December 12th, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS 1 Related B. GS 2 Related POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. After a heated debate, Rajya Sabha clears Citizenship Bill 2. Data protection Bill referred to joint panel 3. New social security Bill tabled in Lok Sabha C. GS 3 Related SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. 50th PSLV launch carries radar satellite ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Heavy metals contaminating India’s rivers ECONOMY 1. LS passes Bill to set up unified authority for financial services 2. Nod to ring-fence successful IBC suitors D. GS 4 Related E. EDITORIALS POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Strength in numbers: On judge vacancies ECONOMY 1. The not-so bright idea of selling the family silver HISTORY 1. Nehru-Liaquat Pact HEALTH 1. Staggering spread F. Tidbits 1. ‘Register new vehicle when owner shows proof of disposal of old one’ 2. Stage set for maiden survey of butterflies in A.P. national park 3. A.P. Cabinet clears Disha Bill to ensure rape verdicts in 21 days 4. Bill in LS on welfare of elders, parents G. Prelims Facts 1. Odisha’s Rushikulya sees first olive ridley nesting 2. Bougainville votes to become world’s newest country H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS 1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS 2 Related
The Lok Sabha has referred the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, to a joint select committee of both Houses of Parliament amid opposition protests that it breached Article 14 and freedom of expression, and demands that it be referred to the Standing Committee on Information Technology.
This topic has been covered in the 5th December 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.
Labour Minister has introduced the Code on Social Security, 2019, in the Lok Sabha.
- The Bill seeks to amend and consolidate laws relating to the social security of employees, subsuming eight Central laws.
- The eight Central Labour Acts, namely Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923; Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981; Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 and Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008, are to be subsumed under the new law.
- The new code will give the option for the reduction of Provident Fund contribution by employees in some sectors from 12% to 10%. The reduction will not apply to employers and has been done solely to increase the take-home pay of employees.
- The Bill proposes to set up a social security fund using the funds available under corporate social responsibility, to provide welfare benefits such as pensions and death and disability benefits.
- The Bill has a clause to make fixed-term contract workers eligible for gratuity on a pro-rata basis.
C. GS 3 Related
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) marked its ‘Golden Jubilee’ launch by injecting India’s advanced radar imaging satellite RISAT-2BR1 and nine other customer satellites from Japan, Italy, Israel and the U.S. into their intended orbits.
- Initially, the PSLV had a carrying capacity of 850 kg, and over the years it has been enhanced to 1.9 tonnes.
- The PSLV has failed only twice — the maiden flight of the PSLV D1 in September 1993 and the PSLV C-39 in August 2017.
- RISAT-2BR1 will be used for agriculture, forestry, disaster management support and national security.
This topic has been covered in the 1st December 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.
- Samples taken from two-thirds of the water quality stations spanning India’s major rivers showed contamination by one or more heavy metals, exceeding safe limits set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
- The findings are part of a report, which is the third edition of an exercise conducted by the Central Water Commission (CWC) from May 2014 to April 2018.
- Samples from only one-third of water quality stations were safe.
- The rest, or 287 (65%) of the 442 sampled, were polluted by heavy metals.
- Samples from 101 stations had contamination by two metals, six stations saw contamination by three metals.
- Iron emerged as the most common contaminant with 156 of the sampled sites registering levels of the metal above safe limits. None of the sites registered arsenic levels above the safe limit.
- The other major contaminants found in the samples were lead, nickel, chromium, cadmium and copper.
- The study spanned 67 rivers in 20 river basins.
- Lead, cadmium, nickel, chromium and copper contamination were more common in non-monsoon periods while iron, lead, chromium and copper exceeded ‘tolerance limits’ in monsoon periods most of the time.
- Arsenic and zinc are the two toxic metals whose concentration was always obtained within the limits throughout the study period.
- Not all rivers were equally sampled. Several rivers have only been sampled at a single site whereas others such as the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Godavari were sampled at multiple sites. Marked variation was found in contamination levels depending on the season.
