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Daily Current affairs 10 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Honour for ‘Plan Bee’ that helped save jumbos  

09

2

More appeasement than Justice   

10

3

The growing power of the lumpen     

10

4

DRDO gets clearance for missile test facility A.P.       

08

5

Going electric   

10









 

Title

Honour for ‘Plan Bee’ that helped save jumbos  (The Hindu Page 09)

Syllabus 

Mains GS paper III : Environment 

Theme

Conservation 

Highlights

Context : 

A number of cases have been reported from several parts of the country, where elephants have collided with trains at railway crossings. According to the Wildlife Trust of India, train collisions have killed 266 elephants between 1987 to 2017. The collisions seem to occur where there is a high elephant habitat, or places termed ‘elephant corridors’. There are about many spots where the rail track crosses such elephant corridors in India.

 

Plane BEE : 

 
  • A system called PLAN BEE developed by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to keep wild elephants away from crossing the railway track by playing the amplified sound of buzzing of honey bees has won the best innovation award in Indian Railways for 2018-19. 

  • It is designed to generate an amplified sound of Honey Bee audible from a distance of about 600 to 700-metre. 

  • As elephants are afraid of bees, especially of being stung on their sensitive trunk, they stay away from railway tracks. Therefore, this prevents them from coming near the hazardous railway tracks and being killed. 

  • Another interesting fact is that, these devices costed Indian Railways only Rs 2,000 per device!

  • The first instrument was installed near Guwahati railway station.

  • Finding the results very encouraging, the instrument was installed in many level crossing gates in the zone located in the vicinity of forest areas. Presently, 46 such equipment have been installed all over the NFR.

  • Previous methods of accident prevention were seen near an elephant corridor along the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu. 

  • Here, sensors would be mounted near the tracks, which would alert officers if there were elephants nearby. Officers would then be dispatched to the location to chase away the animals.

  • Other method involved fencing near the elephant corridors, but as it turned out, the fences stood no chance against the powerful animal.

  • The buzzer installation, however, has been successful ever since the first one was installed near the Guwahati railway station.

 

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Title

More appeasement than Justice   (The Hindu -Page.10)

Syllabus 

Mains GS paper II: Polity   

Theme

Reservation 

Highlights

Context: The article highlights that reservation provided to Maratha community is based

more on appeasement as reservation for Marathas borders more on class legislation

rather than reasonable classification allowed under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

The article highlights that how reservation has been provided even to politically dominant

caste who are not socially or educationally backward such as Gujjars in Rajasthan, Patidars

in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharashtra as well as the recent decision of UP Government to

include 17 backward castes to confer SC status. Even the judiciary seems concerned with

increasing instances of reservation.

 

Issues with Maratha Reservation (as highlighted in the article)

 
  • Maratha community is an influential and politically dominant caste which has not

faced any systematic social discrimination or exclusion as prescribed under Article

15 (4).

  • Even the Mandal Commission identified Marathas as a forward community. Even

two State Backward Class Commissions, namely the Khatri Commission (1995) and

Bapat Commission (2008) recommended not to include Marathas within the OBC

category. 

  • Despite this, Maharashtra government through an ordinance has provided for 16%

reservation to Marathas in postgraduate medical and dental courses.

  • The Marathas share of 19.5% in government jobs does not satisfy the constitutional

requirement inadequacy of representation.

  • Marathas are on a par with other forward castes and the OBCs so singling them out

for reservation would amount to appeasement and not justice.

  • Article 15(4) mentions that state can make any special provision for the

advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for

the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

  • Thus, to provide reservation to Marathas, it must be proved about their social and

educational backwardness and must have been included within Other Backward

Class (OBC). 

  • So, accordingly the Bombay High Court allowed creation of a distinct class of socially and educationally backward class with just one caste i.e. Marathas included under it.

  • However, similar arguments for Gujjar and Jat reservation were struck down as unconstitutional because only one caste was favoured. 

