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The Hindu Newspaper 15/05/2020

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1)Consider the following statements with respect to U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)

  1. It has been established by UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution.
  2. It has been tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan.
  3. The number of observers under the UNMOGIP was doubled recently following the demand of Government of India.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.  3 only
  • b.  1 and 2 only
  • c.  1, 2 and 3
  • d.  None
  • UNMOGIP has been established by UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution and started its operations in 1949.
  • It has been tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan.
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan has recently said that there was an urgent need for the U.N. Security Council to insist India to allow the U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) return to Kashmir.
  • India maintains that the UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control.

2)With respect to Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Treaty, consider the following statements:

  1. It was brought in 1974, in response to the Indian nuclear test: “Smiling Buddha”.
  2. All the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are among its members.
  3. India, Pakistan and Israel are the only nuclear countries that are non signatories to this agreement.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.  2 only
  • b.  1 and 2 only
  • c.  2 and 3 only
  • d.  None
  • India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan have not signed the treaty.
  • North Korea acceded to the NPT in 1985 and then withdrew in 2003.
  • Iran has recently said that, it will consider withdrawing from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if a dispute over its atomic programme goes before the United Nations Security Council.
  • Britain, France and Germany launched a process, charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • Iran has accused the three European Union member states of inaction over sanctions the United States re-imposed on it after unilaterally withdrawing from the landmark accord in 2018.
  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was brought in 1974– in response to the Indian nuclear test (smiling Buddha).

Global Social Mobility Report was recently released by?

  • a.  World Economic Forum
  • b.  UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • c.  UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • d.  Amnesty International

Answer : a

  • India has been ranked very low at 76th place out of 82 countries on a new Social Mobility Index compiled by the World Economic Forum, while Denmark has topped the charts.

Map of the Day :- Sinai Peninsula Region

News:- Migrant workers to get free foodgrains

A major focus of the second tranche of the economic stimulus package  announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is to provide  free foodgrains for the next two months to migrant workers who do  not have ration cards. The Centre will spend ₹3,500 crore for this purpose.

News:- Work from home may stay for govt. staff

The Department of Personnel and Training may provide the option of work from home to eligible officers and other employees for 15 days a year as a  matter of policy. A Draft Paper has been mooted with Provisions of Work From Home.

EDITORIAL OF THE DAY :- Stop the return to laissez-­faire

What is Laissez-Faire:- Free Market or No Interference by the Govt. Given by Adam Smith.

Author Starts by Highlighting that The workers’ right to go home was  curbed using the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Employers now  want labour laws to be relaxed.

The Confederation of Indian Industry has suggested 12 ­hour work shifts  and that governments issue directions to make workers join duty failing which the workers would face penal actions.

The employers want the state to reintroduce laissez­-faire and a system of  indenture for the organised workforce too.

COLONIAL EXPLOITATION VERSION 2.0:- The move is reminiscent of the barbaric system of indentured labour introduced through the Bengal Regulations VII, 1819 for the British planters in Assam tea estates. Workers had to work under a five­ year contract and desertion was  made punishable. 

Later, the Transport of Native Labourers’ Act, 1863 was passed in Bengal which enabled them to detain labourers in the district of employment and  imprison them for six months. 

Bengal Act VI of 1865 was later passed to deploy Special Emigration Police  to prevent labourers from leaving, and return them to the plantation after detention.

The workers’ demands were supported by our political leaders back then. Britain was forced to appoint the Royal Commission on Labour, which  gave a report in 1935. The indentured plantation labour saw relief  in the  form of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951

Dignity of Labours through Democracy:- The Factories Act,1948 lays down eight­ hour work shifts, with overtime wages, weekly offs, leave with wages and measures for health, hygiene and safety. 

The Industrial Disputes Act provides for workers participation to resolve wage and other disputes through negotiations so that strikes/lockouts,  unjust retrenchments and dismissals are avoided. 

The Minimum Wages Act ensures wages below which it is not possible to  subsist. 

These enactments further the Directive Principles of State Policy and  protect the right to life and the right against exploitation under Articles 21 and 23. Trade unions have played critical roles in  transforming the life of a worker from that of servitude to one of  dignity.

The Supreme Court, in  Glaxo Laboratories v. The Presiding Officer, Labour  (1983) Said that in the days of Laissez-Faire the management was the supreme master. This was an unequal contract and thus statutory lawsare needed to empower the weaker Partner i.e Workers.

Section 5 of the Factories Act empowers the State governments  to exempt only in case of a “public emergency”, i.e a “grave emergency  whereby the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is  threatened, whether by war or external aggression or internal  disturbance”.  There is no such threat to the security of India now. So Why increase working hours from 8-12 hours.

The orders of the State governments therefore  lack statutory support.  Labour is a concurrent subject in the Constitution and most pieces of  labour legislation are Central enactments. UP Govt. has passed an Ordinance which nullifies  the Factories Act, 1948; the Minimum Wages  Act, 1948; the Industrial Establishments (Standing Orders) Act, 1946; and the Trade Unions Act, 1926. How can a State Govt. do so with such Central Enactments.

