Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 July 2017
Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
Government plans ‘I stand by my country’ campaign
The government hopes to trigger a citizen movement around the theme ‘I stand by my country’ as part of a twin celebration to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement and the 70th Independence Day.
What you need to know?
As part of the programme, the government plans a multimedia campaign that will focus on inspiring the young generation and instilling in them a sense of pride and responsibility.
- The celebrations will stress that in the next five years — in an era of determination, will and struggle — a ‘New India’ will be built which is “rid of corruption and black money” and fulfils the aspirations of its teeming millions.
- The campaign will also drive home the point that the country has already proved its worth in every field, be it science and technology, sports, spirituality, art, space exploration, economy and defence.
- The aim of the campaign, hence is to portray an India which is “bold and decisive, can secure its future, is on the path of reforms, and that cares.
The Quit India Movement, also known as the August Movement was a Civil Disobedience Movement launched by Gandhi for independence. The movement was accompanied by a mass protest on non-violent lines, in which Gandhi called for “an orderly British withdrawal from India”.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
MPC members to get Rs. 1.5 lakh per meet, must disclose assets
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently notified the Monetary Policy Committee and Monetary Policy Process Regulations, 2016.
Highlights of the regulations:
- Remuneration: Members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will be paid Rs. 1.5 lakh per meeting along with air travel and other reimbursements.
- Silent period: Members will have to observe a “silent period” of seven days before and after the rate decision for “utmost confidentiality”. Members are also required to be mindful of any conflict between their personal and public interest while interacting with profit making organisations and making personal financial transactions.
- Voting pattern: Each member of the MPC has one vote and in case the numbers are equal, the governor has the casting vote.
- Report: The MPC, which has the responsibility of achieving a set inflation target, should submit a report to the government in case of failure to achieve the required target. In such instances, the report shall be sent to the central government “within one month from the date on which the bank has failed to meet the inflation target“.
- Meetings: MPC has to hold meetings at least four times in a year. The schedule of the MPC meetings for the entire fiscal year needs to be announced in advance. At least 15 days of notice is required for convening a meeting ordinarily, but an emergency meeting can be called with 24 hours notice for each member and technology-enabled arrangements need to be made for even shorter notice period meetings.
- Assets declaration: All members need to disclose their assets and liabilities and update this information once every year.
- After conclusion of MPC meeting, a resolution needs to be made public including on the policy repo rate and any other monetary policy measures at the discretion of the Chairperson while keeping in view the functioning and timing of financial markets.
About the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC):
The six-member MPC was constituted in September 2016. It has been deciding on policy rates since October last year.
The committee will have six members. Of the six members, the government will nominate three. No government official will be nominated to the MPC.
The other three members would be from the RBI with the governor being the ex-officio chairperson. Deputy governor of RBI in charge of the monetary policy will be a member, as also an executive director of the central bank.
Decision: Decisions will be taken by majority vote with each member having a vote.
RBI governor’s role: The RBI Governor will chair the committee. The governor, however, will not enjoy a veto power to overrule the other panel members, but will have a casting vote in case of a tie.
Selection: The government nominees to the MPC will be selected by a Search-cum-Selection Committee under Cabinet Secretary with RBI Governor and Economic Affairs Secretary and three experts in the field of economics or banking or finance or monetary policy as its members.
Term: Members of the MPC will be appointed for a period of four years and shall not be eligible for reappointment.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Government plans new agency to keep check on Chartered Accountants
The government is reviewing plans to put in place the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) as it seeks to rein in the Institute of Chartered Accounts for India (ICAI) for its perceived failure in enforcing discipline.
While Companies Act 2013 had provided for NFRA as a regulatory agency for audit, accounts and financial reporting, Section 132 of the law has remained on paper as the rules are yet to be notified. It is one of the few sections of the law that has not been notified yet.
What you need to know about the new agency?
The new agency -which can have up to 15 members, including the chairman – is mandated to advise on issues related to audit and accounting standards and be the regulator for the profession.
The law provides for NFRA to look into matters of professional or other misconduct and also suspend CAs and firms from practising for six months to 10 years.
Opposition to this move:
Several chartered accountants had lobbied with the government to block the notification as it would have taken away several powers that are currently vested with ICAI. Under the 1956 law, the Centre was to prescribe accounting standards prepared by ICAI in consultation with the National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS) -powers that are to be transferred to NFRA now.
Need for the new agency:
ICAI’s disciplinary record is often criticised-a charge that the institute is now trying to cope with. Just around 25 auditors have faced action in over a decade and around 1,400 cases were pending.
Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Bengaluru Declaration calls for SC/ST quota in judiciary
The Bengaluru Declaration was recently adopted by the Karnataka State government sponsored Dr. B.R. Ambedkar International Conference 2017. The theme of the conference: “Quest for Equity”.
- The declaration recommends a slew of affirmative action measures in private sector, judiciary, educational institutions, government contracts and promotions for Dalits.
