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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 22 April 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 1:

1. USCIRF report.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Article 311(2)(C) of the Constitution.

2. SC paves way for ad-hoc judges in HCs.

3. World Press Freedom index.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Father of banking reforms’: Ex-RBI governor M Narasimham passes away at 94.

2. Punjab okays reward policy for drug cases.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Civil Services Day.


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

USCIRF report:


Context:

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bi-partisan commission, has released its 2021 annual report.

Highlights of the report:

The report designated 14 countries as “countries of particular concern (CPCs)” as “their governments are engaged in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.” This includes India.

Observations made about religious freedom in India by USCIRF:

  1. This year, USCIRF said that religious freedom conditions in India “continued their negative trajectory”.
  2. The government promoted Hindu nationalist policies resulting in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
  3. It particularly noted the passage of the “religiously discriminatory” Citizenship Amendment Act.
  4. The report indicated that there was seeming police complicity in the Delhi riots.
  5. Further, the report alleged that “government action including the acquittal of all individuals accused of demolishing the Babri Masjid mosque—as well as government inaction to address religious violence contributed to a culture of impunity for those promulgating hate and violence toward religious minorities.

Recommendations made by USCIRF:

  • The administration should impose targeted sanctions on Indian individuals and entities for ‘severe violations of religious freedom’.
  • It should promote inter-faith dialogue and the rights of all communities at bilateral and multilateral forums “such as the ministerial of the Quadrilateral [the Quad].”
  • Raise issues in the U.S. – India bilateral space, such as by hosting hearings, writing letters and constituting Congressional delegations.

Implications:

USCIRF recommendations are non-binding and the Trump administration had rejected the USCIRF recommendation to designate India a CPC last year, when it released its own determinations in December.

WHAT IS THE U. S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (USCIRF)?

  • USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
  • USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

What are CPCs?

CPC is designated to a nation guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The term ‘particularly severe violations of religious freedom’ means systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is USCIRF?
  2. What are countries of particular concern?
  3. About the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  4. India’s position.

Mains Link:

How successful Indian polity has been in maintaining communal harmony in the state? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  2


 

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

Article 311(2)(C) of the Constitution:


Context:

The J&K government has constituted a Special Task Force (STF) for identifying and scrutinising the government employees who are involved in any cases related to posing threat to the security or anti-national activities.

  • STF will scrutinise cases of employees suspected of activities requiring action under Article 311(2)(C) of the Constitution.

Background:

The move comes as a number of government employees in the past were found expressing their political opinion in public space on the Kashmir conflict.

  • According to an official data, scores of employees were found involved in stone-pelting, participating in anti-India demonstrations and expressing anti-national sentiments on the social media during the five-month long agitation in 2016.

Under proviso (c) to Article 311 (2):

  • Where the President is satisfied that the retention of a person in public service is prejudicial to the security of the State, his services can be terminated without recourse to the normal procedure prescribed in Article 311 (2).
  • The satisfaction referred to in the proviso is the subjective satisfaction of the President about the expediency of not giving an opportunity to the employee concerned in the interest of the security of the State.
  • This clause does not require that reasons for the satisfaction should be recorded in writing. That indicates that the power given to the President is unfettered and cannot be made a justifiable issue, as that would amount to substituting the satisfaction of the court in place of the satisfaction of the President.

Is suspension or compulsory retirement a form of punishment?

  • The Supreme court in case of Bansh singh Vs State of Punjab clearly held that suspension from service is neither dismissal nor removal nor reduction in rank, therefore, if a Government servant is suspended he cannot claim the constitutional guarantee of Article 311.
  • In Shyam Lal Vs State of U.P Supreme Court held that compulsory retirement differ from dismissal and removal as it involves no penal consequences and also a government servant who is compulsory retired does not loose any part of benefit earned during the service so it doesn’t attract the provisions of Article 311.

Safeguards to civil servants:

Article 311(1) : It says that a civil servant cannot be dismissed or removed by any authority subordinate to the authority by which he was appointed.

Article 311(2): It says that a civil servant cannot be removed or dismissed or reduced in rank unless he has been given a reasonable opportunity to show cause against action proposed to be taken against him.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 311(2).
  2. Safeguards available to civil servants under the constitution.

Mains Link:

Write a note on safeguards provided to civil servants under the constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

SC paves way for ad-hoc judges in HCs:


Context:

Terming pendency of around 57 lakh cases in High Courts as “docket explosion”, the Supreme Court activated Article 224A to pave way for appointment of retired High Court judges as ad-hoc ones for a period of two to three years to clear backlog and came out with guidelines to regulate appointments.

What is Article 224A?

Article 224A, used rarely, of the Constitution deals with appointment of ad-hoc judges in High Courts.

  • It says “the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of that Court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of the High Court for that State”.

