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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 28TH JANUARY 2020

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Q.1 Which of the following statement regarding
Emperor Penguins is/are incorrect?
1. It is one of the Antarctica’s endemic
species.
2. It is endangered as per IUCN.
Choose the correct answer using the code
given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2 Consider the following statements:
1. India’s first e-waste clinic would be set
up in Lucknow.
2. The clinic is being conceived in compliance
with the Solid Waste Management Rules,
2016.
Which of the statements given above is/are
incorrect?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding
the Pneumoconiosis Fund:
1. Madhya Pradesh has announced the
creation of Pneumoconiosis Fund.
2. It would be financed by money from the
District Mineral Foundation (DMF).
3. The Fund will be operating under Social
Justice and Empowerment Department.
Which of the above statements are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

ANSWERS: B,A,B

NEW DEAL ON AIR INDIA

NEWS: 

The Union government on Monday invited bids for a 100% stake sale of Air India (AI) and transfer of management control along with its complete share in two subsidiaries — low-cost international carrier Air India Express and ground-handling arm AISATS.

The government has offered to hive off liabilities worth nearly ₹40,000 crore to sweeten the deal.

On the table is a 100% stake in AI, 100% stake in AI Express Limited (AIXL) and all of the government’s 50% stake in AISATS, which is a joint venture with the Singapore-based ground handling company SATS Limited.

The buyer will get a total of 146 aircraft, 56% of which are owned by the airline group, while the remaining are on lease. It will also benefit from as much as 50% of the international market share held by Indian airlines as well as the airline’s 4,400 slots at airports in the country and 3,300 slots in 42 countries, which will be available at least for six months after the sale is complete.

Any private or public limited company, a corporate body and a fund with a net value of ₹3,500 crore will be eligible to bid.

The last date for submitting interest to the transaction adviser is March 17 and the outcome of this round will be known by March 31, following which qualified bidders will be given two months to submit financial bids.

BODO AGREEMENT

NEWS:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam government and Bodo groups on Monday signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over the four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.

As per the agreement, villages dominated by Bodos that were presently outside the BTAD would be included and those with non-Bodo population would be excluded, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. Bodos living in the hills would be granted Scheduled Hill Tribe status.

Mr. Sarma said as of now, the agreement had not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD, to be renamed as the Bodoland Territorial Region.

Who are Bodos?

Bodos are the single largest tribal community in Assam, making up over 5-6 per cent of the state’s population. They have controlled large parts of Assam in the past

The four districts in Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang — that constitute the Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD), are home to several ethnic groups.

 

 

In 1966-67, the demand for a separate state called Bodoland was raised under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit.

In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) renewed the demand. “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”, was a call given by the ABSU’s then leader, Upendra Nath Brahma.

The unrest was a fallout of the Assam Movement (1979-85), whose culmination — the Assam Accord — addressed the demands of protection and safeguards for the “Assamese people”, leading the Bodos to launch a movement to protect their own identity.

PRESIDENT’S RULE

NEWS: 

Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha on Monday did not rule out the possibility of the Union government enforcing President’s Rule in the States ruled by Opposition parties if they refused to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) for a long period.

Mr. Sinha said if the Centre issued instructions to the State governments to implement the law but they sat on it, for say six months or two years, “the only instrument the government” has is Article 356 of the Constitution, President’s rule. The situation has led to a state of “constitutional crisis”, he said.

Calling the NRC in Assam a “botched up exercise”, he said that despite the experience in the State, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced on the floor of Parliament that there would be a nationwide NRC, without any estimation of the costs and machinery required for it.

He listed three reasons for opposing the CAA. First, he argued, the Act went against the “basic structure of the Constitution”.

Second, it was not required, he said, arguing that the government already had the power to grant citizenship to anybody it wished as per the original law.

Third, the “language used in the law” by the government would make it hard to be implemented. “Maybe, their intent is not to implement it but to mislead people,” he said.

LOCUST ATTACK 

NEWS:

Presence of locusts in a few villages of Punjab and Haryana bordering Rajasthan has raised anxiety among farmers about their crops. The agriculture departments of both the States have asked the farmers not to panic as it was “not a serious threat”’

India has not witnessed any full blown locust cycles after 1962, however, during 1978 and 1993, large-scale upsurges were observed. The locust attack has been reported since past several days in parts of Rajasthan which has emanated from the desert areas in Pakistan.

