THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 21ST FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1 Consider the following statements
1. All high courts in India have a territorial
jurisdiction confined to a single state.
2. District Court assume the name of Sessions
Courts when they deal with matters concerning
criminal cases.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both
d) None
Solution: b)

Q.2 Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in an economy can
improve by
1. Technology growth and efficiency
2. Increasing taxation on the private sector
3. Efficient human capital and physical capital.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 1, 3
c) 2, 3
d) 1, 2, 3
Solution: b)

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding carbon
and phosphorus cycle.
1. Atmospheric inputs of phosphorus through
rainfall is much higher than carbon inputs.
2. Gaseous exchanges of phosphorus between
organism and environment are negligible.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Solution: b)

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS: 

Days before U.S. President Donald Trump is due in India, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a fact sheet on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

“There are serious concerns that the CAA serves as a protective measure for non-Muslims in case of exclusion from a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC),” the USCIRF says. “This purpose is evident from BJP politicians’ rhetoric. With the CAA in place, Muslims would primarily bear the punitive consequences of exclusion from the NRC which could include ‘statelessness, deportation, or prolonged detention,’ according to three United Nations Special Rapporteurs.”

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.

GURU RAVIDAS

NEWS:

Former Congress MP Ashok Tanwar moved the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking contempt proceedings against the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Delhi government for allegedly “wilfully and deliberately disobeying” its orders allowing construction of a permanent structure for the Guru Ravidas temple at Tughlaqabad here.

The temple was demolished by the DDA following the apex court’s August 9, 2019 direction which had observed that “serious breach” was committed by Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the forest area as earlier ordered by the top court.

ABOUT RAVIDAS

Ravidas was an Indian mystic poet-saint of the Bhakti movement during the 15th to 16th century CE. Venerated as a guru in the region of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the devotional songs of Ravidas have had a lasting impact upon the bhakti movement.

Ravidas was COBBLER by caste.

He was the disciple of Ramananda.

ABOUT BHAKTI MOVEMENT

Bhakti means mystical devotion to one God.

Bhakti had its seed in Vedas but was not much emphasized during the earlier period.

It became popular with the rise of Mahyana Buddhism.

Bhakti movement became popular in south India during 7th-12th century.

In north India it became popular during 14th-15th century.

Namdeva, Ramananda, Kabir, Ravidas, Sena, Sadhana, Nanak Dev are the important Bhakti saints.

Bhakti movement played an important role in spread of vernacular languages.

INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY

CURATIVE PETITION 

NEWS: 

The Supreme Court has dismissed a curative petition filed by the victims of the Uphaar theatre fire tragedy against Sushil and Gopal Ansal for negligence that led to the death of 59 people in 1997.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, Justices N.V. Ramana and Arun Mishra found no merit in the curative plea filed by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy. The petition was decided in the chambers. The order is dated February 13 and published on Thursday (February 20).

In 2017, in a majority judgment of 2:1, the court partially reviewed its original judgment of 2015 and decided to send real estate baron Gopal Ansal back to jail for a year while sparing his elder brother Sushil from serving time behind bars due to his advanced age.

ABOUT CURATIVE PETITION

    • The concept of the curative petition was first evolved by the Supreme Court of India in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and another case (2002) on the question whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, even after the dismissal of a review petition.
  • Objectives:
    • It’s objectives are twofolds- avoid miscarriage of justice and to prevent abuse of process.
  • Constitutional Background:
    • The concept of the curative petition is supported by Article 137 of the Indian Constitution. It provides that in the matter of laws and rules made under Article 145, the Supreme Court has the power to review any judgement pronounced (or order made) by it. Such a petition needs to be filed within 30 days from the date of judgement or order.
  • Procedure:
    • A curative petition may be filed after a review plea against the final conviction is dismissed.
    • It can be entertained if the petitioner establishes that there was a violation of the principles of natural justice, and that he was not heard by the court before passing an order.
    • It must be rare rather than regular.
    • A curative petition must be first circulated to a Bench of the three senior-most judges, and the judges who passed the concerned judgment, if available. Only when a majority of the judges conclude that the matter needs hearing should it be listed before the same Bench.
    • The Bench at any stage of consideration of the curative petition can ask a senior counsel to assist it as amicus curiae (Friend of the court).
    • A curative petition is usually decided by judges in the chamber unless a specific request for an open-court hearing is allowed.
  • Grounds for Rejection:
    • In the event of the Bench holding at any stage that the petition is without any merit, it may impose a penalty on the petitioner.

