20 Dec 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 20 Dec 2019:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
B.GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. House impeaches President Donald Trump
2. Industrial Security Annex opens Indian private partnerships for U.S. defence firms
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Section 144, a vestige of colonial rule
2. Unlike Bengal, Kerala may update population register
C.GS3 Related
D.GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY
1. Section 144 CrPC- Protest and order
ECONOMY
1. Should the government exit navratna companies?
2. Stagflation
3. Key takeaways from NCLAT order
F. Tidbits
1. Indo-Russian military exercise concludes
2. India clarifies on security of Afghan minorities
3. Allow children’s right to protest, says UNICEF
4. MPC members cite rise in inflation for rate pause
5. Portugal sets up Gandhi prize
G. Prelims Fact
1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
2. Ration cards to look similar across country
3. NITI Aayog seeks ideas on population policy
4. RBI to conduct ‘Operation Twist’ to manage yields on Dec. 23
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. U.S. House impeaches President Donald Trump

Context:

Donald Trump became the third U.S. President to be impeached as the House of Representatives formally charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a historic step that will inflame partisan tensions across a deeply divided America.

Details:

  • The Democratic-led House’s passage of two articles of impeachment sets the stage for a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate on whether or not to convict and remove him from office.
    • Trump, 73, is accused of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, as well as a discredited theory that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election. Also, for withholding $391 million in military aid.
    • The second article accused Mr. Trump of obstruction of Congress by directing administration officials and agencies not to comply with lawful House subpoenas (witness summons) for testimony and documents.
  • No President in the 243-year history of the U.S. has been removed from office by impeachment. That would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 20 Republicans would have to join the Democrats in voting against Mr. Trump.

Is Trump out of office?

  • Impeachment by the House doesn’t remove an American President from office immediately.
  • Impeachment means a majority of House Representatives have approved the articles raised against the President, setting the stage for his trial in the Senate.
  • After the trial, the Senators will vote on his conviction.

Then why the impeachment?

  • Democrats say it is their constitutional duty to start the impeachment proceedings as the President’s actions threaten the Constitution.
  • The underlying message is that as the next election is less than a year away, the voters can decide whether they want to re-elect a President who has been impeached by the House.
  • It’s also about bad legacy for Mr. Trump. He’s gone down in history as the third President to be impeached in the U.S. — the first was Andrew Johnson in 1868 after a showdown with Congress over his dismissal of the Secretary of War and the second was Bill Clinton in 1998-99 over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Both were acquitted in the Senate.
  • Former President Richard Nixon, embroiled in the Watergate scandal, resigned in 1974 before the impeachment proceedings could begin.

For in-depth analysis on the impeachment of the U.S. President, watch Explained: How the US President can be impeached.

2. Industrial Security Annex opens Indian private partnerships for U.S. defence firms

Context:

Second annual India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

Industrial Security Annex (ISA):

  • The Industrial Security Annex (ISA), signed between India and the U.S. at the second 2+2 dialogue in Washington, will open the door for U.S. defence companies to partner with the Indian private sector for several multi-billion dollar deals in the pipeline, especially the deal for 114 fighter jets.
    • The ISA is a part of the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which India signed with the U.S. long back. It became critical as India opened up the defence sector to the private sector and the Strategic Partnership policy, which has few big military platforms is reserved for the Indian private sector. U.S. companies are in the race for multi-billion dollar deal for 114 fighter jets, among other deals.
    • ISA would facilitate collaboration between the defence industries of both countries by supporting the secure transfer of key information and technology.

Details:

  • The two sides also took stock of the steps being taken to operationalise the foundational agreement, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
  • With this, three of four foundational agreements are through.
  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) is still under negotiation as both sides try to iron out a few reciprocal issues.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Section 144, a vestige of colonial rule

What’s in News?

On Section 144: Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 empowers an executive magistrate to prohibit an assembly of more than four people in an area. According to 141-149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the maximum punishment for engaging in rioting is rigorous imprisonment for 3 years and/or fine.

