Current Affairs : 08 February 2019
- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
- Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Motion of thanks to President’s Address
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: What is Motion of thanks, what it contains? Its significance and what happens if it is not passed.
What is “Motion of Thanks” and what it contains?
The President makes an address to a joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, which is prepared by the government and lists its achievements. It is essentially a statement of the legislative and policy achievements of the government during the preceding year and gives a broad indication of the agenda for the year ahead.
The address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs. During the session, political parties discuss the motion of thanks also suggesting amendments.
Amendments to the “Motion of Thanks”:
Notices of amendments to Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address can be tabled after the President has delivered his Address. Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention. Amendments can be moved to the Motion of Thanks in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Speaker.
The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.
Provisions governing them:
President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses.
A failure to get motion of thanks passed amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government. This is why, the Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion.
Constitutional provisions on this:
Article 86(1) of the Constitution provides that the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members.
Article 87 provides for the special address by the President. Clause (1) of that article provides that at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons. No other business is transacted till the President has addressed both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
Paper 2 and 3:
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
- Conservation related issues.
Small Grants Programme(SGP)
What to study?
- For Prelims: What is SGP, overview of GFE and UNDP.
- For Mains: Significance of SGP and its role in environmental conservation, its approach and the need for such kind of approach.
Context: A workshop on Small Grants Programme (SGP) was recently held in New Delhi.
About Small Grants Programme (SGP):
Global Environment Facility GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP)provides financial and technical support to communities and Civil Society Organizations to meet the overall objective of global environmental benefits secured through community-based initiatives and actions.
It was launched in 1992 with 33 participating countries.
The Program is specifically designed to mobilize bottom-up actions by empowering local civil society organizations, and poor and vulnerable communities, including women and Indigenous Peoples.
How it functions?
Through a decentralized, national-level delivery mechanism, SGP finances community-led initiatives to address global environmental issues.
It is currently implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.
The Programme funds grants up to a maximum of $50,000. In practice, the average grant has been around $25,000. In addition, the SGP provides a maximum of $150,000 for strategic projects. These larger projects allow for scaling up and cover a large number of communities within a critical landscape or seascape.
Community-driven and civil society-led initiatives can generate environmental benefits, while supporting sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and civil society empowerment. These are actions needed at the local and regional level to address global environmental challenges and complement other areas where the GEF works.
Need for SGP:
Environment degradation such as the destruction of ecosystems and the species that depends upon them, increasing level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pollution of international waters, land degradation and the spread of persistent organic pollutants are life – threatening challenges that endanger us all. However, it is the poor and vulnerable communities that are most at risk as they are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and subsistence. SGP aims to support these vulnerable communities through community led approaches towards environmental conservation and livelihoods enhancement.
- Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.
What to study?
- For Prelims: About Ujjwala Utsav, PMUY, PMUY anthem.
- For Mains: PMUY- objectives, features, significance and measures needed to sustain the momentum.
Context: Ujjwala Utsav observed recently to celebrate the stellar role played by various stakeholders in making PMUY a success.
- The event was organised under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum &Natural Gas to encourage, motivate as well as felicitate all frontline field force for their outstanding contribution to PMUY.
- The occasion also saw the launch of the PMUY anthem – Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala – composed and developed by eminent singer and film industry personality Padma Shri Kailash Kher.
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.
Who is eligible? Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Key objectives of the scheme are:
- Empowering women and protecting their health.
- Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
- Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
- Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.
What makes LPG adoption necessary?
A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.
Mains Question: It is said that the real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. For this which issues need to be addressed? Also discuss the significance of PMUY.
Paper 2 and 3:
- e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
- Infrastructure- waterways.
River Information System
What to study?
- For Prelims: About IWAI, RIS.
- For Mains: Significance, objectives and the need for RIS.
Context: To boost cargo movement on Ganga, the second phase of river information system (RIS) was recently inaugurated between Farakka and Patna.
What is it? It is a combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.
RIS is being implemented under the overall responsibility of Inland Waterway Authority of India, a statutory body administered by the Ministry of Shipping.
The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information. This would facilitate:
- Enhancement of inland navigation safety in ports and rivers.
- Better use of the inland waterways.
- Environmental protection.
RIS enables achievement of safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding the following risks:
- Ship- to – Ship collisions.
- Ship – Bridge collisions.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: The Fund, its objectives, need for funding, significance and challenges.
What is it?
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (or simply the Global Fund) is an international financing organization that aims to “attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to support attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.”
Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.
The organization maintains its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Global Fund was formed as an independent, non-profit foundation under Swiss law and hosted by the World Health Organization in January 2002. In January 2009, the organization became an administratively autonomous organization, terminating its administrative services agreement with the World Health Organization.
Relevant Articles from various News Papers:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Macedonia signs accord to join NATO
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About NATO- formation, members, objectives, significance and issues associated, latest members.
