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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 26TH DECEMBER 2019

Q.1 Which of the following issues have been dealt in Representation of People Act 1951

  1. Qualification and Disqualification of Member of Parliament and State Legislatures
  2. Notification of General Election
  3. Qualification of Voter
  4. Conduct of Elections

Select the correct options given below

A. 1 only

B. 2 and 3 only

C. 1,2 and 3

D. 1,2 and 4

Answer: D

Q.2 Consider the following statements about Bahamani rulers

  1. Bahamani kingdom was founded by Alauddin Hassan.
  2. Firuz Shah Bahamani was known as the walis or saint among the Bahmani rulers

Select the correct option given below

A. 1 only

B. 2 only

C. Both 1 and 2

D. None of the above

Answer: A

Q.3 Which city is known as the Manchester of India

A. Ahmedabad

B. Bombay

C. Kolkatta

D. Kanpur

Answer: A

NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER 

NEWS:

Confusion prevailed after images of forms of ‘National Population Register (NPR) 2020’ seeking details on “place of birth of father and mother” started doing the rounds on social media, even though Home Minister Amit Shah clarified a day ago that there was “no link between NPR and NRC.”

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted an image of ‘NPR-2020’, saying that “NPR will be raw Data of NRC.”

The Citizenship Rules,2003, however, state clearlythat the Centre, by issuing anorder, can decide a date toprepare the NPR. They also provide for thecreation of a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC),or the National Register ofCitizens (NRC).

What is NPR?
The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of usual residents of the country being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR. Under the NPR, a usual resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
Data for NPR was collected in 2010 during collection of data for Census of India 2011. It was updated in 2015 through a door to door survey.

AIR QUALITY INDEX:

NEWS:

The air quality of the city continued to be in the ‘very poor’ category on Wednesday and is expected to deteriorate to ‘severe’ category on Saturday, SAFAR, a government-run monitoring agency, said.

The city’s overall air quality index (AQI) on Wednesday was 350 (very poor), down from Tuesday’s 383, said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

 ABOUT AIR QUALITY INDEX:

Air Quality Index is a number used by the government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted air currently is and how polluted it is expected to become.

There are six AQI categories, namely Good (0-50), Satisfactory (51-100), Moderately polluted (101-200), Poor (201-300), Very Poor (301-400), and Severe (401-500).

AQI considers eight pollutants

  1. PM10,
  2. PM2.5,
  3. NO2,
  4. SO2,
  5. CO,
  6. O3,
  7. NH3, and
  8. Pb)

Air Quality Index was launched  in 2014 by Central Pollution Control Board under Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

MONITORING OF NOISE LEVELS

NEWS:

Twenty six ambient Noise Monitoring Stations (NMS) are expected to come up across the city by March. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has floated a tender for setting up the stations, which will provide real-time data on noise levels.

The move comes after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the DPCC in November and asked them to set up the stations by January 31, 2020.

ABOUT NGT:

National Green Tribunal was formed under the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010. Act was enacted under the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21 which assures the citizens of India the right to healthy environment.

Tribunal has been created for effective and expeditious disposal of the cases relating to environmental protection and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

Tribunal is mandated to make endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals filing within 6 months of the filing of the same.

Chairman of the tribunal must be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or judge of the Supreme Court of India. 

The tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. 

New Delhi is the principle place of sitting of the tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkatta and Chennai are other four places of sitting of the tribunal.

Present NGT Chairperson is Justice (Retired) Adarsh Kumar Goel.

DAL LAKE

About Dal:

Also known as the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, dal lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir” or “Srinagar’s Jewel”. The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting.

The lake is located in the Zabarwan mountain valley, in the foothills of the Shankracharya hills, which surrounds it on three sides.

The lake has four main interconnected basins namely, Hazratbal, Bod dal, Gagribal and Nagin.

EARLIEST SANSKRIT INSCRIPTION IN SOUTH INDIA

NEWS:

In a significant find, the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India has discovered the earliest epigraphic evidence so far for the Saptamatrika cult. It is also the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India as on date.

Saptamatrikas are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts. The inscription is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.

The inscription was first copied and studied and it transpired that it records the construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa and consecration of images on the southern side of the temple by a person named Kartika for the merit of the king at the temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape; Tambrape being the ancient name of Chebrolou

So far the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year corresponding to the 4th century A.D. was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India, he added.

ABOUT ASI

The ASI is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the country.

The prime objection of ASI is to maintain the archaeological sites, ancient monuments and remains of national importance.

Headquarters: New Delhi.

Established: 1861 by Alexander Cunningham.

It regulates all archaeological activities as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

It functions under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Culture.

It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

FIRST EDITORIAL: DANGEROUS DOUBLESPEAK

ISSUE: GOVERNMENT’S POSITION ON NRC

The Centre appears to have marginally mellowed its position on rolling out a National Register of Citizens (NRC), going by the statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah this week.

But the Prime Minister’s contention that the widespread concerns about the NRC are merely fear-mongering by his political opponents is disingenuous and lame.

The plans for a countrywide NRC were announced repeatedly by senior functionaries of the government including Mr. Shah, even in Parliament.

The concern that such an exercise, in combination with the recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, could lead to disenfranchisement and harassment of the poor and undocumented segments of the population was not born out of anyone’s imagination.

If the government has a rethink on its strident position on the NRC, it must say so upfront, and at any rate desist from denigrating critics. So far, what has come as clarification has only added to the confusion.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

India has a host of serious national challenges to tackle, the economy being the most critical. In his first Independence Day speech as Prime Minister, Mr. Modi had in 2014 called for a 10-year moratorium on communal and caste conflicts. He also promised to run the country on the basis of consensus and not of legislative majority. It is time he redeemed that pledge, and worked to heal the deep wounds inflicted by his misguided policy priorities.

The Prime Minister must demonstrate he is a man of his word, and that his writ runs in the party and the government.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: MIND THE GAP

ISSUE: WOMEN’S ACCESS TO REOSURCES

WHY IN NEWS?

Due to release of World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020.

India has dropped four points from 2018, to take the 112th rank on the Index.

Key parameters of Global Gender Gap Index—

  • economic participation and opportunity,
  • educational attainment,
  • health and survival, and
  • political empowerment.

Despite a small score improvement, India has lost four positions as some countries ranked lower than India have shown better improvement.

Report notes with concern that the condition of women in large fringes of Indian society is ‘precarious’.

Of significant concern is the economic gender gap, with a score of 35.4%, at the 149th place, among 153 countries, and down seven places since the previous edition, indicating only a third of the gap has been bridged.

The participation of women in the labour force is also among the lowest in the world, and the female estimated earned income is only one-fifth of male income.

An alarming statistic is India’s position (150th rank) on the very bottom of the Health and Survival subindex, determined largely by the skewed sex ratio at birth, violence, forced marriage and discrimination in access to health.

It is on the educational attainment (112th rank) and political empowerment (18th rank) fronts that the relative good news is buried.

EDITORIAL’S SUGGESTION

Doing what the government is currently doing is clearly not going to be sufficient; it needs to engage intimately with all aspects indicated by the Index to improve the score, and set targets to reduce the gender gap in the foreseeable future.

Government will have to drastically scale up efforts it has introduced to encourage women’s participation, and increase opportunities for them.

SECOND ARTICLE: AN ACT THAT FAILS THE CONSTITUTIONAL TEST

ISSUE: CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

ARGUMENTS GIVEN BY P. VIJAYAN (KERALA CM) AGAINST THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

Violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and impinges on the very ideals of our freedom struggle.

CAA, being divisive and discriminatory, manifestly violates human rights, and is an attempt to impose the politics and philosophy of Hindutva, to accomplish its vision of a “Hindu nation”.

ARGUMENTS GIVEN BY SWAMY (BJP MP) IN FAVOR OF CAA 2019

Aims and objects of this piece of legislation passed by both Houses of Parliament with a large majority;

The historic context for the legislation; and

The equation of “Hindutva” with ‘secularism’.

