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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th August 2019

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  • August 7, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Abortion

Part of: Mains GS- I – Society – Women issues 

In News

  • Government has initiated the process for an inter-ministerial consultation on raising the gestation period for terminating a pregnancy to 24 weeks, from 20 at present, in case of health risk to the mother or foetus.
  • The Supreme Court, in 2017, had declined to amend the Medical Termination Pregnancy (MTP)Act which prohibits termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks, saying that the issue fell within the legislative realm.
  • The amendment in the MTP act aims to provide equal reproductive rights and also a provision for unmarried females and widows to undergo legal abortion.
  • Presently, woman must seek legal recourse if the pregnancy has gone over 20 weeks to terminate the pregnancy. 
  • Due to slow judicial process a pregnant woman is unable to get the abortion done thus pushing her to depend on illegal service providers for termination of unwanted pregnancies

Do you know?

  • A research paper recently published in The Lancet Global Health said a total of 15.6 million abortions were carried out in India in 2015. Of these, 11.5 million took place outside health facilities. 
  • The Parliamentary committee on Woman’s health noted that awareness about abortion is very low and about 80% of women do not know that abortion is legal in India
  • According to the ministry of health and family welfare, abortion deaths constitute 8% of all maternal deaths per year in India.

Consumer Protection Bill

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS II- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

In News

  • The Consumer Protection Bill 2019, already passed by Lok Sabha, was approved in the Upper House and will replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • Aim: To protect the interests of consumers by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ dispute.
  • New Bill- Benefit to Consumers
  • Presently Consumer only have a single point of access to justice, which is time consuming. Additional swift executive remedies are proposed in the bill through Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
  • CCPA will be empowered to investigate, recall, refund and impose penalties. It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.
  • Provision for class action law suit for ensuring that rights of consumers are not infringed upon
  • Deterrent punishment to check misleading advertisements and adulteration of products
  • Product liability provision to deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services
  • Ease of approaching Consumer Commission and Simplification of Adjudication process (Filing from place of residence, E-filing, Videoconferencing for hearing)
  • Scope for early disposal of cases through mediation (ADR mechanism, Mediation cells to be attached to Consumer Forum)
  • Provision for rules for new age consumer issues: e-commerce & direct selling

Coal Plants and green norms

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS III- Environmental Conservation

In News

  1. Current rules say that coal-fired power plants have to ensure that they curtail sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by implementing appropriate technology by 2022
  2. A report prepared by International Institute of Sustainable Development and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water has shown that implementing clean technology in coal-fired power plants can cost at least ₹73,000 crore
  3. This could mean a minimum of 10% hike in electricity bills for consumers
  4. Though cost of retrofitting plants may be high, not doing so would mean around 300,000 to 320,000 premature deaths and 5.1 crore hospital admission cases due to respiratory disorders between 2019 and 2030.

Do you know?

  1. India’s installed power capacity as of March 2019 is 194,000 MW.
  2. According to the Central Electricity Authority, 166 GW of capacity requires retrofitting with flue gas desulphurisation (to meet sulphur oxide emission norms) and 66 GW with modifications or enhancements to reduce particulate matter emissions

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY

TOPIC: General studies 2 & 3

  • Important International institutions, agencies and forums, their structure, mandate.
  • Indian Growth & Economy
  • Economic Developments

US says China manipulates Yuan

Context:

  • The US Treasury Department declared that China is a currency manipulator. The move came after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank of China, allowed the yuan to suddenly depreciate (or lose value) relative to the dollar by 1.9 per cent — one of the biggest single-day falls.

Concern:

  • The on going trade war between the world’s two biggest economies was now turning into a currency war as well.

What is a currency’s exchange rate?

  • An exchange rate regime is how a nation manages its currency in the foreign exchange market. An exchange rate regime is closely related to that country’s monetary policy.

Example:

  • In many ways, the exchange rate of your currency is the fundamental price in the economy. If an Indian car is worth Rs 10 lakh, then that is all the information we need to conduct that transaction; we do not have to wonder “what is the price of a rupee?”. However, if we’re trying to buy a car that was produced in, say the US, we would need more information than just its price (say, $15,000 in the US). This is because buying the imported car involves two transactions: one, using your rupees to buy 15,000 dollars; two, using these dollars to buy the car.
  • It often determines the affordability of buying or selling internationally. So, if the rupee is at 70 to a dollar, the car may be affordable, but not so at 100 to a dollar.
  • There is a flip side to this picture. While a stronger rupee (that is 70/$, instead of 100/$) is better for you as a consumer, it is worse for you if you were an Indian car manufacturer hoping to sell your car in the US. That’s because the rupee’s strength makes your car that much less affordable to US consumers.

How are exchange rates determined?

  • In an ideal world, the exchange rate for any currency would be determined by the interplay of its demand and supply. 
  • For example: If more Indians want to buy US goods, there would be a higher demand for the dollar relative to the rupee. This, in turn, would mean the dollar would be “stronger” than the rupee — and gain in strength as the demand increases. If demand falls, the dollar would depreciate relative to the rupee (or the rupee would appreciate relative to the dollar).

What is currency manipulation?

