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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 13 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. What is the Anti Defection Law and how is it implemented?

2. The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

3. Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020.

4. Foreigners Tribunals.

5. Avian influenza (bird flu).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. CRIME MULTI AGENCY CENTRE (Cri-MAC).

2. Only one white giraffe left in the world.

3. India becomes first country to suspend visas of all foreign nationals.

4. Oculudentavis khaungraae.

5. ‘Restaurant’ for vultures in HP wild life sanctuary.

 

PIB one line facts.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

What is the Anti Defection Law and how is it implemented?

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: The crisis in Madhya Pradesh is not going to end anytime soon. The Speaker’s role would come into play whether it comes to deciding on the resignations or disqualifying the MLAs.

The Tenth Schedule, technicalities and also the Anti Defection Law would be cited during the crisis. Ultimately the matter could also end up in the Supreme Court.

What is the anti-defection law?

The Tenth Schedule was 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.

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

Advantages of anti-defection law:

  1. Provides stability to 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 merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  5. Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
  6. Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.

Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:

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

A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party

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.

  1. Law Commission (170th Report)

Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.

Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection

Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

  1. Election Commission:

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

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Names of various committees and commissions with regard to Anti Defection law.
  2. Decision of presiding officer vs Judicial review.
  3. Grounds for disqualification and recent examples.
  4. Relevant Supreme Court cases and verdicts.

Mains Link:

Examine the provisions of Anti- defection law. Has this law largely failed to meet its objective? Discuss.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Key provisions.

For Mains: Key changes introduced and their significance.

Context: The Bill was recently passed by the Parliament.

This was covered recently on:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/03/07/mineral-laws-amendment-bill-2020/.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Major vs minor minerals, their regulation.
  2. Grant of permission for mining various minerals.
  3. New mining targets set by the government.
  4. FDI in mining.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the Bill.

For Mains: Significance of the changes introduced.

Context: Major Port Authorities Bill 2020 Introduced in The Loksabha.

 Aims and objectives:

  1. Decentralise decision making and infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.
  2. Impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.
  3. Reorient the governance model in central ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice.

Implications:

The bill will replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

This will empower the Major Ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision making and by modernizing the institutional framework of Major Ports. 

The salient features of the Major Port Authorities Bill 2020 are:

  1. Compared to the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 the bill reduces the number of sections to 76 from 134 by eliminating overlapping and obsolete Sections.
  2. Simplified composition of the Board of Port Authority which will comprise of 11 to 13 Members from the present 17 to 19 Members representing various interests.
  3. Provision has been made for inclusion of representative of State Government in which the Major Port is situated, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Defence and Customs, Department of Revenue as Members in the Board apart from a Government Nominee Member and a Member representing the employees of the Major Port Authority.
  4. Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has now been given powers to fix tariff which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for PPP projects.  PPP operators will be free to fix tariff based on market conditions.
  5. An Adjudicatory Board has been proposed to be created to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires, to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects.
  6. The Boards of Port Authority have been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default.
  7. The Board of each Major Port shall be entitled to create specific master plan in respect of any development or infrastructure established or proposed to be established within the port limits and the land appurtenant thereto and such master plan shall be independent of any local or State Government regulations of any authority whatsoever.
  8. Provision has been made for safeguarding the pay & allowances and service conditions including pensionary benefits of the employees of major ports and Tariff of Major Ports.

What is landlord model?

  1. In the landlord port model, the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord while private companies carry out port operations—mainly cargo-handling activities.
  2. Here, the port authority maintains ownership of the port while the infrastructure is leased to private firms that provide and maintain their own superstructure and install own equipment to handle cargo.
  3. In return, the landlord port gets a share of the revenue from the private entity.
  4. The role of the landlord port authority would be to carry out all public sector services and operations such as the award of bids for cargo terminals and dredging.

Need:

  1. Currently, most major port trusts in India carry out terminal operations as well, resulting in a hybrid model of port governance.
  2. The involvement of the port authorities in terminal operations leads to a conflict of interest and works against objectivity.
  3. The neutrality of the landlord port authority is a basic requirement for fair competition between port service providers, particularly the terminal operators.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Major vs Minor ports, locations of major ports in India and their governance.
  2. Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 vs Major Port Authorities Bill 2020.
  3. Landlord port model.
  4. Composition of Board of Port Authority.
  5. Role of state governments in creating specific master plan for ports located there.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Landlord Port model.

Sources: pib.

 

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.

Foreigners Tribunals

What to study?

For Prelims: Composition, need, powers and functions of these tribunals.

For Mains: Concerns over their functioning and reforms needed.

Context: A series of judgments delivered by the Gauhati High Court over the course of the last few weeks has brought into sharp focus the utter brutality of the regime governing the Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam.

 What is a Foreigners tribunal?

In 1964, the govt brought in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order.

Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.

Who can setup these tribunals?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Typically, the tribunals there have seen two kinds of cases: those concerning persons against whom a reference has been made by the border police and those whose names in the electoral roll has a “D”, or “doubtful”, marked against them.

