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Daily Current affairs 9 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1.

A shot at economic logic

10

2.

SEBI gets teeth to probe new-age cases

16

3.

Karnataka offers quota for girl children of trafficked women

08

4.

Reinforcing caste hierarchies

10

5.

A regrettable conviction

10

Title

1. A shot at economic logic (The Hindu, Page 10)     

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper II – International Relations

Theme

African Continental FTA

Highlights

What is African Continental FTA? 

 

Background:

The 18th session of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2012 adopted a decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017.
Most of the African countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol establishing the African Economic Community in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018. This led to the Kigali Declaration.

 

Significance:

The AfCFTA would be world’s largest FTA with intent to create an African Common Market of 1.2 billion people and a total GDP of over $3 trillion in GDP.

( I believe there is an error in editorial, it says GDP of over $3.4 billion, should be trillion)  

It would be the largest single market in the world. The continental trade deal will also be the world’s largest trade group since the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

 

Objectives of AfCFTA:

Create a single continental market for goods and services
Free move ment of business persons and investments
Accelerate the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union
Expand intra African trade  
Coordination among members for trade facilitation regimes and instruments
Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level on Pan-African level
Exploiting opportunities for scale production and continental market access

 

Recent Context:

The 12th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) was recently held in July, 2019 at Niamey, which is the capital of the Niger Republic.

54 of 55 of AU member states signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for goods and services. Of these countries, 27 have already ratified it. 

 

Hurdles & Roadblocks for AfCFTA:

The African Union has been largely ineffective in dealing with the continent’s various problems & therefore, AU past failures and ineffectiveness raises concerns whether it can successfully implement AfCFTA. 

AfCFTA has to work against the ongoing global protectionist trends as seen in the U.S.-China trade conflict, Brexit and the problems in WTO functioning. 

The intra-African trade currently comprises just about 15% of the continent’s trade. This is quite low when compared to regional trade in other continents – roughly 67% in Europe, 58% in Asia and 48% in North America.
The exports of most African countries are predominantly primary commodity. This would need to be pared down in international trade and adjusted among members.
Most African countries currently lack in additive manufacturing, automation and other fourth industrial revolution innovations. This issue is highly un-likely to be resolved by CFTA.
Negotiations on important issues like intellectual property rights, tariffs for some goods, are still on-going among AU members.
Nigeria and South Africa, the two largest economies of Africa have  shown reluctance for AfCFTA. 

 

AfCFTA impact on India:

Africa is an important economic partner for India with total annual merchandise trade estimated at $70 billion & with India as Africa’s third largest trading partner. 

India’s global exports have weakened due to the economic slowdown, however India's exports to Africa has increased.

Africa has a strong demand market for goods and services that India produces such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, IT/IT-Enabled Service, health care and education, among other.

AfCFTA would ensure African economies would become more formalised and transparent and this would be in India’s interest. 

Local manufactured items and services may ultimately compete with Indian exports, however it also provides Indian firms an opportunity for joint ventures with African firms. 

India had donated $15 million to Niger to fund the Niamey AU Summit & similarly India can also help the African Union to prepare the requisite architecture, such as common external tariffs, competition policy, intellectual property rights, and natural persons’ movement. 

India can identify various African transnational corporations which are destined to play a greater role in a future continental common market and engage with them strategically.

India can augment its economic strength in Africa by engaging with Indian diaspora in Africa.

After the AfCFTA is accepted & implemented in Africa, both India and Africa can negotiate for an India-African FTA.

 AFRICAN UNION

Establishment

  • The earlier international organisation ‘Organisation of African Unity’ paved the way for the birth of African Union. In 1999, the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration calling for the establishment of an African Union.

  • There was a need to refocus attention from the OAU which was to fight for decolonisation and ridding the continent of apartheid. The decision to re-launch Africa’s pan-African organisation was the outcome of a consensus by African leaders that in order to realise Africa’s potential towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.