- Samples were collected in three different seasons: pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon.
- The presence of metals in drinking water is to some extent unavoidable and certain metals, in trace amounts, are required for good health. However, when present above safe limits, they are associated with a range of disorders.
- Long-term exposure to such heavy metals may result in slowly progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.
- The main sources of heavy metal pollution are mining, milling, plating and surface finishing industries that discharge a variety of toxic metals into the environment.
The Lok Sabha has passed the International Financial Services Centres (IFSC) Authority Bill, 2019 which provides for the establishment of an authority to develop and regulate the financial services market.
- The Bill provides for the establishment of an Authority to develop and regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres in India.
- The unified authority would act as a single window of regulation. Currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators.
- The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination.
- It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs.
- The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions.
- Hence, a need is felt for having a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India to provide a world-class regulatory environment to financial market participants.
- Further, this would also be essential from an ease of doing business perspective.
- The unified authority would also provide the much-needed impetus to further the development of IFSC in India in sync with the global best practices.
- The Bill seeks to amend 14 Acts, including the SEBI Act, the IRDA Act and the PFRDA Act.
- All the laws of the land, including the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, would apply and would be audited by the CVC and the CAG.
- It has been made clear that the tax holiday is given only for 10 years in the IFSC, refuting claims that the IFSC could become a tax haven.
- Among the other functions of the Authority are the regulation of any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions in an IFSC, which may be notified by the central government; and to recommend to the central government any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions, which may be permitted in an IFSC.
Who is covered?
- The Bill will be applicable to all International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) set up under the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.
- The first IFSC in India has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar.
What is the Authority that the Bill seeks to set up?
- The International Financial Services Centres Authority will consist of nine members, appointed by the central government.
- They will include, apart from the chairperson of the authority, a member each from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA); and two members from the Ministry of Finance. In addition, two other members will be appointed on the recommendation of a Search Committee.
- All members of the IFSC Authority will have a term of three years, subject to reappointment.
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to make amendments in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016, through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019.
- The amendments also include a provision to ring-fence successful resolution applicants from criminal proceedings with regard to offences committed by previous promoters of a company.
- The amended Act would also ensure that the substratum of the business of a corporate debtor is not lost.
- It can continue as a going concern by clarifying that the licences, permits, concessions, clearances, etc. cannot be terminated or suspended or not renewed during the moratorium period.
- The amendments aim to remove certain difficulties being faced during the insolvency resolution process to realise the objects of the code and to further ease the doing of business.
- The amendments aim to remove bottlenecks, streamline the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP), and protect the last mile funding in order to boost investment in financially distressed sectors.
D. GS 4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- In a judicial order, the Supreme Court has said that two hundred and thirteen names recommended for appointment to various High Courts are pending with the government/Supreme Court Collegium.
What does the judicial order state?
- The order states that at least the names on which the Supreme Court Collegium, the High Courts and the governments had agreed upon should be appointed within six months.
- It emphasised that the appointments required a continuous, collaborative and integrated process, where the government is an important consultee.
- The order is significant, coming at a time when inordinate delays in the appointment of High Court judges and depleting numbers in the higher judiciary threaten to affect the justice delivery mechanism.
How does the system work?
- At each level of the appointment process of judges to the higher judiciary, prior to the names reaching the Prime Minister and President for final approval, there are time periods specified.
- The Memorandum of Procedure states that appointments should be initiated at least six months before a vacancy arises and six weeks of time is then specified for the State to send the recommendation to the Union Law Minister, after which the brief is to be sent to the Supreme Court collegium in four weeks.
- Once the collegium clears the names, the Law Ministry has to put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister in three weeks who will, in turn, advise the President.
- Thereafter no time limit is prescribed and the process, seemingly, comes to a standstill.
Is the government compelled to listen to SC?
- When the Supreme Court sends names to the Government for the appointment of Judges, the government may ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.
