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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 14 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. What is a floor test or trust vote?

2. Delhi Assembly passes resolution against NPR, NRC.

3. What is Essential Commodities Act?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Karnataka seeks quota for locals.

2. National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is Dearness Allowance?

2. Bull and Bear Markets.

3. What are blue chip stocks?

4. Coronavirus strain isolated in India.

5. What is sepsis, a common cause of death from coronavirus?

6. What is Pi Day?

7. What is circuit breaker in stock market?

 

PIB one liner facts.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

What is a floor test or trust vote?

What to study?

For Prelims: What is it? How is it carried out?

For Mains: Significance and the need for this procedure.

 Context: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has requested Governor Lalji Tandon to hold a floor test in the Assembly session starting from March 16, on a date fixed by the Speaker.

What is a floor test or trust vote?

A floor test is a constitutional mechanism. It is used to determine if the incumbent government enjoys the support of the legislature.

How it takes place?

  1. This voting process happen in the state’s Legislative Assembly or the Lok Sabha at the central level.
  2. Technically, the chief minister of a state is appointed by the Governor. The appointed chief minister usually belongs to the single largest party or the coalition which has the ‘magic number’. The magic number is the total number of seats required to form a government, or stay in power. It is the half-way mark, plus one. In case of a tie, the Speaker casts the deciding vote.
  3. However, at times, a government’s majority can be questioned. The leader of the party claiming majority has to move a vote of confidence.
  4. If some MLAs remain absent or abstain from voting, the majority is counted on the basis of those present and voting. This effectively reduces the strength of the House and in turn brings down the majority-mark.
  5. The voting process can happen orally, with electronic gadgets or a ballot process.
  6. The Governor can also ask the Chief Minister to prove his or her majority in the House if the stability of the government comes into question.

Composite floor test:

While there is another test, Composite floor test, which is necessitated when more than one person stake the claim to form the government and the majority is not clear.

Governor may call a special session to assess who has the majority. The majority is counted based on those present and voting and this can be done through voice vote also.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Floor test vs Composite floor test.
  2. Majority required to form the govt.
  3. Voting during floor test.
  4. Appointment of Chief Minister when there is clear majority vs Hung assembly.
  5. Can speaker cast his vote?

Mains Link:

Ambiguity in the law on conducting floor tests often lead to abuses and misuses. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Delhi Assembly passes resolution against NPR, NRC

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of NPR, NRC and can states deny centre’s directions?

For Mains: Implications and outcomes of such acts.

Context: Delhi Assembly passes resolution against NPR, NRC.

As many as 11 Indian States have passed a resolution against the NRC and the NPR.

Can States Refuse To Implement NPR And NRC? What Does The Constitution Say?

Under Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the subject of citizenship, naturalisation and aliens (foreigners) finds mention exclusively in the Union List which contains a total of 97 subjects.

So, citizenship and the laws related to it are exclusively in the domain of the central government and the refusal by states to implement NRC or NPR has no legal ground.

 What can the states do?

The state governments can move the courts to challenge the central government but a refusal to implement is not within their powers. Article 365 of the Constitution makes it mandatory for the state governments to follow and implement the directions of the Central government, failing which the President can hold that the state government cannot carry on.

Why states’ cooperation is necessary?

  • For all practical purposes, a nationwide NRC is impossible without the help of the state governments.
  • It’s a huge exercise which involves use of massive administrative machinery. Central government cannot send its officers without the protection provided by the states’ law and order machinery. Hence, it will be difficult to go ahead without the co-operation of the state governments.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Article 365 and the power of States.
  2. Citizenship under 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  3. NPR vs NRC.

Mains Link:

Can States Refuse To Implement NPR And NRC? What Does The Constitution Say? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

What is Essential Commodities Act?

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the Act.

For Mains: Need for and significance of the act, reforms needed.

Context: Govt brings masks and hand sanitizers under the Essential Commodities Act.

Under the EC Act, powers of the Central Government have already been delegated to the States by way of orders during 1972 to 1978.  The States/UTs, therefore may take action against the offenders.

Background:

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered panic buying of masks and hand sanitisers at many places around the world, including in India.

The government’s order has come in the wake of reports of a shortage of these commodities and a sudden and sharp spike in their prices, and the alleged hoarding of stocks by manufacturers.

What is Essential Commodities Act?

The ECA was enacted way back in 1955.

It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.

The list of items under the Act include drugs, fertilisers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.

The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.

Under the Act, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.

How it works?

