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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 25 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. Centre allows five states to Borrow.

2. Lok Adalat.

3. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

4. Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. RBI releases document on UCBs’ cybersecurity.

2. GPay can share UPI data under law, says Google.

3. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Jnanpith presented to Malayalam ‘Mahakavi’ Akkitham.

2. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

3. RAISE Summit 2020.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Centre allows five states to Borrow:


Context:

The Centre has permitted five States to borrow an additional ₹9,913 crore through open market borrowings to meet expenditure requirements amid falling revenues due to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • These States are A.P., Telangana, Goa, Karnataka and Tripura.

borrowing

What’s the issue now?

The permission was accorded after these States met the reform condition of implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system.

Background:

The Centre had, in May, allowed additional borrowing limit of up to 2% of Gross State Domestic Product to States for FY21 with certain conditions.

Let’s understand the Basics here:

Why states need centre’s permission while borrowing? Is it mandatory for all states?

Article 293(3) of the Constitution requires states to obtain the Centre’s consent in order to borrow in case the state is indebted to the Centre over a previous loan.

  • This consent can also be granted subject to certain conditions by virtue of Article 293(4).
  • In practice, the Centre has been exercising this power in accordance with the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

Every single state is currently indebted to the Centre and thus, all of them require the Centre’s consent in order to borrow.

Does the Centre have unfettered power to impose conditions under this provision?

Neither does the provision itself offer any guidance on this, nor is there any judicial precedent that one could rely on.

  • Interestingly, even though this question formed part of the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, it was not addressed in its interim report.

So, when can the centre impose conditions?

The Centre can impose conditions only when it gives consent for state borrowing, and it can only give such consent when the state is indebted to the Centre.

Why are such restrictions necessary?

  • One possible purpose behind conferring this power upon the Centre was to protect its interests in the capacity of a creditor.
  • A broader purpose of ensuring macroeconomic stability is also discernible, since state indebtedness negatively affects the fiscal health of the nation as a whole.

Conclusion:

This means that in the present case, the Centre was not justified in requiring states to join the One Nation One Ration Card scheme by exercising its power under Article 293(4). After all, this has no direct bearing on a state’s fiscal health or on macroeconomic stability, and encroaches upon the legitimate domain of states.

Given these limitations, if the Centre desired to extend its One Nation One Ration scheme throughout the country, it should have opted for building consensus with reluctant states instead of compelling them through this route.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Are state governments allowed to take loans directly through borrowings?
  2. Role of Central Government.
  3. States with highest GSDP.
  4. Article 293 (3).
  5. When can the centre impose conditions on states?

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues related to financial autonomy of states and how they can be addressed?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Lok Adalat:


Why in News?

A daily wager in Odisha’s Kandhamal district has moved the Lok Adalat against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he allegedly failed to get an Aadhaar card registered in his name despite 21 attempts.

  • He took the unusual step for redressal of his grievance as he ran out of patience after applying and getting photographed multiple times at different places for the elusive card.

What is a Lok Adalat?

Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.

  • The Lok Adalats are formed to fulfil the promise given by the preamble of the Indian Constitution– securing Justice – social, economic and political of every citizen of India.

Constitutional basis:

Article 39A of the Constitution provides for free legal aid to the deprived and weaker sections of the society and to promote justice on the base of equal opportunity.

Articles 14 of the Constitution also make it compulsory for the State to guarantee equality before the law.

Statutory provisions:

Under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 Lok Adalats have been given statutory status.

Final award:

The decision made by the Lok Adalats is considered to be a verdict of a civil court and is ultimate and binding on all parties.

No appeal:

There is no provision for an appeal against the verdict made by Lok Adalat.

  • But, they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.

Court fee:

There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat.

Note: If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties.

Nature of Cases to be Referred to Lok Adalat:

  • Any case pending before any court.
  • Any dispute which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the court.

Provided that any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under the law shall not be settled in Lok Adalat.

