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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 July 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Do we need a fiscal council?

2. Labour Ministry notifies draft on minimum wages.

3. Rajasthan’s education guidelines irk NCPCR.

4. China, US in new spat over Uighur crackdown.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Hagia Sophia.

2. ASEEM portal.

3. INDIA GLOBAL WEEK 2020.

4. National Fish Farmers Day.

5. India Cycles4Change Challenge.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Do we need a fiscal council?

What is a fiscal council?

Fiscal councils are independent public institutions aimed at strengthening commitments to sustainable public finances through various functions, including public assessments of fiscal plans and performance, and the evaluation or provision of macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts.

  • Fiscal councils are now part of the institutional fiscal apparatus of over 50 countries, including several emerging and developing economies.

Composition and How should they function? (Recommendations by 14th FC)

The 14th Finance Commission recommended that an independent Fiscal Council should be established through an amendment to the FRBM Act, by inserting a new Section mandating the establishment of an independent Fiscal Council to undertake ex ante assessment of budget proposals and to ensure their consistency with fiscal policy and Rules.

  • The council is supposed to be appointed by, and report to, Parliament and should have its own budget.
  • The functions of the council include ex ante evaluation of the fiscal implications of the budget proposals which includes evaluation of how real the forecasts are and their consistency with the fiscal rules and estimating the cost of various proposals made in the budget.

The ex post evaluation and monitoring of the budget was left to the CAG.

Why India needs a fiscal council?

  1. Various cesses and surcharges are becoming disproportionate proportion of overall divisible revenue. There should be some mechanism to ensure that the basic spirit of the devolution process should not be undercut by clever financial engineering or taking recourse to traditions.
  2. There is a need for coordination between the finance commission as well as the GST Council. GST Council has no clue of what the Finance Commission is doing and Finance Commission has even lesser clue of what the GST Council is doing.
  3. Also, for state government liabilities, Article 293 (3) provides a constitutional check over borrowings. But there is no such restriction on the Centre.

Therefore, it is time to have an alternative institutional mechanism like Fiscal Council to enforce fiscal rules and keep a check on Centre’s fiscal consolidation.

How COVID 19 pandemic has made it more relevant?

The government needs to borrow and spend more now in order to support vulnerable households and engineer economic recovery.

  • But that will mean a steep rise in debt Which will jeopardise medium-term growth prospects, an issue prominently flagged by all the rating agencies in the recent evaluations.

Expert committee recommendations on fiscal council:

In India, two expert committees have advocated the institution of such a council in recent years.

  • In 2017, the N.K. Singh committee on the review of fiscal rulesset up by the finance ministry suggested the creation of an independent fiscal council that would provide forecasts and advise the government on whether conditions exist for deviation from the mandated fiscal rules.
  • In 2018, the D.K. Srivastava committee on fiscal statisticsestablished by the National Statistical Commission (NSC) also suggested the establishment of a fiscal council that could co-ordinate with all levels of government to provide harmonized fiscal statistics across governmental levels and provide an annual assessment of overall public sector borrowing requirements.
  • These recommendations follow similar recommendations from the 13th and 14th finance commissions, which also advocated the establishment of independent fiscal agencies to review the government’s adherence to fiscal rules, and to provide independent assessments of budget proposals.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Is there a fiscal council in India?
  2. Article 293 (3) of Indian Constitution is related to?
  3. Finance Commission- composition and functions.
  4. Key recommendations made by N.K. Singh Committee.
  5. What is a cess? Examples.
  6. What is a surcharge? Examples.

Mains Link:

Discuss why India should have a fiscal council.

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.

Labour Ministry notifies draft on minimum wages

The Union Labour and Employment Ministry has published the draft rules framed for the implementation of the Code on Wages Act, 2019.

 Highlights:

  • The latest draft rules are similar to the preliminary draft published in November 2019 with one major change. The Ministry has changed the work requirement for eligibility for minimum wages and other benefits from nine hours to eight.
  • The latest draft clarified the issue as the nine hours mentioned earlier included one hour of rest, which has now been mentioned separately from the eight working hours.

