THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 24TH FEBRUARY 2020

Q.1 With reference to the Special Officer for Linguistic
Minorities, consider the following statements:
1. Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities has been
inserted to the constitution by the 42nd
Constitutional Amendment Act.
2. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to
investigate all matters relating to the
safeguards provided for linguistic minorities
under the Constitution.
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)

Q.2 Consider the following statements about Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).
1. It is the aggregate value of goods and services
produced within the domestic territory of a
country.
2. It includes the replacement investment of the
depreciation of capital stock.
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: c)

Q.3 Consider the following statements
1. Assumption and Comoros Islands are located in
East Pacific Ocean.
2. 8 Degree Channel separates islands of Minicoy
and Maldives.
3. Hambantota port is located at northern Sri
Lanka bordering Gulf of Mannar
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 2 only
b) 1, 2
c) 1, 2, 3
d) 1, 3
Solution: a)

TRUMP’S VISIT TO INDIA

NEWS: 

Hours before the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for his first visit to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said their joint rally in Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium will be a “historic” event.

Mr. Trump will arrive in Ahmedabad just before noon on Monday at the start of a 36-hour visit that is expected to see the signing of several defence agreements and MoUs on homeland security, space and medical cooperation.

American officials have said Mr. Trump will raise the situation in Kashmir and the on-going protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act during talks.

The message echoed the earlier comment by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who also sent out a social media message welcoming the American head of state.

The Ministry of External Affairs brushed off suggestions that the U.S. government statements on Kashmir and CAA will have an impact on the visit.

Officials also said that negotiations on the trade deal are on track.

 

SAARC 
NEWS: 

Successful regional integration — both economic and security — depends on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming fully functional at the highest levels, Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Sunday.

Emphasising the need for countries in the region to link up both strategically and economically, Mr. Wickremesinghe said the postponement of the Kathmandu SAARC Summit in 2017 due to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan had brought the regional grouping “to a standstill”.

SAARC is deadlocked. While BIMSTEC is not a substitute for SAARC, it is, nevertheless a starting point for integration,” he said, in his keynote address at The Huddle, a two-day thought conclave organised by The Hindu in Bengaluru.

ABOUT SAARC

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.

The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was first raised in November 1980. After consultations, the foreign secretaries of the seven founding countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981.

Afghanistan became the newest member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.

The Headquarters and Secretariat of the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.

There are currently nine Observers to SAARC, namely: (i) Australia; (ii) China; (iii) the European Union; (iv) Iran; (v) Japan; (vi) the Republic of Korea; (vii) Mauritius; (viii) Myanmar; and (ix) the United States of America.

SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.

Challenges

Low frequency of meetings: More engagement is required by the member states and instead of meeting biennial meetings should be held annually.

Broad area of cooperation leads to diversion of energy and resources.

Limitation in SAFTA: The implementation of SAFTA has not been satisfactory a Free Trade Agreement confined to goods, excluding all services like information technology.

Indo-Pak Relations: Escalated tension and conflict between India and Pakistan have severely hampered the prospects of SAARC.

FIRST EDITORIAL: GREYLISTING OF PAKISTAN BY FATF

Financial Action Task Force at its plenary in Paris last week has decided to keep Pakistan in its Grey List.

WHY PAKISTAN WAS KEPT ON GREY LIST?

Pakistan government has yet not completed the 27-point action plan it was given in June 2018 to combat terrorism financing.

Actions Pakistan still needs to carry out include tightening security and banking restrictions to block loopholes through which designated groups including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad access funding. It also calls on Pakistan to begin prosecutions against terrorists and sanction entities that are flouting the UNSC’s rules for designated terror organisations.

WHY PAKISTAN WAS NOT BLACKLISTED?

Due to support from Turkey, Malaysia and China as FATF wors on consensus these countries have vetoed any move to black list Pakistan.

Pakistan also appears to have benefited from playing a role in U.S.-Taliban talks as it seems the U.S. and its allies are not enforcing the deadline to complete the action plan as before.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

Pakistan’s  shocking submission to the FATF that it cannot trace Masood Azhar must be scrutinised further by the international body.

Indian PM should talk to US President Trump to hold Pakistan to account on terror.

India should work to maintain international pressure on Pakistan.

