TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related ART AND CULTURE 1. Here, Muharram is a part of Adivasi ethos B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Sex offenders’ registry launched with 4.4 lakh entries C. GS3 Related ECOLOGY 1. Zoological Society of London honour for A.P. scientist 2. Nearly one lakh winged visitors arrive at Bengal sanctuary SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. We were feeling suffocated, says passenger D. GS4 Related E. Editorials POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. For liberty’s sake 2. Duty to defend ECONOMY 1. Is the NITI Aayog relevant today? F. Tidbits 1. BPCL awaits Centre’s nod for Numaligarh refinery expansion 2. E-com firms to cut 1% tax in supplier payments 3. Merged bank could see rise in NPAs: India Ratings 4. Preventive vigilance is key to good governance in PSEs: Patel 5. Plug tax gaps in consent route: SEBI 6. Pak. invites Saudi Arabia to be third partner in CPEC 7. SC seeks case diary on Maoist plot 8. Sushma to meet Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in New York 9. H.P. digitises State gazettes 10. Punjab nod for FRBM Act implementation 11. Central team to assess Arunachal flood scene 12. Insurance for ICSE students G. Prelims Fact 1. Carbon Pricing Policy 2. Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
- No one in the Agency areas of former undivided Adilabad district remembers when Muharram became a part of the Adivasi ethos, but the event which starts on the Islamic New Year day blurs the line that divides the cultures.
- The 10-day period of mourning evokes as much piety and devotion among the aboriginal people in these parts as it does among Muslims elsewhere.
- The influence of the non-tribal culture apparently came to the tribal heartland of Adilabad during the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
- Muharram was a State festival then and it is generally believed that it has evolved into a tribal event over the years, incorporating some of the religious methods of the ethnic people.
- This assimilation of culture by aboriginal Raj Gond, Pardhan or Andh tribes is what makes Adivasi Muharram different from the Shia event, and makes it somewhat similar to the one which is observed by Hindus in north Telangana.
- Thousands of tribal devotees flock the makeshift or permanent dargahs scattered all over the tribal belt, making wishes, which forms the core activity of the event.
- A good number of aboriginal habitations, especially in Adilabad and Kumram Bheem Asifabad districts, boast of dargahs, the resting places of the sawaris that symbolise the sacrifice of Hasan and Hussain, the grandsons of Prophet Mohammed.
- The dargahs are looked after under the guidance of a Muslim mujawar or custodian.
- The sawaris have a central, long, wooden piece with a rounded off distal end, sometimes carrying a panja or palm or naal or a crescent moon shaped object, from where the plethora of cloth pieces offered by devotees are suspended.
- The sawaris become active starting the 6th day of Muharram period and cool down on the last day.
- Until the ninth day, they are carried to nearby villages on the invitation of devotees.
- The sawaris are carried by Adivasi youth in the fashion of a standard bearer who dance and visit households where devotees receive them in a ritual called pani lena.
- The last session of Muharram on the 10th day is when devotees make offerings in the form of khichdi or maleeda or broken pieces of roti made of wheat flour.
- Some of the devotees even sacrifice goats at the dargah after their wish is fulfilled.
B. GS2 Related
- India became the ninth country in the world to have a National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO), accessible only to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation and monitoring.
- The proposal to set up a registry was mooted by the UPA government after the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi.
- The first-of-its-kind national sex offenders’ registry has names and details of some 4.4 lakh people convicted for various sexual offences across the country.
- The database is for those convicted for sexual offences 2005 onwards.
- It includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint details of the convict.
- The database will be maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau, that will also track whether the State police were updating the records on time.
- The database will include offenders convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, Protection of Children from Sexual Offenders Act (POCSO) and eve teasing.
- While launching the database, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi expressed concern over sexual assaults in children’s shelter homes and increasing incidents of NRI grooms abandoning their brides.
- The Minister asked the police force to keep a close watch on such crimes and the arrest of culprits.
- She also raised the issue of States not responding to a letter sent by her ministry for procurement of specially-designed forensic kits that would help in tamper-proof collection of evidence leading to better conviction in such crimes.