- But if the collegium has now repeated its recommendations, emphasising that there is nothing adverse against the judges in terms of their “conduct, competence and integrity” and that there is no reason to agree with the government, then under the present procedure, the government is bound to accept the recommendation.
Why there is delay in appointment process?
- The government and the Supreme Court collegium seem to disagree on recommendations for judicial appointments quite frequently these days.
- The equation between the court and the Union Government has been strained by the Court’s decision to strike down as unconstitutional in 2015 the move to set up a National Judicial Appointments Commission which would have been responsible for appointments and transfers to the higher judiciary in place of the Supreme Court collegium.
- Since then, reports of delays in appointments have become increasingly commonplace, with both sides testy over the procedure.
- Vacancies in the higher judiciary threaten every aspect of the justice delivery system, the government may disrupt the process through delays, but it is for the court to take an increasingly firm hand to ensure that the collegium system that it fought so hard to protect, despite flaws, actually functions effectively.
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- The first is, the Government must get out of business.
- The second is the need to bring the fiscal deficit down.
- The third is a long-term financial one: which option, public- or privately-owned, is better for the Government treasury?
- The fourth is about national security and self-reliance: can India be under pressure if she does not have full control over petroleum? Why do the United States, China and other superpowers have control over their petroleum reserves?
Selling of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is a bad idea
- The current market value of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) varies between ₹85,000 crore and ₹115,000 crore. The government’s share at present is about 53.3% (which it is contemplating selling), that is worth between ₹45,000 crore and ₹61,500 crore.
- How much has the Government earned meanwhile? Since 2011, the total dividend it has earned is about ₹15,000 crore, which is several times the present value of the investment of ₹622 crore.
- The average inflation in the last three years has been 4.5%, 3.6% and 3.48% in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, or an average of 3.86%. If the Government sells its entire stake, it would forego future income of about ₹78,589 crore. In addition, the BPCL has also paid taxes of about ₹25,000 crore to the Government since 2011. No doubt the Government will continue to get taxes from the private sector as well.
- However, the effective tax rate on profits before tax for the BPCL is about 34%, whereas for the private sector player, it is between 25% and 28%. So there will be a loss in tax revenue for the Government after any privatisation.
Issue of fiscal deficit target
- Another issue underlying the disinvestment is the fiscal deficit target of 3.4%, now reduced to 3.3%.
- Given that revenue collections are not enough, the Government is perhaps planning the sale of well-running PSUs to meet the fiscal deficit target. If the Government does meet its fiscal deficit target by the stake sale of various PSUs including the BPCL this year, how would it meet that target next year?
- How can this be addressed?
- These strategic sales and dividends cannot be repeated every year. We will be back to the same levels of fiscal deficit.
- The real way of meeting this target is to cut out wasteful Government expenditure, most of which is on salaries and pensions, and ensuring that the bureaucracy delivers. Unfortunately, the cuts will be in the social sector.
On national security
The ideological issue of Government versus private ownership is related to the strategic issue about national security.
- Natural resources, especially oil, are a strategic national resource. The United States maintains such an underground crude oil reserve to mitigate any supply disruptions. Some comparative figures for such reserves are – the U.S.: over 600 billion barrels, China: 400, South Korea: 146, Spain: 120 and India: 39.1.
- There are two (state-owned) Chinese companies in the top five oil companies; in fact, Sinopec is the world’s second-largest, just behind Aramco. While China sticks to state-owned national resources, we are moving in the opposite direction.
- National security also depends on the economic power that a Government has. We do have plans to build perhaps the world’s largest refinery in India, with the help of Saudi Arabia, but ownership and control will be in foreign hands.
- Meanwhile, with the strategic disinvestments, we will lose Government control over both crude and refining.
- We need to see through the ideological narrative coming from the developed nations. They embraced free trade when it suited them and are now trying to embrace protectionism.
