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18th September Current Affairs

HC asks Centre to decide on control over Assam Rifles

In News:

Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to take a call on the issue of bringing Assam Rifles out of the dual control of the Home Ministry (MHA) and the Defence Ministry (MoD).

Details:

The direction came on a petition filed by Assam Rifles Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association seeking direction to the government for placing to bring Assam Rifles under one control, preferably under Indian Army (MoD).

 About Assam Rifles:

Assam Rifles which is also referred to as the Sentinels of North East is the oldest paramilitary force of India.

Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The unit can trace its lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy.

The noted anthropologist Verrier Elwin once described Assam Rifles as “friends of the hill people”.

Key mandate of Assam Rifles:

Internal security under the control of the army through the conduct of counter insurgency and border security operations.

Provision of aid to the civilians in times of emergency

Provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.

In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed.

Since 2002, they are also guarding the 1,643 km long Indo-Myanmar border.

How is it unique?

It is the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure.

While the administrative control of the force is with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army, which is under the MoD.

This means that salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MHA, but the deployment, posting, transfer and deputation of the personnel is decided by the Army.

What’s the issue?

The dual control structure has created two sets of demands from both within the Assam rifles and by MoD and MHA for singular control over the force by one ministry.

A large section within the force wants to be under the administrative control of the MoD, as that would mean better perks and retirement benefits which are far higher compared to CAPFs under MHA.

Why do both MHA and MoD want full control?

MHA’s arguments:

MHA has argued that all the border guarding forces are under the operational control of the ministry and so Assam Rifles coming under MHA will give border guarding a comprehensive and integrated approach.

Army’s arguments:

The Assam Rifles has worked well in coordination with the Army and frees up the armed forces from many of its responsibilities to focus on its core strengths.

Besides, Assam Rifles was always a military force and not a police force and has been built like that. Therefore, giving the control of the force to MHA or merging it with any other CAPF will confuse the force and jeopardise national security.

DekhoApnaDesh Webinar series on “Punjab- A historic perspective”

In News:

DekhoApnaDesh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme.

About Punjab:

Punjab is called as ‘the land of Five Waters’ referring to the rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.

Much of the Frontier was occupied by Maharaja Ranjit Singh also known as Sher-e-Punjab in the early 19th century, and then taken over by the East India Company when it annexed the Punjab in 1849.

Important festivals of Punjab:

Teej, Lohri, Basant Panchami, Baisakhi and Hola Mahalla.

Golden Temple:

It is a major pilgrimage destination for devotees from around the world.

Construction of the AmritSarovar (pool of nectar) was initiated by Guru Amar Das, the third Guru, in 1570 and was completed by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru.

In step with Sikhism’s basic tenet of universal brotherhood and all-inclusive ethos, the Golden Temple can be accessed from all directions.

Prominent places mentioned:

City of Fatehgarh Sahib: The word “Fatehgarh”, means “Town of Victory”, and is so called because in 1710, Sikhs under the leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur conquered the area and destroyed the mughal fort. Banda Singh Bahadur announced the establishment of Sikh rule in the city and an end to the tyranny of the Mughal rule which had spread terror and injustice.

Virasat-e- Khalsa Museum: It is an architectural marvel commemorating the 550-years of culture and tradition of Punjab and Sikhism and the Partition Museum-world’s first museum on the largest human migration.

ODF+ and ODF++

In News:

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has stated that:

All the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in Haryana have been certified Open Defecation Free (ODF), 21 ULBs ODF+ and 13 ODF++.

All cities in Punjab have been certified ODF, 33 are ODF+ and 17 are ODF++. Chandigarh is certified ODF++ and 3 Star (GFC).

What is ODF tag?

The original ODF protocol, issued in March 2016, said, “A city/ward is notified as ODF city/ward if, at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open.”

What is ODF+, ODF++?

ODF+ and ODF++ were launched in August 2018 to further scale up and sustain the work undertaken by the cities after achieving the ODF status under Phase I of the Swachh Bharat Mission — Urban (SBM-Urban).

Eligibility: Cities that had been certified ODF at least once, on the basis of the ODF protocols, are eligible to declare themselves as SBM-ODF+ & SBM-ODF++.

What is ODF+?

A city, ward or work circle could be declared ODF+ if, “at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well-maintained.”

What is ODF++?

The ODF++ protocol adds the condition that “faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.”

Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha

In News:

The Congress parliamentary strategy group has decided to work with the Opposition parties to field a joint candidate for the election of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post.

The post had fallen vacant after Harivansh Narayan Singh’s term ended. He has since been re-elected to the Upper House as a member from Bihar.

About the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha:

It is a constitutional position created under Article 89 of the Constitution, which specifies that Rajya Sabha shall choose one of its MPs to be the Deputy Chairman as often as the position becomes vacant.

Who can be a deputy chairman?

The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha itself from amongst its members.

Whenever the office of the Deputy Chairman falls vacant, the Rajya Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.

The Deputy Chairman vacates his office in any of the following three cases:

  • if he ceases to be a member of the Rajya Sabha;
  • if he resigns by writing to the Chairman;
  • if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Rajya Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.

Functions:

The Deputy Chairman performs the duties of the Chairman’s office when it is vacant or when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President.

He also acts as the Chairman when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House. In both the cases, he has all the powers of the Chairman.

The Deputy Chairman also plays a critical role in ensuring the smooth running of the House.

Powers:

The Deputy Chairman is not subordinate to the Chairman. He is directly responsible to the Rajya Sabha.

The Deputy Chairman is entitled to a regular salary and allowance which are fixed by Parliament and are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

Election Procedure:

For electing the Deputy Chair any Rajya Sabha MP can submit a motion proposing the name of a colleague for this constitutional position. The motion has to be seconded by another MP.

Additionally, the member moving the motion has to submit a declaration signed by the MP whose name s/he is proposing stating that the MP is willing to serve as the Deputy Chairperson if elected. Each MP is allowed to move or second only one motion.

Then the majority of the House decides who gets elected as the Deputy Chairperson.

However, if the political parties arrive at a consensus candidate, then that MP will be unanimously elected as the Deputy Chair.

Panel of Vice-Chairmen:

The Chairman shall, from time to time, nominate from amongst the members of the Council a panel of not more than six Vice-Chairmen, any one of whom may preside over the Council in the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman when so requested by the Chairman, or in his absence, by the Deputy Chairman.

A Vice-Chairman nominated under sub-rule (1) shall hold office until a new panel of Vice-Chairmen is nominated.