Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 Aug 2017
Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
The largest volcanic region on Earth
Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – consisting of almost 100 volcanoes – two kilometres below the surface of the vast Antarctic ice sheet.
- The region consists of a staggering 91 volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered previously, with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres, in Switzerland.
- The newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 metres. All of them are covered in thick layers of ice.
- Where is it located? These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system, which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.
- If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets. Anything that causes the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.
- Another alarming trend is that most volcanism in the world at present is in regions that have only recently lost their glacier covering – after the end of the last ice age. This could happen in west Antarctica, where significant warming in the region caused by climate change has begun to affect its ice sheets.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
Article 35A comes under scrutiny
The question whether Article 35A, relating to special rights and privileges of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, is ultra vires of the Constitution or not is likely to head for a decision before a five-judge Constitution Bench.
- The indication that the constitutionality of Article 35A will be under scrutiny came from the court while hearing a petition challenging the Article as well as Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, which deal with the permanent residents’ status in J&K.
The Centre is likely to take a divergent opinion from that of the Jammu and Kashmir government on Article 35A, on the grounds that it discriminates against women who marry outside the State from applying for jobs or buying property, which is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Article 14 says: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
What you need to know about Article 35A?
Article 35A protects certain provisions of the J&K Constitution which denies property rights to native women who marry from outside the State. The denial of these rights extend to her children also.
Article 35A also empowers the State’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other States or any other right under the Constitution.
Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution:
It restricts the basic right of women to marry a man of their choice by not giving the heirs any right to property if the woman marries a man not holding the Permanent Resident Certificate. Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate thereby considering them illegitimate — not given any right to such a woman’s property even if she is a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir.
WHY ARE POLITICAL PARTIES & SEPARATISTS OPPOSED TO TINKERING WITH 35A?
Fear that it would lead to further erosion of J&K’s autonomy and trigger demographic change in Muslim majority valley. Political parties say Kashmir resolution lies in greater autonomy; separatists fan paranoia against possibility of Hindus ‘flooding’ the valley.
Attempts to undo Article 35A of the Indian Constitution would strike a fatal blow to the nationalists in the state. There is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Article, which prevents non-J&K state subjects from settling and buying property in the state. However, Kashmiris are apprehensive that such a move would open the sluice gates for a demographic transformation of the Valley.
The J&K government is also concerned at the reluctance of the Union government to file a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court. Against the backdrop of the escalating protests in Kashmir, this issue could potentially be explosive.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
NHRC issues notice to UP government
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government, seeking a detailed report on the death of children at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur in four weeks.
- The rights panel has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports hinting at negligence in the supply of liquid oxygen at the hospital which resulted in the death of a large number of children.
All you need to know about NHRC:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).
The NHRC is the national human rights institution, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants”.
- It consists of a Chairman and 4 members. Chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India. Members should be either sitting or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court and 2 persons having practical knowledge in this field.
- Ex officio members are the chairmen of National Commission for Scheduled Caste, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women.
Appointment: The chairman and members are appointed on the recommendation of a 6 member committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of opposition in both the houses of parliament and Union Home Minister.
Term: Term of the chairman and members is 5 years or 70 years whichever is earlier. After retirement they are not eligible for further reappointment.
Removal: President has to refer the matter to Supreme Court and if after enquiry Supreme Court holds it right then they can be removed by the President.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
UN chief Antonio Guterres concerned about India’s plans to deport Rohingya refugees
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is concerned about India’s plans to deport Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. He said that refugees should not be returned to countries where they fear persecution once they are registered.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had told parliament last week that the central government had directed state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingyas, who face persecution in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
What necessitates this move?
The Home Ministry had said that infiltration of (Rohingyas) from the Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory, especially in recent years, besides being a burden on the limited resources of the country, also aggravates security challenges posed to India.
UN principles of non-refoulement:
UN principles of non-refoulement applies in this case. According the these principles, no nation shall expel or return a refugee in any manner to territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
Who are the Rohingya?
