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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 4 December 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. ‘Convicted legislators can’t be barred for life from polls’.

2. How much of India’s population lives with disabilities?

3. How NRIs could vote by post?

4. Bangladesh begins shifting Rohingya.

5. What is the ‘bribery for presidential pardon’ scheme unveiled by the US justice department?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Economy firmly on the path of a V-shaped recovery, says govt.

2. How did a rocket booster from 1966 become a Near-Earth Object?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. U.S. to block import of ‘slave labour’ cotton from China.

2. Not using masks flouts fundamental rights: SC.

3. Lottery, gambling and betting taxable under GST Act: SC.

4. “Culture of Peace” session.

5. Arecibo telescope.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

‘Convicted legislators can’t be barred for life from polls’:


Context:

The Central government has told the Supreme Court that it rejected the idea of barring convicted legislators for life from contesting elections, forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.

What has the Union Ministry of Law and Justice said?

  • An elected representative of the people cannot be equated with public servants who are banned for a lifetime on conviction.
  • Disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 for the period of the prison sentence and six years thereafter was enough for legislators.

Election Commission’s observations:

The Centre’s stand differs from that taken by the Election Commission, which endorsed a life ban as necessary to “champion the cause of decriminalisation of politics”.

Background:

The case is based on a plea by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who argued that:

  1. A life ban on conviction should uniformly apply for members of the judiciary, executive and the legislature.
  2. There should not be any discrimination of one from the other.
  3. An MP or MLA convicted for offences enumerated in Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act should be banned for life.

Rationale behind these arguments:

While a public servant or a government employee is debarred for life on conviction for offences under the Indian Penal Code, money laundering law, foreign exchange violation, UAPA or cheque cases, among other laws, a legislator is “only disqualified for the same offences for a specified period”.

  • However, the counter view is that legislators are not bound by specific “service conditions”.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Section 8 of the RP Act.
  2. SC guidelines in this regard.
  3. Powers of Election Commission on matters related to election of candidates.

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated criminalisation of politics and what the Supreme Court done to address these concerns?

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.

How much of India’s population lives with disabilities?


Context:

December 3 is marked by the UN as International Day of Persons with Disabilities in a bid to promote a more inclusive and accessible world for the differently-abled and to raise awareness for their rights.

Facts and figures:

About 2.2% of India’s population lives with some kind of physical or mental disability, as per the National Statistics Office report on disability released last year.

How are the disabled identified?

Until the 2011 census, there were questions on seven kinds of disabilities in the questionnaire. This list of disabilities was expanded to 21 when the Rights of People with Disabilities was introduced in 2016.

Accordingly, the 2019 report identified disabled people as those with temporary loss of an ability as well as neurological and blood disorders in addition to the earlier definition, that included mental retardation and permanent inability to move, speak, hear and see.

  • Significantly, the revised definition recognises deformities and injuries of acid attack victims as disabilities, entitling them to various relief measures.

Who are disabled and in what way?

  • A higher proportion of men were disabled in India compared with women, and disability was more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Inability to move without assistance was the most common disability. More men experienced locomotor disability than women.

 Why is it important to get the number of disabled people right?

The disabled in India are entitled to some benefits, ranging from reservation in educational institutes to concessions on railway tickets.

  • To claim these benefits, they have to furnish certificates as proof of disability.
  • At the macro level, data on the prevalence and type of disability is useful while making allocations for welfare schemes.

Constitutional Frameworks for Disabled in India:

  • Article 41 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) states that State shall make effective provision for securing right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of its economic capacity and development.
  • The subject of ‘relief of the disabled and unemployable’ is specified in state list of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Article 41 of the Indian Constitution is related to?
  2. Overview of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.
  3. About the Accessible India Campaign.
  4. DeenDayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme.
  5. Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP).

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

How NRIs could vote by post?


Context:

The Election Commission (EC) recently approached the Law Ministry to permit NRIs to cast their votes from overseas through postal ballots.

 What is the current process of voting for Indian citizens living abroad?

Voting rights for NRIs were introduced only in 2011, through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.

  • An NRI can vote in the constituency in which her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  • She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

What is current strength of NRI voters?

According to a UN report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world at 16 million people.

If approved, how will voting by postal ballots work for NRIs?

  1. According to the EC proposal, any NRI interested in voting through the postal ballot in an election will have to inform the Returning Officer (RO) not later than five days after the notification of the election.
  2. On receiving such information, the RO will dispatch the ballot paper electronically.
  3. The NRI voters will download the ballot paper, mark their preference on the printout and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the NRI is resident.

What happened to the proposal to grant proxy voting rights to overseas electors?

  • The Union Cabinet passed the proposal on proxy voting rights for NRIs in 2017.
  • The government then brought a Bill amending the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha and was awaiting Rajya Sabha’s approval when it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Postal ballot?
  2. Who can cast their votes through postal ballot?
  3. How do NRIs cast their votes?

Mains Link:

Should NRIs be permitted to cast their votes from overseas through postal ballots? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Bangladesh begins shifting Rohingya:


Context:

Bangladesh has begun transferring hundreds of Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char (a low-lying island in an area prone to cyclones and floods), with rights groups alleging that people were being coerced into leaving.

What’s the concern?

The island was formed from a build-up of silt in the Bay of Bengal only 20 years ago, and concerns have been consistently raised about Bhasan Char’s exposure to extreme weather and distance from the mainland in emergencies since Bangladesh first raised the idea in 2015.

Who are Rohingyas?

  • They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims. They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar.
  • They were classified as “resident foreigners or associate citizens”.
  • Ethnically they are much closer to Indo-Aryan people of India and Bangladesh than to the Sino-Tibetans of the Country.

Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”.

Where are they now?

  • About 860,000 Rohingya live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.
  • The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments continue to negotiate terms for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who are Rohingyas?
  2. Location of Rakhine State.
  3. About the International Court of Justice.
  4. ICJ vs International Criminal Court.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Rohingya Crisis.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

What is the ‘bribery for presidential pardon’ scheme unveiled by the US justice department?


Context:

The US Justice Department is investigating an alleged bribery scheme that was directing money to officials in the White House in exchange for a presidential pardon or commutation.

What is the extent of the US President’s power to pardon?

  • US President has the constitutional right to pardon or commute sentences related to federal crimes.
  • This power is granted without limit and cannot be restricted by Congress.
  • Similarly, Clemency is a broad executive power, and is discretionary- meaning the President is not answerable for his pardons, and does not have to provide a reason for issuing one.

Limitations:

  • This power cannot be exercised in cases of impeachment.
  • The power only applies to federal crimes and not state crimes.

Clemency powers of the Indian President under article 72:

It says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.

The President can exercise these powers:

  • In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
  • In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  • In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Key facts:

  1. This power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
  2. The constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
  3. But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Pardoning powers of President vs Governors in India.
  2. Applicability of judicial review.
  3. Article 72 is related to?
  4. US President’s power to pardon.

Mains Link:

Present a detailed comparison of pardoning powers of president and Governor in India.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

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

Economy firmly on the path of a V-shaped recovery, says govt:


Context:

The Ministry of Finance recently said that:

  • India’s economy is firmly on the path of a V-shaped recovery after the collapse in the first quarter.
  • Further improvement is expected in the third quarter, ‘notwithstanding some moderation’ in November’s indicators.
  • The recovery is attributed to the unlocking process along with ‘astute’ stimulus measures.

What are the various Shapes of economic recovery?

  1. The Z-shaped recovery is the most-optimistic scenario in which the economy quickly rises like a phoenix after a crash. It more than makes up for lost ground (think revenge-buying after the lockdowns are lifted) before settling back to the normal trend-line, thus forming a Z-shaped chart.
  2. In V-shaped recovery the economy quickly recoups lost ground and gets back to the normal growth trend-line.
  3. A U-shaped recovery is a scenario in which the economy, after falling, struggles and muddles around a low growth rate for some time, before rising gradually to usual levels.
  4. A W-shaped recovery is a dangerous creature — growth falls and rises, but falls again before recovering yet again, thus forming a W-like chart.
  5. The L-shaped recovery is the worst-case scenario, in which growth after falling, stagnates at low levels and does not recover for a long, long time.
  6. The J-shaped recovery is a somewhat unrealistic scenario, in which growth rises sharply from the lows much higher than the trend-line and stays there.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

How did a rocket booster from 1966 become a Near-Earth Object?


Context:

In September, the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS1 telescope detected an unknown object which followed a curved path in the sky, indicating its proximity to the Earth.

Initially, the object was thought to be an asteroid orbiting the Earth and was hence given a name by the Minor Planet Center.

  • However, scientists have now concluded that the Near-Earth Object called 2020 SO is the rocket booster that helped lift the space agency’s Surveyor spacecraft toward the Moon in 1966.

What was Surveyor-2?

The Surveyor-2 spacecraft was supposed to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface in September 1966, during which time one of the three thrusters failed to ignite as a result of which the spacecraft started spinning and crashed on the surface.

  • The aim of the mission was to reconnoiter the lunar surface ahead of the Apollo missions that led to the first lunar landing in 1969.

What happened then?

While the spacecraft crashed into the Moon’s surface, the rocket booster disappeared into an unknown orbit around the Sun.

About Pan-STARRS1 telescope:

The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, Pan-STARRS for short, is a system for wide-field astronomical imaging, developed and operated by the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.

  • Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) is the first part of Pan-STARRS to be completed. The PS1 survey uses a 1.8-meter telescope and its 1.4 Gigapixel camera to image the sky.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


U.S. to block import of ‘slave labour’ cotton from China:

The United States will block imports of cotton that, it says, is harvested with “slave labour” in China’s Xinjiang region.

  • Beijing has come under intense international criticism over its policies in the resource-rich territory, where rights groups say as many as one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are being held in internment camps.

Not using masks flouts fundamental rights: SC:

The Supreme Court has observed that- People who do not wear masks in public and follow physical distancing norms violate the fundamental rights of others amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lottery, gambling and betting taxable under GST Act: SC:

  • The court held that lottery, betting and gambling were “actionable claims” and came within the definition of ‘goods’ under Section 2(52) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.
  • The Court said the levy of GST on lotteries did not amount to “hostile discrimination”.

What’s the issue?

Arguments were made by Skill Lotto Solutions and other lottery agents. They said lottery was not ‘goods’ and GST on it was illegal.

“Culture of Peace” session:

  • Organised by the UN General Assembly.
  • The UN has organised such sessions each year since 1997.
  • The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 1999.
  • This occurred after ten months of negotiations in the context of preparations for the International Year for the Culture of Peace.

At the latest session, India asked the United Nations to expand its criticism of hatred and violence against religions beyond the three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Arecibo telescope:

Context:

Puerto Rico’s massive Arecibo telescope, famous for its stellar contributions to astronomy, collapsed.

Key points:

  • Built in 1963, it is the second-largest single-dish radio telescope in the world.
  • Being the most powerful radar, scientists employed Arecibo to observe planets, asteroids and the ionosphere, making several discoveries over the decades, including finding prebiotic molecules in distant galaxies, the first exoplanets, and the first millisecond pulsar.

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