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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 09 DECEMBER 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB Summary 09 December 2019

 

Table of contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. Paika rebellion.

GS Paper 2:

  1. Kannadigas to get priority in the private sector.
  2. Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota for promotion.
  3. International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019.
  4. US Congress resolution on J&K clampdown.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. FrogPhone.
  2. Victoria falls.
  3. RailWire Wi-Fi.

 

GS Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Paika Rebellion

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Paika Rebellion- what when and why?

Context: President Ram Nath Kovind recently laid the foundation of a memorial dedicated to the 1817 Paika Rebellion.

 

Who are Paikas?

Recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.

They were the traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors.

 

How the rebellion began?

When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline. So, they rebelled back.

  • The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
  • The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to. They revolted against the British.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai, the highest-ranking military general of King of Khorda Mukund Dev II, led the Paikas to join the uprising.
  • However, the rebellion also had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.

 

Outcome:

Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.

 

Nationalist movement or a peasant rebellion?

The Paika Rebellion is one among the peasant rebellions that took place in India when the British East India Company was expanding its military enterprise. Because these uprisings violently clashed with European colonialists and missionaries on many occasions, their resistance is sometimes seen as the first expression of resistance against colonial rule — and therefore considered to be “nationalist” in nature.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Kannadigas to get priority in the private sector

What to study?

For Prelims: About the new policy of Karnataka.

For Mains: Significance, challenges and concerns associated, what is the need of the hour?

 

Context: The Karnataka government has amended rules directing industrial establishments that have taken any support from the government to give priority to Kannadigas in jobs on the shop floor in ‘C’ and ‘D’ category of employees.

 

Key facts:

  • The industries getting incentives from the government must provide 100 percent reservation in their blue-collared jobs and those not availing any benefits are required to accord priority to Kannadigas.
  • The revised rules also empower the state to intervene if private companies fail to implement the rules in letter and spirit.

 

What’s the basis for this move?

Competition from outsiders: In the last few years, Bangalore has witnessed a huge population influx from all corners of India naturally upsetting the local and migrant balance and causing social friction primarily owing to economic reasons.

With not enough jobs being created and the poor spread of those that are getting created, the pressure on, and in, relatively better-performing states is growing.

 

Issues associated with this policy:

  1. By arm-twisting the private sector into forcibly hiring Kannadigas irrespective of merit or qualification, the indirect assumption seems to be that Kannadigas are incapable of finding jobs on their own merit or hard work.
  2. Even as the move will benefit the Kannadiga population, the private sector could suffer a setback as it would hinder choosing the best candidates, irrespective of the linguistic background or domicile of the person, to comply with the rule.
  3. Also, once it is enforced, there is no stopping other states from coming up with similar populist policies, even for white-collar jobs where merit is paramount for productivity. This could mean greater informalisation of labour, which in turn means greater insecurity for the same workers whose interests the Karnataka government is purportedly protecting with the move.
  4. The end result of industry loss of confidence and business moving elsewhere would, of course, be a decline in the economic well-being of the Kannadiga blue-collar workers the policy is supposed to protect.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:

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

Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota for promotion

What to study?

For prelims: Names of relevant SC cases and constitutional provisions wrt to SC/ST welfare.

For mains: Significance of Supreme Court verdict and its implications.

 

Context: Central government has asked the Supreme Court of India to refer to a seven-judge Bench the question whether the creamy layer concept should apply (or not) to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes while giving them reservation in promotions.

 

What’s the issue?

The Centre has asked the CJI to refer a September 26, 2018 judgment of a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Jarnail Singh versus Lachhmi Narain Gupta to a larger Bench of seven judges for a review.

In Jarnail Singh, the court had agreed with its 12-year-old verdict in the M. Nagaraj case that the creamy layer applied to SCs and STs in order to prevent the socially advanced in a backward community or class from eating the whole cake while leaving the weak among them impoverished.

 

What is the creamy layer concept?