For further details on Lok Adalats, Pleasee go through: https://nalsa.gov.in/lok-adalat.

lok_adalat

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who organises National Lok Adalat?
  2. What are Permanent Lok Adalats?
  3. Composition of Lok Adalats.
  4. Nature of cases to be referred to Lok Adalat.
  5. Article 39A of the Constitution.
  6. Decisions made by Lok Adalats- are they binding?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Lok Adalats as an effective dispute resolution institution in present scenario.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):


Context:

Foreign Ministers’ meeting of SAARC Nations was held recently.

India’s call:

During the meet, India called on all SAARC members to “collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict, which impede the objective of SAARC to realise its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity across South Asia”.

Now, let us understand about SAARC:

What is SAARC? When was it established?

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.

  • Afghanistan became the newest member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.
  • The Headquarters and Secretariat of the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.

Importance of SAARC:

  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.
  • It is the world’s most densely populated region and one of the most fertile areas.
  • SAARC countries have common tradition, dress, food and culture and political aspects thereby synergizing their actions.
  • All the SAARC countries have common problems and issues like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, natural disasters, internal conflicts, industrial and technological backwardness, low GDP and poor socio-economic condition.

saarc

Why SAARC is relevant for India now?

India has to re-think about SAARC, which has been in the doldrums since 2014. This is especially necessary to counter China’s growing aggression and economic dominance in the region.

India started investing in other regional instruments, such as BIMSTEC, as an alternative to SAARC.

  • However, BIMSTEC cannot replace SAARC for reasons such as lack of a common identity and history among all BIMSTEC members.
  • Moreover, BIMSTEC’s focus is on the Bay of Bengal region, thus making it an inappropriate forum to engage all South Asian nations.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. SAARC vs BIMSTEC.
  2. BBIN
  3. Motor Vehicle Agreement.
  4. What is CPEC?
  5. Belt and Road initiative.

Mains Link:

Discuss how SAARC revival helps India deal with China.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA):


Context:

Special Ministerial conference of CICA was held recently. India also participated in the event.

What is CICA?

It is an inter-governmental forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.

  • The key idea of the Conference is based on the priority of the indivisibility of security, joint initiative and mutually beneficial interaction of small and large states.

Secretariat: Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

 Meeting and summits:

  • The CICA Summit is convened every four years in order to conduct consultations, review the progress of, and set priorities for CICA activities.
  • Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is required to be held every two years.

 Genesis:

The idea of convening the CICA was first proposed by Kazakhstan in October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

  • However, the first meeting of the CICA Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held on 14 September 1999 with participation of 15 Member States.
  • The first CICA summit was held on 4 June 2002 with participation of 16 Member States and Almaty Act, the charter of the CICA, was adopted.

Membership:

27 member states; 8 observer states; 5 observer organizations.

For becoming a member of CICA, a state must have at least a part of its territory in Asia.

  • All decisions within CICA framework are taken by consensus.

InstaLinks:

  1. CICA
  2. When was it formed?
  3. Why was it formed?
  4. Objectives 
  5. Functions 
  6. Who can be a member?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

RBI releases document on UCBs’ cybersecurity:


Context:

The ‘Technology Vision for Cyber Security for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs) 2020-2023’ was recently released by RBI.

  • It has been formalised based on inputs from various stakeholders.
  • It seeks to enhance cybersecurity of urban co-operative banks (UCBs).

RBI plans to achieve its objective through a five-pillared strategic approach GUARD, viz.

  1. Governance Oversight.
  2. Utile Technology Investment.
  3. Appropriate Regulation and Supervision.
  4. Robust Collaboration.
  5. Developing necessary IT, cybersecurity skill sets.

The document seeks to:

  • Involve more board oversight over cybersecurity.
  • Enable UCBs to better manage and secure IT assets.
  • Implement an offsite supervisory mechanism framework for UCBs on cybersecurity-related controls.
  • Develop a forum for UCBs so that they can share best practices and discuss practical issues and challenges.
  • Implement a framework for providing awareness/training for all UCBs.

vital_stats

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

GPay can share UPI data under law, says Google:


Context:

Google India Digital Services Limited has told the Delhi High Court that its GPay app, being a TPAPs (Third Party Application Providers), is allowed under the law to share customer’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) transaction data with third parties.

But, what’s the issue?

