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Daily Current affairs 4 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Not a bloodless option for India (Cyber Attacks)

11

2

Baloch Liberalisation Army

14

3

Hurdles, ideas and silver linings- Lead Article (Need for Fiscal Stimulus)

10

4

Improper planning and monitoring defeating aim of green power- CAG

07

5

PM-KISAN

11

6

Constitutional Crisis in Puducherry

10

Title

  1. Not a bloodless option for India (Cyber Attacks) (The Hindu, Page – 11)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper III : Cyber Security

Theme

Possibility for India to Launch cyber strikes

 

Context : 

Article discusses the possibility for India to Launch cyber strikes against Pakistan as was done by USA against Iran recently. USA resorted to Cyber strikes and avoided military response when its drone was grounded by IRAN’s Army. 

Such usage of Cyber strikes has been termed as Bloodless War. It is speculated that the strikes targeted Iran’s military command and systems such as those that control Iran’s missile and rocket launchers.

 

India’s strategy for response against terror attacks by Pakistan

In recent responses by India against terror strikes by Pakistan an implicit criteria of India’s approach has been observed. The criteria are: pre-emption, non-military nature, and deterrence.

 

Justifications of these criteria 

Pre - emption - It allows India to justify any operation on International Forums. It is an exception of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and is related to Self-defence. 

Non - military - the operational aim has never been to target the Pakistani people or even the Pakistani military

Deterrence - Any operation should lead to substantial damage on the enemy so as to create deterrence. 

 

Can India conduct retaliatory Cyber strikes like USA? How would India Justify such an act on International Forums?

The conduct of U.S. cyber command was aimed at the Iranian establishment, specifically targeting its military installations.

If India conducts a cyber-strike against Pakistan’s military command or systems, it will be termed as one against Pakistan and not the terrorists. This will not be in line with the criteria of Pre-emption and non-military response. 

Further, a cyber-strike against Pakistan will call for counter-cyber strikes. Instead of the intended deterrence, it will likely lead to an escalation. Thus it has been argued that a cyber-attack is not an option for India as of now. 

 

Against terror groups 

However it is important to note that most terror groups depend upon computers, networks and the Internet. Terrorist groups use the Internet for propaganda. Thus India’s Cyber-attacks should be targeted against them. 

Further the ability of Indian armed forces in conducting such an operation is still not Known. However this secrecy will create an element of surprise if India chooses such retaliatory option.

 

Title

  1. Baloch Liberation Army – (The Hindu, Page-14)

Area of interest

Prelims: International Relations

Theme

About Baloch Liberation Army 

Highlights

Baloch Liberation Army 

The U.S. on Tuesday designated the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a terror organisation. The BLA is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan

The BLA, the armed wing of the Baloch movement, has carried out several violent attacks in Pakistan. It has about 6,000 cadre spread across the Balochistan Province and in the bordering areas of Afghanistan.

 

What’s BLA’s ideology?

BLA rebels claim that Pakistan has been exploiting the resources of the Province without giving the due share to the locals and the indigenous Baloch tribes.

BLA rebels have claimed that they are aiming for both freedom from Pakistan and internal reform of the Baloch society.

 

India’s approach towards BLA - 

India has been in touch with BLA and has provided medical support in the past. 

 

Impact of US ban 

It will help Pakistan to restrict the movement of Baloch leaders in the region and will also make it difficult for BLA to raise funds.

Title

  1. Hurdles, ideas and silver linings- Lead Article (Need for Fiscal Stimulus) (The Hindu, Page-10)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper 3: Indian Economy

Theme

Balance between Fiscal Stimulus and Fiscal Discipline

Highlights

Context:

This article highlights that in the wake of economic slowdown in India, the Finance Minister needs to maintain a fine balance between the need to provide Fiscal Stimulus and the need to maintain the fiscal discipline. In this regard, the article has highlighted various options before the Finance Minister to achieve this.

 

Details

The Government has committed to maintain Fiscal Deficit at 3.4% for the present financial year. However, in order to revive the Economy, the Government would need to increase its expenditure and cut down the tax rates. This would be go against the Government's stated objective of reducing Fiscal Deficit.

How to provide Fiscal Stimulus?

  1. Focus on disinvestment of the PSUs such as Air India

  2. Transfer of Reserves from the RBI (Presently under consideration of Bimal Jalan Panel)

  3. Revenue Mobilization through auction of 5G spectrum

  4. Reduce the tax rates and increase in the tax deductions. It is expected that the cut in the direct tax rates would be compensated through commensurate increase in the indirect tax collections due to higher consumption expenditure.

  5. Increase in the Government's borrowings

 

Potential Problems through increase in Government's borrowings

Crowd out private investment.

Increase the rate of Inflation.

Downgrade in the Credit ratings.

 

Way Forward

The article argues that the best way forward for the Government is to focus on the present challenge of reviving Indian economy through Fiscal Stimulus. The Government can take up the fiscal consolidation path once the economy revives.

Title

4. Improper planning and monitoring defeating aim of green power- CAG (The Hindu, Page-07)

Syllabus

GS Paper III: Indian Economy

Theme

Problems with small hydro power projects

Highlights

Maharashtra Government has decided to develop 417 MW of Small Hydro Power Projects out of which only about 37 MW could be developed from 2013-18. 

 

Reasons for delay:

  • Delay in completion of feasibility studies only after which the project is tendered out

  • Non-completion of dam

  • Slow Land Acquisition process

  • Projected annual power generation was not achieved due to release of lesser volume of water

 

Suggestions by CAG to improve the situation:

  • Better Planning 

  • Better monitoring

  • Feasibility studies in respect of listed projects be done in a time bound manner

  • Release of lesser water for small hydro power projects needs to be addressed to have fair terms for PPP projects. 

 

 Benefits of small hydro projects:

  • Decentralised generation of power

  • Does not lead to construction of large dams and consequential environmental problems

  • Small Rehabilitation and Resettlement involved

  • Can lead to provision of drinking water and minor irrigation

  • Relatively cheaper to construct and maintain

 

India's INDC and green power

As per the Paris Accord on Climate Change, India made a pledge that by 2030, 40% of installed power generation capacity shall be based on clean sources, it was determined that 175 GW of renewable energy capacity will be installed by 2022. This includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro power.

Sector

Target (GW)

Installed capacity (GW) as on 31.10.2018

Under Implementation (GW)

Tendered (GW)

Total Installed/ Pipeline (GW)

Solar Power

100

24.33

13.8

22.8

60.93

Wind power

60

34.98

7.02

2.4

44.4

Bio Energy

10

9.54

0

0

9.54

Small Hydro

5

4.5

0.73

0

5.23

Total

175

73.35

21.55

25.2

120.1

Title

5. PM-KISAN (The Hindu, Page-11)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper III under Indian Economy

Theme

Critical Evaluation of PM-KISAN

Highlights

PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) was launched in budget 2019 to ameliorate farm distress.  The scheme's original objective to supplement the financial needs of the small and marginal farmers has been broadened to include all the categories of agricultural landowners.

 

Reasons of farm distress or agrarian crisis and the need for the scheme: 

  • Falling farm incomes due to decline in international prices

  • Low domestic food inflation

  • Fragmented land holdings 

  • Increasing indebtedness, small and marginal farmers usually take credit from informal channels at usurious rates. 

  • Farmer suicides 

 

Envisaged benefits of the scheme:  

  • Providing structured income support to the small and marginal landholding farmers for procuring inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, equipment, labour and technological up gradation. 

  • Farmers will avoid falling in debt trap. 

 

Features of the scheme: 

  • Annual support of Rs 6,000 to be provided in three Rs 2000 instalments each. 

  • Entirely funded by Union Government.

  • Applicable from retrospective effect from December 2018 

  • Allocation of Rs 20,000 for the current financial year (2018-19) and Rs 75,000 crore in 2019-20. 

 

Challenges for the scheme: 

  • Land records not adequately digitised. 

  • Implementation issues 

  • Fiscal space 

 

Positive aspects of the scheme:

  • This support is over and above all the existing schemes for the farming sector.

  • Pan India coverage; approximately 12 crore farming families to benefit

  • Assured income support to the farming class will provide sense of confidence.

  • Family is taken as a unit, hence in large joint families the accrued benefit may be larger. 

 

Negative aspects of the scheme: 

  • Support of Rs 500 per family is not enough to alleviate farm income 

  • Tenant farmers and landless agricultural labourers will not this benefit.

