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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 16 September 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. National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

2. Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed in Lok Sabah.

3. Essential Commodities Bill Passed.

4. Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. RBI issues draft on rupee IR derivatives.

2. About the Policy on Promotion of City Compost.

3. Postage stamp on A-SAT.

4. Electricity Act Amendments.

5. Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed in Parliament.

6. Kerala to have certified snake handlers.

7. What is UP’s new Special Security Force?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor Project.

2. Kharai Camel.

3. Engineer’s Day.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020:


Context:

The bill is proposed to be introduced in this Parliament session.

  • It seeks to amend the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 pertaining to the powers and function of the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor.

Highlights of the proposed Bill:

  • It proposes to clearly spell out the functions of the Council of Ministers and the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) by giving more discretionary powers to the L-G.
  • As per a provision, the L-G could act in his discretion in any matter that is beyond the purview of the powers of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi in matters related to the All India (Civil) Services and the Anti Corruption Branch.
  • It will also give more teeth to the L-G, and the validity of any decision taken as per such discretion shall not be questioned.

How is Delhi administered presently?

The Union Territory of Delhi with a Legislative Assembly came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA of the Constitution inserted by ‘the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991’.

  • It said that the UT of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the administrator thereof appointed under Article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant-Governor.
  • According to the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police, and land.

Issues present:

Due to the co-existence of Article 239 and 239AA, there is a jurisdictional conflict between the government of NCT and the Union Government and its representative, the Lieutenant Governor.

  • According to the Union government, New Delhi being a Union Territory Article 239 empowers the Lieutenant Governor to act independently of his Council of Ministers.
  • However, the state government of Delhi held that the Article 239AA of the Constitution bestows special status to Delhi of having its own legislatively elected government.

This creates a tussle around the administrative powers of the LG and state government of NCT of Delhi.

Supreme Court judgment:

In 2018, the Supreme Court had unanimously held that the L-G was bound by the “aid and advice” of the Delhi government and both had to work harmoniously with each other.

Unresolved Areas in the Judgement:

Overlapping Areas: Though the court has settled that LG is bound to act on the aid and advice except in respect of ‘Land’, ‘Public Order’ and the ‘Police’. However, Public Order is a very wide connotation, which subsequently leads to overlapping executive powers.

Still No Clarity on Article 239AA (4): The court did not very clearly delineate the issues in respect of which the LG can refer a decision taken by the Council of Ministers to the President in the event of a difference of opinion between the LG and the State government.

Open-Ended Terminologies: In the event of referring any matter to the President, the Court enunciated that LG must adhere to the constitutional principles of collaborative federalism, constitutional balance and the concept of constitutional governance. However, these terms are very wide and open- ended. They are subject to different interpretations.

eclected

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Articles 239A vs 239AA.
  2. Powers of Delhi Government vs LG.
  3. How administration of Delhi is different from administration of other states having a legislature?
  4. When did Delhi get a legislature?
  5. How is Delhi LG appointed?

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed in Lok Sabah:


The bill seeks to amend:

  1. The Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 to reduce the salaries of MPs by 30%.
  2. The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952, to reduce the sumptuary allowance of Ministers by 30%.
  3. Rules notified under the 1954 Act to reduce certain allowances of MPs for one year. These include constituency allowance and office expenses allowance.

These changes have been made for a period of one year effective from April 1, 2020.

Background:

These reductions are being made to supplement the financial resources of the centre to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods for setting salaries, what constitution says?

Article 106 of the Constitution empowers MPs to determine their salaries by enacting laws.

In 1985, Parliament enacted a law that delegated the power to set and revise certain allowances of MPs such as constituency allowance, office allowance, and housing allowance to the central government.

Till 2018, MPs periodically passed laws to revise their salaries.

  • The Finance Act, 2018 provided that the salary, daily allowance, and pension of MPs will be increased every five years, on the basis of the cost inflation index provided under the Income-tax Act, 1961.

democracies

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Essential Commodities Bill Passed:


The Lok Sabha recently passed this bill by a voice vote.

  • The Bill is meant to replace an ordinance promulgated in June, in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Key provisions:

  1. It proposes to deregulate the production, storage, movement and sale of several foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, edible oils and onions, except in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
  2. What are the extraordinary circumstances mentioned in the Bill? (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.
  3. Stock limit: The Ordinance requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.
  4. A stock limit may be imposed only if there is: (i) a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and (ii) a 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.
  5. How is it calculated? The increase will be calculated over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower.

Powers of Central Government under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955:

  • The central government can designate certain commodities as essential commodities.
  • The central government may regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of such essential commodities.

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.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Items included under the original Essential Commodities Act of 1955.
  2. Powers to include and remove commodities from the list.
  3. Is it mandatory for the states to follow centre’s guidelines?
  4. Can the govt fix MRP of a product under this act?
  5. Latest amendments.

Mains:

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

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY):


Why in News?

Cabinet approves establishment of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Darbhanga, Bihar under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

About PMSSY:

PMSSY was announced in 2003 with objectives of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.

The PMSSY is implemented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

 It has two components:

  1. Setting up new AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences)
  2. Upgradation of government medical colleges in various states.

