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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 27TH DECEMBER 2019

Q.1 Langhchen Khambab refers to which of the following rivers

A. Brahmaputra

B. Sutlej

C. Indus

D. Ganga

 

Q.2 Some of the earliest written records, Ashokan edicts have been written in which of the following
languages?
1. Prakrit
2. Brahmi
3. Greek
4. Aramic
Select the correct answer using the codes below.
A. 1, 2 and 3 only
B. 1, 3 and 4 only
C. 2 and 4 only
D. 1, 2, 3 and 4

 

Q.3 The Fundamental Right to Clean Environment has been established by
A. An informal understanding between the legislature and executive
B. The Supreme Court in the case Subhas Kumar V. State of Bihar
C. A constitutional amendment of Article 21
D. An executive order by the Government of India

 

NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER

NEWS:

The NPR exercise has become controversial because the Citizenship Rules, 2003, link the Population Register to the creation of a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or National Register of Citizens.

Coupled with the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which excludes Muslims, fears about an NPR-NRC have brought lakhs of people on to the streets in protest. More than 20 people have been killed during the protests, most of them in Uttar Pradesh.

Data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 and updated in 2015. The Modi government has proposed that the next phase of NPR be conducted, along with the census exercise, between April and September 2020.

ABOUT NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER

  • Definition:
    • It is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
    • A “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
  • Legal Provisions:
    • The NPR is being prepared 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.
  • Background:
    • The data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011.
    • In 2015, this data was further updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.

SOLAR ECLIPSE

  • Eclipses are divided into two major types: Solar and Lunar.
    • Solar eclipses occur when the Sun, Moon and earth all fall in the same line so that the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, leaving a moving region of shadow on Earth’s surface.
  • Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Moon and earth all fall in the same line and Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow on the Moon.

Eclipses may be classified into 4 types i.e. Annular, Total, Partial and Hybrid

Annular solar eclipse:

  • When the Sun is nearest to Earth and the Moon is at or near its greatest distance, the Moon appears smaller than the Sun in the sky. When an eclipse of the Sun happens in this situation, the Moon will not appear large enough to cover the disk of the Sun completely, and a rim or ring of light will remain visible in the sky.

There are no Annular lunar eclipse because the Earth is much bigger than the Moon, and its shadow will never be small enough to leave a ring.

Total solar eclipse:

  • Total solar eclipses occur when the New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on Earth. A full solar eclipse, known as totality, is almost as dark as night.
  • During a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon covers the entire disk of the Sun. In partial and annular solar eclipses, the Moon blocks only part of the Sun.

Hybrid Eclipse :

  • A hybrid eclipse is a rare type of solar eclipse that changes its appearance as the Moon’s shadow moves across the Earth’s surface.
  • A hybrid eclipse is a type of solar eclipse that looks like an annular solar eclipse or a total solar eclipse, depending on the observer’s location along the central eclipse path.

Partial Eclipse

  • A partial eclipse of the Sun also results when the Moon’s penumbra falls on Earth but its umbra does not.

A partial eclipse of the Moon occurs when the Moon passes through only part of Earth’s umbra or only its penumbra.

 

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS:

Protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, continued unabated across Assam on Thursday, primarily under the aegis of student bodies AASU and AJYCP, with agitators vowing not to relent till the law is scrapped.

The Opposition Congress, which has kick-started an 800-km ’padyatra’ from Sadiya in eastern Assam to Dhubri in the western end of the State, reached Demow in Sivasagar district with thousands of participants.

Assam has to be for Assamese always. A conspiracy is being hatched to finish the identity, language and culture of the Assamese people,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said while addressing the huge crowd.

Popular singers Zubeen Garg and Manas Robin and theatre artiste Pabitra Rabha also participated in the protest.

WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?

The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014. 

The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.

The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

ACT has reduce the time period required for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for members of these communities.

 

AMJAD ALI KHAN

NEWS: The Kerala capital has missed an opportunity of being a second home to sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan. Mr. Khan has relinquished his plans to set up an international institute here for the convergence of diverse streams of music and hone young talent in view of his other commitments.

He rescinded the plan considering his commitments for holding performances all over the world. Mr. Khan reiterated the need for having more hospitals than temples and mosques.

Mr. Khan’s plan was to impart training in Hindustani, Carnatic, Western and all instruments, including percussion. The residential programme proposed was expected to offer a unique milieu for nurturing Indian ethos and create an inextricable bond between students and teachers through constant interaction.