  • Telangana’s RYTHU BANDHU scheme and Odisha’s KALIA scheme offer more than PM-KISAN.

  • It would be recurring expenditure as it is hard to roll back. Also, it would add to fiscal deficit.

 

Title

6. Constitutional Crisis in Puducherry (The Hindu, Page-10)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper II under Polity & Governance

Theme

Constitutional Crisis in Puducherry

Highlights

Context: This Article is related to Issues in Federalism in India and the present Constitutional Crisis in Puducherry between the UT and Union Government.

 

Present Issues in Indian Federalism

The return of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government in 2019 with a resounding majority in the 17th Lok Sabha raises pertinent questions about the future of federalism in India.

Will a “strong” Union government which does not require the support of “regional” allies be detrimental to the interests of States?

While the Prime Minister has often invoked the need for “cooperative federalism”, the actions of his government in its first term sometimes went against this stated ideal.

These include

1. dismantling the Planning Commission and transferring its power to make state grants to the Finance Ministry

2. introducing terms of reference to the Finance Commission which threaten to lower the revenue share of the southern States

3. the partisan use of the Governor’s office to appoint Chief Ministers in cases of hung Assemblies.

4. The most blatant abuse of power was the imposition of President’s Rule in Opposition-ruled Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, decisions the Supreme Court subsequently held as unconstitutional.

5. Further, through the Lieutenant Governor (LG), the Centre ran a protracted war with the Delhi government which brought its administration to a stalemate until the Supreme Court affirmed the primacy of the elected government.

6. A similar long-running battle between the LG and Chief Minister of Puducherry has now reached the Supreme Court.

This case of Puducherry will further test the strength of Indian federalism in the Modi era.

 What is the Controversy in Puducherry ?

Since the appointment of Kiran Bedi as the LG in May 2016, Puducherry Chief Minister V.Narayanasamy has protested her continual interference in the daily affairs of the Puducherry government and running an alleged parallel administration.

The Union Government, in clarifications issued in January and June 2017, further bolstered the case of the LG.

When this was legally challenged, the Madras High Court quashed the clarifications issued by the Union government and ruled that the LG must work on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers and not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the government.

The Union government challenged this decision in the Supreme Court where a vacation Bench passed interim orders recently restricting the Puducherry cabinet from taking key decisions until further hearing.

The Madras High Court had relied on the 2018 decision of the Supreme Court regarding the power of the National Capital Territory (NCT) government of Delhi.

 

Supreme Court Judgment on Delhi

A five-judge Bench unanimously held that

1. the Chief Minister and not the Lieutenant Governor is the executive head of the NCT government

2. the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

3. It held that the executive power of the NCT government is co-extensive with the legislative power of Delhi’s Legislative Assembly

4. the LG must follow the decisions of the cabinet on all matters where the Assembly has the power to make laws

 

Madras HC Judgment on Puducherry

After analyzing the laws and rules governing Puducherry, the Madras High Court held that

1. the LG has very limited independent powers.

2. Under Article 239B, the LG can issue an ordinance only when the Assembly is not in session and with the prior the approval of the President.

3. If there is a “difference of opinion” between the LG and the cabinet on “any matter”, like in Delhi, the LG can refer it to the President or resolve it herself if it is expedient.

 However, the Supreme Court in the NCT Delhi case held that “any matter” shall not mean “all matters” and it should be used only for “exceptional” situations.

Hence, there is no legal basis for the LG to exercise powers independently and bypass the elected government of Puducherry.

 

Suggestions to solve above Crisis in Puducherry

  • Ultimately, the question is whether state actions should respect the underlying principles of democracy and federalism.

  • Why should a legislative Assembly be elected and a Council of Ministers appointed if actual powers are independently exercised by an unelected nominee of the Centre?

  • The Supreme Court, in the NCT Delhi case, rightly employed a purposive interpretation of the Constitution to hold that since representative government is a basic feature of the Constitution, the elected government must have primacy.

  • Given this precedent and the fact that Puducherry has lesser legal restrictions on its powers, the Supreme Court should uphold the Madras High Court judgment and ensure that the LG acts only as per the aid and advice of the elected government.

  • Perhaps because of its distance from Delhi, small area and relatively low political heft, the constitutional crisis in Puducherry has received far less attention than it deserves.

  • However, the questions it raises are fundamental to the concerns regarding federalism in India.

  • While Puducherry may not be a “State” under the Constitution, the principle of federalism should not be restricted to States but also include the legislative Assemblies of Union Territories and, arguably, councils of local governments.

  • As more centralizing measures such as simultaneous elections to Parliament and State Assemblies are being proposed by the Centre, it is important to reaffirm the values of federalism at every forum.


Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

 

North East Venture Fund (NEVF)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Objectives, funding and significance of NEVF.

 

About North East Venture Fund (NEVF):

  • Set up by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi) in association with Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (M-DoNER).
  • It is the first dedicated venture capital fund for the North Eastern Region.
  • Objective: to contribute to the entrepreneurship development of the NER and achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns through long term capital appreciation by way of investments in privately negotiated equity/ equity related investments.
  • The investment under this schemer ranges from Rs. 25 lakh to Rs.10 crore per venture, which is long term in nature with investment horizon of 4-5 years.

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: TIES- key features, challenges faced by exporters and significance and the need for support.

 

Context: The Department of Commerce has approved financial assistance for three trade promotion centres under the ‘Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)’.

These centres are located in Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

 

About TIES:

  • The scheme replaces a centrally sponsored scheme — Assistance to States for creating Infrastructure for the Development and growth of Exports (ASIDE).
  • The objective of the TIES is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure and first-mile and last-mile connectivity.
  • Eligibility: The Central and State Agencies, including Export Promotion Councils, Commodities Boards, SEZ Authorities and Apex Trade Bodies recognised under the EXIM policy of Government of India; are eligible for financial support under this scheme.
  • The scheme would provide assistance for setting up and up-gradation of infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages like the Border Haats, Land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, dry ports, export warehousing and packaging, SEZs and ports/airports cargo terminuses.

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019:

 

Context: Parliament passes the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019.

Key features:

  • The Bill provides for reservation of teaching positions in central educational institutions for persons belonging to: (i) Scheduled Castes, (ii) Scheduled Tribes, (iii) socially and educationally backward classes, and (iv) economically weaker sections.
  • Reservation of posts:The Bill provides for reservation of posts in direct recruitment of teachers (out of the sanctioned strength) in central educational institutions.  For the purpose of such reservation, a central educational institution will be regarded as one unit.  This implies that the allocation of teaching posts for reserved categories would be done on the basis of all positions of the same level (such as assistant professor) across departments. 
  • Coverage and exceptions: The Bill will apply to ‘central educational institutions’ which include universities set up by Acts of Parliament, institutions deemed to be a university, institutions of national importance, and institutions receiving aid from the central government. 
  • However, it excludes certain institutions of excellence, research institutions, and institutions of national and strategic importance which have been specified in the Schedule to the Bill. It also excludes minority education institutions.   

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

 

UN Palestine refugee agency

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: UNRWA- functions, funding, significance and challenges.

 

Context: India pledges to contribute USD 5 million in 2019 to UN Palestine refugee agency.

 

Background:

India has increased its annual financial contribution fourfold to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) core budget, from USD 1.25 million in 2016 to USD 5 million in 2018.

 

UNRWA:

It is a relief and human development agency that was established in 8 December 1949.

UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, across its five fields of operation Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1950.

The Agency currently serves 5.4 million Palestinian refugees 20% of the world’s refugees.

 

Concerns and challenges:

  • The UN agency is going through a difficult financial situation due to voluntary contributions from a limited donor base.
  • There is a projected shortfall of more than USD 200 million against a funding requirement of approximately USD 1.2 billion for UNRWA this year.
  • The shortfall may impact the agency’s ability to provide essential services to the Palestine refugees, notably in the fields of education, health, and assistance to the most vulnerable refugees.

 

Need of the hour:

Traditional donors of UNRWA should consider enhancing their contributions.

Non-donor member states should consider contributing to UNRWA in solidarity with the Palestine refugees.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Henley Passport Index

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Passport Index- features, performance of various countries and significance of the index.

 

ContextHenley Passport Index 2019 has been released. The Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

 

About the index:

  • The Henley Passport Index (HPI) is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom for their citizens.
  • It started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.
  • The HPI consists of a ranking of passports according to how many other territories can be reached ‘visa-free’.