Criteria for determination of minimum wages:

  • A net intake of 2,700 calories per day per consumption unit, 66 metre of cloth per year per standard working class family, which includes a spouse and two children apart from the earning worker – an equivalent to three adult consumption units.
  • Housing rent expenditure to constitute 10% of the food and clothing expenditure; fuel, electricity and other miscellaneous items of expenditure to constitute 20% minimum wage and expenditure for children education, medical requirement, recreation and expenditure on contingencies to constitute 25% of minimum wage.

When the rate of wages for a day is fixed, then such amount shall be divided by eight for fixing the rate of wages for an hour and multiplied by twenty six for fixing the rate of wages for a month and in such division and multiplication the factors of one-half and more than one-half shall be rounded as next figure and the factors less than one-half shall be ignored.

About the Code on Wages Act:

The code will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

  1. The wage code universalises the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees, irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling.
  2. It ensures the “right to sustenance” for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage from existing about 40% to 100% workforce.
  3. It also introduces the concept of statutory floor wage which will be computed based on minimum living conditions and extended qualitative living conditions across the country for all workers.
  4. While fixing the minimum rate of wages, the central government shall divide the concerned geographical area into three categories – metropolitan area, non-metropolitan area and the rural area.
  5. Wages includesalary, allowance, or any other component expressed in monetary terms. This does not include bonus payable to employees or any travelling allowance, among others.
  6. The minimum wages decided by the central or state governments must be higher than the floor wage.
  7. Payment of wages: Wages will be paid in (i) coins, (ii) currency notes, (iii) by cheque, (iv) by crediting to the bank account, or (v) through electronic mode.  The wage period will be fixed by the employer as either: (i) daily, (ii) weekly, (iii) fortnightly, or (iv) monthly.

 Advisory boards:

The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards.

  1. The Central Advisory Board will consist of: (i) employers, (ii) employees (in equal number as employers), (iii) independent persons, and (iv) five representatives of state governments.
  2. State Advisory Boards will consist of employers, employees, and independent persons.  Further, one-third of the total members on both the central and state Boards will be women.  The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Composition and functions of the Central Advisory Board established under Code on wages act.
  2. What is a floor wage and who sets it?
  3. Who decides the minimum wages?
  4. What constitutes wages under the act?
  5. Criteria for determination of minimum wages.

Mains Link:

Write a note on code on wages Act, 2019.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Rajasthan’s education guidelines irk NCPCR

Context:

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has pulled up the Rajasthan government for its new guidelines on elementary education.

 What’s the issue?

NCPCR said the new guidelines “violate” the Right to Education Act of 2009 and deny children from economically weaker sections the right to free education in nursery classes.

The guidelines state that admissions to private schools under the RTE Act, 2009, for the 2020-21 academic year will take place only from class 1 or above, and that the law’s provisions will not be applicable for pre-schoolers. 

  • This is in contravention of the RTE Act 2009, which states that private schools will have to admit, “to the extent of at least twenty five per cent of the strength of that class, children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory education till its completion.”

The guidelines also violate the RTE Act insofar as they recommend the age of admission to be “5 years or above but less than 7 years as of 31st March 2020.”

  • However, under the Central law there is no such restriction and a “male or female child of the age of six to fourteen years” can seek admission.

rte_act

Powers of NCPCR to inquire into such complaints:

Under the RTE Act, 2009, the NCPCR can:

  1. inquire into complaints about violation of the law.
  2. summon an individual and demand evidence.
  3. seek a magisterial enquiry.
  4. file a writ petition in the High Court or Supreme Court.
  5. approach the government concerned for prosecution of the offender.
  6. recommend interim relief to those affected.

About NCPCR:

Set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

  • The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Composition:

This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.

