Daily Current Affairs, 3rd August 2018
Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
What to study?
- For Prelims: Contributions of Pingali Venkayya, adoption of Indian flag.
- For Mains: Flag code of India- overview.
Context: 141st birth anniversary of freedom fighter and designer of Indian National Flag Pingali Venkayya was observed on August 2, 2018.
Who was Pingali Venkayya?
- Pingali Venkayya was a freedom fighter and the designer of the Indian National Tricolour. The national flag that we see today was based upon his design.
- Early life:Born on August 2, 1876 in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, Venkayya served as a soldier in the British Army in South Africa during the Anglo Boer war in Africa. A firm believer in Gandhian principles and an ardent nationalist, Venkayya met the Mahatma during the war.
The evolution of Indian National Flag:
Between 1918 and 1921, Venkayya raised the issue of having an own flag in every session of the Congress. Back then, he was working as a lecturer in the Andhra National College in Machilipatnam.
- He met the Mahatma once again in Vijayawada and showed him his publication with the various designs of the flag. Acknowledging the need for a national flag, Gandhi then asked Venkayya to design a fresh one at the national congress meeting in 1921.
- Initially, Venkayya came up with saffron and green colours, but it later evolved with a spinning wheel at the centre and a third colour-white. (LALA HANS RAJ SONDHI SUGGESTED ADDING A SPINNING WHEEL — SHOWING THE INDEPENDENT INDIANS WHO CAN SPIN THEIR OWN CLOTHING FROM LOCAL FIBRES.)
The flag was officially adopted by the Indian National Congress in 1931.
Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of the Bill, NCBC- roles and functions.
- For Mains: Significance and the need for constitutional status, concern over few provisions in the Bill.
Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill providing for a National Commission for Backward Classes as a constitutional body.
Highlights of the Bill:
The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
Powers of the President: It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.
The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights.
Report: The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.
Powers of a civil court: Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence.
Present status of NCBC:
The Supreme Court, in its final verdict in the Indira Sawhney (Mandal Commission) case, had directed the establishment of the NCBC as a statutory body. Based on this, a law was passed in 1993 to set up the commission. The NCBC has been examining cases for inclusion in the BC lists for the Central government since then.
A widely welcomed move to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has also brought with it a whiff of controversy over whether it amounts to encroaching on the domain of the States.
- Several Opposition parties, which in general welcome the grant of constitutional status to the BC Commission, have said the Bill, if enacted, would undermine federalism, as it amounts to usurping the power of State governments to prepare their own BC lists.
- The Centre has sought to allay these fears, saying the powers of the States would remain unaffected. In any case, the list for every State will be prepared only in consultation with the State government.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of the Act.
- For Mains: Benami Transactions- definition, concerns, impact on economy and measures by the government for its prevention.
Context: The prosecution of accused persons in almost 100 confirmed cases instituted under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act has been scuttled as the special courts meant for the purpose have not yet been set up across the country.
What’s the issue?
The Act provides that the Central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the respective High Courts, will establish special courts through notification. Such courts are to be constituted to ensure that the trials are conducted “as expeditiously as possible”.
However, the required special courts have not been set up yet. Therefore, despite the fact that investigations in almost 100 cases have been completed by the I-T Department in different States, including confirmation of attachment of properties by the Adjudicating Authority, the prosecution of accused persons has not started.
About the Benami Act:
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August, came into effect on November 1, 2016. The new law amends the 1988 Benami Transactions Act.
Highlights of the Act:
- The law provides for up to seven years’ imprisonment and fine for those indulging in such transactions.
- The law prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamdar by the real owner. As per the Act, properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the government, without payment of compensation.
- An appellate mechanism has been provided under the act, in the form of an adjudicating authority and appellate tribunal. According to the government, the four authorities who will conduct inquiries or investigations are the Initiating Officer, Approving Authority, Administrator and Adjudicating Authority.
What is benami transaction?
A benami transaction is one where a property is held by one person and the amount for it is paid by another person. Therefore, in a benami transaction, the name of the person who paid the money is not mentioned. Directly or indirectly, the benami transaction is done to benefit the one who pays.
Topic: Issues related to health.
World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 to 7)
What to study?
- For Prelims: World Breastfeeding Week, MAA programme.
- For Mains: Significance of Breastfeeding.
