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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 16 March 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. How Election Commission decides on party symbols?

2. National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

3. NOTA (None Of The Above).

4. National Population Register (NPR).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP).

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Govt. opposes inclusion of judges, lawyers in vaccine priority group.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Adani Ports to develop container terminal in Sri Lanka.

2. Great Indian Bustard.

3. SIPRI report on arms imports and exports.

4. Baralacha Pass.

5. National Institutes of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019.

6. Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant-Human Attacks using Bees).

 


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

How Election Commission decides on party symbols?


Context:

The Supreme Court had upheld Kerala High Court’s confirmation of an Election Commission order declaring a group led by Jose K. Mani as the official Kerala Congress (Mani) and granting it the official election symbol of ‘Two Leaves’.

Background:

The Kerala High Court had, in November 2020, dismissed the petitions challenging the Election Commission’s order declaring the group led by Jose K Mani as the official Kerala Congress (M) and granting it the official election symbol of “two leaves”.

  • The Court said it cannot, in the exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, interfere with the finding of the Commission.

How are symbols allotted to political parties?

As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:

  1. A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.
  2. Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  3. When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

Powers of Election Commission:

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols.

  • Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, it can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.
  • The EC is also the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.

How many types of symbols are there?

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either:

  1. Reserved: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols.
  2. Free: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Recognition of political parties.
  2. What are state parties and national parties?
  3. Benefits for recognized parties.
  4. Who assigns party symbols? What are the types?
  5. Who decides on issues related to merger of political parties?
  6. Article 226 is related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss how are symbols allotted to political parties?

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021:


Context:

The bill was recently moved in Lok Sabha.

The Bill:

  1. Proposes to amend Sections 21, 24, 33 and 44 of the 1991 Act.
  2. Proposes that the “government” in the National Capital Territory of Delhi meant the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi.
  3. Gives discretionary powers to the L-G even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.
  4. Seeks to ensure that the L-G is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to give her or his opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers (or the Delhi Cabinet) is implemented.
  5. Adds that the L-G’s opinion shall be obtained before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister.
  6. Bars the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning day-to-day administration, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.

How is Delhi currently administered?

Delhi is a Union Territory with a legislature and it came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA of the Constitution inserted by the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991.

As per the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police and land.

What’s the issue now?

The Bill has revived the dispute on the distribution of powers between the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G).

The Supreme Court too had intervened in the matter and delivered its verdict in 2018.

Supreme Court’s 2018 verdict:

  • L-G’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land.
  • Decisions of the Council of Ministers will, however, have to be communicated to the L-G.
  • The L-G was bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
  • The status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor.

Concerns:

By making it mandatory for the elected government to route all its files through the L-G, the amendments will essentially take away the government’s autonomy and the dream for full statehood for the state.

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.

 

Topic covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

NOTA (None Of The Above):


Context:

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and the Election Commission of India to respond to a plea that fresh elections should be conducted in constituencies where the highest number of votes polled are NOTA (None Of The Above).

Petitioner’s demands:

  • Candidates ‘rejected’ by voters should not be fielded again in the fresh polls.
  • The electorate will be armed with the “right to reject” and this shall provide a better choice of candidates to pick from.

Challenges:

  • If voters kept rejecting candidates, Parliament/Assembly seats would continue to remain vacant, affecting legislative functioning.
  • Political parties could also influence voters to not vote in a particular constituency.

The use of NOTA in elections:

The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013. Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.

Why have NOTA if there’s ‘no electoral value’?

  • NOTA gives people dissatisfied with contesting candidates an opportunity to express their disapproval.
  • This, in turn, increases the chances of more people turning up to cast their votes, even if they do not support any candidate, and decreases the count of bogus votes.
  • Also, the Supreme Court has observed that negative voting could bring about “a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates”.

NOTA in Rajya Sabha:

  • The Supreme Court, in 2018, held that the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not for polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The court held that making NOTA applicable in Rajya Sabha elections is contrary to Article 80(4) of the constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment in PUCL v Union of India (2013).
  • It is because NOTA defeats the fairness in indirect elections, it ignores the role of an elector in such an election and destroys democratic values and encourages malpractices like defection and corruption.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is NOTA?
  2. Procedure to cast NOTA vote.
  3. When was it for the first time used?

Mains Link:

Right to reject and elect new candidate will give power to the people to express their discontent. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

National Population Register:


Context:

The Centre is planning to allow residents to fill the National Population Register (NPR) form on their own, through the online mode, a month before the door-to-door enumeration by Census officials starts.

The plan:

  • After filling the form online, residents will get a reference code that they can mention to the field enumerator at the time of her or his visit.
  • The details of the respondent will be displayed on a mobile application developed for conducting the Census exercise but no “biometrics or documents” will be collected. These details will then be stored in the system.

What is National Population Register (NPR)?

It is a Register of usual residents of the country.

  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.

Objective: To create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.

The NPR was first collected in 2010 and then updated in 2015.

