Current Affairs, 24 August 2018
Current Affairs, 24 October 2018
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016
What to study?
- For Prelims: NRC and key features of Citizenship Bill.
- For Mains: Controversies and issues associated.
Context: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is gaining momentum yet again as the Assam Government has refused the proposed rally of organisations from West Bengal in support of the Bill.
What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016?
The Citizenship Amendment Bill was proposed in Lok Sabha on July 19, amending the Citizenship Act of 1955.
- If this Bill is passed in Parliament, illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will then be eligible for Indian citizenship.
- In short, illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan would not be imprisoned or deported.
- Moreover, these citizens gain permanent citizenship after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years — as mentioned in the Citizenship Act (1955).
- The registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may get cancelled if they violate any law.
What is the Citizenship Act 1995?
Under Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.
Citizenship by descent: Persons born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
- From December 3, 2004, onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.
- In Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955, if an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship.
Who is an illegal immigrant?
According to the Citizenship Act (1955), an illegal immigrant is defined as a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit. Also, the immigrant who uses false documents for the immigration process.
What are the guidelines to become an Indian citizenship?
Citizenship is granted to an individual by the government of the country when he/she complies with the legal formalities, so it’s like a judicial concept.
In India, the Citizenship Act, 1995 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship:
- Incorporation of the territory.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. It was last prepared after Census in 1951.Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC.
- The Assam government on July 30, 2018 released the second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). The draft includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.
- As per the Draft, the total number of persons included in the list is 2,89,83,677 leaving a total of 40,70,707 as ineligible for inclusion. Out of 40,70,707 names, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and 2,48,077 names are kept on hold.
Sources: India today.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018)
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About STAPCOR, Coral reefs- significance, threats and measures to save them.
Context: The International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018) is being held at Bangaram coral Island of Territory of Lakshadweep.
Theme: “Reef for Life”
Organizers: It was jointly organized by Department of Environment and Forest, Union Territory of Lakshadweep Administration with the technical support of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and in association with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Environmental Information System (ENVIS) in consonance with declaration of year 2018 as 3rd decadal International year of Reefs.
What is STAPCOR?
The effect of climate change and global warming along with El-Nino on the corals has lead to heavy bleaching internationally during the year 1998. This led to the foundation of STAPCOR with a decision to have a international conference in every 10 years to review the status and progress of coral reefs all over the world.
The goals of the 3rd IYOR – 2018 are to:
- Strengthen awareness about ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems.
- Improve understanding of the critical threats to reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats.
- Generate urgent action to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.
The first IYOR was designated in 1997 in response to the increasing threats on coral reefs and associated ecosystems. The hope was to increase awareness of the value of and threats to coral reefs, and to promote conservation, research and management efforts on a global scale.
What are Corals?
Corals are invertebrates belonging to a large group of colourful and fascinating animals called Cnidarians. Other animals in this group include jellyfish and sea anemones. Each individual coral animal is called a polyp, and most live in groups of hundreds to thousands of genetically identical polyps that form a ‘colony’. The colony is created by a process called budding, where the original polyp literally grows copies of itself.
Hard and Soft Corals:
Corals are generally classified as either “hard” or “soft”. There are around 800 known species of hard coral, also known as ‘reef building’ or scleractinian corals. Soft corals, or octocorals, which include seas fans, sea feathers and sea whips, don’t have the rock-like calcareous skeleton, instead they grow wood-like cores for support and fleshy rinds for protection.
Soft corals also live in colonies, that often resemble brightly coloured plants or trees, and are easy to tell apart from hard corals as their polyps have tentacles that occur in multiples of 8, and have a distinctive feathery appearance. Soft corals are found in oceans from the equator to the north and south poles, generally in caves or on ledges. Here, they hang down in order to capture food floating by in the currents.
What are coral reefs?
Coral reefs have evolved on earth over the past 200 to 300 million years, and have developed a unique and highly evolved form of symbiosis. Coral polyps have developed this relationship with tiny single-celled algae known as zooxanthellae. Inside the tissues of each coral polyp live these zooxanthellae, sharing space and nutrients.