DISHA ACT

NEWS:

Maharashtra government, by March 30, will receive a report from the officials who had travelled to Andhra Pradesh to know about its Disha Act for speedy delivery of justice in cases of violence against women.

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh along with five officials from the Home Department had travelled to Hyderabad to meet their counterparts to study the Act and check on the possibility of implementing it in Maharashtra.

ABOUT DISHA ACT

Disha Act is a state law passed by the Jaganmohan Reddy’s government, soon after the brutal rape and murder of 26-year-old veterinarian in Telangana last year.

Under the law, the investigation into cases of sexual offences are to be completed within seven working days from the time of record, and the trial must be concluded within 14 working days from the date of filing the charge sheet.

The appeal against the sentence passed under the new law has to be disposed of within six months. Special courts in each district will take care of such cases.

This is notably less than the four months’ judgement period (two months each for investigation and trial) prescribed under the Nirbhaya Act of 2013 and the Criminal Amendment Act of 2018.

NATIONAL HIGHWAY AUTHORITY OF INDIA

NEWS: 

The NHAI on Sunday said it had collected ₹20 crore from 18 lakh defaulters who entered FASTag lanes at electronic toll plazas on National Highways without the tag. Over 1.55 crore FASTags have been issued so far. Under the programme, double the toll charge would be collected from the vehicles entering FASTag lanes without the tag.

ABOUT NHAI

NHAI is an autonomous agency of the Union Government, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of national highways in India.

It was established through National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988.

In February 1995, it was formally made an autonomous body.

It is a nodal agency of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

It is responsible for the development, management, operation and maintenance of National Highways.

A FUTURE FOR WORLD’S CHILDREN

NEWS: 

No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their future, according to a recently released report by a Commission of more than 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet.

The report, titled A Future for the World’s Children?, finds that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at them.

The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds.

In the report assessing the capacity of 180 countries, India stands 77th (sustainability index) and is at 131st position on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.

While the poorest countries need to do more to ensure healthy lives for children, carbon emissions — disproportionately from wealthier countries — threaten the future of all children, states the report.

LEAD ARTICLE: INDIA’S DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND

WHAT IS THE SITUATION OF INDIA’S DEMOGRAPHY?

India’s population is among the youngest in an ageing world. By 2022, the median age in India will be 28 years; in comparison, it will be 37 in China and the United States, 45 in western Europe, and 49 in Japan.

India’s working-age population has numerically outstripped its non-working age population. A demographic dividend, said to have commenced around 2004-05, is available for close to five decades.

Another advantage is that this demographic dividend becomes available at different times in different States. While Kerala’s population is already ageing, in Bihar the working age cohort is predicted to continue increasing till 2051.

WHAT ARE THE HURDLES IN REAPING THIS DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND?

LACK OF SKILLS: UNICEF 2019 reports that at least 47% of Indian youth are not on track to have the education and skills necessary for employment in 2030. The projected demographic dividend would turn into a demographic disaster if an unskilled, under-utilised, and frustrated young population undermines social harmony and economic growth.

While over 95% of India’s children attend primary school, the National Family Health Surveys (completed up to 2015-16) confirm that poor infrastructure in government schools, malnutrition, and scarcity of trained teachers have ensured poor learning outcomes.

LACK OF JOBS: The recent massive job losses across the automobile, real estate, and IT sectors, as well as in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises is leading to an alarming fall in private consumption. And if prolonged, these could begin to jeopardise India’s demographic dividend.

LACK OF PROPER HEALTH CARE FACILITIES: The National Sample Survey Office data on health (75th round, 2018), shows that a deep-rooted downturn in the rural economy is making quality health-care unaffordable. People are availing of private hospitals less than they used to, and are moving towards public health systems.

WHAT COULD BE DONE TO COUNTER THESE FAULTS?

IMPROVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM: 

A coordinated incentive structure prompting States to adopt a broadly uniform public school system focusing on equity and quality will yield a knowledge society faster than privatising school education can accomplish.

Most districts now have excellent broadband connectivity. Irrespective of rural or urban setting, the public school system must ensure that every child completes high school education, and is pushed into appropriate skilling, training and vocational education in line with market demand.

Modernise school curricula, systematically invest in teacher training so that they grow in their jobs to assume leadership roles, while moving beyond the tyranny of the syllabus.