  • Since then, three Summits have been  held leading to the official launching of the African Union:

  • The Lome Summit (2000) adopted the Constitutive Act of  the Union. 

  • The Lusaka Summit (2001) drew the road map for the  implementation of the AU 

The Durban Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened the 1st Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union.

Mandate

  • The objectives of African Union includes:

  • To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa

  • To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States;

  • To accelerate the political and socio-economic  integration of the continent 

  • To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples

  • To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance

  • To promote and protect human and peoples' rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other relevant human rights instruments

  • To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations;

  • To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies

  • To promote co-operation in all fields of human activity  to raise the living standards of African peoples

  • To coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union 

  • To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology

Structure

  • The Assembly is composed of Heads of  State and Government & is the supreme organ of the Union.

  • The Executive Council is composed of Ministers or Authorities designated by the Governments of Members States. The Executive  Council is responsible to the Assembly.

  • A Pan-African Parliament and organ to ensure the full participation of African  peoples in governance, development and economic integration of the Continent. The protocol relating to the composition, powers, functions and organization of  the Pan-African Parliament has been signed by Member States and is in the process of ratification. Similarly, Court of Justice is awaited for ratification.

AU Commission is the  key organ playing a central role in the day-to-day management of the African  Union, represents the Union and defends its interests, elaborates draft common positions of the Union, prepares strategic plans for the consideration of the Executive Council an elaborates, promotes, coordinates and harmonizes the programmes and policies of the Union with those of the RECs.

AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA

Background

  • The 18th session of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2012 adopted a decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017.

  • 44 African countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol establishing the African Economic Community in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018. The respective signatory governments have to ensure that the treaty is ratified for its implementation.

Significance

  • The Kigali Declaration intends to from a common market among the 55 member-countries of Africa Union.  It would encompass a population of about 1.2 billion people and Gross Domestic Product of about US$3.5 trillion. 

  • It would be the largest single market in the world. The continental trade deal will also be the world’s largest trade group since the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

The Protocol establishing the African Economic Community relating to free movement of persons, right of residence and right of establishment.

 

Current Concerns

  • The intra-African trade currently comprises just about 15% of the continent’s trade. This is quite low when compared to regional trade in other continents – roughly 67% in Europe, 58% in Asia and 48% in North America.

  • The exports of most African countries are predominantly primary commodity. This would need to be pared down in international trade and adjusted among members.

  • Most African countries currently lack in additive manufacturing, automation and other fourth industrial revolution innovations. This issue is highly un-likely to be resolved by CFTA.

  • Negotiations on important issues like intellectual property rights, tariffs for some goods, are still on-going among AU members.

Nigeria and South Africa, the two largest economies of Africa have  shown reluctance for AfCFTA.

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Title

2. SEBI gets teeth to probe new-age cases (The Hindu Page 16)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper III –Economy

Theme

SEBI

Highlights

Context:

The Finance Bill 2019 has sought to strengthen the role of the SEBI to act against entities that tamper or destroy electronic databases or fail to furnish information.

 

Details

∙      The Finance Bill 2019 has introduced a new section 15HAA in the SEBI Act. This section states that if a person tampers with information to obstruct or influence an investigation, destroys regulatory data or tries to access data in an unauthorised manner then the entity could be penalized up to ₹10 crore or three times the unlawful gains, whichever is higher.

∙      This section has been added in the wake of recent leakages of sensitive financial information of the various companies through the WhatsApp messages.

 

Concerns

∙      The Section 15HAA is widely worded and does not clearly define the scope of regulatory data.

∙      It is unclear if ‘regulatory data’ and ‘database’ used in the Section is limited to SEBI or it is meant to cover all the data at system database maintained by SEBI, Stock Exchanges, Depositories and Clearing Corporations

 

 


 

 

Title

3. Karnataka offers quota for girl children of trafficked women (The Hindu Page 08)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS I – Society

Theme

Devadasi system

Highlights

Devadasi system in India

According to the Indian National Commission for Women (“NCW”), there are still at least 44,000 active devadasi in India. Although the numbers are difficult to confirm due to the practice being not only underground but also difficult to differentiate from non-religious prostitution, the practice is particularly concentrated in a few states. According to the NCW, the majority of active devadasis are in Karnataka (22,491 individuals), Andhra Pradesh (16,624 individuals), and Maharashtra (2,479 individuals).