This symbiosis between plant and animal also contributes to the brilliant colors of coral that can be seen while diving on a reef. It is the importance of light that drives corals to compete for space on the sea floor, and so constantly pushes the limits of their physiological tolerances in a competitive environment among so many different species. However, it also makes corals highly susceptible to environmental stress.
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
What to study?
- For Prelims and Mains: Invest India- features, roles and significance.
Context: Invest India, the country’s investment promotion body, has won United Nations (UN) Award for excellence in promoting investments in sustainable development.
- Invest India received this award for excellence in servicing and supporting major global wind turbines company in establishment of blade manufacturing plant in India while committing to train local staff and produce 1 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy. Implementation of this project is expected to reduce India’s wind energy cost significantly.
What is Invest India?
Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India and acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.
Invest India is set up as a non profit venture under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.
A joint venture: Operationalized in early 2010, Invest India is set up as a joint venture company between the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (35% equity), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity), and State Governments of India (0.5% each).
Functions: The core mandate of Invest India is investment promotion and facilitation. It provides sector-specific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services. Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors to make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.
Why Invest in India?
- India to remain one of the fastest growing economies in the world- International Monetary Fund.
- FDI inflows increased by 37% since the launch of Make in India initiative.
- Leading investors ranked India as the most attractive market.
- Largest youth population in the world.
- Huge domestic market.
- Rising economic influence- IOR and INSTC.
- India registered a record improvement on EoDB ranking from 142 to 100 between 2014-2017.
UN Investment Promotion Award:
The awards are given annually by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) since 2002 as part of its investment promotion and facilitation programme.
- It honours investment promotion agencies (IPAs) and their governments for their achievements.
- It also seeks to showcase best practices in attracting investment into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-related projects that can inspire investment promotion practitioners in developing and developed countries.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Pollution related issues.
SC order on use and sale of firecrackers
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of the order.
Context: The Supreme Court has ordered a partial ban on the sale and use of firecrackers, ahead of Diwali next month. Hearing a bunch of petitions seeking a blanket ban on firecrackers to help curb air pollution, the court has allowed the use of “safer” firecrackers for a limited time period during festivals.
What’s in the Supreme Court order?
- Refusing a complete ban, the top court has permitted the use and sale of “greener” firecrackers which have low emission. Firecrackers with permissible decibel sound limits will be allowed to be sold in the market.
- Firecrackers will be allowed to be burst for 2 hours, 8pm to 10pm on Diwali. For New Year and Christmas, the time allotted is 11.45 pm to 12.30 am.
- The Supreme Court has restrained E-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon from selling firecrackers which are beyond the permissible limit. Websites will attract contempt of court charges if they don’t adhere to court’s direction.
- Station house officers of police stations concerned will be held liable if banned firecrackers are sold in their areas.
- The Court has also directed Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) to review the clinical composition of fireworks, particularly reducing Aluminium content.
Three children, aged between three and four, were among the petitioners who sought blanket ban on the sale, use and transportation of firecrackers citing concerns of air pollution. On October 9 last year, the Supreme Court had suspended the use of firecrackers till November 1 in Delhi-NCR to test whether and how much, firecrackers contribute to the air quality.
The apex court had said there is a need to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country, while considering a plea for the ban.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Seoul Peace Prize:
Context: Seoul Peace Prize Committee has decided to confer 2018 Seoul Peace Prize on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- PM Modi has been selected for award in recognition of his dedication for improving international cooperation, raising global economic growth, accelerating Human Development of people in India by fostering economic growth and furthering development of democracy through anti-corruption and social integration efforts.
About Seoul Peace Prize:
- It was established in 1990 to commemorate success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, South Korea.
- It was established to crystallize Korean people’s yearning for peace on Korean Peninsula and in the rest of the world.
- It is awarded biennially to those individuals who have made their mark through contributions to harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and world peace.
What is it? It is a joint bilateral military exercise between Pakistan and Russian special forces. The 2018 edition is being held in Pakistan.
Background: Druzhba military exercise between Russia and Pakistan was started in 2016. “Druzba” is Russian word, which means “friendship”.
Iron Magic 19:
What is it? It is joint military exercise between United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States (US). The latest edition is being held in Dubai.