About Locust

  • A locust is a large, mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.
  • Locusts are generally seen during the months of June and July as the insects are active from summer to the rainy season.
  • Locusts have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate over relatively large distances (they can fly up to 150 km per day). They can rapidly reproduce and increase some 20-fold in three months.
  • Threat to Vegetation: Locust adults can eat their own weight every day, i.e. about two grams of fresh vegetation per day. A very small swarm eats as much in one day as about 35,000 people, posing a devastating threat to crops and food security.
  • FAO provides information on the general locust situation to the global community and gives timely warnings and forecasts to those countries in danger of invasion.
  • Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), headquartered in Jodhpur.

BHIMA KOREGAON BATTLE

NEWS:

After the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the Elgar Parishad cases from the Maharashtra government, the Bhima-Koregaon Inquiry Commission on Monday admitted an application demanding the cross-examination of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis.

The BJP leader had last week called the action of the NIA taking over ‘urban naxal’ cases as correct while accusing the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of sabotaging the Pune Police’s investigations in the Elgar Parishad and Bhima-Koregaon cases.

About the Bhima- Koregaon battle:

A battle was fought in Bhima Koregaon, a district in Pune with a strong historical Dalit connection, between the Peshwa forces and the British on January 1, 1818. The British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers, fought the upper caste-dominated Peshwa army. The British troops defeated the Peshwa army.

 

Outcomes of the battle:

  • The victory was seen as a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression. Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity.
  • However, the divide and rule policy of the British created multiple fissures in Indian society which is even visible today in the way of excessive caste and religious discrimination which needs to be checked keeping in mind the tenets of the Constitution.

Why Bhima Koregaon is seen as a Dalit symbol?

  • The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the the Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion.
  • On 1 January 1927, B.R. Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables.

LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

NEWS: 

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Monday adopted a statutory resolution for the abolition of the Legislative Council with 133 members, including the lone Jana Sena MLA, voting for it and none opposing it. The Opposition Telugu Desam Party had on Sunday made it clear that it would boycott the proceedings.

Speaker Thammineni Seetharam declared that the government had moved the resolution as per Article 169 (1) of the Constitution and 133 members out of those ‘present and voting’ gave their consent for the abolition of the Council. After initially putting the number at 121, it was enhanced to 133 after a proper counting.

What is the Legislative Council?

India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament.

At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.

The second House of the legislature is considered important for two reasons: one, to act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House and, two, to ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.

The Councils are less powerful than the Rajya Sabha, however. Unlike, the Rajya Sabha, which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so; Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.

How are Council’s members elected?

Although its membership may vary in each state, the Legislative Council must not have more than a third of the total membership of the Assembly of that state, and in no case fewer than 40 members.

About 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly (MLAs), another 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, and 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.

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

What is the argument against having Legislative Councils?

Opposition to the idea of Legislative Councils is centered on three broad arguments. One, they can be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election. Two, they can be used to delay progressive legislation. Three, they would strain state finances.

Which states have Legislative Councils?

Apart from Andhra Pradesh (58 members), five other states have Legislative Councils: Bihar (58), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), Uttar Pradesh (100).

Jammu and Kashmir too had a Council, until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Tamil Nadu’s then DMK government had passed a law to set up a Council but the subsequent AIADMK government withdrew it after coming to power in 2010.

Andhra Pradesh’s Legislative Council, set up in 1958, was abolished in 1985, then reconstituted in 2007. The Odisha Assembly has also passed a resolution for a Legislative Council.

Proposals to create Councils in Rajasthan and Assam are pending in the Rajya Sabha.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: CRIME AND POLITICS

WHY IN NEWS?

The Supreme Court has taken a timely decision by agreeing to hear a plea from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to direct political parties to not field candidates with criminal antecedents.

WHY IT WAS NEEDED?

The immediate provocation is the finding that 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records.

While the number might be inflated as many politicians tend to be charged with relatively minor offences —“unlawful assembly” and “defamation” — the real worry is that the current cohort of Lok Sabha MPs has the highest (29%) proportion of those with serious declared criminal cases compared to its recent predecessors.

WHY SUCH CANDIDATES ARE FIELDED?

esearchers have found that such candidates with serious records seem to do well despite their public image, largely due to their ability to finance their own elections and bring substantive resources to their respective parties. Some voters tend to view such candidates through a narrow prism: of being able to represent their interests by hook or by crook. Others do not seek to punish these candidates in instances where they are in contest with other candidates with similar records.