  • India’s criminal justice architecture continues to reflect its colonial heritage, both on paper and in practice. This is perhaps reflected best in the vibrant and unfettered invocation of Section 144 in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 [“Cr.P.C.”], which confers upon executive officers such as executive magistrates or sub-divisional magistrates, unimaginable powers for passing orders to tackle any urgent cases of “nuisance” or “apprehended danger” that may arise in their territorial jurisdiction, where such orders will “prevent or are likely to prevent” any adverse impact upon human life, health, safety, or prevent “a disturbance of the public tranquillity.”
  • In theory, Section 144 embodies very noble ideas. It is a manifestation of the idea that exceptional times call for exceptional measures. But rather than simply conferring a carte blanche upon executive officers, Section 144 circumscribes these powers by stipulating conditions that must be complied with before any order can be passed, while also fixing spatial and temporal limits to ensure that the exception does not overwhelm the norm. Thus, as a rule, an order under Section 144 must be passed after giving prior notice and a hearing to the persons whose rights will be adversely affected, and only “in cases of emergency” can this requirement be waived.
  • Further, Section 144 also incorporates within itself the idea of an aggrieved person challenging the exercise of such power, or even the state itself reviewing its actions. So, even where persons may not have been heard prior to the passing of a notice, they can be heard subsequently.
  • Thus, when one hears of “144 order” being imposed in times of riots or demonstrations, what that actually refers to is an order passed under this section, which then specifies certain things that shall be done, because the officer considers that these steps will prevent damage to life and property, or a disturbance to public tranquillity; most common among these being an order passed by the local Police Commissioner (who will be an executive magistrate) directing that the police take steps to prevent any associations of people within an area, because the officer considers this necessary to prevent violence.

If Section 144 is so wonderful, why has it been consistently attacked over time, both before and after Independence, as being one of the more insidious provisions on our statute books?

  • There are twin reasons for this criticism. The first is that in the bid to legislate for all kinds of emergencies, Section 144 ends up conferring almost unbridled powers upon executive officers.
  • The only check placed upon the officer before passing any order under Section 144 is whether or not it satisfied his conscience, about there being a need for such orders which will almost certainly entail curbs upon the rights of persons.
  • And even though there are powers to challenge such orders in appeal or in a writ before constitutional courts, even they cannot substitute their appreciation of the facts for what the officer himself thought. At best, they can make sure that the procedure was correctly followed, but they cannot substitute their judgment for that of the officer on the ground.
  • Furthermore, the extreme breadth of powers conferred upon executive officers by Section 144 is not specifically tailored towards the kinds of dangers that are sought to be prevented. Section 144(1) confers these powers for achieving certain goals, i.e. preventing any damage to life or property, but frames these objectives as widely as possible given the logic of emergencies.
  • However, there is nothing in the statute itself that says that the executive officer can only take certain actions to, say, prevent any “disturbance of the public tranquillity”, where this did not suggest any active threats to life or property. But given that some link between the remedy and the illness will appeal to any rational observer, appeal courts are willing to interfere where the link is far too tenuous.

Conclusion:

Thus, to sum up, Section 144 is a useful tool to help deal with emergencies. However, the absence of any narrow tailoring of wide executive powers with specific objectives, coupled with very limited judicial oversight over the executive branch, makes it ripe for abuse and misuse.

2. Unlike Bengal, Kerala may update population register

What’s in News?

Kerala may update the National Population Register (NPR) though the West Bengal government, which also opposes the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), has stalled it.

What is National Population Register?

  • The National Population Register (NPR) is a Register of usual residents of the country.
  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.
  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • Definition: A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
  • As per the provisions of the NPR, a Resident Identity Card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18. This will be a chip-embedded smart card containing the demographic and biometric attributes of each individual. The UID number will also be printed on the card.

C. GS3 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY

1. Section 144 CrPC- Protest and order

  • Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) empowers the magistrate of any state or union territory in India to pass an order prohibiting the gathering of four or more people in a specified area.
  • The various provisions of Section 144 make it possible to book all the members of such a gathering termed as ‘unlawful assembly’ under the charges of having engaged in rioting.
  • The ultimate purpose of Section 144 is to maintain peace and order in the areas where trouble could erupt to disrupt regular life. 144 CrPC prohibits the conducting of some events which are otherwise allowed during regular times.

