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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

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  • January 22, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


High Court of Karnataka : Police need to be trained to follow SC guidelines on registering FIRs

Part of: GS Polity and GS-II – Law & order

In news:

  • The High Court of Karnataka observed that police officers, including IPS officers, required proper training in the fundamentals of registering First Information Reports in criminal cases as per the guidelines issued in a 2013 Supreme Court verdict in the case of Lalita Kumari vs. Government of Uttar Pradesh.

From Prelims Point of view:

Supreme Court has given Directions to be followed in regards to Registration of an FIR

  • Registration of FIR is mandatory under section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
  • If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
  • If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
  • The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
  • The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.

The gig economy

Part of: GS Economy and GS-III – Employment

In news:

  • A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements
  • Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.

From Prelims and Mains Point of view:

  • Global Gig Economy Index report  has ranked India among the top 10 countries.
  • The report says there has been an increase in freelancers in India from 11% in 2018 to 52% in 2019, thanks to various initiatives including Startup India and Skill India.

Hawaii telescope:  Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

Part of: GS Sci & Tech and GS-III – Technology

In news:

  • India Wants Thirty-Metre Telescope Shifted Out of Hawaii (Mauna kea)
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

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Why oppose?

  • The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians.

From Prelims Point of view:

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT):

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT).
  • It is an international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA.
  • Planned location: Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii.
  • The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.
  • TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe
  • It will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.

SC : Disqualification power from Speakers

Part of: GS Sci & Tech and GS-III – Technology

 In news:

  • The Supreme Court asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip Legislative Assembly Speakers of their exclusive power to decide whether legislators should be disqualified or not under the anti-defection law.

SC Suggestions:

  • Disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule should be adjudicated by a mechanism outside Parliament or the Legislative Assemblies. 
  • The court suggested a permanent tribunal headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a former High Court Chief Justice.

From Prelims Point of view:

Tenth Schedule: anti-defection law

  • The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act
  •  Lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature 
  • The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.

Disqualification:

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  • Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  • Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  • If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

Exceptions :

  • Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. 
  • The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.
  •  In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

India and Brazil :  Bilateral Investment Treaty

Part of: GS International  and GS-II – India’s Foreign relations

In news:

  • India and Brazil will upgrade their strategic partnership with an “action plan” and sign a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)
  • Strategic Partnership Action Plan will serve as an “umbrella agreement”, for plans between the two countries to increase defence cooperation, technology sharing and a logistics agreement.

From Prelims Point of view:

Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)

  • A bilateral investment treaty (BIT) is an agreement establishing the terms and conditions for private investment by nationals and companies of one state in another state.
  • In 2018 Indian investments in Brazil were around U.S.$ 6 billion and Brazilian investments in India are estimated at U.S.$ 1 billion.( Total 8 bn )

Nepal PM positive of resolving all ‘pending issues’ with India

Part of: GS International  and GS-II – India’s Foreign relations

In news:

  • Nepal Prime Minister said bilateral disputes with India should be dealt with dialogue, indicating Kathmandu’s political willingness to resolve the row over the Kalapani territorial issue.
  • The Kalapani issue was reignited after India published a new political map in November 2019 that displayed its continued position over the territory as part of Uttarakhand. 

From Prelims Point of view:

Kalapani territorial issue:

  • Kalapani is a valley that is administered by India as a part of the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It is situated on the Kailash Mansarovar route.
  • The Kali River in the Kalapani region demarcates the border between India and Nepal.
  • The Treaty of Sugauli signed by the Kingdom of Nepal and British India (after Anglo-Nepalese War) in 1816 located the Kali River as Nepal’s western boundary with India. 
  • Kalapani has been controlled by India’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police since the Sino-Indian War with China in 1962
  • The discrepancy in locating the source of the river led to boundary disputes between India and Nepal, with each country producing maps supporting their own claims.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

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Miscellaneous Topics in News  

All Assam Students’ Union

  • All Assam Students’ Union or AASU is a students’ organisation in Assam
  • Known for leading the six-year Assam Movement against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. 
  • It formed a political party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which formed government in Assam twice.

Coronaviruses (CoV)

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). 
  • A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others do not.
  • spreading through of contact with animals, contaminated food, and/or person-to-person.

