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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 4 June 2020

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Petition on nation’s name.

2. Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act.

3. To boost infrastructure in areas along China border.

4. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020.

 

GS Paper 4:

2. Mahindra Logistics launches queer inclusion policy.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Kolkata Port Trust renamed as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Trust.

2. Amery Ice Shelf (AIS).

3. Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H).

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Petition on nation’s name

What to study?

For Prelims: Article 1 and 1st schedule of the Indian Constitution.

For Mains: Demand for change, rationale, challenges ahead and way ahead.

Context: The Supreme Court has ordered that a plea to change India’s name exclusively to ‘Bharat’ be converted into a representation and forwarded to the Union government for an appropriate decision.

The Court said, “Bharat and India are both names given in the Constitution. India is already called ‘Bharat’ in the Constitution”.

What’s the issue?

A petition was filed which said, ‘India’ is a name of foreign origin. The name can be traced back to the Greek term ‘Indica’.

The petition seeks an amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution, which says “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.

It wants ‘India’ to be struck off from the Article. This is to ensure citizens of this country to get over the colonial past and instil a sense of pride in our nationality.

And it will also justify the hard fought freedom by our freedom fighters.

How constituent assembly dealt with this?

The constituent assembly debated Article 1 of the then draft constitution prepared under the chairmanship of BR Ambedkar.

It was a heated debate that saw sharp exchanges among the members on November 18, 1949 – just eight days before the Constitution was adopted by “We, the people”.

HV Kamath objected to the Ambedkar committee’s draft that had two names – India and Bharat.

  • He proposed amendments to Article 1 putting Bharat or alternatively Hind as the primary name for the country and pronouncing India only as the name in the English language.

Seth Govind Das said, “India, that is, Bharat” are not beautiful words for the name of a country. We should have put the words “Bharat known as India also in foreign countries.”

  • Das cited the Vedas, the Mahabharat, couple of Puranas and the writings of Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsang to say that Bharat was the original name of the country, hence India should not be put as the primary name in the constitution post-independence.
  • He also invoked Mahatma Gandhi saying that the country fought the battle of freedom raising the slogan of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” asserting that Bharat could be the only plausible name for the country.

Among others who supported India being named only as Bharat included KV Rao from Andhra Pradesh.

MA Ayyangar of Madras province proposed names of Bharat, Bharat Varsha and Hindustan as substitutes for India in Article 1.

At the end, when Rajendra Prasad put the amendments to vote, all fell. Article 1 remained intact as “India, that is Bharat”. However, the debate has continued.

What the constitution says?

As per Article 1 in the Constitution, the territory of India shall consist of: The territories of the states, The Union territories and Any territory that may be acquired.

The names of the States and the Unions have been described in the First Schedule. This schedule also held that there were four Categories of State and territories – Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.

In the seventh amendment of the Constitution in 1956 the distinction between the Part A and Part B states was abolished. Subsequently states were reorganized on linguistic basis.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Article 1?
  2. What is the union of states?
  3. Territory of India includes?
  4. Who can change the name of states and what is the procedure to be followed?
  5. Amendments to article 1 to 3?

Mains Link:

Write a note on schedule 1 of the Indian Constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Amendments to the 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: Cabinet has approved historic amendment to the Essential Commodities Act.

Under the proposed amendments, essentials like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes have been excluded from the Essential Commodities Act.

Benefits:

  • This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations.
  • The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector.
  • It will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain.

What is Essential Commodities Act?

Enacted in 1955.

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, 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?

Case study:

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.

  • 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.
  • This is due to the fact that ECA act fails to differentiate between hoarding and Storage.
  • 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.

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.

InstaLinks:

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.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Govt. to boost infrastructure in areas along China border

What to study?

For Prelims: Indo- China border, LAC- issues and important regions.

For Mains: Origins of the border dispute, attempts to resolve and ways to address them.

 Context: The government has approved new guidelines to boost infrastructure in areas along China border.