  • All of them are appointed by Central Government for three years.
  • The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. NCPCR- composition and functions.
  2. Powers of NCPCR under RTE Act.
  3. Highlights of RTE Act.
  4. Children covered under RTE.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of RTE act.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

China, US in new spat over Uighur crackdown

Context:

China has said it will impose tit-for-tat measures after the United States slapped sanctions on Chinese officials for their involvement in a crackdown on Muslim minorities, raising tensions between the superpowers.

What’s the issue?

The latest Chinese response followed a US announcement of visa bans and an assets freeze on three officials, including Chen Quanquo, the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang and architect of Beijing’s hardline policies against restive minorities.

  • Witnesses and human rights groups say that China has rounded up more than one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang in a vast brainwashing campaign aimed at forcibly homogenising minorities into the country’s Han majority.

But, China counters that it is providing education and vocational training in a bid to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism following a spate of deadly violence.

Background:

The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps in the Xinjiang region. The U.S. State Department has accused Chinese officials of subjecting Muslims to torture, abuse “and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion.”

Who are Uighurs?

Uighurs are a Muslim minority community concentrated in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province. 

They claim closer ethnic ties to Turkey and other central Asian countries than to China, by brute — and brutal — force.

Why is China targeting the Uighurs?

Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China — its largest region, rich in minerals, and sharing borders with eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

  • Over the past few decades, as economic prosperity has come to Xinjiang, it has brought with it in large numbers the majority Han Chinese,who have cornered the better jobs, and left the Uighurs feeling their livelihoods and identity were under threat.
  • This led to sporadic violence, in 2009 culminating in a riot that killed 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, in the region’s capital Urumqi. And many other violent incidents have taken place since then.
  • Beijing also says Uighur groups want to establish an independent state and, because of the Uighurs’ cultural ties to their neighbours, leaders fear that elements in places like Pakistan may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang.
  • Therefore, the Chinese policy seems to have been one of treating the entire community as suspect, and launching a systematic project to chip away at every marker of a distinct Uighur identity.

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who are Uighurs?
  2. Where is Xinjiang?
  3. Who are Han Chinese?
  4. Indian states bordering Xinjiang province.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Hagia Sophia:

  • It was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
  • It is a historic house of worship located in Istanbul.
  • It is revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
  • In 1935, in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it became a museum.
  • It is a UNESO world heritage site.

Why in News?

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship after a top court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.

aseem_potal

ASEEM portal:

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has launched ‘Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping’ (ASEEM) portal to help skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities.

  • The Artificial Intelligence-based ASEEM will provide employers a platform to assess the availability of skilled workforce and formulate their hiring plans.

aseem_potal

INDIA GLOBAL WEEK 2020:

It is an annual flagship event organised by India Inc., a London based media house to re-energise and ignite optimism at global level.

It brings about an action-oriented focus by giving a forum to global deliberations from geopolitics to business, arts & culture to emerging technologies, banking and finance, pharma, defence and security, social impact and the diaspora dividend.

  • Theme: Be The Revival: India and a Better New World.

Objective: Explore business, strategic and cultural opportunities, understand the challenges and make informed decisions as the world looks ahead to a better, brighter future beyond Covid-19.

National Fish Farmers Day 2020:

Observed on 10th July every year in honour of scientists Dr. K. H. Alikunhi and Dr. H.L. Chaudhury.

These two scientists had successfully demonstrated the technology of induced breeding (Hypophysation) in Indian Major Carps.

  • In India, the major carps, Catla (Catla catla), Rohu (Labeo rohita) and Mrigal(Cirrhinus mrigala) are the mainstay of freshwater aquaculture. The major carps are the most preferred farm fishes because of their fast growth and higher acceptability to consumers.

fish_formers_day

India Cycles4Change Challenge:

It is an initiative of the Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to inspire and support Indian cities to quickly implement cycling-friendly initiatives in response to COVID-19.

The Challenge aims to help cities connect with their citizens as well as experts to develop a unified vision to promote cycling.

Who can apply?

  • Cities with a population of more than 5 lakh.
  • Capital cities of states/UTs.
  • Cities under the Smart Cities Mission.

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Snake bites in India.
  2. Tiger orchids.

Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper

 


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