Daily Current affairs 15 August 2019UPSC - Daily Current Affair
Relevant articles from PIB:
The call for Poorna Swaraj:
In 1929, when Jawaharlal Nehru as Congress President gave the call for ‘Poorna Swaraj’ or total independence from British colonial rule, January 26 was chosen as the Independence Day.
Congress party continued to celebrate it 1930 onwards, till India attained independence and January 26, 1950, was chosen as the Republic Day – the day India formally became a sovereign country and was no longer a British Dominion.
How did August 15 become India’s independence day?
Lord Mountbatten had been given a mandate by the British parliament to transfer the power by June 30, 1948. If he had waited till June 1948, in C Rajagopalachari’s memorable words, there would have been no power left to transfer. Mountbatten thus advanced the date to August 1947. By advancing the date, he said he was ensuring that there will be no bloodshed or riot.
Based on Mountbatten’s inputs the Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons on July 4, 1947, and passed within a fortnight. It provided for the end of the British rule in India, on August 15, 1947, and the establishment of the Dominions of India and Pakistan, which were allowed to secede from the British Commonwealth.
Why Mountbatten chose August 15, 1947?
Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender.
GS Paper 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Competition law- features, issues and the need for review.
Context: Report of the Competition Law Review Committee submitted to Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister.
The key recommendations of the Competition Law Review Committee are:
- Introduction of a ‘Green Channel’ for combination notifications to enable fast-paced regulatory approvals for vast majority of mergers and acquisitions that may have no major concerns regarding appreciable adverse effects on competition. Combinations arising out of the insolvency resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will also be eligible for “Green Channel” approvals.
- Introducing a dedicated bench in NCLATfor hearing appeals under the Competition Act.
- Introduction of express provisions to identify ‘hub and spoke’ agreements as well as agreements that do not fit within typical horizontal or vertical anti-competitive structures to cover agreements related to business structures and models synonymous with new age markets.
- Additional enforcement mechanism of ‘Settlement & Commitments” in the interests of speedier resolution of cases of anti-competitive conduct.
- Enabling provisions to prescribe necessary thresholds, inter alia, deal-value threshold for merger notifications.
- CCI to issue guidelines on imposition of penaltyto ensure more transparency and faster decision making which will encourage compliance by businesses.
- Strengthening the governance structure of CCI with the introduction of a Governing Board to oversee advocacy and quasi-legislative functions, leaving adjudicatory functions to the Whole-time Members.
- Merging DG’s Office with CCI as an ‘Investigation Division’ as it aids CCI in discharging an inquisitorial rather than adversarial mandate. However, functional autonomy must be protected.
- Opening of CCI offices at regional levelto carry out non-adjudicatory functions such as research, advocacy etc. and interaction with State Governments and State regulators.
The Government constituted a Competition Law Review Committee on 1st October, 2018 to review the existing Competition law framework and make recommendations to further strengthen the framework to inter alia meet new economy challenges.
The Competition Act:
The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
Need for review:
During the past nine years the size of the Indian Economy has grown immensely and India is today amongst the top five Economies in the World and poised to forge ahead further. In this context, it is essential that Competition Law is strengthened, and re-calibrated to promote best practices which result in the citizens of this country achieving their aspirations and value for money.
Relevant articles from various news sources:
GS Paper 3:
Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
What to study?
For prelims: Key features of the act.
For mains: Issues related, why is it called a draconian law, need for reforms.
Why in News? Former IAS officer has been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
What is the J&K PSA?
- The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) received the assent of the J&K Governor on April 8, 1978.
- The Act was introduced as a tough law to prevent the smuggling of timber and keep the smugglers “out of circulation”.
- The law allows the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
- The PSA allows for administrative detention for up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
- Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates.
- Section 22 of the Act provides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act: “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this Act.”
- Under Section 23 of the Act, the government is empowered to “make such Rules consistent with the provisions of this Act, as may be necessary for carrying out the objects of this Act”.
Why is it often referred to as a “draconian” law?
- Right from the beginning, the law was misused widely, and was repeatedly employed against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990. After the emergence of militancy, the J&K government frequently invoked the PSA to crack down on separatists.
- In August 2018, the Act was amended to allow individuals to be detained under the PSA outside the state as well.
- The detaining authority need not disclose any facts about the detention “which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.
- The terms under which a person is detained under PSA are vague and include a broad range of activities like “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State” or for “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
- The vagueness provided in the act gives unbridled powers to the authorities. The detainees, therefore, are effectively debarred from contesting the legality of their detention.
