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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 12 FEBRUARY 2022

 

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

 

Table of Contents:

 

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Anti-defection law.

2. Uniform Civil Code.

3. Mekedatu issue.

4. Char Dham Project.

5. Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

6. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. International Labour Organisation (ILO).

2. Milan 2022.


Anti-defection law:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee has dismissed the petition filed by Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari seeking Mukul Roy’s disqualification as an MLA under the anti-defection law for switching sides after elections.

  • Roy, a former BJP national vice-president, had defected to the ruling TMC in June last year.
  • Roy would now continue as a BJP legislator in the House in the wake of the ruling.

 

What had the High Court ruled?

The high court had asked the Speaker to take a decision on the petition for Roy’s disqualification as a member of the House by October 7. In case of failure, the court said that it would take a call on the matter.

  • Even the Supreme Court had expressed hope that the Speaker will take a decision on the disqualification plea soon.

 

Relevance: the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution:

Popularly known as the anti-defection law.

  • It specifies the circumstances under which changing of political parties by legislators invites action under the law.
  • It was added to the Constitution by the 52nd Amendment Act.
  • It includes situations in which an independent MLA, too, joins a party after the election.

 

The law covers three scenarios with respect to shifting of political parties by an MP or an MLA. These include:

  1. When a member elected on the ticket of a political party “voluntarily gives up” membership of such a party or votes in the House against the wishes of the party.
  2. When a legislator who has won his or her seat as an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.

In the above two cases, the legislator loses the seat in the legislature on changing (or joining) a party.

  1. Relates to nominated MPs. In their case, the law gives them six months to join a political party, after being nominated. If they join a party after such time, they stand to lose their seat in the House.

 

Matters related to disqualification:

  • Under the anti-defection law, the power to decide the disqualification of an MP or MLA rests with the presiding officer of the legislature.
  • The law does not specify a time frame in which such a decision has to be made.
  • Last year, the Supreme Court observed that anti-defection cases should be decided by Speakers in three months’ time.

 

However, Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. Exceptions:

  1. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.
  2. On being elected as the presiding officer of the House, if a member, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that office, he won’t be disqualified.

 

Loopholes in the law:

Those against say that voters elect individuals in the election and not parties and hence the Anti-Defection law is infructuous.

 

Can the courts intervene?

Courts have, in certain cases, intervened in the workings of a legislature.

  1. In 1992, a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court held that the anti-defection law proceedings before the Speaker are akin to a tribunal and, thus, can be placed under judicial review.
  2. In January 2020, the Supreme Court asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip legislative assembly speakers of their exclusive power to decide whether legislators should be disqualified or not under the anti-defection law.
  3. In March 2020, the Supreme Court removed Manipur minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh, against whom disqualification petitions were pending before the speaker since 2017, from the state cabinet and restrained him “from entering the legislative assembly till further orders”.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the initial attempts at creating the anti-defection law (1969, 1973) did not cover independent legislators joining political parties? Then, when were they included under the law? Have a brief overview about it here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Names of various committees and commissions with regard to Anti Defection law.
  2. Committees vs Commissions.
  3. Decision of presiding officer vs Judicial review.
  4. Merger vs Split of political parties.
  5. Is anti- defection law applicable to the presiding officer?
  6. Relevant Supreme Court cases and verdicts.

Mains Link:

Examine the provisions of Anti- defection law. Has this law largely failed to meet its objective? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

Uniform Civil Code:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

Amid the row over wearing hijab in schools and colleges, Union Minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh has said the Uniform Civil Code is the “need of the hour” and it should be discussed both in Parliament and in society.

 

What’s the issue?

The Hijab row started in December end when a few students started coming to a government pre-university college in Udupi wearing Hijab. To protest against it, some Hindu students turned up wearing saffron scarves.

  • The row spread to other educational institutions in different parts of the State, and the protests took a violent turn at some places earlier this week, prompting the government to declare three-day holiday for the institutions.
  • The Hijab ban issue has refused to die down as Muslim girls are adamant on wearing hijab to college.
  • Muslim clerics argue that Hijab ban violates right to freedom of religion enshrined in Constitution.

 

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 the 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.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that Goa has a Uniform Civil Code?

