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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 24TH JANUARY 2020

Q.1 Section 11 of the Representation of the People
Act, 1951 that was in news recently deals
with:
(a) It empowers Election Commission to
remove any disqualification prescribed by
statuary rule for reasons to be recorded.
(b) Electoral rolls to be issued to political
parties.
(c) Code of conduct.
(d) Funding to contestants.

Q.2 Consider the following statements about
World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF):
1. It is as an independent international
organization committed to make Hindu
society prosperous through creation and
sharing of surplus wealth.
2. It is a non-profit organization of Hindus
in Ottawa, Canada.
3. 2019 World Hindu Economic Forum was
held in Mumbai.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1, 2 and 3
(b) 1 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1 and 2 only

Q.3 The ‘Special Report on the Ocean and
Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ in 2019
was published by:
(a) Intergovernmental panel on Climate
Change (IPCC).
(b) United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
(c) United Nations Environmental
Programme (UNEP).
(d) World Meteorological Organization
(WMO).

ANSWERS: A,C,A

LOCK DOWN IN WUHAN

NEWS:

China on Thursday locked down some 20 million people at the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak, banning planes and trains from leaving in an unprecedented move aimed at containing the disease, which has spread to other countries.

The respiratory virus, 2019-nCoV, has claimed 17 lives since emerging from a seafood and animal market in the central city of Wuhan, infected hundreds of other people and been detected as far away as the U.S.

Streets and shopping centres in Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, were eerily quiet after authorities told residents not to leave the city, where most of the cases have been identified.

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

CORRUPTION INDEX

NEWS:

India’s ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI-2019) has slipped from 78 to 80 compared to the previous year, Transparency International said on Thursday, questioning the “unfair and opaque political financing” in the country. Its score of 41 out of 100 remains the same.

In democracies such as India and Australia, unfair and opaque political financing, undue influence in decision-making and lobbying by powerful corporate interest groups have resulted in stagnation or a decline in the control of corruption.

ABOUT TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL

Transparency International e.V. (TI) is an international non-governmental organization which is based in Berlin, Germany, and was founded in 1993.

Its nonprofit purpose is to take action to combat global corruption with civil societal anti-corruption measures and to prevent criminal activities arising from corruption.

It publishes for example the Global Corruption Barometer and the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Headquarters; Berlin, Germany

 

LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

NEWS:

The Andhra Pradesh government seems to be contemplating abolishing the Legislative Council going by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s assertion that the “Upper House” did not deserve to exist if it rejects important Bills by violating rules.

In fact, Mr. Reddy urged Assembly Speaker Thammineni Seetharam to facilitate a discussion on the subject on January 27 so that the members could take a collective view on the alleged flouting of norms by Council Chairman Shariff Mohammed Ahmed in referring the A.P. Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions and CRDA Repeal Bills to a select committee and its repercussions.

Not only YSR Congress MLCs but also those belonging to the Left parties, the BJP, the Congress and independents found fault with the conduct of the Chairman.

If the Chairman was allowed to be swayed by a particular party, the consequences would be terrible in future, he warned, insisting that serious thought needed to be given to the relevance of the Council.

ABOUT LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

The power of abolition and creation of the State legislative council is vested in Parliament of India as per article 169.

But again, to create or to abolish a state legislative council, the state legislative assembly must pass a resolution, which must be supported by majority of the strength of the house and 2/3rd majority of the present and voting (Absolute  + Special Majority). When a legislative council is created or abolished, the Constitution of India is also changed.

How are members of the Council elected?

1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly.

1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state.

1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers.

1/12th by registered graduates.

The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.

Legislative Councils are permanent Houses, and like Rajya Sabha, one-third of their members retire every two years..

Currently, six states have Legislative Councils. Jammu and Kashmir too had one, until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

KARWAR PORT

NEWS:

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday not only directed the State government to stop, until further orders, all construction activities related to the development of the commercial Karwar port at Baithkol village in Uttara Kannada district, but also asked it to restore the beach, which was levelled to reach the proposed area for constructing a breakwater, to its original condition.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar, passed the interim order on a PIL petition by the Baithkol Bandharu Nirashrithara Yantrikrut Dhoni Meenugarara Sahakara Sangha Niyamitha, an association of fishermen.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change in July, 2019, forwarded a plea for withdrawing the environment clearance granted to the project.