- The declaration has 40 recommendations under six broad categories — safeguarding the people, strengthening democratic institutions, deepening social justice, enhancing human development, ensuring responsive governance, and promoting social security.
The Preamble of the declaration states, “This Peoples’ Declaration hopes to be a dynamic blueprint that addresses the needs and aspirations of all Indians, and a starting point for an ‘alliance of equity’ of all progressive forces committed to safeguarding the idea of India”.
Important recommendations made:
- Reserve seats for SC/ST in appointment of judges, promotions, government contracts up to ₹1 crore, in private higher educational institutions and private sector.
- Establish an Equal Opportunities Commission, to oversee affirmative action.
- Reserve seats in legislature for other backward classes.
- Set up of a farmers’ income commission.
- Uphold Rule of Law through police reforms and state action to prevent lynchings.
- Enact a law against gender and caste discrimination at education institutions.
- Ensure land ownership for SC/STs and establish SC/ST land bank, where government buys these lands at market prices and re-allots to the same community, to ensure non-dilution of ownership.
- Allocate 20% of the land in private housing layouts for urban poor.
- Launch a “living wage” and comprehensive social security scheme for all labourers working in the unorganised sector apart from ensuring dignity in retirement through enhanced pensions of ₹1,500 per month.
Add-on for Prelims:
Similar Declaration was adopted by Madhya Pradesh in 2002. The Bhopal Declaration that called for “liberalisation of capital for Dalits” was adopted in 2002 during the tenure of Congress leader Digvijaya Singh in Madhya Pradesh.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: international groupings.
Arab League chief says Israel ‘playing with fire’ over Jerusalem
The Arab League has warned Israel is “playing with fire” over the “red line” of Jerusalem and and risking a major crisis with the Arab and Islamic world.
Immediate cause for the conflict:
Israel sent extra troops into the occupied West Bank after violence erupted over Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
Palestinians view the new security measures as an Israeli attempt to assert further control over the site, the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. Israel says the detectors are necessary to prevent another incident in which illegal weapons are taken into the compound and turned against Israeli forces.
What’s the conflict is all about?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over who gets what land and how it’s controlled. The 1967 war is particularly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to large Palestinian populations.
Today, the West Bank is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority and is under Israeli occupation. This comes in the form of Israeli troops, who enforce Israeli security restrictions on Palestinian movement and activities, and Israeli “settlers,” Jews who build ever-expanding communities in the West Bank that effectively deny the land to Palestinians. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist party, and is under Israeli blockade but not ground troop occupation.
Add- on for Prelims:
What is Arab League? The Arab League is a regional organization of Arab countries in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia. It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Kingdom of Egypt, Kingdom of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Currently, the League has 22 members, but Syria’s participation has been suspended since November 2011, as a consequence of government repression during the Syrian Civil War.
The League’s main goal is to “draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries“.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: cyber security.
Cyber space global conference
India will be hosting the 5th Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) in 2017, one of the world’s largest conference on Cyber Space and related issues.
- The GCCS is taking place outside OECD nations for the first time.
- It is being held in India for the first time.
- The theme for the GCCS 2017 is ‘Cyber4All: An Inclusive, Sustainable, Developmental, Safe and Secure Cyberspace’.
The conference will see participation of around 2000 delegates from senior Government officials, industry leaders, academia and civil society from over 100 countries.
Aim of the conference:
GCCS will congregate and deliberate on issues relating to promotion of cooperation in cyberspace, norms for responsible behaviour in cyberspace and to enhance cyber capacity building.
What you need to know about GCCS?
GCCS is a prestigious international conference that aims at encouraging dialogue among stakeholders of cyberspace, which has been taking place since 2011. Incepted in 2011 in London, GCCS witnessed a participation of 700 global delegates. Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) for capacity building in cyber space was launched in the fourth edition of the conference held in The Hague, Netherlands.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: developments in science and technology.
Google’s machine-raised mosquitoes to shrink vector’s numbers
Google’s parent company Alphabet and scientists in the US have teamed up to release 20 million machine-raised mosquitoes to shrink the numbers of the disease-carrying ones.
What you need to know about the project?
The project, called Debug Fresno, is being undertaken by Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s holding company.
- The goal is to cut the numbers of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the species responsible for spreading zika, dengue and chikungunya.
- For 20 weeks, the company plans to release a million of the sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes in two neighbourhoods in Fresno county.
- The male mosquitoes are bred and infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium that is naturally found in at least 40% of all insect species. The bacterium used to sterilise mosquitoes “is not known” to infect humans.
- In a phenomenon called cytoplasmic incompatibility, matings between Wolbachia-infected males and uninfected females result in embryo lethality or low hatch rates.
Facts for Prelims:
World’s first wind farm being built off Scotland coast:
The world’s first full-scale floating wind farm is being built off the coast of Scotland. The wind farm, known as Hywind, is a trial project which will bring power to 20,000 homes. The technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters that are too deep for the existing bottom-standing turbines.