Why Section 144 is necessitated?

  • Section 144 is imposed in a given region in emergency situations or cases of nuisance or perceived danger of some event that has the potential to create a troubled situation or damage to human lives or property.
  • In general, we can say Section 144 prohibits public gathering.

Duration of Section 144 order

  • As per the rules specified for the implementation of Section 144 in a given jurisdiction, no order can remain in force for a period of more than 2 months.
  • Under the state government’s discretion, it can choose to extend the validity for two more months with the maximum validity extendable to six months.
  • Once the situation becomes normal, Section 144 levied can be withdrawn.

Why is the use of power under Section 144 criticized so often?

  • The criticism is that it is too broad and the words of the section are wide enough to give absolute power to a magistrate that may be exercised unjustifiably. The immediate remedy against such an order is a revision application to the magistrate himself.
  • An aggrieved individual can approach the High Court by filing a writ petition if his fundamental rights are at stake. However, fears exist that before the High Court intervenes, the rights could already have been infringed.
  • In the name of public order, political views are being suppressed.
  • The apex court has often said that an order under Section 144 has to be reasonable and be “minimal”. It means that the order should be limited to specific localities, and in response to a particular situation.
    • But the imposition of Section 144 to an entire state, as in UP, has also drawn criticism since the security situation differs from area to area.

Supreme Court Judgments

  • Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra and Others.
    • A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court refused to strike down the law, saying it is “not correct to say that the remedy of a person aggrieved by an order under the section was illusory”.
  • It was challenged again by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya in 1967 and was once again rejected, with the court saying “no democracy can exist if ‘public order’ is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens”.
  • In another challenge in 1970 (Madhu Limaye vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate), a seven-judge Bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India M Hidayatullah said the power of a magistrate under Section 144 “is not an ordinary power flowing from administration but a power used in a judicial manner and which can stand further judicial scrutiny”.
    • The court, however, upheld the constitutionality of the law. It ruled that the restrictions imposed through Section 144 cannot be held to be violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right because it falls under the “reasonable restrictions” under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. The fact that the “law may be abused” is no reason to strike it down, the court said.

Does Section 144 provide for communications blockades too?

  • The rules for suspending telecommunication services, which include voice, mobile internet, SMS, landline, fixed broadband, etc. are the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
  • These Rules derive their powers from the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, Section 5(2) of which, talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
  • Under the 2017 Rules, directions to “suspend the telecom services shall not be issued except by an order made by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs in the case of Government of India or by the Secretary to the State Government in-charge of the Home Department in the case of a State Government (hereinafter referred to as the competent authority)…”
  • The Rules also say that in case the confirmation does not come from a competent authority, the orders shall cease to exist within a period of 24 hours. Clear reasons for such orders need to be given in writing, and need to be forwarded to a Review Committee by the next working day.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Should the government exit navratna companies?

2. Stagflation

  • It is a portmanteau of stagnant growth and rising inflation.
  • Typically, inflation rises when the economy is growing fast. That’s because people are earning more and more money and are capable of paying higher prices for the same quantity of goods.
    • When the economy stalls, inflation tends to dip as well – again because there is less money now chasing the same quantity of goods.
  • Stagflation is said to happen when an economy faces stagnant growth as well as persistently high inflation.
    • In other words, the worst of both worlds. That’s because with stalled economic growth, unemployment tends to rise and existing incomes do not rise fast enough and yet, people have to contend with rising inflation.
    • So people find themselves pressurised from both sides as their purchasing power is reduced.

Why is everyone asking about Stagflation in India?

  • Over the past six quarters, economic growth in India has decelerated with every quarter. In the second quarter (July to September), for which the latest data is available, the GDP grew by just 4.5%.
  • In the coming quarter (October to December), too, GDP growth is likely to stay at roughly the same level. For the full financial year, the GDP growth rate is expected to average around 5% – a six-year low.

So, is India facing Stagflation?

Although it appears so at first glance, India is not yet facing stagflation. There are three broad reasons for it.

