Insights Daily Current Events, 02 February 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, 02 February 2016

Archives


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Let’s register sex of foetus, says Maneka

Union minister Maneka Gandhi recently said that sex determination test should be made compulsory to track women pregnant with a girl child as a measure to check female foeticide. With this she has kicked up a controversy.

  • It is a well-known fact that prenatal sex determination has often resulted in female foeticide.

But, why she said so?

Since it is really not feasible to go around trying to catch every ultrasound technician for revealing the foetal gender to parents in violation of the PCPNDT Act, she said, reversing this strategy could help prevent female foeticide.

  • According to this strategy, the moment a woman gets pregnant, the gender of the child should be found out and the mother should be informed about it. And immediately this should be registered in public records and then the government can track which pregnancies are carried to full term.
  • Further, since the gender is already known, and given the law, families would be compelled to go through with the pregnancy especially when the foetus is female.

Problem with the current strategy:

Currently India’s strategy to combat declining sex ratios hinges on the PCPNDT Act (the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994), which prohibits ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Supreme Court recalls notice to Arunachal Pradesh Governor

The Supreme Court has recalled its order (requiring Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa to respond why he recommended President’s rule in the sensitive border State), saying it made a “mistake” by not realising that Governors have “complete immunity” and are not answerable to courts for acts done in their official capacity.

Background:

Recently, the court issued notice on a petition by Rajesh Tacho, chief whip of the Congress Legislature Party, contending that the Governor and the Centre played a fraud on the Constitution and President’s rule should be quashed.

What the constitution says?

  • Article 361 (1) of the Constitution gives the President and the Governor protection from legal action.
  • Under the Article, both the President and the Governor of a State “shall not be answerable to any court” for acts done in performance of their powers and duties.

It should be noted here that this immunity has been upheld the constitution bench of the supreme court in 2006 in the Bihar Assembly dissolution case concerning Governor Buta Singh.

Way ahead:

However, such immunity to the governor does not take away the power of the supreme court to examine the validity of his action on the ground of mala fide. Hence, the court will go ahead and validate the governor’s recommendations and their relevance to the imposition of President’s rule.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

Do you want to break away from the Union, court asks Gujarat

The Supreme Court recently reproached some states, including Gujarat, for laxity in implementing the National Food Security Act, and questioned their adherence to the federal scheme. This was based on a PIL which sought implementation of the National Food Security Act.

  • Nine states and two Union territories have so far not implemented this legislation, but Gujarat earned the apex court’s wrath as its name topped the list of the defaulting states.
  • It’s more than two years since the Parliament passed the National Food Security Act (NFSA) which seeks to provide basic food requirements of poor in the country.

Gujarat’s scenario:

  • Despite high economic growth rate, Gujarat ranks poorly in human development index and malnutrition among women and children is substantially high in the state. As per the government’s own figures, almost 50 % women and 45% children suffer from malnutrition in the state.

However, the Gujarat state government has told that it is at the final stage of implementing the law and that consultation was going on.

About the National Food Security Act, 2013:

Also called as the Right to Food act, this act aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. It extends to the whole of India.

Salient features:

  • 75% rural and 50% of the urban population are entitled for three years from enactment to five kg food grains per month at 3 Rupees , 2 Rupees, 1 Rupee per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains (millet), respectively.
  • The states are responsible for determining eligibility.
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to a nutritious “take home ration” of 600 Calories and a maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000 for six months.
  • Children 6 to 14 years of age are to receive free hot meals or “take home rations”.
  • The central government will provide funds to states in case of short supplies of food grains.
  • The state government will provide a food security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of food grains.
  • The eldest woman in the household, 18 years or above, is the head of the household for the issuance of the ration card under this Act.
  • There will be state- and district-level redress mechanisms and State Food Commissions will be formed for implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Act.
  • The poorest who are covered under the Antodaya yojana will remain entitled to the 35 kg of grains allotted to them under the mentioned scheme.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

‘Trans-Pacific pact may impact exports’

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has expressed concerns over the mega-regional free trade pact led by the U.S. and including 11 other Asia-Pacific countries, also called as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Why?