Dr. Swamy argues that the need for this Bill arose partly because the Islamic theocratic nations, of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, have brutally persecuted non-Muslim minorities since 1947.

No Muslims or Jews came to India over the last 70 years on grounds of religious persecution

ARGUMENTS GIVEN BY THE AUTHOR

The Supreme Court of India has held that “Article 14 was founded on a sound public policy recognised and valued all over the civilised world, its language was the language of command and it imposed an obligation on the State of which no person could, by his act or conduct, relieve it.”

It signifies that even if a Muslim or a Jew might not have approached for last 70 years, it cannot be considered as a ground for waiver of right to equality enshrined in Article 14

Dr. Swamy appears to have misquoted the Congress Party Working Committee’s resolution of 1947 and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement of 2003 in terms of intent. It is worth noting that their premise for a lenient and humane approach was not based on the specific ground of religion, but persecution.

In the context of persecution, religion has to be understood not from the believer’s point of view; rather it is about what it means to its adversaries. For instance, the treatment meted towards an atheist or agnostic gets completely ignored under the parochial understanding of the CAA.

Even the agents of persecution can be of various types, including state agencies persecuting one or more religious communities, religious organisations persecuting other religious communities or, individual puritans enforcing conformity on their own people.

Drawing parallels between Hindutva and secularism appears to be a complete misadventure as minor incidental overlappings may exist between two diametrically opposite philosophies. Contrary to many misinformed, aggressive and irresponsible statements made by some parliamentarians on the issue of Partition and a Hindu Rashtra, let us remind ourselves that the Partition of 1947 did not take place on religious lines. Rather, it was based on a philosophical understanding of the nature of society citizens and leaders wanted. Pakistan opted for a theocratic nature of governance, but our founding fathers coveted a plural, inclusive and modern society based on democratic and secular credentials.

OP-ED PAGE

LEAD ARTICLE: THE RETURN OF THE SECULAR

VARIOUS STRANDS OF SECULARISM

First, the political secularism of Western Europe and North America in which some form of separation between church and state is required to defend equality and individual liberty but has no room for the idea of fraternity or community, crucial in deeply diverse societies.

Second, the more legal and philosophical, constitutional secularism of India, one that is immensely complex, nuanced and comprehensive, cognisant of deep diversity as well as oppression within communities. Here, the state is required to maintain a principled distance from all religious communities. This is concerned with preventing inter-religious domination as much as fighting religiously grounded hierarchies and fanaticism within religions.

Finally, the secularism practised in recent times by most political parties in India, what I have called ‘party-political secularism’. This secularism does not really deserve to be called so because it is unprincipled and opportunistic, plays footsie with the most orthodox, bigoted and regressive elements of all religions, is concerned solely with seeking and maintaining power, and is willing to engineer riots or capitalise on inter-communal estrangement.

GANDHIAN SECULARISM

In contrast, Gandhi made secularism simple. All religious communities inhabiting a particular territory must live with continuing ease and comfort with one another. This is a people-dependent notion, one that Gandhi believed was already part of popular Indian consciousness but jeopardised in modern times by communal politics.

Moreover, whenever any estrangement or hostility ensued, then the state must help restore communal harmony. To perform its primary duty of maintaining fraternity, to prevent political alienation, the state must distance itself equally from all religions.

CONCLUSION

The reappearance of secularism in Indian public discourse, initiated by young Indian students, is surely a matter of relief and joy to those who aspire to protect India’s diverse cultural heritage, defend India’s Constitution and wish every Indian to have a better standard of living.

ATAL BHUJAL YOJANA

NEWS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched the Atal Bhujal scheme to strengthen the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management in seven States.

ABOUT ATAL BHUJAL YOJANA

Atal Bhujal scheme to strengthen the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioural changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management in seven States.

The scheme will be implemented in about 8,350 gram panchayats in 78 districts of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Of the total outlay of ₹6,000 crore to be provided from 2020-21 to 2024-25,50% will be in the form of World Bank loan to be repaid by the Central government. The remaining part will be made available via Central assistance from regular budgetary support.

