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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th JUNE 2020

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  • June 29, 2020
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IASBABA’S INTEGRATED LEARNING PROGRAMME (ILP)

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th June 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


New rules to regulate exotic animal trade

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Endangered Species

In news:

  • Environment Ministry’s wildlife division has introduced new rules to regulate the import and export of ‘exotic wildlife species’.
  • Under the new rules, owners and possessors of such animals and birds must register their stock with the Chief Wildlife Warden of their States.
  • Wildlife Department officials have the right to inspect the facilities of such traders to check if these plants and animals are being housed in healthy conditions.

Do you know?

  • ‘Exotic live species’ will mean animals named under Appendices I, II and III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • It will not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Currently, it is the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, that oversees the trade of ‘exotic wildlife species’.
  • The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is an organisation that is tasked with monitoring illegal trade.

About CITES

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is part of a multilateral treaty that includes plant, animals and birds under varying categories of threat of extinction and which will be jointly protected by members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • India is a signatory to CITES.

Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Govt schemes and policies; Welfare/Social issue

About:

  • Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, or PMVVY, is a social security scheme for senior citizens.
  • It is implemented through the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
  • This gives an assured minimum pension.

Do you know?

  • LIC invests the corpus in the market and generates market-related returns.
  • If such returns are lower than the guaranteed return, the differential is subsidised by the Union government.
  • The scheme also offers a death benefit in the form of return of purchase amount to the nominee. 
  • The minimum entry age for this scheme is 60 years, there is no maximum age limit.

Virtues, vices, and character

Part of: GS Mains IV – Ethics and Essay

In news:

On Chinese actions at the border, PM Modi quoted a Sanskrit sloka that reveals a country’s character based on its actions. 

“Vidya vivaad dhanam madaya, shakti pareshan paripeedanaya. Khalasya sadho vipareetam etat, gyaanaya, daanaya cha rakshanam”.

English translation “For crooked persons, knowledge is meant for arguments, wealth for ego, power for troubling others. The opposite is the case among noble souls. Knowledge is meant for wisdom, wealth for donation and power to protect the weak”.


India-Russia: Defence Deals 

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; Defence

In news:

Highlights/Outcomes of Defence Minister visit to Russia for the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day Parade

  • Russia agrees to quickly address some urgent defence requirements sought by India.
  • The long-pending deals and over-pricing for AK-203 assault rifles and Ka-226T light utility helicopters were discussed. 
  • S-400 deal deliveries would start by the end of 2021.
  • Delays and over-pricing due to transfer of technology and conditions of jointly manufacturing some percentage of weapons indigenously. 

Nagaland issue: Extremist group counters Governor

Part of: GS Mains II and III – Centre-State Relations; Role of Governor; Internal Security

In news:

In our previous News Analysis – Armed gangs rule Nagaland: Governor – we read that Nagaland Governor in his letter to CM had warned about armed gangs running Nagaland, which questions the sovereignty and integrity of the nation and challenges the constitutionally-established State government.

However, Isak-Muivah faction of the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (IM), denied such allegations and said that the “legitimate taxes” it levies cannot be equated with extortion.

NSCN (IM) added that it was the recognised and legitimate national organisation of the Naga people, not a gang. 

Do you know?

  • Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi is also Centre’s interlocutor for the peace process with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (IM) and other extremist groups in Nagaland and adjoining States.
  • Extremists groups are known to run parallel governments in Nagaland and collect an array of taxes to run such governments. The groups also prepare budgets in March and fix tax rates.

To read about Nagaland issue and background, click here – NAGALAND ISSUE: FULL STORY


SC dismisses review petitions on adultery

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Role of Judiciary

In news:

  • Supreme Court refused to review its 2018 judgment which decriminalised adultery.
  • In September 2018, the Supreme Court had scrapped the 19th century law on adultery calling it arbitrary and offensive to a woman’s dignity.
  • SC in its 2018 judgment found that Section 497 (adultery) of the Indian Penal Code cannot “command” married couples to remain loyal to each other for the fear of penal punishment.
  • Section 497 was also seen to deprive a woman of her dignity, sexual autonomy as the law treated her to be a property of her husband.
  • The court also observed that there was no data whatsoever to support claims that abolition of adultery as a crime would result in “chaos in sexual morality” or an increase of divorce.

SC bench said –

  • Jail term for adultery does not make sense.
  • Adultery does not even qualify as a criminal offence and is a civil wrong.
  • Adultery has a civil remedy: divorce.

An adulterous relationship is carried on with the consent of the woman and it doesn’t amount to an offence.