REPUBLIC DAY PARADE

In a first, homage will be paid to the fallen soldiers during the Republic Day parade this year at the National War Memorial. The ceremony had so far been conducted at India Gate.

A major attraction at the parade will be the anti-satellite missile tested under Mission Shakti by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Army will showcase the recently inducted 155-mm Dhanush towed howitzer.

The National War Memorial is located at the ‘C’ Hexagon near India Gate. It was built in memory of 22,500 Indian soldiers who had laid down their lives for the country after Independence. A new Amar Jawan Jyoti was also established there.

Since its inauguration in February last year, the National War Memorial has been the venue for the guard of honour at all national events. The Amar Jawan Jyoti will be used for regimental events.

There are 16 marching contingents this year, including six from the Army and 22 tableaux from various States and departments, Maj. Gen. Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area, said.

The Army would be represented by a mounted column of 61 cavalry, eight mechanised columns, six marching contingents and a fly-past by the Rudra and Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters of Army Aviation. The Army’s Signal Corps contingent would be led by Captain Tanya Shergill.

The traditional Christian hymn Abide with me, believed to have been a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, is back on the list of tunes for this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony.

DISASTER MITIGATION AWARD

NEWS:

The Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre in Uttarakhand and former IPS officer K.M. Singh have been selected for the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar for their contribution in the field of disaster management, the Home Ministry announced on Thursday.

While the Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre in Uttarakhand, an organisation working in the field of natural calamity relief, has been selected in the institution category and will be given a certificate and a cash prize of ₹51 lakh, Mr. Singh, who has been working in the same area, has been selected for the individual category and will be given ₹5 lakh along with a certificate.

The award is announced every year on January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. As many as 330 nominations were received this year and the final decision was taken by the Prime Minister.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: CENTRE SEEKING SC GUIDELINES ON EXECUTION

WHY IN NEWS?

The Centre’s application in the Supreme Court for additional guidelines regarding the execution of condemned prisoners.

Editorial highlights that center is showing needless impatience to hang the four convicts facing the gallows for the rape and murder of ‘Nirbhaya’ in 2012.

WHAT MHA IS LOOKING FOR?

The Ministry of Home Affairs essentially seeks the incorporation of measures aimed at reducing the scope for death row convicts to adopt dilatory tactics.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

The 14-day time lag between the closure of the clemency route and their hanging is aimed at preventing secret executions.

It is strange that the government wants the Supreme Court to frame a rule imposing a seven-day limit on the time that convicts have to file a mercy petition after a death warrant is issued. And that courts, governments and prison authorities should all be mandated to issue death warrants within seven days of the rejection of mercy petitions and to carry out the sentence within seven days thereafter. To believe that these are matters that contribute to substantive delay in carrying out death sentences is misconceived.

As the death penalty is limited to the “rarest of rare” cases, nothing is lost if those facing execution are allowed to exhaust all possible remedies.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: WHAT UPCOMING BUDGET SHOULD FOCUS ON?

EMPLOYMENT

The unemployment rate at 6.1% (Financial Year 2017-2018) is the highest in 45 years. The rate for urban youth in the 15-29 years category is alarmingly high at 22.5%. These figures, however, are just one of the many problems, as pointed out by the Periodic Labour Force Survey. The Labour Force Participation Rate has come down to 46.5% for the ‘15 years and above’ age category. It is down to 37.7% for the urban youth. Even among those employed, a large fraction get low wages and are stuck with ‘employment poverty’.

The prolonged, and ongoing, slowdown, is the main reason behind the depressing employment scenario, though several structural factors have also contributed to the situation.

IMPROVING THE RURAL ECONOMY

While the structural factors need addressing, in the interim, the Budget should also focus on reviving demand to promote growth and employment. Schemes like PM-KISAN and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) are good instruments to boost rural demand.

It is really unfortunate that in the current fiscal year, a significant proportion of the budgetary allocation for PM-KISAN will go unutilised.

Further, rural India consumes a wide range of goods and services; so, if allocation and disbursement is raised significantly, most sectors of the economy will benefit. And, the payoff will be immediate.

Rural unemployment can be reduced by raising budgetary allocation for irrigation projects and rural infrastructure like roads, cold storage and logistical chains. These facilities, along with a comprehensive crop insurance scheme, can drastically increase agricultural productivity and farmers’ income. Moreover, by integrating farms with mandis, such investments will reduce wastage of fruits and vegetables, thereby leading to a decrease in the frequency of inflationary shocks and their impact.