- As many as 79 lakh rape kits were in the process of procurement and distribution across the country.
- A Home Ministry statement said the database would not compromise any individual’s privacy.
- Another portal was launched, cybercrime.gov.in, that will receive complaints from citizens on objectionable online content related to child pornography, child sexual abuse material, and sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape.
- There are other features, such as a victim or complainant can track his/her report by opting for ‘report and track’ option using his/her mobile number.
- The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by police authorities of respective State/UTs.
- This will not only aid the victims/complainants but also help the civil society organisations and responsible citizens to anonymously report such complaints.
C. GS3 Related
- Biospeleology, also known as cave biology, is a branch of biology dedicated to the study of organisms that live in caves and are collectively referred to as troglofauna.
- A faculty member of the Acharya Nagarjuna University, Dr. Shaik has several firsts to his credit.
- He has to his credit the discovery of 40 new cave fauna species, including five new genera.
- Shaik has worked extensively in the caves of the undivided Andhra Pradesh, including the Belum and Borra caves, which are major tourist attractions.
- Based on his work, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which has had Fellows like Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Ernst Mayr, has nominated Dr. Shaik for its fellowship.
- ZSL fellowship is a boost to taxonomy and biodiversity research in India. These frontier areas of research have been neglected.
- One micro-crustacean discovered by him even has his name — Andhracoides shabuddin.
- He found the micro-crustacean named after him in the Guthikonda cave in Guntur district.
- Later, he found another micro-crustacean of the same genus, Andhracoides (named after Andhra Pradesh), in Belum cave and named it after German Speleologist Herbert Daniel Gebauer, who mapped the famous cave.
- The very fact that Dr. Shaik could discover 40 new species proved that the Indian caves support rich, unique and highly diversified phylogenetically and biogeographically significant fauna that will throw light on the evolution of various life forms that are millions of years old.
- Dr. Shaik says that 3,169 species have been identified in the caves of the world, but more than 94% of cave fauna was waiting to be discovered.
- The number of winged visitors at the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal’s Uttar Dinjapur district has crossed all previous records.
- As per a census carried out by the State Forest Department, the wildlife sanctuary, spread over 130 hectares, recorded 98,532 birds this year.
- This the highest number of birds which has visited Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary over the past several years.
- The number of migratory birds is increasing every year.
- Not only has the number of birds increased, but the number of species has also increased from 50 in 2012-13 to over 120 this year.
Rajganj Wildlife Sanctuary
- The sanctuary, which is also known as the Kulik Bird Sanctuary, drawing its name from the river Kulik, attracts a large number of tourists every year, including birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
- Situated near Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal, the sanctuary is home to 164 bird species.
- It is claimed by some to be the largest bird sanctuary in Asia.
- The sanctuary has one of the highest numbers of Openbill stork population not only in India but in Asia and this makes the sanctuary unique.
- Of the 98,000 birds about 67,000 are Openbill storks.
- Openbill storks have a conservation status of Least Concern.
- Then there are cormorants, night herons, little egrets, flycatchers, owls and other species.
- Birds visit the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary in June and stay till November, when the temperature drops.
- The temperature in the sanctuary’s numerous water bodies remains above 40 degrees Celsius during this period.
- Because of the presence of water bodies, there is a lot of food available for the birds. They primarily feed on fishes and snails.
- Of the new bird species visiting the sanctuary for the first time in 2018 are the Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Indian Pitta.
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
- It is native to Asia but is widely distributed.
- It is native to the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and Myanmar.
- As the global population is considered stable, it has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2004.
- They are migratory and spend the winter season in tropical Asia.
- There are resident populations in southern India and Sri Lanka, hence both visiting migrants and the locally breeding subspecies occur in these areas in winter.
- Indian paradise flycatchers inhabit thick forests and well-wooded habitats from Central Asia to south-eastern China, all over India and Sri Lanka to Myanmar.
- It is native to the Indian subcontinent.
- It is a passerine bird (passerines are distinguished from other orders of birds by the arrangement of their toes, three pointing forward and one back, which facilitates perching).
- It is considered Least Concern by IUCN as its range is very large.