Centre’s stand on Adultery:

Adultery should remain in the Indian Penal Code as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage, and is for public good.

Do you know?

  • In many countries adultery has ceased to be a crime – New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, China, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany etc., yet it continues to be a crime in many countries in the Middle East and Africa.
  • Section 497 in The Indian Penal Code – Adultery —Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

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

Environment Impact Assessment(EIA) – Part 2

Click here for Part I

Did You Know?

  • In the Samarth Trust Case, the Delhi high court had considered EIAs- a part of participatory justice in which the voice is given to the voiceless and it is like a Jan Sunwai, where the community is the jury.
  • The EIA process is an outcome of the 1992 Rio Declaration, which says that environmental issues are best handled through the participation of all concerned citizens and that states must provide an opportunity to citizens to participate in decision-making processes.

Shortcomings of EIA Process

  • Exclusion: There are several projects with significant environmental impacts that are exempted from the notification either because they are not listed in schedule I, or their investments are less than what is provided for in the notification
  • Inadequate capabilities: Lack of trained EIA professionals often leads to the preparation of inadequate and irrelevant EIA reports
  • Public Consultation: Public comments are not considered at an early stage, which often leads to conflict at a later stage of project clearance.
  • Neglect of indigenous knowledge: The data collectors do not pay respect to the indigenous knowledge of local people.
  • Communication issues: Most reports in English and not in the local language. Hence, local people do not understand the intricacies of the report
  • Poor review or monitoring:  EIA review is not upto the marks. The review agency called Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) lacks inter-disciplinary capacity
  • Corruption: There are so many cases of fraudulent EIA studies where erroneous data has been used, same facts used for two totally different places etc.
  • Distorted Focus: The focus of EIA needs to shift from utilization and exploitation of natural resources to conservation of natural resources.
  • Exempt Categories: For defence and national security installations, the EMP (Environment Management Plan) are often kept confidential for political and administrative reasons.
  • Considered as impediment to the ease of doing business: Industries and business interests have long regarded EIA as a thorn in their side increasing their transaction cost and complicating the business process

Key provisions of 2020’s Draft EIA Notification and its criticism

1. Creation of an ex-post-facto clearance route 

  • It means that the clearances for projects can be awarded even if they have started construction or have been running phase without securing environmental clearances.
  • This also means that any environmental damage caused by the project is likely to be waived off as the violations get legitimised i.e. the project proponent can enter an assessment procedure, with some minor fines for the violations
  • It is the violation of “precautionary principle”

2. Diluted Public Consultation Process

  • The draft 2020 notification shortens the time period from 30 days to 20 days for the public to furnish responses on the project. 
  • For project-affected people, who are frequently forest dwellers or otherwise do not have access to information and technology, this will make it harder to put forth representations.
  • Public hearings without informed citizenry would not be meaningful and hence the whole EIA process would lack credibility.

3. Monitoring requirements have been reduced. 

  • The draft EIA notification halves the frequency of reporting requirements from every six months to once a year and extends the validity period for approvals in critical sectors such as mining.
  • Certain irreversible environmental, social or health consequences of the project could go unnoticed because of the extended reporting time

4. Scope of the EIA regime is set to shrink

  • Through the draft notification, the central government gets the power to categorise projects as “strategic.”
  • Once a project is considered as strategic, the draft notification states that no information related to such projects shall be placed in the public domain.
  • Violations can only be reported suo motu by the project proponent, or by a government authority, appraisal committee, or regulatory authority. This is against the principles of natural justice.
  • Further, the draft notification states that the new construction projects up to 1,50,000 square metres (instead of the existing 20,000 square metres) do not need “detailed scrutiny” by the Expert Committee, nor do they need EIA studies and public consultation.
  • Industries that previously fell under the categories that required a full assessment have been downgraded. This means that projects could now be proposed in dangerously close proximities of boundary of protected and eco-sensitive zones.

5. On a positive note, the 2020 draft notification has a clause dedicated to definitions to several terms related to EIA. It may be beneficial in the sense that it consolidates the EIA rules and has the potential of alleviating some ambiguity in the present law.

Consequences of diluting EIA process

  • Against democratic norms: For affected communities, where shifts in the local environment can threaten livelihoods, flood a valley or destroy a forest, public consultation is a referendum on existential threats
  • Increases vulnerability to disasters: A deadly gas leak at LG Polymers’ Visakhapatnam plant in May 2020 killed 12 people and harmed hundreds. What came to light after the disaster was that the plant had been operating without a valid environmental clearance for decades.

