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June 12, 2019
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June 14, 2019
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13 June Current Affairs

Clean drinking water to all by 2024

In News:

The Central government has decided to increase coverage of piped water to households from current 18 per cent to 100 per cent by 2024.

Facts:

More than 163 million Indians – higher than the population of Russia – do not have access to safe drinking water.

Irrespective of the source of water, in most parts of rural India, availability of water decreases dramatically in the summer months as the water levels drop and surface sources may dry up.

India’s estimated per capita availability of water in 2025 will be 1,341 cubic metre. This may further fall to 1,140 cubic metre in 2050, bringing it closer to becoming water-scarce.

Performance of NRDP:

National Rural Drinking Water Programme, despite spending 90% of Rs 89,956 crore budget over five years to 2017, has “failed” its targets, according to an August 2018 report from the government’s auditor.

The programme’s target: providing 35% of rural households with water connections and 40 litre – about two buckets – of water per person per day. Less than half that target was achieved, thanks to “poor execution” and “weak contract management.

About 78% of 1.7 million rural Indian habitations have access to the minimum required quantity of water, 40 litre per person per day, but that does not mean they actually get this water, experts said. Nearly 18% of rural habitations get less than 40 litre per person per day under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

National Rural Drinking Water Programme is a centrally sponsored scheme aimed at providing every person in rural India with “adequate, safe water” for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs in a “sustainable manner”.

The scheme provides financial and technical assistance to state governments to install rural drinking water connections.

Way ahead:

There are nearly 14 crore households where clean drinking water is yet to reach.

Water falls under the state list of the Constitution and participation of states is crucial to make the mission of providing clean drinking water a success.

Therefore, there has to be a holistic approach towards water supply and demand.

Leader of Rajya Sabha

In News:

Thawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment was recently appointed as Leader of Rajya Sabha. The Leader of the Rajya Sabha is appointed by the party in power at Centre.

Leader of House:

The term Leader of the House has been defined in Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

Leader of the House, according to Rule 2 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha means the prime Minister, if he is a Member of the House or a Minister who is a Member of the House and is nominated by the Prime Minister to function as the Leader of the House.

The Prime Minister is invariably the Leader of the Lok Sabha.

Roles and functions:

The Leader of the House is an important parliamentary functionary and exercises direct influence on the course of parliamentary business.

The whole policy of the Government especially in so far as it is expressed in the inner life of the House and in measures dealing with the course of its business, is concentrated in his person.

The arrangement of Government business is the ultimate-responsibility of the Leader of the House, though the details are settled, subject to his approval, by the Chief Whip.

The Leader of the House makes proposals for the dates of summoning and prorogation of the House for the approval of the Chair.

He has to draw up the programme of official business to be transacted in the Session of Parliament, namely, Bills, motions, discussions on general or specific subjects like five-year plans, foreign policy, economic or industrial policy and other important State activities.

He fixes inter se priorities for various items of business to ensure their smooth passage.

After settling tentative programme for the whole session, he maps out weekly and daily programme depending upon the state of progress of work and announces the programme to the members in advances every week.

The Business Advisory Committee determines the allocation of time for Government Bills and otter business on the basis of suggestions made by or received from him from time to time.

The Leader of the Lok Sabha. viz., Prime Minister, never sits in the Business advisory Committee; he or she is represented by the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs in the Business Advisory Committee. The Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha is generally a member of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC). In the event, he is not a member of the BAC, he is invited to attend its meetings.

J&K President’s rule

In News:

Cabinet approves extension of President’s Rule in J&K for six months with effect from 3rd July, 2019. Resolution to be moved in the forthcoming Parliament session.

President’ s rule in J&K:

Since J&K has a separate Constitution, Governor’s rule is first imposed under Section 92 for six months after an approval by the President. In case the Assembly is not dissolved within six months, President’s rule under Article 356 is extended to the State.

Governor’s rule is mentioned under Article 370 section 92 – ‘Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in the State.’

Article 370 section 92: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in the State:

If at any time, the Governor is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the Governor may by Proclamation:

Assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by anybody or authority in the State.

Make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the Governor to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provision of this Constitution relating to anybody or authority in the State.

Related key facts:

Any such Proclamation may be revoked or varied by a subsequent Proclamation. Any such Proclamation whether varied under subsection (2) or not, shall except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, cease to operate on the expiration of six months from the date on which it was first issued.

If the Government or by a Proclamation under his section assumes, to himself any, of the powers of the Legislature to make his laws, any law made by him in the exercise of that power shall, subject to, the terms there of continue to have effect until two years have elapsed from the date on which the proclamation ceases to have effect, unless sooner.

No Proclamation under this section shall, except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, be laid before each House of the Legislature as soon as it is convened.

What is President’s Rule in the Indian context?

The imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President’s Rule in India. Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government will be temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.

The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to be head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.

The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.

New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the Bill New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill, 2019 for introduction in the ensuing session of Parliament.

