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11th June Current Affairs

Monsoon session of Parliament likely to begin in July

In News:

The monsoon session of Parliament is expected to begin on schedule in July.

Details:

The last session of Parliament was curtailed and ended sine die on March 25 and under the Constitutional norms, the next session has to be held within six months. This period ends on September 14.

Background:

Three sessions have been curtailed since the pandemic began in March last year. First of these was the Budget session of 2020. The winter session last year was also cut short. Last year, the monsoon session, which usually starts in July, began in September.

What the Constitution says?

Article 85 requires that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament.

Please note, the Constitution does not specify when or for how many days Parliament should meet.

The power to convene a session of Parliament rests with the government. The decision is taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. The decision of the Committee is formalised by the President, in whose name MPs are summoned to meet for a session.

Why is a Parliamentary Session important?

Law-making is dependent on when Parliament meets.

Also, a thorough scrutiny of the government’s functioning and deliberation on national issues can only take place when the two Houses are in session.

Predictability in the functioning of Parliament is key to a well-functioning democracy.

Rengma Nagas demand autonomous council

In News:

The Rengma Nagas in Assam have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding an autonomous district council amid a decision by the Central and the State governments to upgrade the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into a territorial council.

What’s the issue? What are the demands?

With Assam government on verge of inking peace Accord with KarbiAnglong based militant outfits, NSCN-IM stated any agreement that victimize the Rengma Nagas would not be acceptable.

The issue in focus is Karbi Anglong, erstwhile known as Rengma Hills. Rengma Hills are made the victims of aggressive influx of outsiders for vested interests.

The Rengma Hills was partitioned in 1963 between Assam and Nagaland at the time of creation of Nagaland State.

What are Autonomous District Council?

As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.

Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.

Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

The Governor may, by public notification:

(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.

Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:

(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.

(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

UN Security Council endorses Secretary General Guterres for second term

In News:

The United Nations Security Council has endorsed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a second five-year term- from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2026.

About the UN Secretary General:

The UN Charter describes the Secretary-General as “chief administrative officer” of the Organization, who shall act in that capacity and perform “such other functions as are entrusted” to them by the Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other United Nations organs.

The Charter also empowers the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in their opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.

Appointment:

The Security Council recommends a candidate for the General Assembly’s 193 members to appoint. Although all UN members get a voice in the secretary-general’s selection, the five permanent members of the Security Council hold the most influence. Any one of them can eliminate a nominee with a veto.

Issues/challenges with the office of UN Secretary General:

The UN Charter doesn’t clearly define the functions and powers of the Secretary General.

Selection is not done entirely on merit and transparency.

Critics of the appointment process say it lacks transparency and falls prey to cronyism due to the permanent Security Council members’ veto power and their secret negotiations over candidates.

The secretary-general often struggles to balance the interests of other large funders and powerful member states as well.

Significance of the office:

Peacekeeping: The secretary-general’s office oversees peacekeeping missions and appoints the undersecretary in charge of that department.

Mediation: As part of the “good offices” responsibility of the position, the secretary-general practices independence and impartiality to prevent and limit conflict.

BRICS opposes exceptionalism: China

In News:

Virtual BRICS Foreign Ministers was held recently.

Details:

At the end of the meeting two statements were issued on the “Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations” and another on “BRICS Joint Statement on Strengthening and Reforming the Multilateral System”.

What has China said on BRICS and its intended objectives?

BRICS countries pursue openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and reject “bloc politics and ideological confrontation”.

The BRICS countries, as emerging markets and developing countries, are indeed different from a few developed countries in their attitude towards multilateralism and multilateral cooperation.

The BRICS countries stress the need to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and oppose exceptionalism and double standard.

What do these statements indicate/suggest?

These statements clearly reveal that China is opposed to the formation of the Quad grouping amongst the US, India, Australia and Japan.

It believes this group is targeting or harming the interests of third parties.

BRICS:

BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In 2001, the British Economist Jim O’Neill coined the term BRIC to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

The grouping was formalised during the first meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers’ in 2006.

South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS.

The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.

Cooperation Mechanism: Cooperation among members is achieved through:

Track I: Formal diplomatic engagement between the national governments.

Track II: Engagement through government-affiliated institutions, e.g. state-owned enterprises and business councils.

Track III: Civil society and People-to-People engagement.

India and BRICS:

From the Indian perspective, BRICS has emerged the voice of developing countries, or the global south.

With raising challenges on issues from WTO to climate change, New Delhi believes BRICS has to protect the rights of the developing countries.

BRICS has put counter-terrorism on top of the agenda, this has been a success for India.