Deploy new technology to accelerate the pace of building human capital by putting in place virtual classrooms together with massive open online courses (MOOCS) to help prepare this huge work force for next-generation jobs. Investing in open digital universities would further help yield a higher educated workforce.

IMPROVING HEALTHCARE FACILITIES:  We need to assign 70% of health sector budgets to integrate and strengthen primary and integrated public health-care services and systems up to district hospital levels, include out-patient department and diagnostic services in every health insurance model adopted, and implement in ‘mission mode’ the Report of the High Level Group, 2019, submitted to the XV Finance Commission.

These policies will ensure that DEMOGRAPHY BECOMES BOON FOR INDIA.

SECOND ARTICLE:WHY DALIT’S STILL NEEDS RESERVATION?

WHY THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN?

The Supreme Court has ruled that quotas and reservations for promotions for government jobs are not a fundamental right, setting aside an Uttarakhand High Court order of 2012. The top court has also said that States could not be forced to make such provisions without data showing imbalance in representation of certain communities in public service.

WHY DALITS STILL NEED RESERVATION/ GOVERNMENT PROTECTION?

CONTINUATION OF UNTOUCHABILITY: According to a recent survey by academician Amit Thorat, up to 47% of respondents in the Uttarakhand admitted to practising untouchability. More than half the forward caste people confessed to practising untouchability. Further, nearly 68% Brahmins in rural and 77% Brahmins in urban areas of the State admitted to the practice.

LACK OF WEALTH AND SHARE IN PROPERTY: The SCs suffer from low ownership of capital assets, illiteracy, and lack of access to civil rights. In 2013, of the total wealth in the country, the share of SCs was only 5% in rural areas against their population share of almost 17%. In terms of their share in agricultural land, it was only 5% while in building assets it was 8%. On the other hand, the high castes owned 39% of total natural wealth — 41% land and 39% building assets. In urban areas, SCs own only 4% of total wealth: 6% land and 2.6% of buildings as against 45% of land and 76% of buildings by high caste, much in excess of their population share of about 21%.

UNDER REPRESENTATION IN EDUCATION: In 2015, the enrolment rate in higher education was 20% for SCs compared to 43% for higher castes.

They are over-represented in wage labour, poverty and malnutrition.

WHAT COULD BE DONE TO HELP THEM?

Dalits need to be given adequate land, enterprises, and funds for education as compensation. The rationale behind ensuring compensation is the enrichment of the higher castes at the cost of the impoverishment of Dalits through under-payment of wages to slave labour and denial of rights to land, enterprises, and education.

CONCLUSION

Since the high castes have benefited at the cost of the former untouchables, there is legal and moral justification that they compensate for the losses they have inflicted on the latter for centuries.

SECOND EDITORIAL: ENCOURAGING PRIVATE SECTOR TO INVEST IN R&D

Editorial highlights that Research and Development in India has largely been ignored by the private companies in India in complete contrast to the situation in Western and advanced countries.

Indian R&D remain beholden to the government. Publicly-funded research has always been encouraged to reinvent the wheel and customise technology to Indian realities, whereas private companies and industrial firms have rarely been incentivised to develop their own intellectual property.

Too much of India’s research investment is expended on a small pool of scientists in a limited number of institutions.

HOW MODI GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO ATTRACT PRIVATE SECTORS INVESTMENT IN R&D?

Department of Science and Technology is mooting a fund that will match the private contributions in R&D. A ₹40-crore target is on the anvil and the idea is that the private sector — Indian firms and foreign companies with Indian subsidiaries — would fund scientists in key academic institutions.

Thorugh ‘Startup India’ and ‘Make in India’ government  attempted to have venture capitalists and government departments involved in scientific research, to pool money and invest in technology start-ups.

WHAT MORE COULD BE DONE?

Private research funding is also boosted more by partnerships among companies rather than by centrally-funded research programmes.

Unless there is greater participation and cooperation at smaller levels among companies and government, central schemes may not be fruitful.

OP-ED PAGE 

FIRST ARTICLE: HIDING OF DATA BY GOVERNMENT AND FORCING MNC’S AND SUPER RICH PAY TAXES

Instead of actually addressing the problem of economic slowdown, government seeks to suppress or manipulate official data to somehow provide a more optimistic picture.