ETHICS IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Thursday launched new guidelines for values and ethics in higher education.

In a section on the role of different stakeholders, the guidelines prepared by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has the following advice for student unions: “Support the administration for right and timely decision [and] raise legitimate issues in dignified manner.”

In another development, with regard to professional ethics, the UGC now requires all Ph.D. candidates to complete two compulsory credit courses on publication ethics from the coming academic session.

In a letter to all Vice-Chancellors, UGC secretary Rajnish Jain said the 30-hour courses would provide awareness on publication ethics, misconduct and research integrity.

ABOUT UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION

The University Grants Commission of India is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development,

Founded: 1956

The UGC`s mandate includes: 

  • Promoting and coordinating university education.
  • Determining and maintaining standards of teaching, examination and research in universities.
  • Framing regulations on minimum standards of education.
  • Monitoring developments in the field of collegiate and university education; disbursing grants to the universities and colleges.
  • Serving as a vital link between the Union and state governments and institutions of higher learning.
  • Advising the Central and State governments on the measures necessary for improvement of university education.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: AFGHANISTAN ELECTION RESULTS

According to the Independent Election Commission, President Ashraf Ghani has won 50.64% of the votes counted, which, if ratified, will obviate the need for a second round of polling.

A second round — probably only after winter — would prolong the uncertainty around the polls, given that even these results took more than three months to announce.

That these polls were held was a miracle, having been delayed for months, and almost cancelled after progress in reconciliation talks with Taliban leaders, who do not recognise the electoral process.

LOW VOTER TURNOUT

Voter turnout was a record low, with only about a quarter of 9.6 million registered voters voting.

Thousands of votes were also disqualified after biometric match failures and other irregularities, setting off allegations of voter fraud.

WAY AHEAD

IF ELECTION GOES FOR SECOND ROUND: This will possibly be more divisive for Afghanistan given that Mr. Ghani, a Pashtun leader, has drawn much of his support from the Pashtun-majority south and Mr. Abdullah has won mainly in the Northern areas with Tajik presence. The U.S.-Taliban talks also cast a shadow over whether the results will be respected if the Taliban negotiates its way into a power-sharing arrangement in Kabul.

CONCLUSION

It will be in everyone’s interests, particularly the Afghans who braved violent attacks to go out and vote, if the remaining steps of the electoral process are completed at the earliest, and democracy is reaffirmed in Afghanistan.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: DATA PROTECTION BILL

WHY IN NEWS?

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha this month.

Author highlights that this is a revolutionary piece of legislation that promises to return power and control to people in our digital society.

CRITICISM OF THE BJP GOVERNMENT FOR IGNORING THE ISSUE OF PRIVACY

NO REGARD FOR PRIVACY: Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto (sankalp patra) released before the general election 2019 provides useful insight where it states appropriate technological interventions centred around Aadhaar. This shrugs off any recognition of its contested legality before the Supreme Court which ruled on the fundamental right to privacy. Privacy is mentioned just once in this voluminous document — 49 mentions of ‘security’ and 56 mentions of ‘technology’.

The priorities of the government are clearly charted out with zero mention of privacy or data protection; there are 18 mentions of ‘security’ and eight of ‘technology’ in President’s speech after elections .

GOVERNMENT COLLUDING WITH BIG COMPANIES:  The government is seeking to not only access data but also collect it and then exploit it — making it an active data trader for the generation of revenue to meet its fiscal goals.

NO REGARD FOR PERSONAL DATA:

The existing draft of the Data Protection Bill is reflective of a political economy that is motivated towards ensuring minimal levels of protection for personal data. It has a muddled formulation in terms of its aims and objectives, contains broad exemptions in favour of security and fiscal interests, including elements of data nationalism by requiring the compulsory storage of personal data on servers located within India.

CONCLUSION

Hence, on a broader read, the Data Protection Bill is not a leaky oil barrel with large exceptions, but it is a perfect one. It will refine, store and then trade the personal information of Indians without their control; open for sale or open for appropriation to the interests of securitisation or revenue maximisation, with minimal levels of protection. For this to change, we have to not only focus on red-lining the finer text of this draft but also reframing large parts of its intents and objectives.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: WHY ASSAM IS OPPOSING THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

Granting of citizenship to Bengali Hindu immigrants up to December 2014 would eventually reduce the indigenous people to a minority in their homeland.

Act is blatantly unconstitutional because citizenship could never be given on the basis of religion.