Conclusion -

Thus, according to the author, reservation for Marathas borders on class legislation rather

than on reasonable classification as envisioned in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

 

Further, the reservation also breached the reservation cap of 50% as highlighted in 9 Judge

Constitution Bench of Indra Sawhney v Union of India.

 

UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED IN INDRA SAWHNEY

 
  • The case decided by Nine Judge Constitution Bench. The bone of contention in this

landmark judgment was the Mandal Commission Report of 1980, which was laid

before Parliament on two occasions – once in 1982, and again in 1983.

  • However, no action was taken on the basis of this Report until 13.08.1990, when an

Office Memorandum stated that after considering the said Report, 27% of the

vacancies in civil posts and services under the Government of India shall be reserved

for the Socially and Economically Backward Classes.

  • This was followed by an Office Memorandum of 25.09.1991, by which, within the 27%

of vacancies, preference was to be given to candidates belonging to the poorer sections of

the Socially and Economically Backward Classes; and 10% vacancies were to be reserved for Other Economically Backward Sections who were not covered by any of the existing schemes of reservation.

  • The majority judgments upheld the reservation of 27% in favour of backward classes,

and the further subdivision of more backward within the backward classes who were

to be given preference, but struck down the reservation of 10% in favour of Other

Economically Backward categories.

  • The Court held that the test or requirement of social and educational backwardness

cannot be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who indubitably fall

within the expression “backward class of citizens”. Thus, members of SC/ST do not have

to prove their backwardness.

  • The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are the most backward among

backward classes and it is, therefore, presumed that once they are contained in the

Presidential List under Articles 341 and Article 342 of the Constitution of India, there is

no question of showing backwardness of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled

Tribes all over again.

  • The advanced sections among the OBCs (the creamy layer) should be excluded from

the list of beneficiaries of reservation. It further held that creamy layer principle is

only confined to Other Backward Classes and has no relevance in the case of

Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.

  • There shall be no reservation in promotions and the reservation should be

confined to initial appointments only.

  • The reasoning was that reservations exist to create a level-playing field, to remedy

unequal starting positions, thereby removing the justification for reservation in

promotion.

 

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Title

The growing power of the lumpen     (The Hindu -Page. 10)

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper III : Security 

Theme

Mob  Lynching 

Highlights

MOB LYNCHING 

  • Increasing cases of mob violence in the society based on discrimination on different fronts have raised concerns on law and order situation in the country including safety of the vulnerable sections of the society. 

  • Supreme Court in the case of Tehseen Poonawala v Union of India, has provided a 11-point prescription for preventive, remedial and punitive measures and has asked Parliament to legislate a separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same.

 

Preventive Measures     

  • The State Governments shall designate, a senior police officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, as Nodal Officer in each district.

  • Such Nodal Officer shall be assisted by one of the DSP rank officers in the district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching. 

  • They shall constitute a special task force so as to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.

  • The State Governments shall forthwith identify Districts, Sub-Divisions and/or Villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past. 

  • The Nodal Officer shall hold regular meetings (at least once a month) with the local intelligence units in the district along with all Station House Officers of the district so as to identify the existence of the tendencies of vigilantism, mob violence or lynching in the district and take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material through different social media platforms or any other means for inciting such tendencies. 

  • The Nodal Officer shall also make efforts to eradicate hostile environment against any community or caste which is targeted in such incidents.

  • The Director General of Police/the Secretary, Home Department of the concerned States shall take regular review meetings (at least once a quarter) with all the Nodal Officers and State Police Intelligence heads.

  • The Home Department of the Government of India must take initiative and work in co-ordination with the State Governments for sensitising the law enforcement agencies and by involving all the stake holders to identify the measures for prevention of mob violence and lynching against any caste or community and to implement the constitutional goal of social justice and the Rule of Law.

  • The Director General of Police shall issue a circular to the Superintendents of Police with regard to police patrolling in the sensitive areas.

  • The Central and the State Governments should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites of the Home Department and Police of the States that lynching and mob violence of any kind shall invite serious consequence under the law.

