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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 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. Three capitals for Andhra Pradesh- Issues.

2. Can states refuse to implement Central laws?

3. Mamata refuses to allow 3 IPS officers to go to Centre.

4. Human Freedom Index 2020.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Amendment to Karnataka Land Reforms Act.

2. Geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

3. Should you invest in Bitcoin?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Haldibari-Chilahati Rail Link.

2. Yogasana is now a sport.

3. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

4. Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Three capitals for Andhra Pradesh- Issues:


Context:

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president N. Chandrababu Naidu has challenged Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to hold a referendum on the idea of the three capitals.

Three- capitals:

On July 31 the state government notified the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, and the AP Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Act, 2020.

This law paves the way for three capitals for the state.

  1. Amaravati– legislative capital.
  2. Visakhapatnam– executive capital.
  3. Kurnool– judicial capital.

Need for three capitals:

  1. The government says it is against building one mega capital while neglecting other parts of the state. Three capitals ensure equal development of different regions of the state.
  2. Decentralisation has been the central theme in recommendations of all major committees that were set up to suggest a suitable location for the capital of Andhra Pradesh. These include Justice B N Srikrishna Committee, K Sivaramakrishnan Committee, G N Rao Committee etc.

Why implementing this idea will be difficult?

  1. Coordination and logistics fear: Coordinating between seats of legislature and executive in separate cities will be easier said than done, and with the government offering no specifics of a plan, officers and common people alike fear a logistics nightmare.
  2. Time and costs of travel: Executive capital Visakhapatnam is 700 km from judicial capital Kurnool, and 400 km from legislative capital Amaravati. The Amaravati-Kurnool distance is 370 km. The time and costs of travel will be significant.

Which other Indian states have multiple capitals?

  1. Maharashtra has two capitals– Mumbai and Nagpur (which holds the winter session of the state assembly).
  2. Himachal Pradesh has capitals at Shimla and Dharamshala (winter).
  3. The former state of Jammu & Kashmir had Srinagar and Jammu (winter) as capitals.

andhra_pradesh_1

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Public Interest Litigation petition?
  2. Which Indian states have multiple capitals?
  3. AP’s proposed capitals.
  4. Various writs under the Indian constitution.

Mains Link:

Discuss the idea of multiple state capitals. Explain in what way it may impact the governance of a state in the country? Substantiate with suitable example.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Can states refuse to implement Central laws?


Context:

Delhi Assembly passes resolution rejecting agricultural laws.

  • Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has said farmers have a constitutional right to continue with their “absolutely perfect” protest as long as their dissent against the controversial agricultural laws did not slip into violence.

What’s the main issue here?

Experts argue, the three agriculture laws are a clear infringement on the states’ right to legislate.

  • The main subjects of the three acts are agriculture and market that are essentially state subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • However, the Central government finagled its way into the legislation by misconstruing its authority on food items, a subject in the Concurrent List, as authority over the subject agriculture.
  • However, food items and agricultural products are distinct categories as many agricultural products in their raw forms are not food items and vice versa.

What does the Constitution say on this?

Agriculture is in the state list under the Constitution.

But, Entry 33 of the Concurrent List provides Centre and the states powers to control production, supply and distribution of products of any industry, including agriculture.

  • Usually, when a state wants to amend a Central law made under one of the items in the concurrent list, it needs the clearance of the Centre.
  • When a state law contradicts a Central law on the same subject, the law passed by Parliament prevails.

Why the Constitution envisaged such an arrangement?

This is an arrangement envisaged as most Parliament laws apply to the whole of India and states amending the Central laws indiscriminately could lead to inconsistencies in different regions on the application of the same law. In matters of trade and commerce, this could especially pose serious problems.

The other option available with the states is:

To take Centre to the Supreme Court over the validity of these laws.

  • Article 131 of the Constitution provides exclusive jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to adjudicate matters between the states and the Centre.
  • Article 254 (2) of the Constitution empowers state governments to pass legislations which negate the Central acts in the matters enumerated under the Concurrent List.
    • A state legislation passed under Article 254 (2) requires the assent of the President of India.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Articles 131 and 254(2).
  2. Overview of 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  3. What happens when a State’s law contravenes centre’s law?

Mains Link:

The three agriculture laws passed by the Centre recently are a clear infringement on the states’ right to legislate. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Role of civil services in a democracy.

Mamata refuses to allow 3 IPS officers to go to Centre:


Context:

The Union government has demanded that the West Bengal relieve three serving IPS officers for Central deputation. However, the state has expressed its strong reservations against the move.

  • The state has described the Centre’s order as a “colourable exercise of power and a blatant misuse of emergency provision of the IPS Cadre Rule, 1954”.