FIRST EDITORIAL : TRUMPS VISIT TO INDIA

US President Donald Trump will be visiting India on 24th and 25th February.

WHAT ARE THE DEALS THAT COULD BE SIGNED?

India and the U.S. are expected to take forward military cooperation and defence purchases totalling about $3 billion.

There might be talks on Indo Pacific strategy and Afghanistan peace process.

NO SIGN OF TRADE DEAL

Mr. Trump has cast a cloud over the possibility of a trade deal being announced, but is expected to bring U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to give a last push towards the trade package being discussed for nearly two years. Both sides have lowered expectations of any major deal coming through, given that differences remain over a range of tariffs from both sides; market access for U.S. products; and India’s demand that the U.S. restore its GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) status.

MORE OPTICS THAN SUBSTANCE

Any high-level visit, particularly that of a U.S. President to India, is as much about the optics as it is about the outcomes. It is clear that both sides see the joint public rally at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium as the centrepiece of the visit, where the leaders hope to attract about 1.25 lakh people in the audience.

Despite the Foreign Ministry’s statement to the contrary, the narrative will be political. Mr. Trump will pitch the Motera event as part of his election campaign back home. By choosing Gujarat as the venue, Mr. Modi too is scoring some political points with his home State.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY BILL 2020

WHY IN NEWS?

Recently Union Cabinet cleared Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) Bill,2020.

WHAT ARE ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNIQUES?

ART measures help couples unable to conceive naturally to bear children with the aid of state-of-the-art technology to achieve pregnancy, leading to safe delivery.

EVOLUTION OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNIQUES (ART )IN INDIA?

India has a rich history of employing ART, though the initial years went officially undocumented at that time. In the late 1970s, only months after the birth of Louise Brown, the first ‘test tube baby’, Kolkata-based doctor Subhas Mukherjee announced the birth of the world’s second test tube baby. Subsequently, the industry saw phenomenal growth, as infertility rates went up.

Among Asian countries, India’s ART market is pegged at third position.

WHY SUCH A BILL WAS NEEDED?

A lack of regulation and the consequent laxity in operations drove a lot of traffic from other nations to India. This, in turn, along with the relatively low costs, led to the mushrooming of ART clinics across the country. Undoubtedly, this also led to a plethora of legal, social and ethical issues

WHAT ARE THE MAIN PROVISIONS OF THE BILL?

Bill seeks to regulate and monitor ART procedures, and mandates the establishment of a National Board and State Boards to lay down rules for implementation, and also honours a long-pending demand — creation of a national registry, and registration authority.

Bill recommends punishment, even jail time, for violations of the provisions.

EDITORIALS VIEW

This bill should have come before Surrogacy Bill.

Together, the ART Bill; the Surrogacy Bill; the amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act; and the older Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act present a bouquet of legislation that will have a positive impact on the reproductive rights and choices of women in India.

Since it does impinge on surrogacy too, the government must now work on ensuring synchrony in both Bills. Having come this far to ensure the reproductive rights of women, the state now has the thriving ART industry on a leash, and the Bill is its best chance to eliminate exploitation in the field.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: LOSING DEMOCRACY IN SEVEN STEPS

Author has mentioned the seven steps highlighted by the Turkish journalist Ece Temelkuran in her recent book, How to Lose a Country.

