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Daily Current affairs 6 july 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Centre slashes funds for ganga clean up   

10

1

A clear arc from India to Nigeria

10

3

Tax break to rev up electric vehicles sale  

08

4

Making a pitch for PPP model in railways  

18

5

Call for port led development  

09


 

Title

Centre slashes funds for ganga clean up   (The Hindu Page 10)

Syllabus 

Mains GS paper III : environmental conservation 

Theme

Namami Gange   

Highlights

Context: The center in its Union Budget for 2019-20 have reduced the funds allocated for Namami Gange

 
  • It is under the ambit of the newly constituted Jal Shakti Ministry 

  • Initiatives to clean the Ganga began with the Ganga Action Plan I in 1986. But the river has remained dirty. So when the National Democratic Alliance government

  • Namami Gange is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups.. The

  • National Ganga Council (NGC) was created and to give it utmost importance the Prime Minister was made the head of it. This council replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). NGC would have on board the chief ministers of five Ganga basin states—Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal—besides several Union ministers and it was supposed to meet once every year.

  • An Empowered Task Force, headed by the then Union Water Resources Minister, was created and it has on board the chief secretaries of the five Ganga Basin states. It was supposed to meet once in every three months. State Ganga Committees have been formed, which would be the nodal agency to implement the programmes in a state. 

  • Besides, these committees would conduct safety audits of the river and take remedial measures. The Centre is also planning to establish a 4-battalion Ganga EcoTask Force to spread awareness about pollution and protecting the river.

 

Main  pillar of Namami Gange 

 
  • Sewage treatment

  • River surface cleaning

  • Afforestation 

  • Industrial affluent monitoring 

  • River front development 

  • Biodiversity 

  • Public awareness 

  • Ganga gram 

 

Challenge I: Sewage treatment 

  • Sewage treatment plants (STPs) have been at the centre of Ganga pollution abatement. As per Namami Gange targets, STPs with over 2,000 million litres a day (MLD) capacity had to be rehabilitated of which only 328 MLD have been done. A look at the status of all the projects undertaken makes one doubt whether the government would even achieve its revised deadline.

  • New projects are delayed because land acquisition and other related activities were taking a lot of time. However, poor performance in rehabilitating old STPs does not stand the test of time scarcity.

  • The issue is just not with the construction or rehabilitation of STPs but also their performance. Every STP installed has design parameters for Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS). The report says that BOD and TSS levels of the effluent is higher than the norms because industrial waste and chemicals are illegally mixed with the influents in a plant not meant to treat industrial pollutants. 

 

Challenge II: Restoring the flow 

  • There is another fundamental problem that will ensure the holy river remains dirty. 

  • A river is a self-purifying system only when water flows through it. The Ganga fails this basic test except during monsoons. So it’s not just about unclean Ganga. It is about the existence of Ganga.

  • The water level in the river is going down at an unprecedented rate. Also if the flow in the river is maintained it can solve the problem of 60-80 per cent of organic pollutants and we may not require such an elaborate programme

  • Unlike other rivers, the Ganga has three special properties because of the path it treads naturally. The Ganga has medicinal properties that can treat skin infections.

  • These properties come due to medicinal plants on the path of Ganga. Also the Ganga is very rich in minerals and has bacteriophages which kill the bacteria. If you chain the Ganga with barrages and canal diversions and therefore alter its natural path, it will lose these properties. due to restrictions and decrease in flow, the velocity of water decreases and siltation increases and therefore minerals of the water settle down at the riverbed.

 

Challenge III: Sludge control

  • Open defecation leads to high faecal coliform in the Ganga basin. 

  • And if proper faecal sludge management is not in place, it would invariably pollute the Ganga. faecal sludge is a bigger pollutant than sewerage.

  • Experts say that while toilets were constructed, hardly a thought was given to management of sludge. According to a study conducted by CSE, most of the cities surveyed had twin-pit technology which is not recommended in low-lying areas. 

  • The National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) 2017 also anticipated the challenge as more and more toilets are constructed. As urban households without toilets obtain facilities under SBM, it is likely that many will acquire on-site arrangements like pit latrines and septic tanks in cities at locations where sewerage systems are not available. Thus, while the containment of human waste will be largely achieved, its safe disposal still poses a huge challenge. 

 

Challenge IV: Cost overruns

  • Cleaning up the massive stretch of 2,525 km that the Ganga traverses is a programme where regulating the finances becomes as big an issue as any other. 

