THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 22ND FEBRUARY 2020

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding
Fundamental Rights.
1. Fundamental Rights protect citizens against the
arbitrary and absolute exercise of power by the
State.
2. The Constitution guarantees the rights of the
individual against the State but not against
Other individuals.
3. Posting on social media is a fundamental right
applicable to all citizens.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 2, 3
c) 1, 3
d) 1 only

Answer: C

Q.2 Consider the following statements about Wholesale
Price Index (WPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI)
inflation.
1. The weight of food in CPI is far higher than in
WPI.
2. Both capture price changes of services.
3. Both are released by Central Statistical
Organisation (CSO).
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
a) 1, 2
b) 1, 3
c) 2, 3
d) 1, 2, 3
Solution: c)

Q.3 Consider the following statements.
1. It is India’s largest inland Salt Lake.
2. It has been designated as a Ramsar site.
3. It is geographically a land locked river basin.
The above statements refer to?
a) Bhitarkanika Lake
b) Chilika Lake
c) Bhimtal Lake
d) Sambhar Lake
Solution: d)

PAKISTAN IN FATF’S GREY LIST

NEWS: 

Pakistan has been retained on the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for another four months, with a stern warning from the global watchdog that met in Paris (February 19-21) to complete the 27-point action plan it has been given by June 2020 or face being put on the ‘black list’.

According to the FATF summary report released in the evening, Pakistan needs to continue to work on eight specific areas, including demonstrating it is “identifying and investigating” all terror-financing activities in the country, freezing the funds of all designated terrorists and its prosecutions result in “effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions” against all terror entities.

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.

FATF has 2 types of lists;

Black List:Only those countries are included in this list that FATF considers as unco-operative tax havens for terror funding. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). In other words; countries which are supporting terror funding and money laundering activities are listed in the Black list.

The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror funding.

The FATF updates the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

Grey List:Those countries which are not considered as the safe heaven for supporting terror funding and money laundering; included in this list. The inclusion in this list is not as severe as black listed.

Now Grey list is a warning given to the country that it might come in Black list (Just like a yellow card in a football match). If a country is unable to curb mushrooming of terror funding and money laundering; it is shifted from grey list to black list by the FATF.

When a country comes in the Grey list, it faces many problems like;

  1. Economic sanctions from international institutions (IMF, World Bank, ADB etc.) and countries
  2. Problem in getting loans from international institutions (IMF, World Bank, ADB etc.) and countries
  3. Overall Reduction in its international trade
  4. International boycott

BODO PEACE PACT

NEWS:

Unidentified miscreants on Thursday pelted stones at the vehicle of Seuli Brahma Mohilary, the wife of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chairperson Hagrama Mohilary, also the chief of Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally in Assam.

Leaders of all factions of the disbanded extremist group, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which signed the third Bodo Peace Accord with the Centre in January, are likely to float a political party or join BPF’s rival United People’s Party Liberal soon.

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.

MAHADAYI RIVER

NEWS: 

Goa will file an application in the Supreme Court on the Mahadayi river water dispute pleading that Karnataka be not allowed to go ahead with construction on the Kalasa Banduri project, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Friday.

ABOUT MAHADAYI RIVER

  • Mahadayi or Mhadei, the west-flowing river, originates in Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary (Western Ghats), Belagavi district of Karnataka.
  • It is essentially a rain-fed riveralso called Mandovi in Goa.
  • It is joined by a number of streams to form the Mandovi which is one of two major rivers (the other one is Zuari river) that flows through Goa.
  • The river travels 35 km in Karnataka; 82 km in Goa before joining the Arabian Sea.

Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project

  • It is undertaken by the Government of Karnatakato improve drinking water supply to the three districts of Belagavi, Dharwad, and Gadag.
  • It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi riverto divert water to the Malaprabha river.
    • Malaprabha riversupplies the drinking water to Dharwad, Belgaum, and Gadag districts.
  • Kalasa-Banduri project was planned in 1989Goaraised an objection to it.
    • The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunalwas set up in 2010Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are parties to the tribunal.

THAL SENA BAHAVAN

NEWS: 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday laid the foundation for a ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’ of the Army in Delhi cantonment that will bring various pockets of the Army Headquarters spread across Delhi under one roof.

There was movement of about 3,000-4,000 vehicles every day from the various Army establishments in the city. This would be not required once ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’ comes up and would significantly reduce fuel consumption, expenses and pollution.

The newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA), headed by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), would work from Thal Sena Bhawan. “This will help in jointness,” he added.

Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane said the proposed Thal Sena Bhawan would bring all Army Headquarters offices under one roof, thereby improving the working efficiency, while reducing the carbon footprint and logistics requirements.

It would also allow more family time for all personnel who are all on peace posting in Delhi, he noted.

The Army said the building, spread over 39 acres, opposite Manekshaw centre in Delhi Cantonment would bring together the offices split into eight pockets across South Block, Sena Bhawan, Hutments Area, R.K. Puram, Shankar Vihar and other places.

The Army chief would continue to sit in South Block in close proximity to the Defence Minister and Sena Bhawan, the present Army HQ, will continue to exist, though some functions will be shifted to the new complex.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: NEGLECT OF ROAD SAFETY BY CENTRAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT

WHY IN NEWS?

19 people have lost their lives in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu due to bus accident.

A preliminary inquiry points to human error involving the container lorry driver who is suspected to have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Editorial highlights that in spite of amendments made to the Motor Vehicles Act, and new engineering standards enforced for vehicle safety, the risk on the roads is on the rise.

State governments responsible for enforcement remain apathetic and their derelict bureaucracies ignore safety laws in cities and highways.

The cost of such indifference is borne by families of victims in the form of bereavement, loss of income and enduring trauma. Moreover, the economy is deprived of productivity and output.

The latest World Bank assessment of India’s loss from road accidents, which was released at the Stockholm meet, points out that road users between 18-45 years constitute 69% of fatalities. Also, 54% of deaths and serious injuries occur mainly among vulnerable groups: pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheeler riders. In the Bank’s estimate, it will take an additional $109-billion of investment in 10 years to achieve a 50% reduction in road deaths.

WHAT MORE COULD BE DONE?

It is imperative that the Centre forms an empowered Road Safety Board at the national level to advise States on all related concerns as envisaged under the MV Act, and makes State enforcement agencies accountable for safety.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: INDIA US RELATIONS 

Author highlights that despite idiosyncrasies of Donald Trump we need to have strong relations with US.

WHY?

Because New Delhi needs the continued support of the U.S. government on almost everything substantial that matters to India in its quest to be a power of substance in the international system.

Moreover, on present evidence, not limited to the fratricidal war between Democratic presidential hopefuls, the world may have to deal with Mr. Trump for four more years after the end of his present term this year.

From a fairer trade regime; to accessing cutting-edge technology; to the fight against terrorism; to stabilising our region, New Delhi stands to benefit from constructive ties on all issues, given a more sensitive United States. India must therefore seek greater understanding and engagement should there be a Trump 2.0.

IMPORTANT FOR INDO-PACIFIC

Without the United States, the region could become willy-nilly part of a new Chinese tributary system; with a fully engaged United States, the region has at least the chance of creating a more organic rules-based order.

Author highlights that India US relations have shifted from ESTRANGEMENT (DURING COLD WAR YEARS) TO STRATEGIC PARTNERS (IN 21ST CENTURY).

The reason for the change in New Delhi ‘s geostrategic outlook can be summarised quickly. If the 1971 Friendship Treaty with the Soviet Union was a response to the continuing U.S. tilt towards Pakistan and the beginnings of a Washington-Beijing entente, at present, it is the prospect of a potentially hegemonic China in the Indo-Pacific region is helping to cement the relationship. Beijing has managed to alienate nearly all its neighbours and allies, except North Korea and Pakistan.

Accomplishments of  India-U.S. ties in recent years

  • A foundational military agreement that allows for the sharing of encrypted communications and equipment;
  • A change in U.S. export control laws that places India in a privileged category of NATO and non-NATO U.S. allies;
  • A new ‘2+2’ foreign and defense ministers dialogue; an exponential increase in U.S. oil exports to India;
  • The inauguration of the first India-U.S. tri-service military exercise and an expansion of existing military exercises;
  • The signing of an Industrial Security Annex that will allow for greater collaboration among the two countries’ private defense industries;
  • The inclusion of India and South Asia in a U.S. Maritime Security Initiative

CONCLUSION

New Delhi must, of course, continue engaging with its strongest source of support in the United States: the Indian diaspora. Fortunately, there is a near consensus on the need to strengthen this constituency.

In any case, there is little doubt that whoever is the next occupant of the White House, a retreat from multilateralism (especially on trade-related issues) and concern about China will continue to be the two main pillars of contemporary American foreign policy. If for only those reasons, Mr Trump’s reason has undeniable significance.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: CAN JUDICIAL ORDER CLEAN UP THE INDIA POLITICS

WHY IN NEWS?

Last week’s Supreme Court ruled that political parties must do much more to publicise the criminal antecedents of candidates that they have selected to contest both parliamentary and State Assembly elections. It would no longer be sufficient to cite “winnability” as the criterion.

Citing figures of the alarming increase in the number of such persons selected as candidates across the political spectrum, the order asks parties contesting elections to henceforth explain why persons without criminal blemish could not have been chosen instead.

Author highlights that this is a landmark judgement. This marks an important and possibly far-reaching step towards reining in the political establishment as far as fielding candidates with criminal antecedents is concerned. This judgment goes well beyond the Court’s earlier orders of 2002 and 2003 that made it obligatory for all candidates to provide self-sworn affidavits of criminal cases pending against them in any court of law.

INCREASING CRIMINALITY IN PARLIAMENT

Criminality within Parliament grew from 24% in 2004 to 30% in 2009, to 34% in 2014 and 43%in 2019. Almost half these cases were/are for alleged heinous offences such as murder, attempt to murder, rape and kidnapping.