 

Performance of India:

  • India is ranked at 86 with a mobility score of 58. India’s rank has improved from the earlier position of 79th in January 2019.
  • The score points out that Indian passport holders can access 58 countries around the world without a prior visa.
  • India shares the 86th position with Mauritiana and Sao Tome and Principe.

 

Global performance:

  • Asian countries dominate the rankings with Japan and Singapore holding onto the top spot with a score of 189, after they unseated Germany from its first position at the beginning of 2018.
  • With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa openness as crucial to economic and social progress.
  • Afghanistan at 109th is last on the list with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 25.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

Launch-abort test 

 

Context: NASA recently carried out a successful test of a launch-abort system for the Orion capsule designed to take U.S. astronauts to the Moon.

 

About Launch Abort System (LAS):

  • It is designed to activate in the event of a rocket malfunction, on the pad or in flight
  • The LAS consists of three different types of solid-fuel rocket motors that will work in synchrony with one another.
  • In case of a launch-pad or in-flight failure, the abort tower rocket provides 400,000 pounds of thrust, pulling the crew capsule away. 

 

Background:

The Orion spacecraft is a major component of NASA’s newly-named Artemis program, which aims to return U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Section 375 of the IPC

 

What to study?

For prelims: about POCSO, Section 375.

For mains: need for gender neutrality, associated concerns, challenges and measures needed.

 

Context: Defending India’s gender-specific rape law under which the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that “the existing definition of rape under Section 375 (rape) should be left untouched”.

 

Why? (Arguments by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):

  • These sections have been enacted to protect and keep a check on the rising level of sexual offences against women in the country.
  • The existing definition of rape under Section 375 should be left untouched as the “ambit of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which covers all forms of sexual offences against minors, and Section 377 of the IPC were adequate to cover all sexual offences”.

 

Background:

The MHA’s affidavit came in response to a public interest petition claiming that the existing law pertaining to rape was gender specific and protects only females.

The High Court had previously asked the Centre to clarify its stand on the issue, particularly in view of the recommendation of the Law Commission of India, to make rape laws “gender neutral”.

 

Arguments by the petitioner:

  • Gender neutrality is a simple recognition of reality — men sometimes fall victim to the same, or at least very similar, acts to those suffered by women.
  • Male rape is far too prevalent to be termed an anomaly or freak incident. By not having gender-neutral rape laws, we are denying a lot more men justice than is commonly thought.
  • In India, sexual crimes against boys under 18 years are covered under the POCSO Act, but once they become adults they do not have any legal recourse.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Section 124

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Section 124, need for, concerns and alternatives available.

 

Context: The Union government has no plans to repeal sedition law as it is needed to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told Rajya Sabha.

 

What is Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code?

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 towards, the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

 

Why should it be scrapped?

Draconian laws such as the Section 124-A only serve to give a legal veneer to the regime’s persecution of voices and movements against oppression by casting them as anti-national.

 

What has Supreme Court ruled?

The Supreme Court has persistently held that for the offence of sedition to be satisfied, there has to be a causal relationship between speech and acts of violence, and mere speech, regardless of how subversive it is, does not amount to sedition.

 

Short term measures to be put up in place:

  • All speech-related offences should be made bailable offences; this would lessen the harmful impact of using arrest and custody as a way of harassing anyone exercising their rights under Article 19(1)(a).
  • The offences should be made non-cognisableso that there is at least a judicial check on the police acting on the basis of politically motivated complaints.
  • In the case of hate speech, it is important to raise the burden of proof on those who claim that their sentiments are hurt rather than accept them at face value. And finally, it is crucial that courts begin to take action against those who bring malicious complaints against speech acts.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

Aadhaar Seva Kendra’ (ASKs):

Context: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has operationalized 1st ‘Aadhaar Seva Kendra’ (ASKs) in Delhi and Vijayawada.

ASKs seek to provide more touch points to public for availing Aadhaar enrolment and updation services.

About UIDAI: Established as an attached office of the erstwhile Planning Commission, UIDAI is now a statutory authority under the provisions of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 under the aegis of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

 

 

Note: Some of today’s news item will be covered tomorrow.

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