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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 4 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA).

2. Sukhna Lake is a living entity.

3. Foreigners being served ‘Leave India’ notices: How does Indian law define ‘anti-govt’ activities for them?

4. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

5. Govt. imposes curbs on drug exports.

6. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

GS Paper 3:

1. Black carbon levels spike at Himalayan glaciers.

Facts for Prelims:

1. National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

What to study?

For Prelims: NIRA- key objectives and functions, important ILRs.

For Mains: Need for and significance of ILR projects, concerns associated.

Context: The Central government is working on the establishment of an exclusive body to implement projects for linking rivers- To be called the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA).

Functions of NIRA:

  • It is expected to take up both inter-State and intra-State projects.
  • It will also make arrangements for generating funds, internally and externally.

About National River Linking Project (NRLP):

The NRLP formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.

Significance: It is designed to ease water shortages in western and southern India while mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in the eastern parts of the Ganga basin.

ILR Projects in India:

As of now, six ILR projects — the Ken-Betwa, Damanganga- Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga, Mahanadi-Godavari and Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut) — have been under examination of the authorities.

With regard to the peninsular rivers, the Centre has chosen to focus on the Godavari-Cauvery link than the earlier proposal to link the Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery rivers.

Issues and Concerns:

Interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal. It will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people.

  • Interlinking of rivers will lead to destruction of forests, wetlands and local water bodies, which are major groundwater recharge mechanisms.
  • It causes massive displacement of people. Huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.
  • Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims link:

  1. Important ILR projects in India and geographical locations.
  2. Various National Parks and Tiger Reserves mentioned in this regard.
  3. National Perspective Plan – Key provisions and Mandate
  4. Which Ministry is Responsible? 
  5. Difference between Surplus Basin and Deficit Basin; Definition of River Basin itself
  6. Important Wetlands that are in the basins of above mentioned rivers

Mains Link:

Interlinking of rivers may address the issue of paucity of water but poses a serious threat to the indigenous ecological diversity of the said rivers. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Sukhna Lake is a living entity

What to study?

For Prelims: Legal entity- meaning, implications and previous examples, Sukhna Lake.

For Mains: Significance of this move and need for such protection.

Context: The Punjab and Haryana high court has declared Sukhna Lake a “living entity” or “legal person” with rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.

It also declared all citizens of Chandigarh as loco parentis (in the place of a parent) to save the lake from extinction.

Background:

The order was passed in a 2009 suo motu petition initiated amid depleting water level in the lake.

What the order says?

  1. Sukhna Lake will now be a legal entity for its survival, preservation and conservation.
  2. The Chandigarh administration has been directed to declare it a wetland within a period of three months.
  3. All structures in Sukhna’s catchment area (which was demarcated by the Survey of India in 2004) should be demolished, and affected owners whose building plans have been approved should be relocated in the vicinity of Chandigarh and they should be compensated with ₹25 lakh each.
  4. Chandigarh should ensure that the average capacity of the lake is increased by at least about 100-150 hectare by one-time large scale desilting.
  5. Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have also been told to lower the storage capacity of the check dams to ensure regular flow of water into the lake.
  6. Chandigarh will have to ensure that there is no seepage losses.
  7. The aquatic weeds are ordered to be removed within a period of six months.

Polluter pays principle:

Invoking the ‘polluter pays’ principle of environmental law, the Court said in its order: “The States should have taken precautionary measures to save the catchment of Sukhna lake. It is the duty of the States of Punjab and Haryana to restore the catchment area. The State government has also failed to take precautionary measures to save the catchment area. The damage caused to the catchment area is enormous.”

What is legal entity?

A legal entity means entity which acts like a natural person but only through a designated person, whose acts are processed within the ambit of law.

About Sukhna lake:

The man-made Sukhna Lake was built in 1958 by Le Corbusier, the architect of Chandigarh. Located in the foothills of the Shivalik Hills, it was designed to collect runoff water from the Hills. The Lake, which is in the process of being officially notified as a wetland, also has a nearby wildlife sanctuary that is home to sambar, pangolin, wild boars, red jungle fowl, cobras and other species.

Facts for Prelims:

In 2018, a bench presided over by justice Sharma had accorded the status of “legal person or entity” to animals in Haryana. In Uttarakhand high court, justice Sharma was part of a bench in 2017, which declared the Ganga and Yamuna as living entities, a verdict that was later stayed by the Supreme Court. In June 2019, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ruled that all animals, birds and aquatic life in Haryana would be accorded the status of legal persons or entities.

 

InstaLink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Location of Sukhna lake.
  2. Geographical location of such water bodies.
  3. Legal provisions in this regard.
  4. Status of legal persons or entities (Examples and Definition)
  5. List of Man-made and Natural Lakes near Himalayas (only large ones)
  6. Difference between Catchment area and Basin
  7. Pangolin – Reptile or Mammal? Similar confusing animal species
  8. Pangolin – most threatened mammal? Why? Similar species from India.

Mains Link:

What are legal entities? What rights do they enjoy?

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Foreigners being served ‘Leave India’ notices: How does Indian law define ‘anti-govt’ activities for them?

