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Daily Current affairs 18 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

The benefits of blockchain

11

2

Dam Safety Bill gets nod from CCEA

09

3

Sword against pen

10

4

Takeaways from the Kulbhushan Jadhav case ruling

10

5

At the UNSC, a three-point agenda

10

6

Ebola outbreak a global health emergency: WHO

22



 

Title

1.The benefits of blockchain (The Hindu, Page.11)

Syllabus

Mains: GS, paper II, Polity & Governance 

Theme

Banning of Cryptocurrency

Highlights

In Context: The Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019 has proposed stringent penalties, including 10 years of imprisonment, for holding, selling or dealing in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Given the high chances of cryptocurrencies being misused in money laundering, various government bodies such as IT, CBDT, and the customs departments have endorsed this endeavour.

 

Editorial Focus:

 
  • A blanket ban on all forms of cryptocurrency transactions will result in India missing out on Blockchain technology.

  • The European Parliament and European Council are working on an anti-money laundering directive, known as AMLD5. The deadline for its implementation is January 2020. All crypto exchanges and wallet custodians operating in Europe will have to implement strict know-your-customer (KYC) on-boarding procedures and need to register with local authorities. 

  • They will also be required to report suspicious activities to relevant bodies. This will not fully solve the problem since it is not always possible for the exchange to know a beneficiary’s details.

  • The EU Commission is aware and has been mandated to present further set of amendment proposals regarding self-declaration by virtual currency owners, the maintenance of central databases registering users’ identities and wallet addresses, and norms while using virtual currencies as payment or investment means by 2022. This is a more reasonable approach, and the Indian government could follow suit.

 

 

Title

2.Dam Safety Bill gets nod from CCEA (The Hindu, Page.09)

Syllabus

Prelims: Environment and Ecology 

Mains: GS, paper III, Environment and Ecology 

Theme

Dam safety Bill, 2019

Highlights

In news – Union cabinet has approved the proposal for introduction of Dam safety Bill, 2019.It will bring more than 5,600 dams under the ambit of dam safety regulations.

  • The bill further aims to create a National Dam safety Authority as regulatory body, which will implement the policy, guidelines, and standards on dam safety in the country.

  • State committee on dam safety will be set up by the state government. Every state will also set up state dam safety organisation.

  • A national committee on dam safety will be set up to evolve safety policies and recommend necessary regulations.

  • It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provision for commission and omission of certain acts.

  • The bill will comprehensively address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspections of dams, emergency action plan, adequate repair and maintenance funds, instrumentation and safety manual.

 

 

 

Title

4.Takeaways from the Kulbhushan Jadhav case ruling (The Hindu, Page.10)

Syllabus

Prelims: International relations 

Mains: GS, paper II, International relations 

Theme

Kulbhushan Jadhav case

Highlights

Recent Context: International Court of Justice on July 17, 2019, ruled with a decisive vote (15-1) that Mr. Jadhav cannot be executed by Pakistan, and that he must be given adequate consular access and a fair trial. The ruling also urged Pakistan to review his conviction. 

Background to Kulbhushan Jadhav case:

  • Pakistan has alleged that they arrested Kulbhushan Jadhav from Balochistan province in, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped by terrorist organisations from Iran and handed over to Pakistan. 

  • In 2017, Pakistan’s military announced that Kulbhushan Jadhav had been convicted and sentenced to death by a military court for “espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.”

  • Subsequently, the Kulbhushan Jadhav case was presented towards the International Court of Justice whereby the Court up till now has only directed Pakistan to “take all measures to ensure Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision of the Court.

 

Main points in ICJ Case:

  • Consular Access: India has accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 by not giving India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav. In response, Pakistan has asserted that Vienna Convention is not applicable to spies or terrorists and therefore it reserves the right to deny consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been accused of spying.

  • However, it is to be noted that the Vienna Convention does not make any exception for people suspected of committing espionage or terrorism-related offences and the ICJ has in the past also not interpreted the treaty to exclude offences such as espionage or terrorism.