The project cost for upgradation of each medical college institution is shared by the Centre and the state.

pmssy

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Components under PMSSY.
  2. Cost sharing.
  3. Implementation of the scheme.
  4. Institutions setup so far under the scheme.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the scheme.

Sources: PIB.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

RBI issues draft on rupee IR derivatives:


Context:

RBI has released the draft version of Rupee Interest Rate Derivatives (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2020.

  • They are aimed at encouraging higher non-resident participation, enhance the role of domestic market makers in the offshore market, improve transparency, and achieve better regulatory oversight.

Key directions:

  • It seeks to allow foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to undertake exchange-traded rupee interest rate derivatives transactions subject to an overall ceiling of Rs 5,000 crore.
  • Net short position of an FPI on exchange-traded IRDs should not exceed its long position in government securities and other rupee debt securities.
  • The purpose of offering Rupee IRD contracts to a user, the market-maker (entities which provide bid and offer prices to users in order to provide liquidity to the market) should classify the user either as a retail user or as a non-retail user.
  • Non-retail users, as per the draft, are entities regulated by RBI, SEBI, IRDAI or PFRDA; resident companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore; and non-residents, other than individuals.

What are IRDs?

Interest Rate Derivatives (IRD) are contracts whose value is derived from one or more interest rates, prices of interest rate instruments, or interest rate indices.

  • These may include interest rate futures, options, swaps, swaptions, and FRA’s.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

About the Policy on Promotion of City Compost:


Key points:

  • To process and use city waste as compost, the Policy on Promotion of City Compost was approved in 2016.
  • Under the policy, assistance of Rs 1,500 per tonne of city compost will be provided to fertilizer companies for marketing and promotion of city compost.
  • Announced by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

What’s the issue now?

The lack of an appropriate market and ineffective implementation hasn’t given this much-needed practice the desired popularity.

  • Besides, the high manufacturing and selling cost of the compost, questionable product quality, no direct incentive/subsidy to farmers and lack of knowledge among other concerns, ensured city compost didn’t become a popular option for farmers.

Potential for city compost:

India currently produces close to 1.5 lakh tonnes of solid waste every day and its biodegradable fraction ranges between 30 per cent and 70 per cent for various Indian cities. This means there is a huge potential for compositing, the most natural form of processing wet waste.

 Why this is a serious issue?

Uncontrolled decomposition of organic waste in dumpsites also leads to emission of potent greenhouse gases. So, it is imperative that necessary actions be taken to promote appropriate disposal mechanisms for solid waste management.

compost

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When and who launched this scheme?
  2. Financial assistance under the scheme.
  3. What is compost?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of this scheme.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Postage Stamp released on A-SAT:


A Customized My Stamp on India’s First Anti Satellite Missile (A-SAT) launch was released by the Department of Posts on the occasion of Engineers Day.

Background:

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test ‘Mission Shakti’ from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha on 27th March 2019.

  • A DRDO developed A-SAT Missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode.
  • The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters.

Significance:

India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialised and modern capability, and Entire effort is indigenous.

  • Till now, only the US, Russia and China had the capability to hit a live target in space.

Does the test create space debris?

The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.

What is the international law on weapons in outer space?

The principal international Treaty on space is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only weapons of mass destruction in outer space, not ordinary weapons.

  • India is a signatory to this treaty, and ratified it in 1982.

space

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key features of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
  2. About DRDO.
  3. What is A-SAT missile?
  4. What is Mission Shakti?

Mains Link:

What is Mission Shakti? Discuss its significance.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

Electricity Act amendment:


Why in News?

The Telangana government has resolved to present a strong case against the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act, 2003 by the Central government, terming it as a “unilateral decision and a blatant attempt against the federal spirit aimed at usurping the States’ powers”.

Key points:

  • The State Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution voicing its strong opposition to the proposed amendment, claiming it was aimed at centralisation of powers, and would impose a huge burden on States.
  • The resolution demanded that the Centre immediately rescind its moves that were harmful to the interests of the people, farmers and underprivileged sections in particular.

Contentious clauses in the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020:

The Bill seeks to end subsidies.All consumers, including farmers, will have to pay the tariff, and the subsidy will be sent to them through direct benefit transfer.

States are worried about this clause because:

  • This would mean people would have to pay a huge sum towards electricity charges, while receiving support through direct benefit transfer later.
  • This would result in defaults leading to penalties and disconnection.

The Bill “divests” the States of their power to fix tariff and hands over the task to a Central government-appointed authority.

  • This is discriminatory, since the tariff can be tweaked according to the whims and fancies of the Central government.

The Bill also makes it compulsory for the State power companies to buy a minimum percentage of renewable energy fixed by the Centre.

  • This would be detrimental to the cash- strapped power firms.

Other key provisions in the Bill:

Renewable Energy Policy: It delegates the Central Government with the power to prepare and notify a National Renewable Energy Policy “for promotion of generation of electricity from renewable sources”, in consultation with State Governments.

Cross Border Trade: The Central Government has been delegated with the power to prescribe rules and guidelines to allow and facilitate cross border trade of electricity.

Creation of Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority: It has been proposed to be given sole jurisdiction to adjudicate upon matters on performance of obligations under a contract regarding sale, purchase and transmission of electricity, which exclusion of this specialized authority’s jurisdiction on determination of tariff or any other dispute regarding tariff.

power_tussle

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an ordinance?
  2. Composition of the proposed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority.
  3. How DISCOMS in the country function?
  4. What is the National Load Despatch Centre?
  5. Key functions of ECEA.
  6. How DISCOMS in the country function?
  7. What is the National Load Despatch Centre?
  8. Composition and functions of the Appellate Tribunal (APTEL).

Mains Link:

Discuss the key features and significance of Draft Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- airways.

Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed in Parliament:


The Act regulates the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import and export of civil aircrafts and licensing of aerodromes.

Key Features of the Bill:

  1. Provides statutory status to regulatory institutions like the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).
  2. DGCA powers: It will carry out oversight and regulatory functions with respect to matters under the Bill.
  3. Powers of BCAS: It carries out regulatory oversight functions related to civil aviation security.
  4. AAIB carries out investigations related to aircraft accidents and incidents.
  5. Penalty: The Bill proposes to increase the fine amount for violations of rules from ₹10 lakh to ₹1 crore for aviation industry players.
  6. Powers of central government: It may cancel the licences, certificates or approvals granted to a person under the Act if the person contravenes any provision of the Act.
  7. Exemptions: The Act exempted aircrafts belonging to the naval, military, or air forces of the Union.
  8. The Bill expands this exemption to include aircrafts belonging to any other armed forces other than these three.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Kerala to have certified snake handlers:


Context:

Becoming the first to institutionalise snake handling in the country, the Kerala Forest Department has framed guidelines for rescuing snakes from human dominated places and releasing them in uninhabited areas.

Guidelines:

  1. Mandatory certification: It is mandatory for snake handlers, aged between 21 and 65 years, to seek certification.
  2. Selection process: The applications will be screened by the Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACF, Social Forestry) to prepare lists of snake handlers in each district. Various parameters, including experience, age, health as well as track record will be considered during the selection process.
  3. Those short-listed will be required to undergo mandatory training on safe and scientific handling of snakes.
  4. Validity of certificates: While the certification will be valid for five years, the respective ACFs can withdraw or cancel the same if the snake handler is found to be involved in any illegal or unethical practices.
  5. Precautions: Certified snake handlers will be required to wear protective gear and equip themselves with safety equipment while on the task.
  6. Rescued snakes will also have to be released in the presence of forest officials at the earliest. If found injured, the snake can be released only after ascertaining its fitness. Non-native species, however, cannot be released and have to be handed over to the Forest Department.

Need for:

There have been allegations of unscientific approaches by snake catchers that tend to create stress to the animal and pose risk to their and others’ lives.

  • Kerala has reported 334 deaths and 1,860 other cases of snake-bites during the last three years.
  • There have also been allegations of snakes being supplied for criminal purposes.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

What is UP’s new Special Security Force?


Context:

UP Government has issued a notification for the formation of the Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force (UPSSF).

  • Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had on 26 June announced the formation of the force.

What is the UPSSF?

It envisaged as having “high-level professional skills”, which would reduce the burden on the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), which could then focus on law and order.

It will be tasked to protect courts, airports, administrative buildings, metros, banks, among other government offices.

Composition:

It will be led by an Additional Director General-level officer, followed by an Inspector General, Deputy Inspector General, Commandant, and Deputy Commandant.

Powers:

  1. Any member of the force may, without any order from a Magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person, who voluntarily causes hurt or a person against whom there is a “reasonable suspicion”, or any person, who attempts to “commit a cognizable offence.
  2. The force will also have the right to remove trespassers on the premises under its protection.
  3. No suit or prosecution shall lie against any officer or member of the force or against any person on acting under the order or the direction of any officer or member of the force for anything, which is done or intended to be done in good faith.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor Project:

Cabinet approves Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor Project from Palwal to Sonipat via Sohna-Manesar- Kharkhauda.

Total length of the project is ~ 121.7 km.

The project will be implemented by Haryana Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (HRIDC), a Joint Venture company set up by Ministry of Railways with Government of Haryana.

Significance: This will facilitate diversion of traffic not meant for Delhi and will help in developing multimodal logistics hubs in Haryana State sub-region of NCR.

haryana_rail_project

Kharai Camel:

  • Also known as Swimming Camels.
  • Found only in Gujarat’s Bhuj area.
  • It has been recognized as a separate breed (one among nine such breeds found in India) of camel for better conservation.
  • This camel is adapted to the extreme climate of Ran of Kachh where shallow seas and high salinity is prevalent.
  • It can live in both coastal and dry ecosystems. It grazes on saline / mangrove trees and is tolerant to high saline water.
  • It can swim up to three kilometers into the sea in search of mangroves, their primary food.

camel

Engineer’s Day:

India celebrates Engineer’s Day every year on September 15 as a tribute to the greatest Indian Engineer Bharat Ratna Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya on his birthday.

  • He was the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam in Mysore.
  • He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire by King George V for his contributions to the public good in 1915.

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