The entire World Bank’s loan component and the Central assistance will be passed on to the States as grants.

TYPHOON PHANFONE

NEWS: Typhoon Phanfone pummelled the central Philippines on Christmas Day, bringing a wet, miserable and terrifying holiday to millions in the mainly Catholic nation.

Though weaker, Phanfone was tracking a similar path to Super Typhoon Haiyan, the country’s deadliest cyclone on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

ABOUT CYCLONES/TYPHHONS

Conditions Favorable for Tropical Cyclone Formation

Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C,

Presence of the Coriolis force enough to create a cyclonic vortex,

Small variations in the vertical wind speed,

A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation,

Upper divergence above the sea level system,

Questions:-
Why tropical cyclones form mostly on the western margins of the oceans? OR

Why tropical cyclones don’t form in the eastern tropical oceans?

The “eye” is a roughly circular area of comparatively light winds and fair weather found at the center of a severe tropical cyclone.

There is little or no precipitation and sometimes blue sky or stars can be seen.

The eye is the region of lowest surface pressure

The eye is surrounded by the “eye wall. Eye Wall region also sees the maximum sustained winds i.e. fastest winds in a cyclone occur along the eye wall region.

Regions              What they are called

Indian Ocean.     Cyclones
Atlantic.              Hurricanes
Western Pacific and South China Sea.      Typhoons

Western Australia. Willy-willies

NITI AAYOG

NEWS:

Government think-tank NITI Aayog Member Ramesh Chand on Wednesday made a case for only two slabs under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime as against the current multiple slabs, and said rates should be revised annually, if required.

The GST, which replaced almost all the indirect taxes, came into force on July 1, 2017 and the tax rates have been revised several times since then.

Currently, there are four GST rate slabs — 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. Several items fall in the exempt or nil duty category. Besides, cess is also levied on five goods.

Mr. Chand said the focus should be on steady increase in revenue collection from the new indirect tax regime rather than tinkering with rates. He prescribed that if at all rates needed to be changed, it should be done annually.

About NITI Aayog:

The Government, in January 2015, replaced Planning Commission with NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India).

Aim: to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.

 

Role of NITI Aayog:

The institution has to provide governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy. This includes matters of national and international import on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support. The institution has to be able to respond to the changing and more integrated world that India is part of.

Composition of NITI Aayog:

Chairperson: Prime Minister of India as the Chairperson.

Governing Council comprising the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.

Regional Councils will be formed to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region. These will be formed for a specified tenure.

The Regional Councils will be convened by the Prime Minister and will comprise of the Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region.  These will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee.

Experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister.

The full-time organizational framework will comprise of, in addition to the Prime Minister as the Chairperson:

Vice-Chairperson: To be appointed by the Prime Minister.

Members: Full-time.

Part-time members: Maximum of 2 from leading universities research organizations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity. Part time members will be on a rotational basis.

Ex Officio members: Maximum of 4 members of the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Chief Executive Officer : To be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure, in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

Facts for Prelims- Initiatives by NITI Aayog:

Its important initiatives include “15 year road map”, “7-year vision, strategy and action plan”, AMRUT, Digital India and Atal Innovation Mission.

NATIONAL ANTI PROFITEERING AUTHORITY

NEWS:

The National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) has asked Johnson & Johnson(J&J) India to deposit a little over ₹230 crore with the Centre and States for making profits by not passing the GST benefits to consumers. J&J has been asked to deposit the amount in three months.

The NAA said that the methodology adopted by J&J to pass on GST rate cut benefits to consumers was “unreasonable, arbitrary and incorrect and thus can not be accepted.”

ABOUT NAPA

The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.

It is to ensure the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices.

The anti-profiteering clause under the Goods And Services Tax (GST) Act mentions that any reduction in the rate of tax on any goods or services or the benefit of input tax credit must be passed on to the consumer by way of commensurate reduction in the prices of the respective goods or services.

The Authority’s main function is to ensure that traders are not realizing an unfair profit by charging high price from consumers in the name of GST and to examine and check such profiteering activities and recommend punitive actions including the cancellation of Registration.

 

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