- China adopted a market system but does not allow this to cloud its thinking when it comes to strategic national issues; the control then remains with the Government.
- India too needs to re-think its strategy.
- It was an agreement between the Governments of India and Pakistan regarding Security and Rights of Minorities that was signed in Delhi in 1950 between the Prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan.
- The need for such a pact was felt by minorities in both countries following the partition, which was accompanied by massive communal rioting.
- In 1950, as per some estimates, over a million Hindus and Muslims migrated from and to East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh), amid communal tension and riots such as the 1950 East Pakistan riots and the Noakhali riots.
Under the Nehru-Liaquat pact
- Refugees were allowed to return unmolested to dispose of their property.
- Abducted women and looted property were to be returned.
- Forced conversions were unrecognized.
- Minority rights were confirmed.
What did India and Pakistan agree upon?
- “The Governments of India and Pakistan solemnly agree that each shall ensure, to the minorities throughout its territory, complete equality of citizenship, irrespective of religion, a full sense of security in respect of life, culture, property and personal honour, freedom of movement within each country and freedom of occupation, speech and worship, subject to law and morality,” the pact said.
- “Members of the minorities shall have equal opportunity with members of the majority community to participate in the public life of their country, to hold political or other office, and to serve in their country’s civil and armed forces. Both Governments declare these rights to be fundamental and undertake to enforce them effectively.”
- Amit Shah referred to the Nehru-Liaquat pact on a few occasions in Parliament to justify the Citizenship Bill.
Source: Indian Express
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Why issues of measles persist?
Vaccine hesitancy has been highlighted for the staggering spread in cases globally. Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services.
- In DR Congo, there is low institutional trust, misinformation, vaccine shortage and even attacks on healthcare centres and workers leading to the spread of measles.
- In many European countries and the U.S., vaccine hesitancy has been on religious grounds and primarily due to antivaccination campaigns spreading fake news about vaccine safety.
- Media platforms (including social media) have been enormously influential in the spread of vaccine hesitancy.
- Vaccine-hesitant parents are usually more active in searching for information online and are susceptible to unverified reports of adverse effects of vaccination and scare tactics promoted by anti-vaccination campaigners.
- Other arguments stem from misinformation regarding the immune system and vaccine response, claiming vaccines “overwhelm” the immune system, and that natural immunity is better than immunity induced by vaccines.
Steps to be taken
- To counter rising hesitancy, about a dozen European countries have already introduced laws making vaccination mandatory.
- New York City too introduced such a law when the U.S. nearly lost its measles elimination status.
- Such laws may prove counterproductive in the long run, and the only way to increase vaccine uptake is by educating the public.
- In most cases, interventions should be dialogue-based and directly targeted to a specific under-vaccinated population group.
- By engaging collaboratively with health workers, caregivers/parents, and their families and communities, national authorities can generate the insights to develop better quality health services, systems, policies, and communication strategies that support and enable recommended vaccination behaviours.
- Vaccine hesitancy is threatening the historical achievements made in reducing the burden of infectious diseases, which have plagued humanity for centuries.
- Only a collaborative effort between paediatricians, family doctors, parents, public health officials, governments, the technology sector, and civil society will allow myths and misinformation around vaccination to be dispelled.
- If we fail, the future health of unvaccinated children and their communities will suffer greatly.
- Registration of a new vehicle should be done only when the owner produces proof of disposal of the old vehicle and availability of parking space, parliamentary panel on Home Affairs headed by Anand Sharma has recommended in its report ‘The Management of Worsening Traffic Situation in Delhi’.
- The panel has made 107 recommendations.
- Registration of new vehicles should be allowed only if the old vehicle is either scrapped or disposed of and if the occupant of a house has parking space, the panel has noted. It also recommended that insurance premium for the vehicles should be connected directly to traffic rule violations.
- The committee recommended strict action to ensure compliance with the order of the National Green Tribunal on phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles of 10 and 15 years vintage respectively.