 

Remedial Measures

  • In incidents of lynching or mob violence, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately cause to lodge an FIR, without any undue delay, under the relevant provisions of IPC and/or other provisions of law.

  • The Station House Officer shall intimate the Nodal Officer who shall be duty bound to ensure that the investigation is carried out effectively and the Report of police officer on completion of investigation (charge sheet) in such cases is filed without undue delay from the date of registration of the FIR or arrest of the accused.    

  • The state shall provide compensation to the victims of mob violence within 1 month from the date of judgment. To compute compensation, the State Governments shall give due regard to the nature of bodily injury, psychological injury and loss of earnings including loss of opportunities of employment and education and expenses incurred on account of legal and medical expenses.

  • The cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/Fast Track Courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. Such courts shall hold trial of the case on a day to day basis. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months from the date of taking cognizance. 

  • To ensure deterrence and to set an example, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence as provided for various offences under the provisions of the IPC.   

  • The Court must take appropriate measures for the safety of such victims for protection and for concealing the identity and address of the witness. 

  • The victim or the next of kin of the deceased in cases of mob violence and lynching shall be given timely notice of any court proceedings and he/she shall be entitled to be heard at the trial in respect of applications such as bail, discharge, release and parole filed by the accused persons.

  • The victims or the next of kin of the deceased in cases of mob violence and lynching shall receive free legal aid if he or she so chooses and engage any advocate of his/her choice from amongst those enrolled in the legal aid panel under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.    

Punitive Measures

  • Wherever it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to comply with the aforesaid directions in order to prevent and/or investigate and/or facilitate expeditious trial of any crime of mob violence and lynching, the same shall be considered as an act of deliberate negligence or misconduct for which appropriate action must be taken against such officer.

  • As per Supreme Court judgment in Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu, the States are directed to take disciplinary action against the concerned officials if it is found that (i) such official(s) did not prevent the incident, despite having prior knowledge of it, or (ii) where the incident has already occurred, such official(s) did not promptly apprehend and institute criminal proceedings against the culprits.

 

Separate law on mob lynching by Manipur

On the lines of Supreme Court judgment, State Government of Manipur has legislated a separate law to make lynching a criminal offence.    

  • Definition of Mob as per Manipur law - The Act has defined lynching in a comprehensive way and covers many forms of hate crimes. It covers any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds. 

  • As per the law, mob means a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching. However, the law does not cover solitary hate crimes carried out by one individual.  

 

Punishments Provided under the Manipur Law

Nature

Punishment

Victim suffering from hurt

For a term which may extend to 7 years + fine, which may extend upto Rs. 1 lakh

Victim suffering from grievous hurt

For a term which may extend to 10 years + fine, which may extend upto Rs. 3 lakhs

Death of the victim

Rigorous imprisonment for life + fine upto Rs. 10 lakhs 

 

Committee headed by Home Secretary on Mob Lynching

  • Four Member Committee of secretaries headed by Home Secretary was formed in July 2018 to look into the incidents of mob violence and lynchings and submit recommendations on ways to tackle the challenge.    

  • The committee has submitted its report to the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Home Minister who will now examine the recommendations of this panel.   

The Committee was constituted in wake of Supreme Court judgment where the Court directed the Centre to draft strong legislation to make lynching a separate offence and also to take preventive measures to control the spread of fake messages on social media platforms, after a series of mob lynching incidents took place. 

Advisory by Ministry of Home Affairs

  • As per the Constitutional scheme, 'Police' and 'Public Order' are State subjects. State Governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order, and protecting the life and property of the citizens. They are empowered to enact and enforce laws to curb crime in their jurisdiction.

  • State Governments are also competent to enact legislation to make mob lynching a separate offence. Accordingly, Ministry of Home Affairs has issued advisories to States/UTs for maintenance of public order and prevention of crime in their areas of jurisdiction including advisory on addressing the issue of lynching by mob on suspicion of child lifting and on disturbances by miscreants in the name of protection of cow.  

