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07 December Current Affairs

India-Srilanka

In News:

The newly elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited India from 28th-30th November, 2019.

Details:

The Sri Lankan President played a major role in ending the country’s civil war (1983-2009).

The President’s two brothers, Mahinda Rajapaksha and Chamal Rajapaksha, holds the position of the Prime Minister and Agricultural Minister respectively in Sri Lanka.

About Sri Lanka’s Civil war:

Sri Lanka has been mired in ethnic conflict since the country, formerly known as Ceylon, became independent from British rule in 1948.

After independence, the Sinhalese majority immediately began to pass laws that discriminated against Tamils (Hindu in religion), particularly the Indian Tamils brought to the island by the British.

In 1972, the Sinhalese dominated government changed the country’s name from Ceylon and made Buddhism the nation’s primary religion.

As ethnic tension grew, in 1976, the LTTE or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was formed under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran, and it began to campaign for a Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where most of the island’s Tamils reside. The conflict between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE lasted nearly three decades, ending in 2009, when the LTTE forces were finally defeated.

The war was one of the longest-running civil wars in Asia.

Improve in relations:

Strengthening of trade ties, boosting maritime security, addressing concerns of the fishermen, fulfilling aspirations of Tamil community in Sri Lanka and to fight against terrorism.

India extended a $400 million line of credit to Sri Lanka to help strengthen its infrastructure and economy.

An additional $50 million to help Sri Lanka combat terrorism.

Sri Lankan President extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of India to visit Sri Lanka at a mutually convenient time.

Validity Of Oaths Taken By Ministers

In News:

During the oath-taking ceremony of the new government, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra with other ministers has altered the oath by invoking the names other than mentioned in the Constitution.

About Constitutional Provisions:

Article 164(3) states that before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out in the Third Schedule.

Article 164 makes it clear that the text of the oath is sacrosanct.

The person taking the oath has to read it out exactly as it is, in the given format.

Third Schedule requires the taker of the oath to either “swear in the name of God” or to “solemnly affirm” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution”.

If a person wanders from the text of the oath, it is the responsibility of the person administering the oath — in this instance, the Governor — to interrupt and ask the person being sworn in to read it out correctly.

Once Governor takes it as read, and the Secretary to the Governor has attested that the oath has been administered, it cannot be legally challenged.

Background:

In 1990, the oath by Devi Lal as deputy prime minister was challenged as being unconstitutional as the Constitution provides only for the Prime Minister and ministers.

It stated that describing a person as Deputy Prime Minister is descriptive only and such description does not confer on him any powers of Prime Minister.

There is no mention in the Constitution does not vitiate the oath taken by him so long as the substantive part of the oath is correct.

In 2012, Azam Khan (then a member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly) had to retake his oath after he skipped the oath of office of a cabinet minister, and only took the oath of secrecy.

King of Sweden in India

In News:

To invigorate the India-Sweden freindship with closer Cooperation in Innovation and Technology King of Sweden King Carl XVI Gustaf visited India on 2nd December 2019 for five day visit.

Polar Science Cooperation Agreement:

The agreement includes Cooperation between India and Sweden in both Arctic and Antarctic region.

MoU between the Ministry of Earth Science of the republic of India and the Ministry of Education and research of the Kingdom of Sweden on Cooperation in Polar Science.

Other recent developments:

The Department of Science and Technology, India and the Swedish Research Council will fund 20 bilateral projects in the area of computer science and material science under the Indo-Swedish Joint Network Grant Awards.

Saab International, which has responded to the Indian Government’s 2018 tender to supply 114 multi role combat planes. Saab has aggressively pitched it’s star product – Gripen Fighter Jet on an extremely cost effective platform thorugh a partnership with domestic company and offers to manufacture Gripen in India.

The company is in race with four other contenders for this contract which cost for more than $15 billion.

  • F-21 of Israel
  • Rafale of France
  • Gripen of Sweden
  • F/A 18 Super Hornet of U.S.A

Swedish company Vinnova will provide finding to Swedish side participants up to 25,00,000 SEK as a grant to start a piolet project.

In the project Vinnova will find a solution of Stubble burning problem in India and commercialization of Paddy Stubble by processing fuel from Paddy Stubble.

Sweden and India bilateral relations:

The ties between India and Sweden have been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. The bilateral trade volume was $3.37 billion in 2018.

Bilateral relations between India and Sweden are friendly and based on principles of democracy and transparency, right to freedom, and rule of law. Regular interactions in political, business, scientific and academic spheres have provided dynamism to our bilateral ties.

Fugitive Economic Offender

In News:

A special court has declared diamond businessman Nirav Modi, the key accused in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, a fugitive economic offender, on a plea of the Enforcement Directorate.

Key facts:

Nirav Modi is the second businessman, after liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, to be declared a fugitive economic offender under provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, which came into existence in August last year.

What’s the issue?

As per ED, Nirav Modi and his uncle Choksi, in connivance with certain bank officials, allegedly cheated the PNB to the tune of  ₹14,000 crore through issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs).

These LoUs were allegedly issued in a fraudulent manner by a Mumbai branch of the PNB to the group of companies belonging to Nirav Modi since March 2011, till the case came to light.

Implications:

The investigative agency can now confiscate properties of Nirav Modi which are not directly related to the cases against him.

Definition- Fugitive Economic Offender:

A person can be named an offender under the law if there is an arrest warrant against him or her for involvement in economic offences involving at least Rs. 100 crore or more and has fled from India to escape legal action.

Procedure:

The investigating agencies have to file an application in a Special Court under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person’s whereabouts.

The Special Court will issue a notice for the person to appear at a specified place and date at least six weeks from the issue of notice.

Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears. If not the person would be declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender based on the evidence filed by the investigating agencies.

The person who is declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender can challenge the proclamation in the High Court within 30 days of such declaration according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)

In News:

Canada’s largest pension fund Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has agreed to invest about $600 million in National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) through the NIIF Master Fund.

Details:

With CPPIB’s investment, NIIF Master Fund now has $2.1 billion in commitments and has achieved its initially targeted fund size.

About NIIF:

The government had set up the ₹40,000 crore NIIF in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled infrastructure projects.

The Indian government is investing 49% and the rest of the corpus is to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments, etc.

NIIF’s mandate includes investing in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.

NIIF currently manages three funds each with its distinctive investment mandate. The funds are registered as Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The three funds are:

Master Fund: Is an infrastructure fund with the objective of primarily investing in operating assets in the core infrastructure sectors such as roads, ports, airports, power etc.

Fund of Funds: Managed by fund managers who have good track records in infrastructure and associated sectors in India. Some of the sectors of focus include Green Infrastructure, Mid-Income & Affordable Housing, Infrastructure services and allied sectors.

Strategic Investment Fund: Is registered as an Alternative Investment Fund II under SEBI in India. The objective is to invest largely in equity and equity-linked instruments. It will focus on green field and brown field investments in the core infrastructure sectors.

Alternative Nobel Prize

In News:

Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa, the “Dalai Lama of the Rainforest,” has received this year’s Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”.

Details:

The Right Livelihood Award is an international award to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.”

The prize was established in 1980 by German-Swedish philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, and is presented annually in early December.

 

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