 

Hereby discussing the Devadasi system and issues related to it.

 

What is Devadasi system?

It is a religious practice of dedicating young girls to temples as an offering to appease the gods. This practice persists mainly in South India especially in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In recent decades, the practice has been used to push young girls into prostitution. 

 

Their main duties include committing to a life without marriage and dedicating their life to the temple. They acted as the temple care-takers and performed rituals, dancing and music in the honour of the deity. 

 

They learned classical Indian dances, usually the Bharatanatyam, which they would perform at temple rituals. The devadasis were expected to provide sexual favours to the members belonging to the higher social and financial status.

 

While various state governments have enacted laws to stop such practices, the tradition remains entrenched.

 

Why devadasi system is prevalent?

  • Many who perpetuate the devadasi system believe that the younger a girl is dedicated, the more the Goddess will bless her and her family.

  • Many girls who willingly enter, or are forced to enter, the devadasi system views it as their only way to rise in India’s rigid caste system. 

  • Lower-caste individuals who become devadasis have the choice of either entering the practice or taking part in a distinct number of menial occupations, most of these jobs do not pay enough to sustain an individual. Hence move to devadasi system.

  • There are a number of social beliefs within Indian society that perpetuate the devadasi practice.

Issues and Challenges

The tradition of Devadasi culture can be traced back to as early as the 7th century, particularly in southern parts of India during the reigns of the Cholas, Chelas, and Pandyas. They were well treated and respected, and held a high social status in the society. It was common for them to be invited to be present at or initiate sacred religious rituals. As long as the temples and empires flourished, so did they.

 

At present, Devadasis are nothing more than sex slaves or child prostitutes who are dedicated to temples when they are as young as four or five years old. 

  • The devadasi system continues to receive customary sanction from families and communities

  • Society’s acceptance: Devadasi dedication and the resulting sexual abuse of these girl children are accepted and celebrated by society. Those willing to report also fear the backlash of the society and community and stay away from reporting.

  • Lack of Police Action: The police are failing to take adequate action in cases of dedication and are not registering cases coming to them due to pressure from the community.

  • Non-cooperative victims: Unwillingness of the victims to report against their parents or relatives becomes a big challenge. Even if the case is registered, there is a high probability of the victim turning hostile.

 
  • Awareness generation about the provisions of the legislation, in communities where the prevalence of Devdasi system is high, is absent. Even those awareness programmes conducted fail to bring any behavioral change within the community.

  • Lack of coordination between the various departments, agencies, and functionaries which is leading to ineffective efforts to stop the practice of Devadasi dedication.

  • Poor implementation of legislation: There are several provisions under different laws (POCSO, ITPA, JJ Act, and IPC. However, there is a lack of application of all these legislations. More than thirty-six years after the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act of 1982 was passed, the State government is yet to issue the rules for administering the law.

  • Health Risks: The devadasis who are forced into prostitution become vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.

  • After giving birth to child, it become impossible for them to get out of the system even if they want to, with additional mouths to be fed. On the other hand, giving birth to kids and aging also makes these women less desirable as younger women enter the supply chain of the Devadasi system.

Recently Karnataka government has announced for providing 1% reservation for girl children of women who were victims of sexual assault or were Devadasis in All State-run universities.

It will be enforced by universities in the 2019-2020 academic year in all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

The government’s decision is the result of a letter from the trustee of Odanadi Seva Samsthe, Mysuru, an NGO working for the rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment of trafficked and sexually exploited women and children.

Way forward

  • Police can take Suo Motu action against a person when there is a complaint or reliable information. Moreover it should proactively engage with vulnerable communities and act on the information at hand.