Who is a usual resident?

A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Constitutional provisions related to Citizenship.
  2. Components of NPR data.
  3. Who is an usual resident?
  4. Who prepares NPR?
  5. How can a person acquire Indian citizenship?
  6. Can an Indian citizen hold dual citizenship?
  7. About RGI.

Mains Link:

Why are states opposed to the collection of data under NPR. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP):


Context:

Launched by the Centre to address cyclone risks in the country.

  • The objective of the Project is to undertake suitable structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states and UTs of India.

About the Project:

  • To be implemented by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs, along with coordination from the respective state governments and the National Institute for Disaster Management (NIDM).
  • The Project has identified 13 cyclone prone States and Union Territories (UTs), with varying levels of vulnerability.
  • To be assisted by the World Bank.

These States/UT have further been classified into two categories, based on the frequency of occurrence of cyclone, size of population and the existing institutional mechanism for disaster management.

  1. Category I: Higher vulnerability States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  2. Category II: Lower vulnerability States i.e. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Components of the Project:

  • Improved early warning dissemination systems.
  • Enhanced capacity of local communities to respond to disasters.
  • Improved access to emergency shelter, evacuation, and protection against wind storms, flooding and storm surge in high areas.
  • Strengthening DRM capacity at central, state and local levels in order to enable mainstreaming of risk mitigation measures into the overall development agenda.

Sources: PIB.

 


GS Paper  :  4


 

Topics Covered: Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government.

Govt. opposes inclusion of judges, lawyers in vaccine priority group:


  • A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court to include judges, lawyers and court staff in the “prioritised group of population who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first”.
  • The Centre has told the Supreme Court that prioritising COVID-19 vaccination on the basis of profession will amount to “discrimination” and is against larger national interests.
  • It said, any specific classification, either based upon the nature of trade, profession or otherwise, is neither possible nor advisable.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Adani Ports to develop container terminal in Sri Lanka:

  • Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones Ltd (APSEZ), an Adani group firm, has received the Letter of Intent (LOI) from the Sri Lankan government to develop and operate West Container Terminal (WCT) in Colombo.
  • The WCT will be developed on a build, operate and transfer basis for a period of 35 years as a public-private partnership (PPP).
  • WCT will have a quay length of 1,400 meters and alongside depth of 20 meters, thereby making it a prime transhipment cargo destination to handle Ultra Large Container Carriers.

Great Indian Bustard:

Context: The Supreme Court has decided to examine on a priority basis whether overhead power cables in natural habitats of Great Indian Bustards in Rajasthan and Gujarat can be replaced with underground ones to save these birds.

What’s the issue?

The birds are falling dead after colliding with power lines running through their dwindling natural habitats.

Great Indian Bustards (GIB):

  • IUCN status: critically endangered.
  • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972 and in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES.
  • Identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • Project Great Indian Bustard — state of Rajasthan — identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as provide secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas.
  • Protected areas: Desert National Park Sanctuary — Rajasthan, Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh and Karera Wildlife Sanctuary– Madhya Pradesh.
  • Habitats in India:
  • Only two districts in Rajasthan — Jaisalmer and Barmer — have a breeding GIB population in the wild. The bird can also be found in very small numbers in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

SIPRI report on arms imports and exports:

Released by Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Key findings:

  • India continues to remain the second largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia.
  • The U.S. was the second largest arms supplier to India in 2011–15 but in 2016–20 India’s arms imports from the U.S. were 46% lower than in the previous five-year period, making the U.S. the fourth largest supplier in 2016–20. Russia was the largest arms supplier.
  • France and Israel were the second and third largest arms suppliers in 2016–20.

Baralacha Pass:

  • For the first time ever, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has started work on reopening the crucial Baralacha Pass in Himachal Pradesh much before schedule to restore connectivity to Leh in Ladakh.
  • Baralacha Pass is a high mountain pass in Zanskar range.
  • Connects Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Leh district in Ladakh, situated along the Leh–Manali Highway.
  • The pass also acts as a water-divide between the Bhaga river and the Yunam river.

National Institutes of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019:

The Rajya Sabha passed the National Institutes of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019, that confers the status of national importance on two food technology institutes at Kundli in Haryana and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.

  • The bill facilitates these institutes in terms of providing instruction, research, and knowledge dissemination in the field of food science and technology.
  • The Bill also provides for a Board of Governors, which will act as the principal executive body of the institutes and a Council for coordinating activities and facilitating interactions for performance improvement.

Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant-Human Attacks using Bees):

  • It is an initiative of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
  • It is a sub-mission under KVIC’s National Honey Mission.
  • It intends to create “bee fences” to thwart elephant attacks in human habitations using honeybees.
  • The pilot project has been launched in Kodagu, Karnataka.
  • It entails installing bee boxes along the periphery of the forest and the villages with the belief that the elephants will not venture anywhere close to the bees and thus avoid transgressing into human landscape. This idea stems from the elephants’ proven fear of the bees.


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