Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 July 2018
Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Nelson Mandela International Day
Context: Nelson Mandela International Day 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918).
What is Nelson Mandela International Day?
- Nelson Mandela International Day is a global event held annually to honor former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.
- The event started after the Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664, a concert series that benefits AIDS victims referencing Mandela’s prison number 46664, first proposed the idea of a worldwide day honoring the work and legacy of Nelson Mandela in April 2009.
- The first Mandela Day was held on Mandela’s 91st birthday on July 18, 2009 to promote volunteering and community service, being marked worldwide with community service events, art exhibits, fundraisers and a concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
- The United Nations soon took interest and supported the idea of a global day honoring Mandela, declaring in November 2009 the marking of July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day.
Who was Nelson Mandela?
- Nelson Mandela was the former President of South Africa as well as an anti-apartheid activist, philanthropist and political leader.
- Mandela emerged as a key leader in the resistance to racist apartheid laws, being arrested multiple times and later being sentenced to life in prison in 1964 after being trialed for conspiring to overthrow the government.
- Amid growing pressure both internally and throughout the world, the South African government finally released Mandela after 27 years in 1990. He soon worked alongside President F.W. de Klerk to dismantle the apartheid regime in 1991 and usher in the peaceful 1994 general election in which he was elected as the country’s new president.
- During his presidency from May 1994 to June 1999, Mandela worked to promote racial reconciliation, fight poverty and expand healthcare for all South Africans. After leaving office, he remained active in many philanthropic efforts throughout the world, particularly ending the HIV/AIDS crisis and reducing poverty.
- For his efforts promoting social justice, democracy and peace, he was awarded dozens of prestigious accolades, including the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- For Prelims: Mandela Day.
- For Mains: Nelson Mandela- legacy and achievements.
Topic: Women related issues.
Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP)
Context: NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform(WEP) and Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Office of International Programmes (OIP) University of Delhi, had jointly organised a Two-Day International conference on “Empowering Women: Fostering Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainability”.
About the Women Entrepreneurship Platform:
Aim: The initiative is aimed at building an ecosystem for women across India to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses. This will be done through an enabling network of industry collaborations, partnerships, mentors and peer-to-peer connect.
What it does? From providing unique services such as credit evaluation of women-led startups by CRISIL and potential equity investments through an INR 10 crore fund established by DICE Districts, the WEP opens up avenues of growth and opportunity for women entrepreneurs.
Need for economic empowerment of women:
Economically empowered women are major catalysts for development. There is greater recognition of the positive relationship between increased economic activity by women and improved social outcomes. Women often tend to reinvest their income in their children’s education, health and nutrition. This has a positive impact on the potential for economic growth.
- For Prelims: Women Entrepreneurship Platform.
- For Mains: Women entrepreneurs- need, significance, challenges and solutions.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena.
Newest phase in Earth’s history named after Meghalaya rock
Context: Scientists have created a new phase in Earth’s geological history and named it Meghalayan, after a stalagmite from a cave in the Indian state of Meghalaya that helped define climatic events 4,200 years ago, marking the beginning of the phase that continues till today.
The beginning of Meghalayan age:
- The Meghalayan Age began with a mega global drought that devastated ancient agricultural civilisations from Egypt to China. It is part of a longer period known as the Holocene Epoch, which reflects everything that has happened over the past 11,700 years.
- Evidence of the climatic event has been found in sediments on all seven continents, including those from Meghalaya.
- The Meghalayan is unique because it is the first interval in Earth’s geological history that coincided with a major cultural event, as agricultural societies struggled to recover from the shift in climate.
- The droughts over a 200-year period resulted in human migrations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus valley and the Yangtze river valley.
- International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) has officially accepted the new phase. Besides, two other ages — the Middle Holocene Northgrippian Age and the Early Holocene Greenlandian Age — with beginnings defined at climatic events that happened about 8,300 years and 11,700 years ago, respectively, were also approved by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is responsible for standardising the geologic time scale.
About International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS):
- The IUGS is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of geology.
- It is a Scientific Union member of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which it recognizes as the coordinating body for the international organization of science.
- IUGS promotes and encourages the study of geological problems, especially those of worldwide significance, and supports and facilitates international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the earth sciences.
- IUGS is a joint partner with UNESCO for the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) and they also participate in the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN).
For Prelims and Mains: IUGS, Meghalayan age, geological timeline.
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
No confidence motion
Context: The Speaker of Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan has admitted a no-confidence motion moved by the opposition against the ruling government.
What is a no-confidence motion?
A no-confidence motion is a parliamentary motion which is moved in the Lok Sabha against the entire council of ministers, stating that they are no longer deemed fit to hold positions of responsibility due to their inadequacy in some respect or their failure to carry out their obligations. No prior reason needs to be stated for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.
How it works?
At least 50 MPs would need to stand up and support the move. If there are 50 MPs in favour, the motion is admitted and the speaker allots a date for discussion on the motion. The prime minister or ministers reply to the charges made. The mover has the right to reply. After the debate, the speaker puts question to the house and ascertains the decision of the house by voice vote or a division.
A Motion of No-confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based. Even when grounds are mentioned in the notice and read out in the House, they do not form part of the no-confidence Motion.
The government is expected to resign if it loses a trust vote. In case its refuses to do so, the President has the power to remove the prime minister. In the history of Indian Parliament, no Prime Minister has been forcibly removed so far. After a government loses a trust vote and resigns, it continues to function, but as a caretaker government with almost the same powers as it had before the voting.
However, a caretaker government wouldn’t have the power to take any major policy decisions since Parliament remains dissolved. A new government gets elected after the general elections.
Key facts for Prelims:
- The Rajya Sabha does not have a procedure for moving of an adjournment motion, censure motion or no-confidence motion against the Government.
- Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha lays down the procedure for moving a Motion of No-Confidence in the Council of Ministers.
- There is no mention of a no-confidence motion in the constitution.
For Prelims and Mains: All about no- confidence motion.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues related to education.
Samagra Shiksha Scheme
Context: Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has announced ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’ an initiative to promote reading culture among students. The initiative has been launched under ‘Samagra Shiksha’.
About ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’:
- Under this initiative, government will give an annual library grant to schools to allow students widen their ambit of learning.
- The grant will be given to Primary to Senior Secondary levels and will vary between Rs. 5000 and Rs. 20000.
About Samagra Shiksha scheme:
‘Samagra Shiksha’ is an overarching programme for school education extending from Primary till class 12. The programme was introduced in the Union Budget 2018-19 with the aim to treat school education holistically without segmentation of primary and secondary education.
- This programme subsumes the three erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
- It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels.
The major interventions, across all levels of school education, under the scheme are:
- Universal Access including Infrastructure Development and Retention.
- Gender and Equity, Inclusive Education.
- Financial support for Teacher Salary.
- Digital initiatives.
- Entitlements under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 including uniforms, textbooks etc.
- Pre-school, Vocational and Sports and Physical Education.
- Strengthening of Teacher Education and Training.
- Monitoring and Programme Management.
- For Prelims: About ‘Padhe Bharat- Badhe Bharat’, Samagra Shiksha scheme.
- For Mains: Features of the schemes and efforts by the government for universalisation of education.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013
Context: The Rajya Sabha has passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013. The Bill seeks to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Major changes suggested in the PC Act, 1988 as reported by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, 2016 include:
Giving a bribe as punishable offence: The Bill introduces the offence of ‘giving a bribe’ as a direct offence. However, a person who is compelled to give a bribe will not be charged with the offence if he reports the matter to law enforcement authorities within seven days.
Redefining the Criminal misconduct: The Bill redefines the provisions related to criminal misconduct to only cover two types of offences: (i) fraudulent misappropriation of property; and (ii) illicit enrichment (such as amassing of assets disproportionate to one’s known sources of income).
Prior approval for investigation alleged to have been committed by a Public Servant: Before a police officer conducts any investigation into an offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant, prior approval of the relevant government or competent authority should be taken. Such approval would not be necessary in cases which involves the arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of taking a bribe.
Time limit for trial of cases: As per the Bill, trial by special judge should be completed within two years. If not, reasons for the delay must be recorded, for every six months of extension of time obtained. However, the total period for completion of trial may not exceed four years.
The amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was necessitated from the obligation of India to review the existing provisions of the Act so as to bring it in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
- For Prelims: Key features of the Bill, UNCAC.
- For Mains: Anti- corruption legislation- need, concerns and protection for whistle- blowers.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill
Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which aims to deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the legal process by fleeing the country and remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
Highlights of the Bill:
- The Bill aims to curb the practice of evading the criminal prosecution by the economic offenders who flee from the country to stay out of the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
- The Bill will give the right to the government to confiscate the property of such economic offenders in India and abroad. The Bill will also be applicable on the proxy-owned properties of the economic offenders.
- The Bill defines the economic offenders as those against whom a legal warrant has been issued, but they refuse to adhere to the summons of the legal authorities.
- The law balances itself with a provision that allows the accused to file an appeal in the High Court to state their case.
- The Bill keeps the banks and other financial institutions at the Centre and seeks to help them recover the amount. The Bill will only be used for economic offences over Rs 100 crores.
- The Bill makes provisions for a Court (‘Special Court’ under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a Fugitive Economic Offender.
Significance of the Bill:
- The Bill is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences.
- This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
- It is expected that the special forum to be created for expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or abroad, would coerce the fugitive to return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of Courts in India to face the law in respect of scheduled offences.
Need for a law in this regard:
There have been several instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings. The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences— first, it hampers investigation in criminal cases; second, it wastes precious time of courts of law; third, it undermines the rule of law in India.
Who is a fugitive economic offender?
A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
- For Prelims: Key provisions in the Bill.
- For Mains: Need for law in this regard.
Topic: Conservation related issues.
Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan
Context: The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) recently organised the ‘Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan’ in five main Ganga basin states – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The State Forest Departments of these five states acted as the Nodal Agencies for the smooth and effective execution of the campaign.
About Ganga Vriksharopan Abhiyan:
- The campaign was initiated as part of the Forest Interventions in Ganga (FIG) component of Namami Gange Programme.
- It was aimed at bringing greater awareness among people and other stakeholders regarding the importance of afforestation for the task of Ganga Rejuvenation.
- As part of the campaign, schools, colleges and departments were requested to “Adopt a Plant” for turning this campaign into a people’s movement.
Forest Interventions in Ganga (FIG):
The afforestation is part of the Forest Interventions in Ganga (FIG) which is significant as it aims to bring greater awareness among people and other stakeholders regarding the importance of afforestation for the task of Ganga Rejuvenation.
Why is Afforestation in Ganga Basin important?
- Forests cause higher rainfall and raise water level in the rivers. Through their foliage, craggy bark and abundant leaf litter, trees and forests decrease the speed of water dispersion and favour slow but greater infiltration of rainwater to ensure smooth functioning of the hydrological cycle.
- Moreover, presence of healthy forest cover along the river provides self-cleaning ability to the river. Thus, afforestation and augmentation of existing forest along the Ganga holds the promise to strengthen the riparian ecosystem thereby contributing to the overarching cause of Ganga Rejuvenation.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council which was set up in October 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order 2016. The order dissolved National Ganga River Basin Authority.
NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore.
The order envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below:
- National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
- Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
- National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG).
- State Ganga Committees.
- District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.
Sources: the hindu.