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Daily Current affairs 12 February 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

Government sought legal opinion on changes to sedition law, told necessary, go by Supreme Court

The News

• Centre government sought legal opinions on changes to sedition law Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code).

• However, the majority, including law enforcement agencies, have expressed the need to retain the law without changes. Thus, it is unlikely that the IPC section on sedition is diluted or scrapped.

 

What is Sedition law?

• Sedition is an offence that criminalizes words (either spoken or written), signs, or visible representation etc. that is regarded to be disloyal to or threatening to the state.

• Sedition is covered under section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code.

• Section 124 A says 'Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection(includes disloyalty and all feelings of hate) towards the Government established by law in India' shall be punished with life imprisonment'

• Expressing strong disapproval of the 'administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section.'

• Before Independence, this charge was used by the British to suppress the freedom movement.

• It was drafted by Thomas Macaulay and introduced in 1870.

• It was not a part of IPC in the 1860s and was even dropped from the law. It was introduced in the IPC in the year 1870.

• Many Indian freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, were charged with sedition during freedom struggle

 

Context

• The government came under criticism for the rampant use of the sedition law, particularly after a sedition FIR was registered against students of JNU following a protest in 2016.

 

Background

• In August 2018, the Law Commission (Centre’s topmost advisory body on laws) submitted a “consultation paper” to the Centre on the need for changes in the sedition (Section 124A) from the Indian Penal Code.

• The Commission also invited public opinion on the prospect of either redefining or doing away with Section 124A.

• While a final decision on whether to dilute the law or not is yet to be made public. However, given the legal opinion and the views of majority stakeholders in favour of the law, it is unlikely that Section 124A will be scrapped soon.

• However, it has been suggested that Section 124A should be used as per Supreme Court guidelines in Kedar Nath vsState of Bihar to check its misuse.

 

Supreme Court on Sedition law

• In Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar (1962) caseSupreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 124A, but also limited the scope of the law in India by adding that a person could be prosecuted for sedition only if his acts caused “incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace”.

• In 2016, Supreme Court of India issued a direction to all the concerned authorities to follow the Constitutional bench judgment in Kedar Nath v State of Bihar (1962), when dealing with cases of sedition.

 

Conclusion

• While it is essential to protect national integrity, sedition law should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech. Dissent and criticism are essential ingredients of a robust public debate on policy issues as part of vibrant democracy

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Section : Polity & Governance

 

Sebi plans F&O circuit filters to curb volatility in equity stocks

The News

• Recently, SEBI has proposed to impose fixed circuit filterson stocks in the futures and options (F&O) segment.

  

Important Terms

• Circuit filter: Circuit filter is a mechanism used by stock exchanges to curb excessive volatility in markets. It is the maximum fluctuation in price allowed during trading.

• Futures and Options (F&O):Futures and options on stocks and indices offered by exchanges such as NSE and BSE.

Future Contract: A futures contract is an agreement between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a certain time in the future at a certain price. Here, the buyer is obliged to buy the asset on the specified future date.

o A stock futures contract facilitates purchase or sale of a stock at a preset price for delivery on a later date.

Option Contract: An options contract gives the buyer the right to buy the asset at a fixed price. However, there is no obligation on the part of the buyer to go through with the purchase. Nevertheless, should the buyer choose to buy the asset, the seller is obliged to sell it.

o A call option on a stock allows to purchase the underlier(security or commodity which is subject to delivery upon exercise of an option contract) at a preset price on a future date, while, a put optionallows to sell the underlier.

o Normally, delivery is not taken or given on F&O segment, only the difference in buy or sell price at squaring off to when position was initiated is exchanged between buyers and sellers, unknown to each other.

Note: In the F&O segment, price bands or circuit filters are generally not applied as these are forward contracts. At present, there are over 200 stocks in the F&O segment on the NSE.

 

Need for the move

• With the recent spike in intra-day volatility in stocks, that are part of the equity futures and options (F&O) segment, there are concerns that investors’ wealth is getting wiped out in a single day by recent falls in stocks on which derivative products are available.

 

News Summary

• SEBI has asked for suggestions to review the rules to prevent such extraordinary price movements.

• It has proposed to cap the maximum daily movement up to 20 per cent for all stocks, including those in F&O.

• It has also suggested a combination of dynamic and fixed price band or call auction mechanism.

• SEBI has sought suggestions on whether it should continue with the current system.

• Also, it has sought public view on whether any measures are required at this stage or it could hamper free market and fair price discovery.

