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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 05 October 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 05 October 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Pardoning powers of President.
  2. Youth Co:Lab.
  3. Transfats.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. World Cotton Day.
  2. National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. India’s first e-waste clinic.
  2. Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).

 


 

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

 

Pardoning powers of President

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of pardoning powers of President and Governor.

For Mains: Concerns and issues associated,

 

Context: The President has commuted death sentences to life imprisonment in at least 20 cases over the past nine years, based on the recommendations received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

 

Clemency powers of the President under article 72:

It says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.

  • Pardon –A pardon completely absolves the offender from all sentences and punishment and disqualifications and places him in the same position as if he had never committed the offence.
  • Commutation– Commutation means exchange of one thing for another. In simple words to replace the punishment with less severe punishment. For example for Rigorous imprisonment-simple imprisonment.
  • Reprieve– Reprieve means temporary suspension of death sentence. For example-  pending a proceeding for pardon or commutation.
  • Respite – Respite means awarding a lesser punishment on some special grounds. For example- the Pregnancy of women offender.
  • Remissions– Remission means the reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, for example, a sentence of 1 year may be remitted to 6 months. 

 

The President can exercise these powers:

  1. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
  2. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  3. In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

 

The pardoning power of President is wider than the governor and it differs in the following two ways:

  1. The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
  2. The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

 

Key facts:

  • This power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
  • Further, the constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
  • But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.
  • The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: Can the Supreme Court exercise the power of pardon or remission under Article 32 of the Constitution similar to the President’s power under Article 72 (by President) or 161 (by Governor)? Examine.


Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to development and management of social sector/services.

 

Youth Co:Lab

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains : Youth Co: Lab- establishment, significance and potential.

 

Context: Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, UNDP India Jointly Launch Youth Co:Lab to accelerate youth-led social entrepreneurship and innovation in India.

 

How it works?

  1. Youth Co:Lab will convene social innovation challenges at the national and sub-national level, which will invite young people in the age group of 18-29 years and start-ups to showcase their proposed ideas and solutions to tackle some of the region’s biggest social challenges.
  2. Through Youth Co:Lab, young entrepreneurs and innovators will get a chance to connect with governments, mentors, incubators and investors, who will help equip them with entrepreneurial skills.

 

The first phase of Youth Co:Lab will focus on six SDGs:

  1. SDG 5 (Gender Equality).
  2. SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation).
  3. SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy).
  4. SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
  5. SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production).
  6. SDG 13 (Climate Action).

 

What is Youth Co: Lab initiative?

It is an innovative platform for young people to explore their ideas and potentials, and bring to scale viable solutions, to accelerate India’s progress on the SDGs.

Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation.

Operational in 25 countries across the Asia Pacific region.

Aims to create an enabling ecosystem to promote youth leadership, innovation, and social entrepreneurship.

 

Need for and significance of this initiative?

With the world’s largest youth population millions in the county are entering the workforce every year, it is critical for India to create a robust employment and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Besides, 21st-century challenges can’t be solved with traditional approaches. 

Therefore, It is essential to position young people front and centre, to solve the region’s most wicked development challenges. It is necessary to ensure that they are motivated and excited to learn future skills, particularly leadership, social innovation, entrepreneurship and communication.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

Transfats

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Transfats- what are they, uses, concerns and the need for reduction in their usage.

 

Context: FSSAI launches ‘Trans-Fat Free’ logo.

This marked an important milestone in the movement against Trans-Fats and also provided a momentum to accelerate the ‘Eat Right India’ movement of FSSAI.

 

What are Trans fats?

  • Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.
  • These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

 

Harmful effects:

  1. TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease.
  2. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  3. It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.

 

Why they are increasingly being used?

TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.

 

Permissible limit:

WHO recommendation: Limited to less than 1% of total energy intake. It has called for the total elimination of TFAs in global food supply by 2023.

FSSAI has proposed to limit TFA limit in foods to 2% and eliminate trans fats from foods by 2022.

Sources: pib.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Major crops and cropping patterns.

 

World Cotton Day

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Significance of the day, key facts related to Cotton.

 

Context: World Cotton Day being observed from 7th October to 11th October 2019 in Geneva.

 

About the World Cotton Day:

  • Organised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in collaboration with the Secretariats of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
  • WTO is hosting the event at the request of the Cotton – 4 countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali.

 

Objectives of the event:

  1. To give exposure and recognition to cotton and all its stakeholders in production, transformation and trade.
  2. To engage donors and beneficiaries and strengthen development assistance for cotton.
  3. To seek new collaborations with the private sector and investors for the cotton related industries and production in developing countries and promote technological advances, as well as further research and development on cotton. 

 

Significance of the day:

  • The Day will celebrate the many advantages of cotton, from its qualities as a natural fibre, to the benefits people obtain from its production, transformation, trade and consumption.
  • It will also serve to shed light on the challenges faced by cotton economies around the world because cotton is important to least developed, developing and developed economies worldwide. 

 

Cotton, it’s significance and the need for support:

Cotton is a global commodity that is produced all over the world.

A single tonne of cotton provides year-round employment for five people on average.

Cotton is a drought – resistant crop ideal for arid climates, it occupies just 2.1 % of the world’s arable land, yet it meets 27% of the world’s textiles need.

In addition to its fibre used in textiles and apparel, food products are also derived from cotton like edible oil and animal feed from the seed.

 

Facts for Prelims:

In India, various grades of raw cotton are produced including:

SUVIN, the finest quality of Extra Long Staple Cotton produced in Tamil Nadu having the highest fibre length.