Act  poses a threat to the identity of the many small indigenous communities that make up the composite Assamese nationality while at the same time fomenting a linguistic-religious divide. Hence, there has been a massive upsurge cemented by a strengthened sense of Assamese identity. Some youth have already been killed in police firing and scores injured.

What defies rationale is that the CAA applies selectively to only the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys of Assam and some areas of Tripura and Meghalaya while all the States, which have Inner Line Permit regulations and all areas which fall under the Sixth Schedule, have been kept outside its purview. Yet, unlike Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram which do not share a border with Bangladesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura have extensive land borders with that country and have been facing continuous immigration from East Bengal/East Pakistan/Bangladesh resulting in a swift demographic change.

Census figures over the years have shown a steady decline in Assamese speakers, prompting fears of the language losing its official status in the State.

CONCLUSION

If the present outrage of people in Assam is any indication, it is almost certain that it will be impossible for the BJP-RSS to regain its pre-CAB position in the State. And, with the 2021 Assembly elections not too far away, it is almost certain that the party will pay a heavy price, especially in the Brahmaputra Valley. This, however, depends on how the present protests are channelised to offer an alternative to the BJP in the State.

 

FRIDAY DISCUSSION: WHAT ARE THE AMENDMENTS THAT CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019 NEEDS

Any one who faces persecution of any form — not just religious, but also social persecution, caste-based and so on, should be entitled to a long-term visa in India. And, this should be examined on a case-to-case basis.

If India is serious about ensuring that persecuted people are protected, there are few very simple things to do: sign and ratify the conventions; and ensure that you have a clear, non-discriminatory, inclusive policy. And the fact that the 1951 Convention has 145 state parties but India has not signed up to it is highly problematic.

CATER TO THE PRINCIPLE OF NON REFOULMENT 

Principle of non-refoulement states that you don’t send people back if they are in fear of life or of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or opinion.

The CAA does not cater to [this principle]. Non-refoulement is a customary international law norm, which means that even if you’ve not signed up to the treaty, it is something that still binds you.

Adopt a national standard. And that should be the standard that the law follows. And second, I think there is a dichotomy in that we either look at people as ‘illegal immigrants’ or as citizens [but] there are a range of statuses that exist between those two — temporary work visas, long-term visas and so on.

So, we need to expand the conversation on migration to beyond this binary of ‘illegal immigrants’ and citizens. I think under the new law, I would definitely have a number of provisions that deal with the reality of economic migration, other kinds of migration and the appropriate statuses that go with that.

 

5G

NEWS:Preparations have started to bring in more 5G spectrum to be put on sale towards the end of 2020, according to an official.

This comes in the wake of the Centre’s decision to conduct auctions for more than 8,300 Mhz of spectrum, including those to be used to offer 5G service, in March-April next year.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) will soon seek the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendation on the auction of spectrum in the 24.75 to 27.25 Ghz band, which is considered highly suited to 5G services deployment.

The official said currently, three spectrum bands are considered good for offering 5G services, two of which — the 700 MHz and 3.4 GHz-3.6 Ghz — will be put up for sale in the upcoming auction.

ABOUT 5G TECHNOLOGY

WHAT IS 5G?

It is the next generation cellular technology that will provide faster and more reliable communication with ultra low latency.

 A government panel report points out that with 5G, the peak network data speeds are expected to be in the range of 2-20 Gigabits per second (Gbps). This is in contrast to 4G link speeds in averaging 6-7 Megabits per second (Mbps) in India as compared to 25 Mbps in advanced countries

In April, South Korea and the U.S. became the first countries to commercially launch 5G services. South Korea claimed it was the first to do so, beating the U.S. by a couple of hours, a claim disputed by U.S carriers.

5G is expected to form the backbone of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine communications, thereby supporting a much larger range of applications and services, including driverless vehicles, tele-surgery and real time data analytics.

The ultra low latency offered by 5G makes the technology desirable for such use cases.

Latency is the amount of time data takes to travel between its source and destination.

5G will extend the use of wireless technologies — for the first time — across completely new sectors of the economy from industrial to commercial, educational, health care, agricultural, financial and social sectors.

One of the primary applications of 5G will be implementation of sensor-embedded network that will allow real time relay of information across fields such as manufacturing, consumer durables and agriculture.

5G can also help make transport infrastructure more efficient by making it smart.

5G will enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, making driverless cars, among other things, a reality.

5G is expected to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035.

 

 

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