  • Military Court Ruling: India has asserted that the trial of Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Military Court was not free and fair. India was supported by observations from The International Commission of Jurists which has documented how Pakistani military courts are not independent and the proceedings before them fall far short of national and international fair trial standards.

  • 2008 Agreement: India and Pakistan signed a bilateral agreement on consular access in 2008. The agreement does provide a provision of consular access within three months of arrest or detention however this provision can be reconsidered on the grounds of arrest, detention or sentence made on political or security grounds. Pakistan considers that the 2008 agreement provides its ability to deny access to India to Kulbhushan Jadhav and that it also overrides the obligations under the Vienna Convention. However, India has asserted that the 2008 agreement does not override the Vienna Convention.  

 

 

Title

5.At the UNSC, a three-point agenda (The Hindu, Page.10)

Syllabus

Prelims: International relations 

Mains: GS, paper II, International relations 

Theme

India elected as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council

Highlights

Editorial Context: Now as you might be aware of, India has been recently elected as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period of 2021-22. According to the author, India’s main objective as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2021-22 should be to help build a stable and secure global environment. 

 
  • This is because of the growing security concerns in the world. 

  • These security concerns include rise in terrorism especially by ISIS, rise in conflict between Iran and US, nuclearization by North Korea, civil conflicts in Venezuela, Syria, etc. 

  • Now these security concerns are under the purview of the UN Security Council and since India is going to become a non-permanent member of UNSC, India would need to take decisions on such global security issues in UNSC. 

  • In addition, India should promote the prosperity of its citizens, regional and global security and growth, and a rule-based world order. 

  • This would allow India to emerge as the desired partner for both developing and developed countries.

 

Achieving the ultimate goal: Permanent UNSC Seat

 
  • India will have to increase its financial contribution, as the apportionment of UN expenses for each of the P-5 countries is significantly larger than that for India. 

  • India should take international leadership on several global issues such as on regional security, migrant movement, poverty, and climate change, India has an opportunity to promote well-balanced, common solutions.

  • India must help guide the Council away from the perils of invoking the principles of humanitarian interventionism or ‘Responsibility to Protect’. This has mainly led to regime change wars rather than actual humanitarian assistance to citizens in oppressed countries.

  • India should push to ensure that the UNSC Sanctions Committee targets all those individuals and entities warranting sanctions.

  • India should take the lead in activating the UNSC’s Military Staff Committee, which was never set into motion following the UN’s inception. Without it, the UNSC’s collective security and conflict-resolution roles will continue to remain limited.

  • India should become a consensus-builder among great powers on finding solutions to global issues.

  • India should embrace polycentrism.

  • India cannot stride the global stage in absence of stable relations with its neighbours.

 


 


 

Title

6.Ebola outbreak a global health emergency: WHO (The Hindu, Page.22)

Syllabus

Mains: GS, paper II, Issues related to Health 

Theme

Ebola virus disease

Highlights

What is Ebola virus disease?

  • Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a rare but severe, often fatal, often fatal illness, with a death rate of up to 90% in humans caused by the Ebola virus, a member of the filovirus family.

  • The origin of the virus is unknown, but current evidence suggests that fruit bats (Pteropodidae) may be a host.

 

How do people become infected with the Ebola virus?

  • People become infected with Ebola either through contact with infected animals (usually following butchering, cooking or eating) or through contact with the bodily fluids of infected humans. Most cases are caused by human to human transmission which occurs when blood or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people enters a healthy person’s body through broken skin or mucous membranes.

  • Infection can also occur if the broken skin or the mucous membranes of a healthy person comes into contact with items or environments contaminated with bodily fluids from an infected person. These may include soiled clothing, bed linen, gloves, protective equipment and medical waste such as used hypodermic syringes.

 

Who is most at risk?

  • During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are: health workers; family members or others in close contact with infected people; mourners who have direct contact with bodies during burial rituals.

 

How long does it take for people to develop symptoms after being infected?

  • The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days. People are not contagious until they develop symptoms. Ebola virus disease infections can only be confirmed through laboratory testing.

 

Is there any treatment for Ebola?

  • Supportive care - rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids - and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.