Who can approach?

The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals. Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.

 How a person is declared foreigner by these tribunals?

Foreigners Tribunals, quasi-judicial authorities in Assam, have been deciding on matters pertaining to citizenship in order to identify foreigners.

  1. The process begins by the border police or the Election Commission referring the case of a suspected foreigner to the Foreigners Tribunal.
  2. The tribunal calls on the person to appear before it and prove that they are not a foreigner, and then passes an order in favour or against them.

Identity documentation:

  1. Persons appearing before Foreigners Tribunals need to produce identity documentation proving that they were born in India and are descended from persons who entered India before March 24, 1971.
  2. Such persons are allowed to produce secondary evidence such as university certificates or gaon panchayat certificates for this purpose. 
  3. However, in order for such secondary evidence to be considered valid proof of their presence in India pre-1971, the person issuing the certificate must appear before the tribunal to testify and prove that the document is genuine.

What’s the issue now?

One in two people are declared foreigners because issuing authorities fail to appear before the Foreigners Tribunals to testify that the documents produced are genuine and true to their knowledge. The consequence of this lackadaisical approach is a drastic loss of right and liberty.

Reforms needed:

  1. Any such exercise demands a robust process that minimizes data infirmities.
  2. This would mean a complete rehaul of the methods used in Assam.
  3. Also, those who don’t make it to the list should get adequate legal recourse.

Need for reforms:

A person’s citizenship is a basic human right. Declaring people foreigners in haste without judicially verifying their credentials can leave many human beings stateless.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act vs Foreigners Tribunal (Order) 1964.
  2. Burden of proof under this order.
  3. Powers to approach the tribunal and kind of cases to be decided by the tribunal.
  4. Members of the tribunal.
  5. NPR vs NRC.
  6. Geographical locations of Assam and other NE states.

Mains Link:

Discuss briefly the laws that are in place to tackle illegal non-citizens in the country. Why was the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 amended? Explain.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Avian influenza (bird flu)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Symptoms, spread and treatment.

 Context: Suspected cases of avian influenza (bird flu) are being reported from various parts of Kerala.

So, the Kerala government has decided to pay compensation to the owners of the hens which were culled as part of the government’s precautionary measures following the outbreak of bird flu.

About Avian influenza (bird flu):

It is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.

It is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds. 

Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.

Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). 

What causes bird flu?

  • Although there are several types of bird flu, H5N1 was the first avian influenza virus to infect humans. The first infection occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. The outbreak was linked to handling infected poultry.
  • H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, but it can spread easily to domestic poultry. The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird feces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

How H5N1 affects humans? 

The symptoms of an H5N1 infection in humans include mild upper respiratory tract infection (fever and cough), early sputum production and rapid progression to severe pneumonia. It can lead to sepsis with shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome and even death.

Prevention: Strict biosecurity measures and good hygiene are essential in protecting against disease outbreaks.

Is India really free from Avian Influenza?

With effect from September 3, 2019 the OIE-World Organisation for Animal Health declared India free of H5N1 virus.

India was last declared free of the disease in 2017.

The status was to last only till another outbreak is reported.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. When a country is declared free from Avian Influenza, who declares it?
  2. H5N1 vs H5N6 vs H9N2.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Bird Flu. Discuss how it can be prevented.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

Amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the IT Act, amendments proposed.

For Mains: Significance and the need for amendments, concerns associated.

Context: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is in the process of amending the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, to make the social media platforms more responsive and accountable. The rules are being finalised.

The government had first released the draft for proposed amendments to the IT Act in December 2018, inviting public comments.

Background:

In December 2018, to crack down on spread of fake news and rumours circulated on online platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and other online platforms, the central government has proposed stringent changes under the draft of Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) that govern online content.

Implications:

The proposed amendments in the draft of the Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018, Rule 3(9) is bound to force social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter to remain vigil and keep users on their toes before posting or sharing anything that is deemed as “unlawful information or content”.

The changes proposed by the central government is aimed at curbing fake news or rumours being spread on social media and check mob violence ahead.

 What the new rules propose?

  1. The changes will require online platforms to break end-to-end encryption in order to ascertain the origin of messages.
  2. The social media platforms to “deploy technology based automated tools or appropriate mechanisms, with appropriate controls, for proactively identifying or removing or disabling access to unlawful information or content”.
  3. As per the amendment, the social media platforms will need to comply with the central government “within 72 hours” of a query.
  4. There should be a ‘Nodal person of Contact for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance.
  5. The social media platforms will be keeping a vigil on “unlawful activity” for a period of “180 days”.

What necessitated this?

With concerns over “rising incidents of violence and lynching in the country due to misuse of social media platforms”, there is now need for online platforms to shoulder the “responsibility, accountability and larger commitment to ensure that its platform is not misused on a large scale to spread incorrect facts projected as news and designed to instigate people to commit crime”.

Criticisms:

The proposed changes have once again given rise to a debate on whether the government is intruding into the privacy of individuals, evoking sharp response from opposition parties. Similar apprehensions were raised with the Section 66A of the IT Act that enabled authorities to arrest users for posting content which was termed as offensive. However, the Supreme Court on March 24, 2015, struck down the law.