  • Another catch is with the finances of STPs. As per a model proposed, 40 per cent of the capital cost quoted would be paid on completion of construction while the remaining 60 per cent will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance expenses. This payment is linked to the performance of the STPs—the quality of the water treated by it.

 

Challenge V: Governance glitches

  • The cleaning of the Ganga requires seamless coordination between the agencies responsible for carrying out different tasks. This calls for vision and a clear-cut governance strategy.

 

 

Title

Tax break to rev up electric vehicles sale  (The Hindu -Page.08)

Syllabus 

Prelims : Economy 

Mains GS Paper III : economy (energy)

Theme

FAME II scheme    

Highlights

Context :  centre has cut GST for EV in order to boost their sale 

 

Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India – FAME - II

  • In February, 2019, the Union cabinet had approved the proposal for implementation of Phase II of FAME Scheme for promotion of Electric Mobility in the country. 

  • This scheme is the expanded version of the present scheme titled FAME India1 which was launched on 1st April 2015.

  • The main objective of the scheme is to encourage Faster Adoption of Electric and Hybrid Vehicle by way of offering upfront incentive on purchase of Electric vehicles and also by way of establishing a necessary charging Infrastructure for electric vehicles.

  • The scheme will help in addressing the issue of environmental pollution and fuel security. Emphasis is on electrification of the public transportation that includes shared transport.

  • The scheme proposes for establishment of charging infrastructure, whereby about 2700 charging stations will be established in metros, other million plus cities, smart cities and cities of Hilly states across the country so that there will be availability of at least one charging station in a grid of 3 km x 3 km. Establishment of

  • Charging stations are also proposed on major highways connecting major city clusters.

 

 

Title

Bucks for the banks  (The Hindu -Page. 12)

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper III: Economy  

Theme

Nudge theory         

Highlights

Nudge Theory 

  • Nudge is a concept in behavioral science, political theory and behavioral economics which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals.

  • Nudge theory is a flexible and modern change-management concept for understanding of how people think, make decisions, and behave; helping people improve their thinking and decisions; managing change of all sorts and; identifying and modifying existing unhelpful influences on people.

  • Nudge theory was named and popularized by the 2008 book, 'Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness', written by American academics Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. The book is based strongly on the Nobel prize-winning work of the Israeli-American Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Nudge theory is a highly innovative, effective model for change-management.

  • The ‘nudge theory’ of economist Richard Thaler, mentioned extensively in the Economic Survey 2018-19 presented in Parliament on Thursday, has been put to use by the Finance Minister to push forward two of this government’s pet themes — increasing digitalisation of money and promoting electric mobility. 

  • On the first, there will now be a 2% tax deducted at source when withdrawals from bank accounts exceed ₹1 crore in a year. This is a commendable measure, but it could lead to genuine problems for businesses such as construction and real estate that are forced to deal in cash for wage payments. 

  • The second, and more interesting ‘nudge’, is towards electric vehicles where those taking loans to buy one will get a tax deduction of up to ₹1.5 lakh on the interest paid by them. But the fact is that there are not too many electric vehicles in the market now. And even for those that are there, the waiting period to deliver one is long. Besides, there is no ecosystem, such as charging points, even in the major cities. The government’s hope seems to be that this incentive will create a market for e-vehicles that will then lead to the development of the ecosystem.

 

 






 

Title

Making a pitch for PPP model in railways (The Hindu -Page. 08)

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper III: Economy (Infrastructure)

Theme

Indian Railways         

Highlights

Context: Union Finance Minister has proposed a capital expenditure of more than Rs. 1,60,000 crore for the Railway Ministry for 2019-20. 

 
  • This is the highest ever allocation for Indian Railways. She further highlighted that railways network will require an investment of Rs. 50 lakh crore till 2030. Thus, to ensure such big investment in modernising Indian railways and its network, The Finance Minister has pitched for the route of public-private partnership (PPP) model to achieve faster development.

 
  • The money required for Indian Railways will be provided from different sources such as

1. Budgetary support

2. Nirbhaya Fund

3. Internal resources

4. Extra budgetary resources

 

Ways to improve Indian Railways

  • To modernise and ease congestion of Indian railways, there is a need for constructing new railway lines, gauge conversions (mostly from meter gauge to broad gauge), doubling the present single line, maintain rolling stock and improving signalling and telecommunication along the railway tracks. 

  • There is also need to improve passenger amenities, modernise railway stations and completion of existing dedicated freight corridor projects. Such freight corridor will free up some of the existing railway network for passenger trains. FM highlighted that completing all sanctioned projects will take decades considering  its capital nature of investment. 

  • Thus, in such projects PPP model will help in unleashing faster development for completion of work on tracks, rolling stock manufacturing and delivery of passenger freight services.

  • The government expects that its earnings from Indian Railways will improve primarily from

  • Growth in number of passengers

  • Growth in freight volume

  • Suburban Railways : For growth of Indian Railways in suburban India, Finance Minister has encouraged to invest more in Suburban railways through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) structures like Rapid Regional Transport System (RRTS) which is presently proposed on Delhi- Meerut Route.

  • Metro Railways : Enhancement of metro railways initiatives was also proposed by encouraging more PPP initiatives and ensuring completion of sanctioned works. While supporting the growth of metro railways network, the minister also supported transit oriented development to ensure commercial activity around such transit hubs.


 

 

Title

Call for port led development (The Hindu -Page.09)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Economy 

Mains: GS Paper III: Economy   

Theme

Sagarmala Project 

Highlights

Context: In the budget speech, Finance Minister stressed the need and importance of

enhancing port led development through the Sagarmala scheme. To enhance the

development of ports and inland water ways, the allocation for Sagarmala and the Inland Water Transport Authority of India has been enhanced to 44% and 17% respectively.

 

Benefits of Port led development

  • Sagarmala project will help to enhance port connectivity, port modernisation and port-linked industrialisation.

  •  Enhancing Sagarmala project will help in developing inland water ways to use rivers for cargo movement to decongest road and rail networks, reduce the cost of transportation as well as cut oil import bill.

 

Need to enhance inland water ways system

  • The volume of cargo on Ganga is expected to grow four times in the next four years.

  • To manage the volume of cargo, multi-modal terminal at Varanasi was launched last year and two more terminals at Sahibganj in Jharkhand and Haldia in West Bengal apart from a navigation lock at Farakka will be completed within the current fiscal year.

 

About Sagarmala

  • Government of India has embarked on the ambitious Sagarmala Programme which aims to promote port-led development in the country.

  •  The concept of Sagarmala was approved by the Union Cabinet in March 2015. As part of the programme, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the comprehensive development of India’s coastline and maritime sector was released at the Maritime India Summit 2016.

  •  Sagarmala Project functions under Ministry of Shipping.

 

Components of Sagarmala Programme are:

  • Port Modernization & New Port Development: Reducing bottlenecks and capacity expansion of existing ports and development of new green field ports.

  • Port Connectivity Enhancement: Enhancing the connectivity of the ports to the hinterland, optimizing cost and time of cargo movement by providing multi-modal logistics solutions including domestic waterways i.e. inland water transport and coastal shipping.

  • Port-linked Industrialization: Developing port-proximate industrial clusters and Coastal Economic Zones to reduce logistics cost and time of EXIM and domestic cargo.

  • Coastal Community Development: Promoting sustainable development of coastal communities through skill development & livelihood generation activities, fisheries development, coastal tourism etc. 

 

Inland Waterways Authority of India

  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was constituted in October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation.

  •  The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of Inland Water Ways infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping.

 

THE NATIONAL WATERWAYS ACT, 2016

  • The government has passed the national waterways act to make provisions for existing national waterways, to provide for the declaration of certain inland waterways to be national waterways, to provide for the regulation and development of the said waterways for the purposes of shipping and navigation

  • Prior to the enactment of National Waterways Act, 2016, there were five national water ways which were constituted through specific legislation:

1. the National Waterway (Allahabad-Haldia Stretch of the Ganga Bhagirathi Hooghly River) Act, 1982

2. the National Waterway (Sadiya-Dhubri Stretch of Brahmaputra River) Act,1988

3. the National Waterway (Kollam-Kottapuram Stretch of West Coast Canal and

Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals) Act, 1992

4. the National Waterway (Talcher-Dhamra Stretch of Rivers, Geonkhali Charbatia Stretch of East Coast Canal, Charbatia-Dhamra Stretch of Matai River and Mahanadi Delta Rivers) Act, 2008; and

5. the National Waterway (Kakinada-Puducherry Stretch of Canals and the Kaluvelly Tank, Bhadrachalam-Rajahmundry Stretch of River Godavari and WazirabadVijayawada Stretch of River Krishna) Act, 2008,

 
  • The present National Waterways Act, 2016 has subsumed these National Water Ways under the present legislation and has also declared 106 additional inlands waterways as National Waterway. So, the total National Waterway after the 2016 legislation has increased to 111.

 




 

 

‘PAHAL’ scheme 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the scheme.

 

Context: Estimated savings/benefits of Rs. 59,599 crore upto March, 2019 under ‘PAHAL’ scheme.

 

Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh (PaHaL) scheme:

  • Aims to reduce diversion and eliminate duplicate or bogus LPG connections.
  • Under PaHaL, LPG cylinders are sold at market rates and entitled consumers get the subsidy directly into their bank accounts.

 


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

Issues related to Education.

2019 “State of the Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities”

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key highlights of the report, concerns and measures needed for upliftment.

 

Context: The 2019 “State of the Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities” has been released by the UNESCO.

The report highlights accomplishments and challenges with regards to the right to education of children with disabilities (CWDs).

 

Key highlights of the report:

  • There are 78,64,636 children with disability in India constituting 1.7% of the total child population.
  • Three-fourths of the children with disabilities at the age of five years and one-fourth between 5-19 years do not go to any educational institution.
  • The number of children enrolled in school drops significantly with each successive level of schooling.
  • There are fewer girls with disabilities in schools than boys with disabilities in schools.
  • A large number of children with disabilities do not go to regular schools but are enrolled at the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
  • The percentage of children attending schools is the lowest among those with multiple disabilities, mental illnesses and mental retardation.

 

Challenges ahead:

  • Significant gaps remain, even though successive government schemes and programs have brought large numbers of children with disabilities into schools.
  • Only 61 percent of CWDs aged between 5 and 19 were attending an educational institution compared to the overall figure of 71 percent when all children are considered.
  • Around 12 percent of CWDs dropped out of school, which is comparable with the overall percentage of dropouts among all children. 27 percent of CWDs never attended any educational institution, as opposed to the overall figure of 17 percent when the entire child population is taken into account.
  • A review of enrolment figures at NIOS shows a decline for most categories of disabilities between 2009 and 2015.

 

Why the attitude of parents and teachers toward mainstream education important? 

To accomplish the goal of inclusive education besides accessibility to physical infrastructure, processes in the school, assistive and ICT technology and devices being essential resources.

 

The report has made certain recommendations to improve the state of education for CWDs:

  • Amend the RTE Act to better align with the RPWD Act by including specific concerns of education of such children.
  • Establish a coordinating mechanism under HRD Ministry for effective convergence of all education programmes of children with disabilities.
  • Ensure specific and adequate financial allocation in education budgets to meet the learning needs of children with disabilities.
  • Strengthening data systems to make them robust and reliable and useful for planning.
  • Massively expand the use of information technology for the education of children with disabilities.
  • Give a chance to every child and leave no child with disability behind.
  • Transform teaching practices to aid the inclusion of diverse learners.
  • Overcome stereotypes and build positive dispositions towards children with disabilities, both in the classroom and beyond.

 

Way ahead:

Inclusive education is complex to implement and requires a fine understanding of diverse needs of children and their families across different contexts. India has made considerable progress in terms of putting in place a robust legal framework and a range of programmes and schemes that have improved enrolment rates of children with disabilities in schools.

However, further measures are needed to ensure quality education for every child to achieve the goals and targets of agenda 2030 and more specifically Sustainable Development Goal 4.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: We still have much to do to ensure an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disabilities through empowering them. Discuss the steps taken by government in this regard and examine how far have we been successful in empowering the differently abled?


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Infrastructure- Energy.

 

National Grid

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is National Grid? UTs out of it, capacity and cross border transmissions.

For Mains: Significance and the need for National Grid, India’s energy demands and the role of National Grid in fulfilling these demands.

 

Context: The FM has promised a blueprint this year for developing “water grids” on the line of power grids in the country to push the government’s ‘One Nation, One Grid’ concept.

 

What is National Grid?

It is the high-voltage electric power transmission network in mainland India, connecting power stations and major substations and ensuring that electricity generated anywhere in mainland India can be used to satisfy demand elsewhere.

 

Benefits of a National Grid:

  • Better availability resulting in lesser power cuts.
  • More stability in power.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.

New Code on Wages

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the new code, need, significance, need for uniform wage across the country.