Natural coloured cotton that is grown in Dharwad in the state of Karnataka in different colours like dark brown, medium brown, green and cream colours will also be on display.

 

Efforts to promote Cotton in India:

Between 2011 and 2018, India implemented a Cotton Technical Assistance Programme (Cotton TAP-I) of about USD 2.85 million for seven African countries namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad and also Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria.

The technical assistance focused on improving the competitiveness of the cotton and cotton-based textiles and apparel industry in these countries through a series of interventions which had significant outcomes leading to a demand for a follow-on project.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Indian Forest Act amendment

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the Indian Forest Act and amendments.

For Mains: Need for review and the expected outcomes.

 

Context: The Mizoram government has rejected the Centre’s proposed amendment to Indian Forests Act, 1927, on the ground that it violates the special provisions guaranteed to the state under Article 371G of the Constitution.

 

Background:

Article 371(G) of the Constitution states that the Parliament cannot decide on the matters of the religious and social practices of the Mizos, civil and criminal law of the land, land ownership transfer, and customary law procedure without the consent of the Assembly.

 

What’s the issue?

Mizoram argues that it does not come under the purview of the Indian Forests Act of 1927.

The Mizoram Forest Act of 1955 governs the state’s forests in line with customary laws.

 

Highlights of the draft amendments:

  • The amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture”.
  • Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.”
  • While the preamble of IFA, 1927, said the Act was focused on laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it, the amendment has increased the focus to“conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments”.
  • Increased role of states:The amendments say if the state government, after consultation with the central government, feels that the rights under FRA will hamper conservation efforts, then the state “may commute such rights by paying such persons a sum of money in lieu thereof, or grant of land, or in such other manner as it thinks fit, to maintain the social organisation of the forest dwelling communities or alternatively set out some other forest tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purpose of such forest dwellers”.
  • The amendment also introduces a new category of forests — production forest. These will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.

 

Concerns with regard to the proposed amendments:

  • The Bill reinforces the idea of bureaucratic control of forests, providing immunity for actions such as use of firearms by personnel to prevent an offence.
  • The hard-line policing approach is reflected in the emphasis on creating infrastructure to detain and transport the accused.
  • To penalise entire communities through denial of access to forests for offences by individuals. Such provisions invariably affect poor inhabitants, and run counter to the empowering and egalitarian goals that produced the Forest Rights Act.
  • For decades now, the Forest Department has resisted independent scientific evaluation of forest health and biodiversity conservation outcomes. In parallel, environmental policy has weakened public scrutiny of decisions on diversion of forests for destructive activities such as mining and large dam construction.
  • Impact assessment reports have mostly been reduced to a farce, and the public hearings process has been
  • The exclusion of ‘village forestry’ from the preview of Forest Right Act (forest official supersedes Gram Sabha) is legally contradictory and would add confusion on the ground.
  • The draft mentions that the state governments could take away the rights of the forest dwellers if the government feels it is not in line with “conservation of the proposed reserved forest” by payment to the people impacted or by the grant of land.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Disaster and disaster management.

 

National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of NDRF.

For Mains: It’s significance and usage.

 

Context: Centre approves additional financial assistance of Rs.1813.75 crore from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the State of Karnataka and Bihar.

 

Background:

The States of Karnataka and Bihar have apprised of the paucity of funds in the SDRF account, resulting in delay in providing relief assistance to the affected people and requested for release of advance additional financial assistance from NDRF.

 

About NDRF:

Defined in Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act).

It is a fund managed by the Central Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster. 

Constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.

National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) was renamed as National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) with the enactment of the Disaster Management Act in 2005.

 

What is it to be used for?

NDRF amount can be spent only towards meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation.

For projects exclusively for the purpose of mitigation, i.e, measures aimed at reducing the risk, impact or effect of a disaster or threatening disaster situation a separate fund called National Disaster Mitigation Fund has to be constituted.

 

Sources of Financing NDRF:

Financed through the levy of a cess on certain items, chargeable to excise and customs duty, and approved annually through the Finance Bill.

The requirement for funds beyond what is available under the NDRF is met through general budgetary resources.

Currently, a National Calamity Contingency Duty (NCCD) is levied to finance the NDRF and additional budgetary support is provided as and when necessary.

A provision also exists in the DM Act to encourage any person or institution to make a contribution to the NDRF.

 

Key features of NDRF:

Located in the “Public Accounts” of Government of India under “Reserve Funds not bearing interest“.

Monitoring: Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) monitors relief activities for calamities associated with drought, hailstorms, pest attacks and cold wave /frost while rest of the natural calamities are monitored by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audits the accounts of NDRF.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Facts for prelims:

 

India’s first e-waste clinic:

  • India’s first e-waste clinic for segregating, processing and disposal of waste from household and commercial units will be set-up in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
  • In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) for its establishment.
  • Electronic waste will either be collected door-to-door or could be deposited directly at the clinic by individuals.
  • The clinic is being conceived in compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • The e-waste clinic would enable segregation, processing and disposal of waste from both household and commercial units.

 

Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA):

  • Established in 1943 by a group of Indian intellectuals as a think tank.
  • By an Act of Parliament in 2001, the ICWA was declared an institution of national importance.
  • The Vice President of India is the ex-officio President of ICWA.
  • It is devoted exclusively for the study of international relations and foreign affairs.
  • The founder-president of the Council was Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru.
  • Historic international conferences held by ICWA: ‘Asian Relations Conference’ in 1947 under the leadership of freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu and ‘United Nations and the New World Order’ in 1994.