OTHER STEPS TAKEN BY SUPREME COURT FOR DE-CRIMINIALISATION OF POLITICS

It removed the statutory protection of convicted legislators from immediate disqualification in 2013, and in 2014, directed the completion of trials involving elected representatives within a year.

In 2017, it asked the Centre to frame a scheme to appoint special courts to exclusively try cases against politicians, and for political parties to publicise pending criminal cases faced by their candidates in 2018.

WHAT MORE COULD BE DONE?

Perhaps what would do the trick is a rule that disallows candidates against whom charges have been framed in court for serious offences, but this is something for Parliament to consider as an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

While judicial pronouncements on making it difficult for criminal candidates to contest are necessary, only enhanced awareness and increased democratic participation could create the right conditions for the decriminalisation of politics.

LEAD ARTICLE : SYMBOLS OF PROTEST BY CAA PROTESTERS

Author highlights that protesters are using the novel method of protest and this has led to increase in importance of PREAMBLE.

OTHER FORMS OF RESISTANCE

The recitations of resistance range from wresting the national anthem from its empty ritualistic performance by military bands or the ritual flag-hoisting on Republic Day and Independence Day, to reinstalling the tricolour as a symbol of resistance. Recitations of resistance combine Faiz with the Preamble in the voice of Chandrashekhar Azad on the steps of Jama Masjid before he is arrested for inciting violence.

Author highlights that with these protests  Constitution is no longer the property of state, legislatures and courts to (mis)interpret in the service of political expediency/judicial bias/equivocation.

JUDICIARY ON TRIAL

Although we see a marked pushback from the spectacular position of the right to privacy judgment in 2017 — with no effective reliefs granted in the Kashmir cases and a deferral on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or CAA, 2019, among others — it is institutions of justice that are now on trial.

The re-instatement of this experience and ways of knowing interwoven with a resurgent public constitutionalism, might help us reclaim the idea of citizenship as birthright and inscribe the constitutional commons by “occupying” them and establishing a shared, collective, inclusive ownership.

SECOND ARTICLE: ADOPTION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

This article has been written in response of Article  published on January 23 in The Hindu.

The first point made in the article is that GM cotton covers 95% of the area under cotton and that there are no choices for farmers.

The fact: Indian farmers have voted for choice of seeds with biotechnologies by planting hybrid cotton biotech seeds on over 90% of the country’s cotton acreage. They want seeds and technologies that provide optimal yield, income and convenience in cultivation. Today, they choose from over 800 hybrid Bt cotton seed brands from over 40 Indian and global seed companies, with five approved ‘in-the-seed’ insect protection Bt cotton technologies and non-Bt varietal cotton seeds.

India’s farmers are the ones who have reposed trust in biotechnology, making India the world’s second largest cotton producer and exporter by doubling cotton production over the past decade.

The article’s second point is about low productivity as compared to the global scene. The fact is that technology has not only increased yields but also greatly reduced pesticide use. Biotechnology in cotton, post its introduction in 2002, has led to transformational changes in India’s cotton cultivation. These have helped increase cotton yields by over 1.8 times — from 241 kg/hectare in 2002-2003 to 541 kg/hectare in 2018-2019.

However, it is not just the technology that increases yields. India’s farmers face numerous uncertainties and crop management challenges, affecting farm yield and incomes; knowledge of cultivation and correct agronomic practices can make a significant impact. This is being addressed by numerous extension efforts.

The article’s third point is about the availability of low cost manual labour. The fact is that one of the major challenges lies in securing labour to conduct field operations. Today, labour accounts for over 58% of a farmer’s cost of cultivation per acre. In a fast-evolving global market, India’s farmers instead need the best technologies to remain competitive.

The article also claims that Indian farmers need to buy seeds repeatedly. The fact is that not just biotech cotton, but all hybrid seeds lose their benefits if replanted, creating reduced and erratic yields. New seeds help farmers sustain high yields year on year.

CONCLUSION 

Seeds with biotechnologies have helped conserve biodiversity: with higher production from the same area, the expansion of agricultural land into forest areas has been slowed.

A one-sided depiction not only harms agriculture and the industry but also spreads misconceptions about biotechnology.

 

OP-ED PAGE

SECOND ARTICLE: ROAD TO GENOCIDE

WHY THIS ARTICLE?

The 27th of January marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a date that is now observed as ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day’.