 

Title

DRDO gets clearance for missile test facility A.P.       (The Hindu -Page.08)

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper III: environment 

Theme

EIA

Highlights

Context :

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has granted environment and Coastal Regulatory Zone clearances for setting up Missile Testing Launch Facility on the Bay of Bengal coast and Technical Facility at Gullalamoda village in Krishna district.

 

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has granted environment and Coastal Regulatory Zone clearances for setting up Missile Testing Launch Facility on the Bay of Bengal coast and Technical Facility at Gullalamoda village in Krishna district.

 

here is confirmation from Secretary, Ministry of Defence, that this project is a strategic requirement and of national importance and cannot be located anywhere else. It is thus exempted from the public hearing as per EIA notification 2016

 

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Title

Going electric   (The Hindu Page 10)

Syllabus 

Economy 

Theme

Transportation 

Highlights

Highlights of the Editorial 

  • The Union Budget has announced a bold move to make a transition to electric vehicles, and offered a tax incentive for the early adopters. 

  • Its stated vision to leapfrog into an era of electric mobility and domestic vehicle manufacturing, led by public transport and commercial vehicles, is forward-looking. It is also inevitable because poor air quality and noise pollution have sharply affected the quality of life, and pose a serious public health challenge. 

  • As the NITI Aayog has stated, the goal of shifting to electric vehicles cannot make progress without deadlines, and a market-driven approach sought by some sections of the automotive industry will leave India’s capabilities and infrastructure for e-mobility trailing others, notably China. 

  • With 2030 as the outer limit, the imperative is to fix a realistic time-frame by which scooters, motorcycles, three-wheel carriages and, later, all new vehicles will be battery powered. 

  • An additional income tax deduction of ₹1.5 lakh is now offered on interest paid on loans to purchase electric vehicles, and the GST Council has been moved to cut the tax on e-vehicles to 5% from 12%. Both demands were made by the industry earlier. 

  • There is a significant outlay under the second iteration of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing (of Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME) plan of ₹10,000 crore, to give a fillip to commercial vehicles and to set up charging stations.

 

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

  1. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

National Dairy Plan

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Government support for increasing milk production in the country through various schemes and key features of such schemes.

 

ContextDepartment of Animal Husbandry and Dairying is implementing World Bank assisted National Dairy Plan – I in 18 States to support milk cooperatives and milk producer companies along with breeding improvement initiative. 

 

Key features of the scheme:

  • National Dairy Plan Phase I (NDP I) is a Central Sector Scheme.  
  • Funding will be through a line of credit from the International Development Association (IDA), which along with the share of the Government of India will flow from DADF to NDDB and in turn to eligible End Implementing Agencies (EIAs).
  • NDP I will focus on 18 major milk producing states namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh which together account for over 90% of the country’s milk production.

 

Objectives:

  1. To help increase productivity of milch animals and thereby increase milk production to meet the rapidly growing demand for milk.
  2. To help provide rural milk producers with greater access to the organised milk-processing sector.

 

End Implementation Agencies (EIAs) would be State Cooperative Dairy Federations; District Cooperative Milk Producers Unions; Cooperative form of enterprises such as Producer Companies; State Livestock Development Boards; Central Cattle Breeding Farms (CCBF), Central Frozen Semen Production and Training Institute (CFSP&TI), Regional Stations for Forage Production and Demonstration (RSFP&D); Registered Societies/ Trusts (NGOs); Section 25 Companies, subsidiaries of statutory bodies, ICAR Institutes and Veterinary/ Dairy Institutes/Universities that meet the eligibility criteria for each activity as may be decided by the National Steering Committee (NSC).

 

Background:

India’s milk production increased from 165.40 MMT in 2016-17 to 176.35 MMT in 2017-18, a growth rate of 6.62 per cent.

The country ranks first in global milk production.

The per capita availability of milk in India during 2017-18 was 375 gm/day and by 2023-24, it is estimated to increase to 592 gm/day.

