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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th March 2020

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  • March 20, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force

Part of: GS Prelims

In News:

  • To deal with the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’ will be created
  • It will be headed by Union Finance Minister.
  • The Task Force will consult stakeholders, take feedback, on the basis of which decisions will be taken to meet the challenges.

Electricity Production

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy

In News:

  • As per the latest world energy statistics published by the IEA in 2019, India is the 3rd largest producer of electricity in the world.
  • India also ranks 106th in terms of per capita consumption in 2017. 
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the OECD in 1974

Abel Prize

Part of: GS Prelims

In News:

  • Abel prize was established by the Norwegian government in 2002 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Neil Henrick’s birth (Norwegian Mathematician)
  • The purpose is to award the Abel Prize for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics.

GreenCo Rating System

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment Conservation

In News:

  • GreenCo Rating, developed by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), has been acknowledged in India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) document, submitted UNFCCC in 2015
  • It is being used as a proactive voluntary action of Indian industry / private sector towards combating climate change.
  • The GreenCo rating assesses the firms on their environmental performance and thus aligns them to national priorities towards environment such as energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable energy, waste management, etc

Puri Jagannath Temple

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Art & Culture

In News:

  • The Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the “White Pagoda”.
  • The temple is a part of Char Dham (Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri, Rameswaram) pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one’s lifetime.
  • When most of the deities in the temples of India are made of stone or metal, the idol of Jagannatha is made of wood which is ceremoniously replaced in every twelve or nineteen years by using sacred trees.
  • The temple is believed to be constructed in the 12th century by King Anatavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
  • The temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra or Chariot festival, in which the three principal deities (Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra) are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars
  • Jagannath Puri temple is called ‘Yamanika Tirtha’ where, according to the Hindu beliefs, the power of ‘Yama’, the god of death has been nullified in Puri due to the presence of Lord Jagannath.

New definition of MSMEs soon

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy

In News:

  • The government would come out with a new definition of MSMEs, which are currently defined on the basis of investment in plant and machinery
  • Government has accepted 39 suggestions by the U.K. Sinha committee appointed by RBI, including the setting up a “fund of funds” for MSME sector. 
  • The MSME sector currently contributed 24% of the GDP growth and 48% of exports, with an annual turnover of ₹1 lakh crore in FY20.

Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • The bill accords the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda at Jamnagar, Gujarat, the status of ‘institution of national importance’ by clubbing the cluster of ayurveda institutes at the Gujarat Ayurveda University campus in Jamnagar.
  • The three institutes (in Jamnagar) which would be a part of the proposed conglomeration are 
    • The Institute of Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda
    • Gulabkunwerba Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya 
    • The Institute of Ayurveda Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • The objective of the institute will be the promotion of quality and excellence in education, research and training in Ayurveda and allied disciplines

LiDAR

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Science & Technology

In News:

  • In simple terms, LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging. 
  • It is basically a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances to the subject. 
  • These light pulses – when combined with other data, generate accurate, high-resolution three-dimensional information of the object.
  • This technology is mostly used for ground-based surveys.
  • LiDAR was first used on a spacecraft during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, when astronauts mapped the surface of the moon.
  • Apart from aerial surveys, the LiDAR sensor is the most important component in self-driving cars. The LiDAR sensor provides continuous 360 degrees of visibility and accurate depth information.

Challenges with LiDAR

  • LiDAR can measure the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters away, but won’t fare well in identifying objects in the vicinity.
  • Also, it can’t perform well in fog, rain, snow and dusty weather. 
  • LiDAR also struggles to detect a glass wall or door, which is why smartphone manufacturers and self-driving cars makers use LiDAR along with secondary cameras and sensors.

Do You Know?

  • Sonar (short for sound navigation and ranging) relies on sound waves to detect objects and hence is usually used to detect objects underwater.
  • Meanwhile, Radar (short for radio detection and ranging) uses radio waves to determine an object’s distance or range. Radio waves can work over a long distance and perform better in dusty conditions.

Windrush Scandal

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- International Affairs

In News:

  • The British government apologised for Windrush scandal i.e. its treatment of Britons of Caribbean origin, who were wrongly detained or deported for being illegal immigrants
  • Windrush generation refers to migrants from the Caribbean Commonwealth who had come to the U.K. at a time when they had the right to remain indefinitely in Britain, but had had their rights questioned under a toughened immigration regime.
  • The Windrush generation is named after one of the many vessels that ferried some half a million people from the Caribbean islands to the U.K. in the late 1940s. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


Indian Polity

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. 