These include:

  1. Spend 10% funds of a Centrally sponsored scheme only on projects in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
  2. The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) has been allocated ₹784 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal and the money is distributed to the border States and Union Territories depending on various criteria such as the length of the international border and population.
  3. Projects for developing strategically important villages and towns in border areas that have been identified by the border guarding forces will be given priority.
  4. Construction of roads, bridges, culverts, primary schools, health infrastructure, playfields, irrigation works, mini-stadiums, indoor courts for basketball, badminton and table tennis can be undertaken within 10 km of the border.

Need for:

The ongoing border tension with China at multiple points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is more serious than past incidents, indicating China’s planning and the likelihood of a protracted stand-off.

Therefore, the creation of infrastructure “would help integrate these areas with the hinterland, create a positive perception of care by the country and encourage people to stay on in the border areas leading to safe and secure borders”.

India- China Border:

India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary. Unfortunately, the entire boundary is disputed. The line, which delineates the boundary between the two countries, is popularly called the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon.

In 1913, the British-India government had called a tripartite conference, in which the boundary between India and Tibet was formalized after a discussion between the Indian and the Tibetans. A Convention was adopted, which resulted in the delimitation of the Indo-Tibetan boundary. This boundary is, however, disputed by China which terms it as illegal.

In 1957, China occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it. This episode was followed by intermittent clashes along the border, which finally culminated in the border war of 1962. The boundary, which came into existence after the war, came to be known as Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is a military held line.

Attempts to resolve the issue:

  1. The rapprochement between the two countries in 1976 enabled India and China to initiate High Level border talks in 1981 to find a solution to the vexed problem. After eight rounds, the talks broke down in 1987.
  2. In 1988, following Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to look into the border problem.
  3. In 1993, the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was signed and the India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers was set up to assist the JWG.
  4. In 1996, the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed.
  5. In 2003, two special representatives (one each from India and China) were appointed to find a political solution to the border dispute.
  6. Till 2009, these two special representatives had held 17 rounds of talks, but it seems they have not made much headway.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is LoC and how is it established, geographical extent and significance?
  2. What is LAC?
  3. Where is Nathu la?
  4. Where is Pangong Tso?
  5. Who administers Akashi Chin?

Mains Link:

Creation of infrastructure would help integrate border areas areas with the hinterland, create a positive perception of care by the country and encourage people to stay on in the border areas leading to safe and secure borders. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview of the agreement, it’s significance and implications of the latest move.

Context: The government of Philippines has suspended plans to cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a deal that is important to Washington’s moves to counter Beijing’s rising regional power.

Background:

On February 11, the Philippines officially sent a notice terminating the VFA to the United States through its embassy in Manila.

Political analysts interpreted the reversal as a sign that China’s neighbours are worried about its growing military assertiveness. The Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia all have disputes with China about its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

What is it?

A visiting forces agreement (VFA) is an agreement between a country and a foreign nation having military forces visiting in that country.

VFA spells out the rules, guidelines and legal status of the U.S. military when operating in the Philippines.

The VFA also affirms the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement — agreements that enable the U.S. military to conduct joint exercises and operations in the Philippines.

The Philippine Senate ratified the VFA in 1999. 

Implications for the US:

Terminating the VFA would leave the U.S. military without any legal or operational standing in the Philippines — and that’s a problem for the alliance. Without a VFA, the U.S. military would not be able to support any defense agreements.

Implications for the Philippines:

The U.S. alliance and the VFA remain important to Philippine national security.

In contrast to high degrees of trust and support for the United States, Filipinos hold much more negative attitudes toward China and remain wary of Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea.

The Philippine public has also soured on Chinese foreign investment. The U.S.-Philippine alliance and the VFA therefore act as an insurance policy against Chinese threats.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Countries bordering South China Sea.
  2. Location of Philippines and key areas surrounding.
  3. What is VFA?
  4. Important military bases of USA around the world.
  5. Difference between LOC and LAC?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Issues of buffer stocks and food security.

The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview of the ordinance, implications and significance.

Aims and objectives of the ordinance:

The ordinance basically aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition.

  • This will supplement the existing MSP procurement system which is providing stable income to farmers.
  • It will certainly pave the way for creating One India, One Agriculture Market and will lay the foundation for ensuring golden harvests for our hard working farmers.

