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04th September Current Affairs

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

In News:

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s conviction for criminal contempt of court by the Supreme Court seemed to be inconsistent with the freedom of expression law guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that India was a party to.

Details:

It is an international human rights non-governmental organization.

Composition: It is a standing group of 60 eminent jurists—including senior judges, attorneys and academics.

Functions: To develop national and international human rights standards through the law.

Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

What has the ICJ said on Prashant Bhushan’s case?

The conviction appears to be inconsistent with international standards on freedom of expression and the role of lawyers.

The judgment risked having a “chilling effect on the exercise of protected freedom of expression in India”.

While some restrictions of freedom of expression are permitted by international standards, a particularly wide scope must be preserved for debate and discussion about such matters as the role of the judiciary, access to justice, and democracy, by members of the public, including through public commentary on the courts.

What is International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.

The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

It became effective in 1976. Article 49 allowed that the covenant would enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or accession.

India is a party to this treaty.

Adjusted gross revenue (AGR)

In News:

The Supreme Court has allowed telecom companies 10 years’ time to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government.

The judgment:

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) should decide whether or not spectrum can be sold under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Due to the current Covid-19situation, telcos should pay 10 per cent of the total dues by March 31, 2021.

Telecom companies would also have to make payments on or before February 7 every year. The non-payment of dues in any year would lead to accrual of interest and invite contempt of court proceedings against such companies.

What’s the issue?

An October 2019 judgment of the court in the AGR issue originally wanted the telcos to make the repayments in three months. The court had concluded that the private telecom sector had long reaped the fruits of the Centre’s liberalized mode of payment by revenue sharing regime.

Later, the government had proposed in court a 20-year “formula” for telcos to make staggered payments of the dues. But, the court observed that the period of 20 years fixed for payment is excessive.

Even after part payment, the dues still run to ₹1.43 lakh crore.

What is AGR?

Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.

How is it calculated?

As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco – including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales.

What are issues associated? When it all began?

The telecom sector was liberalised under the National Telecom Policy, 1994 after which licenses were issued to companies in return for a fixed license fee.

However, to provide relief from the steep fixed license fee, the government in 1999 gave an option to the licensees to migrate to the revenue sharing fee model.

Under this, mobile telephone operators were required to share a percentage of their AGR with the government as annual license fee (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC). License agreements between the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the telecom companies define the gross revenues of the latter.

The dispute between DoT and the mobile operators was mainly on the definition of AGR.

The DoT argued that AGR includes all revenues (before discounts) from both telecom and non-telecom services. The companies claimed that AGR should comprise just the revenue accrued from core services and not dividend, interest income or profit on sale of any investment or fixed assets.

Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM)

In News:

Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) in electricity launched as a first step towards greening the Indian short term power market.

What is GTAM?

It is an alternative new model introduced for selling off the power by the renewable developers in the open market without getting into long term PPAs.

Key features of GTAM:

Transactions through GTAM will be bilateral in nature with clear identification of corresponding buyers and sellers, there will not be any difficulty in accounting for Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).

GTAM contracts will be segregated into Solar RPO & Non-Solar RPO as RPO targets are also segregated.

Daily & Weekly Contracts – Bidding will take place on MWh basis.

Price discovery will take place on a continuous basise. price time priority basis. Subsequently, looking at the market conditions open auction can be introduced for daily & weekly contracts.

Energy scheduled through GTAM contract shall be considered as deemed RPO compliance of the buyer.

Significance and benefits of the move:

The introduction of GTAM platform would lessen the burden on RE-rich States and incentivize them to develop RE capacity beyond their own RPO.

This would promote RE merchant capacity addition and help in achieving RE capacity addition targets of the country.

GTAM platform will also lead to increase in number of participants in renewable energy sector.

It will benefit buyers of RE through competitive prices and transparent and flexible procurement.

It will also benefit RE sellers by providing access to pan- India market.

Sree Narayana Guru

In News:

164th birth anniversary of Sree Narayana Guru observed on 2nd September.

Who was Sree Narayana Guru?

Narayana Guru (1856 – 1928) was a social reformer. He has been credited with transforming the social fabric of kerala and changing the beliefs of keralites in ways unimaginable at that point in time.

He was born into an Ezhava family in an era when people from such communities, which were regarded as Avarna, faced much social injustice in the caste-ridden society of Kerala.

Social reform movements:

He led a reform movement in Kerala, rejected casteism, and promoted new values of spiritual freedom and social equality.

He stressed the need for the spiritual and social upliftment of the downtrodden by their own efforts through the establishment of temples and educational institutions.

In the process, he denounced the superstitions that clouded the fundamental Hindu cultural convention of caste.

He preached the ‘oneness’ of humanity, crossing the boundaries of caste and creed.

In 1888, he installed an idol of siva at Aravippuram in Kerala in his effort to show that the consecration of god’s image was not a monopoly of the brahmins. This is popularly known as Aravippuram movement.

In one temple he consecrated at Kalavancode, he kept mirrors instead of idols. This symbolised his message that the divine was within each individual.

He also founded an Advaita Ashram in Kalady.

He also lent his support to the Vaikkom Satyagraha which was aimed at temple entry in Travancore for the lower castes. Mahatma Gandhi met Guru during this time.