What to study?

For Prelims: Provisions regulating foreigners’ stay in India.

For Mains: How does Indian law define ‘anti-govt’ activities for them?

Context: Five foreigners had have asked to leave India for violating visa norms by participating in anti-CAA protests.

How does Indian law define ‘anti-govt’ activities for them?

According to visa guidelines laid out by the MHA, foreign nationals shall be required to strictly adhere to the purpose of visit declared while submitting the visa application. However, a foreign national (other than a Pakistani national) coming to India on any type of visa will be allowed to avail activities permitted under tourist visa. However, there are no provisions specified under “anti-government” activities subhead. The absence of any such provision in visa laws or Foreigner’s Act makes it necessary for the government to define “anti-government” activities under a statute.

What do ‘anti-government’ activities mean for an Indian national?

According to the lawyers, “anti-government” activities are those which are listed as punishable under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code. Section 124A  IPC states: “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 in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which a fine may be added; or, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added; or, with fine.”

Does a foreigner on Indian visa have a right to protest?

Right to protest peacefully is enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression. Article 19(1)(b) guarantees the citizens of the country the right to assemble peacefully and without arms. However , this fundamental right is available only to the citizens of India and not to the aliens. Hence, a foreigner on Indian Visa has not right to protest.

Can a foreigner be asked to leave India without specifying the act committed by him or her amounting to the order?

The government does not have unfettered powers to impose such an order without furnishing reasons. This was clarified by the Delhi High Court in a 2019 case, where a Pakistani national was served a leave India notice without specifying the reason.

Observations & Opinions made by the legal Experts :

  1. Despite fundamental rights being applicable only to the citizens of the country, with respect to Article 21, they can also be extended to foreigners.
  2. So, the government needs to list out the acts which it considers as anti-government before asking any foreigner to leave.

 

Insta link:

Prelims link:

a) Types of Visas

b)  Right to Protest and similar rights – their constitutional status

c) Legal and Constitutional differences – Indian Citizens vs Foreign citizens

d) Alien vs Enemy Alien concept (as per the Constitution of India)

e) Visa Guidelines – why MHA? why not External Affairs ministry? Similar guidelines and respective ministries

Mains Link:

How does Indian law define ‘anti-govt’ activities for foreigners? What are the constitutional rights enjoyed by foreigners in India? Discuss.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of PMBJP and Janaushadhi Suvidha.

For Mains: Health facilities for the underprivileged- need and efforts by the government, generic medicines and their increasing popularity worldwide.

Context: Janaushadhi week is being celebrated across the country from 1st March to 7th March 2020.

About PMBJP:

‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’ is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. Of India, to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency of PMBJP. BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE SCHEME:

  • Ensure access to quality medicines.
  • Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
  • Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price.
  • A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGO, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions.
  • Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.

What is a generic medicine?

There is no definition of generic or branded medicines under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules, 1945 made thereunder. However, generic medicines are generally those which contain same amount of same active ingredient(s) in same dosage form and are intended to be administered by the same route of administration as that of branded medicine.

The price of an unbranded generic version of a medicine is generally lower than the price of a corresponding branded medicine because in case of generic version, the pharmaceutical company does not have to spend money on promotion of its brand.

How are they regulated in India?

Drugs manufactured in the country, irrespective of whether they are generic or branded, are required to comply with the same standards as prescribed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules, 1945 made thereunder for their quality.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Regulation of generic medicines.
  2. What are Jan Aushadi Kendras?
  3. About BPPI.

 

Mains Link:

Write a note on Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana.

Sources: pib.

 

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

Govt. imposes curbs on drug exports

What to study?

For Prelims: What are APIs, drugs on which curbs have been imposed.

For Mains: Implications and concerns over these measures.

Context: India has restricted the export of common medicines such as paracetamol and 25 other pharmaceutical ingredients and drugs made from them, as it looked to prevent shortages amid concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak turning into a pandemic.

Drugs whose exports is restricted:

Besides over-the-counter painkiller and fever reducer paracetamol, drugs restricted for exports included common antibiotics metronidazole, those used to treat bacterial and other infections, as well as vitamin B1 and B12 ingredients.

Background:

In February, the Department of Pharmaceuticals asked the DGFT to issue orders restricting the export of 12 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

What’s the concern now?

Although India is source of about 20% of the world’s generic drug supply, pharmaceutical companies in the country are dependent on China for two-thirds of the chemical components needed to make them. The outbreak of COVID-19 has shut factories in China and impacted supplies, leading to fears of a shortage.

Implications:

This restriction has not gone down well with the exporters. For exporters, it is going to be a problem and will have an impact on reputation too.

What are APIs?

API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) means the active ingredient which is contained in medicine. For example, an active ingredient to relieve pain is included in a painkiller. This is called API. A small amount of the active ingredient has an effect, so only a tiny part of the active ingredient is contained in medicine.

Components of Medications:

All drugs are made up of two core components: the API, which is the central ingredient, and the excipient, the substances other than the drug that helps deliver the medication to your system. Excipients are chemically inactive substances, such as lactose or mineral oil in the pill.

