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01 October Current Affairs

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

In News:

Citizens backed by various Non-Governmental Organisations across the North-Eastern States are protesting against the government’s bid to reintroduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The proposed legislation was cleared by the Lok Sabha in January, 2019 but not tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

WHAT IS THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2016?

It seeks to allow illegal migrants from certain minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship by amending the Citizenship Act of 1955.

It seeks to grant citizenship to people from minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians —after 6 years of stay in India even if they do not possess any proper document. The current requirement is 12 years of stay.

The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc.

However, the bill is being criticised for the following reasons:

It violates the basic tenets of the Constitution. Illegal immigrants are distinguished on the basis of religion.

It is perceived to be a demographic threat to indigenous communities.

The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.

It attempts to naturalise the citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region.

The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences.

What is the Citizenship Act 1995?

Under Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.

Citizenship by descent: Persons born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.

From December 3, 2004, onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.

In Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955, if an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship.

Framework to sustain India’s 100% ODF status

In News:

Union Jal Shakti Ministry’s Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) has launched a 10-year national rural sanitation strategy to sustain India’s 100 per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF).

Focus: The framework, to be in place from 2019 to 2029, will ensure that people sustain their usage of toilets. It will also focus on proper implementation of solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) — plastic waste, organic waste, grey water, and faecal sludge — in rural areas.

The strategy:

They include the retrofitting of single pit toilets to twin pits or making provisions to empty pits every five years, repair of defunct ones, and construction of soak pits for septic tanks wherever not already present.

A district-level training management unit (TMU) will be set up to provide oversight and support to gram panchayats (GPs) so that they ensure the operation and maintenance of sanitation infrastructure.

The gram panchayats (GPs) are also supposed to conduct rapid assessment of water and sanitation gaps.

Alternative funding: The government funding is the primary source of financing in the sanitation sector. Alternative self-financing by gradual leveraging of community resources in the form of tariffs for ODF plus activities is also suggested.

It will follow the same 60:40 financing model as being followed till now in Swachh Bharat. It will be finalised after the cabinet’s approval.

The framework also talks about state-specific strategies on menstrual hygiene management, including menstrual waste management, which may be supported under the ODF plus strategy.

Need To End Open Defecation:

At the time Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched, India had 450 million people defecating in the open, which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) accounted for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world practising open defecation. In the absence of toilets, people tend to use open spaces like fields, bushes, forests, banks of water bodies, or other open spaces rather than using a toilet to defecate and relieve themselves.

Unitary taxation system for MNEs

In News:

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its Trade and Development Report 2019 has recommended for the adoption of a unitary taxation system for the Multi-National Enterprises (MNEs).

The proposal:

The profits of MNEs are generated collectively at the group level. Hence, unitary taxation should be applied by combining it with a global minimum effective corporate tax rate on all MNE profits.

Such an approach would simplify the global taxation system and is expected to increase tax revenues for all countries.

Need for and significance:

There was a dire need for this change, as the current international corporate taxation norms consider affiliates of MNEs as independent entities and treat taxable transactions between different entities of MNEs as unrelated.

The fiscal revenues of a country could be augmented through fair taxation of the digital economy.

Concerns:

The tax-motivated illicit financial flows of MNEs are estimated to deprive developing countries of $50 billion to $200 billion a year in terms of the fiscal revenues.

Background:

The international tax system needs a paradigm shift. The rules devised over 80 years ago treat the different parts of a multinational enterprise as if they were independent entities, although they also give national tax authorities powers to adjust the accounts of these entities. This creates a perverse incentive for multinationals to create ever more complex groups in order to minimise taxes, exploiting the various definitions of the residence of legal persons and the source of income. While states may attempt to combat these strategies, they also compete to offer tax incentives, many of which facilitate such techniques to undermine other countries’ taxes.

The idea of regional Supreme Court Benches, and ‘divisions’ of the top court

In News:

Recently VP M Venkaiah Naidu made the following suggestions;

Institute four regional Benches to tackle the enormous backlog of cases, and to ensure their speedy disposal.

The court should be split into two divisions.

Why these suggestions were made?

In the early decades of the Republic, the Supreme Court of India functioned largely as a constitutional court, with some 70-80 judgments being delivered every year by Constitution Benches of five or more judges who ruled, as per Article 145(3) of the Constitution, on matters “involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of [the] Constitution”.

This number has now come down to 10-12. Due to their heavy workload, judges mostly sit in two- or three-judge Benches to dispose of all kinds of cases; these include several non-Constitutional and relatively petty matters such as bans (or lifting of bans) on films, or allegations that a Commissioner of Police is misusing his powers.

