of Hate Speech, on Prevent Genocide Day this month.

As a political tool, the CAB-NRIC combo has the potential to encourage hate speech, especially at election time. As an administrative tool, it weakens constitutional safeguards against genocidal machinations, which could prove deadly in the unlikely event of the world’s largest democracy mutating into a majoritarian state sympathetic to such machinations.

CONCLUSION

If it is indeed the case that all fears about the CAA are misplaced, and it is only “vested interests” that are misleading the nation, then it is easy for the Prime Minister to dispel such misapprehensions. Instead of blandly insisting that “not a single Indian will lose citizenship”, he only needs to declare categorically that the government will never, ever conduct anything like the NRIC. And he must repeat this assurance in every election rally, tweet it out, and reiterate it in his radio address. Can he do so? If he cannot, or will not, then what does that say of the intent behind the CAA?

 

 

THIRD ARTICLE

ISSUE: REALITY OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

WHY IN NEWS?

Following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of review petitions by all four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case, the four have moved one step closer to the gallowsFollowing the Supreme Court’s dismissal of review petitions by all four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case, the four have moved one step closer to the gallows

DOES CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ACT AS DETERRENT?

If the experience of the past century is taken as a guide, it is clear that death penalty as a measure to end sexual violence has completely failed.

The first element, ‘protection of society,’ is not served by imposing the death sentence any better than by incarceration. This has been proven time and again as inmates have spent decades on death row, harming no one, but being brutalised by the inhuman punishment meted out to them.

Second, there are several factors which effect criminal activity and deterrence is only one of them. In a UN survey, it was concluded that “capital punishment deters murder to a marginally greater extent than the threat of life imprisonment.”

The report of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee said that capital punishment is a regressive step and may not provide deterrence. The committee recommended the life sentence for the most grievous of crimes.

A reasonable man is deterred not by the gravity of the sentence but by the detectability of the crime.

Third, the facet of ‘reform and rehabilitation of the criminal’ is immediately nullified by the prospect of capital punishment, ad oculos.

This leaves only the final element — ‘the retributive effect’. Killing should never be carried out based on the primal and emotive desire among human beings for revenge. Revenge is a personalised and emotional form of retribution, which often loses sight of proportionality.

Hence, in the light of the recent incidents of heinous violence perpetrated against women, it becomes imperative for the judiciary not give in to the public clamour for making capital punishment mandatory for rape convicts. Public angst and emotions cannot be an alternative to reason and logic. There needs to be better enforcement of law in response to valid questions on justice but death penalty holds no answers.

 

 

INDIA BANGLADESH RELATIONS

NEWS:Bangladesh has not sent a delegation for the Joint River Commission (JRC) meeting with India that was scheduled to be held here on Wednesday. This has cast a shadow over the agreement to share the waters of the Feni river that was taken up during the October visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India.

That apart, the meeting cancellation is expected to delay the preparation of the draft framework for the Interim Sharing Agreements regarding the Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gomati, Dharla and Dudhkumar rivers that were also mentioned in the Joint Statement. This is the third cancellation of engagement by Dhaka after Foreign Minister A.K. Abul Momin and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan called off their visits to New Delhi and Meghalaya last week.

It was understood that the cancellations indicated Dhaka’s displeasure over repeated reference by India’s political leadership to the alleged persecution of religious minorities in Bangladesh.

ABOUT FENI RIVER AND ITS DISPUTE

Feni river:

The Feni river forms part of the India-Bangladesh border.

It originates in the South Tripura district, passes through Sabroom town on the Indian side, and meets the Bay of Bengal after it flows into Bangladesh.

 

The dispute:

There has been no water-sharing agreement between the countries on the Feni previously.

The dispute over the sharing of the river water has been long-standing. It was taken up between India and Pakistan (before the independence of Bangladesh) in 1958 during a Secretary-level meeting in New Delhi.

 

Recent developments and significance of the MoU:

In August 2019, India and Bangladesh held a water secretary-level meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) in Dhaka, where it was agreed to collect data and prepare water-sharing agreements for seven rivers — Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla, Dudhkumar, and Feni.

The MoU stands to benefit Sabroom town on the southern tip of Tripura. The present supply of drinking water to Sabroom town is inadequate. The groundwater in this region has high iron content. Implementation of this scheme would benefit over 7000 population of Sabroom town

 

 

IMPEACHMENT OF TRUMP

NEWS: The House of Representatives began debate on Wednesday ahead of a historic vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump charging him with abusing his office and obstructing Congress that would make him the third U.S. President to be impeached.

The vote in the Democratic-controlled House is expected to fall almost entirely along party lines, underscoring the deep divide in Congress over Mr. Trump’s conduct — and the larger political schism within the nation itself.

Mr. Trump would become only the third American President to be impeached, an extraordinary check on presidential power spelled out in the U.S. Constitution for executives who commit “high crimes and misdemeanours.” No President has ever been removed from office under its terms.

House Democrats accuse Mr. Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a former U.S. Vice-President and leading Democratic contender in the 2020 election. Mr. Trump is also accused of obstructing the congressional investigation into the matter.

BS NORMS

NEWS: The Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA), on Wednesday, said it had approached the Supreme Court for sale and registry of unsold BS-IV vehicles beyond the current deadline of April 1, 2020.

FADA president Ashish Harsharaj Kale said that with the current timeline of all India BS-VI fuel availability of April 1, 2020, most manufacturers would shift to 100% BS-VI vehicle production only by end February, 2020 or first week of March, 2020.

ABOUT BS NORMS:-

  • Bharat stage norms are emission standards instituted by Government to regulate output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • The standards and timeline for implementation are set by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change.
  • The standards are based on European regulations and were first introduced in2000.
  • Since then, various stages Bharat Stage compatible fuel and ungraded and modified vehicles were introduced throughout the country.
  • The harmful emissions that are identified for regulations in different Bharat Stages (BS) are carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate matter (PM).
  • Each stage specifies a certain limit on the pollutants released, Higher the Bharat Stage goes lesser it emits pollutants. BS-I, BS-II and BS-III stages were launched in 2000, 2005 and 2010 respectively.

 

BS VI Norms

  • The BS-IV compliant fuels have Sulphur concentration of 50 parts per million (ppm).
  • It will come down to 10 ppm in BS-VI compliant fuels and auto engines.
  • It will result in lower level of harmful emissions and reduced incidence of lung diseases.
  • Moreover, switch to BS-VI norms will also reduce concentration of carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons, nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate matter from emissions.
  • Will increase the prices of cars and other automobiles.
  • the oil marketing sector has said the retail price increase for BS-VI fuel could be anything from a few paise per litre to ₹2.

 

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