  • The TPP has set very high standards for the international trading regime. And hence, this pact is likely to indirectly impact India’s exports in several industrial sectors such as textiles, plastics, leather, clothing, cotton and yarn.
  • Besides it is also expected to affect the country’s regime on investment, labour standards, intellectual property rights (IPR) and government procurement and State-owned enterprises (SOE).

Challenges posed by the TPP could be similar to those experienced by India post the 1991 economic liberalisation.

Other concerns:

  • The investor-State dispute settlement mechanism adopted by the TPP was also a concern from India’s point of view.
  • Some of the TPP standards were higher than that of the WTO norms, including on IPR and possible ever-greening of patents, which could hurt India’s pharma sector.
  • The operations and the production methods of India’s public sector units (or SOEs) could also be constrained due to the TPP
  • Several Indian export sectors such as cotton and yarn could be affected as trade may be diverted to the TPP region due to its benefits of low or nil duties.
  • And hence this would prompt Indian companies to invest in the TPP-region countries and start producing from there.

Background:

The TPP agreement (which India is not a part of) was reached in October last year and the member countries have two years to ratify the pact.

Way ahead:

In this regard, the External Affairs Ministry would soon do a study in the context of TPP and inform the government what the priorities should be in terms of policy-making in the next six months. In the meantime, the Indian government will have to consider improving the country’s standards in areas such as labour laws by holding stakeholder consultations.

About the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership is headed by the US and includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
  • The agreement covers 40% of the world’s economy.
  • It would set new terms for trade and business investment among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations.
  • It would phase out thousands of import tariffs as well as other barriers to international trade.
  • It also would establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, open the Internet even in communist Vietnam and crack down on wildlife trafficking and environmental abuses.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.

TRAI for PPP model for Bharat Net Project

TRAI has recommended PPP model for the roll out of the Bharat Net project that has been marred by delays.

Why this model?

TRAI notes that rural broadband provision is prone to market failures as well as government failures (as is evident by the slow implementation of National Optical Fibre Network or NOFN), and hence employing a PPP-based model to expand broadband coverage is the only other viable option.

TRAI’s proposal:

  • A PPP model that aligns private incentives with long-term service delivery in the vein of the Build-Own-OperateTransfer/Build-Operate-Transfer models of implementation be the preferred means of implementation.
  • The concessionaire’s should be handed over task of deployment and implementation of the optical fibre cable and other network infrastructure as well as operating the network during the period of contract. Concessionaires shall be entitled to proceeds of revenue from dark fibre and/or bandwidth.
  • The regulator has also suggested that contract period should be of 25 years, which can be further extended in block of 10, 20 or 30 years.
  • TRAI has also said that the task of rolling out broadband network should be given to a concessionaire selected through reverse bidding. The funding should be done to bridge the loss incurred due to higher operational expenses and lower commercial accruals.

About Bharat Net Project:

Bharat Net seeks to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband by 2017, forming the backbone of the government’s ambitious Digital India programme.

  • It proposes broadband connectivity to households under village panchayats and even to government institutions at district level.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

U.K. grants ‘gene editing’ licence

Britain has granted its first licence for the genetic modification of human embryos as part of research into infertility and why miscarriages happen. This move is likely to raise ethical concerns.

  • The decision makes Britain one of the first countries in the world to grant this type of authorisation for experimentation on human embryos, although similar research has been carried out in China.

Details:

  • The company which has received licence is planning to modify the embryos using a technique known as CRISPR-Cas90.
  • The company plans to find the genes at play in the first few days of fertilization when an embryo develops a coating of cells that later become the placenta.
  • According to the company, the embryos to be used in the research are ones that would have been destroyed, donated by couples receiving In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment who do not need them. The embryos will not become children as they must be destroyed within 14 days and can only be used for basic research.

However, critics have warned about the potential of designer babies.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

‘Woman having child through surrogacy entitled to maternity leave’

Recently, the Bombay High Court ruled that a woman who has attained motherhood through a surrogacy procedure is entitled to six months maternity leave like any other woman. The court ruled that a mother enjoys the same benefits of maternity leave as any other working woman under the Child Adoption Leave and Rules. There is nothing in the rules that disentitles maternity leave to a woman who has attained motherhood through surrogacy procedure.

Sources: the hindu.