  • Goa’s Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 is basically an alien code given by the Portuguese.
  • Goa’s Civil Code has four parts, dealing with civil capacity, acquisition of rights, right to property, and the breach of rights and remedies.
  • It begins in the name of God and Dom Luis, King of Portugal and Algarves.
  • The Code has survived by virtue of Section 5(1) of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act, 1962 that permitted its continuance.

 

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.

Mekedatu issue:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

Tamil Nadu has rejected the idea for an exclusive discussion by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) on the Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir-cum-Drinking Water Project proposed by Karnataka.

  • Tamil Nadu reiterated its position that there should be no discussion on the subject, which was sub judice.

 

What’s the issue? Why is the project delayed?

Tamil Nadu has protested against Karnataka’s move to build a reservoir on river Cauvery at Mekedatu. It is “not acceptable” to the state that Karnataka wants to utilise 4.75 tmc as drinking water from a reservoir with a storage capacity of 67tmc ft.

  • However, the Karnataka Government has asserted that there is no “compromise” on the Mekedatu project and the state wants to undertake the project.

 

Current Affairs

 

Water sharing between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu:

Karnataka is supposed to release Cauvery water from three sources:

  1. One being the water flowing in the areas downstream River Kabini, catchment areas of Krishnarajasagar reservoir, the sub-basins of Shimsha, Arkavathi, and Suvarnavathi rivers, and the water from minor rivers.
  2. Secondly, water is released from Kabini dam.
  3. The third source is water that is released from Krishnarajasagar dam.

In the case of the second and third sources, which are under the control of Karnataka, water is released to TN only after storing sufficient water for their use.

  • Since there is no dam in the first source, water from these areas have been freely flowing into TN without a hitch.
  • But now, TN state government felt that Karnataka was “conspiring” to block this source as well through the Mekedatu dam.
  • Mekedatu zone represented the last free point from where Cauvery water flowed unrestricted into the downstream state of TN from the upstream Karnataka.

 

Current Affairs

 

About the Project:

  • Mekedatu is a multipurpose (drinking and power) project.
  • It involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district in Karnataka.
  • The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighboring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power.
  • The estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.

 

Current Affairs

 

Why is Tamil Nadu against this project?

  1. It says, the CWDT and the SC have found that the existing storage facilities available in the Cauvery basin were adequate for storing and distributing water so Karnataka’s proposal is ex-facie (on the face of it) untenable and should be rejected outright.
  2. It has also held that the reservoir is not just for drinking water alone, but to increase the extent of irrigation, which is in clear violation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Award.

 

Award by the tribunal and the Supreme Court:

The tribunal was set up in 1990 and made its final award in 2007, granting 419 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry. The tribunal ordered that in rain-scarcity years, the allocation for all would stand reduced.

However, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka expressed unhappiness over the allocation and there were protests and violence in both states over water-sharing. That saw the Supreme Court take up the matter and, in a 2018 judgment, it apportioned 14.75 tmcft from Tamil Nadu’s earlier share to Karnataka.

  • The new allocation thus stood at 404.25 tmcft for Tamil Nadu while Karnataka’s share went up to 284.75 tmcft. The share for Kerala and Puducherry remained unchanged.

 

Current Affairs

 

What’s the way out then?

The Centre has said the project required the approval of the Cauvery Water Management Authority’s (CWMA).

  • The Detail Project Report (DPR) sent by Karnataka was tabled in the CWMA several times for approval, but the discussion on this issue could not take place due to a lack of consensus among party states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Also, as per the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal‘s final award, which was modified by the Supreme Court, acceptance of CWMA would be a prerequisite for consideration of the DPR by the Jal Shakti Ministry.

Since the project was proposed across an inter-state river, it required approval of lower riparian state(s) as per the interstate water dispute act.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about the Cauvery Management Scheme? What are the components of the scheme? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Tributaries of Cauvery.
  2. Basin states.
  3. Important falls and dams across the river.
  4. Where is Mekedatu?
  5. What is the project related to?
  6. Beneficiaries of the project.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Mekedatu project.

Sources: the Hindu.