Benefits:

The benefits of institutionalized arbitration will accrue to Government and its agency and to the parties to a dispute.

This shall be to the advantage of the public and the public institutions in terms of quality of expertise and costs incurred and will facilitate India becoming a hub for Institutional Arbitration.

Salient Features:

In order to facilitate the setting up of NDIAC, the Ordinance envisages the transfer and vesting of the undertakings of the International Centre For Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) in the Central Government. The Central Government will subsequently vest the undertakings in NDIAC.

Composition:

New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) will be headed by a chairperson who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a High Court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration law or management, to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

There will be two Full time or Part time Members from amongst eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration, both domestic and international.

Also, one representative of a recognised body of commerce and industry shall be chosen on rotational basis as Part time Member.

Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Financial Adviser nominated by the Department of Expenditure and Chief Executive Officer, NDIAC shall be ex-officio Members.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a settlement of dispute between two parties to a contract by a neutral third party i.e. the arbitrator without resorting to court action. The process can be tailored to suit parties’ particular needs.

Arbitrators can be chosen for their expertise. It is confidential and can be speedier and cheaper than court. There are limited grounds of appeal. Arbitral awards are binding and enforceable through courts.

Significance of ADR:

It is felt that a reliable and responsive alternative dispute resolution system is essential for rapidly developing countries like India. While business disputes need speedy resolution, litigation is the least favoured method for that. The Indian judicial system is marred by delays because of which businesses suffer as disputes are not resolved in a reasonable time period. Therefore, need for alternative dispute resolution processes like negotiation, mediation conciliation and arbitration is felt from time to time.

Proliferation of kelps in the Arctic

In News:

Climate change is altering marine habitats such as kelp forests.

Details:

Underwater Arctic forests are expanding thanks to global warming.

What are Kelps? How do they survive underwater?

Kelps are large brown algae seaweeds that make up the order Laminariales. There are about 30 different genera.

Kelps have adapted to the severe conditions. These cool water species have special strategies to survive freezing temperatures and long periods of darkness, and even grow under sea ice.

In regions with cold, nutrient-rich water, they can attain some of the highest rates of primary production of any natural ecosystem on Earth.

Significance of kelps:

Kelps function underwater in the same way trees do on land.

They create habitat and modify the physical environment by shading light and softening waves.

The underwater forests that kelps create are used by many animals for shelter and food.

More than 350 different species – up to 100,000 small invertebrates – can live on a single kelp plant, and many fish, birds and mammals depend on the whole forest.

Kelp forests also help protect coastlines by decreasing the power of waves during storms and reducing coastal erosion.

Kelp forests throughout the world play an important role in coastal economies, supporting a broad range of tourism, recreational and commercial activities.

Kelp is a coveted food source in many countries, full of potassium, iron, calcium, fibre and iodine.

In the Arctic, Inuit traditionally use kelp as food and wild harvest numerous species.

How climate change is leading to expansion of Kelps?

Genetic evidence reveals that most kelps reinvaded the Arctic from the Atlantic Ocean quite recently (approximately 8,000 years ago, following the last Ice Age). As a result, most kelps in the Arctic are living in waters colder than their optimal temperature. Ocean warming will also move conditions closer to temperatures of maximum growth, and could increase the productivity of these habitats.

As waters warm and sea ice retreats, more light will reach the seafloor, which will benefit marine plants. Researchers predict a northern shift of kelp forests as ice retreats.

Concerns:

Other changes are happening in the Arctic that complicate this picture. In Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway and Siberia, permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years are receding by half a metre per year. Thawing permafrost and crumbling Arctic coasts are dumping sediments into coastal waters at alarming rates, which blocks light and could limit plant growth.

The run-off from melting glaciers will also lower salinity and increase turbidity, which impacts young kelp.

Facts for prelims:

The Canadian Arctic is the longest Arctic coastline in the world.

In the northwestern Canadian Arctic, lack of rock substrate and a harsher climate support smaller, fragmented kelp forests.

Source: ToI

RBI Panel on Economic Capital Framework

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-appointed committee to review the economic capital framework of the central bank has failed to arrive at a consensus during a recently held meeting leading to a delay in finalising its report.

Difference of opinion:

The main difference of opinion has arisen between the panel members and the government’s representative on the panel over the transfer of the RBI’s ‘excess’ capital reserves.

While most panel members were in favour of a phased transfer of the RBI’s capital reserves to the government over the years, the government’s view is for a one-time transfer.

Background:

RBI had constituted a panel on economic capital framework. It was headed by Ex-RBI governor Bimal Jalan.

The expert panel on RBI’s economic capital framework was formed to address the issue of RBI reserves—one of the sticking points between the central bank and the government.

What’s the issue?

The government has been insisting that the central bank hand over its surplus reserves amid a shortfall in revenue collections. Access to the funds will allow the government to meet deficit targets, infuse capital into weak banks to boost lending and fund welfare programmes.

What is economic capital framework?