  • In the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in DRC, the first-ever multi-drug randomized control trial is being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of drugs used in the treatment of Ebola patients under an ethical framework developed in consultation with experts in the field and the DRC.

 

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project- PIB news

 

What to study?

For Prelims: About Urja Ganga Project- key features.

For Mains: Significance and the need for such projects for India, especially for NE region India.

 

About the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project:

The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi and later to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.

Significance: According to GAIL, with the Urja Ganga project, 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.

Background: GAIL has built a network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km. With Urja Ganga project, this number will further increase by 2540 km.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, performance and significance of NSAP.

 

About National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):

  • The NSAP is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Ministry of Rural Development. It came into effect from 15th August,1995.
  • It represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the DPSP in Article 41 of the ConstitutionIn particular, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development.
  • It aims to provide financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
  • Coverage: It currently covers more than three crore people who are below the poverty line (BPL), including about 80 lakh widows, 10 lakh disabled and 2.2 crore elderly.

 

Presently NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely:

  1. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS).
  2. Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS).
  3. Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS).
  4. National Family Benefit Scheme NFBS).
  5. Annapurna

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the law, measures needed for their relocation.

 

Context: Low conviction rate under the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976.

 

Possible reasons for low conviction:

  1. General social bias.
  2. Nature of bonded labour being migrants, absentism of Witnesses due to their migratory Nature.
  3. DM/SDM Courts not as proficient in trial as judicial Courts.

 

About the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976:

The Act is being implemented by the concerned State Govts./UTs.

The Act provides for an institutional mechanism at the district level in the form of Vigilance Committees.

For the purpose of implementing the provisions of this Act, the State Governments/UTs may confer, on an Executive Magistrate, the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or second class for trial of offences under this Act.

Government of India has introduced a revamped Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers- 2016, under which financial assistance to the tune of Rs.1.00 (one) lakh, Rs.2.00 (two) lakhs & Rs. 3.00 (three) lakhs are provided to released bonded labourers based on their category and level of exploitation along with other non-cash assistance for their livelihood. 

 

Background:

Bonded Labour or bandhua mazdoori was historically associated with rural economies where peasants from economically disadvantaged communities were bound to work for the landlords. In the present times, however, bonded labour is found to exist in both rural and urban pockets in unorganised industries such as brick kilns, stone quarries, coal mining, agricultural labour, domestic servitude, circus and sexual slavery.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna- PIB news

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

 

About Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna:

The Employee’s State Insurance (ESI) has approved this scheme for Insured Persons (IP) covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.

Aim: It aims to financially support those who lost their jobs or rendered jobless for whatsoever reasons due to changing employment pattern.

Its beneficiaries will be insured persons covered under Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 for period of two years continuously.

 

Key features:

Cash assistance: Under the scheme, relief will be payable in cash directly to bank account of insured persons in case of unemployment. This financial assistance will be given to insured persons even while they search for new engagement. Beneficiary insured workers will be paid money, from their own contribution towards ESI scheme, in cash through bank account transfer.

Under this scheme, workers will be able to draw 47% of their total contributions towards ESIC after remaining unemployed for at least three months from date of leaving their previous jobs. They can choose to receive the cash at one go or in instalments. It will be applicable to all factories and establishments employing at least 10 workers.

 

The eligibility conditions and other features of the scheme are as under:

  1. The Insured Person should have been rendered unemployed during the period the relief is claimed.
  2. The Insured Person should have been in insurable employment for a minimum period of two years.
  3. The Insured Person should have contributed not less than 78 days during each of the preceding four contribution periods.
  4. The contribution in respect of him should have been paid or payable by the employer.
  5. The contingency of the unemployment should not have been as a result of any punishment for misconduct or superannuation or voluntary retirement.
  6. In case the IP is working for more than one employers and is covered under the ESI scheme he will be considered unemployed only in case he is rendered unemployed with all employers.

 

About ESI:

ESI is self-financing social security and health insurance scheme for Indian workers.

It is autonomous corporation by statutory creation under Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.

It is managed by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) according to rules and regulations stipulated there in the ESI Act 1948.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and their performance.
  2. Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.
  3. Employment and issues related to inclusive growth.