The ‘means-test and creamy layer’ first finds expression in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in Indra Sawhney versus Union of India, delivered by a nine-judge Bench on November 16, 1992.

‘Creamy layer’ are “some members of a backward class who are highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally.

 

Constitutional basis- Article 335:

Article 335 recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs in order to bring them to a level-playing field.

Need: Centuries of discrimination and prejudice suffered by the SCs and STs in a feudal, caste-oriented societal structure poses real barriers of access to opportunity. The proviso contains a realistic recognition that unless special measures are adopted for the SCs and STs, the mandate of the Constitution for the consideration of their claim to appointment will remain illusory.

 

How was the creamy layer made applicable to SC/ST members?

  1. Indra Sawhney vs Union of India:

In its landmark 1992 decision in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had held that reservations under Article 16(4) could only be provided at the time of entry into government service but not in matters of promotion. And the principle would operate only prospectively and not affect promotions already made and reservation already provided in promotions shall continue in operation for a period of five years from the date of the judgment.

More significantly, It ruled that the creamy layer can be and must be excluded.

On June 17, 1995, Parliament, acting in its constituent capacity, adopted the seventy-seventh amendment by which clause (4A) was inserted into Article 16 to enable reservation to be made in promotion for SCs and STs.

 

  1. The validity of the amendment was challenged before the Supreme Court in the Nagaraj case (2006).

Upholding the validity of Article 16 (4A), the court then said that it is an enabling provision. “The State is not bound to make reservation for the SCs and STs in promotions. But, if it seeks to do so, it must collect quantifiable data on three facets — the backwardness of the class; the inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment; and the general efficiency of service as mandated by Article 335 would not be affected”.

The court ruled that the constitutional amendments do not abrogate the fundamentals of equality.

 

Need of the hour:

A comprehensive piece of legislature that would deal with ambiguity related to reservation in promotions is needed. The Act should try to rectify the current issues such as

  • Undefined parameters of efficiency.
  • Absence of transparency in evaluating backwardness and efficiency of STs/SCs
  • Presence of ambiguity regarding whole process of promotions in government services.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019

What to study?

For Prelims: What are IFSCs. Their functions and how are they regulated?

For Mains: Challenges in their management and the need for a unified authority.

 

Context: The International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 is likely to be taken up by Parliament for discussion next week.

 

What is an IFSC?

An IFSC enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centers by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches / subsidiaries of financial institutions (FIs) to India by offering business and regulatory environment that is comparable to other leading international financial centers in the world like London and Singapore.

It would provide Indian corporates easier access to global financial markets.

 

What are the services an IFSC can provide?

  • Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments.
  • Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds.
  • Wealth management.
  • Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants and law firms.
  • Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching.
  • Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance.
  • Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.

 

The bill seeks to setup an authority- The International Financial Services Centres Authority.

Management of the Authority: Consisting of a Chairperson, one Member each to be nominated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), two members to be dominated by the Central Government and two other whole-time or full-time or part-time members.

 

Functions of the Authority:

  • Regulate all such financial services, financial products and FIs in an IFSC which has already been permitted by the Financial Sector Regulators for IFSCs.
  • Regulate such other financial products, financial services or FIs as may be notified by the Central Government from time to time.
  • Recommend to the Central Government such other financial products, financial services and financial institutions which may be permitted in the IFSCs.

 

Powers of the Authority:

All powers exercisable by the respective financial sector regulatory (viz. RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA etc.) under the respective Acts shall be solely exercised by the Authority in the IFSCs in so far as the regulation of financial products, financial services and FIs that are permitted in the IFSC are concerned.

 

Who is covered?

The Bill will be applicable to all International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) set up under the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.
The first IFSC in India has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar.

 

Need for and the benefits of a unified authority:

  • Multiple regulators: Currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators, i.e. RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
  • The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination. It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs.
  • The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions.

Therefore, a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India would provide world class regulatory environment to financial market participants. This also essential from an ease of doing business perspective.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

US Congress resolution on J&K clampdown

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of Articles 370 and 35A.