Trillion Tree Campaign

  • In 2006, the Billion Tree Campaign was launched, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a response to the challenges of global warming, as well as to a wider array of sustainability challenges from water supply to biodiversity loss
  • The Billion Tree Campaign was inspired by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement.
  • WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society and BirdLife International today launched the Trillion Trees programme, a new 25-year initiative to help scale global forest commitments and spur greater ambitions towards protecting and restoring one trillion trees by 2050
  • During the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, World Economic Forum announced a platform for governments, businesses, civil society to support UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by UNEP and FAO

Buriganga river

  • Bangladesh’s High Court has asked authorities to shut down 231 factories surrounding the highly polluted Buriganga river
  • The Buriganga River is a river in Bangladesh that ranks among the most polluted rivers in the country.

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG)

  • FMCG grew at 9.7% in 2019, much lower than the previous year’s growth of 13.5%.
  • Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low cost. 
  • Examples include non-durable household goods such as packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs, and other consumables

(MAINS FOCUS)


Governance: Elections

Topic:General Studies 2:

  • Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Electoral Bonds

Context:

The Supreme Court declined to stay the electoral bond scheme of the government. 

Also, a fresh window for purchase of bonds is set to open, coinciding with the Delhi Assembly election.

What is Electoral Bond Scheme?

  • An electoral bond is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India. 
  • An individual or party will be allowed to purchase these bonds digitally or through cheque after disclosing their identity through know your customer (KYC) norms
  • The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice.
  • The bonds are similar to bank notes that are payable to the bearer on demand and are free of interest. It has to be redeemed by Political parties within 15 days only in their specified account.
  • The electoral bonds were introduced with the Finance Bill (2017). On January 29, 2018 the NDA government notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018.

Electoral bonds: Conditions

  • Any party that is registered and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent General elections or Assembly elections is eligible to receive electoral bonds
  • The electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor. Thus, the political party might not be aware of the donor’s identity.

Why were electoral bonds introduced in India?

  • The government said that electoral bonds would keep a tab on the use of black money for funding elections. In the absence of electoral bonds, donors would have no option but to donate by cash after siphoning off money from their businesses
  • Electoral bonds were being introduced to ensure that all the donations made to a party would be accounted for in the balance sheets without exposing the donor details to the public

Restrictions that were done away with after the introduction of the electoral bond scheme

  • Earlier, no foreign company could donate to any political party under the Companies Act. 
  • A firm could donate a maximum of 7.5 per cent of its average three year net profit as political donations according to Section 182 of the Companies Act
  • Also, companies had to disclose details of their political donations in their annual statement of accounts.

Criticisms of EBS

Legalising Political Corruption: Since neither the purchaser of the bond nor the political party receiving the donation is required to disclose the donor’s identity, the shareholders of a corporation will remain unaware of the company’s contribution. Voters, too, will have no idea of how, and through whom, a political party has been funded.

Possibility of Money Laundering: Since the identity of the donor has been kept anonymous, it could lead to an influx of black money. With doing away with all the safeguard that were present in Corporate donations to Political parties (through Companies Act), Indian, foreign and even shell companies can now donate to political parties without having to inform anyone of the contribution.

Large Corporations and not common man is utilizing this route: Nearly 91.76% (Rs 5,624 crore) of the total number of bonds purchased during the 12 phases were in the denomination Rs 1 crore. Thus, there is possibility of unholy nexus developing between Corporates and Political parties for favourable policies which comes at the cost of public welfare

Against Smaller Regional Parties: 80.5% of the total Electoral Bonds redeemed between March 2018 and October 2019 were encashed in New Delhi (while maximum value of bonds was purchased in Mumbai) where national parties’ headquarters are located 

New sale windows during State elections: The government’s scheme was meant for Lok Sabha elections, but the sale window for bonds had been opened before State Assembly elections repeatedly, which is beneficial for Central ruling party.

Non Transparency: The SBI has refused to divulge the names of those who purchased the electoral bonds under the RTI Act. The scheme infringes the citizens’ fundamental ‘Right to Know’ by withholding crucial information regarding electoral funding

Election Commission of India’s view on electoral bonds

ECI, in its response filed in the court, said the provisions would enable the creation of shell companies for the sole purpose of making political donations.

It also stated that the amendments to the law on foreign contributions would mean that there would be unchecked foreign funding of political parties, leading to foreign influence on India’s policy-making. 

Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds scheme

The central bank had warned the government that the bonds would “undermine the faith in Indian banknotes and encourage money laundering.”

Supreme Court’s View on Electoral Bonds

In an order in April 2019, SC had asked political parties to disclose to the Election Commission of India (ECI), in sealed covers, details of the donations they had received through the anonymous bond. However, it had refused to stay the scheme on the grounds of “limited time” available then (impending General Elections to Lok Sabha) and “the weighty issues” involved in the matter.

