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.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
2. Places in News- Crete Island.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Why in News?
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s conviction for criminal contempt of court by the Supreme Court seemed to be inconsistent with the freedom of expression law guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that India was a party to.
What is International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)?
It is an international human rights non-governmental organization.
Composition: It is a standing group of 60 eminent jurists—including senior judges, attorneys and academics.
Functions: To develop national and international human rights standards through the law.
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
What has the ICJ said on Prashant Bhushan’s case?
- The conviction appears to be inconsistent with international standards on freedom of expression and the role of lawyers.
- The judgment risked having a “chilling effect on the exercise of protected freedom of expression in India”.
- While some restrictions of freedom of expression are permitted by international standards, a particularly wide scope must be preserved for debate and discussion about such matters as the role of the judiciary, access to justice, and democracy, by members of the public, including through public commentary on the courts.
What is International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?
It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
- The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
- The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
- It became effective in 1976. Article 49 allowed that the covenant would enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or accession.
- India is a party to this treaty.
- What is International Bill of Human Rights?
- What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)?
- About United Nations Human Rights Committee.
- When ICCPR became effective?
- Has India signed ICCPR?
- Article 21 of ICCPR.
- International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).
It is a “fundamental human right” for people to gather to celebrate or to air grievances, “in public and in private spaces, outdoors, indoors and online.” Discuss its relevance today.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
Report was released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
- Overall, the report shows that the number of suicide cases and accidental deaths registered an increase across the country last year from the 2018 figures.
Report on Suicides in the country:
- Suicides in the country went up slightly from 1,34,516 to 1,39,123.
- Of the 97,613 male suicides, the most were of daily wage earners (29,092), followed by self-employed persons (14,319) and the unemployed (11,599).
- Of the 41,493 female, over half were housewives.
- Most suicides by unemployed persons were in Kerala at 14% (1,963), followed by 10.8% in Maharashtra, 9.8% in Tamil Nadu, 9.2% in Karnataka and 6.1% in Odisha.
- Most suicides by those in business activities were in Maharashtra (14.2%), Tamil Nadu (11.7%), Karnataka (9.7%), West Bengal (8.2%) and Madhya Pradesh (7.8%).
- The suicide rate in cities (13.9%) was higher compared to the all-India average.
- Most cases of mass/family suicides were reported from Tamil Nadu (16), followed by Andhra Pradesh (14), Kerala (11) and Punjab (9) and Rajasthan (7).
Report on Accidental deaths:
- Accidental deaths in the country increased by 2.3%. Compared with 4,11,824 in 2018, the figure stood at 4,21,104 last year.
- The most casualties of 30.9% were reported in the 30-45 age group, followed by 26% in the 18-30 age group.
- Maharashtra reported the highest deaths (70,329), amounting to nearly one-sixth of the total figure.
- A total of 8,145 deaths was due to the causes attributable to forces of nature, including 35.3% due to lightning, 15.6% by heat/sun stroke and 11.6% deaths in floods.
- Most deaths (400) due to lightning was reported each from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, followed by Jharkhand (334) and Uttar Pradesh (321).
- The major causes were ‘traffic accidents’ (43.9%), ‘sudden deaths’ (11.5%), ‘drowning’ (7.9%), ‘poisoning’ (5.1%), ‘falls’ (5.1%) and ‘accidental fire’ (2.6%). A majority (57.2%) of deaths was in the age groups of 18-45 years.
Set -up in 1986 under the Ministry of Home Affairs to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
Set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task Force (1985).
NCRB brings out the annual comprehensive statistics of crime across the country (‘Crime in India’ report).
- Being published since 1953, the report serves as a crucial tool in understanding the law and order situation across the country.
- NCRB- establishment and functions.
- Crimes in India report is released by?
- Highlights of the recent report on accidental deaths and suicides.
Throw a light on suicide rates in India based on the recent report published by the NCRB and suggest ways to minimise these numbers.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why in News?
The Supreme Court has allowed telecom companies 10 years’ time to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government.
- The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) should decide whether or not spectrum can be sold under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
- Due to the current Covid-19situation, telcos should pay 10 per cent of the total dues by March 31, 2021.
- Telecom companies would also have to make payments on or before February 7 every year. The non-payment of dues in any year would lead to accrual of interest and invite contempt of court proceedings against such companies.
What’s the issue?
An October 2019 judgment of the court in the AGR issue originally wanted the telcos to make the repayments in three months. The court had concluded that the private telecom sector had long reaped the fruits of the Centre’s liberalized mode of payment by revenue sharing regime.
- Later, the government had proposed in court a 20-year “formula” for telcos to make staggered payments of the dues. But, the court observed that the period of 20 years fixed for payment is excessive.
Even after part payment, the dues still run to ₹1.43 lakh crore.
What is AGR?
Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.
How is it calculated?
As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco – including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales.
What are issues associated? When it all began?
