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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st SEPTEMBER 2020

  • IASbaba
  • September 21, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st SEPTEMBER 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Parliamentary Committee

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Polity & Governance

In news

  • Recently, the Opposition had demanded that agriculture Bills be referred to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon session.

Important value additions

  • Parliament scrutinises Bills in two ways. 
  • The first is by discussing it on the floor of the two Houses.
  • The second mechanism is by referring a Bill to a parliamentary committee. 
  • Referring of Bills to parliamentary committees is not mandatory.
  • Select Committee on a Bill is formed for examining a particular Bill.
  • Its membership is limited to MPs from one House.
  • They are disbanded after their report. 
  • These types of committees are chaired by MPs from the ruling party.

You can further read about Parliamentary Committees here.


Global Initiative to Reduce Land Degradation And Coral Reef Program

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations & GS-III – Climate change

In news

  • The Environment Ministerial Meeting (EMM) of the G20 countries took place through video conferencing.
  • Under the Presidency: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • The launch of Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program were applauded. 
  • Two documents on climate change related to managing emissions and climate change adaptations were also launched.

Important value additions

The Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation 

  • It aims to strengthen the implementation of existing frameworks to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation within G20 member states and globally.

The Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform 

  • It is an innovative action-oriented initiative.
  • Aim: (1) To create a global research and development program; (2) To advance research, innovation and capacity building; (3) To enhance coral reefs conservation.

Solar Cycle 25 predictions announced

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In news

  • Scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced their predictions about the new solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 25.
  • The Scientists believe that the cycle has begun.

Important value additions

Solar cycle

  • Sun’s surface is a very active space.
  • Electrically charged gases on its surface generate areas of powerful magnetic forces, which are called magnetic fields.
  • These gases are constantly moving. 
  • Thus, these magnetic fields can get stretched, twisted and tangled creating motion on the surface known as solar activity.
  • Solar activity varied with the stages of the solar cycle, which lasts on average for a period of 11 years. 
  • Solar cycles have implications for life and technology on Earth as well as astronauts in space.

Sunspots

  • Scientists track a solar cycle by using sunspots.
  • These are the dark blotches on the Sun that are associated with solar activity.
  • Sunspots are associated with the origins for giant explosions such as solar flares that can spew light, energy and solar material into space.
  • A Sunspot is an area on the Sun that appears dark on the surface and is relatively cooler than the surrounding parts. 
  • These spots are the visible markers of the Sun’s magnetic field.
  • Some spots are as large as 50,000 km in diameter.

Image source: Click here


India’s own eco-label BEAMS launched

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Climate change; Pollution

In news

  • India’s own eco-label Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services (BEAMS) was recently launched.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • The flag #IAMSAVINGMYBEACH was e-hoisted simultaneously at the eight beaches recently recognized as blue flag beaches.

Key takeaways

  • Objective: (1) To reduce pollution in coastal waters; (2) To promote sustainable development of beach facilities; (3) To protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources.
  • BEAMS (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) is a highly acclaimed program under MoEFCC’s ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project.
  • The program will ensure sustainable development of coastal regions.
  • This program promotes beach recreation in absolute harmony with nature.

Indian Beaches for Blue Flag certification recommended

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Climate change; Pollution

In news

  • For the first time eight beaches of India are recommended for the coveted International eco-label, the Blue flag certification.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). 

Key takeaways

  • The recommendations are done by an independent National Jury composed of eminent environmentalists & scientists.
  • The eight beaches are: (1) Shivrajpur (Gujarat); (2) Ghoghla (Daman & Diu); (3) Kasarkod and (4) Padubidri (Karnataka); (5) Kappad (Kerala); (6) Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh); (7) Golden beach (Odisha); (8) Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar).

Important value additions

Blue Flag certification

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ is a certification that can be obtained by a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator.
  • It serves as an eco-label. 
  • The certification is known as an indication of high environmental and quality standards.
  • Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world.
  • The certification is awarded by the Denmark-based non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) with 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches: (i) Environmental Education and Information (ii) Bathing Water Quality (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services.
  • The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985 and in areas outside Europe since 2001.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE – Atal New India Challenge launched

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Start-ups; Innovation

In news

  • The Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE – Atal New India Challenge (ANIC) Program was recently launched.
  • It is a national initiative.

