Insights Daily Current Events, 21 April 2016

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Insights Daily Current Events, 21 April 2016


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

A step towards gender equality

In a step towards giving equal status to women officers, the Navy has granted permanent commission to seven officers and has formalised plans to grant permanent commission in eight branches from 2017. The seven woman officers were inducted as short-service commission (SSC) officers.

Background:

So far women were allowed permanent commission in select streams by the Army and the Air Force while the Navy permitted only Short Service Commission for 14 years which means they were denied pension.

  • In a landmark judgement in October last year, the Delhi High Court granted permanent commission for women and pulled up the Defence Ministry and the Navy for a 2008 order which it called “sexist bias.”
  • Officials later clarified that the 2008 order for permanent commission was gender neutral and it granted women permanent commission along with male officers in three streams — education, law and naval construction as other areas had logistical issues.

Facts and figures:

Previously, the Army and IAF had granted permanent commission to women. There are currently only about 340 woman officers who have been granted permanent commission in select branches of the Army and IAF, even though they have been allowed to join the three Services since the early-1990s as SSC officers for a maximum tenure of 14-15 years. Overall, women number just 1,436 in the Army, 1,331 in IAF and 532 in Navy.

What is a permanent commission?

A permanent commission means a career in the Army/Navy till one retires. A permanent commission also entitles 20 years of service and a pension.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

India ranked low in Press Freedom Index

The 2016 ‘World Press Freedom Index’ released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has placed India at 133rd position among 180 countries.

Key facts:

  • The list is topped by Finland, which retained its top spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.
  • India jumped three spots from the 136th position it had in 2015.
  • Among India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan ranks 147, Sri Lanka (141), Afghanistan (120), Bangladesh (144), Nepal (105) and Bhutan (94). China is ranked 176.
  • The United States is ranked 44th and Russia is placed at the 148th place.
  • At the bottom of the index lies Eritrea at 180th rank. It is preceded by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria and China at 179th, 178th, 177th and 176th position respectively.

About World Press Freedom Index:

World Press Freedom Index is published annually by RSF since 2002. It measures the level of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries using the following criteria – pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative environment, transparency, infrastructure, and abuses.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Cabinet approves signing the Paris Agreement

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing the Paris Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties held in Paris in December 2015. The agreement will be signed on 22 April 2016.

Background:

The Paris Agreement on climate change is a milestone in global climate cooperation. It is meant to enhance the implementation of the Convention and recognizes the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances.

  • India had advocated a strong and durable climate agreement based on the principles and provisions of the Convention. The Paris Agreement addresses all the important concerns and expectations of India.

The salient features of the Paris Agreement are as follows:

  • The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries. The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
  • The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption with developed countries taking the lead, and notes the importance of ‘climate justice’ in its preamble.
  • The Agreement seeks to enhance the ‘implementation of the Convention‘ whilst reflecting the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
  • The objective of the Agreement further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
  • Pre-2020 actions are also part of the decisions. The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.

Sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Cabinet approves changes in bill on afforestation

The Union cabinet has given its approval to move official amendments in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management And Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, 2015.

Details:

  • The legislation will ensure expeditious utilisation of accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which is currently around `40,000 crore, and fresh accrual of compensatory levies and interest on accumulated unspent balance, which will be of the order of approximately `6,000 crore per annum, in an efficient and transparent manner.
  • Apart from facilitating timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts will also result in creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in the rural areas, especially the backward tribal areas.
  • The amendments include deleting some of environmental services for which credible model to assess their monetary value does not exist while it also provides for prior consultation with states for making a rule under it. The amendments provide for use of monies realised from the user agencies in lieu for forest land diverted in protected areas for voluntary relocation from protected areas.

About the Bill:

The CAMPA Bill is meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities to compensate for forest land diverted to non-forest uses, by regulating and managing $5.3 billion (almost Rs.350 billion) collected over years.

  • The union government in April 2015 approved the bill for introduction in parliament. However, it was rejected in theRajya Sabha, where the government is in minority.
  • The bill basically envisages the establishment of a national Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and state CAFs to credit amounts collected by state governments and Union territory administrations to compensate for the loss of forest land to non-forest projects.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India-Chile preferential trade agreement

The cabinet has approved expanding the present India-Chile preferential trade agreement (PTA).

Details:

  • Under the expanded PTA, Chile has offered concessions to India on 1,798 products and India reciprocated with concessions on 1,031 products.
  • Under the proposed expanded PTA, 86% of India’s exports to Chile will get covered with concessions, which is likely to result in doubling of our exports in the near future.

Benefits:

  • Expansion of India-Chile PTA will enhance the trade and economic relations between the two countries.
  • The expansion would be an important landmark in India-Chile relations and consolidate the traditional fraternal relations that have existed between India and Latin American countries.

Background:

The India-Chile PTA signed in March 2006 came into force in August 2007. Bilateral trade registered growth of 58.49% from 2006-07 to 2014-15 after the PTA came into force. India exported $570 million worth of goods to Chile in 2014-15 and imported goods worth $3.08 billion, leading to a trade deficit of $2.5 billion.

What is a PTA?

A preferential trade agreement is a trading bloc that gives preferential access to certain products from the participating countries. This is done by reducing tariffs but not by abolishing them completely.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

President’s Decision is subject to Judicial Review

The Uttarakhand high court has observed that the legitimacy of the President’s decision to suspend the Uttarakhand assembly is subject to judicial review as even he can go wrong.

Background:

The court was responding to an argument by additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Centre, who contended that the President relies on his political wisdom in many matters.

About President’s rule:

What’s in the constitution?

The article 356 of the constitution which focuses on the failure of the Constitutional machinery of the State is often termed as the President’s rule. There are various reasons for which President’s rule can be imposed on a State. The failure of the State government to function as per the constitution is the first step towards this.

  • Other factors include the loss of majority, break down of law and order, indecisive outcome of elections, no alternate claimant to form the government, insurgency, defections and break-up of coalition.
  • It can be imposed initially for a period of six months.

What happens to the legislative assembly?

When President’s rule is imposed, the assembly is either dissolved or kept in suspended animation.

Shift in role:

The state comes under the direct control of the Central government. The authority shifts from the Chief Minister and the council of ministers to the Governor. The Governor gets the power to appoint civil servants and some administrators to assist him who will take on the role and responsibilities of the Council of Ministers.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bhutan on technical cooperation in the field of capacity building, benchmarking and bilateral exchange in infrastructure engineering. The MoU will provide an Umbrella for educational, scientific & technical research and environment protection which are also stated aim of the India-Bhutan foundation established in August 2003.
  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for operationalisation of new Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Europe has become the world’s first region to wipe out malaria, with zero cases reported last year. The number of indigenous malaria cases dropped to zero in 2015 from 90,712 in 1995, and the last cases were reported in Tajikistan in 2014.