Need for stringent measures:

India has the second highest number of internet users in the world after China, an estimated 462.12 million. Among them, 258.27 million were likely to be social network users in the country in 2019.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Section 79 vs Section 66A of the IT Act.
  2. UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.
  3. Digital signatures.

Mains Link:

India is planning to frame rules to regulate social media citing unimaginable disruption to democracy and the growing menace of fake news. In this context discuss what are the concerns raised by Social Media intermediaries? And suggest way forward.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

CRIME MULTI AGENCY CENTRE (Cri-MAC):

Context: Union Home Minister launched Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC).

  • Cri-MAC aims to share information between various police forces on heinous crimes.
  • It is meant to share information on heinous crimes and other issues related to inter-state coordination. 

 

Only one white giraffe left in the world:

Context: Poachers have killed two extremely rare white giraffes in northeast Kenya, leaving just one such animal in the world.

Key facts:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had classified giraffes as vulnerable in the Red List in December 2016.
  • They are listed under Appendix II of the CITES.

Why is the white colour?

The white appearance of the giraffe is due to leucism, a genetic condition that causes skin cells to have no pigmentation.

Leucism is different from albinism where no melanin is produced at all. 

 

India becomes first country to suspend visas of all foreign nationals:

  • The Indian government has suspended visas for foreign nationals from all across the globe owing to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The decision will come into effect from March 13, 2020.
  • India is the first among more than 120 countries affected by this outbreak to take such a drastic step.
  • The visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders has also been kept in abeyance till April 15, 2020.

 

Oculudentavis khaungraae:

  • It is the smallest dinosaur discovered yet.
  • The scientists found the fossilised skull of a dinosaur — the size of a modern hummingbird — trapped in a 99-million-year-old amber in northern Myanmar.
  • The fossil represented the smallest dinosaur from the Mesozoic era — about 250 million to 65 million years ago.

Oculudentavis

‘Restaurant’ for vultures in HP wild life sanctuary:

  • It is a feeding station for vultures in the Pong Dam Lake Wild Life sanctuary in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • It has been set up as a part of state wildlife wing’s ongoing project to conserve the big scavenging bird in natural habitat, whose numbers showed a critical decline in the past decades in Indian sub-continent.
  • Measuring 100 meters x 100 meters with seven feet high fencing at an open space in Suknara near Nagrota Surian in Pong wetland, the ‘Vulture Restaurant’ provides deskinned carcasses to vultures.
  • There are seven species of vultures in the new world and 16 species in the old world that includes Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, etc. Out of 16 in the old world, eight species (including Himalayan Griffon, Eurasian Griffon) have been reported in Kangra district also.

 


PIB one line facts


 

(Note: Many facts are being mentioned by various ministers at the ongoing session of the Parliament. So, in this section, we are trying to provide such one- line facts which are relevant mainly for Prelims.)

  1. As per the recent report of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) – 4 conducted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2015-16, 9% women (15-49 years of age) are underweight (BMI less than 18.5 kg/m2). The top States having highest percentage of malnutrition among women are Jharkhand (31.5%) and Bihar (30.4%).
  2. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing a centrally sponsored Child Protection Services (CPS) Scheme (erstwhile Integrated Child Protection Scheme) for supporting the children in difficult circumstances. CPS also provides for “After care” services after the age of 18 years to help sustain them during the transition from institutional to independent life.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) has various componentsAccelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), PMKSY –Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP) including Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM), Surface-Minor Irrigation (SMI) and Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies [Implemented by DoWR, RD & GR, MoJS],  PMKSY-Per Drop More Crop (PDMC) [Implemented by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare] and PMKSY- Watershed Development Component(WDC) [Implemented by Department of Land Resources].
  4. Water being a State subject, initiatives on sustainable water management including conservation and water harvesting in the Country is primarily States’ responsibility.  
  5. Schemes by various States in the field of water conservation/harvesting: ‘Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan’ in Rajasthan, ‘Jalyukt Shibar’ in Maharashtra, ‘Sujalam Sufalam Abhiyan’ in Gujarat, ‘Mission Kakatiya’ in Telangana, Neeru Chettu’ in Andhra Pradesh, Jal Jeevan Hariyali in Bihar, ‘Jal Hi Jeevan’ in Haryana among others.
  6. Ministry of Tribal Affairs supports the proposals for construction of vocational training centres received from State Governments through Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution and under the scheme of Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme (SCA to TSS). These centres are managed by concerned State Governments only. 
  7. Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) is a charter established and managed by the UK Equality Challenge Unit in 2005 that recognises and celebrates good practices in higher education and research institutions towards the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.
  8. Under Nidhi Rules, 2014, ‘Nidhi’ is a company which has been incorporated as a Nidhi with the object of cultivating the habit of thrift and saving amongst its members, receiving deposits from, and lending to, its members only, for their mutual benefit. Nidhi Company is a type of Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC).