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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 September 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 September 2019


 

Table of contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. Access to Internet is a basic right: Kerala HC.
  2. 10th Schedule of the Constitution.
  3. Office of Profit.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Corporate income tax.
  2. Stubble burning.
  3. Aditya- L1 mission.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. Global Goalkeepers Goals Award 2019.
  2. Gandan Tegchenling Monastery.
  3. Emergency Response Support System.
  4. International Day of Peace 2019.
  5. World’s Second Largest Coal Block.

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Access to Internet is a basic right: Kerala HC

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Right to freedom and privacy, how are they protected?

For Mains: Threats to these rights, how can they be guaranteed?

 

Context: The Kerala High Court has held that the right to have access to the Internet is part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 

What’s the issue?

  • A college student from Kozhikode was recently expelled from the college hostel for using her mobile phone beyond the restricted hours.
  • This was challenged in the court.
  • The petitioner contended that the internet, accessible through mobile phones or laptops, provided an avenue for the students to gather knowledge.

 

Observations made by the HC:

  1. When the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has found that the right of access to Internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure right to education, a rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of law.
  2. The action of the college authorities infringed the fundamental freedom as well as privacy and would adversely affect the future and career of students who want to acquire knowledge and compete with their peers.
  3. The court while citing the observations of the SupremeCourt in the S.Rengarajan and others v. P. Jagjivan Ram (1989) case said “ the fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2) and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience or expediency.”

 

Conclusion:

The Court has observed rightly in the sense that the hostel authorities are expected to enforce only those rules and regulations for enforcing discipline. Enforcement of discipline shall not be by blocking the ways and means of the students to acquire knowledge.

Besides, college authorities as well as parents should be conscious of the fact that the students in a college hostel are adults capable of taking decisions as to how and when they have to study.

 

UN view on this:

UN, in 2016, made a series of statements collectively describing that internet access as a basic human right.

The basic elements of this include:

  1. not intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online.
  2. states should consider formulating and adopting national internet-related public policies that have the objective of universal access and enjoyment of human rights at their core through transparent and inclusive processes with all stakeholders.
  3. promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the internet and other information and communication technology.
  4. how the internet can be an important tool for fostering citizen and civil society participation, for the realisation of development in every community and for exercising human rights.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- Important amendments and parts.
  2. Salient features of RPA.

 

10th Schedule of the Constitution

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of 10th schedule of the constitution, dismissal, exceptions and judicial review of the decision.

For Mains: Significance of anti- defection law, concerns associated with its misuse and measures to improve its transparency.

 

Context: Haryana speaker disqualifies five INLD MLAs under anti-defection law.

 

What is the anti-defection law?

  • The Tenth Schedulewas inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.
  • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
  • The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.

 

Disqualification:

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  1. Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  2. Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  3. If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  4. If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

 

Exceptions under the law:

Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

 

Advantages of anti-defection law:

  1. Provides stabilityto the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
  2. Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
  3. Promotes party discipline.
  4. Facilitates mergerof political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  5. Expected to reduce corruptionat the political level.
  6. Provides for punitive measuresagainst a member who defects from one party to another.

 

Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:

Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms: Disqualification should be limited to following cases:

  1. A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party
  2. A member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.

 

Law Commission (170th Report):

  1. Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.
  2. Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection
  3. Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

 

Election Commission:

Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics covered: 

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Office of Profit

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is office of profit and how is it determined?

For Mains: Criticisms and controversies surrounding, ways to address them.

 

Context: Punjab cabinet has decided to bring an ordinance to exclude the appointments of advisors to CM from the ambit of the office of profit.

 

What’s the issue?

The appointments were termed by the opposition as an attempt to circumvent the constitutional cap on the size of state’s Cabinet. 91st Amendment of Article 164(1A) of the Constitution mandates that the strength of ministers cannot exceed 15% of the total members of the House.

 

What is an ‘office of profit’?

If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an “office of profit”.