 

Context: The Union Cabinet has cleared the new version of Code on Wages Bill, which seeks to define the norms for fixing minimum wages that will be applicable to workers of organised and unorganised sectors, except government employees and MGNREGA workers.

The Code on Wages will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

 

Background:

The code on wages is one of the four codes that would subsume 44 labour laws with certain certain amendments to improve the ease of doing business and attract investment for spurring growth.

The four codes will deal with wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare, and industrial relations.

 

What are the determining factors?

As per the Bill, minimum wages will be linked only to factors such as skills and geographical regions.

Present status: At present, minimum wages are fixed on the basis of categories such as skilled, unskilled, semi-skilled, high skilled, geographical regions, and nature of work such as mining and are applicable for 45 scheduled employments in the central sphere and 1709 scheduled employments in states.

As per the new Bill, the minimum wages across the country would be only linked to factors of skills and geographical regions, while the rest of the factors have been removed.

 

Floor Wage:

National Floor Level Minimum Wage will be set by the Centre to be revised every five years, while states will fix minimum wages for their regions, which cannot be lower than the floor wage. The current floor wage, which was fixed in 2017, is at Rs 176 a day, but some states have minimum wages lower than it such as Andhra Pradesh (Rs 69) and Telangana (Rs 69).

 

Significance:

This is expected to effectively reduce the number of minimum wage rates across the country to 300 from about 2,500 minimum wage rates at present.

 

Key Issues and Analysis:

  1. Central government may set a national minimum wage. Further, it may set separate national minimum wages for different states or regions.  In this context, two questions arise: (i) the rationale for a national minimum wage, and (ii) whether the central government should set one or multiple national minimum wages
  2. States have to ensure that minimum wages set by them are not lower than the national minimum wage. If existing minimum wages set by states are higher than the national minimum wage, they cannot reduce the minimum wages.  This may affect the ability of states to reduce their minimum wages if the national minimum wage is lowered.
  3. The time period for revising minimum wages will be set at five years. Currently, state governments have flexibility in revising minimum wages, as long as it is not more than five years.  It is unclear why this flexibility has been removed, and five years has been set for revision. 
  4. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, prohibits employers from discriminating in wage payments as well as recruitment of employees based on gender. While the Code prohibits gender discrimination on wage-related matters, it does not include provisions regarding discrimination during recruitment.

 

Need for a national minimum wage:

One argument for a national minimum wage is to ensure a uniform standard of living across the country.  At present, there are differences in minimum wages across states and regions.  Such differences are attributed to the fact that both the central and state governments set, revise and enforce minimum wages for the employments covered by them. The introduction of a national minimum wage may help reduce these differences and provide a basic standard of living for all employees across the country

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Govt is considering enhancing RBI powers

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key issues, need for enhanced powers and what needs to be done?

 

Context: The government is actively considering a proposal from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking more powers to improve its regulatory and supervisory mechanism for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).

 

Why is this being proposed?

Recent defaults and delays in loan repayments by a section of NBFCs have shaken the confidence in the financial markets, leading to fears that potential solvency risks at certain companies can be contagious.

Liquidity for NBFCs with default ratings has completely dried up, creating broader challenges for policymakers.

 

What changes are being sought by RBI?

In the light of recent developments, there is a case for having a fresh look at their regulation and supervision. Need of the hour is to have an optimal level of regulation and supervision so that the NBFC sector is financially resilient and robust.

 

Need:

More powers will enable RBI to close regulatory gaps between banks (which are tightly regulated) and NBFCs. The RBI has already reduced the periodicity of the NBFC supervision to 12 months from 18 months earlier.

 

What is the scale of the challenge?

NBFCs were the largest net borrowers of funds from the financial system with gross payables of around Rs 8.44 lakh crore and gross receivables of around Rs 7.23 lakh crore as on end-March 2019.

These companies depend largely on public funds such as bank borrowings, debentures and commercial papers, which account for 70 per cent of the total liabilities of the sector.

When banks and mutual funds stop fresh loans to NBFCs facing default possibility, it can potentially lead to contagion in the financial markets.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


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?

 

Context: International Court of Justice likely to deliver verdict in Kulbhushan Jadhav case this month.

 

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. These organs vote simultaneously but separately. 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 years. Judges 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.

 

Independence of the Judges:

Once elected, a Member of the Court is a delegate neither of the government of his own country nor of that of any other State. Unlike most other organs of international organizations, the Court is not composed of representatives of governments. Members of the Court are independent judges whose first task, before taking up their duties, is to make a solemn declaration in open court that they will exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously.

