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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 30TH JANUARY 2020

Q.1  Which of the following was/were the views of early nationalists on labour class movements
1. They did support the factory acts of 1881 and 1891.
2. They differentiated between the labour in the Indian owned factories and those in the British-owned
factories.
3. They were indifferent to the labour’s cause.
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 3 only
D. None

Q.2  Consider the following statements
1. Bipin Chandra Pal and G. Subramanya Aiyar demanded better conditions for workers.
2. Sasipada Banerjea started the newspaper called Deenbandhu
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 Which of the following personalities was/were involved in labour strikes during Swadeshi Upsurge?
1. Chidambaram Pillai
2. Ashwini Coomar Banerjea
3. S.A. Dange
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 3 only
B. 1 only
C. 1 and 2 only
D. None

ANSWERS: B, A,C

ANTICIPATORY BAIL

NEWS:

The protection of anticipatory or pre-arrest bail cannot be limited to any time frame or “fixed period” as denial of bail amounts to deprivation of the fundamental right to personal liberty in a free and democratic country, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

A five-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, acknowledged that anticipatory bail helps thwart influential powers from implicating their rivals in false cases. Section 438 (anticipatory bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure protects people from the ignominy of detention in jail for days on end and disgrace to their reputation.

The questions referred to the Constitution Bench were twofold: whether the protection granted to a person under Section 438 should be limited to a fixed period till the accused surrenders in court, and whether the life of anticipatory bail should end when the accused is summoned by the court.

MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY BILL 2020

NEWS:

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The Bill will be introduced in the coming session of Parliament.

According to a release, the proposed amendment seeks to enhance the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women that will be defined in the amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules and will include “vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest” and others like differently abled women and minors.

Also, the upper gestation limit will not apply to cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the Medical Board.

Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force,” the release said.

NCRB MISSING PERSON DATA

NEWS: 

Citizens all over the country can now search for missing persons and check police records of any vehicle from a countrywide database.

The services were launched by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems platform. They can be accessed at the portal http://digitalpolicecitizenservices.gov.in, or through a link in the existing ‘Digital Police Portal’, a statement said.

ABOUT NCRB

The National Crime Records Bureau, abbreviated to NCRB, is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).

NCRB is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India. The current Director of NCRB is Ramphal Pawar (IPS).

NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.

BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY

NEWS:

Supreme Court judge, Justice Arun Mishra, on Wednesday informed lawyers that a curative petition filed by the government for enhanced compensation to Bhopal gas tragedy victims will be listed before a different combination of judges on February 11.

The change on the five-judge Constitution Bench follows a decision by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat to withdraw from hearing the case. Justice Bhat had appeared for the government in the case in the past. A new judge would now replace Justice Bhat on the Bench.

The government is seeking compensation, over and above the $470 million already paid by Union Carbide.

ABOUT BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. It is considered to be the world’s worst industrial disaster.

Cause : Methyl Isocynate

FIRST EDITORIAL: TRUMPS PLAN FOR ISRAEL-PLAESTINE CONFLICT

WHAT IS THE PLAN?

According to the plan, Israel can annex the Jordan Valley as well as the Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

It also recognises Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel, while the Palestinian capital could come up in the eastern outskirts of the city.

It proposes to enlarge Gaza and swap the Arab-populated towns in southeast Israel with Palestine for parts of the West Bank. In effect, the Palestinians would lose roughly 30% of the West Bank, their claim to Jerusalem and the right to return of refugees.

In return, they will get an independent state in a shrunken West Bank and an enlarged Gaza connected through a tunnel that would practically be encircled by Israel.

HOW PALESTINIANS HAVE REACTED?

The Palestinians believe that Mr. Trump, whose administration recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, is not an impartial negotiator between the two sides.

Palestinians rejected it even before the proposals were unveiled.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

It is true that the Palestinians’ negotiation powers are at their weakest point. Their leadership is divided and the support they once enjoyed in Arab nations is also eroding.

Representatives of the UAE, Bahrain and Oman were present at the event in Washington in which Mr. Trump unveiled the plan. Egypt also offered its support, while Saudi Arabia cautiously welcomed talks between Israel and Palestine.

CONCLUSION

It’s hard to overlook the injustice in demanding that the Palestinians accept further annexation of the West Bank. Issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the right to return of refugees, an internationally accepted right, and the final borders should be resolved through talks, not by dictating terms to one party.

It is virtually impossible for any Palestinian leader to sell these proposals to a people who have been resisting Israel’s occupation for decades. Under the current conditions, it looks more like a plan for further annexation of territories by Israel than one that seeks constructive and lasting peace.

LEAD ARTICLE: INVESTING IN HEALTH AND EDUCATION

Author highlights that in the current slowdown many of the economists are suggesting that government should invest in infrastructure and their focus is PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE.