  • The real world is far from ideal. Most governments and central banks are bothered about generating more growth and employment at home. 
  • A weaker domestic currency comes in very handy when governments are trying to attract foreign demand and boost exports. 
  • China’s economic growth has been essentially fuelled by exporting to the world.
  • Currency manipulation happens when governments try to artificially tweak the exchange rate to gain an “unfair” advantage in trade. 
  • In other words, if China’s central bank buys dollars in the forex market, it can artificially weaken the yuan — and Chinese goods will then become more affordable (and competitive) in the international market.
  • Some amount of such “intervention” by central banks is allowed to reduce wild fluctuations in the exchange rate. But excessive and undisclosed interventions are not considered fair.

How did the US conclude that China was manipulating the yuan?

  • In the so-called “FX report” released by the US Treasury Department in May, it found that the yuan’s depreciation against the dollar was far more than its depreciation against a trade-weighted basket of 24 currencies .
  • It also found that the yuan depreciated more than what it should have, if the fall were due only to the known interventions by the Chinese central bank. The US accused the People’s Bank of China of using China’s state-owned enterprises to do its dirty work. 
  • The US has also found that Chinese authorities intervene more assiduously when the yuan starts appreciating against the dollar, but look the other way when the yuan starts weakening.

Connecting the dots:

  1. How is the currency exchange rate determined? Who determines it ?
  2. Explain the Exchange rate interms of Purchasing power parity (PPP).
  3. What is Nominal Effective Exchange Rate (NEER), Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER)?

POLITY

Topic: General Studies 2

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

Consumer protection bill 2019

Context

  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 that provides for the establishment of authorities for the timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes.
  • The Bill seeks to replace the three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Back ground:

  • The CPA, 1986 was enacted considering the large number of consumers in India who are illiterate and are susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous businesses. Hence, a major objective of this Act was to make consumers aware of the various quality-control measures (e.g. Hallmark, BIS-mark etc.) being employed for the products and the rights available to them to seek Redressal against unfair practices.
  • Although, the impacts have been largely positive as is visible in the increased consumer awareness and adherence of businesses to the quality-control standards, there have been certain issues as well. The movement has left many rural regions untouched. Also, the slow progress of addressing the cases has resulted in large-scale pendency.

 Key features of the Bill include:

Definition of consumer: 

  • A consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.  It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purpose.  It covers transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing or direct selling.

Rights of consumers: 

Six consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to: 

  • be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property; 
  • be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;
  • be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and 
  • seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.

Central Consumer Protection Authority: 

  • The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.  
  • It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements. 
  • The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations.
  • CCPA will carry out the following functions, including: 
  • Inquiring into violations of consumer rights, investigating and launching prosecution at the appropriate forum; 
  • Passing orders to recall goods or withdraw services that are hazardous, reimbursement of the price paid, and discontinuation of the unfair trade practices, as defined in the Bill; 
  • Issuing directions to the concerned trader/ manufacturer/ endorser/ advertiser/ publisher to either discontinue a false or misleading advertisement, or modify it; 
  • Imposing penalties, and; 
  • Issuing safety notices to consumers against unsafe goods and services.

Penalties for misleading advertisement: 

  • The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.  In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.
  • CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or service for a period of up to one year.
  • For every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to three years.  However, there are certain exceptions when an endorser will not be held liable for such a penalty. 

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: 

  • Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.  
  • A consumer can file a complaint with CDRCs in relation to: 
    • Unfair or restrictive trade practices; 
    • Defective goods or services; 
    • Overcharging or deceptive charging; and 
    • The offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety. 
  • Complaints against an unfair contract can be filed with only the State and National   Appeals from a District CDRC will be heard by the State CDRC.  Appeals from the State CDRC will be heard by the National CDRC.  Final appeal will lie before the Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction of CDRCs:

  • The District CDRC will entertain complaints where value of goods and services does not exceed Rs one crore.  The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs one crore but does not exceed Rs 10 crore.  Complaints with value of goods and services over Rs 10 crore will be entertained by the National CDRC.

Product liability: 

  • Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.  To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill.

 New Bill- Benefit to Consumers

  • Presently Consumer only have a single point of access to justice, which is time consuming. Additional swift executive remedies are proposed in the bill through Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
  • Deterrent punishment to check misleading advertisements and adulteration of products
  • Product liability provision to deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services
  • Ease of approaching Consumer Commission and Simplification of Adjudication process
  • Scope for early disposal of cases through mediation
  • Provision for rules for new age consumer issues: e-commerce & direct selling

Conclusion:

  • However, certain issues such as the appointment of mediators to settle disputes are contentious as this would lead to arm-twisting of the weaker parties and may encourage corruption. Also, the setting up of a Consumer Authority and absence of provisions to streamline the conducting of cases in courts may only lead to greater regulations and complexities. Addressing these issues is necessary to ensure that the new amendments bring about definitive improvements in the CPA.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the salient features of consumer protection bill 2019? 

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements

  1. Abortion is illegal in India
  2. Abortion deaths constitute 8% of all maternal deaths per year in India.
  3. Presently, woman must seek legal recourse if the pregnancy has gone over 20 weeks to terminate the pregnancy 

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Consumer Protection Bill, 2019

  1. The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) proposed under the bill can initiate class action, including enforcing recall, refund and return of products.
  2. However, the bill falls short as it does not have provision for Mediation and e-filing of cases

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Consider the following statements

  1. Coal-fired power plants in India have to ensure that they curtail sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by 2022 through adoption of clean technologies 
  2. India’s installed power capacity as of March 2019 is 100,000 MW.

Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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