In order to guarantee his or her independence, no Member of the Court can be dismissed unless, in the unanimous opinion of the other Members, he/she no longer fulfils the required conditions. This has in fact never happened.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Longest electrified tunnel in Indian Railways:

ContextSouth Central Railway (SCR) has commissioned the longest electrified tunnel in Indian Railways.

How long is it? 6.6 kilometres.

Where? It is situated between Cherlopalli and Rapuru Railway stations in Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh.

 

Kerala Champions Boat League:

The Champions Boat League (CBL) has been conceived by tourism officials in Kerala on the model of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to transform the state’s legendary and historically-significant ‘vallamkali’ (snake boat races) into a world-class sporting event.

The snake boat, or ‘chundam vallam’ is essentially a long canoe that can seat up to 100 rowers and can have a length between 100 and 138 feet in length. While the front portion of the boat tapers with a pointy end, the rear end can rise up to a height of 20 feet — the entire wooden structure resembling a snake with its raised hood, hence the name.

Background: Snake boat races owe their origins as far back as the 13th century when princely kingdoms, located in present-day Alappuzha along the backwaters, would have raging battles in the water. These battles used to be fought on the snake boats especially constructed for the purpose. In fact, the construction mechanisms of such boats are even said to be recorded in the Vedas.

 


 

Highlights of the Union Budget 2019-20:

 

10-point Vision for the decade:

  1. Building Team India with Jan Bhagidari: Minimum Government Maximum Governance.
  2. Achieving green Mother Earth and Blue Skiesthrough a pollution-free India.
  3. Making Digital India reach every sector of the economy.
  4. Launching Gaganyan, Chandrayan, other Space and Satellite programmes.
  5. Building physical and social infrastructure.
  6. Water, water management, clean rivers.
  7. Blue Economy.
  8. Self-sufficiency and export of food-grains, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables.
  9. Achieving a healthy society via Ayushman Bharat, well-nourished women & children, safety of citizens.
  10. Emphasis on MSMEs, Start-ups, defence manufacturing, automobiles, electronics, fabs and batteries, and medical devices under Make in India.

 

Achievements during 2014-19:

  • 1 trillion dollar added to Indian economy over last 5 years (compared to over 55 years taken to reach the first trillion dollar).
  • India is now the 6th largest economy in the world, compared to 11th largest five years ago.
  • Indian economy is globally the 3rd largest in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)
  • Strident commitment to fiscal discipline and a rejuvenated Centre-State dynamic provided during 2014-19.
  • Structural reforms in indirect taxation, bankruptcy and real estate carried out.
  • Average amount spent on food security per year almost doubled during 2014-19 compared to 2009-14.
  • Patents issued more than trebled in 2017-18 as against the number in 2014.

 

Towards a 5 Trillion Dollar Economy:

Indian economy to become a 3 trillion-dollar economy in the current year.

 

What needs to be done to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy? What has the government proposed?

 

  1. To promote digital economy:

TDS of 2% on cash withdrawal exceeding Rs. 1 crore in a year from a bank account.

Business establishments with annual turnover more than Rs. 50 crore shall offer low cost digital modes of payment to their customers and no charges or Merchant Discount Rate shall be imposed on customers as well as merchants.


  1. Banking and Financial Sector:

Present state:

  • NPAs of commercial banks reduced by over Rs. 1 lakh crore over the last year.
  • Record recovery of over Rs. 4 lakh crore effected over the last four years.
  • Provision coverage ratio at its highest in seven years. 
  • Domestic credit growth increased to 13.8%.

Proposals:

PSBs: Rs. 70,000 crore proposed to be provided to PSBs to boost credit; Steps to be initiated to empower accountholders to have control over deposit of cash by others in their accounts. 

NBFCs: Proposals for strengthening the regulatory authority of RBI over NBFCs to be placed in the Finance Bill; Requirement of creating a Debenture Redemption Reserve will be done away with to allow NBFCs to raise funds in public issues; Steps to allow all NBFCs to directly participate on the TReDS platform; Return of regulatory authority from NHB to RBI proposed, over the housing finance sector; Steps to be taken to separate the NPS Trust from PFRDA; Reduction in Net Owned Fund requirement from Rs. 5,000 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore  proposed.