On some occasions, even PILs on demands such as Sardar jokes should be banned, or that Muslims should be sent out of the country, come before the Supreme Court.

More than 65,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court, and disposal of appeals takes many years. Several cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution by five or seven judges have been pending for years.

What the Law Commissions said?

The Supreme Court of India should consist of two Divisions, namely (a) Constitutional Division, and (b) Legal Division.

Only matters of Constitutional law may be assigned to the proposed Constitutional Division.

A Constitution Bench be set up at Delhi to deal with constitutional and other allied issues”.

Four Cassation Benches be set up in the Northern region/zone at Delhi, the Southern region/zone at Chennai/Hyderabad, the Eastern region/zone at Kolkata and the Western region/zone at Mumbai to deal with all appellate work arising out of the orders/judgments of the High Courts of the particular region”.

Why we need multiple Benches?

It is obvious that travelling to New Delhi or engaging expensive Supreme Court counsel to pursue a case is beyond the means of most litigants.

Who can decide on this?

Article 130 says that “the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.”

Supreme Court Rules give the Chief Justice of India the power to constitute Benches — he can, for instance, have a Constitution Bench of seven judges in New Delhi, and set up smaller Benches in, say, four or six places across the country.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

In News:

IPCC Working Group III is meeting in India to further preparations of Sixth Assessment Report.

More than 200 experts from 65 countries will come together to start preparing a first draft of the report, which is due to be finalized in July 2021.

The meeting is hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India.

Background:

IPCC Working Group III is responsible for assessing the mitigation of climate change – responses and solutions to the threat of dangerous climate change by reducing emissions and enhancing sinks of the greenhouse gases that are responsible for global warming.

Comprehensive scientific assessment reports are published every 6 to 7 years; the latest, the Fifth Assessment Report, was completed in 2014, and provided the main scientific input to the Paris Agreement.

What is Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)?

It will examine topics such as the link between consumption and behaviour and greenhouse gas emissions, and the role of innovation and technology.

It will assess the connection between short to medium-term actions and their compatibility with the long-term temperature goal in the Paris Agreement.

It will assess mitigation options in sectors such as energy, agriculture, forestry and land use, buildings, transport and industry.

What next?

Each of the three IPCC Working Groups will release their contributions to the Sixth Assessment Report in 2021.

A Synthesis Report in 2022 will integrate them together with the three special reports that the IPCC is producing in the current assessment cycle.

It will be released in time to inform the 2023 global stocktake by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when countries will review progress towards the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming to well below 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

About the IPCC:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change.

Established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.

Aim: to provide political leaders with periodic scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Composition: It has 195 member states.

The IPCC has three working groups:

Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change.

Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change.

Climate Vulnerability Map of India

In News:

For preparing communities and people to meet the challenge arising out of climate changes, a pan India climate vulnerability assessment map is being developed. Such climate vulnerability atlas has already been developed for 12 states in the Indian Himalayan Region, using a common framework.

Key facts:

The map is being developed under a joint project of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

This research programme of DST is being implemented as part of the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC).

The atlas is expected to be ready by the middle of 2020.

Why such move?

Climate risk is interplay of hazard, exposure and vulnerability. There is a rise in climate-sensitive livelihood of people. While the occurrence of natural hazards such as landslides, droughts and floods is projected to go up, their impact depends on the level of exposure such as presence of people and infrastructure in areas. Hence a common methodology for assessing vulnerability is critical for comparison and for planning adaptation strategies.

Addressing vulnerability can help reduce risk to climate change. It also helps in identifying what makes a state or district vulnerable to climate change.

The vulnerability assessments will be useful for officials, decision makers, funding agencies and experts to have a common understanding on vulnerability and enable them to plan for adaptation.

INS Nilgiri

In News:

Navy’s first new stealth frigate, INS ‘Nilgiri’.

Details:

It is the first ship of Project17A.

Project 17A frigates is a design derivative of the Shivalik class stealth frigates with much more advanced stealth features and indigenous weapons and sensors.

These frigates are being built using integrated construction methodology.

The P17A frigates incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and ship manoeuvrability.

Goldschmidtite

It is a new mineral that has been discovered recently inside a diamond unearthed from a mine in South Africa.

It has been found in Earth’s Mantle (A part of Interior of the Earth) which covers 80% of earth’s volume.

Composition: It has high concentrations of niobium, potassium and the rare earth elements lanthanum and cerium.

Features: The found single grain is dark green in colour and opaque.

Nomenclature: The mineral has been named after the Norwegian scientist Victor Moritz Goldschmidt, who is considered as the founder of Modern Geochemistry.

 

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