Few years ago, religious and ethnic tensions between the Rohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists (who make up the majority of the population in Mayanmar) escalated into widespread, deadly rioting. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee. Since then, ongoing violent attacks have forced even more people to leave their homes.
- The Myanmar Government says that Rohingya people are not Burmese citizens – but the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar for generations. Today, they are a people with no home or citizenship.
- Rohingya people are being widely abused and exploited. They are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
What needs to happen?
The Myanmar Government should immediately end the violent crackdown on the Rohingya and amend or repeal the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law to provide the Rohingya people with full citizenship in the country.
Bangladesh and other governments in Southeast Asia must ensure those fleeing violence and seeking protection, are granted access. Guaranteeing they will not be pushed back or arbitrarily detained and instead that all their rights will be respected.
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
INAPH data base
Pashu Sanjivni component under National Mission on Bovine Productivity scheme was initiated by the Government in November 2016. Under the scheme, as on date 85 lakh milk producing animals have been identified and their data has been uploaded on INAPH data base.
- Data of the identified animals is being uploaded on Information Network on Animal Health and Productivity (INAPH) data base.
About the scheme:
Under the scheme, 88 million milk producing animals out of 300 million cattle and buffaloes are being identified using polyurethane tags with 12 digit unique identification (UID) number.
- The polyurethane tags, which will last for a few year, will be affixed by the technicians using a special applicator. Next, the technicians will, using a tablet, upload details of the cow including its vaccination and deworming status into an online database.
- The purpose of the exercise, in the long run, is to improve vaccination practices, and ensure that scientific interventions can be made to improve both breeding and milk production.
- The Pashu Sanjivni is crucial for control and spread of animal diseases, scientific management of animals, enhanced production and productivity, improvement in quality of livestock & livestock products, increase in trade of livestock and livestock products by meeting out sanitary and phtyosanitory issues.
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
A hasty order
The Securities and Exchange Board of India recently imposed trading restrictions on 331 companies suspected of being shell entities. It is suspected that trading on the shares of these “shell” companies was used as a way to launder black money.
- However, this is being seen as an example of rash regulatory action. The Securities Appellate Tribunal also recently stated in its order that “it is apparent that SEBI passed the impugned order without any investigation.”
As part of efforts to curb the black money menace, the corporate affairs ministry has already cancelled the registration of more than 1.62 lakh companies that have not been carrying out business activities for long. The ministry is implementing the Companies Act and firms are required to be registered under this law.
The term ‘shell company’ is not defined under the Companies Act, 2013. The Act requires that a company may be set up for any lawful purpose only. Subsequent to incorporation, if a company is found to be formed for fraudulent or unlawful purpose, it is liable for penal action, including for winding up under Section 271 of the Act.
Why is this move being criticised?
SEBI had acted on a list of suspect companies that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had forwarded after consultation with the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Income Tax department. Instead of conducting an independent investigation into these suspect companies, SEBI passed the buck to the exchanges and asked them to impose immediate trading restrictions on the companies.
What’s the concern now?
The government’s resolve to act against dodgy companies, for the sake of bringing business practices under the purview of the law, is indeed warranted. However, on the list of companies closed were also companies with huge market capitalisations.
- A sound business environment requires that the government adhere to the basic rules of justice at all times. Handing out extremely harsh punishment on suspect companies without giving them an adequate chance to explain their positions smacks of heavy-handedness.
- The economic costs of freezing the trading of shares of popular companies are not commensurate with the purported benefits of such action.
While the SAT order has brought some fairness to the entire proceedings, SEBI’s action will deal a blow to its credibility among investors as being an effective and unbiased regulatory body. Not surprisingly, investor unease was at least partially evident on the street where stocks witnessed a sharp fall after the order. In order to restore confidence, SEBI and the government must explain the rationale behind their actions.
Sources: the hindu.