 

• Benefits of the move:

o Imposing such circuit filters may arrest abnormal movement of the price of the scrip beyond a certain limit.

o It may give some opportunity to listed firms and its promoters to assess the movement of the stock price and enable them to make market announcement.

o Introducing call auction may ensure wider participation of investors thereby leading to better price discovery as compared to the current system of flexing of dynamic price bands which is based on limited number of trades.

 

• Challenges:

o The imposition of price bands on such stocks may hamper fair price discovery and liquidity. 

o It may lead to misalignment between the price of underlying in cash segment and price of the derivative products.

o Computation of the index may become a challenge during the period of the call auction on account of lack of availability of current market price of the scrip (document acknowledging debt) during the period

 

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Section : Economics

 

NADA wants legislation to criminalise doping

The News

  • In a bid to tackle doping menace in the country, the government is mulling a law to criminalise supplying and trafficking of banned substances in sports.

 

Background

Doping Control Mechanism in India

• The World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) established in 1999, is an international independent agency mainly responsible for guiding and monitoring anti-doping policies in sports in all countries.

• India is party to the 2015 International Convention against Doping in Sport of UNESCO which requires elimination of doping practices.

• Accordingly India formed the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in 2008 as a national organisation for fostering, coordinating, and monitoring the doping control program in sports in all its forms in India.

• In accordance with WADA Code of 2015, NADA introduced the National Anti-Doping Rules, 2015 which deals with adopting and implementing anti-doping rules and policies.

• The NADA Rules laid down:

➢ Conditions for athletes and athlete's support personnel for participation in sports event

➢ Conduct of dope test

➢ Conduct of disciplinary and appeal panel proceedings at national level

➢ List of prohibitory substances

 

Need for National Anti-Doping Bill, 2018

• Despite efforts to tackle doping menace, India has the dubious distinction of being 3rd in the global list of countries with dope offenders in 2014 and 2015.

• The main reason for prevalence of doping among athletes is lack of knowledge of prohibitive substances.

• Besides, those who induce the athletes into taking banned substances are often left scot-free.

• As a result a low could act as a deterrent to those involved in trafficking and administration of prohibitive substances to athletes.

 

National Anti-Doping Bill, 2018

The government is all set to introduce the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2018 aimed at tackling the menace of doping incidents in sports in India.

Important Provisions

1. Criminalising supply of banned substances

• This provision seeks to criminalise supply of prohibited substances by athletes, coaches, support staff, medical personnel etc.

• According to the draft bill, ‘any person involved in supply of prohibited substances to an athlete or having links to an 'organised crime syndicate' involved in doping will attract a jail term of up to 4 years or imposition of Rs 10 lakh fine’.

2. Composition of the Governing Body

• The draft bill provides for an 8-member governing body of NADA to deal with anti-doping rules in India.

• The composition of the governing body includes sports minister, sports secretary, joint secretary of the sports ministry, and director general of health services, ministry of health and family welfare.

3. Anti-Doping Disciplinary and Appeals Panels

• The draft bill provides for anti-doping disciplinary and appeals panels within NADA.

 

IOA’s opposition to the bill

The Indian Olympic Association has been opposing the provisions of the bill on following grounds:

Criminalisation

• According to IOA, while some prohibited substances are performance enhancing and illegal in sports, they may be legal under common law to purchase and consume.

• Thus Indian Olympic Association is against criminalization of supply of prohibited substances as it would not stand the general implications of a criminal act.

Dent on Autonomy

• According to IOA, the presence of government representatives in the governing body of the NADA is against the principle of autonomy of such institutions.

• The World Anti-Doping Agency Code and the Olympic Charter require the protection of autonomy of National Anti-Doping Organisations.

Conflict of Interest

• The IOA is of the opinion that Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel and Anti-Doping Appeals Panel under NADA is a clear case of conflict of interest as such institutions are established as independent bodies in other countries.

• This could seriously affect grievance redressalmechanisms in anti-doping cases.

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Section : Polity & Governance

 

To blend Vedic and modern studies, HRD clears Bharatiya Shiksha Board

The News 

  • In order to standardize Vedic education in the country, the Minsitry of Human Resource Development has approved the setting up of Bhartiya Shiksha Board.

 

About Bhartiya Shiksha Board

• The Bhartiya Shiksha Board will be set up under Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratishthan, an autonomous body under the Ministry of HRD.

• The Bhartiya Shiksha Board is being set up with the primary aim of standardising Vedic education in India.

• The board will mainly draft a standard syllabus, conduct common examinations and issue certificates to all those institutions imparting Vedic education.