Overview of the ordinance:

  1. The Ordinance will create an ecosystem where the farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce.
  2. It will also promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations.
  3. It also proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically.
  4. The farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under this Act.
  5. There will also be a separate dispute resolution mechanism for the farmers.

Significance:

  • This is a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets in the country.
  • It will open more choices for the farmer, reduce marketing costs for the farmers and help them in getting better prices.
  • It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower prices.

Need for- present challenges:

  • Farmers in India today suffer from various restrictions in marketing their produce.
  • There are restrictions for farmers in selling agri-produce outside the notified APMC market yards. The farmers are also restricted to sell the produce only to registered licensees of the State Governments.
  • Barriers exist in free flow of agriculture produce between various States owing to the prevalence of various APMC legislations enacted by the State Governments.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an ordinance?
  2. What are APMCs?
  3. What is eNAM?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of this ordinance.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 4


Mahindra Logistics launches queer inclusion policy

Context: To foster the inclusion of LGBTQAI+ employees, Mahindra Logistics Ltd. (MLL) has unveiled a five-year plan which aims at hiring queer people and extending benefits to same-sex partners.

Key provisions:

  • The policy includes adoption leave for queer workers.
  • Same-sex partners shall be eligible for 12-week adoption leave, starting from the date of the adoption.
  • Benefits under the existing medical insurance shall be extended to same-sex partners on declaration of their partner’s details.
  • The company’s definition of compassionate leave — which can be availed for four days by an employee in case of death of an immediate family member — will be extended to same-sex partners.
  • To make the workplace inclusive for queer employees, MLL will offer LGBTQAI+ staff counselling services on request, for them and three immediate family members, which includes their partner.
  • There will be equal opportunity and non-discrimination in various processes, including recruitment, transfer, relocation, training and development, and promotion.
  • Any incident of sexual harassment reported by a queer employee shall be investigated by the internal complaints committee.
  • The company also seeks to bridge the gender diversity gap by hiring more women, and aims to hire more persons with disabilities.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Kolkata Port Trust renamed as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Trust:

Context: Cabinet approves renaming of Kolkata Port Trust as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Trust.

The decision was previously announced on January 12 at the inaugural ceremony of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the port.

Key facts:

  • In the early 16th century, the Portuguese first used the present location of the port to anchor their ships, since they found the upper reaches of the Hooghly river, beyond Kolkata, unsafe for navigation.
  • After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, this port was used to ship lakhs of Indians as ‘indentured labourers’ to far-flung territories throughout the Empire.
  • The Kolkata port is the only riverine port in the country, situated 203 km from the sea. The river Hooghly, on which it is located, has many sharp bends, and is considered a difficult navigational channel.
  • The Farakka Barrage,built in 1975, reduced some of the port’s woes as Ganga waters were diverted into the Bhagirathi-Hooghly system.

Amery Ice Shelf (AIS):

The AIS is one of the largest glacier drainage basins in the world, located on the east coast of Antarctica, at about 70ºS Latitude, 70ºE Longitude.

It is located at the head of Prydz Bay between the Lars Christensen Coast and Ingrid Christensen Coast.

It is part of Mac. Robertson Land.

Why in News?

The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) predicts that there would be a 24% increase in the expansion of Ameri Ice Shelf (AIS) boundaries by 2021 and another 24% expansion by 2026 from its 2016 positions.

Scientists feel that this study would help understand the ongoing changes in the ocean and atmospheric forces better.

amery_ice_shelf

Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H):

Context: Cabinet approves establishment of Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as Subordinate Office under Ministry of AYUSH.

Key facts:

  • Presently, Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) is an autonomous body under the aegis of Ministry of AYUSH established since 2010.
  • The Commission serves as an umbrella organization for Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Committee (APC), Siddha Pharmacopoeia Committee (SPC), Unani Pharmacopoeia Committee (UPC) and Homoeopathic Pharmacopeia Committee (HPC).
  • Pharmacopoeial Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM) and Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (HPL) are its supporting structures.

 


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper