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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 31 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. 

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Freedom of Religion.

2. Uniform Civil Code.

3. Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

4. Model code of conduct.

5. New Development Bank (NDB).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Centre likely to extend foreign trade policy.

2. 2020 Human Rights Report.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Sabarmati River Front Development project.

2. Telangana raises age of retirement to 61.

3. Nacaduba sinhala ramaswamii Sadasivan.

4. ‘Ānandam: The Center for Happiness’.


GS Paper  :  2


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

Freedom of Religion:


Context:

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking declaration of 26 verses of the Quran as unconstitutional, non-effective and non- functional on the ground that these promote extremism and terrorism and pose a serious threat to the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country.

Can such a belief be protected under freedom of religion?

Certainly not, as freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to public order, health, morality and other fundamental rights.

No one can take away anybody’s life as it would be contrary to Article 21, which guarantees right to life and personal liberty to everyone.

What’s the issue now?

  1. The petitioner has named three secretaries of the Centre as respondents. But, in purely legal terms, the writ jurisdiction lies against the “state’” and all these persons named as respondents are certainly not ‘state’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.
  2. Also, Under Indian law, only a “law” can be challenged as unconstitutional (Defined under Article 13(3)). Any religious scripture including the Quran is not considered a law. The divine books can be sources of law but not law in themselves.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of state under article 12.
  2. Article 13(3) is related to?
  3. Writ jurisdiction of Supreme Court and High Courts.
  4. Overview of Articles 21 and 25.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of freedom of religion under the Indian Constitution.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

 

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

Uniform Civil Code:


Context:

Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde recently lauded Goa’s Uniform Civil Code, and encouraged “intellectuals” indulging in “academic talk” to visit the state to learn more about it.

  • UCC in Goa applies in marriage and succession, governing all Goans irrespective of religious affiliation.

Background:

Whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territories of India, till date no action has been taken in this regard.

What is uniform civil code?

A generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion.

What the constitution says?

Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.

India needs a Uniform Civil Code for the following reasons:

  • A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
  • Gender justice: The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
  • Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.

Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?

Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters – Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.

Why is UCC not desirable at this point?

  • Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
  • Cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UCC.
  2. What are DPSPs.
  3. Enforcement of DPSPs.
  4. Shah Bano case is related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss why is UCC not desirable for India at this point?

Sources: Indian Express.

 

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

Overseas Citizens of India (OCI):


Context:

People of Indian origin and the Indian diaspora having Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards will not have to carry their old, expired passports for travel to India, as was required earlier, according to a government notification.

Who are OCI cardholders?

  • Government of India launched the ‘Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme’ by making amendments to Citizenship Act, 1955 in 2005.
  • On 09 January 2015, the Government of India discontinued the PIO card and merged it with OCI card.

Eligibility:

Government of India allows the following categories of foreign nationals to apply for OCI Card.

Exceptions:

Anyone who is applying for OCI card should hold a valid Passport of another country.

  • Individuals who do not have citizenship of any other country are not eligible to gain an OCI status.
  • Individuals whose parents or grandparents hold citizenship of Pakistan and Bangladesh are not eligible to apply.

Benefits for OCI cardholders:

  1. Lifelong Visa to visit India multiple times. (special permission needed for research work in India).
  2. No need to register with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay.
  3. Except for acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties, OCI card holders have similar facilities that are extended to NRIs in economic, financial and educational fields.
  4. Same treatment as of NRIs in respect to Inter-country adoption of Indian children.
  5. Also treated at par with NRIs regarding – entry fees for national monuments, practice of professions like doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, Chartered Accountants & Pharmacists.
  6. At par with NRIs to participate in All India Pre-medical tests and such.
  7. Treated at par with Indian citizens in matters of traffic in airfares in Indian domestic sectors.
  8. Same entry fee as for Indians for entry into India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  9. OCI booklet can be used as identification to avail services. An affidavit can be attached with local address as residential proof.

There are certain restrictions placed on OCI card holders:

  1. Do not have right to vote.
  2. Do not have right to any public service/government jobs
  3. Cannot hold offices of – Prime Minister, President, Vice -President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, member of Parliament or Member of state legislative assembly or council.
  4. Cannot own agricultural property.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Citizen.
  2. POI vs OCI vs NRI.
  3. Who can grant and revoke citizenship?
  4. Dual citizenship in India.
  5. Applicability of right to vote and contest in elections for OCI card holders.
  6. Can OCI holders buy agricultural land?
  7. Who cannot be issued OCI cards?

Mains Link:

Who are overseas citizens of India? What are the benefits available for OCI card holders? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

Model code of conduct:


Context:

In a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Trinamool Congress has alleged that his recent tour of Bangladesh amounts to a violation of the model code of conduct.