- Indian pittas breed mainly in the Himalayan foothills from the Margalla hills northern Pakistan in the west to at least Nepal and possibly up to Sikkim in the east.
- They also breed in the hills of central India and in the Western Ghats south to Karnataka.
- They migrate to all parts of peninsular India and Sri Lanka in winter.
- The sudden drop in cabin pressure on board the Jet Airways flight 9W 697 caused a situation of panic, as people suddenly started feeling pain in their head and nose, with some of them bleeding from the nose and ear.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Note to the Students:
From a UPSC point of view, this article is important as it discusses Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
In particular, it focuses on whether or not in a criminal matter, the court can entertain a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, under which the Supreme Court enforces fundamental rights, for which the accused are expected to seek their remedy under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Essentially, this update marks the stage for the determination of the scope of Article 32.
- Certain activists came under scrutiny for allegedly being members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and joining a conspiracy against the government.
- Among these, five prominent activists were arrested by the Pune police last month.
- The Supreme Court has granted these activists the rare relief of remaining in house arrest while it examines the charges against them.
A Note on Article 32 of the Indian Constitution:
- According to this article. the Supreme Court of India shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part.
- Further, Article 32(1) provides for the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the fundamental rights.
- Also, the Supreme Court under Article 32(2) is free to devise any procedure for the enforcement of fundamental right and it has the power to issue any process necessary in a given case. It is in the view of this constitutional provision, the Supreme Court of India may even give remedial assistance, which may include compensation in “appropriate cases”.
- The Supreme Court of India must now decide on one of the following courses.
a) to allow the police in Maharashtra to pursue its investigation against the activists for allegedly being members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and joining a conspiracy against the government,
- b) To order a probe by an independent team.
The Issue of Contention:
- The issue that is being debated here is the Centre’s contention that it is probing a terrorist conspiracy involving Maoist insurgents and their urban supporters, on one hand and the counter-argument to this being that this is a disguised crackdown on political dissent.
- There have been several petitioners, including historian Romila Thapar.
- These petitioners have questioned the motivation for the police raids on the residences of these activists and a few others in a coordinated operation across several States.
- These petitioners want those arrested to be released and demand an independent investigation.
- The Maharashtra State government and Union government have sought to defend the arrest and prosecution. Their contention is that the case is based on incriminating evidence, seized during the probe and has nothing to do with the ideology or the political views of those under investigation.
- It is important to note that in entertaining this petition, the Supreme Court has set the stage for an examination of some fundamental questions.
- These fundamental questions lie at the intersection of criminal procedure and constitutional law.
- In particular, there are two questions that emerge 1) Procedural 2) Substantive
Procedural Question: Whether or not in a criminal matter, the court can entertain a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, under which the Supreme Court enforces fundamental rights, for which the accused are expected to seek their remedy under the Code of Criminal Procedure?
Substantive Question: Should the court intervene when the liberty of citizens and their right to dissent are sought to be denied by arbitrary police action?
In conclusion, the government may need to look into the possibility of a precedent being set, whereby every accused can rush to the Supreme Court immediately on arrest.
- Further, at the same time, one cannot deny the peculiar circumstances in which a case relating to violence at a Dalit commemoration dramatically morphed into a Maoist plot.
- Further, it is a matter of intrigue that one city’s police is investigating a crime that supposedly spans several States. Further, that this matter involves the purchase of arms and providing strategic inputs to armed rebellion. Thus, shouldn’t this not be handed over to a national agency for further investigation? This is a question that needs to be answered.
Note to the Students: This article underscores the point of Legal Aid. Specifically, it looks into the issue where The Rewari and Kosli Bar Associations in Haryana have passed resolutions that none of their members will defend an accused. The person in question has been accused of the charge of gang-rape of a teenage girl from Rewari district.
- The Rewari and Kosli Bar Associations in Haryana have passed resolutions that none of their members will defend an accused. The person in question has been accused of the charge of gang-rape of a teenage girl from Rewari district.
- It is widely believed that the resolution taken by the Rewari and Kosli Bar Associations in Haryana is wholly illegal, and goes against the decision of the Supreme Court in A.S. Mohammed Rafi v. State of Tamil Nadu (2010).
