Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 July 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 July 2017


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

States can’t enact law on parliamentary secretaries: SC

 

The Supreme Court has ruled that state assemblies hold no power to enact a law that enables them to appoint parliamentary secretaries.

supremecourt

Background:

The ruling came on a plea challenging the appointment of 13 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries by the Assam government in 2015. The verdict would also have an impact on the Aam Aadmi Party government’s decision to appoint 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries. The Delhi High Court too had quashed their appointments, saying ‘it lacked the approval of the lieutenant governor’.

 

What’s the issue?

The question posed before the court was whether Article 194(3) and Entry 39 of List II of the 7th Schedule authorised the state legislature to make the impugned Act. Entry 39 indicates the field of legislation regarding the powers, privileges, and immunities of the house of legislatures.

 

Who is a parliamentary secretary?

A Parliament Secretary is similar to a Minister of State who assists a Minister in his or her duties.

 

What is the controversy over the 21 AAP MLAs who were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers of the Delhi government?

It raises two issues.

  • Office of profit: First, the Constitution specifies conditions which disqualify MPs, MLAs, Municipality and Panchayat members from membership of their respective institutions. The first is holding an “Office of Profit” under the state or central government. The essence of this disqualification is that there should be no conflict between the duties and interests of an elected member. MPs and MLAs hold the government accountable for its work, and if they held an “Office of Profit” under the government, they might be susceptible to government influence and might not discharge their constitutional mandate fully.
  • Cap: Second, the Constitution caps the number of members in the union and state cabinet. Article 164(1A) specifies that the number of ministers including the Chief Minister has to be within 15% of the total number of members of the Assembly. (10% in the case of Delhi, which is not a ‘full’ state) Over the last few years, courts across the country have struck down the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries for violating the Constitution.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Union Cabinet clears minimum wage code bill

 

The Union Cabinet has approved the new wage code bill which will ensure a minimum wage across all sectors by integrating four labour related laws. The proposed legislation is expected to benefit over 4 crore employees across the country. Labour is on the concurrent list.

minimum wage

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Labour Code on Wages Bill will consolidate the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
  • The bill seeks to empower the Centre to set a minimum wage across all sectors in the country and states will have to maintain that. However, states will be able to provide for higher minimum wage in their jurisdiction than fixed by the central government.
  • The new minimum wage norms would be applicable for all workers irrespective of their pay. At present, the minimum wages fixed by the Centre and states are applicable to workers getting up to Rs 18,000 pay monthly. This would ensure a universal minimum wage for all industries and workers, including those getting monthly pay higher than Rs 18,000.
  • The minimum wage would be applicable on all classes of workers. At present, it is applicable for scheduled industries or establishments in the law.
  • The wage code will empower the Centre to notify a ‘national minimum wage’ (below which no state can fix their minimum wages) and this will be revised every two years (five years if the dearness allowance becomes part of the minimum wages).

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

Policy boosts care for blood disorders

 

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s recently released a policy on the Prevention and Control of haemoglobinopathies in India. With this, people living with thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia and other haemoglobin disorders can now look forward to better screening and treatment.

blood disorders

Highlights of the policy:

  • The policy aims at creating treatment protocol benchmarks, to improve the quality of life of patients.
  • It is also a guide on prevention and control, which includes antenatal and prenatal testing to reduce the incidence of live haemoglobin disorder births.
  • Using public health awareness programmes and education, it highlights various haemoglobinopathies.
  • The guidelines include the creation of a national registry to plan future patient services. The registry will also collect useful data, such as the location of patients to identify areas of high concentration, ethnicity or other characteristics, age distribution, records of deaths and their cause.
  • Supported by the National Health Mission, Blood Cell and the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, the guidelines provide for screening of pregnant women during antenatal check-up, pre-marital counselling at college level and one-time screening for variant anaemia in children.

 

Background:

Thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia are the most frequently encountered ‘rare blood disorders’ in the country and impose a significant economic burden on families. They are caused by errors in the genes responsible for the production of hemoglobin, a substance composed of a protein (globin) plus an iron molecule (heme) that is responsible for carrying oxygen within the red blood cell. These disorders can cause fatigue, jaundice, and episodes of pain ranging from mild to very severe. They are inherited, and usually both parents must pass on an abnormal gene in order for a child to have the disease. When this happens, the resulting diseases are serious and, at times, fatal.

 

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

India’s Alternate Governor on the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

 

Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India has been appointed as India’s Alternate Governor on the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila, Philippines.