• The board will also affiliate traditional pathshalas such as Acharyakulam, Vidya Bharati schools and other gurukuls.

• Thus the board will be responsible for evolving a blend of Vedic and modern education in Sanskrit schools in India.

• As a result the Bhartiya Shiksha Board will augment recognition to traditional learning in the country.

 

Background

• MaharshiSandipani Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratishthan (MSRVP) is an automous body of Minsitry of HRD was set up in Ujjain in 1987 to develop and propagate oral studies of the Vedas.

• MSRVP currently affiliates 450 institutions of traditional learning like pathshalas, gurukuls etc

• Although MSRVP is conducting Class X and XII examinations, its certificates are not recognized by CBSE as equivalent to mainstream education.

• As a result the need was felt to constitute Bhartiya Shiksha Board in order to recognize and bled traditional learning with modern education in India.

 

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Section : Social Issues

 

The state of the States Editorial 12th Feb’19 TheHindu

India and SDGs:

  • India was one among the 193 United Nations member states to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
  • It has been making sincere efforts to achieve these goals.

SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018:

  • The SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018, was released to the public at the end of 2018 by NITI Aayog.
  • It was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India.
  • NITI Aayog has the mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country.
  • The SDG India Index is a useful comparative account of the progress made by India’s States and UTs towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.

  

 

SDG Index - Indicators of progress:

  • The SDG India Index tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators selected by NITI Aayog.
  • The progress performance assessment has been made towards targets set by the Government of India, or the UN SDGs target for 2030, or the average of the three best-performing States.
  • For reasons of comparability, all these indicators are normalised.
  • The Index spans 13 out of 17 SDGs

Some SDGs left out from tracking:

  • Progress on SDG-12, SDG-13 (on climate action) and SDG-14 could not be measured as relevant State/UT level data were not available.
  •  SDG 17 was left out as it focuses on international partnerships.

Scoring the States:

  • A composite score was computed between the range of 0-100 for each State and UT based on their aggregate performance across 13 SDGs.
  • The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.
  • If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies that it has achieved the 2030 national targets.

Classification Criteria based on SDG India Index Score is as follows:

  1. Achiever: 100
    • Achievers are those States which have already accomplished the set target.
  2. Front Runner: 65-99
    • Front runners are those States that are very close to realising them.
  3. Performer: 50-64
    • Performer states are working towards the goals but are still far from realizing them. A majority of the States are categorised as performers.
  4. Aspirant: 0-49
    • Aspirants are those lagging in performance

 

 

Criticism

  1. Arbitrary classification:
  • Critics point out that there is some arbitrariness in the exercise.
  • They note that the three front runner States — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Himachal Pradesh — assumimg values of 66, 69 and 69, respectively, are only a little ahead tha tthe  against a range of States with values between 50 and 64.
  • In comparision, almost 17 States qualify as above or equal to the national score of 57.
  • Critics say that the classification is arbitrarily made to purposely ensure that there are a few States in two extremes and a most of the state are in-between.
  1. The problem of averaging
  • The number of indicators considered for each SDG were different.
  • There is also wide variation in scores across different goals.
    • For instance, in case of goals 1 and 2, the range for the majority of the States is between 35 and 80.
    • For goals 3 and 6, the range is between 25 and 100.
    • Again, for  goal 5, it ranges between 24 and 50.
  • Given the variations across different goals, merely averaging scores not only compromises on robustness but also masks the disaggregated story to a large extent.
  1. Aggregation of scores is faulty:
  • The index adopted the process of aggregation, that is, scores on various indicators for various SDGs were aggregated and then classified (as aspirant, achiever etc.)
  • This assumes that each of the goals as well as the corresponding set of indicators are equally important and can substitute for each other.
  • The reality is that achievement of progress in one goal cannot compensate for compromise in another.
  • Interdependence of goals needs to be recognized:
    • This also overlooks the aspect of inter-dependence of various goals.
    • The choice of indicators representing specific goals should not necessarily be guided by availability but also their explicit independence from one another.
    • This may help in making a uniform set of indicators for each of the goals with proper representation without duplication.

 

Conclusion:

  • The exercise by NITI Aayog serves as a report card of performance of States as regards compliance with the SDGs,.
  • However, its scientific adequacy is compromised with arbitrariness that presents a stereotypical pattern of performance.
  • On the whole, this performance assessment may not be misleading, but it does not help us understand the relative significance of compliance in some goals that helps in compliance of the other.

 

Importance:

GS Paper II: Social Issues

 

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Section : Editorial Analysis

 

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