  • One, although it is true that we are not growing as fast as we have in the past or as fast as we could, India is still growing at 5% and is expected to grow faster in the coming years.
    • India’s growth hasn’t yet stalled and declined; in other words, year on year, our GDP has grown in absolute number, not declined.
  • Two, it is true that retail inflation has been quite high in the past few months, yet the reason for this spike is temporary because it has been caused by a spurt in prices of agricultural commodities after some unseasonal rains.
    • With better food management, food inflation is expected to come down.
    • The core inflation – that is inflation without taking into account food and fuel – is still benign.
  • Lastly, retail inflation has been well within the RBI’s target level of 4% for most of the year.
    • A sudden spike of a few months, which is likely to flatten out in the next few months; it is still early days before one claims that India has stagflation.

Source: Indian Express

3. Key takeaways from NCLAT order

Context

  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) reinstated Cyrus Pallonji Mistry to the position of Executive Chairman of Tata Sons and Director of the Tata Group of companies for the remainder of his tenure.

Background

  • Cyrus Mistry is the younger son of Indian billionaire and construction magnate Pallonji Mistry. In the 1930s Mistry’s grandfather, Shapoorji Mistry first acquired a stake in Tata Sons.
  • The Mistry family holds 18.5 per cent stake in the company and comprises the largest block of shares held by a single party.
  • Mistry joined the board of Tata Sons in 2006, a year after his father retired from it.
  • Mistry was unceremoniously sacked both as Executive Chairman and Director in 2016.

Details

  • The NCLAT held Mistry’s sacking and the subsequent appointment of N Chandrasekaran to the top post at Tata Sons illegal, prejudicial, and oppressive.
  • It set aside a July 2017 order by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which had upheld Mistry’s removal from his positions at Tata Sons and other Group companies.

What does the law mandate?

  • The NCLAT was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 to hear appeals against the orders of the NCLT(s).
  • It is also the appellate tribunal for orders passed by the NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, and for orders passed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) under Sections 202 and 211 of the IBC.

Minority shareholders

  • The appellate tribunal directed Tata Sons to consult all its minority shareholders before making any appointments in the future to the posts of Executive Chairman, Independent Director, and Director on the boards of Group companies.
  • The NCLAT direction will empower the minority shareholders and will force Independent Directors to take their objections more seriously.
  • The Code for Independent Directors, which is part of the Companies Act, 2013, says that one of their functions is to “safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, particularly the minority shareholders”.

Will Mistry return?

  • Although the NCLAT passed an order restoring Mistry to the top position at Tata Sons, the execution of the order has been suspended for four weeks.
  • This will allow the Tata Group to challenge the NCLAT decision before the Supreme Court.

Source: Indian Express

F. Tidbits

1. Indo-Russian military exercise concludes

What’s in News?

The air force component of ‘Ex INDRA 19’, a joint exercise between India and Russia, successfully concluded in Lohegaon.

  • As part of the exercise, the Indian armed forces and their Russian counterparts undertook joint air, land and sea operations.
  • The exercise provided an opportunity to enhance the IAF’s operational capability, synergise joint operations and improve interoperability with Russian Federation Air Force to operate under the UN mandate.
  • Several airborne and ground assets of the IAF, including Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage-2000, indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas), IL-76, AEW&C, AN-32, Mi-17V5, indigenously developed air defence system AKASH and air defence radars, were used during the operation.

2. India clarifies on security of Afghan minorities

  • According to an official of the External Affairs Ministry, the present government of Afghanistan has substantially addressed the security needs of the religious communities of the country.
  • The clarification was made days after Home Minister Amit Shah argued in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, citing persecution of religious minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • The official said, “We did not say that religious persecution is taking place under the present government of Afghanistan. What we have said and that was explained by our Home Minister as well is that during the previous Mujahideen and Taliban regimes, religious minorities were deliberately victimised,”.