 

Mains Question: During the past three years, India has outpaced the global milk production with an annual growth rate of 5.53% compared with the 2.09% achieved globally. Examine how is it made possible.


GS Paper 1:

Topic covered:

  1. Issues related to women.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features, objectives and significance of the programme, issues related to feminization of agriculture.

 

Context: In line with the provisions of National Policy for Farmers (NPF) (2007), the Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development is implementing a programme exclusively for women farmers namely, Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP).

Funding support to the tune of up to 60% (90% for North Eastern States) for such projects is provided by the Government of India.

 

About Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana:

  • The “Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana” (MKSP), a sub component of the Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-NRLM (DAY-NRLM) seeks to improve the present status of women in Agriculture, and to enhance the opportunities available to empower her.
  • MKSP recognizes the identity of “Mahila” as “Kisan” and strives to build the capacity of women in the domain of agro-ecologically sustainable practices.
  • It has a clear vision to reach out to the poorest of poor households and expand the portfolio of activities currently handled by the Mahila Kisan.
  • The focus of MKSP is on capacitating smallholders to adopt sustainable climate resilient agro-ecology and eventually create a pool of skilled community professionals. Its objective is to strengthen smallholder agriculture through promotion of sustainable agriculture practices such as Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA), Non Pesticide Management (NPM), Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), Pashu-Sakhi model for doorstep animal care services, Sustainable regeneration and harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Produce.

 

Need for feminization of agriculture:

Rural women form the most productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India. More than 80% of rural women are engaged in agriculture activities for their livelihoods. About 20 per cent of farm livelihoods are female headed due to widowhood, desertion, or male emigration. Agriculture support system in India strengthens the exclusion of women from their entitlements as agriculture workers and cultivators. Most of the women-headed households are not able to access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like seed, water, credit, subsidy etc. As agricultural workers, women are paid lower wage than men.

 

Mains Question: Discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India. Also discuss how those problems could be solved.


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

NASA to launch Dragonfly

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key objectives, significance of the mission and related facts on Titan.

 

ContextNASA plans to launch an unmanned nuclear-powered drone, Dragonfly as early as 2026 to search for life on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

 

Key facts:

  • Dragonfly aims to search for signs of microbial alien life on Saturn’s moon Titan, while navigating its earth-like gravity and aerodynamics in the process.
  • The mission will succeed NASA’s Cassini probe, which ended its 13-year mission orbiting Saturn in September 2017 by diving into Saturn’s atmosphere. 
    Dragonfly mission is a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, which includes a series of space exploration missions, which are being conducted with the purpose of researching several of the Solar System bodies, including the dwarf planet Pluto.
  • The New Frontiers programme also includes Pluto probe New Horizons, Jupiter probe Juno and OSIRIS-Rex asteroid mission.
  • The Dragonfly mission replaces a previously discontinued concept project called Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM), which required a balloon probe to circumnavigate Titan. 

 

Why study Titan?

Titan is an analog to the very early Earth, and can provide clues to how life may have arisen on our planet.

Titan is larger than the planet Mercury and is the second largest moon in our solar system

As it orbits Saturn, it is about 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from the Sun, about 10 times farther than Earth. Because it is so far from the Sun, its surface temperature is around -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 degrees Celsius). Its surface pressure is also 50 percent higher than Earth’s.

 

Objectives of the mission:

  • Explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years.
  • Study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed.
  • Investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs.
  • Search for chemical evidence of past or extant life.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Basel Norms

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key features and overview of Basel norms.

For mains: Significance, need for and challenges in implementation.

 

Context: An assessment of compliance with Basel Norms was recently conducted by the Regulatory Consistency Assessment Programme (RCAP). RCAP is part of the Basel committee.

The assessment focused on the completeness and consistency of the domestic regulations in force on 7 June 2019, as applied to commercial banks in India, with the Basel large exposures framework.

 

Background:

Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) is the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks, has 45 members, comprising central banks and bank supervisors from 28 jurisdictions.