Giving Human Rights Commissions more teeth

Context: The Madras High Court is to decide on whether the recommendations made by such panels are binding upon the state

A Brief Background

  • In 1993, the Indian Parliament enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act. 
  • The purpose of the Act was to establish an institutional framework that could effectively protect, promote and fulfil the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. 
  • Therefore, the Act created a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and also, Human Rights Commissions at the levels of the various States.
  • These institutions can be considered as “fourth branch institutions” (similar to how other institutions like ECI, CAG, CIC which perform vital functions of Constitution)
  • HRCs was established in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted for the promotion and protection of human rights in Paris (October, 1991) and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 December, 1993.

Functions and Powers of NHRC/SHRC

  • They are empowered to inquire into the violations of human rights committed by state authorities, either upon petitions presented to them, or upon their own initiative.
  • While conducting these inquiries, the Commissions are granted identical powers to that of civil courts, such as the examining witnesses, ordering for documents, receiving evidence, and so on. 
  • Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act empowers the Human Rights Commission to “recommend” to the concerned government 
    • to grant compensation to the victim 
    • to initiate prosecution against the erring state authorities, 
    • to grant interim relief, and to take various other steps. 
  • Furthermore, Section 18 of the Human Rights Act also obligates the concerned government to “forward its comments on the report, including the action taken or proposed to be taken thereon, to the Commission”, within a period of one month.

Criticism of NHRC/SHRCs

  • Politicisation of autonomous bodies
  • The Human Rights Commissions are toothless: The word “recommend” in Section 18 of the act has been interpreted till now as only advisory in nature and not binding on the government. Thus, the government left free to disobey or even disregard their findings.
  • If the state was left free to obey or disobey the findings of the Commission, then the constitutional role of NHRC/SHRC would be effectively pointless (effectively, the state judging itself)
  • NHRC does not have any mechanism of investigation. In majority cases, it asks the concerned Central and State Governments to investigate the cases of the violation of Human Rights
  • Inadequacy of funds hamper the working of these bodies.
  • A large number of grievances go unaddressed because NHRC cannot investigate the complaint registered after one year of incident.
  • National Human Rights Commission powers related to violations of human rights by the armed forces have been largely restricted.

A case for making the recommendations & reports of HRCs binding on government

  • In the past, courts have invoked constitutional purpose to determine the powers of various fourth branch institutions in cases of ambiguity
  • The Supreme Court laid down detailed guidelines to ensure the independence of the Central Bureau of Investigation
  • Various judgments have endorsed and strengthened the powers of the Election Commission to compulsorily obtain relevant details of candidates, despite having no express power to do so.
  • Very recently, the Supreme Court held in the context of “opinions” rendered by the Foreigners Tribunals, held that these “opinions” were binding.
  • The Human Rights Commission has the powers of a civil court, and proceedings before it are deemed to be judicial proceedings. 
  • This provides strong reasons for its findings to be treated — at the very least — as quasi-judicial, and binding upon the state (unless challenged)

Conclusion

  • The requirement of state accountability in a democracy committed to a ‘culture of justification’ — strongly indicates that the Commission’s recommendations should be binding upon the state

Connecting the dots:

  • National Commission on Scheduled Castes (NCSC)/ National Commission on Scheduled Tribes/ National Commission on Backward Classes – are their recommendations binding?
  • Tribunalisation of Judiciary

Indian Polity

Topic: General Studies 2:

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

Disqualification under Tenth Schedule

Context: In a first, the Supreme Court removed Manipur Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh, against whom disqualification petitions were pending before the Speaker since 2017

Further, the court restrained him “from entering the Legislative Assembly till further orders”.

Brief Background of the case

  • The concerned person had become an MLA in 2017 on a Congress ticket before switching to the BJP to become Minister in Manipur State Government.
  • A disqualification petition against the minister was pending before the Speaker since 2017 but the Speaker failed to take the decision within a reasonable time period.
  •  On 21st January 2020, a three-judge Supreme Court Bench had asked the Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly to decide the disqualification (under Tenth Schedule) petitions of the concerned MLA within four weeks. It also gave other pronouncements (discussed below)
  • Supreme Court invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to remove the minister from the Cabinet.