A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.

 

What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?

Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191.

They can be disqualified for: a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government; b) Being of unsound mind; c) Being an undischarged insolvent; d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.

 

What is the underlying principle for including ‘office of profit’ as criterion for disqualification?

Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions. In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure.

 

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Corporate income tax 

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is Corporation tax? Key changes announced.

For Mains: Need for and significance of these decisions, challenges ahead and ways to address them.

 

Context: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced major changes in corporate income tax rates to revive growth in the broader economy. This has been achieved through an ordinance– the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2019.

 

What has the government done?

  1. Corporate tax rate to be 22 per cent without exemptions.
  2. No Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) applicable on such companies.
  3. Effective corporate tax rate after surcharge and cess to be 25.17 percent.
  4. To attract investment in manufacturing, local companies incorporated after October 2019 and till March 2023, will pay tax at 15 percent.
  5. That effective tax for new companies shall be 17.01 percent, including cess and surcharge. Companies enjoying tax holidays would be able to avail concessional rates post the exemption period.
  6. Will give MAT relief for those opting to continue paying surcharge and cess. MAT has been reduced to 15 percent from 18.5 percent for companies who continue to avail exemptions and incentives.
  7. To stabilise flow of funds into the market the enhanced surcharge announced in Budget 2019 will not apply on capital gains arising on sale of any security, including derivatives by foreign portfolio investors (FPI).
  8. For listed companies which made announcement for public buyback before July 2019 it is provided that tax on buyback on shares of such companies will not be charged.

How do these rates compare globally?

The new corporate income tax rates in India will be lower than USA (27 percent), Japan (30.62 percent), Brazil (34 percent), Germany (30 percent) and is similar to China (25 percent) and Korea (25 percent).

New companies in India with an effective tax rate of 17 percent is equivalent what corporates pay in Singapore (17 percent).

 

Need for and significance of the latest move:

The goal is to turn India into an investors’ darling, demonstrate the government’s intent to walk the talk on economic management, restore investors’ confidence and boost sentiments and demand.

 

Benefits associated:

  1. Alter the profitability dynamic of the Indian corporate ecosystem.
  2. Given the substantially lower rates would imply that many corporates will break even much ahead than what would have been the case with the earlier rates.
  3. Lower taxes should, ideally, result is higher profit margins. This should bolster their books, and some of these companies should be able to pass on the higher margins in the form of lower product prices to consumers.
  4. Lower corporate income tax rates and the resultant change in profitability will likely prompt companies to invest more, raising their capital expenditure (capex).
  5. Additional capacities will, eventually, through a secondary round effect, prompt these companies to hire more employees.

 

Why has the government brought an ordinance to bring in these changes?

Changes in income tax rates (both corporate and individual) require legislative amendments. These require Parliamentary ratification. When the Parliament is not in session, the government can bring these changes through an Ordinance and later bring a Bill when Parliament convenes.

 

Concerns over the rate cut?

  • The revenue foregone for the government because of the latest corporate income tax cuts will be to the tune of Rs 1.45 lakh crore a year.
  • This has triggered concerns of fiscal slippage, given that tax collections have been far below the budgeted estimates.
  • The government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.3 percent of GDP for 2019-20. Lower tax revenues could upset the fiscal math.

 

How will the corporate tax cuts be funded?

The government may fund part of the revenue foregone because of corporate tax cuts through the additional transfer of dividends and surplus from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation and pollution related issues.

 

Stubble burning

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Crop burning- why, concerns, effects on environment and health, their regulation and the need for a comprehensive policy on this.

 

Context: As many as eight districts in Punjab and three in Haryana have been identified as contributing around 62% of the total crop burning emission, as per an analysis done by a team of experts at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D).

 

 

What is stubble burning?

Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat. 

Impact: Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such carbon diaoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.

 

Why farmers opt for stubble burning?