- It is important to note that several Bar Associations in India have passed resolutions that their members would not defend persons accused of heinous crimes.
- Pursuant to this, the Supreme Court declared all such resolutions to be wholly illegal, against all traditions of the Bar, and against professional ethics.
- The Supreme Court observed, “Every person, however wicked, depraved, vile, degenerate, perverted, loathsome, execrable, vicious or repulsive he may be regarded by society has a right to be defended in a court of law, and correspondingly it is the duty of the lawyer to defend him.”
A Note on Article 39A
- Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability.
- Further, Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all.
- It is important to note that legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society.
- Sec. 304, Criminal Procedure Code:
It is important to note that the Constitutional duty to provide legal aid arises from the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time and continues whenever he is produced for remand.
When we look at a historical perspective, we realize that Indian lawyers have defended:
- the revolutionaries of Bengal during British rule,
- the Indian communists charged with waging war against the British King in the Meerut Conspiracy Case,
- the Razakars of Hyderabad,
- Sheikh Abdullah,
- the Indian National Army accused,
- the assassins of Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi,
- and even in recent times Binayak Sen and Ajmal Kasab.
Thus, no Indian lawyer of repute has walked away from his duty to defend someone claiming that it would make him unpopular or that it was personally dangerous for him to do so.
Pursuant to this, the right-minded lawyers of Rewari and Kosli should defy the resolutions of their Bar Associations.
This is an analysis-based article which presents different perspectives to the reader on the relevance of the NITI Aayog in present day society. UPSC aspirants would benefit from these points as they can use much of this content to present answers on the topic in case it is asked in the UPSC Mains Examination, be it as a part of the General Studies- III paper or the Essay paper.
A Note on the NITI Aayog:
- The NITI Aayog (The National Institution for Transforming India), was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January 1, 2015.
- The NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, which provides both directional and policy inputs.
- Further, while designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States.
- It is important to note that the Government of India, constituted the NITI Aayog to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950. This step taken by the Government of India was done in keeping with its reform agenda.
- This was done in order to better serve the needs and aspirations of the people of India.
- An important evolutionary change from the past, is that the NITI Aayog acts as the platform of the Government of India to bring the various States of India to act together in the national interest, and thereby fostering Cooperative Federalism in the process.
- At the core of NITI Aayog’s creation are two hubs – Team India Hub and the Knowledge and Innovation Hub.
Team India Hub: The Team India Hub leads the engagement of states with the Central government.
The Knowledge and Innovation Hub:
The Knowledge and Innovation Hub builds on NITI’s think-tank capabilities. These hubs reflect the two key tasks of the Aayog.
- Further, the NITI Aayog is also developing itself as a State of the Art Resource Centre, with the necessary resources, knowledge and skills. It is believed that this will enable it to act with speed, promote research and innovation, provide strategic policy vision for the government, and deal with contingent issues.
The points mentioned here, agree with the argument that the NITI Aayog is relevant.
- It is important to note that the NITI Aayog was formed to bring fresh ideas to the government.
- Further, its first mandate is to act as a think tank.
- The NITI Aayog can be visualised as a funnel through which new and innovative ideas come from all possible sources. These sources include: industry, academia, civil society or foreign specialists. It is envisioned that the innovative ideas from all these sources can flow into the government system for implementation.
- It is believed that regular brainstorming sessions with stakeholders from various industries and sectors are held.
- Further, initiatives like Ayushmaan Bharat, and India’s approach towards artificial intelligence, water conservation measures, and even the draft bill to establish the National Medical Commission to replace the Medical Council of India have all been conceptualised in NITI Aayog.
- Further, it is encouraging to note that these initiatives and concepts are being taken forward by the respective Ministries.
- The NITI Aayog should be looked upon as an action tank rather than just a think tank.
- If it succeeds, the NITI Aayog could emerge as an agent of change over time and can contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of improving governance and implementing innovative measures for better delivery of public services.
- The NITI Aayog is also bringing about a greater level of accountability in the system.