Background:

Despite the objection of the State government, the Union government called the three IPS officers on central deputation. The officers were deployed for the security of BJP president J.P. Nadda when his convoy was attacked on December 10.

What the rules say?

  • For the premier civil services — IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service — officers of the state cadre are allotted by the Centre from a pool of officers.
  • From time to time, a certain number of officers are sent on central deputation.
  • The Home Ministry is the authority in control of IPS cadre, the Department of Personnel and Training for the IAS cadre, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for IFS cadre.

Who can take action?

The Centre can take no action against civil service officials who are posted under the state government as per Rule 7 of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969.

  • For any action to be taken on an officer of the All India Services (IAS, IPS, IFS), the state and the Centre both need to agree.

Rule 6(1) of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954 says about deputation: “in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the central Government and the state government or state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.”

Implications:

Under the Home Ministry’s deputation policy for IPS officers, if an officer on offer is selected for a Central posting and does not report either on his own or at the instance of the State Government, he would be debarred for consideration for a post under the Government of India for a period of five years.

  • Officers, who have already been debarred, should not be offered before the debarment period is over.
  • Being debarred from central deputation, however, hardly bothers an official if they prefer to work in their state.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Rules related to All India Services.
  2. Responsibility to manage cadres of IAS, IPS and IFS.
  3. Civil services board.
  4. Who has powers to take action against civil service officials who are posted under the state government?
  5. What is Home Ministry’s deputation policy for IPS officers?

Mains Link:

Discuss what are emergency provisions under the IPS Cadre Rule, 1954.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Human Freedom Index 2020:


Context:

The Human Freedom Index 2020, a worldwide ranking of civil, economic and personal freedom, was released recently.

  • The index was published by American think tank Cato Institute and Fraser Institute in Canada.
  • It takes into account 76 indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedoms to rank 162 countries from 2008 to 2018.

India’s performance:

  • It placed India at the 111th spot out of 162 countries.
  • India ranked 94 on the index in 2019.
  • India is ahead of China and Bangladesh, which ranked 129 and 139 on the 2020 index respectively.

Global Performances:

  • New Zealand, Switzerland and Hong Kong bagged the first three spots.
  • However, Hong Kong’s rank is expected to decline in the future, because of China’s “aggressive interventions” in the region in 2019 and 2020.
  • War-torn Syria ranked the last on the list.
  • The world has seen a notable decline in personal freedom since 2008.
  • The report continues to find a strong, positive relationship between freedom and prosperity, but also finds that here is an unequal distribution of freedom in the world.

India’s performances in various other indices:

India has dropped on several global freedom indexes.

  1. Democracy watchdog Freedom House’s report in October showed that internet freedom in India declined for a third straight year in 2019-’20.
  2. The Global Economic Freedom Index 2020 released in September showed India drop 26 spots from 79 to 105.
  3. The World Press Freedom Index, which was released in April, saw India slip two places. India ranked 142 on the index comprising of 180 countries and territories.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

Overview of the following indices and India’s performance in them:

  1. Human Freedom Index 2020.
  2. Global Economic Freedom Index 2020.
  3. The World Press Freedom Index.
  4. Human Development Index.

Mains Link:

Analyse India’s performance in the latest Human Freedom Index 2020.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Land reforms in India.

Amendment to Karnataka Land Reforms Act:


Context:

The opposition has called amendments to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961 a “death warrant” for farmers.

What are the latest amendments?

The Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has repealed three key sections of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act of 1961 which imposed certain restrictions on ownership of farmland.

  1. The amendments have done away with Section 79A of the Act that allowed only those earning less than Rs 25 lakh per annum to buy agricultural land.
  2. Section 79B that said only people earning a living through agriculture could buy agricultural land.
  3. The amendment has also removed Section 79C of the Act, which allowed revenue departments to investigate alleged violations of Sections 79A and 79B during land purchases.

Rationale behind amendment:

  1. Sections proposed to be repealed from the Act were only facilitating corruption in the offices of land registrars and tahsildar rather than benefiting farmers who wanted to sell their land.
  2. Irrigated agricultural land, and land owned by SC/ST communities, will remain protected as farmland despite the amendments.

What are the objections?

Concern now is that this amendment will result in the loss of agricultural land that could have been cultivated to meet food requirements and it is intended to benefit the real estate mafia in Bengaluru.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO):


Context:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully placed into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) India’s 42nd communications satellite, CMS-01, carried on board the PSLV-C50, from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota Range.

  • This was PSLV’s 52nd mission.