Editorial: Lip service to labour rights
According to the State of World Population report, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and the number is steadily growing every year.
India, where the majority of the population is still dependent on agriculture, is no exception to this trend. As per the census, the level of urbanization in India has increased from 27.81% in 2001 to 31.16% in 2011.
Urbanization in India is a consequence of demographic explosion and poverty-induced rural-urban migration.
Recent data and Statistics:
Gujarat is one of the top States in India that receive migrant workers, largely temporary and seasonal, on a large scale.
In Gujarat, they work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in a wide range of activities such as in agriculture, brick kilns and construction work, salt pans and domestic work, petty services and trades (food and street vending).
Some workers may got in semi-skilled works like in textiles and garments, embroidery and diamond cutting and polishing, small engineering and electronics and also small and big factories.
These workers are from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and even from as far as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Karnataka.
How this Internal Migration has been taken place:
Employers send contractors to distant unexplored places to gather labour at the lowest possible wage rate.
A new township in Gujarat being promoted by a large industrialist is to be built with workers from Assam.
Surprisingly, the Gujarat government has no data on/estimates of migrant workers coming to Gujarat. Informally, the figures are estimated to be between 40lakh to one crore.
Exploitative and Pathetic conditions for Migrant Workers:
Segmenting the labour market and creating a separate labour market for migrant workers who are easy to exploit has been a common strategy of employers across India.
The pathetic conditions migrant workers face has been widely documented. They earn low wages, work very long hours without any overtime benefits, and are almost without any leave or social protection.
Lakhs of unskilled and migrant workers live on worksites in makeshift huts (usually made of tin sheets) or on roads, slums and in illegal settlements not served by municipalities.
They are neither able to save much to improve their conditions back in their home States nor save enough to live comfortably in Gujarat. They go back home only once or twice to celebrate festivals.
Semi-skilled workers with some education and skills (such as those in diamond cutting and polishing units, power looms and factories) get slightly higher wages and earn some leave.
However, these workers are also exploited in multiple ways and are mostly unprotected. Factory owners, employers and traders are only too happy with such a situation as they earn huge profits from wage labour exploitation.
Resentment in The Local Workforce:
Local workers resent the presence of migrant workers. They feel that their jobs are taken away by them. The migrants work for lower wages.
Overall, there is a feeling among the native workers that the factories/ establishments are dependent on migrant workers, so as to earn more profits.
Many migrant workers have now rushed out to their home States out of fear despite several local people having been taken into custody on the charge of inciting violence against migrant workers.
There have been reports of an estimated 60,000 to more than a lakh workers leaving the State. Those who have stayed back now live under constant fear.
Rights and Entitlements of Migrant Workers: Only on paper
Under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act and other labour laws (for unorganised workers), migrant workers in Gujarat are legally entitled to all their basic labour rights.
These include minimum wages, regular wage payment, regular working hours and overtime payment, and decent working and living conditions which include taking care of the health and education of their children.
Tracking internal migrants remains the primary hurdle to successful transitions. Migrants live precariously, lacking vital identification required to access everything from food subsidies to telephone service.
Under the same Act, the governments of the States from where migrant workforce originate are expected to issue licences to contractors who take workers away, register such workers and also monitor their working and living conditions in other States.
But most State governments remain indifferent to these laws. Gujarat has taken a few steps but these are far from adequate.
In the political sphere, there has been hardly any mention about protecting the legal rights of migrant workers in India.
The political impulse has been to maintain status quo the continuation of the situation where migrant workers are exploited.
The real solution to this issue would be to enforce all relevant labour laws for migrant workers so that segmentation of the labour market becomes weak, and workers (local and migrant) get a fair and equal deal in the labour market.
This will also weaken unfair competition between local and migrant labour and enable migrant workers either to settle down in the place of destination or to go back home and make a good living there.
State and Central governments should genuinely take interest in improving the conditions of workers in the economy.
Unlocking India’s true economic potential lies in ensuring that more of its workers find opportunities internally.
To achieve that, the government needs to recognize that internal migrants may play a bigger role in India’s economic future than its more celebrated emigrants abroad.