 

subhash-chandra-garg

About ADB:

It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.

 

Membership:

The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.

Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.

 

Voting:

ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.

 

Funding:

ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.

  • ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
  • Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.

 

Board of Governors:

  • It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
  • It is composed of one representative from each member state.
  • The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
  • The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.

 

Loans:

It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

 

Codex standards for pepper, cumin and thyme

 

In a major recognition of India’s efforts to benchmark global spices trade, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) has adopted three Codex standards for black, white and green pepper, cumin and thyme, paving the way for universal agreement on identifying quality spices in various countries. This would facilitate evolving a common standardization process for their global trade and availability.

 

Significance of this move:

The Codex standards were adopted in the wake of India conducting three sessions of Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) at Kochi (2014), Goa (2015) and Chennai (2017). The Chennai session succeeded in achieving this consensus. Subsequently, these drafts were placed before the CAC, and it was adopted by consensus with an overwhelming support from the member-countries.

 

Significance of this move:

With the adoption of the Codex standards on pepper, cumin and thyme, spices have been included for the first time as commodities that will have such universal standards. The adoption of the Codex standards would imply that there are now reference points and benchmarks for the member-countries to align their national standards for spices with Codex.

It will bring harmony to the global spice trade and ensure availability of high quality, clean and safe spices to the world. She said It will also benefit the trade from universal agreement to identify good quality spices.

 

Need for standards:

Historically, the developed countries, being the major importers of spices, have always insisted on unreasonably strict standards, which have had adverse effects on spice trade. This is an issue that the Codex, jointly formed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), seeks to address.

codex-alimentarius

Codex Alimentarius Commission:

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is an intergovernmental body with over 180 members, within the framework of the Joint Food Standards Programme.

  • It was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with the purpose of protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.
  • The Commission also promotes coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non governmental organizations.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

Niti Aayog clears six proposals for high-tech public transport

 

Niti Aayog has cleared proposals of the transport ministry exploring options to improve public transport. These proposals include mass rapid transportation technologies such as hyperloop, metrino and pod taxis.

  • Following the go-ahead, the transport ministry has formed a six member committee, headed by a former top official of Railways, to study safety parameters associated with these technologies and global practices.

niti proposes

 

Significance of this move:

These new technologies are path breaking and can alter the way of intercity travel in the country. The new technologies are being explored as current public transportation is unable to resolve the increasing traffic crisis in the country. Besides, some of them are more cost effective than the existing ones.

 

What are Metrino, Podtaxi and Hyperloop?

Metrino: Fully automatic, driverless small pods travel independently suspended over an overhead network which is usually 5-10 meters above the ground.

Podtaxi: Small automated vehicles/podcars/cable cars which carry a small number of passengers. The ropeway-like system runs on electricity and driverless pods and comes down at designated stations, thus removing the traffic burden from crowded roads.

Hyperloop: A hyperloop comprises a sealed tube or series of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at speeds matching that of an aircraft.

 

Sources: et.


 

Topic: awareness in space.

 

Scientists to chase solar eclipse using NASA jets

 

In a first, scientists are planning to chase the shadow of the Moon using NASA’s research jets during the upcoming total solar eclipse in the US, in order to capture the clearest ever images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere.

  • The jets will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s corona to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.

solar-eclipse

Why solar eclipse?

The total solar eclipse provides a rare opportunity for scientists to study the Sun, particularly its atmosphere. As the Moon completely covers the Sun and perfectly blocks its light during an eclipse, the typically faint corona is easily seen against the dark sky.

 

Why scientists are interested in studying the Corona?

The corona is heated to millions of degrees, yet the lower atmospheric layers like the photosphere – the visible surface of the Sun – are only heated to a few thousand degrees. Scientists are not sure how this inversion happens.

  • One theory proposes micro explosions, termed nanoflares – too small and frequent to detect individually, but with a large collective effect – might release heat into the corona.
  • No one has yet directly seen nanoflares. It is hoped that the new experiment might reveal their effects on the corona.

 

Background:

The corona is the outermost layer of the Sun, starting at about 1300 miles (2100 km) above the solar surface (the photosphere). The temperature in the corona is 500,000 K (900,000 degrees F, 500,000 degrees C) or more, up to a few million K. The corona cannot be seen with the naked eye except during a total solar eclipse, or with the use of a coronagraph. The corona does not have an upper limit.

 

 

Sources: et.