They hold no brief for investment in human infrastructure, particularly in education and health. Besides, we must remember that investment in physical infrastructure is not as labour-intensive as that in other sectors and that large-scale projects in this field have long gestation periods.

WHERE WE NEED TO INVEST: SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Abhijit Banerjee, a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, has been one of the few economists making a case for transferring income to the poor who are likely to spend the additional income to buy goods and services, an enhanced production of which offers the best chance for reversing the current slowdown. In this connection, he has singled out the mechanisms of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and direct income transfers.

Author highlights that  social sectors in India are grossly underfunded. No mainstream economist or policymaker has come out with a suggestion for enhancing expenditures in these sectors.

Most mainstream economists and policymakers also believe that public expenditure in social sectors can only have a long- term impact on growth, and what is now needed is macroeconomic policies which can have immediate or very short-term impact. This belief is deeply flawed, as it can be demonstrated that increased public expenditure in social sectors in the magnitudes required for meeting the constitutionally mandated objectives can have short- and medium-term effect of enhancing employment, generating demand and attracting investment.

PROOF:If government implements the RTE Act properly then there is need of 5.7 million teachers and this can help in solving the problem of unemployment and boost the economy.

Similarly, in the health field, there is a vast number of vacant posts for professionals at these levels. There is a huge deficit of paramedical workers, middle-level health workers, nurses and trained doctors. This is evident from the long queues of patients in the ill-equipped and inadequate primary health centres and government hospitals.

CONCLUSION:

The gestation period of projects in social sectors is not as long as it is made out to be. After all, in the RTE Act, a gestation period of only five years was envisaged for universalisation of elementary education. It is therefore time for reprioritising education and health in the scheme of development strategy and the allocation of budgetary resources.

SECOND ARTICLE: APPROACH OF MODI GOVERNMENT TOWARDS SCIENCE

Author highlights that government’s policy towards science is that of commercialization.

WHY IT IS BEING SAID?

At the recently concluded 107th Science Congress in Bengaluru, the customary inaugural address by the Prime Minister, PM said young researchers should “innovate, patent, produce, prosper”.

The present government has been directing laboratories and other research centres to earn their own revenue from external sources by marketing their expertise and investing the surplus to develop technologies for national missions.

This policy position can be traced to the ‘Dehradun declaration’ prepared by the directors of the CSIR labs in 2015, where it was decided to market patents as a means to self-finance research. This market-driven revenue model is expected to encourage the research centres, including the universities, to reorient themselves to conduct what is marketable.

MOVE TOWARDS COMMERCIALIZATION

This trend towards commercialisation of science started much earlier. In the 1990s, CSIR director general R.A. Mashelkar mandated labs to generate intellectual property and file patents. Consequently, there has been a steady decline in government expenditure in higher education and research, reflecting this changed stand on making the government labs financially autonomous and leaving their fortunes to be determined by the market forces.

Author highlights that scientific research world over is under the threat of increasing commercialisation, primarily spearheaded and fast-forwarded by the new age politicians. The implicit assumption is that the research institutes and universities in course of time will transform into something like service centres that will be more equipped to address the economic growth and social needs.

AUTHOR’S VIEW

Science is essentially an end-product of human curiosity and a desire to understand the world. Thus, an increasing emphasis on immediate applicability of science should not be allowed to steal the space of curiosity-driven basic science which can be sustained only by direct government funding.

As for developing self-financing models for government labs, the government should tread its path slowly and selectively looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each of the institutes. It will be counterproductive to implement a one-size-fits-all solution in a hasty manner. The immediate priority in this regard should be to increase the government funding in higher education and R&D. The forthcoming Union Budget will provide an excellent opportunity to make this long-standing demand a reality.

SECOND EDITORIAL: SHORTAGE OF FUND IN MGNREGA

WHY IN NEWS?

The report that 15 States have already overshot budgets for the scheme’s implementation and many have not been able to pay wage dues.

Compounding the situation is the fact that the Centre is on the verge of running out of funds.

WAS THIS UNEXPECTED?

This problem was not unexpected. While in absolute terms, the allocations for the scheme in the budget presented in July 2019 were higher compared to the previous financial year, the outlay fell in relative terms as a percentage of the overall allocations. The outlay was also lower than the actual expenditure in the previous year, which indicated the importance of the scheme in arresting rural distress.

WHY MGNREGA IS IMPORTANT?

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has acted as insurance for landless labourers during crop failures, agrarian crises and periods of a stressed economy.

With the ongoing economic slowdown resulting in depressed rural wages and the lack of adequate opportunity to work, the MGNREGS has provided much needed succour and this explains why demand for it has peaked in the last few months across various parts of the country.

WHAT COULD BE DONE?

A change in mindset is therefore key in not just tiding over problems such as funding and wage-delays, but also in using them as an opportunity to address the slowdown.