SEVEN STEPS OF HOW DEMOCRACY TURNS TOWARDS DICTATORSHIP

  1. Creation of a movement that claims to be of and for the “real people”, the authentic owners of the nation unjustly marginalised in the past by assorted conspiracies.
  2. Assault on rationality and on language, where new meanings are thrust upon old terms and argument is replaced by aggressive slogans.
  3. Shedding of all shame and decency on the part of leaders, who then teach their followers to do so as well, all in the name of an authentic indigeneity.
  4. Dismantling, or co-option, of all the institutions that are intended to act as checks and balances on executive power, including the judiciary, the media and the Constitution.
  5. Designing of new citizens, who will be pre-calibrated to the new normalcy that has been speedily established, shrugging off the weight of history.
  6.  Reduction of all liberal and secular thinking persons to a stage of irrelevance and despair where they can only “laugh at the horror” that their country has become.
  7. Last step, of course, is when the new rulers build their own country, having crushed all possible sources of resistance to their agendas.

Author highlights that this trend can be seen across the world from US to Brazil to Turkey to UK to India.

Author says that India has started on the first two steps. Minorities are being marginalized. Today, large sections of our population are convinced that some minorities ought to be legally deprived of citizenship.

Media has already been co-opted by the government in power. Despite having more than 400 24*7 news channels there are hardly news concerned about the well being of the citizens.

Author concludes by highlighting that  it is imperative to act at once, before the saat pheras are over, and we are bound over to an authoritarian regime.

SECOND ARTICLE: HOW TO DEAL WITH NEXT BIG VIRAL OUTBREAK

Author begins by highlighting that none of the countries in the world are prepared for dealing with next big viral outbreak.

EVIDENCE

The World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Health Security Index finds that no country is adequately prepared. It assesses 195 countries across six categories — prevention, early detection, rapid response, health system quality, standards, and the risk environment. India is ranked 57th. That the country scores around the global average is no comfort, because the global average is a low 40.2 out of 100, and India’s score is 46.5. (For the record, the U.S. is ranked first and China 51st).

WHAT COULD BE DONE: GENERAL SUGGESTIONS

  1. Early detection and prevention;
  2. Better collaboration across health service providers;
  3. More investment in health systems, outcomes, and education; and
  4. Better care of the environment and biodiversity, which directly affects people’s health safety.

WHAT COULD BE DONE IN INDIAN CONTEXT?

Clearer protocols for all three types of surveillance (detection, awareness of symptoms and quarantining) are needed in all States, and these protocols need to be communicated to health professionals at all levels and the public in local languages.

Each State in India should have adequate supply of diagnostic equipment, health facilities, hygienic practices, and prevention and treatment protocols.

There could be an emergency loan facility, with a “deferred drawdown option” as the World Bank uses for disasters, natural or health, that can help augment own resources in times of a public health catastrophe.

Invest more, and more efficiently, in health and education to prepare populations and strengthen health services. Health expenditure by the government in India is less than 1.5% of Gross Domestic Product, which is low for a middle-income country. Spending at that level limits, among other things, the availability of health professionals during crises. According to WHO, India has only 80 doctors per 1,00,000 people.

CONCLUSION

More outbreaks are likely in the future; the best response is better preparedness.

OP-ED PAGE

FRIDAY DISCUSSION: WHAT DISTINGUISHES WELFARE MEASURES FROM FREEBIES

WHY IN NEWS?

There is an overwhelming consensus that a slew of welfare policies initiated by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in its previous term secured the party’s victory in the 2020 Delhi Assembly election.

Many people have highlighted that this trend of freebies is making people lazy and is burden on the tax payers money.

WHY FREE EDUCATION, HEALTH AND REDISTRIBUTION SHOULD NOT BE CALLED AS FREEBIES?

Providing healthcare and education are basically the functions of the government. That’s part of the reason why governments exist in the first place. [It’s the same with] water and electricity or public services. So, calling them ‘doles’ or ‘freebies’ isn’t exactly the right terminology.