3. Allow children’s right to protest, says UNICEF

  • The UNICEF has urged governments across the world to allow children their right to protest and appealed to its member-states to refrain from violence and ensure their protection.
  • “Children’s rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including in peaceful protest, are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. It is incumbent on member-states to ensure that children can exercise this right in a safe and peaceful manner,” said UNICEF’s Executive Director.
  • UNICEF’s Executive Director urged countries to allow children to protest and to respond to them in a principled, constructive and supportive way.

Context:

  • The statement from the UN agency is a condemnation of governments cracking down on young protesters globally, on a day of protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act as well as the police crackdown at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University.

4. MPC members cite rise in inflation for rate pause

  • Rise in headline inflation, as well as an inadequate monetary policy rate transmission, were cited by members of the monetary policy committee for keeping interest rate unchanged during the first bi-monthly monetary policy review in December.
  • After cutting rates in five consecutive policy reviews, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 5.15% in the December review.
  • RBI Governor cited uncertainties around the growth inflation dynamics, observing that even as spike in food inflation could be looked through, there was some uncertainty about the outlook of prices of certain items such as cereals, pulses, milk and sugar.

5. Portugal sets up Gandhi prize

  • Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the setting up of a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize while attending a meeting of the National Committee for the Commemoration Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary chaired by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

G. Prelims Facts

1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, earlier known as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed on 7th September 2005 to augment employment generation and social security in India. It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.

Read more about MGNREGA

2. Ration cards to look similar across country

  • The Centre has designed a standard format for ration cards as it moves ahead with ‘one nation, one ration card’ initiative and has asked the state governments to follow the pattern while issuing fresh ration cards.
  • Currently, the central government’s ambitious initiative is being implemented on a pilot basis in a cluster of six States. It wants to implement this facility across the country from June 1, 2020.
  • Under the initiative, eligible beneficiaries would be able to avail their entitled foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from any Fair Price Shop in the country using the same ration card.

One Nation One Ration Card

  • One Nation One Ration Card (RC) will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.
  • This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
  • Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) is a system that is already operational in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura wherein a beneficiary can avail his share of food grain from any district in the State.

Read more about One Nation, One Ration Card.

3. NITI Aayog seeks ideas on population policy

  • Government think tank NITI Aayog organised a national consultation on population stabilisation to explore ways to strengthen the country’s population policy and family planning programmes.
  • The event was held in partnership with the Population Foundation of India.
  • The agenda is to brainstorm over recommendations like treating population stabilisation and family planning as a national priority and ensuring inter-governmental convergence.

4. RBI to conduct ‘Operation Twist’ to manage yields on Dec. 23

What’s in News?

  • On a review of the current liquidity and market situation and an assessment of the evolving financial conditions, the Reserve Bank has decided to conduct simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under Open Market Operations (OMO) for 10,000 crore each.
  • Market experts had suggested unconventional steps by the central bank as policy rate cuts are unable to bring down the bank lending rates proportionately.

What is Operation Twist?

  • Operation Twist is the name given to a Federal Reserve monetary policy operation that involves the purchase and sale of bonds.
  • It is a move taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve in 2011-12 to make long-term borrowing cheaper.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to National Population Register (NPR):
  1. NPR is a register of permanent residents of the country.
  2. Under the provisions of NPR, a resident identity card (RIC) will be issued to individuals only over the age of 18.

Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer
Q2. “Operation Twist” refers to:

a. The name given to the monetary policy operation that involves the purchase and sale of bonds.
b. The operation by the Military of India that led to the capture of Goa, Daman and Diu and Anjediva Islands.
c. The operation of the Indian Armed Forces to capture the Siachen Glacier in the Kashmir region.
d. None of the above.

See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Communications Compatibility and 
Security Agreement (COMCASA):
  1. It provides a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India.
  2. It is one of the four foundational agreements that a country needs to sign to become a major defence partner of the United States.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer
Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to INDRA 2019:
  1. INDRA 2019 is a joint tri-services exercise between India and Russia.
  2. When the series of exercise began, it was conducted as a single service exercise alternately between the two countries.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Draw a comparison between the procedures followed for the impeachment of the President of India and the President of the United States of America. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
  2. Describe how the policies of Colonial rule sowed the seeds of communalism in India. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

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