Way Forward

  • According to ADR, political parties redeemed 12,173 electoral bonds worth Rs 6,108.47 crore between March 2018 and October 2019 in 12 phases. Clear Judicial pronouncement on such matter is of urgent concern
  • The concept of donor “anonymity” threatens the very spirit of democracy, the anonymity should be removed by amending the legislation

Connecting the dots:

  • Cash donations to Political Parties also capped at Rs 2000 through Finance Act of 2017. Why cash donations are still allowed?
  • Do Political Parties come under the ambit of RTI?

Environment

Topic:General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd January 2020

Source: Livemint

What is the state of forests in India?

Context: 

The India State of the Forest Report 2019 was released recently which shows that India has increased its forest cover

About India State of the Forest Report (ISFR)

  • ISFR is a biennial publication of Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
  • The ISFR assesses the forest and tree cover, bamboo resources, carbon stock and forest fires.
  • The 2019 report for the first time has assessed the qualitative nature of the forest cover, including listing its biodiversity and the type of plants and trees found.
  • It also created a national forest inventory for the first time on produce from forests.

Some of the findings of the report

  • India’s forest cover has increased by 3,976 sq. km since 2017—a rise of 0. 56%. 
  • Tree cover—tree patches of size less than one hectares outside the recorded forest areas, also showed a rise, albeit a little higher at 1.29%
  • India’s total forest and tree cover now stands at 80.73 million hectares—roughly 24.5% of its geographical area, and still far from the eventual target of 33%, which India has committed to raise to, by 2030.

Concerns expressed by ecologists are:

  1. Definition of Forest Cover
  • Forest Survey of India defines forest cover as “all patches of land, with a tree canopy density of more than 10% and more than one hectare in area, irrespective of land-use, ownership and species of trees”—an assessment relying majorly on satellite mapping.

Counter Arguments:

  • Therefore, then any fruit garden, coconut or coffee plantation, or even urban parks would come under ‘forest cover’
  • Such a definition will give incomplete picture of our Natural forests, especially with regard to what is happening in Western Ghats & Himalayan Forests
  1. Blame on Forest-dwelling communities 
  • FSI’s new study to assess the dependence of people, living in over 170,000 ‘forest fringe villages’,  states that this dependence could be a “major driver of impairment of forest productivity”

Counter Arguments

  • These communities have been living in harmony with nature since centuries and dependent on forests for their livelihood. Coexistence with nature and not competition with the nature is their way of life
  • However, the big impact areas—the diversion of forest land for roads, dam projects— has been completely disregarded while putting blame on these communities
  1. Compensatory Plantation
  • Compensatory plantation done to replace the original, natural forests during diversion of forest-lands for projects have so far yielded no impactful results.
  • Some of these new areas were even earmarked for other projects or expansion of existing ones, even though they remain under government’s Recorded Forest Area (extent of forests in terms of legal status).

Way Ahead

  • Changing the definition of Forest Cover: Instead of just canopy cover or hectares, the need is to focus on what is a ‘thriving forest’ or an ‘ecosystem
  • Real time spatial data of our forest land. share those maps in real time so we know where we are losing our forests.
  • Any afforestation activity undertaken must include an adaptation programme in the light of Climate Change, else the exercise will be futile
  • To stop the fragmentation of forests—especially a problem in the North-East where forest cover is declining—so that forest areas remain connected to form one big habitat

Do You Know?

  • Forests are sink and reservoirs of carbon, thus critical in adaptation to climate change. 
  • As part of its climate action plan, India has committed to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent through additional forest cover and tree cover by 2030.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Other findings of the State of Forest report 2019
  • Kasturirangan and Gadgil Committee report on Western Ghats
  • Environmental Impact Assessment

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) In the context of space technology, what is “Hawaii telescope ”, recently in the news? 

  1. A mini satellite launched by ISRO for promoting the distance education in India
  2. The name given to the next Moon Impact Probe, for Chandrayan-II
  3. A geoportal of ISRO with 3 D imaging capabilities of India
  4. proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope

Q.2) Which one of the following schedules of the Constitution of India contains provisions regarding anti-defection Act? 

  1. Second Schedule 
  2. Fifth Schedule
  3. Eighth Schedule 
  4. Tenth Schedule

Q.3) Consider the following statements:

  1. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly shall vacate his/her office if he/she ceases to be a member of the Assembly.
  2. Whenever the Legislative Assembly is dissolved, the Speaker shall vacate his/her immediately.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 21 JAN 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 D
4 C

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