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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 30 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Manipur MLA Shyamkumar disqualified for defection.

2. Why has Kerala sought a relaxation of FRBM rules?

3. Business Immunity Platform.

4. National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Convalescent plasma therapy.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Himalayan Ibex.

2. National Executive Committee.

3. Exercise Red Flag.

4. PM- CARES fund.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Manipur MLA Shyamkumar disqualified for defection

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: Manipur Speaker Yumnam Khemchand has disqualified Thounaojam Shyamkumar as a member of the Assembly for defection.

What is the issue?

Shyamkumar had joined the BJP shortly after being voted to power on a Congress ticket during the 2017 Assembly polls.

This was clearly in violation of the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India.

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. Committees vs Commissions.
  3. Decision of presiding officer vs Judicial review.
  4. Merger vs Split of political parties.
  5. Is anti- defection law applicable to the presiding officer?
  6. 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.

Why has Kerala sought a relaxation of FRBM rules?

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of FRBM act and targets set.

For Mains: Performance of the act.

Context: To help fund the emergency relief package, Kerala proposes to borrow as much as ₹12,500 crore from the market in April itself and therefore the Chief Minister has urged the Centre to provide Kerala with flexibility under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act so as to ensure that the State’s finances are not adversely impacted in the rest of the financial year starting on April 1.

Background:

Kerala was one of the earliest States to announce an economic package of ₹20,000 crore to mitigate the impact on livelihoods and overall economic activity from the sweeping steps taken to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest 21-day nationwide lockdown.

How does a relaxation of the FRBM work?

The law does contain what is commonly referred to as an ‘escape clause’.

Under Section 4(2) of the Act, the Centre can exceed the annual fiscal deficit target citing grounds that include national security, war, national calamity, collapse of agriculture, structural reforms and decline in real output growth of a quarter by at least three percentage points below the average of the previous four quarters.

What is the FRBM Act?

The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act), 2003, establishes financial discipline to reduce fiscal deficit.

What are the objectives of the FRBM Act?

  1. The FRBM Act aims to introduce transparency in India’s fiscal management systems.
  2. The Act’s long-term objective is for India to achieve fiscal stability and to give the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) flexibility to deal with inflation in India.
  3. The Act was enacted to introduce more equitable distribution of India’s debt over the years.

Key features of the FRBM Act:

The FRBM Act made it mandatory for the government to place the following along with the Union Budget documents in Parliament annually:

  1. Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement.
  2. Macroeconomic Framework Statement.
  3. Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement.

The FRBM Act proposed that revenue deficit, fiscal deficit, tax revenue and the total outstanding liabilities be projected as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in the medium-term fiscal policy statement.

Amendments:

The Act has been amended several times.

In 2013, the government introduced a change and introduced the concept of effective revenue deficit. This implies that effective revenue deficit would be equal to revenue deficit minus grants to states for the creation of capital assets.

In 2016, a committee under N K Singh was set up to suggest changes to the Act. According to the government, the targets set under FRBM Act previously were too rigid.

N K Singh Committee’s recommendations were as follows:

Targets: The committee suggested using debt as the primary target for fiscal policy and that the target must be achieved by 2023.

Fiscal Council: The committee proposed to create an autonomous Fiscal Council with a chairperson and two members appointed by the Centre (not employees of the government at the time of appointment).

Deviations: The committee suggested that the grounds for the government to deviate from the FRBM Act targets should be clearly specified

Borrowings: According to the suggestions of the committee, the government must not borrow from the RBI, except when:

  1. The Centre has to meet a temporary shortfall in receipts.
  2. RBI subscribes to government securities to finance any deviations.
  3. RBI purchases government securities from the secondary market.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Business Immunity Platform

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview and key features of the platform, about Invest India.

Context: Invest India has launched The Invest India Business Immunity Platform.

About Business Immunity Platform:

  1. The platform is designed as a comprehensive resource to help businesses and investors get real-time updates on India’s active response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
  2. This dynamic and constantly updating platform keeps a regular track on developments with respect to the virus, provides latest information on various central and state government initiatives, gives access to special provisions, and answers and resolves queries through emails and on WhatsApp.
  3. It is the active platform for business issue redressal, operating 24/7, with a team of dedicated sector experts and responding to queries at the earliest.

What is Invest India?

  • Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India, set up as a non-profit venture under the aegis of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
  • It facilitates and empowers all investors under the ‘Make in India’ initiative to establish, operate and expand their businesses in India.
  • Operationalized in early 2010, Invest India is set up as a joint venture company between the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) (now renamed as Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (35% equity), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity), and State Governments of India (0.5% each).

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC)

Context: Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched the National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC).

  • The project CoNTeC, an acronym for COVID-19 National Teleconsultation Centre, has been conceptualised by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and has been implemented by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

How it works?

  • The CoNTeC is a Telemedicine Hub established by AIIMS, New Delhi, wherein expert doctors from various clinical domains will be available 24×7 to answer the multifaceted questionsfrom specialists from all over the country.
  • It is a multi-modal telecommunications hub through which 2-way audio-video and text communications can be undertaken from any part of the country as well as the world at large.
  • The modes of communication will include simple mobile telephony as well as two way video communications, using WhatsApp, Skype and Google Duo.

How to Contact the CoNTeC?

A single mobile number (+91 9115444155) can be dialled from anywhere in the coutnry/world by COVID-19 treating doctors to reach the CoNTeC which has six lines that can be used simultaneously at present.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Biotech related issues.

Convalescent plasma therapy

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and overview of the therapy, its significance.

Context: As the proportion of patients infected with COVID-19 continues to rise in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is facilitating access to COVID-19 convalescent plasma for use in patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections.

Why was this necessary?

While clinical trials are underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of administering convalescent plasma to patients with COVID-19, the FDA is granting clinicians permission for use of investigational convalescent plasma under single-patient emergency Investigational New Drug Applications (INDs), since no known cure exists and a vaccine is more than 1 year away from becoming available.

What is Convalescent plasma therapy? How it works?

It seeks to make use of the antibodies developed in the recovered patient against the coronavirus.

The whole blood or plasma from such people is taken, and the plasma is then injected in critically ill patients so that the antibodies are transferred and boost their fight against the virus.

WHO guidelines in this regard:

WHO guidelines in 2014 mandate a donor’s permission before extracting plasma. Plasma from only recovered patients must be taken, and donation must be done from people not infected with HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, or any infectious disease. If whole blood is collected, the plasma is separated by sedimentation or centrifugation, then injected in the patient. If plasma needs to be collected again from the same person, it must be done after 12 weeks of the first donation for males and 16 weeks for females, the WHO guidelines state.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


Himalayan Ibex:

Why in News?

A recent study by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has proved that Himalayan Ibex, distributed in the trans-Himalayan ranges of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, is a distinct species from the Siberian Ibex.

  • To unravel the complexity in species recognition of Indian Ibex, the researchers, under a project funded through the National Mission on Himalayan Studies implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, undertook field surveys and collected faecal samples from Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.

Key findings:

  • The latest genetic analysis provided first evidence to claim that Himalayan Ibex is genetically different from all other ranges of Siberian Ibex.
  • The results of the genetic analysis surprisingly revealed that I-T clade (referred to as Siberian Ibex) was estimated to have diverged from Alpine Ibex during the Pleistocene epoch (2.4 million years ago) than the Siberian Ibex during the Miocene-Pliocene boundary (6.6 million years ago).

About Siberian Ibex:

  • It is a species of wild goat and is distributed in diverse habitats, ranging from cold deserts, rocky outcrops, steep terrain, high-land flats and mountain ridges to low mountains and foothills.
  • Siberian ibex is a polytypic species, plausibly formed by lumping of at least 2 species and or 3 to 4 sub-species.
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

Distribution:

  • From Mongolia, its distribution extends towards Altai, Hangai, Gobi-Altai, the Hurukh mountain ranges as well as Sayan Mountains near Russia and scattered populations in the small mountains of Trans-Altai Gobi.
  • In Asia, Ibex is distributed in the Montane habitats, ranging in elevations from 500 m to 6,700 m in countries like India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Southern Siberia and China.
  • In India, the Ibex is distributed mainly in the trans-Himalayan ranges of the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh up to the river Sutlej.

 

National Executive Committee:

The Disaster Management Act, 2005, under Section 8 enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC) to assist the National Disaster Management Authority.

Composition: The Home secretary serving as the Chairperson, ex officio. The Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, is an ex officio member.

Functions: The NEC under section of the Act is responsible for the preparation of the National Disaster Management Plan for the whole country and to ensure that it is “reviewed and updated annually”.

 

Exercise Red Flag:

Why in News?

  • The U.S. Air Force has cancelled Phase-I of its flagship multilateral air exercise, Red Flag, scheduled in Alaska from April 30.
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) was to take part in the exercise with its Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets.

Key facts:

  • Exercise Red Flag is a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise held several times a year by the United States Air Force. It aims to offer realistic air-combat training for military pilots and other flight crew members from the United States and allied countries.
  • Only countries considered friendly towards the United States take part in Red Flag exercises.

 

PM- CARES fund:

Context: PM Narendra Modi announces PM-CARES fund to fight coronavirus outbreak.

PM- CARES fund stands for Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund.

  • It is a public charitable trust.
  • Contributions by corporates to this fund will be considered as social welfare spending under the companies law.
  • It will be an emergency situation fund. This Fund will also cater to similar distressing situations, if they occur in the times ahead.

How will the fund be administered?

The prime minister is the chairman of the new public charitable trust, its members include the defence minister, home minister and the finance minister.