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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 11 February 2021

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. Breach of privilege.

2. Impact of School closure on foundational abilities of students.

3. Indo-Pacific.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020.

2. World Sustainable Development Summit.

3. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Furnace oil.

2. INS Viraat.

3. Meri Saheli Initiative.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

Breach of Privilege:


Context:

BJP MP P.P. Chaudhary has issued a breach of privilege notice against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra in the Lok Sabha for her remarks against a former Chief Justice of India.

What’s the issue?

While speaking on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, she has cast some aspersions with respect to the conduct of a judge. So the question is whether the conduct of a judge can be discussed on the floor of the House or not.

(Article 121 of the Constitution does not allow allegations to be levelled against a sitting or former judge).

What are privileges?

Parliamentary privilege refers to the right and immunity enjoyed by legislatures, in which legislators are granted protection against civil or criminal liability for actions done or statements made in the course of their legislative duties.

Which provisions of the Constitution protect the privileges of the legislature?

The powers, privileges and immunities of either House of the Indian Parliament and of its Members and committees are laid down in Article 105 of the Constitution.

  • Similarly, Article 194 deals with the powers, privileges and immunities of the State Legislatures, their Members and their committees.

What constitutes a breach of this privilege?

There are no clear, notified rules to decide what constitutes a breach of privilege, and the punishment it attracts.

  • Generally, any act that obstructs or impedes either House of the state legislature in performing its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results is treated as breach of privilege.
  • It is also a breach of privilege and contempt of the House to make speeches or to print or publish libel reflecting on the character or proceedings of the House, or its Committees, or on any member of the House for or relating to his character or conduct as a legislator.

What is the procedure to be followed in cases of alleged breach of the legislature’s privilege?

  • The Legislative Assembly Speaker or Legislative Council Chairman constitutes a Privileges Committee.
  • The members to the committee are nominated based on the party strength in the Houses.
  • Speaker or Chairman first decides on the motions.
  • If the privilege and contempt are found prima facie, then the Speaker or Chairman will forward it to the Privileges Committee by following the due procedure.
  • The Committee will examine whether statements made by him had insulted the state legislature and its Members, and whether their image was maligned before the public.
  • The Committee, which has quasi-judicial powers, will seek an explanation from all the concerned, will conduct an inquiry and will make a recommendation based on the findings to the state legislature for its consideration.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Which provisions of the Constitution protect the privileges of the legislature?
  2. What is the procedure to be followed in cases of alleged breach of the legislature’s privilege?
  3. Composition and functions of Privileges Committees in Parliament and State Legislatures.
  4. What is the punishment for an individual who is found guilty of breaching the legislature’s privilege?
  5. Can the Courts intervene in matters involving breach of privileges of state legislatures?
  6. How is the independence of the Indian Judiciary protected under the Constitution?

Mains Link:

What do you understand by legislative privileges? Discuss the problem of legislative privileges as seen in India time to time.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to Education.

Impact of School closure on foundational abilities of students:


Context:

Azim Premji University conducted a field study to assess the impact of Covid- 19 induced lockdown on students.

  • The study was titled ‘Loss of Learning during the Pandemic’.

Key findings:

  1. Children missed out on the regular curricular learning they would have acquired had schools remained open.
  2. They are also ‘forgetting’ what they had learnt in previous year.
  3. On an average, 92% of students from Classes II to VI have lost at least one specific foundational ability in languages that they may have acquired in previous years. The corresponding figure for mathematics is 82%.

What are foundational abilities?

Foundational abilities are those that form the basis for further learning. Some examples of foundational abilities include reading a paragraph with comprehension, addition and subtraction.

  • In mathematics, foundation abilities include identifying single and two-digit numbers; performing arithmetic operations; using basic arithmetic operations to solve problems; and reading and drawing inferences from data, among others.

What are the challenges ahead?

When schools reopen, teachers have to be given time to cover this deficit and be provided with other support. A carefully synchronised set of measures across States will be required.

Suggestions:

Eliminating vacations, extending the academic year well into 2021 and perhaps beyond depending on when schools open and reconfiguring the syllabus.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are foundational values?
  2. Key findings of the study.

Mains Link:

Discuss the impact of Covid- 19 induced lockdown on foundational abilities of the students.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Indo-Pacific:


Context:

India is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region, says U.S.

  • It has also welcomed India’s emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region.

What is Indo- Pacific?

The idea of the Indo-Pacific as a single strategic space is an outgrowth of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. It signifies the interconnectedness of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the importance of the oceans to security and commerce.

Importance of Indo-Pacific region:

  1. Maintaining regional stability.
  2. Strong ties with the US are seen as a vital tool for enhancing India’s strategic posture.
  3. For the long-term vision of national interest.
  4. China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean region as well as its efforts to expand geopolitical reach in Asia and beyond by the use of trade and military.
  5. For adhering to freedom of navigation, adherence to rules-based order and stable trade environment.
  6. For free sea and air lanes, connectivity and upholding international rules and norms.

Role and Implications for India in the Indo – pacific region:

  • The Indo-Pacific, as described in the National security strategy, represents the most populous and economically dynamic part of the world and stretches from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States.
  • India has always been a country with great national ambitions and is one of the most important advocates of the concept of “Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
  • With opening of economy, India has been connecting with its Indian Ocean neighbours and major maritime powers of the world.

