Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 04 July 2019

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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 04 July 2019


Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

 

North East Venture Fund (NEVF)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Objectives, funding and significance of NEVF.

 

About North East Venture Fund (NEVF):

  • Set up by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi) in association with Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (M-DoNER).
  • It is the first dedicated venture capital fund for the North Eastern Region.
  • Objective: to contribute to the entrepreneurship development of the NER and achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns through long term capital appreciation by way of investments in privately negotiated equity/ equity related investments.
  • The investment under this schemer ranges from Rs. 25 lakh to Rs.10 crore per venture, which is long term in nature with investment horizon of 4-5 years.

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: TIES- key features, challenges faced by exporters and significance and the need for support.

 

Context: The Department of Commerce has approved financial assistance for three trade promotion centres under the ‘Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)’.

These centres are located in Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

 

About TIES:

  • The scheme replaces a centrally sponsored scheme — Assistance to States for creating Infrastructure for the Development and growth of Exports (ASIDE).
  • The objective of the TIES is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure and first-mile and last-mile connectivity.
  • Eligibility: The Central and State Agencies, including Export Promotion Councils, Commodities Boards, SEZ Authorities and Apex Trade Bodies recognised under the EXIM policy of Government of India; are eligible for financial support under this scheme.
  • The scheme would provide assistance for setting up and up-gradation of infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages like the Border Haats, Land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, dry ports, export warehousing and packaging, SEZs and ports/airports cargo terminuses.

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019:

 

Context: Parliament passes the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019.

Key features:

  • The Bill provides for reservation of teaching positions in central educational institutions for persons belonging to: (i) Scheduled Castes, (ii) Scheduled Tribes, (iii) socially and educationally backward classes, and (iv) economically weaker sections.
  • Reservation of posts:The Bill provides for reservation of posts in direct recruitment of teachers (out of the sanctioned strength) in central educational institutions.  For the purpose of such reservation, a central educational institution will be regarded as one unit.  This implies that the allocation of teaching posts for reserved categories would be done on the basis of all positions of the same level (such as assistant professor) across departments. 
  • Coverage and exceptions: The Bill will apply to ‘central educational institutions’ which include universities set up by Acts of Parliament, institutions deemed to be a university, institutions of national importance, and institutions receiving aid from the central government. 
  • However, it excludes certain institutions of excellence, research institutions, and institutions of national and strategic importance which have been specified in the Schedule to the Bill. It also excludes minority education institutions.   

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

UN Palestine refugee agency

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: UNRWA- functions, funding, significance and challenges.

 

Context: India pledges to contribute USD 5 million in 2019 to UN Palestine refugee agency.

 

Background:

India has increased its annual financial contribution fourfold to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) core budget, from USD 1.25 million in 2016 to USD 5 million in 2018.

 

UNRWA:

It is a relief and human development agency that was established in 8 December 1949.

UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, across its five fields of operation Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1950.

The Agency currently serves 5.4 million Palestinian refugees 20% of the world’s refugees.

 

Concerns and challenges:

  • The UN agency is going through a difficult financial situation due to voluntary contributions from a limited donor base.
  • There is a projected shortfall of more than USD 200 million against a funding requirement of approximately USD 1.2 billion for UNRWA this year.
  • The shortfall may impact the agency’s ability to provide essential services to the Palestine refugees, notably in the fields of education, health, and assistance to the most vulnerable refugees.

 

Need of the hour:

Traditional donors of UNRWA should consider enhancing their contributions.

Non-donor member states should consider contributing to UNRWA in solidarity with the Palestine refugees.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Henley Passport Index

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Passport Index- features, performance of various countries and significance of the index.

 

Context: Henley Passport Index 2019 has been released. The Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

 

About the index:

  • The Henley Passport Index (HPI) is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom for their citizens.
  • It started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.
  • The HPI consists of a ranking of passports according to how many other territories can be reached ‘visa-free’.