The telecom sector was liberalised under the National Telecom Policy, 1994 after which licenses were issued to companies in return for a fixed license fee.
However, to provide relief from the steep fixed license fee, the government in 1999 gave an option to the licensees to migrate to the revenue sharing fee model.
- Under this, mobile telephone operators were required to share a percentage of their AGR with the government as annual license fee (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC). License agreements between the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the telecom companies define the gross revenues of the latter.
The dispute between DoT and the mobile operators was mainly on the definition of AGR.
- The DoT argued that AGR includes all revenues (before discounts) from both telecom and non-telecom services. The companies claimed that AGR should comprise just the revenue accrued from core services and not dividend, interest income or profit on sale of any investment or fixed assets.
- What is AGR? How is it calculated?
- What was SC’s verdict on this?
- Composition of TRAI?
- How spectrum allocation is done in India?
Discuss the challenges facing Indian telecom sector today. What should the Government of India do to save the telecom sector?
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Qatar has brought about a change in its labour laws. The reforms, which were announced by the Emir of Qatar in October 2019, were signed into law recently.
- These reforms are now applicable to workers of all nationalities and in all sectors, including domestic workers who were previously excluded.
What are Qatar’s new labour laws?
Abolition of the unjustified ‘kafala system’ or requirement for a “no objection certificate” that migrant workers needed to get from their employers before changing jobs.
- Now, workers will have to serve a one-month notice period if they have worked for less than two years and notice period of two months if they have worked longer.
Increasing the minimum wage by 25 per cent to $274 or 1000 Qatari riyals and an additional 300 QAR for food and 500 QAR for accommodation in case not provided by the company.
Qatar has introduced a series of labour reforms since its selection as the 2022 World Cup host, with the event setting in motion a huge construction programme employing foreign workers.
What is kafala?
The ‘kafala’ system is a system that lays down obligations in the treatment and protection of foreign ‘guests’. Kafala means ‘to guarantee’ or ‘to take care of’ in Arabic.
- Under the system, a migrant worker’s immigration status is legally bound to an individual employer or sponsor (‘kafeel’) during the contract period.
- The migrant worker cannot enter the country, transfer employment nor leave the country for any reason without first obtaining explicit written permission from the kafeel.
When did the kafala system start?
The kafala system began in the 1950s when several Middle East countries started hiring foreign workers to accelerate development following the discovery of oil.
Where is the kafala system practiced?
It is being practiced in the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and also in the Arab states of Jordan and Lebanon.
Concerns associated with this practice, why it should be abolished?
- Human rights groups say the migration management system enables exploitation and forced labor—labor extracted by under the threat of penalty, and not offered voluntarily by the worker.
- The media have likened employment conditions under kafala to “modern-day slavery.”
- Some migrant workers end up absconding from their employers to seek refuge elsewhere. In the Gulf states, absconding is considered a crime and that leads to indefinite detention and deportation.
- Complaining puts them in conflict with their sponsor, who has the power to cancel their residence visa and have them deported.
- The kafala directly contradicts the labour law. The employer can dictate the recruitment process and working conditions.
- It restricts labour mobility. It prohibits any mobility on part of the worker unless approved by the kafeel. If the kafeels are unwilling to let them go, workers cannot leave them for better employment.
- Geographical location of Qatar.
- Recent labour law reforms.
- What is Kafala system?
- Countries where Kafala system is practiced?
What is ‘kafala’ labour system? Recently Qatar abolished this system. Discuss its significance.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 1
Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
The IRDAI has set up a working group on Index Linked Products to examine the various aspects of Index Linked Products in the life insurance segment.
- Current IRDAI product regulations do not specifically permit insurers to sell index-linked products.
Life insurers had approached Irdai with a request to allow them to offer index-linked products. Life insurance companies currently offer two product categories — unit-linked insurance plans and traditional plans.
What are Index Linked Insurance Products?
They are insurance products whose returns are linked to benchmark indices. These products are linked to the 10-year government bonds or equity indices such as Sensex or Nifty.
- Such products allow the policyholder to get a guaranteed value.
- About ILIP.
- How are they different from unit-linked insurance plans and traditional plans?
- Benefits of ILIP.
- IRDAI- composition and functions.
Discuss the significance of Index Linked Insurance Products.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) in electricity launched as a first step towards greening the Indian short term power market.
What is GTAM?
It is an alternative new model introduced for selling off the power by the renewable developers in the open market without getting into long term PPAs.
Key features of GTAM:
- Transactions through GTAM will be bilateral in nature with clear identification of corresponding buyers and sellers, there will not be any difficulty in accounting for Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
- GTAM contracts will be segregated into Solar RPO & Non-Solar RPO as RPO targets are also segregated.
- Daily & Weekly Contracts – Bidding will take place on MWh basis.
- Price discovery will take place on a continuous basise. price time priority basis. Subsequently, looking at the market conditions open auction can be introduced for daily & weekly contracts.