In Life Insurance Corporation v. D. J. Bahadur & Ors (1980), the  Supreme Court highlighted that any changes in the conditions of service  can  be  only through a democratic process of negotiations or legislation.

“fundamental errors can be avoided only by remembering fundamental  values”.

The resurgence of such a colonial mindset is a danger to the society and the well­being of millions and puts at risk the health and safety of not only the workforce but their families too.

EDITORIAL 2:- States cannot be left to the Centre’s mercy 

Central Argument of the Author :- Not only are the States not paid what is due to them,  they have also lost the powers to raise their own sales  tax revenues.

States Revenue Sources:– Most States raise resources through a  combination of their own taxes and a share in the Centre’s taxes.  For richer States such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi,  Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana and Kerala, 70% or more of their revenue  comes from taxes generated within their State boundaries. 

Nearly half of these were from the sale of goods and services within the  State and the remaining half, from a combination of excise duties on petrol,  electricity, alcohol, land registration fees, etc.

Before GST, States were free to charge sales taxes as legislated by their  State legislatures.  Also in case of disasters they could easily raise the slabs.

For the sake of GST, States sacrificed their fiscal powers in the promise of  ‘economic  efficiency’ and ‘tax buoyancy’, which never materialised. Now the States are dependent upon centre to release funds.

TRIPLE BLOW:- This is a triple blow for the States — not being paid what  they are  owed,  not being helped with additional resources, and bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impact.

Why Alcohol seems to be their only option:- Because the demand for Petroleum and Electricity has dwindled due to lockdown. So the only viable option left with states is Alcohol.

Can’t the States borrow money to tide over this crisis? In order to do that, they need the Centre’s approval to raise their borrowing limit or to stand as guarantors. Once again at Centre;s Mercy.

EDITORIAL 3:- Keeping Asia ­Pacific afloat 

Central Theme :- The marine environment in the region is getting strained, jeopardising lives and livelihoods..

Climate change and unsustainable resource management have  degraded ecosystems and diminished biodiversity.  Levels of overfishing  have exponentially increased, leaving fish stocks and food systems  vulnerable.

Marine plastic pollution coursing through the region’s rivers has  contributed to  most of the debris flooding the ocean. While the COVID­19 pandemic has temporarily reduced pollution, this should not be a  moment  of reprieve.  Rather, recovery efforts need to build a new reality, embedded in sustainability

Lack of Data :- Insights from ‘Changing Sails: Accelerating Regional  Actions for Sustainable Oceans in Asia and the Pacific’, the theme study of this year’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), reveal that without data, we are swimming in the dark. Data are available for only two out of ten targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’.

Environmental decline is also affecting fish stocks, marine biodiversity.

News:- Operation Raahat was an operation of the Indian Armed Forces to evacuate Indian citizens and foreign nationals from Yemen during the 2015 military intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies in that country during the Yemeni Crisis.

Operation Sukoon was an operation launched by the Indian Navy to evacuate Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals, as well as Lebanese nationals with Indian spouses, from the conflict zone during the 2006 Lebanon War.

The current repatriation effort Operation Vande Bharat, comprising Operations to bring home lakhs of Indians stranded due to the COVID19
lockdown, is certainly India’s most extensive.

News:- India reminds China of claims over Gilgit Baltistan. where China has teamed up with pakistan to build Diamer-Bhasha dam.

News:- Virus diagnostic test may be delayed : The Chitra GeneLAMP­N, developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST).

The technology uses a method called loop­mediated isothermal  amplification(LAMP). s. The LAMP method is said to be faster but is a relatively newer technology, more complicated in its design and has not been tested extensively for COVID­19 detection.

N gene test  Most RT­PCR kits focus on two different genes, the E (envelope) gene and the RdRP (RNA dependent RNA polymerase) gene. The World Health Organization recommends a E and RdRP test, while the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires an N gene test.

News:- CBDT notifies reduction in TDS / TCS

What is the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)?

  • It is a statutory body established as per the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
  • It is India’s official financial action task force unit.
  • It is administered by the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance.

CBDT Structure

The Central Board of Direct Taxes consists of a Chairman and six members that deal with the following:

  • Income Tax
  • Revenue
  • Legislation and Computerisation
  • Audit and Judicial
  • Investigation
  • Personnel and Vigilance

The Members of the CBDT are selected from the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). The members constitute the top management of the Income Tax Department.

Functions of CBDT

  • It deals with matters related to levying and collecting Direct Taxes.
  • Formulation of various policies.
  • Supervision of the entire Income Tax Department
  • Suggests legislative changes in Direct Tax Enactments
  • Suggests changes in tax rates 
  • Proposes changes in the taxation structure in line with the Government policies.

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