Q.1 The ‘Special Report on the Ocean and
Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ in 2019
was published by:
(a) Intergovernmental panel on Climate
(b) United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
(c) United Nations Environmental
(d) World Meteorological Organization
Q.2 Extinction Rebellion, recently seen in news
(a) An international movement that uses
non-violent civil disobedience in an
attempt to halt mass extinction.
(b) An international movement started with
the cooperation from UNDP to reduce
(c) A global movement to end abuses of
(d) A global movement started by World
Economic Forum for poverty alleviation.
Q.3 Which of the following factors are responsible
for skyrocketing onion prices in India?
1. Traders are illegally hoarding onions and
release the supply when prices increase.
2. Erratic monsoons influence the onion
3. Export of onions lead to decreased
Choose the correct answer using the code
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2, and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
ANSWER: A, A,D
The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) on Friday debarred 99 candidates for life on charges of indulging in malpractice in the Group-IV Services examination conducted on September 1, 2019.
Three persons have been arrested so far in the case.
Crime Branch CID officers, probing the case, said the candidates used evaporating ink to mark the answers to objective type questions.
After the markings vanished a couple of hours later, two officials of the State government, entrusted with transporting the answer scripts to safe custody, inked in the right answers on the answer sheets.
Given two pens
According to officials, a source in the Directorate of Public Instruction campus passed on the details of applicants to the two tahsildars, who then contacted them with offers to help during the exam. After asking them to opt for Rameswaram or Keelakarai as the examination centre, the suspect officials collected ₹10 lakh-₹12 lakh from each of them as “service” charge.
The candidates were then given two pens on the day of the examination — one was a regular pen for writing the registration number and other identification details and the other was filled with evaporating ink to mark the answers.
CRIMINAL CANDIDATES IN ELECTION
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a proposition made by the Election Commission (EC) to ask political parties to not give ticket to those with criminal antecedents.
Appearing before a Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, senior advocate Vikas Singh said 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records.
Verdicts in vain
The Supreme Court’s long string of judgments against criminalisation of politics had hardly scratched the surface of the deep rot.
Justice Nariman, speaking for the Bench, said just a move to steer politics away from the denizens of the criminal world would definitely serve national and public interest.
The top court gave the two senior lawyers a week’s time to come up with their proposal.
Mr. Singh said the Commission had tried several measures to curb criminalisation of politics, but to no avail. Mr. Upadhyay had filed a contempt petition seeking action against the authorities and parties for not complying fully with a September 2018 judgment of a Constitution Bench, which had directed political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases against their candidates.
The judgment had urged Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes.
The ruling by a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra concluded that rapid criminalisation of politics cannot be arrested by merely disqualifying tainted legislators but should begin by “cleansing” the political parties.
NATIONAL VOTERS DAY
Urban areas are likely to receive a renewed focus under the government’s ICDS programme, which provides for anganwadis or day-care centres across the country for delivery of nutrition and pre-school education.
The government’s think tank, the NITI Aayog, has prepared a draft working paper, which once approved would be circulated to different ministries for consultations. These include the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Urban Housing and Affairs and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
According to government data from 2018, of the 14 lakh anganwadis across the country there are only 1.38 lakh anganwadis in urban areas. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) provide for anganwadis or day-care centres which deliver a package of six services including supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition and health education, immunisation, health check-up and referral services to hospitals.
The first-ever pan-India survey on the nutrition status of children, highlighted that malnutrition among children in urban India is characterised by relatively poor levels of breastfeeding as mothers have to travel long distances for work. It also found a higher prevalence of obesity because of relative prosperity and lifestyle patterns, along with iron and Vitamin D deficiency.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
The scheme was launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 by the government of Morarji Desai, and then relaunched by the Tenth Five Year Plan.
Tenth five year plan also linked ICDS to Anganwadi centres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers.
In addition to fighting malnutrition and ill health, the programme is also intended to combat gender inequality by providing girls the same resources as boys.
For nutritional purposes ICDS provides 500 kilocalories (with 12-15 gm grams of protein) every day to every child below 6 years of age.