Of the 5.5 million-6 million people killed in the Holocaust, about 9,60,000 are believed to have died at the Auschwitz complex.

Author highlights that the ‘Final Solution’ was enabled by a series of incremental policies and pronouncements by the regime.

IDENTIFICATION

The first stage was the identification and registration of all Jews, which then enabled the confiscation of their property, followed by the passage of laws to circumscribe their citizenship, means of livelihood and access to legal remedies.

The state-sponsored intimidation, impoverishment and alienation succeeded in driving out about 37,000 Jewish people in 1933 alone. Later, the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 defined ‘Jewishness’ and ‘German citizenship’.

The first of the two laws clarified who was ‘Jewish’ and forbade intermarriage between Germans and Jewish people, in addition to disallowing the employment of German women under the age of 45 in Jewish households. German citizenship was defined by blood, and continually reaffirmed through ‘conduct’. Together, these laws completed the segregation and stigmatisation of an entire community.

CONSTANT DEMONISATION

All the while, the demonisation of Jews ensured that they began to be considered ‘subhuman’, a phrase used by Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau in 1941 in his now infamous ‘Severity Order’. Thus, having stripped them of their humanity, the regime moved with clinical efficiency to annihilate the Jewish people.

FINAL STEP

And so, the logical next step was to industrialise the killings, using the gas chambers. Historians estimate that of the 1.3 million who were sent to Auschwitz, 1.1 million died — most killed by gassing, the rest felled by disease, exhaustion or starvation.

Those to be ‘exterminated’ were led to chambers, made to undress and sent into what looked like a shower room; once they were inside, the chamber was sealed and the cyanide released into it. Death occurred after some minutes of terror.

The corpses were then harvested: the women’s hair was cut, and dentists removed gold fillings from the teeth of the dead. By 1944, 10 kg-12 kg of gold was being harvested each month. The dehumanisation of the exterminated was complete.

NHRC

NEWS:

The Congress on Monday approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to demand action against Uttar Pradesh police officials who allegedly committed atrocities on people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), with former party president Rahul Gandhi accusing the State government of going to war against its own people.

ABOUT NHRC

India, enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, with a view to bring about greater accountability and strengthen the dominion of human rights in the country. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established on October 12, 1993.

NHRC was constituted under Section 3 of the 1993 Act .

It is autonomous i.e. it has been created by an Act of Parliament.

It has powers of a civil court.

The Chairperson and the Members of the Commission are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendations of a Committee consisting of:

The Prime Minister (chairperson)

The Home Minister

The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha

The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha

The Speaker of the Lok Sabha

The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha

CHAIRPERSON OF NHRC: a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC.

OTHER MEMBERS

Chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and National Commission for Women are members of the NHRC, National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities

TENURE: the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.

The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office under certain circumstances.

 

SEBI

NEWS:

With the tenure of the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Ajay Tyagi ending next month, the government has invited applications for the appointment of his successor.

ABOUT SEBI

 

  • SEBI is a statutory bodyestablished on April 12, 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992.
  • The basic functions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India is to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote and regulate the securities market.
  • In April, 1988 the SEBI was constituted as the regulator of capital markets in India under a resolution of the Government of India.
  • Initially SEBI was a non statutory body without any statutory power.
  • It became autonomous and given statutory powers by SEBI Act 1992.
  • The headquarters of SEBI is situated in Mumbai. The regional offices of SEBI are located in Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.

STRUCTURE

  • SEBI Board consists of a Chairman and several other whole time and part time members.

Powers and Functions of SEBI

  • SEBI is a quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial bodywhich can draft regulations, conduct inquiries, pass rulings and impose penalties.
  • It functions to fulfill the requirements of three categories –
    • Issuers –By providing a marketplace in which the issuers can increase their finance.
    • Investors –By ensuring safety and supply of precise and accurate information.
    • Intermediaries –By enabling a competitive professional market for intermediaries.
  • By Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014,SEBI is now able to regulate any money pooling scheme worth Rs. 100 cr. or more and attach assets in cases of non-compliance.
  • SEBI Chairman has the authority to order “search and seizure operations”. SEBI board can also seek information, such as telephone call data records, from any persons or entities in respect to any securities transaction being investigated by it.
  • SEBI perform the function of registration and regulation of the working of venture capital funds and collective investment schemes including mutual funds.
  • It also works for promoting and regulating self-regulatory organizations and prohibiting fraudulent and unfair trade practices relating to securities markets.

 

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