- Historically, we had 12 Five-Year Plans, but unfortunately, these plans were mostly evaluated long after the plan period had ended. Thus, there was no real accountability.
- It is important to note that the NITI Aayog has established a Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office which collects data on the performance of various Ministries on a real-time basis.
- This data is then used at the highest policymaking levels to establish accountability and improve performance.
- It is believed that this performance and outcome-based real-time monitoring and evaluation of government work would have a significant impact on improving the efficiency of governance.
- Further, using such data, one can also come up with performance-based rankings of States across various verticals to foster a spirit of competitive federalism.
- The NITI Aayog also identifies the best practices in different States in various sectors and then tries to replicate them in other States.
- The Atal Innovation Mission, was established under the NITI Aayog.
- The Atal Innovation Mission has already done some commendable work in improving the innovation ecosystem in India.
- The Atal Innovation Mission has established more than 1,500 Atal Tinkering Labs in schools across the country and this number is expected to go up to 5,000 by March 2019.
- Further, it has also set up 20 Atal Incubation Centres for encouraging young innovators and start-ups.
In conclusion, the NITI Aayog remains an integral and relevant component of the government’s plans to put in place an efficient, transparent, innovative and accountable governance system in the country.
The points mentioned here, doesn’t question the relevance of the NITI Aayog, but looks at the issue from an international perspective and suggests some measures which can be taken in India.
It is believed that the NITI Aayog would need to evolve into a much stronger organisation than it is now.
A Look at Planning Institutions:
- From a historical perspective, we realize that the Chinese state ensured that after its market-oriented economic reforms began, its State Planning Commission started to become more powerful in the state apparatus.
- As a consequence of this, one witnessed growth and poverty reduction in China on a scale unprecedented in history.
- As a matter of fact, China became the “factory of the world”.
- In a similar fashion, in all East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, industrial policy was planned and executed as part of five-year or longer-term plans.
- It is important to note that these countries managed to steer policies through turbulent times in the global economy, primarily because these countries had planning institutions which went hand in hand with industrial policy. As a consequence to this, they were able to sustain growth.
- Further, while East Asian and Southeast Asian countries still had and continue to have five-year plans, what was integral to their planning was a productive use of labour, through an export-oriented manufacturing strategy.
- It is believed that this was the strategy that India lacked in her planning process.
Two Proposed Changes:
Two major changes in governance structures are needed.
- Planning will have to become more decentralised, but within a five-year plan framework.
- The bureaucracy will need to change from being generalist in nature to being specialist in nature, and its accountability will have to be based on outcomes achieved, not inputs or funds spent.
- Lastly, the NITI Aayog should spell out how these reforms will be implemented.
The points mentioned here, questions the relevance of the NITI Aayog.
- The Planning Commission that predates the NITI Aayog had been on the decline since 1991. This was much before it was replaced by the NITI Aayog in 2014.
- It is believed that the charge of the Planning Commission was entrusted to eminent experts, of which many had trained in neoliberal schools.
- This did not fit well with the requirement for an inclusive and equitable path of economic development in India.
- Under the influence of the Nehruvian vision, the public sector was entrusted with the economy. This was done so given the weak market mechanism which was dominated by mercantile capital and a feudalistic system, especially in rural areas.
- It is important to note that even then, the Planning Commission controlled only half of the total investment in India. This was so because of the adoption of a mixed economy system.
- This approach fitted well with India’s republican democratic Constitution.
Criticisms of the NITI Aayog:
- The first charge is that this organization wields no influence.
- Some sections of opinion believe that the NITI Aayog has no role in influencing, let alone directing, public or private investment. Further, they question the NITI Aayog’s influence in policy-making with long-term consequences (for instance, demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax).
- They also question the NITI Aayog’s role as a think tank. They argue that while working as a think tank and generating new ideas, it maintains a respectable intellectual distance from the government of the day. They believe that this is not visible in the present setup.
- They further go on to assert that India needs to have a paradigm of planning for development.
- In conclusion, they assert that India requires planning that addresses social justice, reduces regional and gender inequalities, and ensures environmental sustainability.