 

Performance of India:

  • India is ranked at 86 with a mobility score of 58. India’s rank has improved from the earlier position of 79th in January 2019.
  • The score points out that Indian passport holders can access 58 countries around the world without a prior visa.
  • India shares the 86th position with Mauritiana and Sao Tome and Principe.

 

Global performance:

  • Asian countries dominate the rankings with Japan and Singapore holding onto the top spot with a score of 189, after they unseated Germany from its first position at the beginning of 2018.
  • With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa openness as crucial to economic and social progress.
  • Afghanistan at 109th is last on the list with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 25.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

Launch-abort test 

 

Context: NASA recently carried out a successful test of a launch-abort system for the Orion capsule designed to take U.S. astronauts to the Moon.

 

About Launch Abort System (LAS):

  • It is designed to activate in the event of a rocket malfunction, on the pad or in flight
  • The LAS consists of three different types of solid-fuel rocket motors that will work in synchrony with one another.
  • In case of a launch-pad or in-flight failure, the abort tower rocket provides 400,000 pounds of thrust, pulling the crew capsule away. 

 

Background:

The Orion spacecraft is a major component of NASA’s newly-named Artemis program, which aims to return U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Section 375 of the IPC

 

What to study?

For prelims: about POCSO, Section 375.

For mains: need for gender neutrality, associated concerns, challenges and measures needed.

 

Context: Defending India’s gender-specific rape law under which the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that “the existing definition of rape under Section 375 (rape) should be left untouched”.

 

Why? (Arguments by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):

  • These sections have been enacted to protect and keep a check on the rising level of sexual offences against women in the country.
  • The existing definition of rape under Section 375 should be left untouched as the “ambit of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which covers all forms of sexual offences against minors, and Section 377 of the IPC were adequate to cover all sexual offences”.

 

Background:

The MHA’s affidavit came in response to a public interest petition claiming that the existing law pertaining to rape was gender specific and protects only females.

The High Court had previously asked the Centre to clarify its stand on the issue, particularly in view of the recommendation of the Law Commission of India, to make rape laws “gender neutral”.

 

Arguments by the petitioner:

  • Gender neutrality is a simple recognition of reality — men sometimes fall victim to the same, or at least very similar, acts to those suffered by women.
  • Male rape is far too prevalent to be termed an anomaly or freak incident. By not having gender-neutral rape laws, we are denying a lot more men justice than is commonly thought.
  • In India, sexual crimes against boys under 18 years are covered under the POCSO Act, but once they become adults they do not have any legal recourse.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Section 124

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Section 124, need for, concerns and alternatives available.

 

Context: The Union government has no plans to repeal sedition law as it is needed to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told Rajya Sabha.

 

What is Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code?

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

 

Why should it be scrapped?

Draconian laws such as the Section 124-A only serve to give a legal veneer to the regime’s persecution of voices and movements against oppression by casting them as anti-national.

 

What has Supreme Court ruled?

The Supreme Court has persistently held that for the offence of sedition to be satisfied, there has to be a causal relationship between speech and acts of violence, and mere speech, regardless of how subversive it is, does not amount to sedition.

 

Short term measures to be put up in place:

  • All speech-related offences should be made bailable offences; this would lessen the harmful impact of using arrest and custody as a way of harassing anyone exercising their rights under Article 19(1)(a).
  • The offences should be made non-cognisableso that there is at least a judicial check on the police acting on the basis of politically motivated complaints.
  • In the case of hate speech, it is important to raise the burden of proof on those who claim that their sentiments are hurt rather than accept them at face value. And finally, it is crucial that courts begin to take action against those who bring malicious complaints against speech acts.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

Aadhaar Seva Kendra’ (ASKs):

Context: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has operationalized 1st ‘Aadhaar Seva Kendra’ (ASKs) in Delhi and Vijayawada.

ASKs seek to provide more touch points to public for availing Aadhaar enrolment and updation services.

About UIDAI: Established as an attached office of the erstwhile Planning Commission, UIDAI is now a statutory authority under the provisions of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 under the aegis of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

 

 

Note: Some of today’s news item will be covered tomorrow.