126th Constitution Amendment Bill
The reservation given to SCs, STs and the Anglo-Indian community for the past 70 years is to end on January 25, 2020
The 126th Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to extend by 10 yearsreservation to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies
The reservation has been included in Article 334 and therefore the bill seeks to amend the article.
Article 334 lays down that the provisions for reservation of seats and special representation of Anglo-Indians, SC and ST will cease after 40 years. The clause was included in 1949. After 40 years, it is being amended with an extension of 10 years.
A similar reservation for the Anglo-Indian community in Lok Sabha and state assemblies is not being extended, as per the provisions of the bill.
According to Law Minster, there are only 296 members of the Anglo-Indian community in India.
CCPI Index, COP25: India among top 10 countries
On December 10, 2019, at the COP25, the Climate Change Performance Index was presented.
The Index measures renewable energy share, emissions and climate policies of 57 countries and the European Union.
India ranked 9th in the ranking provided. The ranking was to the “high category”, where the countries have ambitious 2030 targets.
The report noted that India received medium rating in the renewable energy category. Also, the 2030 target set by India was rated high for its well-below 2-degree Celsius compatibility.
The report also says that India is yet to develop a road map to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies in order to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.
China, one of the largest polluters improved in its ranking and was placed in medium category.
US and Saudi Arabia were the major polluters. They hardly showed signs of reducing their green house gas emissions. US ranked the last followed by Saudi Arabia and Australia.
According to the report, 31 of the 57 high emitting countries are responsible for 90% of emissions.
Some of the EU countries like Sweden (ranked 4th), Denmark (ranked 5th) were the highest achievers in terms of performance.
Among the G20 countries, only India and UK were ranked in the high category.
China Pakistan Secure CPEC sea route
In order to secure the CPEC sea route, China and Pakistan have signed a deal to build drones with maximum payload of 480 kg, with top speed of 370 km per hour and can fly up to 20 hours. The drones are called Loong II.
These drones are similar to the MQ-9 Reaper drones developed by the US.
Pakistan and China have agreed to build 48 drones in the Pakistan soil.
The deal is to be implemented by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Aviation Industry Corp of China.
This deal is considered to be the biggest drone sale of China to any country.
Pakistan is already operating Loong I drone.
China has sold Loong I drones to other countries as well.
It includes Kazakhstan, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates.
China is building its counter drone systems and laser weapons largely as it tries to catch US on UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Technology. These technologies focus on spoofing techniques that prevent sending false information to UAVs.
Together China and Russia are in arms race with the United States. There are concerns raised by number of countries about the trade war, repeated sanctions, imposition of taxes, space race and arms race between the countries.
CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), a major part of China’s BRI project passes through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir region. India is concerned about the countries strengthening security in the region.
With series of attacks and tensions between the India and Pakistan namely Pulwama, Balkot strikes, Abrogation of Article 370, etc, India sees the current move as a tension addend.
Anti-Maritime Bill introduced in Lok Sabha
On December 10, 2019, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar introduced the Anti-Maritime bill in parliament.
The bill was introduced in days after the kidnapping of 18 Indians aboard in Nigeria.
It aims at ensuring safety and security of India’s maritime trade and the crew members.
The bill is framed in accordance with the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).
It provides punishment of death penalty to those involved in piracy at sea.
Section 3 of the bill mentions that persons involved in the act of piracy shall be punished with imprisonment and death penalty.
Need for the bill:
Piracy has been growing in the Indian Ocean region since 2008. It is especially more in the Gulf of Aden, which is used by more than 2,000 ships a day.
The Gulf has seen several attacks from Somalia.
The region is important as it is the busiest trade route between Europe, Asia and East Coast of Africa. These incidents affect the west coast of India as well.
This is because, several countries jointly and individually are increasing their security in the Gulf of Aden region to protect their ships.
This has forced the pirates to shift their operation eastwards and southwards. This affects India greatly and a strict legislation is required.
The UNCOS or the Laws of the sea was framed at the third UN Conference that was held between 1973 and 1982.
As of 2016, 167 countries including the European Union have joined UNCLOS.
There is no direct role played by the UN in implementing the UNCLOS.
However, organizations like International Whaling Commission, International Maritime Organization and International Seabed Authority have major role in following and implementing the rules.
Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019
The Rajya Sabha approved the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, replacing an ordinance that was promulgated to cut corporate tax rates to boost growth rate in a slowing economy.
Since it deals with taxes, the bill was introduced as a money bill in the Lok Sabha earlier.
Corporate tax is a tax imposed on the net income of the company.
Salient features of the bill:
The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 replaces an ordinance that reduced the tax rate for domestic companies from 30% and 25% (for those with an annual turnover of over ₹400 crores) to 22%.
These rates are applicable for companies if they don’t claim certain exemptions under the Income Tax Act.
The rate for new domestic manufacturing companies set up after October 1 was lowered to 15%.
The new effective tax rate inclusive of surcharge and cess for domestic companies would be 25.17% and for new domestic manufacturing companies would be 17.01%.
About Money Bill:
A Bill is said to be a Money Bill if it only contains provisions related to taxation, borrowing of money by the government, expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India.
Bills that only contain provisions that are incidental to these matters would also be regarded as Money Bills.
A Money Bill may only be introduced in Lok Sabha, on the recommendation of the President.
It must be passed in the Lok Sabha by a simple majority of all members present and voting.
The Rajya Sabha cannot amend money bills but can recommend amendments.
A money bill, that solely concerns taxation or government spending, must be returned to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, or the bill is deemed to have passed both houses in the form it was originally passed by the Lok Sabha.
Poll Spend Limit
A Private Member’s bill was introduced in the Parliament which intends to do away with the cap on election spending by candidates.
The Bill has been introduced on the ground that the ceiling on election expenses ends up being counterproductive and encourages candidates to under-report their expenditure.
Also, the ceiling currently prescribed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) is meant for legitimate expenditure.
A lot of money in elections is being spent for illegitimate purposes.
About the current scenario:
At present, under Rule 90 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, a candidate contesting Lok Sabha polls can spend up to Rs 70 lakh and up to Rs 28 lakh in an assembly election depending on the state in which s/he is contesting polls.
Under Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, every candidate shall keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure incurred between the date on which he has been nominated and the date of declaration of the result.
All candidates are required to submit their expenditure statement to the ECI within 30 days of the completion of the elections.
An incorrect account or expenditure beyond the cap can lead to disqualification of the candidate by the ECI for up to three years, under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
It can be noted that there is no cap on a political party’s expenditure, which is often exploited by candidates of the party.
However, all registered political parties have to submit a statement of their election expenditure to the ECI within 90 days of the completion of the elections.
Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO):
It is a fraud investigating agency. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the co-ordinating agency with the Income Tax and CBI.
Composition: It is a multi-disciplinary organization having experts from financial sector, capital market, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and investigation. These experts have been taken from various organizations like banks, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Comptroller and Auditor General and concerned organizations and departments of the Government.
Green good deeds
The campaign has been launched by the Environment Ministry.
Aim: To sensitise the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. The objective of the campaign is to restore and return the clean and green environment to the next generation.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change had drawn up a list of over 500 Green Good Deeds and asked people to alter their behaviour to Green Good Behaviour to fulfil their Green Social Responsibility.
These small positive actions to be performed by individuals or organisations to strengthen the cause of environmental protection, were put on a mobile application named “Dr Harsh Vardhan App”.