- State-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has sought the government’s nod for threefold expansion of its Numaligarh refinery in northeast from 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 9 mtpa at a cost of ₹22,000 crore.
- The company has sought capital subsidy and excise concession from the government for the refinery project.
- The double-digit rise in fuel consumption in the northeast, one of the highest in the country, has propelled this expansion.
- Northeast is strategic for the government.
- The company also plans to export products to Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar with the refinery expansion.
- Numaligarh refinery is pursuing plans to lay a 135-km petroleum product pipeline from its terminal at Siliguri in West Bengal to Parbatipur in Bangladesh.
- Bangladesh will be a big market besides catering to the northeast, where demand in growing in double digits.
- E-commerce firms will from October 1 have to deduct 1% tax collected at source (TCS) before making payments to their suppliers.
- The Finance Ministry has notified TCS at the rate of 0.50% of the net value of intra-State taxable supplies made through e-commerce portals by other suppliers in the Central Tax law.
- States too would follow suit and notify levy of 0.50% SGST on intra-State supplies.
- The proposed merger of three public sector banks, Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, is expected to result in better operating efficiency in the long run but there could be an increase in slippages in the short-term, India Ratings has said.
- The rating agency said the merged entity may see reduced operating costs, lower funding cost and strengthened risk management practices apart from increasing the scale and reach moderately.
- However, in the short-term, the slippages could increase as recognition of non-performing assets is harmonised and accelerated.
- India Ratings said the proposed merger would require significant bandwidth of management along with deft handling so that operational aspects such as business growth and resolution of large stock of delinquent assets continue receiving adequate attention.
- It also said the asset-liability mismatch of the smaller banks (Vijaya and Dena Banks) can be better addressed at the consolidated level.
- The success of the proposed merger could impact the incremental capital ask from the government as efficiencies improve, resulting in stronger internal accruals and may act as a roadmap for further consolidations in the public-sector banking space.
- India Ratings further said the consolidated entity’s core equity tier 1 capital is about 9.3% and that Dena Bank’s lower capital buffers are offset by Vijaya’s higher capital buffers.
- Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel emphasised on preventive vigilance for improving governance standards in public sector enterprises (PSEs) and said punitive vigilance may not achieve the desired results.
- He said preventive vigilance takes centre stage and becomes a key effective tool of governance in a public-sector institution.
- When lapses can arise due to background noise outside of the employee control (which is often the case in public sector due to the complexity of the interaction with a multitude of other public-sector entities), punitive vigilance becomes even less attractive due to further demotivation that it might induce; in turn, so does detective vigilance.
- While not taking away from the need to engage in some detective and punitive vigilance, preventive vigilance is conceptually likely to be the most effective governance mechanism at public sector institutions.
- The Governor said that punitive vigilance was difficult in a public-sector institution for several reasons, adding the rewards were low to start with, thereby limiting the possibility of downward revisions.
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) wants the government to amend the Income Tax Act to plug loopholes wherein individuals and companies managed to avail tax benefits on the money paid to the regulator to settle matters under the consent mechanism.
- The regulator had already taken up the matter with the government highlighting cases where entities showed the settlement amount paid to the SEBI as a deductible business expense to lower their taxable income and thereby the tax liability.
- A committee formed to review consent framework has highlighted this issue.
- The past has seen at least three instances wherein such a tax benefit was availed by entities that settled their respective matters with the SEBI through the consent mechanism that involves paying a monetary penalty.
- In February 2016, the Income Tax department allowed Anil Ambani to treat ₹50 crore paid as settlement charges to the SEBI as an expenditure. Later on, the I-T Appellate Tribunal upheld the observation of the tax department.
- In other two instances, Pranav Securities and Reliance Share & Stock Brokers claimed such similar tax benefits.
- The premise put forth by the tax authorities was that the settlement amount was not a penalty and the money had been paid without admission of guilt.
- A section of experts, meanwhile, believe that companies should be allowed to treat the settlement amount as an expense since such pay-outs are part of the compliance cost.
- From a company perspective, it should be allowed as an expense since there are hundreds of compliance requirements for a company.