Economists have pointed to a slowing of rural consumption, which has also dragged down the economy.

By paying wages adequately, and on time, to rural workers, the government could allow for more spending and consumption and stimulate the economy.

A more meaningful allocation for the scheme in the budget is therefore a much needed imperative.

OP-ED PAGE

SECOND ARTICLE: GANDHI THE DISSIDENT

Author highlights that future  generations will remember 2019 as a Gandhian year.

WHY: BECAUSE IT WAS YEAR OF SILENT PROTESTS AGAINST GOVERNMENTS OF THE DAY

From Hong Kong and Algeria to Catalonia and Iran, citizens across the world took to the streets in 2019 to express their discontent and push for change.

While in Chile, people protested against the rising cost of everyday amenities, in Lebanon demonstrators held regular protests against the government’s plan to impose a new set of austerity measures.

ACTION ON ENVIRONMENT

The year 2019 was also marked by unprecedented action to combat climate change, especially by the young. We often forget that Mahatma Gandhi’s writings were full of thoughts on the environment, especially when he affirmed that “the earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

GANDHI AS DISSIDENT

When we talk about Gandhi as a dissident mind, we refer to him as a non-conformist person who lived and thought in a way that was different from other individuals.

As a non-conformist, Gandhi was someone who had the desire to excel. In other words, as a dissident mind he had the quality of excellence. For the ancient Greeks, excellence was considered as a moral virtue.

For Socrates, dissidence was an exemplary act of excellence. What differentiates Gandhi from other political leaders is this Socratic sign of dissidence based on a public act of questioning. In a Socratic manner, but in his own way, Gandhi had an examined life.

Over decades, this Gandhian moment of dissidence has been endorsed by all those who have maintained that unjust laws of a state or a community are contrary to the higher law of moral conscience. It is by referring to this higher law that Gandhi put truth and non-violence above the power of empires and masses.

As a citizen-dissident, Gandhi was a committed gadfly who was available to others and engaged in a dialogue with them. Therefore, what Gandhi continues to teach non-violent protesters is that citizens should be present in the public space where dialogue and dissent can defeat fanaticism and violence.

CONCLUSION

Gandhi remains our contemporary, mainly because his dissident act of questioning continues to be different from our habitual practices of asking questions.

Gandhian dissidence is, therefore, crucial at a time when the projects of critical thinking and democratic questioning have retreated. It is time once again for a dissident thinker and practitioner to make us uncomfortable about our everyday beliefs and certitudes.

THIRD ARTICLE: IMPROVING INDIA AUSTRALIA TRADE

PRESENT SITUATION

The challenge before the two nations is transforming these people-to-people contacts into a trade relationship. The trade between the two countries has been at a modest $31 billion, largely composed of resources like coal and other minerals.

Negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement, which began in 2011, have not moved forward significantly. The problems faced by the Adani Group to begin work on a coal mining project in Queensland did not go down too well with investors from India.

ACTIONS BEING TAKEN

One of the most widely commended initiatives has been the Australian government’s release of an India Economic Strategy 2035 Report prepared by Peter Varghese, a diplomat and former Australian High Commissioner to India. It observes that no single market over the next 20 years will offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India. It lays down a comprehensive road map for strengthening Australia’s trade engagement with India.

WHAT INDIAN CAN DO TO IMPROVE TRADE?

The weakest link in India’s exports to Australia is in merchandise. India needs to look at three broad areas.

First, despite globalisation, markets are country-specific and culturally sensitive. Indian companies will need to invest a little more in market research on Australian consumer expectations and lifestyles before their products can successfully penetrate the Australian market.

Second, Australia is a brand-conscious market while India has not created a single consumer brand of international acceptance. Only when India’s textiles, leather products, cars and two-wheelers, kitchen equipment and other products are visible across the world’s shopping malls and supermarkets displaying their own brands that India will be recognised as a major player in the global markets.

Third, innovation is emerging as the single-most important factor for sustained success in every sphere. Cricket, for instance, has incorporated the 20/20 format. Such innovations have kept the game alive and popular. Global trade cannot be different.

SAINA NEHWAL

NEWS: 

Badminton champion and former world number one Saina Nehwal on Wednesday joined the BJP. Her elder sister, Chandranshu Nehwal, also joined the party along with her.

Ms. Nehwal is the first Indian badminton player to have won an Olympic medal, a feat she achieved in the 2012 London games where she was a bronze medallist. She also raised the bar for Indian badminton with the first-ever Super Series title in 2008, and also beating some of the biggest names in the game.

The Padma and Arjuna awardee praised the government’s ‘Khelo India’ run by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs.

ABIDE WITH ME

NEWS: 

As opposed to reports of “Abide With Me” being replaced by Vande Mataram for this year’s celebrations, the ceremony ended with the hymn, said to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite, keeping in line with previous years.