Reasons For huge Pendency:

  • The Government is the Biggest Litigant.
  • Less Budgetary Allocation: The budget allocated to the judiciary is between 0.08 and 0.09% of the GDP.
  • Practice of Seeking Adjournments.
  • Delay in Judicial Appointment.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Appointment of retired judges.
  2. Related constitutional provisions.
  3. Powers and functions.
  4. Procedure.

Mains Link:

The Supreme Court has pushed for the appointment of retired judges to battle pendency of cases in High Courts. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

World Press Freedom index:


Context:

The World Press Freedom Index 2021 has been released by the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

  • Norway topped the index for the fifth year in a row.
  • The report labelled 132 countries as “very bad”, “bad” or “problematic”.
  • It stated that the pandemic was used as means to deny journalists this access and promote government sponsored propaganda regarding the Covid-19 outbreak.

Performance of India and neighbours:

  • India remained at the 142nd position among 180 countries.
  • India was ranked in the “bad” category, along with Brazil, Mexico and Russia.
  • The report says India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly.
  • In 2016, India’s rank was 133, which has steadily climbed down to 142 in 2020.
  • India drew flak for “extremely violent social media hate campaigns” against journalists who “dare to criticise” the government.

About World Press Freedom Index:

  • Published annually by Reporters Without Borders since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries.
  • It is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists.
  • It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.
  • It is compiled by means of a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts all over the world. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Reporters Without Borders.
  2. Performance of India and its neighbours.
  3. Top and bottom performers.
  4. Comparison of countries and their performance in previous years.

Mains Link:

Comment on the findings of the World Press Freedom Index on India.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Father of banking reforms’: Ex-RBI governor M Narasimham passes away at 94:


Who was M Narasimham?

Narasimham was known for being the chair of two high-powered committees on banking and financial sector reforms.

  • Such is the importance of the two Narasimham Committees that some of their aspects are referred to and employed to this date. For instance, the idea of bank mergers and creating strong megabanks was first mooted by the Narasimham Committee.

First Narasimham Committee Report:

Presented in 1991.

  • It recommended the creation of a four-tier banking structure with three large banks on top.
  • It also introduced the concept of rural-focused banks such as local area banks.
  • It proposed a phased reduction in banks’ mandatory bond investment and cash reserve limits so that banks lend money for other productive needs of the economy.
  • It introduced the concept of capital adequacy ratio and proposed the abolition of the branch licensing policy.
  • The concepts of non-performing assets classification and full disclosure of accounts were also recommended by the first committee.
  • By proposing to deregulate interest rates, it brought in gre­ater competition among banks.
  • The committee introduced the concept of an asset reconstruction fund to take over bad debts.

Narasimham Committee Report II – 1998:

In 1998 the government appointed yet another committee under the chairmanship of Mr Narsimham. It is better known as the Banking Sector Committee. It was told to review the banking reform progress and design a programme for further strengthening the financial system of India. The committee focused on various areas such as capital adequacy, bank mergers, bank legislation, etc.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link and Mains Link:

Key recommendations by Narasimham headed committees.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

Punjab okays reward policy for drug cases:


Context:

The Punjab government has approved a reward policy to encourage information and inputs leading to recovery of drugs under the Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Highlights:

  • The policy will recognise government servants-informers-sources for their role in providing inputs leading to the recovery of substantial quantity of drugs and in successful implementation of various provisions of the NDPS Act, 1985 and PIT NDPS Act, 1988.
  • The quantum of reward for successful investigation, prosecution, forfeiture of illegally acquired property, preventive detention and other significant anti-drug work shall be decided on case-to-case basis.

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985:

  1. The Act is designed to fulfill India’s treaty obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
  2. The Act 1985 sets out the statutory framework for drug law enforcement in India.
  3. Under the Act, the cultivation, production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, warehousing, consumption, inter-State movement, transshipment and import and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is prohibited, except for medical or scientific purposes and in accordance with the terms and conditions of any license, permit or authorization given by the Government.
  4. The Central Government is empowered to regulate the cultivation, production, manufacture, import, export, sale, consumption, use etc of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  5. State Governments are empowered to permit and regulate possession and inter-State movement of opium, poppy straw, the manufacture of medicinal opium and the cultivation of cannabis excluding hashish.
  6. The Central Government is empowered to declare any substance, based on an assessment of its likely use in the manufacture of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances as a controlled substance.
  7. Both the Central Government and State Governments are empowered to appoint officers for the purposes of the Act.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Civil Services Day:

  • Every year, 21st April is celebrated as the Civil Services Day by the Government of India.
  • It is celebrated as an occasion for the civil servants to rededicate themselves to the causes of citizens and renew their commitments to public service and excellence in work.
  • The date is chosen to commemorate the day when the first Home Minister of Independent India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel addressed the probationers of Administrative Services Officers in 1947 at Metcalf House, Delhi.

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