For adolescent girls it is up to 500 kilo calories with up to 25 grams of protein everyday.
The services of Immunisation, Health Check-up and Referral Services delivered through Public Health Infrastructure under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
SPEEDY DISPOSAL OF CASES
Lower pendency of cases inspires public faith in the judiciary, and the use of technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), in the judicial work can help in speedy justice, but it can never replace human discretion in just decision-making, Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde said on Friday.
Speaking at the 79th foundation day of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, he said that while tax evasion was injustice to fellow Indian citizens, arbitrary or excessive taxation resulted in social injustice by a government.
He said speedy resolution of tax disputes would act as an incentive to taxpayers and free the funds locked in litigation.
LEAD ARTICLE: INDIA US RELATIONS IN TRUMP ERA
WHY IN NEWS?
U.S. President Donald Trump completed three years in office.
Author highlights that if Trump wins the election for second term in November as it now appears, Mr. Trump will have had six overlapping years with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in power by 2024.
Author highlights that Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump are shaking up the bilateral ties between the two countries, and the resultant flux could outlive their tenures. Mr. Trump is scheduled to make this first visit to India next month.
REAWAKENING LEADERS: SIMILARITIES BETWEEN MODI AND TRUMP
Both leaders continuously reiterate that their predecessors were incapable of protecting national interest. Such a premise commits them both to reframe the national interest, and both have articulated it with clarity and force. For instance, Mr. Modi, in Houston in September 2019 and Mr. Trump in Davos this week, went great lengths to lay out figures that presented their respective regimes as the most effective guardians, and ushers of progress, of India and America in history.
Both have a cultural and an economic agenda. Both dispensations believe that “the people” had been given a raw deal by earlier regimes, controlled by the elites and the experts who were in collusion with their global counterparts. They are now leading a national reawakening, and working hard for the hard-working people, they point out.
Both believe that cultural nationalism is a force for the good; and both believe that Islamism is a major challenge to the nation.
Both believe that national borders need to be strengthened by stricter monitoring and setting new bars for entry. “JOBS, JOBS JOBS” as Mr. Trump tweets frequently in all capital letters, has been the loudest promise of both of them.
Both leaders try to renegotiate the contract between the union and the States, and between citizens and the state within their respective countries; they assert the supremacy of the executive over the legislature and the judiciary.
Both have a grim view of critical and independent media.
EFFECT OF NATIONALISTIC POLICIES ON INDIA US RELATIONS
Shared values notwithstanding, national interests as perceived by these leaders have several points of divergence and therein lies in the current tumult in India-U.S. ties
While Mr. Trump does not care about its forward posturing, India also cannot expect any American support in realising its ambitions of reordering the global power structure in its favour.
India’s ties with the U.S. are impacted by America’s ties with India’s adversaries and neighbours, China and Pakistan. Mr. Trump’s bluster against both had lit hope that there would finally be a near-complete alignment between India and the U.S. on strategy.
Far from seeing India as deserving special concessions to counterbalance China as old wisdom demanded, Mr. Trump has bracketed India and China as two countries that have duped his predecessors to gain undue advantage. He has accused both countries, in the same tweet, of raising trade barriers, having weak intellectual property protections, and stealing American jobs.
Trump finds little value in Mr. Modi’s climate policy. And he has followed it up with restrictions on H-1B visa, ending of India’s status under the World Trade Organization’s Generalized System of Preferences and other punitive actions. This has been matched by India’s own protectionist measures, in response to American actions and independent of it.
A robust economy has allowed Mr. Trump the political space to temper his polarising rhetoric while Mr. Modi has had to double down on his, amid a sluggish economy.
Partnership with America is critical to Mr. Modi’s plans for India, but the inverse is not true for Mr. Trump. The U.S. President’s India visit scheduled for next month will be part of an ongoing exploration of a new equilibrium in ties.
SECOND ARTICLE: WHY UP SHOULD BE DIVIDED IN FOUR STATES?
Author highlights that India’s greatest political problem is not Kashmir, not the Maoists of central India, not the “insurgents” of the North-east, not Pakistan, not China, but the existence of the everyday humanitarian disaster called Uttar Pradesh.