  • Department of Women and Child Development must conduct the periodical survey, to better understand the prevalence and trend of Devadasi System and provide rehabilitation to those affected.

  • Legal awareness programmes regarding various legislations must be led by Legal Services Authorites at various levels.

  • Enrolment drives should be conducted to ensure all children are in school, and to prevent children from being pushed into child labor, child marriage, or dedicated as Devadasis.

  • Young girls who have been dedicated as Devadasis should be identified and their groups should be formed. Their capacity building should be done.

  • Government should establish Adult Education Schools at their locality to educate Devadasis. Education will bring awareness regarding this evil system. 

  • Government has to conduct skill training programmes and also provide financial assistance to establish small scale and cottage industries to stand on their own with self respect. 

  • Government and NGO‟s should adopt their children and take them away from such unhealthy environment at an early age and provide residential education.

There is a need to recognize the prevalence of the practice of devadasi system and its link to sexual exploitation and include the provision for its prohibition under the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 and Juvenile Justice Act.

 

 

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Title

4.  Reinforcing caste hierarchies (The Hindu, Page 10)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS I –Society 

Theme

Positive discrimination - Reservation

Highlights

The description “backward” to define communities is yet another colonial relic which we, as a collective, embrace with such enthusiasm, that we almost forget what it is supposed to mean. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the arguments in favour of reservations by landowning castes that are politically and economically dominant. 

The demand for being classified as “backward” by Marathas has been ongoing since the 1990s. With the announcement of the inclusion of Marathas into the Socially and Educationally Backward Communities (SEBC), the Maharashtra government has, once again, yielded to the demands of this powerful caste group. This would be the third attempt in the last five years to grant this quota, which has been repeatedly struck down by the courts.

  • The ferocity with which dominant castes, mostly rich, landowning, politically influential communities (Marathas in Maharashtra, Patidars in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana, Kapus in Andhra Pradesh), have turned towards the state and the public sector, demanding quotas in jobs and higher education, indicates that the economic growth in the last two decades, such as it was, did not manage to swing the fortunes of a large proportion of these communities upward enough.

  • Marathas, similar to Jats and Patels, are more likely to own or cultivate land than all other social groups in their respective States. Marathas have a lower per capita consumption expenditure than Maharashtra Brahmins, but are at the same level as other forward castes and OBCs, and significantly higher than SC-STs. Marathas, on an average, are as poor as Brahmins and other forward castes, but less poor than OBCs and SC-STs. Maratha households have greater access to electricity compared to SC-STs. Marathas are 6 and 14 percentage points more likely than OBCs and SC-STs, respectively, to have access to a flush toilet in Maharashtra. The average years of education for Marathas is 6.58, which is lower than Brahmins by 2.18 years, but is similar to other forward castes and OBCs, and 1.22 years more than the SC-STs. The Marathas are 13 percentage points less likely to have completed 12 years or more of education as compared to the Brahmins, but are very similar to the forward castes, and do 2 and 6 percentage points better than the OBCs and SC-ST, respectively. Summing up, in most of the crucial socio-economic indicators, the Marathas are second only to Brahmins in the State, and are significantly better off than all other social groups.

Recently, the Marathas have had two main demands: one, being made quota beneficiaries, and two, the repeal of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The State government has, once again, given in to the first. Should it consider the second, ours would be no country for the most marginalised.

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Title

5. A regrettable conviction (The Hindu, Page 10)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS II –polity & Governance  

Theme

SEDITION

Highlights

Even though Section 124A, the IPC section that makes sedition an offence, attracts either a three-year term or imprisonment for life, the trial court sentenced him to a somewhat lenient one-year jail term. Yet, it is a matter of concern that political speeches are criminalised to the point of being deemed an offence against the state. Further, the timing of a political leader being found guilty of sedition is quite inopportune. In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in sedition charges being used to quell political dissent. This conviction will needlessly send out a message that such provisions are necessary to protect the government against being brought into hatred and contempt. 