CPSEsTarget of Rs. 1, 05,000 crore of disinvestment receipts set for the FY 2019-20. Government to offer an investment option in ETFs on the lines of Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS).


  1. women empowerment:

Approach shift from women-centric-policy making to women-led initiatives and movements.

Women SHG interest subvention program proposed to be expanded to all districts; Overdraft of Rs. 5,000 to be allowed for every verified women SHG member having a Jan Dhan Bank AccountOne woman per SHG to be eligible for a loan up to Rs. 1 lakh under MUDRA Scheme.


  1. Youth:

New National Education Policy to be brought.

National Research Foundation (NRF) proposed.

Rs. 400 crore provided for “World Class Institutions”, for FY 2019-20, more than three times the revised estimates for the previous year.

Study in India’ proposed to bring foreign students to study in Indian higher educational institutions.

Draft legislation to set up Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), to be presented.

Khelo India Scheme to be expanded with all necessary financial support. 

National Sports Education Board for development of sportspersons to be set up under Khelo India, to popularize sports at all levels.

Stand-Up India Scheme to be continued for the period of 2020-25. The Banks to provide financial assistance for demand based businesses.


  1. Rural India:

Electricity and clean cooking facility to all willing rural families by 2022.

A robust fisheries management framework through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) to be established by the Department of Fisheries.

Target of connecting the eligible and feasible habitations advanced from 2022 to 2019 with 97% of such habitations already being provided with all weather connectivity.

1,25,000 kilometers of road length to be upgraded over the next five years under PMGSY III.

Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship’ (ASPIRE) consolidated.

10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations to be formed, to ensure economies of scale for farmers.

Zero Budget Farming in which few states’ farmers are already being trained to be replicated in other states.

Jal Jeevan Mission to achieve Har Ghar Jal (piped water supply) to all rural households by 2024.

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund can be used Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

Universal Obligation Fund under a PPP arrangement to be utilized for speeding up Bharat-Net.


  1. Misc:

Proposal to consider issuing Aadhaar Card for NRIs with Indian Passports on their arrivalwithout waiting for 180 days.

Revamp of Indian Development Assistance Scheme (IDEAS) proposed.

Direct tax incentives proposed for an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).

Securities Transaction Tax (STT) restricted only to the difference between settlement and strike price in case of exercise of options.

Capital gains exemptions from sale of residential house for investment in start-ups extended till FY21. 

Angel tax’ issue resolved- start-ups and investors filing requisite declarations and providing information in their returns not to be subjected to any kind of scrutiny in respect of valuations of share premiums.

Funds raised by start-ups to not require scrutiny from Income Tax Department.

Tax rate reduced to 25% for companies with annual turnover up to Rs. 400 crore.

Surcharge increased on individuals having taxable income from Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 5 crore and Rs. 5 crore and above.  

Government to organize an annual Global Investors Meet in India, using National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) as an anchor to get all three sets of global players (pension, insurance and sovereign wealth funds).

Statutory limit for FPI investment in a company is proposed to be increased from 24% to sectoral foreign investment limit. FPIs to be permitted to subscribe to listed debt securitiesissued by ReITs and InvITs.

NRI-Portfolio Investment Scheme Route is proposed to be merged with the Foreign Portfolio Investment Route.

Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation to be set up in 2019-2020.

Tax rates for individuals having taxable income from Rs. 2 cr – 5 cr and Rs. 5 cr & above to be increased by around 3 % and 7 % respectively.

Scheme of Fund for Upgradation and Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) aims to set up more Common Facility Centres for generating sustained employment opportunities.


  1. New Space India Limited (NSIL):

It is a Public Sector Enterprise incorporated as a new commercial arm of Department of Space to tap the benefits of the Research & Development carried out by ISRO. 

Functions: The Company will spearhead commercialization of various space products including production of launch vehicles, transfer to technologies and marketing of space products.

 

In a nutshell, India needs:

  1. Simplification of procedures.
  2. Incentivizing performance.
  3. Red-tape reduction.
  4. Making the best use of technology.
  5. Accelerating mega programmes and services initiated and delivered so far.

 

Background:

What is Budget?

The Annual Financial Statement or the Statement of the Estimated Receipts and Expenditure of the Government of India in respect of each financial year is popularly known as the Budget.

 

Presentation of the budget:

The Budget is presented to Lok Sabha on such day as the President may direct. Immediately after the presentation of the Budget, the following three statements under the Fiscal Responsi

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