- And errors should be allowed as a business expense, much like business errors which have a cost.
- But if the matter relates to fraud or misrepresentation or there is a personal liability then the company should anyway not be asked to pay and the individual should be liable.
- Interestingly, such settlement amounts are non-deductible under U.S. laws where the Securities Exchange Commission has clearly laid down that applicants cannot seek any kind of tax credit on such amount paid to the regulator.
- Saudi Arabia will be the third strategic partner of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a senior Pakistani Minister has announced.
- The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
- The CPEC is the fastest-moving and flagship project of President Xi’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- The CPEC aims to construct and upgrade the transportation network, energy projects, a deep-water port at Gwadar and special economic zones to eventually support Pakistan’s industrial development as a manufacturing hub by 2030.
- Pakistan has assured the Saudi leadership that they will continue to provide security to their country and provide strategic support wherever needed.
- China has rejected accusations that its financial backing for the CPEC was a debt trap that could compromise cash-strapped Pakistan’s sovereignty.
- The Supreme Court has asked the Maharashtra government to hand over the case diary to learn how the investigation into the riots in Bhima-Koregaon village expanded to the discovery of a Maoist plot on the life of a sovereign head, leading to the crackdown on and the arrests of rights activists across the country.
- A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud reserved for final orders on Thursday a petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others for a Special Investigation Team to probe the circumstances leading to the raids and the detention of poet Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha.
- Maharashtra, which has accused them of links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), assured the court of an impartial probe.
- India has accepted Pakistan’s proposal for talks between the Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing annual UN General Assembly session in New York.
- Pakistan is seeking resumption of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue stalled after the January 2016 terror strike on the Pathankot airbase.
- India’s response came within hours of the news that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed talks between the two senior Ministers.
- However, India said the talks would not be aimed at a broader scheme of dialogue.
- The MEA spokesperson emphasised that despite agreeing to the meeting, India stuck to its position that talks and terror could not go together.
- However, the issue of Pakistan facilitating visits by Indian pilgrims to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara is expected to feature at the meeting.
- The MEA spokesperson said India’s position on joining the SAARC summit in Islamabad remained unchanged as the atmosphere in the region is not conducive. Under the shadow of cross-border terrorism, it is difficult to hold the summit that is to be hosted by Pakistan.
- Himachal Pradesh has digitised all State gazettes from the year 1953 to 2007.
- The printed gazettes from 1953 to 2007 have been digitalised, indexed and uploaded online in the public domain by Himachal Pradesh Secretariat Library.
- The gazettes from 2007 onwards have already been published online.
- The State gazettes were published in both Hindi and English.
- The Punjab Cabinet gave its approval to rules for implementation of the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2003.
- The move will help the State achieve specific fiscal targets within a stipulated time period to avail of the benefits of the Centre’s Debt Consolidation and Relief Facility for States.
- The Act was framed by the Centre on the basis of the model draft bill circulated by the Reserve Bank of India, suitably amended from time to time.
- As per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, each State is compulsorily required to enact a fiscal responsibility legislation to realise the desired targets.
- Union Minister Kiren Rijiju has assured the Arunachal Pradesh government that an inter-ministerial team will visit East Siang district soon to assess the damage caused by the recent floods.
- The team of experts will be visiting the district and file a report, based on which plans will be made to tame the Siang river.
- The Siang river, which originates in Tibet, was in spate in August and September due to heavy rain in China.
- Over 1,000 families living in the catchment areas of East Siang district were affected in the flood.
- Brahmaputra river is called Siang in Arunachal Pradesh.
- There is a deep concern over the issue of large-scale siltation on Siang riverbed and erosion of catchment areas.
- People had to flee their homes after the marauding flood waters of Siang entered their villages.
- The river water was turning muddier and its flow more turbulent with time, adding to the anxieties in the minds of people.
- Many schools are now providing insurance cover for their students to safeguard against accidents and other unforeseen circumstances.
- The move comes after the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) issued a circular asking all schools affiliated to the Council to provide insurance cover for their students.