 

Key findings:

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) norms on large exposures for banks are not only compliant with the Basel requirements, they are stricter in some areas as well.
  • This is highest possible grade. In some other respects, the Indian regulations are stricter than the Basel large exposures framework. For example, banks’ exposures to global systemically important banks are subject to stricter limits, in line with the letter and spirit of the Basel Guidelines, and the scope of application of the Indian standards is wider than just the internationally active banks covered by the Basel framework.

 

What are Basel guidelines?

Basel guidelines refer to broad supervisory standards formulated by group of central banks- called the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). The set of agreement by the BCBS, which mainly focuses on risks to banks and the financial system are called Basel accord.

Basel is a city in Switzerland which is also the headquarters of Bureau of International Settlement (BIS).

The purpose of the accords is to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet obligations and absorb unexpected losses.

 

BASEL-I:

Introduced in 1988.

Focused almost entirely on credit risk, it defined capital and structure of risk weights for banks.

The minimum capital requirement was fixed at 8% of risk-weighted assets (RWA).

India adopted Basel 1 guidelines in 1999.

BASEL-II:

Published in 2004.
The guidelines were based on three parameters:

  1. Banks should maintain a minimum capital adequacy requirement of 8% of risk assets.
  2. Banks were needed to develop and use better risk management techniques in monitoring and managing all the three types of risks that is credit and increased disclosure requirements. The three types of risk are- operational risk, market risk, capital risk.
  3. Banks need to mandatory disclose their risk exposure to the central bank.

 

Basel III:

In 2010, Basel III guidelines were released. These guidelines were introduced in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

Basel III norms aim at making most banking activities such as their trading book activities more capital-intensive.

The guidelines aim to promote a more resilient banking system by focusing on four vital banking parameters viz. capital, leverage, funding and liquidity.

Presently Indian banking system follows Basel II norms.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Port integrity campaign

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: features and significance of the cam, about MACN.

 

ContextMaritime Anti-Corruption Network starts port integrity campaign in India.

 

What is it?

The campaign, which aims to reduce and (in the long term) eliminate integrity issues and bottlenecks to trade during operations in Indian ports, is a collective action of MACN, the Government of India, international organizations, and local industry stakeholders.

The main activities of the campaign include implementation of integrity training for port officials and the establishment of clear escalation and reporting processes. 

 

About MACN:

Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is a global business network of over 110 companies working to tackle corruption in the maritime industry.

Established in 2011 by a small group of committed maritime companies.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Human Rights courts

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: human rights courts- provision with regards to its establishment, composition, objectives and why there is delay in setting up of such courts?

 

Context: The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Central government, the States and the Union Territories on the prolonged delay for over a quarter of a century to establish exclusive human rights courts in each district and appointing special public prosecutors in them.

 

What’s the issue?

The Human Rights Act had called for the establishment of special courts in each district to conduct speedy trial of offences arising out of violation and abuse of human rights.

 

Establishment:

Section 30 of the Act envisages that a State government, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of High Court, by notification, specify for each district a court of session as a court of human rights for the speedy trial of violation of rights. Whereas Section 31 of the Act provides the State government to specify and appoint a special public prosecutor in that court. 

 

Need:

To uphold and protect the basic and fundamental rights of an individual it is an indispensable obligation upon the State to provide affordable, effective and speedy trial of offences related to violation of human rights which can only be achieved by setting up special courts in each district as provided under the Act.

 

Background:

From 2001 to 2010, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recorded that 14,231 i.e. 4.33 persons died in police and judicial custody in the country. This includes 1,504 deaths in police custody and 12,727 deaths in judicial custody from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010, and a large majority of these deaths being a direct consequence of torture in custody, the petition said.

India Human Rights Report 2018 threw light on various rights violations such as police brutality, torture and excess custodial and encounters deaths, horrible conditions in prisons and detention centres, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, denial of fair public trial.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue:

Why in News? Second India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue is being held.