- It has strongly recommended the Delhi government to ensure the addition of 6,000 more buses at the earliest.
The panel expressed anguish over the non-introduction of computer-based Area Traffic Control Systems which is operational in South East Asian countries for 30 years.
What’s in News?
The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department and experts from Kerala and northeastern States will begin the first survey of butterfly species in the Papikonda National Park (PNP).
- The PNP spreads over 1012.86 sq.km. in East and West Godavari districts.
- The experts, led by Kerala-based environmental forum Warblers and Waders, will carry out the survey with an aim to record all butterfly species, and also conduct a study on migratory species in the national park in the Papikonda hill range in the Eastern Ghats.
- It is the maiden survey during which the entire national park will be explored, documenting the butterfly species.
- The diversity of butterfly species would be considered as a health indicator of the park.
- It was declared as a national park in 2018.
- The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has cleared the A.P. Disha Bill, 2019 (A.P. Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019) paving the way for awarding the death penalty for the offences of rape and gang-rape and expediting the verdict in trials of such cases to 21 days.
- The Cabinet also gave its nod for introduction of the A.P. Special Court for Specified Offences against Women and Children Bill, 2019, for dealing with offences against women and children, including rape and gang-rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, sexual harassment and cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
- The A.P. Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019, envisages the completion of investigation and trial in seven and 14 working days respectively, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing the total judgment time to 21 days from the existing four months.
- The proposed laws seek to amend relevant provisions in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and to introduce Sections 354-E and 354-F in the IPC for dealing with harassment of women through social media and sexual assault of children respectively.
- Under Section 354-E (harassment of women through social media, digital mode or any other form), it has been proposed to sentence the guilty to imprisonment for up to two years on first conviction and four years on subsequent convictions.
- Under Section 354-F (molestation / sexual assault), imprisonment is sought to be increased to a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years.
- A Bill that seeks to impose six months’ imprisonment or a fine of 10,000 or both on those who abuse parents, in-laws or senior citizens under their care was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
- The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019, has provisions for the elderly to claim maintenance and for mandatory registration of senior citizens’ care homes and other such institutions which will have to comply with prescribed minimum standards.
- The Bill defines “abuse” as physical, verbal, emotional and economic abuse, neglect and abandonment, causing assault, injury, physical or mental suffering.
G. Prelims Facts
This topic has been covered in 21st November 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.
- Voters backing Bougainville’s independence from Papua New Guinea have won a landslide referendum victory — a major step toward the troubled isles becoming the world’s newest nation.
- Chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission declared that around 98% of the voters had backed independence with just 2% supporting the option of remaining a part of Papua New Guinea with more autonomy.
- The historic vote caps a decades-long peace process and a long recovery from a brutal civil war between Bougainville rebels, Papua New Guinea security forces and foreign mercenaries that ended in 1998 and left up to 20,000 people dead (10% of the population).
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to Leopard (Panthera pardus):
- It is listed at par with Tigers under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.
- It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
- It is a nocturnal animal.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):
- PSLV can launch satellites into GTO (geosynchronous transfer orbit) only.
- Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission and the space recovery mission were launched on PSLV.
Which of the given statement/s is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to International Court of Justice (ICJ):
- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is an independent judicial body and is not associated with the United Nations.
- It is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office.
- It is situated at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 only
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2 and 3 only
Q4. Consider the following statements:
- Odisha is home to 50% of the world’s total population of Olive Ridleys and about 90% of the Indian population of sea turtles.
- Rushikulya rookery is a major nesting site for the Olive Ridleys along the Indian coast.
- Olive Ridleys are mostly carnivorous but occasionally consume algae and seaweed.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2 and 3 only
- 3 only
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Overcoming ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is a major step in checking the global spread of measles infection. Discuss and suggest measures. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
- A tussle between Executive and Judiciary over judicial appointments hinders access to justice. Examine the issues in appointment procedure. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
December 12th, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here
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