- Energy scheduled through GTAM contract shall be considered as deemed RPO compliance of the buyer.
Significance and benefits of the move:
- The introduction of GTAM platform would lessen the burden on RE-rich States and incentivize them to develop RE capacity beyond their own RPO.
- This would promote RE merchant capacity addition and help in achieving RE capacity addition targets of the country.
- GTAM platform will also lead to increase in number of participants in renewable energy sector.
- It will benefit buyers of RE through competitive prices and transparent and flexible procurement.
- It will also benefit RE sellers by providing access to pan- India market.
- The Government has a target of 175 GW RE Capacity by 2022.
- As a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement 2016, India has committed to install 40 per cent i.e. 450 GW of renewable capacity by the year 2030.
- India’s renewable energy targets,
- About Paris Climate Agreement.
- India’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.
- What is GTAM? How it works?
Discuss the significance of introduction of Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) in electricity.
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.
Why in News?
The Allahabad High Court has set aside the National Security Act order passed against Gorakhpur doctor Kafeel Khan, terming it illegal, and directed the Uttar Pradesh government to forthwith release him from jail.
- The court also declared the extension of the period of his detention under the NSA as “illegal”.
government had in February slapped the NSA on Dr. Khan for allegedly making inflammatory and provocative comments during a speech by him against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Aligarh Muslim University in December 2019.
About National Security Act:
It is a stringent law that allows preventive detention for months, if authorities are satisfied that a person is a threat to national security or law and order.
- The person does not need to be charged during this period of detention. The goal is to prevent the individual from committing a crime.
- It was promulgated on September 23, 1980, during the Indira Gandhi government.
As per the National Security Act, the grounds for preventive detention of a person include:
- acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
- regulating the continued presence of any foreigner in India or with a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from India.
- preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do.
Under the National Security Act, an individual can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months; the state government needs to be intimated that a person has been detained under the NSA. No such order shall remain in force for more than 12 days unless approved by the State Government.
- A person detained under the National Security Act can be held for 10 days without being told the charges against them.
Appeal: The detained person can appeal before a high court advisory board but they are not allowed a lawyer during the trial.
History of preventive detention in India:
- Preventive detention laws in India date back to early days of the colonial era when the Bengal Regulation III of 1818 was enacted to empower the government to arrest anyone for defence or maintenance of public order without giving the person recourse to judicial proceedings.
- A century later, the British government enacted the Rowlatt Acts of 1919 that allowed confinement of a suspect without trial.
Constitution of Advisory Boards:
- The Central Government and each State Government shall, whenever necessary, constitute one or more Advisory Boards for the purposes of this Act.
- Every such Board shall consist of three persons who are, or have been, or are qualified to be appointed as, Judges of a High Court, and such persons shall be appointed by the appropriate Government.
- The appropriate Government shall appoint one of the members of the Advisory Board who is, or has been, a Judge of a High Court to be its Chairman, and in the case of a Union territory, the appointment to the Advisory Board of any person who is a Judge of the High Court of a State shall be with the previous approval of the State Government concerned.
Reference to Advisory Boards:
As provided in this Act, in every case where a detention order has been made under this Act, the appropriate Government shall, within 3 weeks from the date of detention of a person under the order, place before the Advisory Board constituted by it, the grounds on which the order has been made and the representation if any made by the person affected by the order and in case where the order has been made by an officer.
Concerns associated with NSA and how is it different from normal arrests?
In the normal course, if a person is arrested, he or she is guaranteed certain basic rights.
- These include the right to be informed of the reason for the arrest.
- Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) mandates that the person arrested has to be informed of the grounds of arrest, and the right to bail.
- Sections 56 and 76 of the Cr. PC also provides that a person has to be produced before a court within 24 hours of arrest.
- Additionally, Article 22(1) of the Constitution says an arrested person cannot be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.
But none of these rights are available to a person detained under the NSA.
- A person could be kept in the dark about the reasons for his arrest for up to five days, and in exceptional circumstances not later than 10 days.
- Even when providing the grounds for arrest, the government can withhold information which it considers to be against public interest to disclose.
- The arrested person is also not entitled to the aid of any legal practitioner in any matter connected with the proceedings before an advisory board, which is constituted by the government for dealing with NSA cases.
- Who can invoke NSA?
- Appeals against preventive detention?
- Right to be informed the reason for arrest under this?
- Applicability of Constitutional rights in this regard.
- The writs under the constitution.
What is the National security act? Why is it termed as a draconian law? Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since the group’s 1987 founding, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks. It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It also governs Gaza independently of the Palestinian Authority.
Places in News- Crete Island:
It is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands.
- Crete became part of Greece in December 1913.
- It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Seaseparating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea.
Articles to be covered tomorrow:
1. Red Bull’s plea on trademark rejected.
2. Foreigners’ tribunal