There is greater recognition now than in the past that Section 124A is neither relevant nor needed today. The Law Commission released a consultation paper highlighting arguments for its reconsideration. There is a body of opinion that a modern democracy does not need a free speech restriction based on political concepts such as disloyalty and disaffection towards the state. Britain, which introduced the offence of sedition in India in 1870 to check the use of speech and writing to criticise its colonial administration, has abolished it.

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GS  Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  3. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

 

Aspirational districts programme

 

What to study?

For Prelims: About Aspirational Districts Programme, key performers.

For Mains: Significance and the need for such programmes.

 

Context: DoNER Secretary chairs meeting of Nodal officers of Aspirational districts of North Eastern region.

 

About Aspirational Districts Programme:

Launched in January 2018, the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts of the country.

The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a Mass Movement or a Jan Andolan.

With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

 

Focus of the programme:

To enable optimum utilization of their potential, this program focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy. Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.

 

Significance of the scheme:

If these districts are transformed, there would be tremendous improvement in the internal security environment of the country.

If Prabhari officers can bring convergence in the development efforts of different Ministries and state Governments and the schemes specially launched by Home Ministry in these districts, it would serve as a great opportunity to ensure rapid development in the country.

 

Mains Question: The aspirational districts programme will play a key role in bridging the development gap vital to social and political stability. Examine.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

 

World Food Programme

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key facts on WFP and its programmes.

 

ContextCoffee Table Book commemorating 50 years of partnership with UNWFPtowards food and nutrition security in India has been launched.

The book showcases key milestones achieved by the Government of India in its efforts to make the nation free from hunger and malnutrition and WFP’s role in this endeavour.

 

About WFP:

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • The WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal in mind of eliminating the need for food aid itself.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.
  • Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life.
  • The WFP is governed by an Executive Board which consists of representatives from member states.
  • The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors.
  • WFP food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS.

 

The objectives of the World Food Programme are:

  1. Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies.
  2. Support food security and nutrition and (re)build livelihoods in fragile settings and following emergencies.
  3. Reduce risk and enable people, communities and countries to meet their own food and nutrition needs.
  4. Reduce under-nutrition and break the inter-generational cycle of hunger.
  5. Zero Hunger in 2030.

 

“World Hunger Map”:

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba will work with WFP to develop digital “World Hunger Map”. The map will help to monitor global hunger and operations to end scourge by 2030 which is one of UN’s key Sustainable Development goals. It also aims to boost efficiency of interventions and shorten emergency response times.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Infrastructure and related issues.

 

NIIF

What to study?

For Prelims: Particulars of NIIF and funds under NIIF.

For Mains: Significance of NIIF and the need for Infrastructure funding.

 

ContextNational Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Signs MoU with National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) for funding highway projects.

 

About NIIF:

The government had set up the ₹40,000 crore NIIF in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled infrastructure projects.

The Indian government is investing 49% and the rest of the corpus is to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments, etc.

NIIF’s mandate includes investing in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.

NIIF currently manages three funds each with its distinctive investment mandate. The funds are registered as Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

 

The three funds are:

Master Fund: The Master Fund is an infrastructure fund with the objective of primarily investing in operating assets in the core infrastructure sectors such as roads, ports, airports, power etc.

Fund of Funds: Fund of Funds anchor and/or invest in funds managed by fund managers who have good track records in infrastructure and associated sectors in India. Some of the sectors of focus include Green Infrastructure, Mid-Income & Affordable Housing, Infrastructure services and allied sectors.

Strategic Investment Fund: Strategic Investment Fund is registered as an Alternative Investment Fund II under SEBI in India. The objective of “Strategic Fund” is to invest largely in equity and equity-linked instruments. The Strategic Fund will focus on green field and brown field investments in the core infrastructure sectors.

 

Mains Question: Discuss the significance of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and the need for Infrastructure funding in India.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

Infrastructure- Roadways.

 

Bharatmala Pariyojana

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Bharatmala, NHAI.

For Mains: Infrastructure development- need, challenges and solutions.