BANDIPUR NATIONAL PARK

NEWS: 

Actor Akshay Kumar reached Mysuru on Wednesday to shoot for one of the episodes of Man vs Wild in Bandipur.

The series is hosted by British adventurer Bear Grylls who shot an episode with actor Rajinikanth on Tuesday. The Forest Department has issued permission for the shooting, which is expected to be completed by January 30. Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi featured in an episode which was shot at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.

ABOUT BANDIPUR NATIONAL PARK

Bandipur National Park established in 1974 as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, is a national park located in the Indian state of Karnataka, which is the state with the second highest tiger population in India.

Along with adjacent Nagarhole National Park it is one of the premier Tiger Reserves in the country.

It was once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore but has now been upgraded to Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

Bandipur is known for its wildlife and has many types of biomes, but dry deciduous forest is dominant.

PEN GAURI LANKESH AWARD

NEWS: 

Senior journalist from Jammu and Kashmir Yusuf Jameel has been selected for the 2019-2020 PEN Gauri Lankesh Award for democratic idealism.

“His work in journalism shows an exemplary commitment to professional integrity and the ideals of democracy,” reads the citation of the award.

PEN South India and PEN Delhi have instituted the award “to cherish the idealism and commitment of Gauri Lankesh,” the editor-activist murdered in 2017. It carries a purse of ₹1 lakh.

NAGOBA JATRA: Festival of Telangana.

 

PLASTIC ROAD

NEWS: 

A 40-km pilot project of road network made with 50 tonnes of plastic waste has taken shape within Reliance Industries Ltd.’s (RIL) Nagothane township.

Under its sustainability initiative, plastics used by RIL in the construction include end-of-life post-consumer plastics, such as multi-layer films used for packaging of wafers, snacks, flimsy polyethylene plastic bags, flexible polyethylene packaging materials used by e-commerce companies, garbage bags, cling wraps and other flexible plastic products collected from within the township and surrounding areas of Pen taluka.

The construction of the model roads at began in May 2019 and was completed in just two months. The Raigad area was later witness to torrential rains last season, with Nagothane alone receiving a record 2,500 mm rainfall.

The inclusion of plastics in the road mix has enhanced its durability and strength as also provided superior bonding among aggregates, lower seepage of water, and lesser erosion, all this resulting in reduced abrasion of tyres. The cost of a kilometre of a road with plastic — 3.5 m wide, 5 cm topping — costs ₹1 lakh less to make as compared to a conventional bitumin-only road.

One of the major challenges in the business is collection of such plastic. The extended producer responsibility or EPR, to make the polluter pay, is touted as the way forward. A robust collection system of such plastic will ensure that even types of plastic that do not fetch waste pickers much money, because they cannot be recycled, are put to use for making roads.

TRUMP’S SOLUTION FOR ISRAEL PALESTINE

NEWS: 

The West Asia peace plan unveiled by U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday seeks to give the Israelis what they have long wanted — an expansive state with Jerusalem as its “undivided capital” and tight security control over a future Palestinian state.

The Trump plan seeks to address most of the contentious issues in the conflict such as the border of Israel, status of Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements on the West Bank, Israel’s security concerns and the status of the city of Jerusalem.

However, the solutions Mr. Trump has proposed to almost all of these issues favour the Israeli positions. For example, Israel would be allowed to annex the Jewish settlements on the West Bank as well as the Jordan Valley.

The Palestinian refugees, who were forced out from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that followed the declaration of the state of Israel in the historic Palestine, would not be allowed to return.

They could move to the future Palestinian state, be integrated into the host countries or settled in other regional countries.

Jerusalem, perhaps the most contentious issue, would be “the undivided capital” of Israel, with Palestine gaining its capital in the east of the city. In return, Israel would freeze further settlement activities on the West Bank for four years — the time for negotiations.

In the final settlement, Palestine would get control over more land than what it currently controls. The plan also proposes to enlarge Gaza and connect the strip with the West Bank through a tunnel. The Arab towns in the southeast of Israel, which are close to Gaza, could become part of a future Palestinian state.

PALESTINIAN POSITION

The Palestine position is that an independent, sovereign Palestinian state should be formed based on the 1967 border (meaning the whole of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) with East Jerusalem as its capital (including the Old City that houses Haram esh-Sharif, also known as Temple Mount, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews). Issues like the right of return of the Palestinian refugees are to be settled in final negotiations.

The Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas runs the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, while Hamas is running Gaza. While there’s a bitter feud between these two, both sides, as well as the Islamic Jihad, have come together in rejecting the Trump plan.

It would be difficult for any Palestinian leader to sell Mr. Trump’s proposals to a people who are living under occupation for decades.

 

 

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