Insta Link:

Prelims link:

  1. What are APIs?
  2. Other ingredients in a medicine?

 

Mains Link:

How imposing curbs on drugs export affect India’s image globally. Critically comment.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

What to study?

For Prelims: About CAA and OCHCR.

For Mains: Implications of CAA, international concerns and ways to address them.

Context: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “intends to file” an Intervention Application as amicus curiae (third party) in the Supreme Court of India, seeking to intervene in Writ Petition in ‘Deb Mukharji & Ors vs Union of India & Ors’ case which relates to a challenge to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019.

How can a UN body seek intervention in a case involving a domestic Indian law?

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. It is mandated to, Inter alia protect and promote all human rights and to conduct necessary advocacy in that regard, established pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/141. It also has to promote adherence to international human rights law and, with this purpose in mind, to support domestic courts, with their constitutional or judicial function, in ensuring the implementation of international legal obligations. This is the basis for seeking intervention.

What exactly does the intervention application say? What are the issues raised wrt to CAA?

The CAA, it says, raises “important human rights issues, including its compatibility in relation to the right to equality before the law and nondiscrimination on nationality grounds under India’s human rights obligations”.

  • It questions the reasonableness and objectivity of the criterion of extending the benefits of the CAA to Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan alone.
  • Muslim community is also affected: It points out that while the Indian government has suggested that persons of Muslim faith, regardless of denomination or ethnicity, are protected in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, recent reports by UN human rights treaty bodies, special procedures and other mechanisms show that Ahmadi, Hazara and Shia Muslims in these countries warrant protection on the same basis as that provided in the preferential treatment proposed by the CAA.

Significance of this intervention:

The issue of nondiscrimination on nationality grounds falls outside the scope of this intervention, but this in no way implies that there are not human rights concerns in this respect.

Way ahead:

India has the history of openness and has exhibited to persons seeking to find a safer, more dignified life within its borders. But, the CAA’s stated purpose is protection of some persons from persecution on religious grounds, simplifying procedures and requirements and facilitating the granting of citizenship to such persons, including migrants in an irregular situation, as well as refugees, from certain neighbouring countries. This selective application of law goes against the very basic right which guarantees equality. In this background, it is necessary to revisit the law, say experts.

In this regard, some central principles of international human rights law can be considered. These include:

  1. Enjoyment of human rights by all migrants and the rights of all migrants (non-citizens) to equality before the law.
  2. The principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers to a country where they are likely to be persecuted.
  3. All migrants “regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality and/or immigration status enjoy human rights and are entitled to protection”.
  4. International human rights law “requires the granting of citizenship under law to conform to the right of all persons to equality before the law and to be free from prohibited discrimination”.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. What RPA and constitution say on citizenship?
  2. Grant of citizenship in India.
  3. How can it be revoked?
  4. Provisions related to equality in Constitution.

Mains Link:

The Citizenship Amendment Act is being criticised at the international level. Discuss.

 

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Black carbon levels spike at Himalayan glaciers

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings of the study, Black Carbon- generation, effects and concerns.

For Mains: Concerns raised on varying levels of black Carbon in India, measures needed.

Context: Researchers recently conducted a study on varying levels of Black Carbon in Himalayas.

Key findings:

  1. Black carbon concentrations near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste, and triggered glacial melt.
  2. The monthly mean concentration of EBC (equivalent black carbon) was found to be minimum in August and maximum in the month of May. The observed seasonal mean concentrations of EBC indicated a pristine glacial source and an absence of EBC sources in the locality.
  3. The concentration varied from a minimum of 0.01μg/cubic metre in winter to 4.62μg/cubic metre during summer. Being a pristine zone far from sources of pollution, the measurements are critical to establishing a baseline for pollution loads and estimating the contribution of various sources to pollution.

What is black Carbon? What are the concerns?

Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. BC is produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. Primary sources include emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires. 

Concerns associated:

  1. The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide.
  2. It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2. But unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.
  3. Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.
  4. India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, says an April 2019 study in the journal Atmospheric Research, with the Indo Gangetic plains said to be the largest contributor.

Facts for Prelims:

Complete combustion would turn all carbon in the fuel into carbon dioxide (CO2), but combustion is never complete and CO2, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and organic carbon and black carbon particles are all formed in the process. The complex mixture of particulate matter resulting from incomplete combustion is often referred to as soot.

Insta Link:

Prelims link:

  1. Other byproducts of combustion of fossil fuels.
  2. Other contributors to climate change.

 

Mains Link:

Write a note on black Carbon and it’s effects on the environment.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT):

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.

It is also the appellate tribunal for hearing appeals against orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Composition:

Chief Justice of India or his nominee- Chairperson.

  • A senior judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of High Court.
  • Secretary in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • Secretary in the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • Secretary in the Department of Financial Services.

Appeal:

NCLAT decisions can be challenged in the Supreme Court on a point of law.

Statements in Hindu which can be used in Mains:

  1. On COVID- 19:

The world has entered uncharted territory in its battle against the deadly coronavirus, the UN health agency warned, as new infections dropped dramatically in China but surged elsewhere.