Key takeaways

  • Objective: (1) To promote research & innovation; (2) To increase competitiveness of Indian startups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); (3) To proactively collaborate with Ministries and the associated industries to facilitate innovative solutions to sectoral problems.
  • The initiative will be carried under the Atal Innovation Mission.
  • Carried out by: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and four ministries: (1) Ministry of Defence; (2) Ministry of Food Processing Industries; (3) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; and (4) Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Features: (1) Promote techno-preneurs because of their immense potential; (2) 15 sector-specific challenges where three challenges are for each ministry; (3) A grant-of-aid of up Rs. 50 lakh for a period of 9 to 12 months for startups to develop a minimum usable prototype.

Important value additions

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

  • AIM is Government of India’s flagship initiative.
  • Objective: (1) To promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship; (2) To develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy; (3) To provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders; (4) To create awareness and create an umbrella structure to oversee the innovation ecosystem of the country.

(MAINS FOCUS)


RIGHTS / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

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

New Version of Labour Codes

Context: The government has introduced new versions of three labour codes in Lok Sabha which are

  1. Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020
  2. Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 
  3. Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020

Do You Know?

  • These three bills have been re-introduced after incorporating 174 out of 233 recommendations given by Standing Committees
  • These three bills are part of four labour code envisaged incorporating 29 labour laws. First code on wages has already been enacted.

What are the key proposals?

In the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, the government has proposed to 

  • New conditions for legal strike – no person employed in an industrial establishment shall go on strike without a 60-day notice and during the pendency of proceedings before a Tribunal and sixty days after the conclusion of such proceedings. Earlier such restrictions applied only to public utility services.
  • Raised the threshold for requirement of a standing order — rules of conduct for workmen employed in industrial establishments — from the existing 100 to 300 workers
  • Reskilling Fund – To set up a re-skilling fund for training of retrenched workers with contribution of the employer of an amount equal to 15 days last drawn by the worker.

The Social Security Code has following provisions 

  • National Social Security Board which shall recommend to the central government for formulating suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers
  • No more ambiguities: The bill has defined various terms like “career centre”, “aggregator”, “gig worker”, “platform worker”, “wage ceiling” , etc.
  • Social security for gig workers: Also, aggregators employing gig workers will have to contribute 1-2 per cent of their annual turnover for social security of workers

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code has the following objectives

  • To employ women in all establishments for all types of work. They can also work at night, that is, beyond 7 PM and before 6 AM subject to the conditions relating to safety, holiday, working hours and their consent
  • To Promote Formalisation: Issuing of appointment letter mandatorily by the employer of an establishment to promote formalisation in employment
  • Inclusion of inter-state migrant workers in the definition of worker: Inter-state migrant workers are defined as the worker who has come on his own from one state and obtained employment in another state, earning up to Rs 18,000 a month. 
  • The proposed definition makes a distinction from the present definition of only contractual employment.
  • Portability Benefits: An Inter-State Migrant Worker has been provided with the portability to avail benefits in the destination State in respect of ration and availing benefits of building and other construction worker cess
  • However, the Code has dropped the earlier provision for temporary accommodation for workers near worksites. 
  • It has though proposed a journey allowance — a lump sum amount of fare to be paid by the employer for to and fro journey of the worker to his/her native place from the place of his/her employment

What are the concerns raised over the new labour codes?

  • Dilutes rights of Workers: Workers in small establishments (with up to 300 workers) will have their rights watered down with no protection of trade unions, labour laws. 
  • Workers safety safeguards diluted: The new rules will enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for workers.
  • Corporate Friendly: The new rules provides more flexibility to employers for hiring and firing workers without government permission
  • Restricts Freedom of Speech: Restrictions on strikes and demonstrations is akin to assault on the freedom of industrial actions. 
  • Ambiguity about reskilling Fund: The Code lacks clarity on the substantive and procedural aspects of reskilling Fund which will fizzle out like the National Renewal Fund in the 1990s
  • Women’s Safety: Allowing women to work during night time inspite of various safeguards imposed may increase their vulnerability to sexual abuse.