Yogi Adityanath’s term mirrors the political DNA of U.P. — a State that forces its governments to institutionalise communalism, casteism, injustice and maladministration.
WHY IT IS BEING SAID?
In the UN Human Development Index Report for 2017 (published in 2018), U.P. and Bihar scored the worst among all the States of India.
A State Bank of India Research report of March 2019 showed that U.P. had not bettered its human development index over the last 27 years.
Two surveys — one by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation called “Household Social Consumption” in its chapter on “Education” released in December 2019 and the other by NITI Aayog called “School Education Quality Index” that came out in October 2019 — measured the best performing States regarding participation of girl children. Kerala topped while U.P. came last in both. In both the reports, Uttarakhand, once a part of U.P., ranked high.
The clichés about U.P. are true: Lawlessness, dacoity, communalism, caste killings, gender-based brutality, feudal-agrarian exploitation, unemployment and underemployment. A good part of its poor leads a sub-human life as migrant labour in urban India and outside.
Crime in India Report” for the year 2017 was released by the National Crime Records Bureau last year. U.P. topped the list with 10% of India’s total crime and three lakh registered First Information Reports (FIRs).
It outdid every State on crimes against women, with 56,011 out of 3,59,849 cases all over India. U.P. leads in arms possession and gun licences.
Home Ministry data released in 2016 showed the State authorised gun licences for 12.77 lakh people, followed by Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) where 3.69 lakh people possessed arms licences. And we are only speaking of legally owned arms.
One study published in 2015, said that of nearly three lakh cases registered in the country for illegal possession of arms, U.P. accounted for 1.5 lakh.
SOLUTION: DIVISION OF UP IN FOUR PARTS
Over the last 30 years or more, Purvanchal (east U.P.), Bundelkhand, Awadh (central U.P.) and Paschim Pradesh (west U.P.), have been fighting for resources and separation from U.P.’s power centres.
In the 2020s, for the sake of U.P.’s citizens and Indian democracy, it is imperative to begin democratically discussing the division of U.P. Its long-damaged psyche yearns to be healed.
SECOND EDITORIAL: ICJ RULING ON ROHINGYA
WHAT HAD ICJ RULED?
The unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), on Thursday, on the prevention of alleged acts of genocide against Rohingya Muslims has finally pinned legal responsibility on Myanmar’s government for the military’s large-scale excesses of 2017.
ICJ stipulated that the civilian government of Ms. Suu Kyi submit an update, within four months, of the steps it has taken to preserve evidence of the systemic brutalities.
Yangon has also been asked to furnish six-monthly reports thereafter, until the conclusion of the case, which relates to genocide accusations.
The court has further emphasised that an estimated 600,000 Rohingya resident in Myanmar still remained highly vulnerable to attacks from the security forces.
WHAT HAS BEEN MYANMAR’S RESPONSE?
Rejecting the ICJ’s ruling, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry has accused rights groups of presenting the Court with a distorted picture of the prevailing situation.
In a statement, it defended the army’s action as a legitimate response to violations of the law by the insurgent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
Although it could take years before the court pronounces the final verdict in the genocide case, Thursday’s injunction is an important victory for the refugees languishing in Bangladeshi camps.
It empowers the UN Security Council to prevail upon Myanmar to take appropriate measures for the rehabilitation and repatriation of displaced communities.
As the biggest regional player, China could play a constructive role to ensure a speedy return to normalcy in its neighbourhood. India has its own interests in an amicable resolution of Myanmar’s internal dispute. Above all, finding closure to the current dispute would mark the completion of Myanmar’s return to civilian rule.
SATURDAY STORY: NEW FEAR OF REPATRIATED TAMILS IN TAMIL NADU
HISTORY OF REPATRIATION BETWEEN INDIA AND SRI LANKA
Six lakh Tamils of Indian origin were repatriated to India as part of the Sirimavo-Shastri pact, signed in 1964 between Prime Ministers Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Also known as the Agreement on Persons of Indian Origin in Ceylon, this pact allowed for the repatriation of nearly 5.25 lakh persons of Indian origin who were taken to Sri Lanka over a century ago by the British to work in the tea, coffee and coconut plantations there. In turn, Sri Lanka agreed to grant citizenship to a section of Indians who had gone to Sri Lanka to work in its tea plantations.