We saw this once again recently as the Union Budget was presented, based on numbers for revised estimates for the current year and Budget estimates for the coming year that the Finance Ministry itself knows are unlikely.

The opacity of data also extends to cross-border movement of funds generated through a range of activities, including tax evasion, misappropriation of state assets, laundering of the proceeds of crime, and bribery.

WHY MNC’S SHOULD BE TAXED PROPERLY?

Capital flight out of India by Indian elites and foreigners alike has been undermining our country’s development for decades. An important part of these flows is the result of artificial profit shifting by multinational companies taking advantage of an outdated international tax system.

These multinationals may be making profits in India but can easily declare those profits in a low tax jurisdiction like Hong Kong and justify that transaction as a payment for the use of a patent. According to one estimate, this strategy represented a loss of $27.5 billion in 2014 for the Indian government, up from $142 million in 2000.

The government did create a beneficial ownership register — which would allow the identification of the beneficial owner of an asset regardless of whose name the title of the property is in — but the law is weak, since it exempts a lot of people at the discretion of the authorities. Also, this register is not accessible to the public.

Meanwhile, the government keeps granting tax incentives on a discretionary basis, even though there is little evidence that these incentives attract investment.

Instead, as shown recently in International Monetary Fund research, factors such as quality of infrastructure, a healthy and skilled workforce, market access and political stability matter much more.

The massive reduction in corporate tax rates has thus far not led to any increase in private investment — but it has meant a significant reduction in tax revenues, with devastating consequences. It translates into a lack of resources for education, healthcare, food and nutrition and infrastructure. India is already an outlier among similarly placed developing countries with its low tax-GDP ratio of 18%.

WHAT MORE COULD BE DONE?

Government of India must assume a more vocal role in the international debate about how to make multinationals pay their fair share of taxes. This means continuing to appeal for a United Nations tax body, which is much more legitimate than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the arena where tomorrow’s global tax system is being decided.

CMS- CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY SPECIES OF WILD ANIMALS (aka BONN CONVENTION){Bonn is in Germany}(1983)

NEWS: 

PM mentioned the recently concluded Conference of Parties of the Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in his Mann Ki Baat.

It was a matter of pride that India would chair the COP Convention on migratory birds for the next three years.

ABOUT CMS

conserves terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range

intergovernmental treaty under UNEP

only global convention specializing in conservation of migratory species, habitats, migratory routes

Appendix-I: species threatened with extinction-strict protection

Appendix-II: species that would benefit / need international cooperation

CORONA VIRUS

NEWS: 

The COVID-19 epidemic that has killed over 2,400 people is communist China’s “largest public health emergency” since its founding in 1949, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday.

It is necessary to learn from “obvious shortcomings exposed” during China’s response, Mr. Xi added at an official meeting to coordinate the virus fight — a rare acknowledgment by a Chinese leader.

In comments reported by state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday, Mr. Xi said the epidemic “has the fastest transmission, widest range of infection and has been the most difficult to prevent and control”.

The deadly COVID-19 outbreak could put the recovery of an already fragile global economy at risk, the IMF warned on Sunday, as G20 financial chiefs met here to discuss ways to contain its economic ripple effects.

“The COVID-19 — a global health emergency — has disrupted economic activity in China and could put the recovery at risk,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said.

ABOUT CORONA VIRUS

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Symptoms:

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Transmission:

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  1. the air by coughing and sneezing.
  2. close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  3. touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  4. rarely, fecal contamination

 

NEWS FOR ONE DAY TYPE EXAMS

Q. Name the two countries which have been placed in the Black List of FATF?

IRAN AND NORTH KOREA

Q. Financial Secrecy Index is published by

TAX JUSTICE NETWORK (UK based financial advocacy group)

Q. Name the American ambassador to India

KEN JUSTER

Q. Name the largest Bay in the world

BAY OF BENGAL

Q. Name the India’s Easternmost Tiger Reserve

NAMDAPHA TIGER RESERVE (ARUNACHAL PRADESH)

Q. Pakke Tiger Reserve is located in which state

ARUNANCHAL PRADESH

Q. Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary is located in

KARNATAKA

Q. Nagarahole, Bhadra, Anshi-Dandeli,Bandipur and BRT Tiger Reserves are located in the Indian state of

KARNATAKA

 

 

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