Conclusion

In the changed economic scenario post COVID-19 pandemic, the government has to balance the rights of workers and economic recovery. Favouring one over the other will impact the Country’s prospects in long run.

Connecting the dots:

  • Land Reforms
  • Reforms required in Judiciary

AGRICULTURE / GOVERNANCE/ FEDERALISM

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

New Agriculture Bills and opposition to it

Context: Three Bills on agriculture reforms were introduced in the Parliament to replace the ordinances issued during the lockdown 

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Do You Know?

  • Farmers and farmer associations across the country have protested against the ordinances. The tractor protest by farmers of Punjab and Haryana in July was in opposition to these. 
  • The Punjab Assembly on August 28 passed a resolution rejecting the Centre’s ordinances.

What do the ordinances entail? 

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance has following provisions 

  • Opens up agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers
  • Removes barriers to inter-State trade 
  • Provides a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce. 
  • Prohibits State governments from collecting market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance relates to contract farming. It has following provisions

  • Provides framework on trade agreements for the sale and purchase of farm produce. 
  • The mutually agreed remunerative price framework envisaged in the legislation is touted as one that would protect and empower farmers.
  • The written farming agreement, entered into prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce, lists the terms and conditions for supply, quality, grade, standards and price of farm produce and services.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 

  • Removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The amendment will deregulate the production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities. 
  • The central government is allowed regulation of supply during war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, while providing exemptions for exporters and processors at such times as well.
  • Imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise. A stock limit may be imposed only if there is a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and a 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items

Why are these bills being opposed?

  1. Against the Spirit of Cooperative federalism
    • Since agriculture and markets are State subjects – entry 14 and 28 respectively in List II – the ordinances are being seen as a direct encroachment upon the functions of the States 
    • The provisions are viewed as against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
    • Justification by Centre: The Centre, however, argues that trade and commerce in food items is part of the concurrent list, thus giving it constitutional propriety.
  1. End of MSP
    • Critics view the dismantling of the monopoly of the APMCs as a sign of ending the assured procurement of food grains at minimum support prices (MSP).
    • To the Centre’s ‘one nation, one market’ call, critics have sought ‘one nation, one MSP’.
    • Critics argue that ensuring a larger number of farmers get the MSP for their produce and addressing weakness in the APMCs, instead of making these State mechanisms redundant is the need of the hour.
  1. No mechanism for price fixation
    • The Price Assurance Bill, while offering protection to farmers against price exploitation, does not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation. 
    • There is apprehension that the free hand given to private corporate houses could lead to farmer exploitation.
    • Critics are apprehensive about formal contractual obligations owing to the unorganised nature of the farm sector and lack of resources for a legal battle with private corporate entities.
  1. Food security undermined
    • Easing of regulation of food items would lead to exporters, processors and traders hoarding farm produce during the harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and releasing it later when prices increase. 
    • This could undermine food security since the States would have no information about the availability of stocks within the State.
    • Critics anticipate irrational volatility in the prices of essentials and increased black marketing.

Connecting the dots:


(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 Select Committee:

  1. It is formed for examining Budget and policies of Lok Sabha.
  2. Members are nominated from both the Houses.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.2 The Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation was recently launched by which of the following?

  1. G20 at its Environment Ministerial Meeting
  2. United Nations Environment Program
  3. Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India
  4. ASEAN

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Sunspots:

  1. It is an area on the Sun that appears bright on the surface. 
  2. It is relatively hotter than the surrounding parts. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.4 India’s own eco-label Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services (BEAMS) was recently launched. Which of the following Ministry is associated with it?

  1. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  2. Ministry of Urban Affairs
  3. Ministry of Agriculture
  4. Ministry of Commerce and Industry

ANSWERS FOR 19th September 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 C
3 B
4 A

Must Read

About opposition to agricultural bills:

The Hindu

About China’s nationalist turn under Xi Jinping:

The Hindu

About Afghanistan Peace process:

The Indian Express

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