For Mains: Concerns over the present situation and ways to address these concerns.

 

Context: A resolution has been introduced in the US Congress urging India to swiftly end the communications clampdown, in place since August, in Jammu and Kashmir besides seeking the release political detainees in the region.

However, the resolution will not be put to vote in the Senate and does not have the force of law.

It was introduced by Indian-American Democrat Pramila Jayapal.

 

What the resolution demands?

The Indian government must quickly lift restrictions on cell phones and internet access, release arbitrarily detained people, protect free speech and peaceful protest, and condemn all religiously motivated violence at the highest levels across India.

It also states that house “rejects arbitrary detention, use of excessive force against civilians, and suppression of peaceful expression of dissent as proportional responses to security challenges.”

It also urges New Delhi to note the need to respect human rights and international humanitarian law in actions taken “in pursuit of legitimate security priorities.”

 

The resolution also proposes six steps including:

  1. Lifting restrictions on communication.
  2. Restoring internet access
  3. Releasing all “arbitrarily detained people”.
  4. Allowing international human rights observers and journalists access Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Implications of the resolution:

Since it has been introduced by an Indian-American, it will likely to attract attention in the US and outside.

 

What’s the issue?

On August 5, the Centre approved the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitutionand decided to carve out of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Internet restrictions and house arrests of various political leaders followed this. The continuing clampdown in most parts of Kashmir, and the absence of any worthwhile interaction between Kashmir and the outside world has prevented any realistic assessment of the situation.

 

International Criticisms:

There have been direct criticisms of India’s action in Kashmir by a majority of democratic governments in the West, and by quite a few other allies, including some possessing doubtful human rights antecedents such as Saudi Arabia.

  • There were equally many ‘lows’, with prominent leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressing their concern that “the situation for the people in Kashmir is not good and not sustainable”, and the UN Human Rights Commission affirming that it is “extremely concerned” that people in J&K continued to be “deprived of a wide range of human rights” and urging the Indian government to “unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied”.

 

Need of the hour:

India needs to win the battle of minds within the country before trying to justify itself in the eyes of the world.

  • It needs some urgent measures. The authorities will need to prepare for some degree of violence once the measures put in place are relaxed.
  • This is a time for healing, not for more confrontation. In Kashmir, what is needed today is a reassurance of democratic traditions rather than what cynics would refer to as a ‘bubble’, and a promise of vibrant economic opportunities while they worry about their freedoms.

As a very first step, normalcy needs to be restored by removing most of the impediments that exist at present, with the release of political leaders and as many of their followers as possible.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Facts for prelims:

 

FrogPhone:

It is the world’s first solar-powered remote survey device that can be installed at any frog pond and which receives a 3G or 4G cellular network.

Developed by a team from various Australian institutions.

  • The FrogPhone will allow researchers to dial these devices remotely, and analyse the data later.
  • It will reduce costs and risks, including the negative impact of human presence on the field site.
  • These devices also allow for monitoring of local frog populations more frequently than before, which is important because these populations are recognised as indicators of environmental health.

 

Victoria falls:

Context: The flow of Victoria Falls, with a width of 1.7 km and a height of roughly 108 metres, has been reduced to a trickle due to the severe droughts in the southern African region since October 2018.

Key facts:

  • The falls are fed by the Zambezi river and define the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa.
  • The falls are also referred to as “The Smoke that Thunders” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Victoria falls

 

RailWire Wi-Fi:

Context: The Railways has successfully completed the work of providing free public Wi-Fi at 5500 stations across the country.

What is RailWire?

RailWire is a retail Broadband initiative of the RailTel.

  • It envisages extending broadband and application services to the public.
  • The Wi-Fi at stations has been provided in association with Google as the technology partner.

RailTel Corporation is a “Mini Ratna(Category-I)” PSU of Ministry of Railways. It is the largest neutral telecom services providers in the country.