- PSA does not provide for a judicial review of detention. To checkmate the J&K High Court orders for release of persons detained under the act the state authorities issue successive detention orders. This ensures prolonged detention of people.
- PSC has been used against human rights activists, journalists, separatists and others who are considered as a threat to the law & order. Right to dissent is stifled by these Acts.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
- Conservation related issues.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: About WWF and key findings of the report.
Context: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has released the first-ever global assessment of forest biodiversity.
Until now, forest biodiversity had never been assessed, but forest area was often used as a proxy indicator.
The new findings were based on the Forest Specialist Index, developed following the Living Planet Index methodology — an index that tracks wildlife that lives only in forests.
There has been a 53% decline in the number of forest wildlife populations since 1970.
Of the 455 monitored populations of forest specialists, more than half declined at an annual rate of 1.7 per cent, on average between 1970 and 2014.
While the decline was consistent in these years among mammals, reptiles and amphibians (particularly from the tropical forests), it was less among birds (especially from temperate forests).
Reasons responsible for the decline in wildlife populations:
- Habitat loss and habitat.
- Climate change.
- Loss of habitat due to logging, agricultural expansion, mining, hunting, conflicts and spread of diseases accounted for almost 60 per cent of threats.
- Nearly 20 per cent of threats were due to overexploitation. Of the 112 forest-dwelling primate populations, 40 were threatened by overexploitation (hunting).
- Climate change, on the other hand, threatened to 43 per cent of amphibian populations, 37 per cent of reptile populations, 21 per cent of bird populations but only 3 per cent of mammal populations.
- More than 60 per cent of threatened forest specialist populations faced more than one threat.
What’s the main concern now?
Wildlife is an essential component of natural and healthy forests. They play a major role in forest regeneration and carbon storage by engaging in pollination and seed dispersal. Thus, loss of fauna can have severe implications for forest health, the climate and humans who depend on forests for their livelihoods.
Need of the hour:
Protecting wildlife and reversing the decline of nature requires urgent global action. The need is to preserve harmonious land use in our region, including forest management and protect the most valuable surviving ecosystems.
Sources: Down to earth.
GS Paper 3:
Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: CBI- Establishment, its functioning, issues related to its autonomy and need for consent in investigations.
Context: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has recommended a comprehensive legislation to make the Central Bureau of Investigation functional as an efficient and impartial investigative agency.
Problems associated with CBI:
- The agency is dependent on the home ministry for staffing, since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
- The agency depends on the law ministry for lawyers and also lacks functional autonomy to some extent.
- The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also susceptible to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers, because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
- Another great constraint on the CBI is its dependence on State governments for invoking its authority to investigate cases in a State, even when such investigation targets a Central government employee.
- Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This is a cumbersome procedure and has led to some ridiculous situations.
SC over CBI’s autonomy:
The landmark judgment in Vineet Narain v. Union of India in 1997 laid out several steps to secure the autonomy of CBI. Says Mr. Narain: “Limited autonomy was granted. Still the administrative and financial control wrests with the Ministry of Personnel, and thus the government can directly control CBI.”
Why was it called caged carrot by the Supreme Court?
- Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)has been a work in progress for years.
- Corruption and Politically biased: This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
- CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
- Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by governmentwas visible in the hope of better future postings.
What institutional reforms are needed?
- Ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
- The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
- Parliamentary standing committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality.
- The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
- It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
- Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit.
- It is also possible to consider granting the CBI and other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys as he is only accountable to Parliament.
- A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.
- One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
- A more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India.
- Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is headed by the Director.
- CBI, India’s first agency to investigate corruption, the Special Police Establishment, was set up in 1941, six years before independence from British rule to probe bribery and corruption in the country during World War II.
- In 1946, it was brought under the Home Department and its remit was expanded to investigate corruption in central and state governments under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
- The special police forcebecame the Central Bureau of Investigation after the Home Ministry, which is in charge of domestic security, decided to expand its powers and change its name in 1963.
Sources: the Hindu.
Mains Question: Examine the criticisms made against functioning of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and in the light of these criticisms, discuss how its director should conduct himself.
Facts for prelims:
Commandos For Railway Security:
Context: CORAS (Commando for Railway Security) of Indian Railways has been launched to meet the challenges to Railway security.
- Carved out from motivated and willing young staff of RPF/RPSF.
- With an average age between 30-35 years, CORAS will always be young and motivated staff.
- Very high physical standards to join CORAS.
- Commando Coys shall be deployed in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)/Insurgency/Terrorism affected Railway areas.
What is a global recession?
In an economy, a recession happens when output declines for two successive quarters (that is, six months). However, for a global recession, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund tend to look at more than just a weakness in the economic growth rate; instead, they look at a widespread impact in terms of employment or demand for oil, etc. The long-term global growth average is 3.5%. The recession threshold is 2.5%.
What is a notifiable disease?
A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.
Need: The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease, and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.
The World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, 1969 require disease reporting to the WHO in order to help with its global surveillance and advisory role.
- The onus of notifying any disease and the implementation lies with the state government.
- Any failure to report a notifiable disease is a criminal offence and the state government can take necessary actions against defaulters.
- The Centre has notified several diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, encephalitis, leprosy, meningitis, pertussis (whooping cough), plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, measles, yellow fever, malaria dengue, etc.
New species of marmoset discovered in the Amazon:
A researcher has discovered a new species of marmoset, a type of primate in the Brazillian Amazon, even as its habitat is facing a flood of ‘developmental’ activities.
- The name ‘Mico munduruku’ has been given to the marmoset, after the Munduruku Amerindians that are native to the region.
- Features: The new species is distinct from other marmosets in that it has white tails rather than black, which the others have. It also has white feet and hands, white forearms and a beige-yellow spot on the elbow.
New burrowing frog species confirmed in Jharkhand:
A new species of burrowing frog has been confirmed in Jharkhand’s Chhota Nagpur Plateau. The frog was first discovered in 2015.
- It has been named as Spahaerotheca Magadhaand will be known by the common name of ‘Magadha Burrowing Frog’.
- The frog is endemic to agricultural areas in Nawadih and Joungi village of Jharkhand’s Koderma district.
- The frog is the newest species of the genus Spahaerotheca, of which, 10 other species are found in South Asia.
‘Golden Butterfly’ variety tea:
Why in News? The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) has created another international history by selling 1 kg of the “Golden Butterfly” tea at a whopping ₹75,000.
- The ‘Golden Butterfly’ is a speciality tea
- It is produced by the Dikom Tea Estate near Dibrugarh.
- Golden Butterfly is made of tea buds and not tea leaves.
Summaries of important Editorials:
Rains apart, blame the dams for Maharashtra, Karnataka floods: Report:
Context: With Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala among other states under deluge, questions are being raised over their flood management system. The disaster aggravates by the release of water from overflowing dams in the region at the same time that relentless rainfall hits it.
Reasons for Recent floods:
- There is no doubt that heavy and erratic rainfall is one of the reasons for floods in several states. But that is often coinciding with dams being full due to poor management, resulting in dam-induced floods.
- Mismanagement on releasing the water from various dams worsened the flood situation in Kolhapur, Sangli, and Satara districts of Maharashtra.
- The dams, that were supposed to help moderate the flood situation, instead ended up exacerbating it.
- Due to uncertainty in rainfall and fear of dry conditions in future, dam operators think of storing as soon as water is available but that proves costly during flood fury as then there is no alternative but to release all the inflow downstream.
What could have been done?
If the amount of water flowing to the reservoir was known beforehand, the water level in the reservoir could be managed. This could be done through the simulation models which depend on the size of the catchment.
Are India’s dams resilient to climate change as concerns over dam safety have grown in recent times?
- India’s dams are old and ageing and there is an urgent need to assess their safety, carry out repairs, or dismantle them to prevent dam failure-related disasters.
- There are 5,745 reservoirs in the country, of which, 293 were more than 100 years old. The age of 25% of dams was between 50 and 100 years and 80% were over 25 years old.These dams pose a serious risk due to their ageing and structural deterioration.
- The scenario will turn alarming as India approaches the years 2025 and 2050: 64 large dams will turn 125 years of age, 301 will turn 75 years of age, 237 large dams will turn 65 years and an additional 496 large dams will cross a minimum age of 50. In all, about 1,115 large dams would have aged at least 54 years by 2025.
- Dams that span decades, experience differential settlement of foundation, clog of filters, increase of uplift pressures, reduction in freeboard, cracks in the dam core, loss of bond between the concrete structure and embankment, reduction in slope stability in earthen and rockfill dams, erosion of earthen slopes, and deformation of dam body itself.
- Thus, dam components lose strength differently during their lifetime and every component within a large dam ages at a different rate. Hence, as a dam ages, the impact of the erosion of earthen components, through the dam body and foundations, and sedimentation occur at a rate different (or adverse) than what has been assumed by the policymakers and planners.
Need of the hour:
- Dam management in India needs a complete re-look.
- There should be coordination at state and inter-state level for proper management of the dams and how operation of reservoirs should be done.
- There should be a body to oversee the coordination.
In the era of climate change, following the rule curve is still more urgent. This is because we do not know when and how the rainfall will increase or decrease.