Context: Macedonia has signed accession papers with NATO. The signing of accession papers allows Macedonia take part in NATO ministerial meetings as an invitee.
To acquire full membership, all 29 current members must ratify the accession protocol.
Why is Russia worried about these developments?
- Russia has raised concerns against Macedonia becoming part of NATO. Russia has always accused NATO of destabilising the Balkans by pushing Macedonia and Montenegro to join NATO.
- Russia sees Balkan nations as its sphere of influence and is against NATO or any other body led by US or EUmaking inroads to these Balkan countries.
- Russia is mainly concerned because NATO’s membership provides a guarantee of mutual defence, provides a welcome insurance policy against possible incursions. Russia perceives this as an attempt by the west to contain it by making inroads to the areas which Russia considers its sphere of influence.
About North Atlantic Treaty Organization (North Atlantic Alliance):
- It is an intergovernmental military alliance.
- Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
- Headquarters — Brussels, Belgium.
- Headquarters of Allied Command Operations — Mons, Belgium.
Significance: It constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
Political – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
Military – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 and 3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)
Context: The Union Home Ministry has banned the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for promoting terrorism and radicalising and recruiting youth for terrorist activities in India.
Set up in the 1990s, TuM claims to be fighting for the “liberation of Kashmir.”
About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA):
- This law is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
- The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory.
- The UAPA, framed in 1967, has been amended twice since: first in 2008 and then in 2012.
The law is contested for few draconian provisions:
- The Act introduces a vague definition of terrorism to encompass a wide range of non-violent political activity, including political protest.
- It empowers the government to declare an organisation as ‘terrorist’ and ban it. Mere membership of such a proscribed organisation itself becomes a criminal offence.
- It allows detention without a chargesheet for up to 180 days and police custody can be up to 30 days.
- It creates a strong presumption against bail and anticipatory bail is out of the question. It creates a presumption of guilt for terrorism offences merely based on the evidence allegedly seized.
- It authorises the creation of special courts, with wide discretion to hold in-camera proceedings (closed-door hearings) and use secret witnesses but contains no sunset clause and provisions for mandatory periodic review.
Sources: the hindu.
Mains Question: The ambiguous nature of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) gives unreasonable power to authorities. Examine.
Facts for Prelims:
Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative:
What is it? Launched by the US, it is an effort aimed at helping 50 million women in the developing world get ahead economically over the next six years.
- It is a government wide project led by the senior adviser and daughter to President Donald Trump- Ivanka Trump. The initiative will involve the State Department, the National Security Council and other agencies.
- It aims to coordinate current programs and develop new ones to assist women in areas such as job training, financial support, and legal or regulatory reforms.
- It seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 through U.S. government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new, innovative fund at USAID.
Kerala to get country’s 2nd longest rail tunnel:
What is it? A 10.7-km railway line, including a 9.02-km tunnel, has been proposed to connect the upcoming Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport to the railway network.
The 9.02-km tunnel, mooted by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), will be the second longest railway tunnel in the country. The 11.26-km Pir Panjal rail tunnel, connecting Banihal and Hillar Shahabad, is the longest.
LAIRCM Self-Protection Suites:
Context: US has approved a foreign military sale to India — two 777 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self-Protection Suites (SPS), for an estimated $190 million.
What is it? Significance?
- LAIRCM is a programme meant to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles. It increases crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced infrared missile systems.
- These systems will protect two Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft. This would bring the security of Air India One at par with that of Air Force One, the aircraft used by the American President.
- It consists of missile warning sensors (MWS), a laser transmitter assembly, control interface unit (CIU) and processors to detect, track, jam and counter incoming infrared missiles.
Why in News? A seminar was held recently in New Delhi that extensively discussed the need to preserve the legacy of Dard Aryans.
Who are they? Some 200 km from Leh are the villages of Dha, Hanu, Garkone and Darchik on both sides of the Indus River, inhabited by the Buddhist Dard Tribes. The villages are together called the “Aryan valley”. The word ‘Dard’ is derived from a Sanskrit word, ‘Daradas’, which means people who live on hillsides.
They might have descended from soldiers in Alexander’s army who had come to the region over 2,000 years ago. The Dard Aryans, however, do not document their history. These tribals are mainly dependent on agriculture.
Threats and the need for their protection:
- There is a threat to the heritage of the community owing to modernisation, migration and religious conversion.
- The community now numbers about 4,000. Over the last few decades, many of them have embraced Islam or Buddhism.
- The community prohibits marriage with outsiders to keep the gene pool intact. Of late, the Dard men have been migrating to other parts of the region (in search of livelihood) and marrying outside the tribe.
- The tribe is struggling to find a balance between modernity and traditional values.