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InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Pacific Region.
  2. Overview of Indian Ocean Region.
  3. Important straits, bays and passes in these regions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the strategic significance of Indo- Pacific region for India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure.

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020:


Context:

The Rajya Sabha passed the Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020 with 84 votes in favour and 44 against.

  • The Bill aimed to make the ports world class and give the port authorities power to make their own decisions.
  • The bill will replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

Aims and objectives:

  1. Decentralise decision making and infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.
  2. Impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.
  3. Reorient the governance model in central ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice.

Key features:

The Bill proposes to create a Board of Major Port Authority, for each major port. These Boards will replace the existing Port Trusts under the 1963 Act, that are comprised of members appointed by the central government.

Composition of Board:

The Board will comprise of a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson, to be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a selection committee. Further, it will include one member each from (i) concerned State Government in which the Major Port is situated, (ii) Ministry of Railways, (iii) Ministry of Defence, and (iv) Customs Department.

The Board will also include two to four independent members, two members representing the interests of the employees of the Major Port Authority, and one member not below the rank of Director (nominated by the Central Government).

Powers of the Board:

The Bill allows the Board to use its property, assets and funds as deemed fit for the development of the major port. The Board can also make rules on: (i) declaring availability of port assets for port related activities and services, (ii) developing infrastructure facilities such as setting up new ports, jetties, and (iii) providing exemption or remission from payment of any charges on any goods or vessels.

Adjudicatory Board:

The Bill proposes to constitute an Adjudicatory Board, to be appointed by the Central Government, to replace the existing Tariff Authority under the 1963 Act. It will consist of a Presiding Officer and two members.

Functions of Adjudicatory Board:

Functions of the Adjudicatory Board will include: (i) certain functions being carried out by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, (ii) adjudicating on disputes or claims related to rights and obligations of major ports and PPP concessionaires, and (iii) reviewing stressed PPP projects.

What are the concerns against the Bill?

  1. The Bill may encourage privatization of Shipping & Ports sector.
  2. There is no clarity so far as the Selection Committee that will appoint the Chairperson to the Adjudicatory Board is concerned.

What is landlord model?

  • In the landlord port model, the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord while private companies carry out port operations—mainly cargo-handling activities.
  • Here, the port authority maintains ownership of the port while the infrastructure is leased to private firms that provide and maintain their own superstructure and install own equipment to handle cargo.
  • In return, the landlord port gets a share of the revenue from the private entity.
  • The role of the landlord port authority would be to carry out all public sector services and operations such as the award of bids for cargo terminals and dredging.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Major vs Minor ports, location of major ports in India
  2. Major ports are administered by and minor ports are administered by.
  3. Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 vs Major Port Authorities Bill 2020.
  4. Landlord port model vs Service Port model vs Hybrid Annuity Model.
  5. Composition of Board of Port Authority.
  6. Role of state governments in creating specific master plan for ports located there.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Landlord Port model.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

World Sustainable Development Summit:


Context:

20th edition of the event was inaugurated recently.

Theme: Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all.

About the World Sustainable Development Summit:

  • It is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
  • It is the sole Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world.
  • It provides a platform for global leaders and practitioners to discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.
  • It strives to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the world’s most enlightened leaders and thinkers on a single platform.

It is continuing the legacy of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.

The Energy and Resources Institute – TERI:

  • It is a leading think tank dedicated to conducting research for sustainable development of India and the Global South.
  • TERI was established in 1974 as an information centre on energy issues. However, over the following decades, it made a mark as a research institute, whose policy and technology solutions transformed people’s lives and the environment.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:


Context:

As per the 2019 Crime in India Report compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau:

  1. Only 2.2 % of cases registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act between the years 2016 and 2019 ended in convictions by court.
  2. The total number of the persons arrested and the persons convicted in the years from 2016 to 2019 under the UAPA in the country are 5,922 and 132, respectively.
  3. In the year 2019, as many as 96 persons were arrested for sedition (Section 194A IPC) but only two were convicted and 29 persons were acquitted.

About the 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.

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.
  • It also includes the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist.

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:


Furnace oil:

  • Fuel oil, also called furnace oil, fuel consisting mainly of residues from crude-oil distillation.
  • It is used primarily for steam boilers in power plants, aboard ships, and in industrial plants.
  • Commercial fuel oils usually are blended with other petroleum fractions to produce the desired viscosity and flash point.
  • Flash point is usually higher than that of kerosene.
  • The term fuel oil ordinarily does not include such fuels as kerosene.

INS Viraat:

  • Originally commissioned by the British Navy as HMS Hermes on November 18, 1959, the aircraft carrier had taken part in the Falkland Islands war in 1982.
  • India bought the British carrier in 1986 and rechristened it as INS Viraat.
  • INS Viraat is the Guinness record holder for being the longest-serving warship of the world.

Meri Saheli Initiative:

  • Launched as Pilot Project by Railway Protection Force (RPF) across South Eastern Railway for security of women passengers in trains originating in that zone.
  • Considering its success in instilling a sense of security among women passengers, this initiative has been rolled over to all zonal railways across Indian Railways’ network from 17.10.2020.

 


Articles Covered previously:


  1. Both sides disengaging from Pangong lake area, says China.

Link:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2021/01/12/china-draws-back-troops-from-lac/.


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