Disqualification under the Tenth Schedule

  • The anti-defection law is contained in the 10th Schedule of the Constitution and was enacted by Parliament Constitution (52nd Amendment) Act, 1985. 
  • Legislators used to change parties frequently bringing in Political Instability and was also considered as betraying the mandate of voters (who voted for the legislator considering his political party)
  • The purpose of 10th Schedule is to curb political defection by the legislators. 
  • There are two grounds on which a member of a legislature can be disqualified.
    • One, if the member voluntarily gives up the membership of the party
    • Second, if a legislator votes in the House against the direction of his party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days
  •  However, there is an exception – if there is a merger between two political parties and two-thirds of the members of a legislature party agree to the merger, they will not be disqualified.
  • The Presiding officer of the House (Speaker/Chairman) is the adjudicating authority with regard to disqualification of legislators under the Tenth Schedule.

Criticism of the anti-defection Law

  • Curbs the freedom of speech & expression of law makers
  • Tyranny of Political Parties: Legislators have to abide by the line taken by Political parties even it is against their own stand or against the interest of her constituency
  • Role of the Speaker is biased: Speaker who is a member of a political party is often not neutral and comes under the influence of his political party instead of deciding the cases on merit
  • Delay in decision making: several presiding officers have allowed defectors to bolster the strength of ruling parties and even be sworn in Ministers by merely refraining from adjudicating on complaints against them

Supreme Court Judgement in Kihoto Hollohan (1992) case

  • Five Judge Bench of SC upheld the validity of the Constitution’s Tenth Schedule.
  • It was also held in this case that a Speaker or a Chairman, acting Tenth Schedule, is a Tribunal and thus his discretionary powers were protected by Constitution. (Dissenting view by Justice JS Verma  questioned the fairness of speaker in adjudication)
  • This verdict had also made the Speaker’s order subject to judicial review on limited grounds and that mere procedural infirmities could not prompt judicial intervention.
  • It was also held that judicial review cannot be available at a stage prior to the making of a decision by the Speaker/Chairman. 

Supreme Court in its 21st Jan 2020 order gave the following pronouncements

  • Reasonable Time period for deciding on Disqualification
    • Unless there were “exceptional circumstances”, disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule should be decided by Speakers within three months 
    • Failure to deliver decision by Speaker within a reasonable time period will entail the court to intervene in the disqualification matter (as has happened now in this case)
  • Suggested an Independent Body 
    • SC asked the Parliament to consider having an independent and permanent body to decide disqualification petition, which requires an amendment to the constitution.
    • Given the fact that a Speaker belongs to a particular political party, the Court mooted this idea
    • Also, Speaker wasn’t adjudicating election disputes or disqualification of members under Articles 103/ 192/ 329 for good reason, because their fairness could be suspected.

Way Forward:

  • The Constitution is called a living document because of its ability to grow and change with time and circumstances. Clearly, the Tenth Schedule has fallen short in fulfilling its objective of preventing defections and needs a relook.
  • Parliament must fix this flaw and institute a tribunal recognising the significance of anti-defection provisions in upholding the sanctity of Parliament.

Connecting the dots:

  • Speakers role in deciding whether the bill is money bill or not
  • Britain’s model of Speaker’s post

(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. Consider the following statements 

  1. India is the 3rd largest producer of electricity in the world.
  2. India ranks 106th in terms of per capita consumption in 2017

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 2. Consider the following statements about LiDAR

  1. It is basically a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances to the subject. 
  2. LiDAR was first used on a spacecraft during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, when astronauts mapped the surface of the moon.

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. U.K. Sinha committee appointed by RBI dealt with which of the following sector?

  1. Digital Payments
  2. Retail Payments
  3. MSME Sector
  4. None of the above

Q 4. Windrush Scandal seen in news is related to which of the following country?

  1. United States of America
  2. Britain
  3. India
  4. Canada

Q 5. Consider the following statements about Puri Jagannath Temple

  1. The temple is believed to be constructed in the 12th century by King Anatavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
  2. The temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra or Chariot festival, in which the three principal deities (Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra) are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars

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

ANSWERS FOR 19 March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 C
4 B
5 A

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