Later, a follow-up agreement called the Sirimavo-Gandhi Pact was signed between Prime Ministers Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi for the repatriation of 75,000 more persons of Indian origin. Following this, Sri Lanka again agreed to grant citizenship to another 75,000 persons of Indian origin. This meant that for every four people of Indian origin being granted citizenship, seven were to be repatriated to India.
When invitations for applications for Sri Lankan and Indian citizenship were thrown open, the overwhelming majority applied for Sri Lankan citizenship. Though Sri Lanka had earmarked only 4 lakh for Sri Lankan citizenship, the number of applicants was as high as 6.25 lakh. There was a shortfall in applications for Indian citizenship: only 4 lakh people applied in the prescribed period, though 6 lakh people were to be given Indian citizenship. Subsequently, another 87,000 people whose applications for Sri Lankan citizenship were rejected also applied for Indian citizenship, pulling up the total number of people who applied for Indian citizenship to 4.87 lakh.
The repatriate communities have also faced challenges in integrating with the local communities. As a majority of the repatriates who were first sent to Sri Lanka were Dalits from some of the most impoverished regions of Tamil Nadu, their return to India and rehabilitation in the Nilgiris was met with stern disapproval from the local communities.
The repatriates today have new worries. While they face an uncertain future due to the fall in tea prices, a bigger concern is the government’s proposal to rollout the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens, which may require them to furnish documents to prove their citizenship. Many repatriates misplaced or lost their documents in transit several decades ago. Some others recently lost their documents in the rains that triggered landslips and floods in the hills.
Decades ago, the majority of Tamils applied for Sri Lankan citizenship after the two agreements were signed. Many were repatriated to India. But today, more than 50 years later, their old anxieties have been rekindled.
BRAZIL’S CASE AGAINST INDIA IN WTO
Several farmers groups have demanded that the government push Brazil to withdraw its complaint against India’s sugar pricing policies at the World Trade Organisation.
Brazil has said it is open to finding a “non-litigious solution” to the dispute, adding that the issue would not affect bilateral collaborations on biofuels derived from sugarcane.
Challenge to price
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM) noted that “the Brazilian government, under the leadership of Mr. Bolsonaro, is directly threatening the livelihoods of five crore Indian sugarcane farmers” by challenging the minimum price for sugarcane set by the Indian government.
The letter noted that unlike Brazil, India’s sugar sector is not geared towards global trade. In 2018-19, India overtook Brazil to become the world’s largest sugar producer.
However, Brazil holds a 35% share of the global exports market, in comparison with a mere 5% share for India, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation data. Most Indian sugar is consumed domestically.
ABOUT WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION:
WTO is an intergovernmental organization that regulates the international trade. It provides RULE BASED, TRANSPARENT AND PREDICTABLE MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM.
WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 after Uruguay Round of Negotitations held between 1986-1994.
AGREEMENT signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT) which commenced in 1948.
WTO has 164 members. The latest member to join was Afghanistan.
Important agreements of WTO are
- Agreement on agriculture
- General Agreement on Trade in Services
- Trade Related Intellectual Propoerty Rights
- Dispute Settlement Mechanism
- Trade Policy Review Mechanism
Functions of WTO includes
Administering WTO trade agreements
Forum for trade negotiations
Handling trade disputes
Monitoring national trade policies
WTO is trying to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round which was launched in 2001 with an explicit focus on developing countries.
HQ of WTO is in Geneva and Director General is Robert Azvedo.
The highest decision making body of WTO is Ministerial Conference.
The Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) is set to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 2020. The decision was taken by consensus at the General Council meeting on 26 July 2018 and marks the first time a Ministerial Conference is to be organized in Central Asia.
In December 2013, the biggest agreement within the WTO was signed and known as the Bali Package(9th Ministerial Package).
The 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 11 to 13 December 2017.