REVIVE DEMAND FOR HOUSING

To revive demand for housing, the Budget can raise the limit for availing tax exemption on home loans.

The ₹25,000-crore fund set up by the centre to bailout 1,600 housing projects should be put to use immediately. The funds should be used to salvage all projects that are 80% complete and not under liquidation process under the NCLT.

Several additional measures can also help. For example, there should be a single adjudication authority.

The multiplier effects of spending on infrastructure and housing in terms of higher growth and employment are large and extensive. Therefore, the ₹102-lakh-crore National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) programme is a welcome step. If implemented successfully, it will boost the infrastructure investment over the next five years by 2%-2.5% of the GDP annually.

FOCUS ON SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES

The distress among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is another area of concern. For many products produced by these enterprises, the GST rates are higher for inputs than the final goods. Due to this anomaly, around ₹20,000 crore gets stuck with the government annually in the form of input tax credits. This has increased cost of doing business for SMEs, which employ over 11 crore people.

FILL THE GOVERNMENT VACANCIES

Next, according to some estimates, there are more than 22 lakh vacancies in various government departments. Such dereliction is baffling when the unemployment among youth is very high.

To stop the demographic dividend from becoming a national burden, there is a need to invest heavily in skilling of the youth.

Besides, the Budget should give tax incentives to companies and industrial units to encourage them to provide internships and on-site vocational training opportunities.

 

SECOND ARTICLE:  BOLSANARO AND BRICS

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be guest of honour for Republic Day 2020.

ABOUT JAIR BOLSANARO

Mr. Bolsonaro, a pro-gun lobby, homophobic, far-right religious former Army Captain, came to power in 2018.

The defining aspects of his administration have been a strong inclination towards the U.S. and damaging policies affecting the Amazon rainforest.

In foreign policy, his affiliation with the U.S. is driven by admiration for President Donald Trump.

Mr. Bolsonaro has also followed Washington by relocating its Israel Embassy in Jerusalem, a city contested by Palestinians.

On the Amazon delta, his policy has been to withdraw regulation and enforcement, facilitating the utilisation of the indigenous people’s land for the purposes of agri-business, mining and cattle-ranching.

He has belittled climate activists like Leonardo DiCaprio and Greta Thunberg and compared indigenous communities living in previously protected areas to animals in zoos.

Under his presidency, the number of black and indigenous people murdered has increased. His domestic approval rating stands at only 30%.

ABOUT BRICS

BRICS, is the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This was set up as a move towards greater multi-polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.

The BRICS combination accounts for about one-third of global output.

But a glance at the GDP table and growth rates will show the infirmities of the group: in terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th. In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%. Both politically and economically, Brazil and South Africa have been the laggards in recent years.

The main achievement of BRICS is the New Development Bank, with each country contributing equally to its equity. The bank has so far financed over 40 projects at a cost of $12 billion. The BRICS countries are also developing a joint payments mechanism to reduce foreign trade settlements in U.S. dollars. An offshoot of the group, dealing with climate change, is BASIC (BRICS without Russia), which met at the Spain conference last month and reiterated its support to the Paris Agreement.

HOW BRICS CAN SURVIVE?

The BRICS group can survive only if its members maximise their congruences to the extent possible, despite the growing intensity of Sino-Russian ties; the pro-American leanings in Brazil; the socio-economic difficulties of South Africa after nine years under the controversial Jacob Zuma; and India’s many difficulties with China, including its abstention from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

SECOND EDITORIAL: SHUTDOWN OF WUHAN DUE TO CORONA VIRUS

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in early December last year, China took a drastic and unprecedented step this week to shut down the city, thus preventing its 11 million inhabitants from leaving.

All modes of transport have been suspended to prevent residents from exiting the city.

Authorities also planned to suspend public transport services in Huanggang, a city of seven million; shut rail stations in Ezhou; and impose travel restrictions in Chibi.

As on January 23, the number of infected people in China stood at 571 and deaths at 17. Wuhan, the hotspot of the disease outbreak, has reported nearly 80% of all cases and all the 17 deaths.

Further, the virus has spread to 24 provinces within the country and outside as well — cases have been reported in Thailand and Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, U.S., Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, and Singapore.

That the virus has already acquired the ability to spread from one person to another has been confirmed by the World Health Organization.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

Even if shutdowns limits the spread outside these cities, shutdowns cannot prevent human-to-human transmission within the cities. Shutting down entire cities go beyond the normal practice of quarantining infected people and might backfire.