The term ‘freebies’ does not exist in economics. It is an elitist construct.

A part of the function of the government is that for things that we cannot individually organise, we entrust elected representatives to do for us. Public goods/services — sewage, drinking water, water, electricity, public transport — are one set of things; education and health are what we call ‘merit goods’. And they are the kinds of things where the market mechanism is not a satisfactory mechanism to deliver these things.

Providing health education and transportation for free is giving income in hand, a kind of disposable income to the people. It is giving them disposable income to spend on something else which becomes important at a time of economic slowdown.

Leave nobody behind’ should be the crux of a public policy or a welfare policy, rather than just thinking that roads and the public infrastructure should be [most important].

FOREIGN CONTRIBUTION REGULATION ACT

NEWS:

The Union government has granted Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence this year to more than 20 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the A.R. Rahman Foundation, run by the Academy award-winning composer and his family.

Any NGO or association that intends to receive foreign funds has to compulsorily register under the FCRA, monitored by the Union Home Ministry.

The Rahman Foundation had run into trouble with the authorities when it allegedly received money from a U.K.-based mobile phone company in 2015. The income tax authorities had accused Mr. Rahman of evading tax and getting the money transferred to a bank account linked to the Trust that was not registered under the FCRA. Mr. Rahman and his auditor had contested the claims.

Regulation of Foreign Funding:

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and rules framed under it (the “FCRA” or “Act”) regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) in India.

Scope and objective of FCRA:

The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest. It has a very wide scope and is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities (whether incorporated or not) as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies and other entities formed or registered in India.

It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

In order to achieve the above objective, the Act:

Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by a certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, newspaper publication, cartoonist and others.

Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.

Definition:

It defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign source. While foreign hospitality refers to any offer from a foreign source to provide foreign travel, boarding, lodging, transportation or medical treatment cost.

Acceptance of foreign funds:

The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.

Registration and prior approval under FCRA:

In order to be registered under the FCRA, an NGO must be in existence for at least three years and must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised. Further, it must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.

The registration certificate is valid for a period of five years and must be thereafter renewed in the prescribed manner.

NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding. This permission is granted only for a specific amount of foreign funding from a specified foreign source for a specific purpose. It remains valid till receipt and full utilisation of such amount.

The Act imposes various conditions on the use of foreign funds and some of them are as follows:

All funds received by a NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received.

Such funds must not be used in speculative activities identified under the Act.

Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act or having prior approval under the Act.

Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.

Reporting requirement:

Every NGO registered or having prior approval under the Act must file an annual report with the Authority in the prescribed form. This report must be accompanied by an income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account, and balance sheet for the relevant financial year. For financial years where no foreign contribution is received, a ‘NIL’ report must be furnished with the Authority

 

ARTICLE 371

NEWS:

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday allayed fears in the northeast that Article 371 would meet the same fate as Article 370. He was speaking at a public meeting at the 34th Statehood Day celebrations in Itanagar.

His visit was marked by protests in Arunachal Pradesh and China, which claims the State as part of southern Tibet. Students of the Rajiv Gandhi University led the protest related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) at Mithun Gate, less than a kilometre from Indira Gandhi Park where the Statehood Day programme was held.

ABOUT ARTICLE 371

ARTICLE 371: Special provision with respect to state of Maharashtra and Gujarat

ARTICLE 371A: Nagaland

ARTICLE 371B:Assam

ARTICLE 371C: Manipur

ARTICLE 371D: Andhra Pradesh

ARTICLE 371E: Andhra Pradesh (Establishment of Central University in Andhra Pradesh)

ARTICLE 371F: Sikkim

ARTICLE 371G: Mizoram

ARTICLE 371H: Arunachal Pradesh

ARTICLE 371I :Goa

ARTICLE 371J: Karnataka

 

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