 

Context: The Government of India has approved Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojanawith financial outlay of Rs 5,35,000 crore to develop 24,800 km Highways along with 10,000 km residual NHDP stretches over a period of five years.

 

What is Bharatmala project?

Bharatmala Project is the second largest highways construction project in the country since NHDP, under which almost 50,000 km of highway roads were targeted across the country. Bharatmala will look to improve connectivity particularly on economic corridors, border areas and far flung areas with an aim of quicker movement of cargo and boosting exports.

 

About NHAI:

The National Highways Authority of India was constituted by an act of Parliament, the National Highways Authority of India Act,1988. It is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of National Highways entrusted to it and for matters connected or incidental thereto. The Authority was operationalised in Feb, 1995.

 


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

 

Foreigners Tribunals

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Foreigners Tribunal-need, composition, Functions and significance.

 

Context: According to Assam government data presented in an affidavit to the Supreme Court and in the Assembly this year, Foreigners’ Tribunals have declared 1,03,764 persons foreigners between 1985 and August 2018.

 

How do Foreigners’ Tribunals work?

The Foreigners’ Tribunals — 100 existing and 200 more to be functional by September 1 — are quasi-judicial bodies meant to “furnish opinion on the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Act, 1946”.

In 1964, the Centre passed the Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Order under provisions of Section 3 of the Act.

The FTs get two kinds of cases: those against whom a “reference” has been made by border police, and those whose names in the electoral rolls have a D (Doubtful) against them.

 

Under what provision do Foreigners’ Tribunals pass ex parte orders?

Section 9 of the Foreigners Act says that “the onus of proving that such person is not a foreigner or is not a foreigner of such particular class or description, as the case may be, shall, not withstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, lie upon such person”.

Thus, the accused has to prove he or she is an Indian. Since the onus is on the person, if he or she is absconding and doesn’t appear before the tribunal, the member can pass an ex parte order.

 

Can an accused contest an ex parte order?

The said order may be reviewed by the Foreigners’ Tribunal if sufficient reasons are shown by the proceedee for his absence or for having no knowledge about the cases, within the absence or for having no knowledge about such order.

 

What happens if an exparte order does not come up for review, or a review fails?

If police can track the person after the order, he or she will be arrested and put into a detention camp. If not, the person will be an ‘untraced foreigner’. Many ‘declared foreigners’ appeal in the High Court and then the Supreme Court against an order by the FT.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

UNODC

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Highlights of the report, about UNODC.

For Mains: Significance of the report and concerns raised, need for comprehensive measures.

 

Context: The Global Study on Homicide 2019 has been published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

 

Key findings:

  • Asia, which accounts for 60% of the global population, recorded the lowest rate of homicide in 2017 with only 2.3 killings per 1,00,000 people.
  • Americas had the highest homicide rate.
  • About 4,64,000 people across the world were victims of homicidal violence in 2017, an increase from 395,542 in 1992. The number of homicides in 2017 far surpassed the 89,000 killed in armed conflicts in the same period.
  • The global homicide rate, measured as the victims of homicide per 1,00,000 people, declined from 7.2 in 1992, to 6.1 in 2017.
  • Asia accounted for 23% of total homicide victims worldwide.
  • Asia’s low continental average, however, can be partly explained by the huge populations of countries such as China, Japan and Korea, which all boast less than one homicide per 100,000 people in a year.
    In addition, their secret lies in the push for modernization policies – with a special emphasis on educational achievements – along with a culture that rewards long-term plans.
  • Young men at highest risk in all regions.
  • While women and girls account for a far smaller share of victims than men, they continue to bear “by far the greatest burden” of intimate partner and family-related homicide, the report finds, adding that more than nine in 10 suspects in homicide cases are men.

 

Need of the hour:

  • In a bid to help Governments tackle homicide, the UNODC report identifies several drivers of the problem, in addition to organized crime. They include firearms, drugs and alcohol, inequality, unemployment, political instability and gender stereotyping.
  • It “is possible” to tackle the threat from criminal networks with “targeted” policies. These include community engagement and police patrols, as well as policing reform, whose aim is to strengthen trust in officers among the local population.
  • For those young men already caught up in criminal gangs, they need help “so that they can extricate themselves” through social work, rehabilitation programmes and awareness-raising about non-violent alternatives.

 

About UNODC:

Established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention, UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime.

UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90% of its budget.

UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

 

The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:

  1. Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  2. Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions.
  3. Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: EPCA- objectives, composition and significance.

 

Context: To reduce air pollution in Delhi, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has requested the Supreme Court to intervene in the “grossly inadequate” public transport infrastructure of the city.

 

About Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA):

EPCA was constituted with the objective of ‘protecting and improving’ the quality of the environment and ‘controlling environmental pollution’ in the National Capital Region.

The EPCA also assists the apex court in various environment-related matters in the region.

EPCA is Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region. It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under Environment Protection Act, 1986.

 

Composition:

Besides the chairman, the EPCA has 14 members, some of whom are the environment secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, transport commissioner of the NCT, the commissioners of various municipal corporations of Delhi and professors at IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

 

Functions:

  • To protect and improve quality of environment and prevent and control environmental pollution in National Capital Region.
  • To enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

 

Uniform Civil Code

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Constitutional provisions related to Uniform Civil Code.

For Mains: UCC- need, concerns, challenges and is it suitable for India?

 

Context: The Delhi High Court was recently informed that the issue of framing a Uniform Civil Code will be placed for consideration before the 22nd Law Commission once it is constituted.

 

What is uniform civil code?

Uniform civil Code is a proposal to have a generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion.

 

What the constitution says?

Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.

 

India needs a Uniform Civil Code for the following reasons:

  • A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
  • Another reason why a uniform civil code is needed is gender justice. The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
  • Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
  • Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.

 

Why is UCC is not desirable at this point?

Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country. Besides, cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.

The term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assures the expression of any form of difference. This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority. At the same time, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.

 

What is needed now?

The way forward may not be UCC, but the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and can be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution. By codification of different personal laws, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritise equity rather than imposition of a Uniform Code, which would discourage many from using the law altogether, given that matters of marriage and divorce can also be settled extra-judicially.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

 

Facts for Prelims:

 

National Youth Corps:

National Youth Corps (NYC) is a scheme of the Department of Youth Affairs implemented through Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS).

National Youth Volunteers (NYVs) are engaged under the scheme National Youth Corps (NYC) initially for a period of 01 year extendable upto 02 years on an honorarium of ₹ 5,000/- per month.

About Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan: Nehru Yuva Kendras was established in 1972. Later in 1987 under Rajiv Gandhi Government it became Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

 

Kaushal Yuva Samwaad:

Commemorating World Youth Skills Day on July 15, 2019 and celebrating 4th Anniversary of the Skill India Mission, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has announced launch of “Kaushal Yuva Samwaad” (A Youth Dialogue)

Kaushal Yuva Samwaad is aimed at creating an open dialogue with the youth across all skill training centres to hear their views, ideas, opportunities and recommendations which could help the Ministry in scaling the existing programs and improve overall efficiency of its projects.

Kaushal Yuva Samwaad is being organized across all Skill India training centres, namely, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKK), Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Polytechnics, Institutes under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Jan Shikshan Sansthans, DDU-GKY Centres and other fee-based training centres across the country.

 

National Translation Mission (NTM):

It is a scheme launched in 2008 which is being implemented through the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore.

Objective: to establish translation as an industry in general and to facilitate higher education by making knowledge texts accessible to students and academics in Indian languages.

Under the scheme, the books of knowledge texts mostly text books of various subjects prescribed in Universities and Colleges are being translated in all Languages of the 8thSchedule of the Constitution of India.

 

UNESCO’s World Heritage List:

Context: The World Heritage Committee inscribed seven cultural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

These sites include:

  1. Burial Mounds (Bahrain): The burial mounds are

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