The IRSED was established following a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation during the 19th edition of the Annual India-Russia Bilateral Summit, which was held on October 5, 2018, in New Delhi.

The First India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in St. Petersburg in 2018.

 

Plan Bee:

What is it? It is an amplifying system imitating the buzz of a swarm of honey bees to keep wild elephants away from railway tracks. It is a unique strategy adopted by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

Why in news? It has earned the best innovation award in Indian Railways for the 2018-19 fiscal.

 

Utkarsha 2022:

What is it? It is a three- year road map for medium term objective to be achieved for improving regulation, supervision of RBI. It was recently finalised by the RBI. This medium-term strategy is in line with Global central banks’ plan to strengthen regulatory and supervisory mechanism.

 

Green tax on plane tickets:

Context: France to impose green tax on plane tickets from 2020.

The new measure is expected to bring in some €182 million a year which will be invested in greener transport infrastructures, notably rail. It will only be applied on outgoing flights and not those flying into the country.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

The GM cotton conundrum:

Context: A few Haryana farmers have defied a government restriction against sowing banned HT Bt Cotton in Hisar. However, the government is determined to curb its spread.

 

What is HT Bt cotton?

Herbicide-tolerant Bt (HT Bt) Cotton is genetically modified crop of unapproved genes which is not permissible in India.

 

Significance:

Technically, herbicide is like a poison which is used to destroy unwanted vegetation.

The technique in the HT Bt Cotton makes the crop resistant to herbicide following modification in genes of the seeds. Normally, when an herbicide is sprayed, then it destroys unwanted vegetation along with causing harm the cotton crop also. So, farmers use less herbicide in their fields. But with the introduction of HT Bt Cotton, there won’t be any impact of herbicide on the cotton crop while the unwanted vegetation will be destroyed. This will lead to more use of chemicals in fields causing harm to other crops.

 

What’s the extent of HT Bt Cotton in India?

In the absence of government approval, production of HT Bt seed is illegal, but farmers say it’s available in those states where its being grown defying the laws.

A section of farmers have started sowing its seeds particularly in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the past few years.

A government panel had found that the HT Bt Cotton was grown in 15 per cent of the areas in these states during 2017-18 while this percentage was 5 per cent for Punjab.

 

Why is it preferred by the farmers?

According to supporters of HT Bt Cotton, its preferred to reduce the cost of labouras de-weeding is an extremely labour intensive activity involving 40 per cent of the total cost for growing cotton.

The farmers have felt the impact of HT Bt Cotton in terms of lower costs and reduced crop losses leading to higher production and income.

 

Bt crops in India:

Indian government in 2010 had imposed a moratorium, leaving Bt Cotton as the only genetically modified crop permitted for cultivation in the country.

 

What do the opponents of HT Bt Cotton say?

Such seeds will cause more diseases among humans and animals apart from causing damage to the environment.

 

Do we need GM crops?

Yes and why?

  • Higher crop yields.
  • Reduced farm costs.
  • Increased farm profit.
  • Improvement in health and the environment.

 

No and why?

Lack of clarity: It is clear that the technology of genetic engineering is an evolving one and there is much, especially on its impact on human health and environment that is yet to be understood properly. The scientific community itself seems uncertain about this.

While there are many in this community who feel that the benefits outweigh the risks, others point to the irreversibility of this technology and uncontrollability of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) once introduced in the ecosystem. Hence, they advocate a precautionary approach towards any open release of GMOs.

Threat to domestic crops: One of the concerns raised strongly by those opposing GM crops in India is that many important crops like rice, brinjal, and mustard, among others, originated here, and introducing genetically modified versions of these crops could be a major threat to the vast number of domestic and wild varieties of these crops.

In fact, globally, there is a clear view that GM crops must not be introduced in centres of origin and diversity. India also has mega biodiversity hotspots like the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats which are rich in biodiversity yet ecologically very sensitive. Hence it will only be prudent for us to be careful before we jump on to the bandwagon of any technology.

There is also a potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops and the risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms. There is also the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.

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