 

Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of the scheme, beneficiaries.

For Mains: Significance and performance of the scheme.

 

Context: The total number of employees benefited under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) from 01.04.2016 to 31.03.2019 is 1.18 crore.

 

About Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana:

The scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana” (PMRPY) was announced in the Budget for 2016-17.

The objective of the scheme is to promote employment generation.

The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment by reimbursement of the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer in respect of new employment.

The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month.

 

Significance of the scheme:

PMRPY has a dual benefit –

  1. The employer is incentivised for increasing the employee base in the establishment through payment of EPF contribution of 12% of wage, which otherwise would have been borne by the employer.
  2. A large number of workers find jobs in such establishments.

 

A direct benefit of the scheme is that these workers have access to social security benefit through Provident Fund, Pension and Death Linked Insurance.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

 

Finance Commission of India

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About FC- roles, objectives, functions, criteria used and need for reforms.

 

Context: Cabinet approves extension of the term of the Fifteenth Finance Commission up to 30th November, 2019.

 

What is the Finance Commission?

The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution, mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.

Two distinctive features of the Commission’s work involve redressing the vertical imbalances between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the centre and the States respectively and equalization of all public services across the States.

 

What are the functions of the Finance Commission?

  • It is the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to:
  • the distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes which are to be, or may be, divided between them and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds;
  • the principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
  • the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State;
  • any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.
  • The Commission determines its procedure and have such powers in the performance of their functions as Parliament may by law confer on them.

 

Who appoints the Finance Commission and what are the qualifications for Members?

The Finance Commission is appointed by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution.   As per the provisions contained in the Finance Commission [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act, 1951 and The Finance Commission (Salaries & Allowances) Rules, 1951, the Chairman of the Commission is selected from among persons who have had experience in public affairs, and the four other members are selected from among persons who:

  1. are, or have been, or are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a High Court; or
  2. have special knowledge of the finances and accounts of Government; or
  3. have had wide experience in financial matters and in administration; or
  4. have special knowledge of economics.

 

The recommendations of the Finance Commission are implemented as under:

Those to be implemented by an order of the President: The recommendations relating to distribution of Union Taxes and Duties and Grants-in-aid fall in this category.

Those to be implemented by executive orders: Other recommendations to be made by the Finance Commission, as per its Terms of Reference

 

When was the first Commission Constituted and how many Commissions have been Constituted so far?

The First Finance Commission was constituted vide Presidential Order dated 22.11.1951 under the chairmanship of Shri K.C. Neogy on 6th April, 1952.  Fifteenth Finance Commissions have been Constituted so far at intervals of every five years.

 

Why is there a need for a Finance Commission?

The Indian federal system allows for the division of power and responsibilities between the centre and states.  Correspondingly, the taxation powers are also broadly divided between the centre and states.  State legislatures may devolve some of their taxation powers to local bodies.

 

Formula used for distribution:

The share in central taxes is distributed among states based on a formula.  Previous Finance Commissions have considered various factors to determine the criteria such as the population and income needs of states, their area and infrastructure, etc.  Further, the weightage assigned to each criterion has varied with each Finance Commission.

 

The criteria used by the 11th to 14thFinance Commissions are:

  1. Population is an indicator of the expenditure needs of a state. Over the years, Finance Commissions have used population data of the 1971 Census.  The 14th Finance Commission used the 2011 population data, in addition to the 1971 data.  The 15th Finance Commission has been mandated to use data from the 2011 Census.
  2. Area is used as a criterion as a state with larger area has to incur additional administrative costs to deliver services.
  3. Income distance is the difference between the per capita income of a state with the average per capita income of all states. States with lower per capita income may be given a higher share to maintain equity among states.

Forest cover indicates that states with large forest covers bear the cost of not having area available for other economic activities. Therefore, the rationale is that these states may be given a higher share.

Grants-in-Aid:

Besides the taxes devolved to states, another source of transfers from the centre to states is grants-in-aid. As per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, grants-in-aid constitute 12% of the central transfers to states. The 14th Finance Commission had recommended grants to states for three purposes: (i) disaster relief, (ii) local bodies, and (iii) revenue deficit.