WTO rules envisage non discrimination in the form of NATIONAL TREATMENT and MOST FAVOURED NATION treatment to India’s exports in the markets of other WTO members.
National Treatment ensures that India’s products once imported into the territory of other WTO members would not be discriminated vis a vis the domestic products in those countries.
MFN treatment principle ensures that members do not discriminate among various WTO members.
There are contingency provisions built in WTO rules, enabling member countries to take care of exigencies like Balance of Payment problems and surge in imports like situations.
Anti Dumping or Countervailing duties could be imposed.
Developing country status is WTO allows governments longer time for implementing free trade commitments as well as ability to protect some domestic industry and maintain subsidies.
DROP IN DIRECT TAX COLLECTION
India’s corporate and income tax collection for the current year is likely to fall for the first time in at least two decades, over half a dozen senior tax officials told Reuters, amid a sharp fall in economic growth and cut in corporate tax rates.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was targetting direct tax collection of ₹13.5 lakh crore ($189 billion) for the year ending March 31, a 17% increase over the prior fiscal year.
However, a sharp decline in demand has stung businesses, forcing companies to cut investment and jobs, denting tax collections and prompting the government to forecast a 5% growth for this fiscal year — the slowest in 11 years.
The tax department had managed to collect only ₹7.3 lakh crore as of January 23, more than 5.5% below the amount collected by the same point last year, a senior tax official said.
Direct taxes typically account for about 80% of the government’s projections for annual revenue, and the shortfall may leave the government needing to boost borrowing to meet expenditure commitments.
The tax officials also say that a surprise cut in headline corporate tax rate last year aimed at wooing manufacturers and boosting investment in Asia’s third-biggest economy is another key reason behind the sluggish tax collections.
After collecting taxes from companies in advance for the first three quarters, officials typically garner about 30-35% of annual direct taxes in the final three months, data from the past three years shows.
Though recognising the signs of an economic slowdown and acting early helped the central bank to reduce interest rate as falling inflation provided space, monetary policy has its own limits, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Friday.
Speaking at the St. Stephen’s College, his alma mater, on ‘Seven Ages of India’s Monetary Policy’, Mr. Das said structural reforms and fiscal measures may have to be continued and further activated to provide a durable push to demand and boost growth.
He said inflation had fallen successively and averaged below 4% since 2017-18, though there was a recent up-tick driven by food prices, especially the sharp increase in vegetable prices, reflecting the adverse impact of unseasonal rains and cyclone.
Since 2016, the RBI follows a flexible inflation targeting framework defined by a target of 4% for consumer price headline inflation, with a tolerance band of +/- 2% around it.
The central bank’s primary objective is price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth, as defined by the RBI Act.
ABOUT MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE
- Decisions regarding Monetary Policy are taken by Monetary Policy Committee.
- RBI Act has been amended by Finance Act 2016 to provide for STATUTORY and institutionalized framework for a MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE for maintaining price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
- MPC is entrusted with the task of setting benchmark policy rate (repo rate) required to contain inflation within the specified target level.
- Meeting of MPC shall be held at least four times a year.
- MPC has six members: three from the RBI (Governor of RBI as Chairperson, Deputy Governor of RBI in charge of Monetary Policy, One Officer of the RBI to be nominated by the Central Board) and three members appointed by Central Government.
- Three members appointed by the Central Government holds office for period of four years.
- Government of India in consultation with RBI has published inflation target at 4(+-2)%.
The Supreme Court stayed an order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) rejecting a plea by the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Mumbai, to delete some adverse comments made against it for “converting” Tata Sons Private Limited (TSPL) into a ‘private company.’
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde stayed the January 6 order of the NCLAT and issued a formal notice. The court had recently stayed a December 18, 2019 judgment of the NCLAT reinstating Cyrus Mistry as Tata Sons’ chairman.
The current petition concerning the RoC also emanates from the same December 18 verdict. The NCLAT had made scathing comments in the judgment about the RoC for altering the certificate of incorporation to facilitate the “purported conversion” of Tata Sons from a public entity to a private company on August 6, 2018.
- 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).