- Students participate in numerous extracurricular activities, besides the normal academic calendar. This, involves practice, plenty of movement, and much travel time to school and back home. This leaves them vulnerable and prone to likely mishaps, accidents, or any other unforeseen circumstance.
Cover of ₹1 lakh
- The Council has also suggested that the policy value per student be ₹1 lakh.
- While it recommends this measure for all students, the Council has said that insurance will be mandatory for students who are participating in the School Games Federation of India 2018-2019.
- While school managements have welcomed the move, a section of parents have objected. The aim of the school is to take all measures to ensure that no accident happens. They cannot wash away their responsibility by simply providing insurance cover.
G. Prelims Fact
- Fighting global warming will necessarily require taxing carbon emissions or setting a price on carbon pollution.
- At least 46 countries and 26 sub-national governments have established a carbon pricing policy as of April 1.
- There are several paths governments can take to price carbon, all leading to the same result.
- They begin to capture what are known as the external costs of carbon emissions – costs that the public pays for in other ways, such as damage to crops and health care costs from heat waves and droughts or to property from flooding and sea level rise – and tie them to their sources through a price on carbon.
- Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. It threatens to roll back decades of development progress and puts lives, livelihoods, and economic growth at risk.
- A price on carbon helps shift the burden for the damage back to those who are responsible for it, and who can reduce it.
- Instead of dictating who should reduce emissions where and how, a carbon price gives an economic signal and polluters decide for themselves whether to discontinue their polluting activity, reduce emissions, or continue polluting and pay for it.
- In this way, the overall environmental goal is achieved in the most flexible and least-cost way to society.
- The carbon price also stimulates clean technology and market innovation, fuelling new, low-carbon drivers of economic growth.
- There are two main types of carbon pricing: emissions trading systems (ETS) and carbon taxes.
- An ETS – sometimes referred to as a cap-and-trade system – caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions and allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters. By creating supply and demand for emissions allowances, an ETS establishes a market price for greenhouse gas emissions. The cap helps ensure that the required emission reductions will take place to keep the emitters (in aggregate) within their pre-allocated carbon budget.
- A carbon tax directly sets a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or – more commonly – on the carbon content of fossil fuels. It is different from an ETS in that the emission reduction outcome of a carbon tax is not pre-defined but the carbon price is.
- There are also more indirect ways of more accurately pricing carbon, such as through fuel taxes, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, and regulations that may incorporate a social cost of carbon.
- The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) is a division of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India which investigates aircraft accidents and incidents in India.
- Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conducted investigations and gave information to the investigations established by the Court of Inquiry and the Committee Inquiry.
- A separate investigative agency was established to comply with the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
- The agency was established in 2011.
- The Aircraft (Investigation of Accidents and Incidents) Rules, 2012 came into effect on 5 July 2012.
- It provides for setting up of an Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements with respect to the Tiwa tribe:
- It is an ethnic group/indigenous tribe inhabiting the states of Assam and Meghalaya.
- They are recognized as a Scheduled tribe within the State of Assam.
- A striking peculiarity of the Tiwa is their division into two sub-groups, Hill Tiwa and Plains Tiwas, displaying contrasting cultural features.
Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1 and 2 only
- None of the above
Question 2. Consider the following statements with respect to the Andh tribe:
- They are a designated Scheduled Tribe in Telangana and Maharashtra.
- Andh claim themselves to be the original descendants of Andhra dynasty or Satavahana dynasty that ruled around third century BC.
- The Andhs live primarily in the hills of the Adilabad district.
Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?
- 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 only
- None of the above
Question 3. Article 243G talks about the provisions related to powers, authority and responsibilities of panchayats. These matters for economic and social development of the villages are listed in:
- Schedule 10
- Schedule 11
- Schedule 12
- Schedule 7
Question 4. Lists in the seventh schedule can be amended by passing a bill to this effect by
- Simple majority in the Parliament
- Special majority in the Parliament
- Simple majority in the parliament and ratification by 2/3 rd of state legislatures
- Special majority in the parliament and ratification by half the state legislatures
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
Preamble of the Indian Constitution provides everything to test good governance in India. Elaborate.
Without normative approach, governance cannot be good. Comment.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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