  1. If the Centre finds that a certain commodity is in short supply and its price is spiking, it can notify stock-holding limits on it for a specified period.
  2. The States act on this notification to specify limits and take steps to ensure that these are adhered to.
  3. Anybody trading or dealing in a commodity , be it wholesalers, retailers or even importers are prevented from stockpiling it beyond a certain quantity.
  4. A State can, however, choose not to impose any restrictions. But once it does, traders have to immediately sell into the market any stocks held beyond the mandated quantity.

But, why the recent Economic Survey said that this act is outdated and must go?

  1. In September 2019, the Centre invoked the ECA Act’s provisions to impose stock limits on onions after heavy rains wiped out a quarter of the kharif crop and led to a sustained spike in prices.
  2. Although the restrictions on both retail and wholesale traders were meant to prevent hoarding and enhance supply in the market, the Survey showed that there was actually an increase in price volatility and a widening wedge between wholesale and retail prices.
  3. This is due to the fact that ECA act fails to differentiate between hoarding and Storage.
  4. Thus in the long term, the Act disincentivises development of storage infrastructure, thereby leading to increased volatility in prices following production/ consumption shocks — the opposite of what it is intended for.
  5. The report finds that the ECA has been enacted in the year 1955, when the economy was ravaged by famine and food shortages. The government should note that today’s scenario is much more different.

Why is it important?

The ECA gives consumers protection against irrational spikes in prices of essential commodities.

The Government has invoked the Act umpteen times to ensure adequate supplies.

It cracks down on hoarders and black-marketeers of such commodities.

State agencies conduct raids to get everyone to toe the line and the errant are punished.

Conclusion:

Without the ECA the common man would be at the mercy of opportunistic traders and shopkeepers. It empowers the government to control prices directly too.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Items included under the Act.
  2. Powers to include and remove commodities from the list.
  3. Is it mandatory for the states to follow centre’s guidelines?
  4. When and who releases the Economic Survey?
  5. Can the govt fix MRP of a product under this act?

Mains:

Discuss the significance of Essential Commodities Act. Why the recent Economic Survey said that this act is outdated and must go? Discuss.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Employment related issues.

Karnataka seeks quota for locals

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 insisted that private companies provide 80% reservation in jobs for locals (Kannada-speaking people) in all categories.

The government has already amended the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules, 1961, to reserve 100% for group ‘C’ and group ‘D’ jobs for locals in the private sector. The government last year amended the rules to allow this.

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.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Reservations vs Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution.
  2. How and where reservations for locals are provided in Karnataka?

Mains Link:

Amendments to the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules of 1961 seek to implement 100% reservation for Kannadigas in private jobs. Is it a good policy move? Critically analyse.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

What to study?

For Prelims: NCAP- features and targets.

For Mains: Significance, challenges in its implementation and measures needed to improve its outcomes.

Context: Union Environment Ministry has asked for city-level plans for the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as these problems need to be dealt with at the local level.

What is the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)?

Launched in January 2019, it is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.

The programme will not be notified under the Environment Protection Act or any other Act to create a firm mandate with a strong legal back up for cities and regions to implement NCAP in a time bound manner for effective reduction.

The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.

What are Non-attainment?

Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.

Key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

Clearing_the_air

Target: Achieve a national-level target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.

 Implementation: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.

As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India. At least 4,000 monitors are needed across the country, instead of the existing 101 real-time air quality (AQ) monitors, according to an analysis.

The plan proposes a three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards.

It also proposes state-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries.

 Various committees proposed: The national plan has proposed setting up an apex committee under environment minister, a steering committee under-secretary (environment) and a monitoring committee under a joint secretary. There would be project monitoring committees at the state-level with scientists and trained personnel.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Is NCAP notified under any existing act?
  2. Attainment vs Non- attainment cities.
  3. Role and functions of CPCB under NCAP.
  4. PM 2.5 vs 5.

Mains Link:

There is a need for National Clean Air Programme to create room for tighter action and better fiscal strategy . Examine.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

What is Dearness Allowance?

  • Dearness allowance is a cost of living adjustment allowance paid to government employees, public sector employees and pensioners and is calculated as a percentage of basic salary to mitigate the impact of inflation.
  • It can be basically understood as a component of salary which is some fixed percentage of the basic salary, aimed at hedging the impact of inflation.

 

Bull and Bear Markets:

The terms bull and bear market are used to describe how stock markets are doing in general—that is, whether they are appreciating or depreciating in value. 

A bull market is a market that is on the rise and is economically sound, while a bear market is a market that is receding, where most stocks are declining in value.

 

What are blue chip stocks?

  • Blue chip stocks are shares of very large and well-recognised companies with a long history of sound financial performance.
  • These stocks are known to have capabilities to endure tough market conditions and give high returns in good market conditions.
  • Blue chip stocks generally cost high, as they have good reputation and are often market leaders in their respective industries. 

 

Coronavirus strain isolated in India:

India is only the fifth country in the world besides Japan, Thailand, U.S. and China to have successfully isolated the COVID-19 virus strain, helping it take the first step towards expediting the development of drugs, vaccines and rapid diagnostic kits in the country.

 

What is sepsis, a common cause of death from coronavirus?

  • Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by the body’s immune system overreacting in response to an infection. This overactive, toxic response can lead to tissue damage, multiple organ failure and death.
  • Viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites — sepsis can be triggered by a variety of pathogens.
  • The causes of sepsis are usually pneumonia, wound infections, urinary tract infections or infections in the abdominal cavity.
  • Ebola and yellow fever viruses, dengue, swine flu or bird flu viruses can also cause sepsis.

 

What is Pi Day?

MARCH 14 is Pi Day, a celebration of the beloved constant pi. 

It is dedicated to pi, whose value up to five decimal places is 3.14159.

  • The idea originated in the United States, where the convention is to write dates in a format that expresses March 14 as 3/14. These three digits match the value of pi up to two decimal places, at 3.14.
  • Coincidentally, March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.
  • By definition, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle — any circle — to its diameter. The ratio is always constant.
  • Pi is also the area of a circle divided by the square of its radius — again a constant ratio for any circle. 

 

What is circuit breaker in stock market?

In June 2001, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) implemented index-based market-wide circuit breakers.

  • Circuit breakers are triggered to prevent markets from crashing, which happens when market participants start to panic induced by fears that their stocks are overvalued and decide to sell their stocks.
    This index-based market-wide circuit breaker system applies at three stages of the index movement, at 10, 15 and 20 per cent.
  • Implications: When triggered, these circuit breakers bring about a coordinated trading halt in all equity and equity derivative markets nationwide.

 


PIB- one liner facts


 

  1. Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme is being implemented for holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo. 
  2. National Food Security Mission (NFSM) is being implemented in identified districts of 28 States and 2 UTs viz. Ladakh and J&K of the country to increase the production and productivity of rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals and nutri- cereals (millets) through area expansion and productivity enhancement.
  3. Under, ParamparagatKrishiVikasYojana (PKVY), assistance of Rs. 50,000 per hectare for 3 years is provided, out of which Rs. 31,000 (62%) is given to the farmers directly through DBT, for inputs (bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides, vermicompost, botanical extracts, etc.) production/ procurement, post-harvest management etc.
  4. The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is 3rd largest in the world in terms of volume and 14th largest in terms of value.
  5. Wings India 2020, the biennial civil aviation and aerospace event was launched recently at Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad. The event is being organised by Ministry of Civil Aviation along with Airports Authority of India and FICCI(Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry). 
  6. The government has invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005, since it provides for an exhaustive administrative set up for disaster preparedness. Accordingly, the Union Home Secretary, who is the chairperson of the National Executive Committee under the Act delegated his powers to the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Welfare.
  7. Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK)has been launched with the objective to eliminate out of pocket expenses for both pregnant women and sick infants accessing public health institution for treatment.
  8. As per the report titled SRS Based Life Table 2013-17 published by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, Government of India, the average life expectancy at birth has increased from 47 during 1970-75 to 69.0 in 2013-17, registering an increase of 19.3 years during this period. The life expectancy at birth for male and female during 2013-17 were 67.8 and 70.4 years respectively. 
  9. Yatri Mitra Sewa has been introduced at major railway stations for enabling passengers to book wheel chairs services cum porter services free of cost through NGOs, Charitable Trust, PSUs etc under CSR and responsibility of providing this facility has been entrusted with IRCTC.
  10. At present, Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor is the only sanctioned High Speed Rail Project, which is under execution with technical and financial assistance from Govt. of Japan.
  11. The BhoomiRashi Portal lunched on 01.04.2018 as a major e-Governance initiative of the Ministry of the Road Transport & Highways, has expedited significantly the process of land acquisition for National Highways, making it error-free & more transparent with notifications at every stage being processed on real time basis.
  12. The National Biopharma Mission (NBM), implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), is an industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country. Under this Mission the Government has launched Innovate in India (i3) programme to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector. 
  13. Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship promotes establishment of model and aspirational skill centres known as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) in every district in the country for imparting skill training in the districts. For establishment of PMKK, Capital Expenditure upto 75% of the project investment as well as operational support is provided through the implementing agency – the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). 
  14. National Creche Scheme (earlier named as Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme) is being implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to provide day care facilities to children (age group of 6 months to 6 years) of working mothers.