TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. Right Application of Anti-Defection Law 2. Supreme Court to reexamine Adultery Law in India 3. ‘Schemes for women to do BPO work from home in the offing’ 4. Hold meet on PCPNDT Act: SC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS 1. A 3-nation Indo-Pacific compact 2. Pakistan files counter in ICJ 3. 119 nations back move to remove barriers limiting women’s participation in trade 4. East Jerusalem is Palestine’s capital: OIC 5. Saudi Arabia, UAE pledge $130 mn for Sahel anti-terror force 6. Brexit Negotiations 7. Islamic State C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. PPP in Infrastructure 2. Bitcoin traders under I-T scanner 3. SC eases petcoke ban in two sectors SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. New island offers clues in search for life on Mars: NASA INTERNAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE RELATED DEVELOPMENTS 1. Kalvari to be inducted into Navy D. GS4 Related E. Prelims Fact F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for Today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- The objective of the landmark anti-defection law of 1985 was to enhance the credibility of the country’s polity by addressing rampant party-hopping by elected representatives for personal and political considerations.
- While this enactment brought about some order in the system, some politicians found ways of circumventing it over the years.
- Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, M. Venkaiah Naidu, decided to disqualify two dissident Janata Dal (United) leaders without referring it to the committee of privileges
- A member of Parliament or the State legislature incurs disqualification if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of the party or votes or abstains from voting in his legislature, contrary to the direction (whip) of the party.
- In the present cases, that of Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari, the allegation against the members was that by indulging in anti-party activities they had “voluntarily” given up the membership of their party.
- According to a Supreme Court judgment, “voluntarily giving up the membership of the party” is not synonymous with “resignation”. It could be “implied” in participation of the member in anti-party activities.
- In two orders pronounced simultaneously, Mr. Naidu declared that Mr. Ansari and Mr. Sharad Yadav had ceased to be members of the Rajya Sabha with immediate effect on account of having incurred disqualification in terms of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.
- The orders of the Chairman have established a benchmark, both in terms of speedy disposal (about three months) as well as the quality of the decisions. Since the anti-defection law came into place, there have been a large number of cases where proceedings have dragged on for years.
- A reading of the rules prescribed by the Rajya Sabha show that the Chairman is required either to proceed to determine the question himself or refer it to the committee of privileges for a preliminary inquiry.
- But reference to the committee is contingent upon the Chairman satisfying himself that it is necessary or expedient to do so; it is not mandatory.
- As a matter of fact, in several cases in the past, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, whenever “the circumstances of the case” so warranted, have “determined the question” themselves, without referring it to the committee.
- In the present case, there was little dispute about the facts relating to anti-party activities undertaken by the respondents, including aligning with a rival political party.
- In the interests of natural justice, the respondents were given adequate opportunity to present their arguments on the petitions filed against them.
- Apart from the written statements, the members were given the opportunity of personal hearing, which they availed. The cases were decided in a short period of three months, but not in a hurry.
- While delivering the order, Mr. Naidu made it clear that while dissent is a political right, it should be articulated appropriately without striking at the roots of the functioning of the party-based democratic system.
- The Chairman recalled that the then Law Minister, A.K. Sen, while piloting the bill in 1985 in the Lok Sabha had clearly stated that if defection was to be outlawed effectively then we must choose a forum which will decide the matter fearlessly and expeditiously.
- The orders assume significance in the context of instances where members have switched sides and became ministers in the governments, which are formed by parties against whom they contested and won.
- It is hoped that presiding officers of State legislatures will take the advice of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha in the right spirit.
- There is no doubt at all that a reconsideration of the law on adultery is long overdue.
- By agreeing to have another look at the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, under which men can be prosecuted for adultery, the Supreme Court has re-opened a question that has been decided thrice in the past.
- This time the court will have to do more than pronounce on whether the provision discriminates against men on the basis of gender and gives an unconstitutional exemption to women.
- While agreeing to issue notice to the government, the Bench has observed that the provision is archaic.
- It has further noted that in a case of adultery, one person is liable for the offence but the other is absolved, and that the concept of gender neutrality, on which criminal law normally proceeds, is absent.
- The court has also noted that once the consent or connivance of the husband is established, there is no offence of adultery at all.
- It rightly describes this as subordination of a woman and something that “creates a dent on the independent identity of a woman”.
- In the past, the Supreme Court has emphasised that a married woman is a “victim” and the man is “the author of the crime”.
- It has treated the exemption given to women as a special provision that has the protection of Article 15(3).
- It has rejected the argument that it is discriminatory by pointing out that neither a man nor a woman can prosecute their disloyal spouses.
- It is only the ‘outsider’ to the matrimonial relationship who can be prosecuted, and that too by the aggrieved husband alone.
- This is made clear in Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a provision also under challenge.
- The matter now before the court goes beyond the limited question of the culpability of women involved in a relationship outside their marriage.
- It raises the related question whether there is an implicit subordination of the will of a woman.
- However, merely positing the issue as one of discrimination in the way the law treats two parties in a consensual relationship because of their gender is misleading.
Criminality of Adultery
- The real problem is the very fact that adultery remains a crime in the form of an archaic colonial era provision.
- Many countries across the world do not treat it as an offence any longer. In 2012, a United Nations Working Group on laws that discriminate against women wanted countries that treat adultery as a crime, to repeal such laws.
- It is one thing for adultery to be a ground for divorce, a civil proceeding, and quite another for it to be a basis for incarceration.
- It will be a travesty if in the name of empowering women the ambit of the criminal law is extended to cover both genders. The correct course will be to dispense with this archaic provision altogether; it serves no real purpose in the criminal statute.
BPO Promotion Scheme:
- The government is planning to expand the scope of its rural BPO (business process outsourcing) scheme.
- The main aim is to encourage greater participation of women, particularly housewives.
- Till now, of the 48,300 seats under the BPO Promotion Scheme, as many as 35,160 seats have been allocated.
Viability gap funding: The scheme provides special incentives up to ₹1 lakh per seat in the form of viability gap funding.
About BPO Scheme: The India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS) has been approved under Digital India Programme, to incentivize BPO/ITES Operations across the country [excluding certain Cities and the States in North East Region (NER)], for creation of employment opportunities for the youths and growth of IT-ITES Industry. IBPS aims to incentivize establishment of 48,300 seats distributed among each State in proportion of State’s population, with financial support up to Rs. 1lakh/seat in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF), with an outlay of Rs. 493 crore up to 31.03.2019.
- The Supreme Court ordered the government to hold a meeting with stakeholders, including online search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, to finalise a mechanism to ensure that materials violating Indian laws prohibiting pre-natal sex determination are not hosted on websites.
- Fourth Trilateral meeting was held between foreign secretaries of India, Japan and Australia in New Delhi.
Highlights of the meeting:
- All there have “growing convergences” in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Stressed the need for greater collaboration on maritime security and domain awareness and disaster response capabilities.
- Renewed their resolve to fight the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed the need for enhanced cooperation on counter-terrorism.
- Support for ASEAN centrality in the political and security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region
- Indicated the possibility of trilateral military cooperation along with East Asian nations as well.
- Venue: Delhi on January 25
- Theme: focus on the three “C’s” of Commerce, Connectivity and Culture.
- India had filed a plea before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to prevent execution of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April.
- Pakistan had refused to allow consular access to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad despite repeated requests.
- India had won a stay from the ICJ on Jadhav’s execution on May 18 following Pakistan’s refusal .
- Pakistan has now filed a counter-memorial before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against India’s plea to prevent execution.
- The counter-memorial stated that Jadhav, 46, is a RAW operative involved in espionage and subversive activities and supporting terrorists to conduct attacks in the restive Balochistan province. India has denied the allegations.
- Pakistan has referred to the bilateral consular access agreement of 2008, which says that in case of arrest, detention, or sentence made on political or security grounds, each side may examine the case on the merits. The agreement was signed in Islamabad on May 21, 2008.
Access granted to kin:
- Islamabad has now agreed to allow Mr. Jadhav’s wife and mother to meet him on December 25.
- The Pakistani authorities have also allowed the presence of an Indian High Commission official at the meeting as requested by New Delhi.
- Nearly three-fourths of the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) have supported a declaration seeking women’s economic empowerment by expeditiously removing barriers to trade,
- India stayed away from declaration, opposing the linking of gender and trade and said that such issues should be discussed outside WTO
- WTO members and observers supporting the Declaration have specifically agreed to explore and find ways to best tackle women’s general lack of access to trade financing and sub-optimal participation of women in public procurement markets
- Inclusion of women-led businesses, in particular, small firms in value chains has also been identified as a theme related to trade and the economic empowerment of women
Reasoning behind India’s stand
- Agreeing to the proposition to link gender and trade could lead to advanced countries using their high standards in gender-related policies to curb exports from the developing world
- This could also indirectly restrict developing countries from incentivizing their women citizens as part of measures to address developmental challenges
- Discussing such issues at WTO will set a precedent to bring in other non-trade issues such as labour and environment standards into the WTO’s ambit
Tension over Jerusalem’s status rises
- Islamic leaders urged the world to recognize occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine
- Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the international community regards as annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state
- An emergency summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was convened in Istanbul to discuss this issue
- With the Islamic world itself mired in division, the summit fell short of agreeing on any concrete sanctions against Israel or the U.S.
- Saudi Arabia has pledged $100 million towards a five-nation anti-terror force in the Sahel region of West Africa.
- United Arab Emirates has offered $30 million for the same.
- The G5 Sahel force is an initiative pooling troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
- Issue: Former colonial power France is fighting against jihadists in West Africa with its 4,000-strong regional Barkhane force.
- Brexit negotiations focussed on Britain’s financial settlement with the European Union (EU), the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom after Brexit and an agreement on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
- The draft deal had proposed that the U.K. would consider keeping Northern Ireland in regulatory alignment with the EU internal market and customs union in order to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (which is part of the EU).
- K. said that in the absence of an agreement between the U.K. and the EU, the U.K. would maintain “full alignment” with single market and customs union rules.
- No regulatory barriers would develop between Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. without the consent of Northern Ireland.
- First, how the U.K. handles regulatory alignment across the island of Ireland while at the same time not leaving the EU on different terms from Northern Ireland remains to be seen.
- The European Union is unlikely to drive the process, with various member countries preoccupied with post-election coalition formation (The Netherlands and Germany), secession movements (Spain) and upcoming elections (Italy).
- Delays in finalising a trade deal and the duration of the transition period to the post-Brexit regime after March 2019 will cause further uncertainty to companies with a U.K. presence, especially in the financial services sector.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared victory over the Islamic State, signalling an end to more than three years of battle that saw Iraqi troops first fleeing without their weapons and then, with foreign assistance, regrouping to recover lost territory.
- At the peak of its influence, the IS controlled almost a third of Iraq, including Mosul, its second largest city.
- Abadi, who took over as Prime Minister in September 2014 when the country was in the middle of the civil war, adopted a cautious, gradualist approach with direct help from the United States and Iran to take on the IS.
- Iraqi troops first stopped the IS’s southward expansion in the suburbs of Baghdad and then started offensive operations in the group’s small pockets of influence.
- After capturing cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraqi troops moved to Mosul, the jewel in the IS crown.
- Iran-trained Shia militias and Kurdish Peshmerga troops joined the ground battle, as the U.S. provided air cover.
- When Mosul was liberated in July after nine months of fighting, it was arguable whether a final victory over the IS was just a matter of time.
- Abadi claims Iraqi soldiers have established control over the vast Iraq-Syria border after ousting IS fighters from small border towns where they had retreated after losing urban areas.
- For Mr. Abadi and the Iraqi military, this is a moment of both relief and accomplishment.But it may be far too simplistic to conclude that Iraq is totally rid of the IS threat.
- Perhaps a greater challenge they face is healing the wounds of the civil war.Iraq is a divided country today.
- The resource-rich south, which is mostly Shia, supports the government and is relatively peaceful. In the war-stricken north and west, there is no doubting that people feel alienated from the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad.
- The Kurdish Autonomous Region has already held a referendum, against the wishes of Baghdad, in which a majority of voters supported independence.
- If the government fails to tackle these divisions and lets parts of the country drift into anarchy again, groups like the IS will find it an easy breeding ground and regain a footing.
- The IS may have lost territory, but it would be blind to deny that the group doesn’t exist anymore.
- It is not known, for instance, what happened to its self-declared Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Syria it still controls territory, even if it is under growing pressure of Russian-American bombing and Kurdish attacks.
- In 2006-07, al-Qaeda in Iraq had faced similar military setbacks.
- But when Iraq’s sectarian rivalry took a turn for the worse and civil war broke out in Syria, it regrouped and reinvented itself as the IS.
- Abadi has to see that this doesn’t repeat itself. In order to do so, he must, besides keeping the military on alert, reach out to the country’s disaffected Sunnis and Kurds.
- Only a united Iraq can hold off the resurrection of the extremists.
C. GS3 Related
- The Prime Minister inaugurated a 30 km section of the 72-kilometre-long Hyderabad Metro Rail Project on November 28.
- Hyderabad Metro is primarily financed through private investment, unlike other metro projects that are entirely funded by the public exchequer.
- It is also the largest PPP (public-private partnership) investment in India, and one of the largest in the world.
- The total investment could well be about Rs. 20,000 crore. Other than a viability gap grant of Rs. 1,458 crore from the Central government, the rest will be private investment.
- State government is only required to provide the land for three maintenance depots where real estate development can be undertaken above the ground floor.
Role of Concession Agreement
- In particular, the fare structure laid down in the Concession Agreement will always remain affordable on account of greater efficiencies as well as the cross-subsidization from real estate development.
- The accountability framework laid down in the Concession Agreement is clear and precise as it can identify and address any defaults or malfeasance.
- The other PPP project in question is the Airport Metro Line project of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which was terminated by the concessionaire, Reliance Infrastructure, with an arbitration award of about Rs. 5,000 crore [interest included] against the former, primarily on account of a flawed concession agreement that enabled inflated costs and claims.
- Notably, the arbitration panel comprising three engineers, empanelled by DMRC itself, held that the construction works suffered from serious defects, including over 1,500 cracks in concrete structures.
- Separately, the Commissioner for Railway Safety reduced the stipulated train speed due to safety concerns.
- The project is now being run by DMRC consequent upon the demise of PPP. In sum, public interest has been ripped apart by means of a huge termination payment as well as large recurring losses in the years ahead.
- The Hyderabad Metro is entirely based on the model concession agreement (MCA) of the erstwhile Planning Commission whereas DMRC’s Metro Line is based on a distorted version of the same MCA.
- Their comparison will clearly reveal how critical the underlying contractual framework is. This is akin to the software which determines the success of a satellite.
- This tale reflects two extremes in the same sector, during the same period and in the same country.
- The lessons learnt would be invaluable for accelerating the much-needed infrastructure investment in India.
- Bitcoin transactions is an emerging instrument of investment unregulated by any law
- These transactions have come under the Income Tax Department scanner.
Investment in bitcoins has emerged as a “safe haven” since there is hardly any regulation.
- Key Fact: the Reserve Bank of India has only issued a cautionary note to users of virtual currencies against risks.
- The Supreme Court had urged States and Union Territories to move forward towards a nationwide ban on the use of pet-coke and furnace oil to power up industries in an attempt to fight pollution
- The Supreme Court relaxed its ban on the use of petroleum coke (petcoke) and allowed cement and limestone industries to use it.
- The Supreme Court has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to frame a scheme within four weeks to contain the illegal diversion of petcoke from cement industries to other fields.
- Why was the earlier decision changed?
The decision to modify its ban was largely due to the government’s submissions that pet-coke is used as an ingredient and not as fuel in the cement industry.
- According to NASA, the world’s newest island — formed during a volcanic eruption in the remote Pacific three years ago — may offer clues to how life potentially developed on Mars.
- The island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai rose from the seabed about 65 km northwest of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa in late 2014 or early 2015.
- Scientists initially expected the island — created when vast quantities of rock and dense ash spewed from the earth’s crust — to wash away within a few months.
- But NASA said it had proved more resilient than expected, possibly because warm sea water combined with ash during the volcanic explosion to create a concrete-like substance known as “tuff”.
- Mars had many similar volcanic islands that appeared to have been surrounded by water when they were created. Such spots may be prime locations to look for evidence of past life because they combined a wet environment with heat from volcanic processes.
- Examining how life gained a foothold on the Tongan island could help scientists pinpoint where to look for evidence of life on Mars.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for Today!!!
E. PRELIMS FACT
Nothing here for Today!!!
F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. In H1N1 virus, what do H and N stand for?
- Haemagglutinin and Neuraminidase
- Haemoglobulin and Neuraminidase
- Haemagglutinin and Neuroglutin
- None of the above
Question 2. The Supreme Court’s power to hear Inter-State Water Disputes can be classified under its
- Original Jurisdiction
- Appellate Jurisdiction
- Writ Jurisdiction
- Advisory Jurisdiction
Question 3. Zero defect zero effect scheme is associated with which sector?
- MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises)
- Heavy Industries
- Service sector
Question 4. Consider the following statements with reference to The National Company Law Tribunal
- NCLT is a quasi judicial body
- NCLT is a constitutional organization
- NCLT is a statutory organization
- The NCLT was established under the Companies Act 2013
Choose the correct statement
- 1 only
- 1, 3 and 4 only
- 1, 2 and 4 only
- None of the above
Question 5. Raut Nacha is folk dance performed mainly by the tribal communities of which state?
- Jammu & Kashmir
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
GS Paper I
- What problems are germane to the decolonization process in the Malay Peninsula?
GS Paper III
Give an account of the growth and development of nuclear science and technology in India. What is the advantage of fast breeder reactor programme in India?
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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