Way Forward

  • Instead of reducing the time for public consultation, government should focus on ensuring access to information as well as awareness about the whole EIA process.
  • In order to improve ease of doing business, the government should solve the problems of bureaucratic delays, complex laws and lengthy dispute resolution.
  • Along with the EIA, we also need Social impact assessment to achieve sustainable development in true sense.

Connecting the dots:

  • Polluter Pay principle
  • Sustainable Development Goals

INTERNATIONAL/SECURITY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 
  • Security and its challenges

FATF | On the warpath against terror financing

About Financial Action Task Force(FATF)

  • In response to mounting concern over money laundering, the FATF was established by the G-7 Summit that was held in Paris in 1989.
  • In 2001, the development of standards in the fight against terrorist financing was added to the mission of the FATF.
  • Therefore, FATF is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. 
  • During 1991 and 1992, the FATF expanded its membership from the original 16 to 28 members. In 2000 the FATF expanded to 31 members, and has since expanded to its current 39 members
  • The FATF is not a part of the UN system, but it functions out of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development headquarters in Paris

Working of FATF

  • As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system
  • The FATF runs differently from other multilateral agencies, as its primary focus is on reviewing all actions through a “technical” not a political prism, and frowns upon countries bringing bilateral issues to the forum.
  • FATF depends on voluntary implementation of its reports by member countries. 
  • Also, meetings of the group are carried out behind closed doors, and deliberations are not publicised. In the past, the FATF has penalised countries that have disclosed the contents of its meetings.

Decision Making of FATF

  • Decisions are taken by consensus in the 39-member group, where any three members can exercise a “veto” on an action,
  • FATF conducts reviews of countries on Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) parameters -called “Mutual evaluations” 
  • FATF then either clears these evaluation, or use a “colour coded” reference for placing countries in the one of the following lists
    • “increased monitoring” category or the “grey list”, or 
    • the “high risk jurisdictions” or “call for action” category, as the “blacklist” is formally known.
  • At present, only Iran and North Korea are on the blacklist, while 18 countries, including Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Iceland, Jamaica and Mauritius, are on the grey list.
  • Pakistan has been kept on the group’s radar since 2008, with one stint on the grey list from 2012-2015, and another beginning June 2018. 

What happens when a country (Ex: Pakistan) is blacklisted?

  • Unlike others, the FATF follows a principle of ostracism against members who don’t comply with its strictures.
  • Countries will face severe financial restrictions which means tightening all banking mechanisms in this inter-connected globalised world
  • A downgrading by credit agencies meaning high interest rate while borrowing 
  • Most significantly, possible loan cuts by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

India and FATF

  • India became an observer in the grouping in 2006, and was inducted as a full member in 2010. 
  • India has faced three rounds of mutual evaluations and cleared them, and faces the fourth round next year. 
  • India has been persistent with its efforts in bringing evidence it has on Pakistan’s terror links to the world body.
  • India is using FATF as a platform to pressurise Pakistan to curb its terror related activities

Future Challenges w.r.t FATF

  • Politicisation of body: 
    • Even though decisions are taken by consensus, the organisation is affected by geopolitical trends
    • The U.S. and other countries have been able to ensure that Iran and North Korea remain on the FATF blacklist.
    • while others are able to avoid the blacklist tag as they are able to enlist the political support of enough other countries like China, Russia and Turkey.
  • US-Taliban Deal
    • With the U.S. striking a deal with the Taliban in 2020, and efforts to take Taliban off the UN listing, FATF may change the focus of its reviews in jurisdictions that have engaged with the Taliban in the past.
  • New-Age Challenges which includes
    • Bitcoins and cyber currencies, 
    • Illegal trafficking of wildlife as a source of funding, 
    • Use of artificial intelligence in terror attacks and 
    • Biowarfare as part of the wider challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.

Connecting the dots:

  • US-Taliban deal – Critical analysis
  • G7, G20 and WTO

(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 about ‘Exotic Species’:

  1. ‘Exotic live species’ shall be interpreted to mean only the animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES.
  2. Species covered by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 are not included.

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 Section 497 from the Indian Penal Code is often seen in news. It is associated with –

  1. Adultery
  2. Domestic violence
  3. Anti-National Activity
  4. Sedition

Q.3 Which of the following statements is/are correct about Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana?

  1. It is a pension scheme exclusively for senior citizens i.e. 60 years and above.
  2. The scheme will be solely operated by LIC.
  3. Pension will be paid to the pensioner as per time period decided by the pensioner at the time of purchase of policy.

Select the code from below:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3           
  4. All of the above

ANSWERS FOR 27th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C
3 A
4 A
5 A

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