Summaries of Important Editorials:
Reservations to Economically Weaker Sections and the Basic Structure:
The editorial discusses about the recently announced reservation for the economically weaker sections of the society, provisions in the constitution, how it seeks to alter the basic structure, is it justified and analysis of its passage.
What’s the issue?
A 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to the economically weaker sections (EWS) among the upper castes, or those who are not covered under any reservation plan has been announced.
Who are weaker sections?
As per the reform, EWS is defined as:
- Families with income (includes agricultural income as well as from profession) below Rs 8 lakh per annum.
- In rural areas, such families who own agricultural land below five acre and residential house below 1,000 square feet and in urban areas, those with residential plot below 100 yards in notified municipality or residential plot below 200 yards in the non-notified municipal area will be considered as part of this category.
How it seeks to amend the Constitution?
It seeks to amend Articles 15 and 16 to enable Parliament and all states to make “special provisions” for the advancement of “any economically weaker sections” of citizens (EWS).
What is basic structure doctrine?
Starting from Sajjan Singh case in 1964, basic structure doctrine was evolved by the Supreme Court of India. It found a solid ground in Kesavananda Bharati case. As per the doctrine, the constitution of India has certain basic features which cannot be altered or abrogated.
The court did not define this, and only listed a few principles — federalism, secularism, democracy — as being part of basic structure. Since then, the court has been adding new features to the concept of basic structure. In subsequent years, courts extended the doctrine even to ordinary legislation and executive actions.
How the latest reservation policy affects the basic structure of the constitution?
It is said that the new law violates the basic structure of the constitution.
Following are the issues:
- It violates the landmark Mandal judgment capping reservations at 50%.
- The constitution talks about only social backwardness (Article 15(4) and Article 16(4)) and nothing about economic backwardness.
- Moreover, the Constitution makes provisions for commissions to look into matters relating to implementation of constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Castes (Article 338), Scheduled Tribes (338A) and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (339), but has not created any commission for the economically backward classes.
The 124th Amendment mentions Article 46 in its statement and objects. Article 46, which is a non-justiciable Directive Principle, says that the state shall promote educational and economic interests of “weaker sections”, in particular SCs and STs, and protect them from “social injustices” and “all forms of exploitation”.
What lies ahead for the govt?
To determine this, the Supreme Court has to examine the principles on which affirmative action is based. As per M Nagraj (2006), it would have to apply two tests.
One is the width test, on the boundaries of the amending power. This would include examination of four issues — quantitative limitations such as violation of the 50% ceiling for all reservations taken together; (ii) exclusion of creamy layer or qualitative exclusion; (iii) compelling reasons such as backwardness of the economically weaker sections for whom this reservation has been made; (iv) that overall administrative efficiency is not obliterated by the new reservation.
The second test is called the identity test, under which the Supreme Court will examine whether, after the amendment, there is any alteration in the identity of the Constitution. The amendment cannot change this.
It is clear from the Constitution that reservation can be for a caste or a class. In fact, caste is a social class and cannot be for individuals; the latest move has made it for the individual. Similarly, the government has to justify “compelling reasons” of going beyond the 50% limit. In some states, upper castes number less than 10% and this scheme may be difficult to justify as for 52% backward classes there is just 27% OBC reservation.
08 Febraury 2019
- The proposed ‘Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill-2019’ will amend to the Cinematograph Act – 1952.
- The proposed ‘Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill-2019’ aims to tackle – Films piracy.
- The objective of the ‘National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill-2019’ is to confer the status of Institutions of National Importance to – NIFTEM, Kundli (Haryana) and IIFPT, Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu).
- On February 6, the Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of Circuit Bench of Calcutta High Court at –
- On February 6, the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for establishment of commission for Conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny, named as – Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog.
- On February 6, the CCEA gave its approval to the “Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development” scheme by – Prasar Bharati.
- To fulfil the aspirations of people of North East Region, the cabinet approved the launch of a Channel from Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, named as – DD ArunPrabha.
- On February 6, the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Abolition of this channel of grievance redressal about Income-Tax – Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman.
- This person has formally been confirmed as the U.S.’ choice to head the World Bank – David Malpass.
- ‘Federation Cup 2019’ Tennis Tournament played at – Astana, Kazakhstan.
Person In News
- Current RBI Governor – Shaktikanta Das.
- In India, the Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman was created in the year – 2003.
- A status that may be conferred to a premier public higher education institution in Indiaby an act of Parliament of India, an institution which “serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state” – Institute of National Importance (INI).
- Number of High Courts in India –
- New 25th High Court in India – Andhra Pradesh High Court, Amravati.
- Prasar Bharati was established in the year – 1997 (Nov 23).
- All India Radio (AIR) was established in the year – 1936 (June 8).
- Doordarshan is an autonomous public service broadcaster founded by the Government of India, which was established in the year – 1959 (Sept 15).