CHANGE IN VOTER BEHAVIOR MUST

Although the recent judgment has decreed that political parties will give much wider publicity to the criminal antecedents of their candidates, it is possible that this alone may not suffice. Voter behavior needs to be changed.

CONCLUSION

It is therefore prudent to await the next important Assembly elections on the anvil — in Bihar and West Bengal. No doubt the political parties will once again bat for the “winnability” factor in their selections. It remains to be seen how the recent judgment will affect the choices of the political establishment and whether it will have the desired effect in eliminating or significantly purging criminality from future legislatures.

SUTRA PIC

NEWS: 

WHAT IS SUTRA PIC?

SUTRA-PIC or ‘Scientific Utilisation Through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows’

At least 400 scientists have petitioned the Department of Science & Technology (DST) to withdraw a proposal that solicits research into indigenous cows.

In an online petition to Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, and K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the government, the scientists write that as “..concerned scientists and science communicators of the country, [they] are extremely perturbed by the recent call for research proposals”.

Their key concerns were that the research programme appeared to endorse the belief that indigenous cows had “special” and “unique” qualities and that this opened the possibility of money being “wasted to investigate imaginary qualities derived from religious scriptures”.

The programme did not encourage fair comparison with other breeds of cows around the world or other bovine species within India, and that the proposal was “drafted unscientifically from start to finish”. Finally, given that scientific funding for several research programmes was wanting and researchers were not getting their fellowships on time, it was “infuriating” that the DST was ready to fund such a “dubious scheme”, the petitioners note.

ABOUT SUTRA PIC

  • It is a collaborative effort of the Department of Biotechnology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy) and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
  • The department of the Science for Equity, Empowerment and Development (SEED), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is in charge of the programme.
    • It can be noted that SEED had also constituted a National Steering Committee to initiate a National Programme on “Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya” (SVAROP) in 2017.
  • The programme consists of five themes:
    • Uniqueness of Indigenous Cows,
    • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Medicine and Health,
    • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Agricultural Applications,
    • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Food and Nutrition,
    • Prime-products from indigenous cows-based utility items.
  • The above themes aim to perform:
    • Scientific research on the complete characterisation of milk and milk products derived from Indian indigenous cows.
    • Scientific research on nutritional and therapeutic properties of curd and ghee prepared from indigenous breeds of cows by traditional methods.
    • Development of standards for traditionally processed dairy products of Indian-origin cows, etc.

US TALIBAN AGREEMENT

NEWS: 

The U.S. and the Taliban will sign an agreement on February 29, the end of a week-long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.

The agreement could represent a chance for peace after 18 years of war and a U.S. troop presence that dates back to 2001, as well as boosting U.S. President Donald Trump’s hopes of pulling U.S. forces out of Afghanistan.

Both sides would also make arrangements for the release of prisoners, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Separately, Mr. Pompeo said in a statement that the U.S. and the Taliban have been engaged in talks to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan and to reduce the U.S. presence in the region.

The agreement will be signed in Doha between Taliban representatives and U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

The period could pave the way for sustainable peace and negotiations among Afghans, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

U.S. and Taliban negotiators have been meeting in Doha since 2018 even though fighting has raged in Afghanistan and thousands of civilians and combatants have been killed as the insurgents have expanded territory under their control.

“Based on the plan, the reduction in violence (RIV) will start between the Taliban and international and Afghan security forces for one week,” Javid Faisal, spokesperson for the Afghan National Security Advisor, told Reuters. “We hope it is extended for a longer time and opens the way for a ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks,” he added.

One Taliban leader based in Doha told Reuters that the period could not be called a “ceasefire.” “Every party has the right of self defence but there would no attacks on each others positions in these seven days,” the Taliban leader said.

Afghan forces will keep up normal military operations against other groups such as Islamic State, during the RIV period, Faisal said.

FOREX RESERVES OF INDIA

NEWS: 

The country’s foreign exchange reserves swelled by $3.091 billion to a lifetime high of $476.092 billion in the week to February 14, mainly due to a rise in foreign currency assets, according to RBI data.

In the previous week, the foreign exchange reserves had increased by $1.701 billion to $473 billion.

Foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, rose by $2.763 billion to $441.949 billion in the reporting week.

Gold reserves rose by $344 million to $29.123 billion. The special drawing rights with the Internation al Monetary Fund (IMF) were down by $6 million to $1.430 billion.

The Forex Reserves (‘foreign exchange reserves’) of an economy is its ‘foreign currency assets’ added with its gold reserves, SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) and Reserve Tranche in the IMF.

Reserve tranche

  • Reserve tranche is a portion of the required quota of currency each member country must provide to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that can be utilized for its own purposes.

Special Drawing Rights

  • The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves
  • The SDR is neither a currency nor a claim on the IMF.
  • Initially SDR was defined as equivalent to 0.888671 grams of fine gold, which at the time, was also equivalent to one U.S. dollar. After the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the SDR was redefined as a basket of currencies.

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