Context: August 1 to 7 every year is observed as World Breastfeeding Week.
Organized by: World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), WHO and UNICEF.
Goal: To promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development.
Significance of breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is an important efficient and cost-effective intervention promoting child survival and health.
- Breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20% of the newborn deaths.
- Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pnuemonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than children who are exclusively breastfed, which are two leading causes of death in children under-five years of age.
- In addition, children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome etc. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits, breastfeeding also has tremendous impact on improved IQ.
To intensify the efforts further for promotion of breastfeeding, the Health Ministry has initiated a nationwide programme called “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of services towards supporting breastfeeding, along with ongoing efforts of routine health systems.
- The key components of the MAA programmeare awareness generation, promotion of breastfeeding & inter personal counselling at community level, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points and monitoring and Award/ recognition of health facility.
- Under this programme, ASHA has been incentivizedfor reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers and provide information on benefits and techniques of successful breastfeeding during interpersonal communication. ANMs at all sub-centres and health personnel at all delivery points are being trained for providing skilled support to mothers referred with issues related to breastfeeding.
- Under NHM, funding support has been recommended for all States and UTs for successful implementation of the MAA programme.
UNICEF report on early initiation of breastfeeding across the world:
A new report released by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has ranked Sri Lanka at the top of the list of countries with early initiation of breastfeeding.
- India ranks 56thamong the 76 countries that were analysed.
- Countries like Kazakhsthan, Rwanda, Bhutan and Uruguay have fared much better than India.
- Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Montenegro are at the bottom.
- Only two in five newborns are breastfed within the first hour of life across the world.
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.
WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
‘Mukhya Mantri-Yuva Nestham’
What to study?
- For Prelims: Highlights of the scheme.
- For Mains: Significance and the need for such schemes.
Context: Andhra Pradesh government has launched ‘Mukhya Mantri-Yuva Nestham’.
Highlights of the scheme:
- Under the scheme, an allowance of Rs 1000 per monthwill be provided to unemployed youth in the state.
- About 12 lakh youths in the age group of 22-35 yearswill get the benefit of the scheme. The registration for the scheme will start mid-August.
- The scheme will be extended to all those eligible even if there are more than one beneficiary in a family.
- The money will be credited directly into the bank accounts through biometric authentication.
- The government will not only provide financial help to the unemployed youth but also provide training and help them develop their skills.
- The data of unemployed youth in the state will be made available for industries and companies searching for young talent.
Topic: Indigenization of technology.
Ballistic Missile Interceptor AAD
What to study?
- For Prelims: Features of AAD.
- For Mains: Significance of AAD.
Context: DRDO conducted the successful test of the Ballistic Missile Interceptor Advanced Area Defence (AAD) from Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha.
About Ballistic Missile Interceptor AAD:
- It is an endo-atmospheric missile, capable of intercepting incoming targets at an altitude of 15 to 25 kms.
- Indigenously developed by DRDO, the AAD interceptor is a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants.
- It has been developed as part of indegenous efforts to have multi-layer ballistic missile defence system, capable of destroying incoming hostile ballistic missiles.
- It is 7.5 metres tall and weighs around 1.2 tonnes.
- The interceptor missile has its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.
The Indian Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Programme is an attempt to develop and to use a multi-layered ballistic missile defence system to protect from ballistic missile attacks. The India’s decision to develop Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) was introduced in the light of the ballistic missile threat mainly from Pakistan, especially can be attributed to the Kargil War in 1999.
Need for BMD:
- India follows ‘No First Use policy‘. A robust BMD provides an opportunity to the nation to strike back if a nuclear projectile is launched by an enemy state.
- BMD would shield from non-state actors initiated missile warfare and thus could avoid Mutual Destruction trap.
- BMD reduces the incentive for the enemy state to launch a nuclear attack, thus enhancing strategic stability.
- An indigenous system would reduce the import bill of defence systems from other nations.
- Technology developed for BMD can be used in other sectors, especially in space technology.
Facts for Prelims:
Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon:
Context: NITI Aayog has launched Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon to crowdsource solutions aimed at the future of mobility in India.
The hackathon has a two-pronged campaign approach:
- “Just Code It”: aimed at solutions through innovations in technology/product/software and data analysis.
- “Just Solve It”: innovative business ideas or sustainable solutions to transform mobility infrastructure through technology.