  1. They do not have alternativesfor utilising them effectively.
  2. The farmers are ill-equipped to deal with waste because they cannot afford the new technology that is available to handle the waste material.
  3. With less income due to crop damage, farmers are likely to be inclined to light up their fields to cut costs and not spend on scientific ways of stubble management.

 

Advantages of stubble burning:

  1. It quickly clears the field and is the cheapest alternative.
  2. Kills weeds, including those resistant to herbicide.
  3. Kills slugs and other pests.
  4. Can reduce nitrogen tie-up.

 

Alternative solutions that can avoid Stubble Burning:

  1. Promote paddy straw-based power plants. It will also create employment opportunities.
  2. Incorporation of crop residues in the soil can improve soil moisture and help activate the growth of soil microorganisms for better plant growth.
  3. Convert the removed residues into enriched organic manure through composting.
  4. New opportunities for industrial use such as extraction of yeast protein can be explored through scientific research.

 

Need of the hour:

Unless Financial assistance is to be provided by the Centre for boosting farm mechanisation, it is difficult to completely stop stubble burning.

States needs to make alternative arrangements for consumption of paddy straw into the soil as per the directions of the NGT.

 

What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?

Incentives could be provided to those who are not burning the stubble and disincentives for those who continue the practice.

The existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP to those who continue to burn the crop residue.

The Central government should convene a meeting with the States.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

 

Aditya- L1 mission

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features, objectives and significance of the mission.

 

Context: The Indian Space Research Organization is planning to launch Aditya- L1 mission to study the sun early in 2020.

 

About Aditya- L1 mission:

What is it? It is India’s first solar mission.

Objectives: It will study the sun’s outer most layers, the corona and the chromospheres and collect data about coronal mass ejection, which will also yield information for space weather prediction.

Significance of the mission: The data from Aditya mission will be immensely helpful in discriminating between different models for the origin of solar storms and also for constraining how the storms evolve and what path they take through the interplanetary space from the Sun to the Earth.

Position of the satellite: In order to get the best science from the sun, continuous viewing of the sun is preferred without any occultation/ eclipses and hence, Aditya- L1 satellite will be placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the sun-earth system.

 

What are Lagrangian points and halo orbit?

Lagrangian points are the locations in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other. Any small mass placed at that location will remain at constant distances relative to the large masses. There are five such points in Sun-Earth system and they are denoted as L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. A halo orbit is a periodic three-dimensional orbit near the L1, L2 or L3.

 

Sources: toi.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Global Goalkeepers Goals Award 2019:

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is honoured with the prestigious ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’.

Key facts:

  • The award is conferred by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The annual awards, in five categories, are presented to leaders and individuals for their efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The categories are Progress, Changemaker, Campaign, Goalkeepers Voice and the Global Goalkeeper.

 

Gandan Tegchenling Monastery:

Context: A statue of Lord Buddha and his two disciples, installed at the historic Gandan Tegchenling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, was recently unveiled by PM Modi.

Key facts:

  • Gandan Tegchenling Monastery is a prominent centre of Mongolian Buddhists and a treasure house of valuable Buddhist heritage.
  • It hosted the 11th General Assembly of Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP) from 21-23 June 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the Conference.

 

Emergency Response Support System:

ERSS is one of the key projects of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under Nirbhaya Fund.

  • It has been designed to play a pivotal role in mitigation or preventing escalation of crime, especially against women and children.
  • ERSS provides a single emergency number (112), computer aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress.
  • Citizens can send their emergency information through call, sms, email and through the 112 India mobile app. 

 

International Day of Peace 2019:

Context: United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared 21 September as International Day of Peace.

  • Objective: Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. 
  • Theme: “Climate Action for Peace”.

 

World’s Second Largest Coal Block:

Deaucha Panchami coal block of Birbhum Coalfield Area is World’s Second Largest Coal Block.

Situated in West Bengal. This coal mine is the largest coal mine or coal block in Asia, due to the number of coal reserves.