About CMS-01:

  • It is a communications satellite envisaged for providing services in extended C Band of the frequency spectrum and its coverage will include the Indian mainland and the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.
  • The satellite is expected to have a life of over seven years.

Different orbits:

  • A Geosynchonous Orbit (GEO) takes a satellite around the Earth at a rate of once per day, keeping it roughly in the same area over the ground.
  • A Geostationary Orbit (GSO) is a geosynchronous orbit with an inclination of zero, meaning, it lies on the equator.

All geostationary satellites are geosynchronous. Not all geosynchronous satellites are geostationary.

What, then, is a transfer orbit?

  • Rockets sending payloads to geosynchronous and geostationary orbits drop off their payload in transfer orbits, halfway points en route to the satellite’s final position.
  • From transfer orbit, a satellite conducts engine burns to circularize its orbit and change its inclination.

transfer_orbit

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a geostationary orbit?
  2. What is a geosynchronous orbit?
  3. What is a polar orbit?
  4. What is a transfer orbit?
  5. About PSLV.

Mains Link:

What are communication satellites? Discuss their significance for India.

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.

Should you invest in Bitcoin?


Context:

Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, has crossed $20,000 in value.

What is a Bitcoin?

An electronic cash system, which would “allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution”.

How does a Bitcoin work?

A person, or a group of people, who went by the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto are said to have conceptualised an accounting system in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

  1. Bitcoin from a user’s perspective is “nothing more than a mobile app or computer program that provides a personal Bitcoin wallet and allows a user to send and receive Bitcoins with them”.
  2. Bitcoins are generally identified with a Bitcoin address, which comprises 26-35 alphanumeric characters starting with either “1” or “3”.
  3. This address, which remains anonymous, represents the destination of a Bitcoin, or a fraction.

How are transactions maintained?

Nakamoto mooted an idea for a publicly available, open ledger that would contain all the transactions ever made, albeit in an anonymous and an encrypted form. This ledger is called blockchain.

  • Considering the public and open nature of the ledger, proponents of this currency system believe it could help weed out corruption and inefficiencies in the system.

What has led to the rise in Bitcoin prices?

The prices have been driven by various factors, including increased acceptance during the pandemic.

  1. Globally, large players like payments firm PayPal, and Indian lenders like State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Yes Bank, have given legitimacy to cryptocurrency through some of their decisions.
  2. In India, accounts of several exchanges were frozen by financial institutions back in 2018 following a fiat from the Reserve Bank of India that barred banks from using their systems for cryptocurrency-related transactions. However, the Supreme Court ruled against this order in March this year.
  3. The biggest factor (in the recent rise of Bitcoin prices) has been the fact that some pension funds and insurance funds took permission to park a small part of their portfolio in Bitcoins.

How is it being regulated worldwide?

While many regulators around the world have been warning against trading in Bitcoin, some have backed it. In 2017, Japan accepted Bitcoin as legal currency and even officially recognised exchanges dealing in the cryptocurrency.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various cryptocurrencies.
  2. Cryptocurrencies launched by various countries.
  3. What is Blockchain technology?

Mains Link:

What are Cryptocurrencies? Why there is a need for regulation? Discuss.

 Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Haldibari-Chilahati Rail Link:

  • The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was made functional from December 17.
  • It is the 5th rail link between India and Bangladesh.
  • This rail link was operational till 1965. This was part of the broad gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during partition. However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between India and the then East Pakistan.
  • After the partition in 1947, seven rail links were operational between India and the then East Pakistan (up to 1965).
  • Presently, there are four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh. They are Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)-Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh).”

Haldibari_Chilahati_Rail

Yogasana is now a sport:

  • The Central government has decided to promote yogasana as a competitive sport.
  • The National Board of Promotion and Development of Yoga and Naturopathy in 2019 recommended that yogasana be recognised as a competitive sport.
  • An exhaustive document containing rules, regulations and syllabus for yogasana competitions had been prepared.
  • Implications: State and national and world championships in yogasana are proposed in 2021. A pilot national individual yogasana sports championship (virtual mode) is proposed for February 2021.

Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC):

  • CERC is a statutory body functioning under Sec 76 of the Electricity Act 2003.
  • It was initially constituted under the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998 in the year 1998.
  • The Commission intends to promote competition, efficiency and economy in bulk power markets, improve the quality of supply, promote investments and advise government on the removal of institutional barriers to bridge the demand supply gap and thus foster the interests of consumers.

Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU):

  • It is a non-profit, non-governmental, non- political, professional association of broadcasting organisations, which assist development of broadcasting in region.
  • It was established in 1964, and has Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With over 272 member in 76 countries on four continents, ABU is biggest broadcasting union in the world.
  • ABU is also member of the World Broadcasters’ Union.

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