Background:

Mr. Modi visited Bangladesh to participate in the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh and the birth centenary of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 26.

Model Code of Conduct (MCC):

What is MCC?

These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.

  • This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which mandates EC to conduct free and fair elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.

Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.

When it comes into force?

So far, the Model Code of Conduct came into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.

Status:

The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.

Evolution:

The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.

What it contains?

The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.

Enforcement:

The EC has devised several mechanisms to take note of the violation of the code, which include joint task forces of enforcement agencies and flying squads. The latest is the introduction of the cVIGIL mobile app through which audio-visual evidence of malpractices can be reported.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is MCC?
  2. Does it have any statutory backing?
  3. Issued and enforced by?
  4. What happens if violated?
  5. Evolution.

 

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of MCC.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

New Development Bank (NDB):


Context:

Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has urged the New Development Bank (NDB) to consider working closely with India’s new development financing institution for funding infrastructure.

Background:

NDB has so far approved 18 projects in India, including emergency loans of $2 billion to support health spending and economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About NDB:

It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

  • It was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
  • It was established in 2014, at the 6th BRICS Summit at Fortaleza, Brazil.
  • The bank is set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.
  • Headquartered in Shanghai, China.

In 2018, the NDB received observer status in the United Nations General Assembly, establishing a firm basis for active and fruitful cooperation with the UN.

Voting:

Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.

Roles and functions:

The Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

 

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. NDB- members and voting powers.
  2. Where it can invest?
  3. Which are the NDB funded projects in India?
  4. Fortaleza declaration is related to?
  5. When was NDB established?
  6. NDB vs World Bank vs AIIB.

Mains Link:

Discuss the objectives and significance of NDB.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

 


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Centre likely to extend foreign trade policy:


 

Context:

The government is expected to further extend the existing foreign trade policy, which is scheduled to lapse from April 1 this year, for a few more months.

  • On March 31, 2020, the Centre had extended the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 for one year till March 31, 2021, amid the pandemic and lockdown.

Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20:

  • FTP 2015-20 provides a framework for increasing exports of goods and services as well as generation of employment and increasing value addition in the country, in line with the ‘Make in India’ programme.
  • FTP 2015-20 introduces two new schemes, namely ‘Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)’ for export of specified goods to specified markets and ‘Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)’ for increasing exports of notified services.
  • Duty credit scrips issued under MEIS and SEIS and the goods imported against these scrips are fully transferable.
  • Specific Export Obligation under Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme, in case capital goods are procured from indigenous manufacturers, has been reduced to 75% of the normal export obligation, in order to promote domestic capital goods manufacturing industry.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of FTP 2015- 2020.
  2. What are duty credit scrips?
  3. About EPCG scheme.
  4. About MEIS.
  5. About SEIS.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for Foreign Trade Policy.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

2020 Human Rights Report:


Context:

Released by the U.S. State Department.

  • The report, which is submitted each year to the U.S. Congress, is retrospective and contains a country-wise discussion of the state of human rights.

Key findings:

  1. The harassment and detention of journalists critical of the Indian government in their reporting and on social media, has continued, although the government generally respected the freedom of expression.
  2. Government’s requests for user data from Internet companies had increased “dramatically.”
  3. There were several instances in which the government, or actors considered close to the government, allegedly pressured or harassed media outlets critical of the government, including through online trolling.
  4. The government made 49,382 user data requests in 2019 from Facebook, a 32% increase from 2018. Over the same period, Google requests increased by 69%, while Twitter requests saw a 68% increase.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Sabarmati River Front Development project:

It is an environmental improvement, social uplift and urban rejuvenation project that will renew Ahmedabad. The project will reclaim approximately 200 hectares of land from the riverbed.

About the Sabarmati river:

  • It is one of the west flowing rivers along with Narmada and Tapti.
  • It Originates from Aravalli hills near Tepur village in Udaipur Dist of state Rajasthan.
  • Mouth of the river: Gulf of Cambey ( Khambhat).
  • Ahmedabad city is located along the bank of this river.

 

 

Telangana raises age of retirement to 61:

The retirement age of State government employees in Telangana has been enhanced to 61. The Act in this regard was published in an extraordinary gazette issued on March 27.

Nacaduba sinhala ramaswamii Sadasivan:

It is a new butterfly species discovered in the Agasthyamalai in the Western Ghats.

 

‘Ānandam: The Center for Happiness’:

  • Launched by Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Jammu.
  • The center will help people overcome mental stress and help spread positivity and it will encourage and propagate holistic development for all the stakeholders at IIM Jammu.

 


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