A petition was filed against Google India’s payments app, Google Pay, at the Delhi High Court as it flouted the rules of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) interoperability.

  • According to the petition, Google Pay does not allow new users to use their existing Virtual Payment Address (VPAs) or UPI ID on its platform, which the consumer might have created through other UPI platforms or apps.
  • And this is against the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) Guidelines.
  • As per NPCI guidelines on interoperability, UPI payment platforms need to give a choice to users to transact using their existing IDs.

Also, the petitioner had claimed that GPay was acting as a payments system provider in violation of the Payments and Settlements Act as it has no valid authorisation from the central bank of the country to carry out such functions.

What does interoperability mean?

Interoperability enables payment systems to be used in conjunction with other payment systems. It allows prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) issuers, system providers and system participants from different systems to undertake, clear and settle transactions across systems without participating in multiple systems.

What has the RBI said?

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has told the Delhi High Court that Google Pay is a third party app provider (TPAP) and does not operate any payment systems.

  • Therefore, its operations are not in violation of the Payment and Settlement System Act of 2007.

The Payment and Settlement Systems (PSS) Act, 2007:

It provides for the regulation and supervision of payment systems in India and designates the Reserve Bank of India (Reserve Bank) as the authority for that purpose and all related matters.

The Reserve Bank is authorized under the Act to constitute a Committee of its Central Board known as the Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS), to exercise its powers and perform its functions and discharge its duties under this statute.

upi

InstaLinks:

  1. What is UPI?
  2. About NPCI.
  3. Key provisions in the Payment and Settlement Systems (PSS) Act, 2007.
  4. Who has the power to set up BPSS?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:


Context:

The Assam government has informed a UAPA tribunal that major extremist outfits of the northeast had contacted Chinese authorities for assistance in their “fight against India”, but the Chinese had refused to provide assistance directly or indirectly.

What’s the issue?

The United National Liberation Front of West of South East Asia (UNLFWSEA), a Myanmar-based conglomerate of banned outfits such as the NSCN-K, ULFA-I, NDFB-S and KLO, had taken a resolution “to take assistance from a third nation” to achieve their goal.

  • The conglomerate was formed in 2015. The affidavit is not clear on when it approached the Chinese authorities.

Background:

The tribunal was constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after the Union Home Ministry extended the ban on the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in November 2019 for five years.

  • On September 22, the tribunal upheld the ban and declared NDFB an “unlawful association for a period of five years”.

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.

It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.

Key points:

  • Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
  • Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.

Amendments and changes:

The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences to ban organisations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits were banned. Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.

As per amendments of 2019:

  • The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
  • The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.

Criticisms of UAPA:

  • The law is often misused and abused.
  • Could be used against political opponents and civil society activists who speak against the government and brand them as “terrorists.”
  • The 2019 amendment gives unfettered powers to investigating agencies.
  • The law is against the federal structure, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of unlawful activity.
  2. Powers of Centre under the act.
  3. Is judicial review applicable in such cases?
  4. Changes brought about by amendments in 2004 and 2019.
  5. Can foreign nationals be charged under the act?

Mains Link:

Do you agree that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act could prove catastrophic for fundamental rights? Is sacrificing liberty for national security justified? Discuss and provide for your opinion.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Jnanpith presented to Malayalam ‘Mahakavi’ Akkitham:

Jnanpith award announced in November last year was handed over to poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri at a special function held recently.

Akkitham

About the Award:

Instituted in 1961.

Eligibility: Any Indian citizen who writes in any of the official languages of India is eligible for the honour.

  • English language was added to the list of languages for consideration after the 49th Jnanpith Award.

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.

Why in News?

ICJ had observed that the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 passed by Parliament was incompatible with international law.

  • The legislation fails to comply with India’s international legal obligations and constitutional provisions to respect and protect the rights to freedom of association, expression, and freedom of assembly.

RAISE Summit 2020:

It will be held in October.

RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020.’

  • It is being conducted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and NITI Aayog.
  • It will be a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas and chart a course for using AI for social transformation, inclusion and empowerment in areas like healthcare, agriculture, education and smart mobility, among other sectors.

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