 

Need for permanent status:

  1. Finance commissions have over the past several decades adopted different approaches with regard to principles of tax devolution, grants to be given to states and fiscal consolidation issues. In other words, there has to be continuity and change between finance commissions.
  2. There is a need to ensure broad consistency between Finance Commissions so that there is some degree of certainty in the flow of funds, especially to the states. This has become even more critical in the post GST scenario.
  3. If it is given permanent status, the Commission can function as a leaner entity in the intervening period till the next Finance Commission is set up in a full-fledged manner. During the intervening period, it can also address issues arising from implementation of the recommendations of the finance commission.

 

Mains Question: Discuss the role that Finance Commission play in improving centre state administrative relations?


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

International Court of Justice

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: All about ICJ and comparison with ICC, Jadhav’s case and what can India do now in this case?

 

ContextInternational Court of Justice (ICJ) has directed Pakistan to review conviction order of Kulbhushan Jadhav and, until then, put his death sentence on hold. ICJ has also asked Pakistan to allow India consular access at earliest.

 

Key observations made by the ICJ:

Islamabad has violated Article 36 of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, 1963, by not informing India about Jadhav’s arrest immediately after Pakistan Army had taken him into custody.

India had been deprived of ‘right to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation’.

 

About ICJ:

What is it?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN.

Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice, the ICJ mainly operates under the statute of its predecessor, which is included in the UN Charter.

It has two primary functions: to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.

 

Members of the Court:

The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.

In order to ensure a measure of continuity, one third of the Court is elected every three yearsJudges are eligible for re-election.

 

Who nominates the candidates?

Every state government, party to the Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges. This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (machinery which enables arbitral tribunals to be set up as desired and facilitates their work) also picked by the State. Countries not part of the statute follow the same procedure where a group nominates the candidates.

Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality. Within a fixed duration set by the Secretary-General, the names of the candidates have to be sent to him/her.

 

What are the qualifications of ICJ judges?

  • A judge should have a high moral character.
  • A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or.
  • A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.

 

The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:

  • Three from Africa.
  • Two from Latin America and Caribbean.
  • Three from Asia.
  • Five from Western Europe and other states.
  • Two from Eastern Europe.

 

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

International Solar Alliance

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ISA- key facts, significance and India’s solar power potential.

 

ContextPalau has become 76th signatory country to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

 

Background:

The agreement of the International Solar Alliance was open for signature during the COP22 at Marrakech on November 15, 2016. The signatories of the agreement include India, France, Australia, UAE, UK, Japan amongst others.

 

About ISA:

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 122 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, now extended to all members of UN

The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.

Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.

What it does? As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.

When it entered into force? When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

Awareness in the field of IT.

 

`Internet Saathi’ programme

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the initiative.

 

ContextGoogle India and Tata Trusts are set to expand their ‘Internet Saathi’ digital literacy programme for rural women to villages in Punjab and Odisha.

Coverage: Currently, the programme has reach of 2.6 lakh villages across 18 states. On adding Punjab and Odisha the programme will now extend its reach to 20 states in India.

 

About Internet Saathi:

It is joint initiative of Google India and Tata Trusts.

It aims to facilitate digital literacy among women in rural India.

The programme aims to train Saathis in villages that can in turn help educate other women from their village in the use of the internet.

 

Significance of the initiative:

It has contributed towards bridging digital gender divide in rural India. Women trained under this initiative have started their own micro-business such as stitching, honeybee farming, and beauty parlours. Many under programme are also driving awareness for issues like girl child education, menstrual hygiene and more within their communities.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

 

Karnataka crisis: What was SC’s Kihoto Hollohan order of 1992, what is the role of Speaker?

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Anti- defection law- implementation, issues, role and powers of speaker, need and significance.

 

Context: In the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case related to the political crisis in Karnataka, advocate has cited the landmark judgment in Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others (1992), in which the court upheld the sweeping discretion available to the Speaker in deciding cases of disqualification of MLAs.