OP-ED 

FRIDAY DISCUSSION: WILL THE BUDGET SUSPEND FRBM FISCAL DEFICIT GOALS?

WHY SUCH A NEED?

With revenue receipts lagging behind budget estimates and economic growth slowing sharply, there is a real risk of the Centre missing its fiscal deficit target this year.

WHAT WAS THE TARGET UNDER FRBM?

Under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM) goal was to reduce the fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP by March 2021.

Article highlights that FRBM amendments that were part of the Finance Bill 2018 are very different from the original FRBM Act of 2003. The original FRBM Act had said that you have to bring down the fiscal deficit to 3% and the revenue deficit to 0%. The 2018 Finance Bill actually did away with the revenue deficit target.

This is a very flawed kind of FRBM roadmap that the Central government has adopted.

In the last two years, the fiscal deficit has been brought down to 3.3% and the revenue deficit is actually increasing; that itself violates the original FRBM Act.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

Revisit the FRBM Act, revert to the original FRBM, try to focus more on the revenue deficit and at the same time try to increase capital expenditure. That alone will bring you more growth and fiscal discipline.

The government has to acknowledge that this is a year when aggregate demand has really fallen and while we wait for consumption, investment spending from the private sector to come up, to revive, it falls on the government to stimulate.

NATIONAL REGISTER OF UNEMPLOYED

NEWS: 

The youth wing of the Congress on Thursday launched a nationwide campaign to prepare a National Register of Unemployed (NRU) to highlight rising unemployment and demand answers from the government about the steps it was taking to address the issue.

The campaign was launched at the Congress headquarters in the national capital by Youth Congress president Srinivas B.V. and the party in-charge for the youth wing, Krishna Allavaru.

With a slogan that said ‘45 saalon main pehli baar, desh main sabse zyada berozgaar’ (A first in past 45 years, the largest number unemployed youth), the YC also prepared short video clips that would be launched on various social media platforms.

Congress leaders said the NRU was also an attempt to keep the focus on “real issues” and not allow the BJP to change the narrative into a polarising one.

SAGARMATHA DIALOGUE

Nepal has invited the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, along with several other heads of governments and states, for the Sagarmatha Dialogue, officials said here on Thursday.

The three-day event from April 2 will be the biggest diplomatic dialogue in Nepal’s recent history that will be attended by many global figures apart from the leaders of the SAARC countries.

India and Pakistan have been caught up in a cycle of hostility which has prevented Islamabad from hosting the SAARC summit since 2016.

The Kathmandu dialogue aims at drawing all the SAARC leaders and providing an opportunity to break the ice.

Earlier last week, the External Affairs Ministry announced that India had invited all heads of governments of SCO member countries for the heads of government council later this year.

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

NEWS: 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect its Rohingya population from genocide, a ruling cheered by refugees as their first major legal victory since being forced from their homes.

A lawsuit launched by Gambia in November at the United Nations’ highest body for disputes between states accuses Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya in violation of a 1948 convention.

The court’s final decision could take years, and Thursday’s ruling dealt only with Gambia’s request for preliminary measures. But in a unanimous ruling by the 17 judge panel, the court said the Rohingya face an ongoing threat and Myanmar must act to protect them.

Military crackdown

More than 7,30,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after a military-led crackdown in 2017, and were forced into squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh. UN investigators concluded that the military campaign had been executed with “genocidal intent”.

In camps in Bangladesh where they have fled, Rohingya refugees hovered over mobile phones to watch the judgment. For the first time, we have got some justice,” said Mohammed Nur, 34.

Moments before the court began reading its ruling, the Financial Times published an article by Suu Kyi, in which she said war crimes may have been committed against Rohingya Muslims but refugees had exaggerated abuses.

ICJ rulings are final and binding, but countries have occasionally flouted them, and the court has no formal mechanism to enforce them.

ABOUT ICJ

ICJ was established in 1945 by the United Nations charter and started working in April 1946.

It is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, situated at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).

Unlike the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (USA).

It settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions in accordance with international law, on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

It has 193 state parties and current President is Ronny Abraham.

The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. These organs vote simultaneously but separately.

ICJ is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.

The judgment is final, binding on the parties to a case and without appeal (at the most it may be subject to interpretation or, upon the discovery of a new fact, revision).

 

 

 

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