Economic capital framework refers to the risk capital required by the central bank while taking into account different risks. The economic capital framework reflects the capital that an institution requires or needs to hold as a counter against unforeseen risks or events or losses in the future.

Why it needs a fix?

Existing economic capital framework which governs the RBI’s capital requirements and terms for the transfer of its surplus to the government is based on a conservative assessment of risk by the central bank and that a review of the framework would result in excess capital being freed, which the RBI can then share with the government.

The government believes that RBI is sitting on much higher reserves than it actually needs to tide over financial emergencies that India may face.

Some central banks around the world (like US and UK) keep 13% to 14% of their assets as a reserve compared to RBI’s 27% and some (like Russia) more than that.

Economists in the past have argued for RBI releasing ‘extra’ capital that can be put to productive use by the government. The Malegam Committee estimated the excess (in 2013) at Rs 1.49 lakh crore.

What is the nature of the arrangement between the government and RBI on the transfer of surplus or profits?

“Although RBI was promoted as a private shareholders’ bank in 1935 with a paid up capital of Rs 5 crore, the government nationalised RBI in January 1949, making the sovereign its “owner”. What the central bank does, therefore, is transfer the “surplus” — that is, the excess of income over expenditure — to the government, in accordance with Section 47 (Allocation of Surplus Profits) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

Does the RBI pay tax on these earnings or profits?

No. Its statute provides exemption from paying income-tax or any other tax, including wealth tax.

Why RBI needs excess reserves?

The RBI needs adequate capital reserves for monetary policy operations, currency fluctuations, possible fall in value of bonds, sterilisation costs related to open-market operations, credit risks arising from the lender of last resort function and other risks from unexpected increase in its expenditure.

The RBI has maintained the view that it needs to have a stronger balance sheet to deal with a possible crisis and external shocks.

Source: The Hindu

Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the ratification of the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (MLI).

Background:

India has already ratified the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.

What you need to know about the convention?

The Convention is an outcome of the OECD / G20 BEPS Project to tackle base erosion and profit shifting through tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.

The Convention implements two minimum standards relating to prevention of treaty abuse and dispute resolution through Mutual Agreement Procedure.

The Convention will not function in the same way as an Amending Protocol to a single existing treaty, which would directly amend the text of the Covered Tax Agreements. Instead, it will be applied alongside existing tax treaties, modifying their application in order to implement the BEPS measures.

The Convention ensures consistency and certainty in the implementation of the BEPS Project in a multilateral context. The Convention also provides flexibility to exclude a specific tax treaty and to opt out of provisions or parts of provisions through making of reservations.

A list of Covered Tax Agreements as well as a list of reservations and options chosen by a country are required to be made at the time of signature or when depositing the instrument of ratification.

Benefits for India:

The Multilateral Convention will enable the application of BEPS outcomes through modification of existing tax treaties of India in a swift manner.

It is also in India’s interest to ensure that all its treaty partners adopt the BEPS anti-abuse outcomes.

The Convention will enable curbing of revenue loss through treaty abuse and base erosion and profit shifting strategies by ensuring that profits are taxed where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried out and where value is created.

Source: The Hindu

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) is known for its religious importance, cultural significance and arduous nature. The annual pilgrimage holds religious importance for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

The Yatra is organized by the government of India in close cooperation with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. State Governments of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Delhi, and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (KMVN) are other major Indian partners of the Ministry in organizing the Yatra.

Mansarovar Lakeis located at an altitude of 14,950 ft (4,558 m) is said to be the highest freshwater lake in the world. It is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China, 940 kilometres from Lhasa. To the west of it is Lake Rakshastal and to the north is Mount Kailash.

Nathu Lais a mountain pass in the Himalayas. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. It is also one of the four officially agreed BPM (Border Personnel Meeting) points between the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies, which helps in defusing stand-offs.

‘Paddy Frog’

Researchers have discovered a new species of ‘Paddy Frog’ from Northeast India, primarily in Assam.

The newly discovered species has been named Aishani, which is derived from Sanskrit word ‘aishani’ or aisani meaning Northeast.

The frog belongs to genus Micryletta, (a small genus of microhylid frogs). The microhylid genus is a group of narrow-mouthed frogs that are more commonly known as paddy frogs and are primarily and widely distributed in Southeast Asia (SEA). As of now, there are only 4 recognised species in this group and newly discovered Micryletta aishani becomes the 5th.

It is likely to be more widely distributed in Northeast India, particularly Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region.

World Day against Child Labour 2019

The World Day against Child Labour is observed across the world on June 12, 2019.

Theme: ‘Children should not work in fields but on dreams’.

The World Day against Child Labour was established by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. The day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society as well as millions of people to highlight the plight of child labourers and measures to help them.

UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 set by the international community calls for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025.

World Day against Child Labour 2019 calls for full ratification and implementation of Convention No. 182 and of the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) . The day also aims to encourage ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, which protects both adults and children.

This year marks 20 years since the adoption of the ILO’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).

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