 

What was the Kihoto Hollohan case?

The law covering the disqualification of legislators and the powers of the Speaker in deciding such matters became part of the statute book in 1985 when the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution was adopted.

A constitutional challenge to the Tenth Schedule was settled by the apex court in Kihoto Hollohan.

The principal question before the Supreme Court in the case was whether the powerful role given to the Speaker violated the doctrine of Basic Structure — the judicial principle that certain basic features of the Constitution cannot be altered by amendments by Parliament, laid down in the landmark judgment in Kesavananda Bharati vs State Of Kerala (1973).

 

What is the extent of the Speaker’s powers?

Paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule describes the Speaker’s sweeping discretionary powers: “If any question arises as to whether a member of a House has become subject to disqualification under this Schedule, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Chairman or, as the case may be, the Speaker of such House and his decision shall be final.”

 

What did the Supreme Court rule in Hollohan?

  1. The majority judgement:

The Speakers/Chairmen hold a pivotal position in the scheme of Parliamentary democracy and are guardians of the rights and privileges of the House. They are expected to and do take far reaching decisions in the Parliamentary democracy. Vestiture of power to adjudicate questions under the Tenth Schedule in them should not be considered exceptionable.

The Schedule’s provisions were “salutory and intended to strengthen the fabric of Indian Parliamentary democracy by curbing unprincipled and unethical political defections.”

 

  1. Minority view:

The tenure of the Speaker, who is the authority in the Tenth Schedule to decide this dispute, is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House and, therefore, he does not satisfy the requirement of such an independent adjudicatory authority.

An independent adjudicatory machinery for resolving disputes relating to the competence of Members of the House is envisaged as an attribute of the democratic system which is a basic feature of our Constitution… [the Speaker’s] choice as the sole arbiter in the matter violates an essential attribute of the basic feature.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  2. Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Navic

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Navic and its key features.

For Mains: Significance, applications and potential of Navic.

 

Context: ISRO is in talks with processing chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm to substitute the existing Global Positioning System (GPS) with the Indian version of satellite navigation.

 

What is NAVIC?

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland.

 

Services provided:

IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.

 

Its applications include:

  1. Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
  2. Disaster Management.
  3. Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
  4. Integration with mobile phones.
  5. Precise Timing.
  6. Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
  7. Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers.
  8. Visual and voice navigation for drivers.

 

How many satellites does NAVIC consist of? 

It is a regional system and so its constellation will consist of seven satellitesThree of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day. This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.

 

Why it is necessary to have indigenous global navigation system?

Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider, especially through the guarantee of such assurance policies. It can also play a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004 and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Incredible India Campaign:

Context: The Incredible India “Find the Incredible You” campaign released globally by the Ministry of Tourism during 2018-19 has been declared winner of the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Gold Award 2019 in the “Marketing – Primary Government Destination” category.

  • The campaign strategy was to shift the focus from the external experience of tourist destinations to the internal experience of travelers themselves.

PATA Gold Awards are given to tourism industry organizations and individuals making outstanding contribution towards the successful promotion of the travel industry throughout the Asia Pacific Region.

  • Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.

 

Dibang Multipurpose Project (MPP):

Context: Cabinet approves 2880 MW Dibang Multipurpose Project in Arunachal Pradesh Rs. 1600 crore expenditure approved.

  • Dibang Multipurpose Project (Dibang MPP) is envisaged as a storage-based hydro-electric project with flood moderation as the key objective.
  • This is the largest ever Hydro Electric Projects to be constructed in India. The dam is 278 metres high and will be the highest dam in India once completed.
  • The Project is located on river Dibang, in Lower Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The project envisages construction of a 278 m high Concrete Gravity Dam.

 

Red Corner notices:

Context: Based on Red Corner notices, 27 accused persons extradited to India till 1st April 2019.

What is it? Red Notice is issued by Interpol and is meant to facilitate quick location and arrest of a person abroad and providing the information to the national agency / authority on whose request the Notice was issued. The Red Notice is not a pre-requisite for and may not necessarily lead to the extradition of a fugitive offender for which there is a separate legal process to be followed.

 

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