Char Dham:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Indian culture – salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Context:

Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra has resigned as chairman of the Supreme Court’s High Powered Committee (HPC) on the Char Dham project, saying that his “belief that the HPC could protect this fragile (Himalayan) ecology has been shattered”.

 

What’s the issue?

In his resignation letter to the secretary general of the Supreme Court on January 27, Chopra referred to the apex court’s December 2021 order that accepted the wider road configuration to meet defence needs, instead of what the HPC had recommended and the SC accepted in its earlier order in September 2020.

 

What has the Court said so far in this matter?

  • In 2018, the project was challenged by an NGO for its potential impact on the Himalayan ecology due to felling trees, cutting hills and dumping excavated material.
  • In 2019, the SC formed the HPC Chopra to examine the issues, and in September 2020, accepted his recommendation on road width etc.
  • In November 2020, the ministry of Defence sought wider roads to meet the requirement of the Army.
  • In December 2021, the SC modified its September 2020 order on the ground that the court could not “interrogate the policy choice of the establishment which is entrusted by law with the defence of the nation”.

 

About Chardham project:

  • The project involves developing and widening nearly 900-km of national highways connecting the holy Hindu pilgrimage sites of; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri at an estimated cost of Rs.12,000 crores.
  • The highway will be called Char Dham Mahamarg(Char Dham Highway) and the highway construction project will be called Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana(Char Dham Highway Development Project).

 

 

What Are The Environmental Concerns That Were Flagged?

  1. Large-scale construction works in hilly terrain is a recipe for disaster as it leads to a heightened risk of landslides given the felling of trees and loosening of rocks.
  2. The project was being executed bypassing mandatory environment clearances and environment impact assessment (EIA) procedures.
  3. Over 25,000 trees have reportedly been felled to make way for the project as a grave worry for the ecologically sensitive zone.
  4. Since wider carriageways would require more excavation and blasting, the purpose of having an all-weather highway may be compromised since the topography would become that much more sensitive to slippage and landslides.

 

Developments so far wrt the Chardham Project:

  1. The foundation stone for the Char Dham road project was laid by PM Narendra Modi in December 2016.
  2. But the project was challenged on environmental grounds in courts with petitioners alleging irregularities vis-a-vis environmental clearances for the project and that it was being pursued in violation of existing norms.
  3. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) cleared the project in September 2018, but its order was challenged for being passed by a bench different from the one that had heard the matter. Supreme Court stayed the NGT order in October 2018.
  4. In September 2020, it passed an order on a writ petition stating that highways for the Char Dham project should not exceed 5.5m in width as prescribed in a 2018 circular of the Union Road Transport Ministry. But the Defence Ministry had in December that year sought a modification in the order to allow the width to be of 10m.
  5. The top court then asked its high-powered committee (HPC) to look into the contentions raised by the Centre on the width of the highways.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of the project.
  2. Important National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the region.
  3. Important rivers flowing through these places.
  4. Difference between National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Chardham Project.

Sources: the Hindu.

Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA):

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Bilateral Relations.

 

Context:

The interim trade agreement between India and Australia is unlikely to include items that both sides consider “sensitive”.

  • The Indian and Australian negotiators will have the final “interim agreement” ready in 30 days and that the agreement will be a “win-win” document.

 

Background:

Both sides expressed confidence about signing a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement — CECA — and argued that the “interim agreement” is an “early harvest deal” aimed at boosting bilateral trade before the completion of the negotiations on the final CECA.

 

Current Affairs

 

India- Australia bilateral trade:

  • India’s exports to Australia amounted to $4.04 billion while imports were $8.24 billion in FY21.
  • Major Indian exports to Australia are petroleum products, medicines, polished diamonds, gold jewellery, apparel etc, while key Australian exports to India include coal, LNG, alumina and non-monetary gold.
  • In services, major Indian exports include travel, telecom and computer, government and financial services, while Australian services exports were principally in education and personal travel.
  • In 2020, India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and sixth largest export destination, driven by coal and international education.

 

Significance of the deal for India:

The interim agreement will mark the beginning of a phase of FTAs that India is aiming to achieve in the coming year.

  • Apart from Australia, India is in talks to conclude similar FTAs and early harvest deals with Israel, Canada, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council – the six country block – has also shown interest in concluding an FTA with India. The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and also the UAE.

 

Insta Curious:

Difference between CECA and CEPA:

  1. CECA – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
  2. CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

The major “technical” difference between a CECA and CEPA is that CECA involve only “tariff reduction/elimination in a phased manner on listed/all items except the negative list and tariff rate quota (TRQ) items.

  • CEPA also covers the trade in services and investment and other areas of economic partnership”.
  • So CEPA is a wider term that CECA and has the widest coverage.
  • Usually CECA is signed first with a country and after that negotiations may start for a CEPA.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About CECA.
  2. About CEPA.
  3. India’s FTAs with other countries.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of India- Australia CECA.

Sources: the Hindu.

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT):

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Important International institutions.

 

Context:

As tensions exacerbate between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, political commentators say that the United States could, as a last resort, exclude Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

 

What happens if one is excluded from SWIFT?

  • If a country is excluded from the most participatory financial facilitating platform, its foreign funding would take a hit, making it entirely reliant on domestic investors. This is particularly troublesome when institutional investors are constantly seeking new markets in newer territories.

 

Current Affairs

 

What is SWIFT?

It is a messaging network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information and instructions through a standardized system of codes. Under SWIFT, each financial organization has a unique code which is used to send and receive payments.

  • SWIFT does not facilitate funds transfer: rather, it sends payment orders, which must be settled by correspondent accounts that the institutions have with each other.
  • The SWIFT is a secure financial message carrier — in other words, it transports messages from one bank to its intended bank recipient.
  • Its core role is to provide a secure transmission channel so that Bank A knows that its message to Bank B goes to Bank B and no one else. Bank B, in turn, knows that Bank A, and no one other than Bank A, sent, read or altered the message en route. Banks, of course, need to have checks in place before actually sending messages.

 

Where is it located?

The Belgium-headquartered SWIFT connects more than 11,000 banking and securities organizations in over 200 countries and territories.

 

How is it administered?

  • It is regulated by G-10 central banks from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, and Sweden, alongside the European Central Bank. Its lead overseer is the National Bank of Belgium.
  • The SWIFT oversight forum was established in 2012. The G-10 participants were joined by the central banks of India, Australia, Russia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, the Republic of Turkey, and the People’s Republic of China.

 

SWIFT India:

SWIFT India is a joint venture of top Indian public and private sector banks and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). The company was created to deliver high quality domestic financial messaging services to the Indian financial community. Bhattacharya said the venture has a huge potential to contribute significantly to the financial community in many domains.

 

Significance of SWIFT:

  • Messages sent by SWIFT’s customers are authenticated using its specialised security and identification technology.
  • Encryption is added as the messages leave the customer environment and enter the SWIFT Environment.
  • Messages remain in the protected SWIFT environment, subject to all its confidentiality and integrity commitments, throughout the transmission process while they are transmitted to the operating centres (OPCs) where they are processed — until they are safely delivered to the receiver.

 

Insta Curious:

SWIFT, first used in 1973, went live in 1977 with 518 institutions from 22 countries, its website states. SWIFT itself had replaced the much slower and far less dynamic Telex.

Sources: the hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

 

International Labour Organisation (ILO):

  • Established as an agency for the League of Nations following World War I.
  • Established by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  • It became the first specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) in the year 1946.
  • It got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
  • It is the only tripartite U.N. agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Key reports:

  1. World Employment and Social Outlook.
  2. Global Wage Report.

 

Current Affairs

 

Milan 2022:

  • MILAN, a Multilateral Naval Exercise hosted by India, made a modest beginning in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1995 with participation of four littoral navies.
  • This biennial congregation of friendly navies, over the last two and a half decades, has progressively grown in magnitude with the previous edition in 2018 being attended by 17 countries.
  • MILAN 2022 has been scheduled for the first time at Visakhapatnam, the City of Destiny. MILAN 2022 is the eleventh edition of the event and would be held under the aegis of Eastern Naval Command.
  • This is the first time the exercise has been shifted from the Andaman to Vizag, as the scale of the exercise has been enhanced.

 

Current Affairs


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